That boring old stuff that grows in the ground.
You know you’re supposed to eat your veggies. You try. You have a side salad or boil up some beans. There are always something green on your plate. Your mother would be proud.
But the rest of your plate … well, it may be living up to the USDA Food Pyramid, but Dr. T. Colin Campbell would muffle a snort.
Dr. Campbell is the author of The China Study, a nutritional study whose shot was heard across the globe. Former president Bill Clinton adopted its no-animal-products-period philosophy after a heart attack.
The China Study uses one of the biggest epidemiology studies of all time to argue that many of the diseases that strike us down as we age are a direct result of what we eat.
Sure, there are other factors that influence whether we get heart disease or succumb to cancer. But we can’t do much about many of them. For the most part, we’re stuck with our genetic legacy, our age, and the environment in which we live.
What we can do is choose what goes into our mouth.
And that choice, Dr. Campbell claims, gives us enormous power to choose our fate.
Whether we’re prepared to exercise that choice is a different story.
It would be one thing if we ate to fuel our bodies. But we don’t. We eat as entertainment. We eat as sacrament. We eat as therapy.
Food is cultural and political. It’s not about nutrition at all.
We’re brought up to eat a certain way. Some foods are taboo. Not that long ago, red-blooded Americans turned up their noses at “foreign food.” Other foods must be consumed in order to belong. Even as a child, I knew that “beer puts hair on your chest.” Drinking was a rite of passage for all young men; otherwise, they weren’t real men.
Why would anyone risk not belonging just to live a bit longer?
If you change how you eat too much, you risk getting thrown out of your family. Your friends won’t have anything to do with you. You won’t get invited out to a meal or over to someone’s house for dinner. People won’t know what to do with you. They know you don’t eat like them. You eat that “funny stuff.” It’s too threatening.
I speak from experience. Try being a vegetarian in South America, or Spain, or any other country where meat is the ultimate delicacy offered to honored guests. Vegetarianism is an insult to their way of life.
But the fact remains:
Vegetables are the ultimate health food.
We don’t eat enough of them. Those we do eat take the form of grains (e.g., flour) or potatoes (e.g., chips and fries). We’re not going to live forever on that diet.
Professional chef Jason Wrobel, AKA J-Wro of “The J-Wro Show” fame (look it up on YouTube), wants to change that.
He wants to allow us to eat burgers, brownies, and nachos while also fueling our body with plant protein and superfoods.
He believes the biggest obstacle to a plant-based diet is knowledge. We don’t realize how profoundly everything we eat affects our well-being. We haven’t experienced what it feels like to be powered by superfood rocket fuel. We don’t understand that we don’t have to give up our most beloved dishes; we simply have to change how we make them.
To explain his food philosophy, I’m going to have to use a word you may not like. It’s a dirty word for many Americans. It can cause riots, destroy relationships, and ruin political careers. It’s:
It’s such a dangerous word that The China Study managed to fill 400 pages without coming out and admitting that what it was really advocating was a vegan diet.
No, it wanted us to consider a plant-based diet. Sounds softer, less militant, less loaded somehow.
Dr. Campbell didn’t flinch away from arguing that any level of animal products whatsoever—and that includes milk and cheese—was a potential health risk. So it’s interesting that he didn’t plant a stake in the ground advertising “Vegan and Proud of It.”
J-Wro has no such compunction. He is a vegan and proud of it. He wants to teach everyone how to cook delicious vegan foods. And he’s selling it by showing us how certain foods can give us more energy, better immunity, better skin, a better night’s sleep, and even better sex.
That’s the premise of his vegan cookbook Eaternity. Eat like this, and live for an eternity. Sounds great, right?
Who’s going to do it?
The Standard American Diet co-exists warily with a tiny minority of plant-fanatic outliers. Estimates of the percentage of vegans in the American population range from 0.5% to 2.5%.
It often takes a serious crisis, like a heart attack, for people to finally wake up to the way they’re eating themselves to ill health. Or a celebrity fad, like Beyoncé and Jay Z’s 22-day vegan challenge.
How much do we really want to live forever?
Enough to cross the steak-eating milk-chugging bastions of American society?
Dunno. For the company of a cute guy like J-Wro, maybe it’s worth it.