Plant Based Adventure: The Hero’s Journey
Everyone has a story, and a path. We all want to feel our best, reach our full potential and enjoy the ride. You’re the hero of your journey, and I’m hoping you will join me on a Plant Based Adventure, on a road less traveled.
These past few years, my journey has led me to the social impact film space, where I’ve had an opportunity to work with some amazing visionaries, gurus and industry leaders. I’ve produced a few documentaries and curate cause-based movies. The point is, in my work, I’ve ridden this wave of food-related movies. And yes, I do believe seeing these movies can make a difference and inspire change. More on that later.
During this period my diet has fluctuated. I dropped red meat many years ago, then chicken, and was living mostly as a Pescetarian, eating fish occasionally. I’d done a few juice fasts, the annual master cleanse and have recently eliminated gluten. I wanted to see if I would feel better, stronger and have more energy. Even still, I kept reading, seeing, and hearing about plant-based diets and the many reasons we should give this a go.
Of course, there have been two major vegan camps - those who avoid meat for ethical reasons, believing we should not be killing animals for our food, and those who simply embrace the general health benefits. I wanted to embark on a quest to learn more. It didn’t take long to see just how many other benefits there are to a plant-based diet. Let’s set the table with some basic facts.
The Ordinary World
It’s important to get the lay of the land. There are many nutrition experts, doctors and scientists who have been studying these elements for years. Each has their own perspective - and some with specific agendas - but here are 10 reasons that seem to be a consensus among trusted leading experts.
- Studies suggest that following a plant-based diet prevents heart disease and other chronic diseases (and in many cases can reverse heart disease). On the other hand, processed meat and red meat have been classified by the World Health Organization as Group 1 carcinogenic and Group 2A probably carcinogenic to humans respectively.
- There are typically less calories in a plant-based diet, which can help you to lose weight, or prevent obesity.
- This diet is better for the environment. Did you know it takes about 15 pounds of grain to produce 1 pound of beef and about 5 pounds of grain to produce 1 pound of chicken? We grow a lot of grain to feed animals, but we would use less water and other energy resources if we ate the grain ourselves. An article in Scientific American reveals that the amount of beef the average American eats in a year creates as much greenhouse gas as driving a car over 1,800 miles!
- Buying these foods saves you money, on average. Yes, if you buy purely organic it can get a little more expensive, but in general, a plant-based diet costs less.
- An ethical choice. The conditions in which factory farmed animals are kept, fed and slaughtered are deplorable. If you do choose to include animal products in your diet, ensure they are ethically raised and from a good source.
- This diet conserves water. Did you know that more than half of all water consumed in the U.S. is used for animal agriculture? It takes about 460 gallons of water to produce just one quarter-pound hamburger. Dairy isn’t much better, requiring 1,000 gallons of water to produce just one gallon of milk. This is not only wasteful and inefficient, this is a broken system of food production that is certainly unsustainable.
- It cuts greenhouse gas emissions. In fact, a plant-based diet will cut your carbon footprint by a full 50%.
- Reduces waste pollution. Every minute, 7 million pounds of excrement are produced by animals raised for food in the U.S. In fact, a farm with 2,500 dairy cows produces the same amount of waste as a city of 41,000 people.
- It helps prevent marine life destruction. As many as 40% (63 billion pounds) of fish caught globally every year are thrown out, and some scientists say we could see fishless oceans by 2048.
- Studies show that people on plant-based diets typically show more sustained energy levels, sleep better and are more productive. Many of the traditional food combinations are simply more challenging to digest, cause energy drain and “food coma”.
The Call To Adventure
Hopefully, when you digest all these reasons, enough of them will resonate with you to give a plant-based diet a try.. What do you have to lose? Why not try it for 30 days and see if you feel any different. Most people sense some changes to their energy levels within a week.
Here are 3 of the top benefits you will recognize in short order:
- More energy - You will find your energy level is much higher and there are no food crashes from blood sugar issues, which leads to sharper focus.
- Better digestion - Eating more fruits and vegetables that are jam packed with healthy fiber that not only regulates digestion but also helps clean toxins out of your body.
- Weight loss - A healthy weight loss is a typical result of a smart vegan diet, as eating vegan eliminates most of the unhealthy foods that tend to cause weight issues.
Meeting The Mentor
There are many different experts and resources to lean on: from blog articles to movies, from books to gurus. Documentaries are one of the most powerful mediums to portray a message, as actions and images are easier to digest than a hunk of text. Everyone has a personal comfort level and preferred resource platform.
I wanted to share a few examples that demonstrate the power of film to create change. One of the strongest is the Ted Talk by Johanna Blakely, of the Lear Center. You see her explain how the documentary Food Inc, produced by Participant Media, has proven to be effective.
Here are some of the top “must-see” documentaries that I encourage you to watch on FMTV.
I’m going to make the bold assumption that if you’re still reading, you’re game for this challenge. Again, there is only an upside.
I thought I would include a few menu items I came across. Food can be as basic or as adventurous as you want it. Some folks love smoothies and all the flavorful options. Others prefer the power bar family. For those looking for full meals, we’ve got you covered. Have a look at the options below, as well as the resources, for more background and recipes.