Welcome to the One Week Responsive Universe Challenge – as seen on MindBodyGreen!

Okay, so today I want to talk about food – Being mindful about what we eat …As the saying goes…. We are what we eat, right?

I watched this documentary recently with my wife called Forks Over Knives…. Wow!

Most Americans would contend that eating animal based products, which includes meat and dairy, are good for you in moderation – and I think we need to define what is moderation. In America moderation is an 8 oz steak instead of a 12 oz rib eye. In Japan it might be more like 3 ounces of meat – big cultural difference there!

Still, we need the protein and amino acids from meat right? This documentary, Forks Over Knives, presents evidence that a whole food plant-based diet can prevent, and in many cases, reverse degenerative diseases; diseases caused by excessive animal protein diets!

There was a section of the movie that showed historical data from Norway before, during and after the Nazi occupation during WII. They had documentation showing heart disease death rates during this era. It is interesting because before the war there was a substantial rise in food related deaths. When the Nazi’s occupied Norway, they hoarded and confiscated all the cattle and livestock for the German front lines. The result: No meat! Thus, a dip in death rates related to heart disease – The Norwegians were forced to eat more veggies and plant-based products. Guess what happened after the Nazis were defeated? A spike in food related deaths when the meat returned to the daily diet.

This was just one interesting historical comparison. There is other convincing data and test results done in China and here in the US that proves without a doubt that excessive animal protein diets, coupled with items of convenience: Soda pop, french fries and really anything processed causes health problems – America is the worst apparently. Supposedly the US health care bill is more than our military budget – according to this movie; most of our health care costs could be reversed if we changed our diets. Ailments like bad cholesterol, high blood pressure, cancer and diabetes are all proven to be diet related and account for most of the surgeries and prescription drugs we are enduring.

So, fast forward to this Tuesday at the local grocery store. Yeah, that’s right, The Responsive Universe One Week Challenge! Here are a few things I bought:

Amy’s Southwestern Organic Burritos – 4 for $10 bucks (yeah there is cheese in it)

Natures Path, Flax Plus Red Berry Crunch – USDA Organic – $5.79 a box

Garden of Eaten Red Hot Blue Organic Tortilla Chips – $3.99 a bag

Annies Homegrown Bunny Grahams – All Natural – $4.99 a box (for my son, serious)

Point is, healthy food is expensive. For the money I spent above (and that was the tip of the iceberg), I could have fed my family at McDonalds for a week off the dollar menu (of course I would never do that!!!)

As I put away the food from my health kick purchase, I stumbled upon the lunch menu for my son’s school. It was stuck to the frig with a magnetic. In bold writing, “USDA approved lunches”. It was interesting, because I noticed that hotdogs are a daily option on the menu. Wow, I had no idea that hotdogs were a well-balanced meal. Last time I checked, I thought hotdogs were made from pressed lips and assholes – I am not even sure what animal hotdogs come from – and what about the preservatives and nitrates? Huh, makes you wonder who you can trust: The government and large money corporations that control our food supply or the highly educated doctors they discredit. Further, how can the middle class and struggling families even afford organic, healthy food? Once I told my son Ethan what was in hotdogs – well, lets just say he does not eat hotdogs at school anymore…

So, am I going to go vegetarian for the rest of my life…?

Probably not; I do think a little organic poultry or fresh caught salmon is good for you in moderation. I truly believe a small amount of animal protein is beneficial – mind you – A SMALL AMOUNT…  Eating meat at every meal is not healthy! Further, anything processed is not healthy either. You just need to ask yourself where your food comes from and what it was injected and processed with. Further, it is all about portions. You should eat meat as a supplement to a dish – like a vegetable stir fry with chicken – not a slab of meat and a fully loaded baked potato. Truthfully, I can’t even eat red meat anymore – I just do not have a taste for it since I cut it from my diet a year ago. As a side note, I have read that for humans to have evolved into the intelligent creatures we are today we needed meat in our diets to properly spur sophisticated brain activity. Still even that theory notes that primitive man probably only ate meat on rare or special occasions.  I guess that can all be debated.

For me, my focus is to eat less meat and more fresh fruits and veggies – coupled with more organic purchases. For those of you daily meat eaters – try doing a “meatless monday” – you will be surprised how easy it actually is.

Being mindful of what you eat and what you feed your children is important to future wellness – slowly change your eating habits and soon you will see a difference. Once I cut out processed foods, the results were almost immediate for me!

John C. Bader