And there goes the summer…and a little bit of fall...needless to say, it’s been a little crazy around here. Summer was full of activity and before I knew it, it had come and gone and most of September involved a 3-week trip to China! Now, it’s back to reality, back to a regular schedule and also, (hopefully) back to a regular blogging schedule.
Last post, I said I would speak a bit what Paul Pitchford lectured on during the IIN Open House.
Paul started the lecture by saying that he turned vegan overnight and has never looked back. Sounds pretty impossible and in my opinion, it is. Most people cannot accomplish a drastic change in diet like. Especially in the Western world. But Paul went on to say that although his diet transformed overnight, he spent 6 years preparing for that change. His preparation took place in 2 areas of his life before he even touched his diet. The first was intuition and awareness which he achieved through contemplation and self-reflection. So much of changing oneself is changing the mental aspect. I don’t have any more notes about this but I think that he was referring to intuition and self-awareness. Not only gaining a better understanding of what your body needs vs. what society says it needs, but also understanding where you stand in this world. Second was physical activity. He focused on physical activity because doing so helps strengthen digestion which in turn helps you absorb nutrients more easily. He made a point to say that physical activity doesn't mean you need to run a mile. Walking and gentle exercises like some forms of yoga are great places to start. The beautiful thing is walking and yoga can help you with intuition and awareness as well as your physical wellbeing. The last component to his change was the diet itself. Becoming intuitive does not only mean becoming in touch with yourself but also with the world around you. An awareness of equilibrium and morality is achieved. This is where a vegetarian diet comes into play. Being vegetarian is (traditionally) non-harmful and harmonious with the world.
The bulk of his lecture was a comparison of the Mediterranean and Japanese diets. He focuses on these two diets because it appears that two islands in those regions have attained the “fountain of youth.” In Crete and Okinawa reside two of the oldest populations in the world. Being a centenarian on those islands is almost normal! The Mediterranean and Japanese diets are very similar in principle-heavily based on fruits and vegetables and local food. He cited studies showing the benefits of the Cretian and Okinawan diets. He also spent a good amount of time describing T. Colin Campbell's work, The China Study, the largest, longest running, and most comprehensive population health study. The study shows a correlation between a typical traditional Chinese diet, which is heavily based on vegetables, and good health. Even with higher levels of healthcare and the “modern” lifestyle in the West, the Chinese have lower levels of cancer, heart disease, and get this, osteoperosis! The US’s meat-focused diet, including milk, is the root cause of the aforementioned “dietary diseases” (a term Paul used that I will be stealing :) among many other sicknesses. Paul states that the perfect diet is a fusion of the Okinawa and Crete diets, two islands known for their inhabitants who live very long lives. This diet is one of fresh fruit, full-fat goat or sheep cheese and yogurt, little red meat, local, organic food, fermtened foods, sea vegetables, fermented soy, and little dairy.
I definitely recommend that you read The China Study, especially for those who are more comfortable with science than logic when it comes to health. You don’t have to be a PhD to understand what Campbell is saying and the study is not sponsored by some no name company or Vegetable Farmers for America (aside: anyone ever see those corn syrup commercials that are sponsored by the Corn Growers of America??). Three prestigious schools, Cornell University, Oxford University, and the Chinese Academy of Preventive Medicine, have been partners in this study.
I hope this post has enlightened you on a little bit of what one of the biggest names in health thinks and also on a resource that you can tap into at home to understand a more of the benefits of a vegetarian diet. Look for more posts in the future about Paul Pitchford as I received his book, Healing With Whole Foods, for my birthday and will be diving into it as I prepare for my classes.
until next time,
eat more veggies!