I had a discussion the other day with a colleague who said to me, "if you could just eat anything you wanted and die 10 years earlier, would you go back to eating meat, dairy, eggs, etc? Would you die at 75 instead of 85 to have the pleasure of eating animals again?" My answer, of course, was absolutely NOT! His was that he would rather continue eating tons of meat, etc. and die at 75 than to have to eat healthy and die at 85. I'm pretty sure that with the way he eats he'll never make it to 75, but that is his choice. Sad for his son, but hey it's his choice. I was a bit taken aback by his answer. But then I realized that his idea of what eating a plant based diet consists of would be horrible tasteless food. While that may have been the norm 10 or more years ago, that simply is not the case now. I wasn't even sure how to deal with this answer and his belief. I had to think about it for a long time to figure out why someone would want to cut 10 years off their life for the 15 or 20 minutes of "pleasure" that they get from eating meat. His deal was meat, not cheese, not eggs, not milk, but meat. He'll eat any type of meat, and I mean ANY TYPE from any part of the animal. Glands, organs, sweet breads, head cheese, brains, hot dogs, etc.
I finally figured out that his assumption is that I get no pleasure from the food I eat. I even described this amazing butternut squash veggie lasagna that I had made and he just said "yeah, right I bet that was tasty" (sarcasm, of course). The truth is that the food I eat is EXTREMELY satisfying, tasty, delicious and pleasurable - not at all tasteless. There are SO many plant based choices out there that are not only delicious but also healthy. Options abound.
I then thought back to the fact that he didn't care if he cut 10 years off his life. Immediately, I thought of James Gandolfini who just recently died of a heart attack at 51. 51 is WAY too young to die. He had not been diagnosed with heart disease. Yes, he was overweight and we don't know what other medical ailments he may have had. It was reported that he had eaten a very meat laden, fat filled meal right before, including foie gras. He was an amazing actor, an advocate for pit bulls, a father to a teenage boy and a 1 year old daughter and died way too young.
What you eat DOES make a difference in your health. Many people who have heart attacks aren't diagnosed with heart disease until they have a heart attack. And unfortunately, for many of them their first diagnosis of heart disease is the fatal attack and no treatment will help them. It's very sad because heart disease does not need to exist and can be prevented and reversed by eating a plant based diet. Tons of proof out there and I wish more people would believe it.
I've been asked by several people "what, are you trying to live forever?" No, of course I'm not. But for as long as I live, I want to live healthy, pain free, medication free, and functional. I don't want to suffer from chronic illness and declining health. I want to live a vibrant, functional life. I want to be able to run into my 70s or further, to travel after I retire (that's a long way off), to be sharp of mind and wit, and to not depend on others to take care of me in my old age. I am willing to eat a healthy whole foods plant based diet in order to make sure I live this way because I truly believe in the science that shows how much better it is for us to eat this way. Do I think I am making a sacrifice? Absolutely not, the food I eat is delicious, healthy and nourishes my body.