athletes and experts quoted about eating plants

I don’t preach about the -isms. I don’t talk about or embrace words like raw foodist, vegetarian, or vegan, even though I do teach to eat a high-raw, mostly-plants diet. I leave it to you to figure out whether you want organic, clean eggs, cheese, milk, or meat as a small (5% or less) part of your diet. The implications of the biggest nutrition study in history, the China Project done by Oxford and Cornell, are clear: a plant-based diet can overcome carcinogens in our lifestyle. The standard American diet that includes 20% animal protein is a cancer feeder and puts us at high risk for that, and many other diseases.

I personally do not ever put animal products in anything I make at home. Organic eggs and cheese were the last things to go, at my house. There were less and less of them until one day I realized it had been 18 months since I had bought either of them. Making an egg substitute with 1 Tbsp. chia soaked in 3 Tbsp. of water works great. The baked product is more crumbly, but I can live with that. That’s all I used eggs for, anyway. The days of serving my little kids “toads-in-a-hole” for dinner were long gone. (A piece of bread, a hole punched out and an egg put in, fried in a little butter.) In the early days of my transition, we had that WITH a green smoothie!

It’s a rare occasion that I eat anything in a restaurant with animal products, either. I choose not to embrace those titles for two reasons. One, I think they are a turn-off to many people who are just starting out, wanting only to learn about and eat more nutritious food. I want to “be there” for the folks just beginning a transition to a high-quality diet.

Second, because I am often approached in restaurants, everything I eat scrutinized and commented on, and I don’t want to be held to absolutes. So I never call myself any of those labels even though I have eaten a high-raw, 95%+ plant-based diet for 18 years.

I’m supportive of those who do eat veg, vegan, and raw, and I’m proud of my vegan daughter who goes out of her way to eat only plants, so that there is no cruelty to animals caused by her life. (She’s a competitive soccer and cross-country athlete, and we look high and low to make sure there is no leather in her cleats and running shoes as well.) She and I have two very different ideologies that fuel our similar choices—hers animal cruelty, mine nutrition—and both are valid and important.

The quotes below use the words “vegetarian” and “vegan” quite a bit, but of course they’re not my quotes. But if extremist labels offend you, just consider these thoughts towards my agenda of helping you EAT MORE PLANTS! Regardless of whether you have a goal of eating no animal products. :-)

“A number of studies have shown that cancer risk is lower and immune competence is higher in individuals who consume a vegetarian diet. Epidemiological studies almost unanimously report a strong correlation between a diet high in fruits and vegetables and low cancer risk.”

– John Boik, in his book Cancer & Natural Medicine: A Textbook of Basic Research and Clinical Research

“I have been a vegan for almost two years now and the benefits have been tremendous. I have more stamina and it helps keep me in a positive state of mind. I didn’t realize how weighed down I was when I ate meat. I never really felt 100 percent until I freed it from my diet. Now, I can’t imagine going back to meat. I feel incredible.”

– Mike Tyson, World heavyweight boxing champion, in 2011

“Today you have processed meats and a lot of animals suffering unnecessarily for it. Now, some people just blow that off and don’t have a conscience about it, or they just don’t care. They wouldn’t eat their dog, but they feel that way about other animals. But for me, I decided to stop eating meat. I didn’t want to contribute to all of that. I’m not trying to change the world, or wear that on my sleeve, or make a political statement, because that just turns people away. I only have control over one person, and that’s myself. And I feel good about it.”

– Mac Danzig, vegan mixed martial arts champ

“I’ve found that a person does not need protein from meat to be a successful athlete. In fact, my best year of track competition was the first year I ate a vegan diet.”

– Carl Lewis, nine-time Olympic gold medal winner

“Someone may say that there are some antioxidants in meat. They are not incorrect in saying this. But, it is like comparing a raindrop to a lake, with a piece of meat being the raindrop, and an apple or other raw fruit or vegetable being a lake of beneficial nutrients. Any antioxidants in the meat only got there by way of the animal eating plants. Animals, including humans, do not conduct photosynthesis, which is the process that takes place in plant cells when they absorb sun energy and store it, forming the colors in the plants. Therefore, antioxidants, which are in the natural colors of plants, are vastly more available in edible, raw plant substances, and much less present in meat, dairy, and eggs. By consuming animal protein to try to access antioxidants is less than licking the juice from a knife that just cut through a piece of fruit, instead of simply eating the fruit itself.

By consuming animal protein, you are also consuming free radicals, which exist and form in meat, milk, and eggs. So, even if you are consuming some trace amounts of certain antioxidants in the animal protein, you are countering it by also consuming the damaging free radicals in that animal flesh, dairy, or eggs. This scenario does not equal good nutrition – especially considering that meat, dairy, and eggs also contain saturated fat, cholesterol, and a variety of other substances that work against health.

Studies are constantly revealing how certain fruits and vegetables not only provide needed nutrients that are beneficial to health, but also that they contain and provide properties that prevent certain serious ailments, such as diabetes, cancer and heart disease; limit intestinal exposure to carcinogens; and help the body to contain, transport, and eliminate toxins.”

– Sunfood Diet Infusion: Transforming Health And Preventing Disease Through Raw Veganism by John McCabe

If you get the chance, tell my kids what good nutrition means to you

I won a singles league tennis match at another club a while ago. After the match, I was tanking up on water and talking to my son Tennyson, who came to watch me play. I said,

“Want to go to Good Earth and get some wheat grass juice?”

My opponent was looking at me strangely, so I said, “Yeah. I know. It’s weird. But he LOVES the stuff.”

She said, “I don’t drink wheat grass juice. But I do drink green smoothies. I just read a book called The Green Smoothies Diet.”

Haha, I love my life! I guess my photo isn’t on that book’s jacket.

Then there was the day I was pumping gas in my car and two different women, both named Carrie, came up and gave me a hug.

And recently, someone at the gym told me that Holly Mendenhall, who has attended a few of my classes, turned her onto green smoothies. She said, “Do you know Holly?” (Nope.) She said, “She’s the wife of Bronco Mendenhall.”

BYU’s football coach! (What a great man, who has done great things in this community.) YAY! Does that mean that Bronco Mendenhall’s family is doing 12 Steps to Whole Foods? I can only hope.

That was all awesome, but maybe even better is what happened the night before, at Kincade’s baseball banquet. One of his friends and his mom got out of their car in the parking lot with us. So since Cade was talking to his buddy, I chatted with the mom all the way in to the banquet.

While we listened to the awards ceremony and ate dinner, two women came over to my table to say that green smoothies, or my whole-foods course, have been transforming their energy and health. One said, “I no longer get tired training for my marathon—I love it!”

But best of all, both women turned to my son and said, “I feel so great drinking green smoothies—do you drink them, Cade?”

He said, “Every day of my life. My house is the Vegetable Capital of the World.” No sarcasm….just kinda proud, actually, of his own healthy habits–because what else are you going to do in the face of such ardent enthusiasm?

And they gushed to him with such enthusiasm about how positive their nutrition changes have been. I acted cool, I hope, but secretly was SO THRILLED.

THANK YOU SO MUCH, if you ever have any interaction with my children, and you give them a third-party endorsement of the principles I teach!

Then as I went to leave, the mom I had walked in with came rushing back up to me. She said, “Oh my gosh, you are Robyn? I just figured that out! I just read your book and now I’m studying 12 Steps to Whole Foods with my co-workers and I love it!”

And my son sat there and listened. Three times in one night, and I didn’t even have to pay them. (hehe)

I am always trying to give the parents following a whole-foods path some endorsement with their kids. By writing The Adventures of Junk Food Dude, by doing readings for kids, then writing the recipe book Junk Food Dude’s Yummy Healthy Recipes, by encouraging readers to bring their older kids to my events, by talking to kids whenever I get the chance.

So, WHAT AN AMAZING BLESSING when it comes back to me and someone returns the favor!

I need others to confirm the truth of these principles, for my children, as well.

 

Sugar-Free Baseball, Part I

Tennyson has a nickname on his team. In the dugout, when he’s up to bat, they chant,

“Sugar-free! Sugar-free! Sugar-free!”

When he gets on base, they yell, “Sweeeeeet!”

I love the nickname, of course, and Tennyson embraces it. I like to yell dumb stuff like, “That was a sugar-free hit, kid!”

It’s pretty easy to make a dugout of 11-year olds laugh. (Remember Tennyson’s joke last summer, when I’d buy him Naked juice at the Good Earth? “Hey guys, my mom got Naked!”)

But my 18-y.o. Kincade, at last night’s game, said, “Never say that again, Mom.”

We’re just back from Tennyson’s team’s tournament in Idaho Falls, where they were one run short of landing in the championship. They won three games, and were up 11-1 in the fourth, when the other team made a massive rally and TIED at 12-12! (My son was the pitcher as his team fell apart, behind him, committing errors upon errors in one horrible inning.)

Lately my boys come SO close to glory, only to be robbed at the 11th hour. Tennyson sobbed all night.

I had a long convo with a dad on the team, a high school football coach, the next day when he saw Tennyson crying into my shoulder (again). He told me that’s where we learn the most, when we kill ourselves trying, but fail. So I should stop mourning things like my oldest son’s state championship loss….at the bottom of the third overtime inning, at 10:30 p.m., after five long days and 8 games of baseball. It’s the crucible of life. We learn more from loss than success.

What a great way to see it. I’m going to embrace it.

So after the game in Idaho Falls, one parent polled everybody about where we wanted to eat. I said, “Just anything where they have salads, not fast food.” Well, the decision was to go to Five Guys for burgers and fries, and they told us Café Rio was next door. Works for me!

Tennyson and I got our vegetarian salad—whole wheat tortilla, double black beans and no rice, extra greens and pico de gallo, no chips, dressing on the side. We brought it over to sit with the team in the burger joint.

The entire rest of the team, and their families, ate burgers. It’s good for me, to be around what most people eat every day, which I now find truly revolting. It reminds me to be grateful for the education I have that makes eating that stuff completely impossible now. Coagulating lard on black patties of dead cows, white flour buns, deep fried, salted sticks of fat- and chemical-soaked potato. None of it looks appealing.

I worked at McDonald’s when I was 16…..the french fries’ ingredient list was a paragraph long, with about 18 ingredients I couldn’t pronounce. Yucky. I haven’t eaten a McD’s french fry since.

Some of the parents told me they were going to take a photo of us in that place, post it on the internet, and blackmail me. Just in case, I took this photo with my cell phone of Tennyson’s Café Rio salad, and my quart of green smoothie, on the table with all the other boys’ dinners.

Our dinner wasn’t a dreary alternative to the good stuff. We LOVED our dinner. YUMMY. Zero deprivation. We went back and had the same thing the next night, at Tennyson’s request.

My next post will take you through what we took, what we ate, on our trip. Just because I haven’t done one of those posts for a while, and it’s a very common request. (“What do you eat in a day?” Also, “What do you do when you travel?”)

As we were eating dinner, one of the boys yelled,

“Hey Tennyson! In twenty years, we’ll all be FAT, and you’ll still be playing baseball!”

Out of the mouths of babes.

The manliest men on the planet

Ben texted me that surfer Laird Hamilton is 48 and looks 26, eats a lot of raw and organic, and is one of the “manliest men on the planet,” and I should blog about him. Then I said, “Then how come I haven’t seen him on vegetarian athlete lists?”

He said, “Because he’s not pure vegetarian. Which is why he’s still a manly man.”

Eye roll. I texted him back and said, “Two words for you. BILL PEARL.”

(He was a vegetarian Mr. Universe. Arnold Schwarzenegger once said, “Bill Pearl didn’t convince me to be a vegetarian. He did convince me that a vegetarian could become Mr. Universe.”) Gotta love the brilliant things that The Governator says sometimes.

I looked Laird Hamilton up, and found this quote from him: “You eat potato chips, you’re going to perform like a potato chip.”

I don’t date much anymore, but I recently went out with a guy named Brent who, like lots before him (when I used to date), was rather terrified of what I do for a living. (A bane of my existence is that men feel I will judge them when I see what they eat. Often this is a deal-breaker for them, even though I am realistic and non-judgmental. I’m not likely to meet a guy who has my philosophies about food! However, I do really like guys who at least are interested in eating better. As long as they are that AND tall-dark-and-handsome! Hehe.)

So Brent is 38, attractive, and looks fit. But he wanted me to know he eats a whole box of Cap’n Crunch, or 8 cookies and a glass of milk, before bed. And sometimes a plate of nachos. And wakes up with a flat stomach. He doesn’t work out routinely—only in fits and starts.

In other words, he’s a genetic anomaly and gets away with murder. I don’t know why some people are born capable of full-on nutritional abuse without obvious or mid-term consequences. If I did what he does, I’d have no energy and would weigh 300 lbs. almost overnight. It’s not fair!

That said, I believe in karma, and the fact that at some point, everybody has to pay the piper.

On facebook, GSG reader Joel W. pointed me to Scott Jurek, one of the world’s best ultrarunning phenomenons featured for running with the legendary Tarahumara Indians as profiled in Born to Run. (I’m reading this book, and most serious runners have done so. It fueled the “barefoot running” craze.)

Scott Jurek can run 6.5 marathons – nearly 166 miles – in a 24 hour period. And he’s a long-time vegan, after being raised in a meat-and-potatoes family. His book Eat & Run tells all about it, helps you commit to the understanding that food is FUEL. His book contains his favorite plant-based recipes.

Perhaps the most spectacularly credentialed, famous ultrarunner in the U.S., though, is Dean Karnazes, who is 46 years old and looks 20. My friend Ben is preoccupied with Karnazes, an ultrarunner with superhuman genetic gifts. But unlike my date, Brent, Karnazes is increasingly laser-precise about his diet as he gets older.

Wikipedia has his list of Karnazes’ staggering accomplishments, one of which is running 50 marathons in 50 consecutive days. (He ate 5,000 to 7,000 calories each day during that period.) He also ran 350 miles in 81 hours without stopping, even though he took a break from running from age 15 to 30.

He eats vegetables, fruits, lean meat, and things you could “pick and eat.” The Neanderthal diet, he calls it. He says, could cave people have eaten whole grain? (They couldn’t have milled it, etc.)

In an interview I read of Karnazes, he was asked if he misses pies and stuff he used to eat, and he says,

“I really don’t! It was kind of an indulgence…I really don’t long for those things anymore. I think cravings for sugar and sweets just stop when you stop eating them for a while.”

Another Karnazy quote: “…if you’re going to be a foodie, you’re going to suffer the consequences! Some people live to eat, and I eat to live…”

I don’t know that it’s a good thing to run 42 miles a day for 100 days, as Karnazy recently did. I’m in awe, while at the same time I have no interest in pushing my body that hard. But I do like that he has found things that are not FOOD to give him joie de vivre.

People for whom food is their passion are, as he says, in trouble.

And I think it’s interesting how, even though meat is hard to not eat, if you eliminate grains as Karnazy does, the best athletes, who are able to continue for decades, as Jurek and Karnazy have, eat a LOT of greens, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds.

Young Vegetarians, share this with your kids, part 2 of 2

I like this YouTube video about another vegetarian athlete, Jake Shields, whose parents never served animals but didn’t talk about why. Now Jake converts other athletes, who are amazed at how endurance increases when they eat only plants:

Have your children look at all these world-class, famous athletes, including rocked-up bodybuilders, who don’t eat other creatures.

In addition to so many athletes, how about these brilliant vegetarians? Socrates, Plato, Pythagorus, Da Vinci, Newton, and Einstein! You know that song Adam Sandler did about all the famous people who are Jewish? Who wants to do one about people who don’t eat our friends?

Looking at that list of genius vegetarians, I hypothesize that freeing energy from digestion allows the mind and spirit to soar and creativity to be untrammelled. Either that, or people who think outside the box are willing to buck social norms to do what’s right and what logic dictates. Probably both.

Abraham Lincoln, Michael Jackson, Brad Pitt, Carrie Underwood, Mark Twain, Ann Hathaway, Natalie Portman, Pink, all of the Beatles, Billy Idol, Rosa Parks—all vegetarians.

Dr. Thomas Lodi has been vegan for 46 years. He can’t even eat in the presence of those consuming, as he puts it, “carcasses and animal excretions.” He points out that the human digestive tract is 30 feet long, like all vegetarians, whereas the carnivore GI tract is very short. (I became convinced by the “we aren’t built to be carnivores” logic 20 years ago by John McDougall.)

Therefore meat takes sometimes days to digest, and in your gut it does the same thing it would do on your counter: it putrefies. (Many of the healers I am studying point to the strong evidence that undigested proteins in the blood and gut lead to all the modern diseases.)

This is my paraphrase, with some stuff from me added, of what Dr. Lodi teaches people in their first group session with him at Oasis of Healing:

If we were carnivores, and a chicken walked in the room, we’d salivate. We’d pounce on it and tear it apart, eat its heart and liver out of its warm abdomen. We’d maybe swallow the sinewy eyeballs whole, and crunch on some bones. Everything but the feathers we’d tear apart with our long incisor teeth.

But we’re not carnivores. We don’t have long teeth. Because of our biology, we can’t stand to eat raw flesh. And after an hour, dead flesh goes into rigor mortis, and then we REALLY can’t stand to eat it. So we hang it for several days to “age” it (translation: allow it to rot), we cut the maggots and really disgusting parts out. And we STILL can’t stand to eat it. So we cook it. We might put some tasty cancer-causing nitrates in it, if it’s bologna, bacon, sausage, etc.

f you signed on for this gross-out lesson towards a plant-based diet and you are still reading….you might be more ready to give up eating our animal friends than you think you are!

If you need a final pinkie push, order Mike Anderson’s film called Eating. I’ll be amazed if you can watch the avalanche of data, and images of how animals are raised for eating in America, and not vow to stop contributing to it. Every plant eater should own a copy of it.

that ubiquitous blue, sugary sports drink

That blue drink. It’s everywhere. I’ve never tried it, but it’s in the photo with my son in the dugout from last week.

One of my kids reported to me not long ago, “My soccer coach says I HAVE to drink Gatorade, because it’s good for us and she doesn’t want us passing out.” I told her, “I’ve never tasted Gatorade in my life, and I’ve run 10 miles at a time, or played tennis for 3 hours and haven’t passed out yet. There was no Gatorade until 20 years ago or less. [Thanks, University of Florida! Not.] What do you think all the distance runners in Africa are doing? All you need is what I already give you–good ol’ water. Mom trumps the coach in this case–I am not buying Gatorade.”

Chemical food dyes, chemical sweeteners, chemical electrolytes, no thanks. Good water and fresh fruits and vegetables, plus some nuts or seeds for good fats, are the best thing to fuel a workout before or after. I also love Hot Pink Breakfast Smoothie–what I make every morning–for a perfect electrolyte and fat/carb/protein ratio for athletics, 400 calories. It’s in the Breakfast recipe collection or Ch. 11 of 12 Steps.