41 years ago this month I ate my last bite of chicken. I had already given up red meat 5 months prior, and by year’s end, fish and seafood would also leave my plate forever. Sometimes people ask if I ever miss these foods and I can honestly say “not one bit”.
For one thing, as I transitioned away from animal and processed foods my tastes changed; old cravings for foods high in fat, salt, sugar and animal proteins were replaced with a new appreciation for colorful, flavorful, whole plant foods that bring both great taste and great heath. In addition, once I had “peeked behind the curtain” and learned of the disastrous health and ecologic consequences of eating foods that were never intended for human consumption, I lost any possible desire to eat these foods again. If my taste buds ever attempted to lure me into trying some BBQ chicken, eggs & bacon, a grilled cheese sandwich or a hot fudge sundae, my brain would override them and say, “No thanks-- I like my arteries”.
Now I’m not saying this was always easy, but once I started down this path my severe eczema and facial acne resolved, my vitality improved and it felt great knowing that my meals were cruelty free and my food choices were helping to support, rather than denigrate our fragile biosphere. By 1985 when I had just completed my medical training and was opening my Family Medicine Practice, I had also greatly limited my dairy and egg intake and then over time moved away from all animal and processed foods to a truly “whole food plant-based” lifestyle.
I was inspired to share what I had learned and experienced with my family, friends, patients and colleagues. Starting in 1980 I began presenting seminars on nutrition. I increasingly experienced the “Joy of Medicine” that would arise as I helped my patients to reverse their Diabetes, Heart Disease or even Multiple Sclerosis with some straightforward lifestyle changes. The science of nutrition was evolving slowly but surely towards the reality that a whole foods plant-based diet is the optimal way to nourish our minds and our bodies for vitality and the prevention of chronic disease. Further, while many desire a long life, they fear the debility and pain that commonly accompanies older age in America; and it is now crystal clear that a whole food plant-based lifestyle optimizes our chances of living well into our elder years with independence and vitality. Go to “You Tube” and Search “Your Last 10 Years” and watch the one minute video that pops up for an excellent portrayal of how important it is now to consider the future consequences of our current choices.
Back when I started my journey, I envisioned a day when a whole food plant-based lifestyle was embraced by tens of millions of Americans. A time when it would be common knowledge that this is the optimum diet for human health, for saving the Earth and for treating animals with the dignity and respect they deserve. It has now become increasingly clear that my “future vision” is now unfolding before our eyes. Back in the day there were only a few pioneers supporting an evidence-based approach to nutrition science and working to educate our citizens. They were largely ignored and commonly chastised for being “radical” in their approach. But not any more… here is a pertinent quote:
All truth passes through three stages.
First, it is ridiculed.
Second, it is violently opposed.
Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.
- Arthur Schopenhauer, German Philosopher, 1788 -1860
In these last 15 years, we have seen a clear turning point in the whole food plant-based nutrition movement as the peak of this “second stage” came and went - never to return. Per capita consumption of meat in the United States fell by over 12% from 2007 to 2012, and cow’s milk consumption is also dropping precipitously. While we still have a long ways to go, the level of scientific support, the caliber of highly respected physicians, researchers, athletes and health care professionals now adopting and advocating this approach, the inspiring personal stories from millions who are making the change and the rapid growth of groups like PBNSG are all evidence that we are moving quickly towards the third stage when this “truth” will be widely “accepted as self-evident”.
This all adds up to the fact that this is a very exciting time to be involved in PBNSG and the WFPB movement. I have never seen such momentum…. and now, watch for these two documentaries to further accelerate these trends:
“Game Changers” by James Cameron: www.gamechangersmovie.com (Fall, 2018)
“Code Blue” by Dr. Saray Stancic: www.codebluedoc.com (January, 2019)
Perhaps the biggest news of all is that the enthusiasm and momentum generated by Paul Chatlin and over 5,600 PBNSG members are attracting national attention and making Southeast Michigan an epicenter for the Plant-Based Nutrition movement. A place where the “Plant Strong”, the “Plant Perfect” and the “Plant Curious” come together to explore and learn how best to spread Health, Wellness, Vitality and Sustainability for humanity and the Earth we inhabit. Thank you for your interest and for your dedication to supporting our PBNSG mission and stay tuned for more updates coming soon.