Eyes, JAPAN Blog > How to live longer or the Benefits of a plant-based diet

How to live longer or the Benefits of a plant-based diet

Veronica

Since I came to Japan, I started to meet people who follow a flexitarian, vegetarian or vegan diet, and it intrigues me, why people do that? In Belarus, I barely heard that someone is following a diet mentioned before. I also began to explore the world of nutrition, and I am currently working on a project related to the future of food (FoodPlatig AI). I am also always interested in knowing more about climate change and how the food industry influences it. Taking that into account, my friends suggested me to watch two movies: the Game Changers and Before the Flood, and they are indeed eye-opening documentaries for me.

Image from IMDb

 The Game Changers

A large part of the film is about changing the conventional understanding of protein and a plant-based diet. People mistakenly think that meat and dairy products are essential nutrients and that no healthy diet could exclude animal-based products. The movie tries to bust these myths, and show that they’re unsupported by science. Writers draw similarities to the same marketing techniques that were used to promote cigarettes and soda drinks.

They conducted the following experiment: they asked three athletes to have a burrito lunch, two of them are eating non-vegan burritos, and one athlete is vegan. On the second day, all athletes had vegan burritos, and they looked at plasma which they took after each lunch and compared meat-based meals and vegan meals. They found out that for those who ate a meat-based meal (burrito with meat inside), the blood was much thicker, more fat in the plasma than when tested after eating a vegan burrito.

That is surprising how single meat lunch influenced plasma. Imagine if you eat meat or animal products each meal.

Image is from The Game Changers movie

I knew that many athletes are vegan including Arnold Schwarzenegger, Dotsie Bausch, Patrik Baboumian, and many others. Also, the film points out that a plant-based diet will not only improve the health of individuals who adhere to it but also enhance our planet’s dismal health.
It was astonishing to learn that even one meat-free day per week would mean a 14% reduction in the damage caused to our bodies and our planet by the meat industry. It definitely changed my perspective.

Image from Amazon.com

Before the Flood

DiCaprio traveled around the earth for two years to show us the catastrophic change global warming is causing and raise awareness for the urgency to take action now. Leonardo says that he still has hope. For the earth, climate, and humanity. So if we all finally decide to take action immediately, climate change can still be solved.

From this movie, I learned that not only burning fossil fuels but also growing cattle produces a vast amount of CO2 and methane emissions, which speeds up climate change.

Before the Flood is engaging, informative, and you will find ideas on what everyone can do to reduce emissions. I highly recommend watching these two documentaries!

After the Game Changers movie, I realized how healthy is plant-based diet! It is rich in fiber, minerals, and vitamins that help lower blood pressure and cholesterol, reduce the risk of diabetes and help maintain a healthy weight, all of which can lower heart disease risk.
From the Before the Flood movie, I found out that consuming less meat will also reduce emissions since agriculture and meat industries play a significant role in CO2 and Methane emissions. So, I started to look for plant-based recipes and found a fantastic online blog Pick Up Limes. I cooked several recipes, and I enjoyed it a lot: easy to cook, and delicious at the same time!

Image by Elissa Goodman

From the Pick Up Limes blog, I learned about the book How Not to Die by Michael Greger, MD, and started to read it. Michael Greger dedicated his life to promoting a whole-food and plant-based diet, he is an author of 7 books and a professional speaker on public health issues. He gave speaking tours all over the world including TEDx talks and Talks at Google. He has a free, non-profit website NutritionFacts.org, where he covers many useful topics on health, nutrition, weight loss, and others. You may hear that vegan or vegetarians might lack B12 vitamins, and partly it might be true. Vitamin B12 is generally found in all animal foods except honey, while there is no reliable B12 in plant foods, including tempeh, seaweeds, and organic produce. But Michael Greger shows that in the vegetarian diet, even if you eat eggs and dairy or flexitarian eating a few meat servings a week, don’t get enough B12 vitamin, and supplementation of vitamin B12 is needed. Luckily, vitamin B12 is made by bacteria and doesn’t need to be obtained from animal products. The healthiest food sources of B12 are natto, shitake mushroom, and nori. Sometimes B12 is added to breakfast cereals, and other products, so check the label. But it’s relatively easy to get a source of vitamin B12 taking supplements. Dr. Greger analyzed recent studies and came up with the optimal daily intake of 50 mcg, or 2000 mcg once a week (how he does that).

Image from See The Sun

I love animals, and if you love them as I do, you will agree, that the best way to protect them is not to eat them. But if you still struggle to eliminate animal-based products from your diet, luckily, there are many substitutes made of soybeans, e.g., Zen Meat by See the Sun company. You can try some products of Zen Meat in the office.

Improving one’s health through adopting a plant-based diet does not have to be sudden. Start to have one meat-free day per week and help your body and our planet.

Stay safe and be healthy!

Resources:
1. The Game Changers movie
2. Before the Flood movie
3. How Not to Die book in English, Japanese.
4. Non-profit website of Michael Greger, MD.
5. See The Sun company and their product Zen Meat
6. Good plant-based recipes Pick up limes

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