Monday, February 25, 2013

Fight the Good Fight

Since Matt and I have become entrenched in the health and wellness community with emphasis on a whole-food, plant-based lifestyle, we’ve made plenty of observations. The one that stands out for us -- in fact it’s the one we talk about the most -- is the overwhelming resistance to accept varying points of views. There are no greater examples of this than the arguments that arise between paleos and vegans over whose path forward is right (whole grains versus lean meat), or the outrage that ensues from the vegan community when one of their own steps out in public to reveal she ate an egg. (Hi, Ellen!)

I found this online. So cute.
Bacon and tofu get ready
to duke it out!

Rather than focusing on our similarities, we seem much more intent to stay within our particular group and try to prove the other teams wrong or embarrass others because they may have made a different food choice than we would have. I’m left wondering where that gets any of us. If the point is to inspire others to join our cause, we’re failing. I’m certainly not open to learning anything new if the bearer of information is going to attack me personally on my choice to be plant-strong.

The area that flexitarians, paleos and followers of a plant-strong lifestyle get right is noteworthy: we have all successfully transitioned from the Standard American Diet (SAD), which is largely made up of sugar and processed food, to a whole-food lifestyle. Brilliant!

All of us have embraced the mountains of scientific and clinical research that concludes the SAD is responsible for obesity, heart disease, cancer, Type II Diabetes, dementia, allergies, asthma, fibromyalgia, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, etc. -- you name it and the SAD is behind it. How can what we eat not be responsible for that which ails us? Growing up, my dad told me to put good quality oil in my car. Why? He said it would run better. Imagine that!

So when I see a social media article that seeks to inform on the dangers of the SAD high-jacked by a paleo and vegan arguing over the fringe concepts (whole grain versus lean meat) rather than the core concept (whole-food), I’m left scratching my head. Neither the paleo nor vegan needs to be convinced that the SAD causes death and disease, nor will either change his/her belief that their dietary preference is the be-all and end-all because of a negative Facebook interaction. The same can’t be said for the 100 or so people watching this spectacle. Wouldn’t it be something if the paleo and vegan put aside their differences to espouse the power and benefits of a whole-food lifestyle? Maybe then the other 100 on the thread would be inspired to learn more and start weaning himself/herself off the SAD.

Think of how far we could take our agreeableness!

We could partner together to affect real, sustainable change:

  • Educate Americans on the abysmal failure and life threatening dangers of the SAD.
  • Work to bring whole-food menu options to our hospitals, schools, work cafeterias, etc.
  • Ensure that our medical professionals are schooled in proper nutrition.
  • Demand our government stop selling out the health and lives of Americans in favor of campaign donations, and also start to appoint unbiased men and women to lead our food and health regulatory agencies.
  • Reduce the demand and accessibility of processed food and sugar.
  • Improve farming and livestock practices.
  • And so much more.

Our reach could extend far and wide and we could save America billions in healthcare costs.

When we get side-tracked by our own self-righteousness, we’re losing opportunities to influence others still addicted to the Standard American Diet.

When we take Ellen to task because she chooses to eat an egg, we look like a community intolerant of other people’s points of view. We’re turning people off from wanting to explore the benefits of our lifestyle. "Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good."

If people are able to successfully break their addiction to the SAD, we should celebrate their achievements and encourage them to go deeper and to never stop learning. Transitioning from the SAD to a whole-food diet is fraught with challenges. Let’s not add to those challenges by criticizing whether someone chooses tofu over chicken, or vice versa. We should view it as one less person on the Standard American Diet and one more whole-food advocate in our camp!

In the words of the late Bob Marley, "One LoveOne Heart! Let's get together and feel all right."

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