How Vegans, Vegetarians & Nutrition “Purists” Are Hindering Our Health
Yes, that was partially meant to be provocative. However, sometimes I really believe it. In an effort to help others enjoy better health, I have found that “all or nothing” usually yields the latter.
Now hear me out. Many of my friends, family & colleagues adhere to some sort of diet or nutrition restriction for health and/or ideological reasons. To some extent, I do as well. From vegans to the lactose/gluten intolerant to raw foodists, I applaud all of it. Conviction that allows for the discipline of applied daily practice is something I greatly admire, no matter the form.
The problem, from a health standpoint, is all those who currently live outside that circle of conviction. It is all too easy to see another’s health ideals and the resulting choices as extremism.
We have a health crisis little of which is genetic. It is estimated that up to 90% of certain cancers are lifestyle related. The majority of our number one killers and diseases can be prevented, and even reversed.
What does all this mean?
Basically, as a population, the majority of us are actually (unconsciously) choosing to be unhealthy.
Because it seems easier.
Because we don’t know any better.
Because the alternative seems too overwhelming.
And I believe we “purists” unwittingly contribute to some of this because of our perceived extremism. (Let me be clear, I am not saying we ARE extremist, simply that we can be perceived that way.)
In an ideal world we’d eat entirely fresh, local, organic plant based diets, harvested at the peak of nutritional value. We’d have the time to not only prepare them but also enjoy eating them in a stress free dining experience. And this would be how we eat ALL our meals. EVERY. DAY.
I don’t know anyone who can or does consistently enjoy that scenario, do you? Key word here being CONSISTENTLY. Even SOME of the time would be nice for most people. But again, too many look at the “ideal,” determine there’s no way they can make it work for them and decide to forget the whole thing.
“Sure better nutrition would make a difference in my diabetes/weight/cholesterol/digestion but it’s way too overwhelming, so I’ll just keep doing what I’m used to.”
“I don’t have an hour to go to the gym today, so I’m not going to work out at all…I’ll do it tomorrow.”
Sound familiar? My workout/health regimen either looks a certain way or I’m not doing it at all. Again, all or nothing.
I believe changes designed to work for the “average” person and aligned with the majority of today’s lifestyles are what we want. Ultimately, this is what creates a greater and more sustainable impact on a larger population.
Small, simple changes can add up to huge transformations. In turn, these can lead to even bigger convictions. This is why I’m such a big fan of the Prove It Challenge as a launching pad.
Can protocols targeted to a rarefied population be effective? Absolutely. But when most people with a lifetime of radically different food habits & ill health are faced with stringent cleanses, detoxes, complex and/or foreign food choices, etc – more often than not, it’s “deer in the headlights” time. Is THAT what it takes to be healthy? If so, they’re not buying. And I can’t blame them.
The health choices we all make are individual. Stridency on an individual level is fine, but I’ve rarely seen it work to attract larger change. And again, let me stress that conviction is a good thing. We definitely want more of it. However, for those of us wanting to expand health consciousness to a wider audience, we must remember that people can have the best of intentions, but they have to be willing to take that first step. Holistic solutions like the Prove It Challenge which are scientifically based, clinically proven, simple to follow, convenient AND get results not only encourage that small first step but allow it to reach more people. That is how we provide optimal health for ourselves, the environment & the planet…. and ultimately change it for the long term.