Plant-Based Diet: A Miracle Worker
When I was a senior in high school, my Anatomy and Physiology teacher played us a video called Forks Over Knives which made me realize how important our diet is to our health. The documentary shows how a plant-based diet can prolong an individual’s health and in some cases help reverse an individual’s illness. In the film there are three sick people: one has breast cancer, one has heart problems, and one has a dangerously high cholesterol level. They all follow the whole-food, plant-based diet through the consultant of a physician and they began to see a positive change in their health. I was astonished to see how much the plant-based diet changes the lives of these individuals because it was like watching a miracle happening before my eyes. I realized that the food that we choose to consume really takes a toll on our health.
Plant-based diet can be mistaken to be the same thing as vegan but there is a distinction between the two. Plant-based diet involves the consumption of whole foods such as beans, grain, fruits, vegetables. and starches. You want to try and eat foods in their most whole form which means avoiding processed foods. Vegan is avoiding the consumption and the use of animal products. Vegan involves a more political and philosophical aspect than the plant-based diet because it is deeply rooted in animal rights.
One thing that I continued to ponder about after watching the movie is that if a plant-based diet can reverse illnesses why is it not more known or recommended more often to patients by physicians or nutritionists. But after reading Roger Ebert’s review on the film, I was able to get an explanation. Moving to a plant-based diet is a big step and only a few doctors are willing to suggest proper nutrition to their patients “as an alternative to pills, stents, and bypasses.” An ancient Egyptian proverb that was mentioned in the movie says, “One quarter of what you eat keeps you alive. The other three-quarters keep your doctor alive”. In America now, we can find many cases that proves this quotation to be a more accurate proverb like those demonstrated in the movie. Many Americans are facing health issues such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and many others.
The bibliography that follows includes a review of the film Forks Over Knives and three articles: one examines the environmental impact of the plant-based diet through a French study, the second is by Rosane Oliveira in which she distinguishes the difference between plant-based diet from vegan diet, and the third is by Robb Wolf and he explains what a Paleo diet is. Together, these sources explain what a whole food, plant-based diet and it’s affect on the environment.
Whether these annotations will help prepare me for a future writing of my own, I do not know. But I can say that the information that I have learned through this research has changed my perspective on how our health and the environment is greatly affected by what we choose to consume each day of our lives.
Ebert, Roger. Forks Over Knives Movie Review (2011). All Content. 11 May, 2011. Web. 17 Nov. 2015.
In Roger Ebert’s review on the documentary Forks Over Knives, he discusses how he believes that the film could actually save an individual’s life and how the film has transformed his lifestyle in a positive way. Like the doctors and nutritionists in the documentary, Ebert thinks that every individual should maintain a vegetarian based diet in order to be healthy and he is convinced that “we are raising the first generation of children who will not live as long as their parents.”
Gerken, James. “Plant-Based Diets’ Environmental Impact Examined In French Study”. The Huffington Post. TheHuffintonPost.com, 14 Apr. 2013. Web. 6 Dec. 2015.
In the article “Plant-Based Diets’ Environmental Impact Examined In French Study”, James Gerken reports about a French study that was conducted to analyze the amount of gas emissions generated through the production of plants, fish, meat, and fowl. Food production such as fruits and vegetables don’t constitute as much greenhouse gas as raising livestocks but it still makes up fifteen to thirty percent of greenhouse gas emissions in development countries. In the study, two thousand French adults were analyzed on their eating habits by using a food diary for seven days between 2006 and 2007. Nicole Darmon was the study’s senior author from the National Research Institute of Agronomy in Marseille, France and in the study she closely examined the food diaries to “compare the nutritional quality of people’s real-world diets and how much greenhouse gas they produced” along with her colleagues. Through the diaries, the researchers were able to determine the four hundred most commonly consumed food and a database was used to see how much greenhouse gas was emitted to produce each one. As a result, about 1,600 grams of carbon dioxide were emitted per 100 grams of meat produced which is fifteen times the amount of fruits, vegetables, and starches. Darmon and her colleagues found that fruit, vegetables, and fish which are considered the “highest-quality” diet emitted about the same amount of greenhouse gas as “low-quality” diets that are high in sweets and salt.
Oliveira, Rosane. “The Great Vegan vs.Plant-Based Debate.” UC Davis Integrative Medicine Program. UC Davis University of California, 19 Feb 2015. Web. 6 Dec. 2015.
The distinction between a plant-based diet from a vegan diet can be confusing. Rosane Oliveira is the Founding Director of the Integrative Medicine program at the University of California Davis and she distinguishes the difference and similarities between whole food, plant-based diet and vegan. Oliveira explains that a whole food, plant-based diet focuses on whole or minimally processed plants like nuts, legumes, vegetables, fruits, whole grains and seeds while avoiding food that derived from animals. The main purpose of a plant-based diet is to nourish the body with food that contain its natural nutrients. A whole food, plant-based diet is mainly about what to include in your diet while a vegan diet is about what to exclude in your diet.
A vegan diet focuses on avoiding the consumption of any animal proteins or animal-based foods but it doesn’t exclude highly processed food like cheese, meat substitutes, and candies. The vegan lifestyle doesn’t only encompass about what to eat but also the “philosophy of life which fights against all forms of animal abuse and exploitation.” Vegans don’t use animals in any shape or form. They don’t wear animal skin, don’t use any products that include animals, and reject any products that have been tested on animals.
Wolf, Robb. “What Is The Paleo Diet?” Robb Wolf. Robb Wolf, 17 Feb. 2012. Web. 6 Dec. 2015
In “What Is The Paleo Diet?”, Robb Wolf explains the components of maintaining the Paleo diet and it’s impact on the body. The Paleo diet is like another form of the plant-based diet. A healthy paleo diet consists of food such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, olive oil, fish oil, and grass-fed meat. The intake of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants increases while grains. legumes, and dairy decreases because they are believed to be at odds with the body’s health.Some of the benefits of the Paleo diet includes improved blood lipids, weight loss, and reduced pain from autoimmunity. Wolf also mentions that wild meat is actually remarkably lean it contains a lower amount of saturated fats compared to grain fed animals. Wild meat also contains a significant amount of omega-3 fats such as EPA and DHA. The Paleo diet is known to have reversed the symptoms of insulin resistant, Type 2 diabetes. Wolf states, “our Paleolithic ancestors and contemporarily studied hunter gatherers showed virtually no heart attack or stroke while eating ancestral diets.”