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

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.

Vegetarians’ favorite question

My daughter Emma, 16, and I had a convo the other day about how every vegetarian gets sick of the question, “How do you get your protein?” (I bet we hear from some of them here!)

I often point those asking that question to my report HERE called “Protein: Are We Deficient? Or Overdosing?”

A soccer teammate of Emma’s props up her diet with protein shakes. EVEN THE VEGANS BUY INTO THE PROTEIN MYTH! And she’s not healthy. This is the logical fallacy:

“I know a vegetarian, and she’s not healthy. Therefore we must need meat to be healthy.”

Nearly every logical fallacy applies here, and I love exposing logical fallacies, but don’t want to deliver a dissertation on all the ways that fails. My readers are smart and you can poke holes in that kind of thinking yourself.

Most if not all our degenerative diseases are related to undigested proteins floating in our bloodstream. That’s right, our EXCESSIVE PROTEIN consumption is killing us. We do NOT need 20% animal protein, thank you very much Dr. Robert Atkins. (It didn’t work very well for him, did it?)

Those of you eating a plant-based diet, what’s your favorite response to that question, “Where do you get your protein?”

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.

Young vegetarians! Share this with your kids….part 1 of 2

My 16-year old daughter Emma has been a vegetarian since age 11, and she loves to evangelize.  When there’s a debate in a school class (it always seems to revolve around “where do you get your protein?”), she comes to me and asks for verbal ammo.

Right now she and I are both writing on our computers. She’s writing a speech for her AP Government class on the issue of government subsidies of the meat and dairy industries.

I suggested the topic and told her she would be outraged to study how our government is using our tax dollars: to fatten the wallets of our farmers with the biggest operations, the ones who already have incomes far surpassing affluent Americans. We heavily subsidize meat and dairy in the U.S. Meat would cost about $20/lb. if there were no government support. This makes sense when you consider that it takes 1,000 gallons of water, and 20 lbs. of plants, to raise one pound of meat!

Emma just came in my office to show me a graphic illustrating that only one-third of one percent of government subsidies go to fruit and vegetable growers. Over 75% of it goes to meat and dairy ranchers, and the rest goes to the wheat, soy, and corn that feeds the cattle and chickens.

Her thesis is that we could kill three birds with one stone, if you’ll forgive the pun. By eliminating subsidies on meat and dairy, the free market system will correct America’s health problems, the ways we grossly mistreat animals, and our obscene tax burden. Vegetables and fruits will cost $1/lb. and animal products will be exorbitantly expensive, so people will naturally begin to eat more plants and fewer animals.

Emma’s in love with this kid, the Vegetarian Athlete, and sent me this link.

This 21-year old college athlete is 6’6″ and has never eaten an animal in his life. He was taught from early childhood, “Animals are our friends, and we don’t eat our friends.” This became a core belief. Now he and his sister are adults and the idea of eating (pus-, antibiotic-,   steroid-, growth-hormone-, bacteria-tainted) meat is unthinkable to them. Check out the chart his mom shows in the video, that the top 5 highest-protein foods are plant foods!

Emma printed off the chart of high-protein foods and supplied it to a girl at school named Vanessa, whom Emma recently converted to a meat-free diet. (Many people WANT to be converted—they just need a little pinkie push, in the form of some compelling information.)

Apparently Vanessa’s mom was resisting her vegetarianism, telling Vanessa she had to eat meat to be well nourished. Vanessa presented her mom the list showing grains and legumes and nuts among the highest-protein foods. And that did the trick! (Vanessa’s mom was once a 4th grade teacher at my children’s elementary school and even though she’s a kind and dedicated teacher, I requested the OTHER teacher, only to avoid all the candy-as-rewards in her classroom.) Even the educated among us, I find, have little knowledge about health and how critical nutrition is.

 

KRISTIN ACCIDENTALLY TURNS VEGETARIAN

Kristin is my closest friend and just came on working for GSG full-time on June 1. She was here all the time anyway, putting in nearly FT hours, especially with all the traveling we’ve been doing. She has made my classes SO much more efficient and effective. I love her–she’s the best thing that has happened to GSG.com in a long time. She’s strong in all the places I am weak, and she’s so loyal to me and helpful to a fault. I am so blessed.

On May 26, at a class for almost 250 people in Sandy, Utah, she said to the crowd, “You can’t hang around Robyn and not be affected by this movement.” I’d described how for a long time we’d have staff meetings and I’d have my quart of green smoothie, and she’d have her quart of Diet Coke. Then one day we suddenly BOTH had a green smoothie at staff meeting. (I was secretly–and kind of openly, too–so thrilled!) I am watching Kristin change before my eyes. She said to me recently, “If I drank TWO quarts of green smoothie a day, I basically could never get fat again.” (She’s lost 40 lbs.)

On June 3, she said to me, “I think I’ve accidentally become a vegetarian.”

LAUGHING OUT LOUD! (Keep in mind, this girl is from IDAHO. They don’t eat their potatoes without meat there!) That’s what hanging out at my house all day, working, will do to ya. She said that the only problems with this are:

(1) “I like meat!” I told her, I used to, too. You’re not me, of course, but I literally never miss it now. The only time is if I walk into someone’s house, when I’m really hungry on Sunday night, and they’re cooking a roast. (And the once a year that happens? I have a little! I can only stand a little anyway—and maybe it’s good for Vitamin B12. I’m not actually sure that’s important, since your body stores a 3-year supply, and since there are a handful of plant sources of B12 or an analog. But I digress.)

And, Kristin’s other problem with “accidental vegetarianism”…

(2) “I have all these memories of my family past, and my kids will tell anyone, ‘My mom is the greatest cook!’ And the dishes they tell people about, that I make, are pot roast, homemade rolls, and chicken-n-dumplings.”

But like so many Americans, Kristin now finds herself seriously gluten intolerant. And feeling better and better the further she gets from the S.A.D. Eating white flour once a week does not cause her a problem, but if she eats white bread a few days in a row? She’s practically doubled over with abdominal pain and bloating.

Her semi-final comment today, on that subject, was, “Well, I’ll limit it to once a week. Sunday nights.”

Sounds good to me. I always say:

“Incremental progress is progress.”

When you find something else you love on Sunday nights, you might replace the roast like I did (I made a mean roast on Sunday nights, too, 20 years ago!).   I believe no one shifts these family traditions till they WANT to. So I’m not going to pound on Kristin about that one meal a week. (Or anyone, actually. Pretty proud of all the cool stuff she’s done lately, though!)

And, just another plug for young moms: if you do this NOW, you don’t have to “undo” family memories in order to shift to a healthier, plant-based diet later. Then the family memories that your kids will remember you for in 20 years aren’t worse, they’re just different. That pint of GS always waiting for them in the fridge after school, stuff drying in the dehydrator…..Sunday night lentil tacos, black-bean burgers, hummus quesadillas….or whatever! (The possibilities are endless.)

If it makes anyone feel better, my mom never made a roast, in my childhood, not once. I seem to have survived.   😉