I am going to go in a different direction today. In previous posts, I’ve largely focused on the benefits of eating more whole plant foods everyday, for your personal health, and for the health of the planet.
Let’s switch gears and talk about motivation, because none of this matters one bit if it is not put into action. I could talk your ear off about how great a plant-based diet is, but if you aren’t interested in changing your habits, my efforts will be moot.
Being a 28 year-old male in this country, and eating a plant-based diet, I have noticed one fundamental truth — it’s weird to be healthy.
That seems weird to me, but it’s true. It is weird to care about your health.
Not in like a general way. We all care, right? We all want to stay healthy and we all want to avoid disease or injury. But when push comes to shove, choosing say, a healthy meal at a restaurant, or, not indulging in the same foods at a party or barbecue, or making time to exercise or meditate — that’s when you start to be known as the weird guy who is obsessed with his health. A “health nut.”
But I actually think most people really do care, and they really would like to lead a healthier lifestyle. We just don’t make it easy.
It’s true — in America, the healthy choice is definitely not the easy choice.
In America we put junk food right next to the checkout at stores that have nothing to do with food. Walk into a home improvement store and near the register is a case of soda and a display of candy bars. Was it really so exhausting walking through those aisles that we need 200+ calories of refined sugar and fat? I know it’s a big store but come on.
In America we drive everywhere, take elevators and escalators instead of the stairs, sit at desks, lie on couches, and shop from home. Activity has been so engineered out of our lives that you could hardly burn a single calorie beyond your basal metabolic rate and live a complete day.
In America we over-schedule ourselves to the point of exhaustion and sate our anxieties with food and alcohol and drugs, prescribed or otherwise.
In America we line our malls and streets and cafeterias with fast food, hyper-engineered to be irresistible, delicious, and addictive, and fattening to boot.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. We CAN engineer our own environments to be very different. There was not a single rule or law that made these changes. We did.
What if next to the registers we placed fresh fruits and vegetables? What if we created bike friendly and walkable communities, with buildings that encouraged stair climbing and more active work? What if we took the time to find some inner calm, said no to a few more things and yes to ourselves? What if instead of fatty fast food EVERYWHERE we made healthy eating a priority and placed fresh markets and healthy restaurants in these locations instead.
What if we made health the easy choice?
We can make this future possible, but it starts with each and every single one of us choosing health now, in an environment that doesn’t support it. We have to be willing to be a little weird.
We have to choose to order healthy entrees at restaurants, choose to skip the junk at the register, choose to take the stairs, ride our bikes, and walk more, choose to invest in our inner peace, and choose to forego the fast food in favor of fresh food.
When I was deciding on what to do with my life, I knew I wanted to make the biggest impact I possibly could, and I explored options in the government, and in both the supply and demand side of business. I quickly learned that the government is too slow, and that supplying better products only matters if there is demand for them. I believe consumer demand, which really just means “what people stand up and say they want,” is the true driver of change in this world.
Demand health and we will have health.
Be willing to be weird.
It can be tough sometimes to go against the grain, but no social change ever occurred without this crucial step. So, if you are reading this, stand up as a part of this community, part of this movement, toward better, healthier, and more sustainable lives. I am standing with you.