Suppose I rode into town in a brightly painted caravan with the message, “Professor Annie’s Miracle Cure!” painted on the sides and pulled it into the town square, stepped out onto the grass and started expounding the virtues of my miraculous, simple and delicious cure for many of the health plagues of mankind: fatigue, obesity, diabetes, heart disease, auto-immune diseases, skin problems, stroke, cancer. Perhaps a small crowd would gather as I explained that it was really quite easy to do; there were only a few rules to follow. Maybe the crowd would grow in size as word spread of the amazing things that were being said in the town commons. Maybe some would ready their wallets intending to invest in this most amazing-sounding of curatives. There would be doubters, too, of course, looking for the “hook.” But there is no hook. There’s no little bottle filled with dubious liquid to sell. No tablets being peddled. No book to buy that promises to reveal all as soon as you hand over your hard-earned cash. The curative is readily available to nearly everyone: fruits, vegetables, whole grains and no added oils or fats. And the only price is the cost of the ingredients. But my guess is, that when I reveal to the crowd in the town square that all they have to do is change their eating habits – that the way to health and vitality is to convert to a plant-based, low-fat diet – most of the people would walk away.
Humans in general and Americans in particular are always seeking the path of least resistance when it comes to improved health and weight loss. We long for science to find the keys in our genes that keep us from getting fat and to being ill and feeling tired – and our preference is that those keys be packaged as pills or drinks or even in cookies. But, nature has already done the work for science. If we give our bodies the type of fuel it is meant to have, our bodies will function as intended and designed. The nutrients in plants not only provide energy, they help repair damage and defend the body against enemy intruders. Animal products, on the other hand, contain ingredients that feed the enemy and the fat they contain clogs our arteries. Eat whole foods and shun meat and dairy products and your body will thrive and function cleanly, happily, efficiently.
A case in point. Recently I saw the headline on Yahoo! news proclaiming “Zero Carb, Zero Calories” noodles. The subtitle should’ve been: “And no flavor! With a texture similar to something slithering through the primordial ooze!” The miracle product? Shirataki noodles that are made from soybeans and/or yam fiber. Since the fiber is insoluble, it passes through the body. I imagined former pasta-lovers, carb-junkies and Atkins’ adherents rejoicing, thinking that finally they could be free to guiltlessly enjoy noodles again. There doesn’t seem to be anything inherently wrong with these noodles and as far as fad foods go, there are certainly worse. But it’s another short-term short-cut. Eating whole grain pastas along with whole fruits and vegetables eliminates the fear of consuming the elbow, the rotini, the penne or the fettucini noodle in the first place (and there’s an abundance of both soluble and insoluble fiber in a “whole foods” diet). Why are we more attracted to ridiculous food fads and restrictive diets than to sensible, proven, delicious, sustainable eating?
We all have the one (or two) friend(s) who has/have been complaining about and battling their weight their entire adult life – and has been on every diet plan devised by man – except the one that would not only shed pounds, but improve overall health. The most popular rebuttals to the suggestion of switching to a vegan diet (vegan: a word that can immediately reduce full-grown adults to tantrums worthy of two-year olds) are that it would be too difficult and that they would miss “real food” (i.e., meat, cheese). Let me say it bluntly: “real food” is making you fat and it’s making you sick. In fact, it’s speeding you along to a premature death. As for level of difficulty, it’s no harder to create a plant-based meal than it is to produce one involving meat and dairy. Your list of ingredients change and you might need to invest in a few new cookbooks. Small price to pay for added years and quality to one’s life.
Skip the crazy noodles, cookies, bars, pills, drinks, diets and fads. Commit to a life-long change. Go vegan. There is your miracle cure. All you have to do is push your cart into the produce section and fill it.
(For a real-life example of the power of a plant-based diet, visit Watch Me Lose 150 Pounds. Boy howdy.)