I have always felt that our greatest gift is the gift of life. Yes, we have the gifts of sight and hearing, the ability to think and imagine and to feel joy and love, among other things. But, none of this would be possible if we hadn´t first received the gift of life. However, I´d like to call your attention to another gift, which unfortunately we don’t often see as a gift, and that is this container or vessel or temple… called the body. It is through the body that we experience the gift of life. Without it, life for you and me could not happen.
A few days ago, a friend of mine had a severe heart attack, which fortunately she survived. She contacted me because of my personal experience with a Whole Food Plant Based (vegan) diet which, for the past 8 years, I have highly recommended to anyone interested in achieving optimal health. I offered to lend her an extraordinary book by Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, the NY Times Best Seller, “Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease.” In the end however she commented that her situation was not that bad and that going vegan would be too extreme at this time. Anyway, that got me thinking. Changing to a Whole Food Plant Based diet for many people is considered extreme. The word “Vegan” is often associated with fanaticism and “Veganism” is considered by some as akin to a “religion” which they don´t want to be converted to. That would mean having to give up their favorite foods, whether or not those foods were healthy in the first place.
Anytime someone tells me that Whole Food Plant Based (WFPB) nutrition is too extreme I experience an “inner” giggle…for 2 reasons:
1) What would actually be extreme to me is laying on an operating table and having a surgeon saw through my ribs and stopping my heart in order to replace a clogged artery or two. That´s extreme!
2) Eating tasty and easy to prepare plant based foods is so simple these days. There are thousands of recipes available now on the internet and in books that can easily replace some of the unhealthy foods that we´re accustomed to.
DON´T BE TURNED OFF BY “DARK THOUGHTS”
Have you ever had the desire of doing something or accomplishing a task or a job that was a challenge but you wanted to do it anyway…against all odds? Then someone close to you commented, for whatever reason, that what you want to do would be impossible or risky and that you shouldn´t even try it; so you decided not to. You just gave up. During a conference I attended several years ago the guest speaker used the term “Dark Thoughts” to describe that very situation. It´s when someone says that something cannot be done, even though it´s never been tried before, especially by him or her. How does that relate to WFPB nutrition? Well, you may have the desire or need to eat healthier but “dark thoughts” from your own mind, or from someone else´s, may try to convince you not to do it…even though you know that it would be the correct decision. It takes courage to say NO to dark thoughts!
IT´S NOT “ALL OR NOTHING AT ALL”
One thing I´ve learned during these past 8 years on a WFPB diet is that some people are able to make the switch easily and never turn back while, for others, the change needs to be gradual. I´m not sure if it´s will power or simply a difference in personalities. I became attracted to vegetarianism in 1976, basically because of my interest in oriental philosophy and not so much for health reasons. So, one day I decided to give up meat and that was it. And, to “kill two birds with one stone”, that same day I gave up smoking. For me it wasn´t difficult. That´s the way I am. However, for a lot of people, giving up smoking and animal products, such as meat and dairy, takes time…and that´s OK too.
So when I say: It´s Not, “All or Nothing at All” it means that there are two choices:
1) Make the switch once and for all to a WFPB diet in order to best prevent chronic diseases in the future or,
2) Take one step at a time, with the same goal of adapting to a WFPB diet, according to your own health needs. For example, a person who is actually suffering from a chronic disease (i.e., heart, cancer, diabetes 2, osteoporosis, high blood pressure), would require a stricter WFPB diet than a person who is not.
For me, the advantage of making the change once and for all, was to reap the benefits of WFPB nutrition as soon as possible (within a few weeks). The result was an influx of inspiration that helped me to continue along the path. But, that´s my situation. If the change is gradual, the benefits will probably be felt gradually. Everyone is different and each person will have to find their own path on the journey to better health. What´s important is to take the first step. However, for anyone suffering from a chronic disease, I suggest making the change ASAP.