Full transcript of plant-based dietitian Julieanna Hever’s TEDx Talk on Plant Based Nutrition at TEDxConejo 2012 conference.
Right click to download the MP3 audio:
Julieanna Hever – Author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Plant-Based Nutrition
What if I told you that I had a magic elixir? One that could prevent and reverse almost every chronic disease? One that could solve the health care crisis. One that would bring more compassion into the world.
What if I explained that my elixir could help heal the planet’s devastation? That it could save billions of animals a year and prevent their pain? That it could feed the hungry throughout the world? That it encourages peace, community, and benevolence?
This potion, it’s free of cost, and there’s plenty for everyone. Would you believe me that it exists? Would you be shocked at its simplicity? Mesmerized by its obviousness? Eager to try it? Would you be frustrated that nobody had told you this information prior to now? Like I myself was.
When as a teenager, I randomly stumbled into this brilliant book by John Robbins called “Diet for a New America“. It changed my life forever. Indeed, this elixir exists everywhere. And it’s perhaps one of the sole commonalities we share amongst all the living on earth. It is readily available to most, and I know with confidence, that it is the most potent possibility we have to save our future. That of our species, the planet, and life as we know it.
OK, granted, that may seem a little hooky, I agree. At first glance, my proposal may seem implausible. But hear me out. And then decide.
Eating a whole food plant based diet is this magic elixir. The secret ingredient to all these extraordinary outcomes. Sustaining yourself on vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds can and will provide all the aforementioned benefits. You are what you eat — at a cellular level, an immunological level, in a holistic sense.
You are also connected to nature, and other humans, and even other species via the food you consume. You are what you eat refers to food once it has entered the body, so let’s break it down to the cellular level.
You are composed of approximately 10 to 50 trillion cells, give or take several trillion, most of which regenerate. A constant state of dynamism, flowing, moving, changing. Even the bones, we think of the bones as dead, and stagnated hard, but even the bones are in a constant state of flux. Exchanging, releasing, absorbing minerals.
OK, a caveat, the brain, heart, and kidneys do not, unfortunately, regenerate. But think of the possibilities if you are constantly reinventing most of yourself all of the time. We now have an abundance of irrefutable scientific data in the literature confirming that a whole food, plant based diet is ideal for optimal health, that eating plants can help your cells, your organs, your body, stave off chronic disease, achieve, and maintain your ideal body weight, enhance exercise performance, and thrive throughout the life span. I’ve seen this in the last five years since I implemented this protocol into my nutrition counseling practice.
And in the last year, I’ve had two very, very special opportunities to see this on a larger scale. The first of which was last spring when, as Executive Director of EarthSave International, we took 21 food bank clients, that live in the middle of a food desert, and we put them on a whole food, plant based nutrition program. So we taught them how to go shopping and how to prepare their food, even how to exercise, but all of it was in a very sustainable way.
After 28 days, all the participants finished the challenge, with enthusiasm, I might add, and on average, they lost 17 pounds, their total cholesterol dropped 18%, their LDL, bad cholesterol dropped 22%, blood pressure went from 138 over 83 to 121 over 77, without medications. In fact, we had an 84% reduction in total prescription medication use. There was an increased sense of energy, right, it’s exciting, it’s amazing! That doesn’t happen every day. They had a decrease in chronic non specific complaints like abdominal discomfort, headaches, heartburn, constipation, diarrhea, migraines, joint pain. The results were astounding.
My second opportunity was in October when I was invited to be on the Dr. Oz Show. There, we took three women who had high blood pressure and high cholesterol. So we put them on the “prehistoric diet”. They spent two days in a zoo eating raw fruits and vegetables. And then, when they went home, I added back cooked vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds. In only like four or five total days, they lost an average of four pounds, they reduced their LDL, the bad cholesterol, by 42 points. And all three of them had high blood pressure — it was normalized. Four or five days. Yes. Thank you.
You are indeed what you eat. But you are also how you eat. Let’s break that down in a logistical way.
Most people consume about three meals a day, give or take a snack or two. Thinking about food before we consume it is not something most of us spend a lot of time doing as we rush to grab a quick bite, as we eat on the run, as we forget to chew well enough, as we eat larger than ever portions hence the epidemic success of the fast and convenience food industries. We tend to eat reactively. Contemplating perhaps how delicious a meal was or complaining of feeling full or having heartburn. Further down the line, you may end up with high blood pressure, gout, type 2 diabetes, all of which are food-borne illnesses.
However, what if we ate proactively? Conscious eating, intentional eating, thinking about everything that goes into the making of your food, all the way from the seed to the plate. If you plan your meals and relish your food as you prepare and consume it, you are eating proactively instead of reactively.
I argue that eating a whole food plant based diet is innately, inherently proactive, and that it is the most powerful tool we have to control so many variables: your health, the state of the planet, the suffering of animals, and on and on. And it’s something we can do an average three times a day.
Food. Food is culture, tradition, history, love, family, nourishment, comfort, medicine; essentially food unifies mind, body and spirit. “I’m in the mood for,” “I feel like having”, “I want”; but it is so much greater and grander than just the self. Food also unifies the earth, sun, water with you. The seed is planted, the sun, the water helps it grow, it ends up on your plate, you consume it, it goes through your gastro-intestinal tract and into your blood stream where it becomes a part of you. And ultimately, it ends up back in the earth in a beautifully, harmonious, symbiotic and cyclical way.
Food also unifies people. We enjoy meals together, we make business deals over food, we teach our children social norms and customs while feeding them. We celebrate holidays with festive foods, we unite cultures with cuisine.
Breaking bread. This term ‘breaking bread’ has many historical and even biblical connotations, but simply put, if you look it up in the dictionary, breaking bread is defined as eating together. Dining together.
Imagine breaking bread with every bite you consume, knowing the multiple levels and layers to which you’re interconnecting simply with your fork. I challenge you all to consider not only what you eat but also how you eat. To eat with intention, awareness, consciousness.
Change your world and your inter connectivity with others by basing your diet on whole plant foods.