You can’t buy happiness, yet there is no shortage of people trying. Once we have our basic needs satisfied, we look to satisfaction as a parameter of happiness. The problem is the more we get, the more we want. We have all seen the studies that an extremely large income has nothing to do with happiness. However, “relative income” or income compared to others does offer a sense of happiness. How does this pertain to nutrition and health?
We all want to be healthy, but the main focus for most is immediate happiness. There was a fear after the second world war that the population would out grow our countries’ ability to produce food. With more nitrogen stockpiles once used for ammunition than was needed, it was diverted to producing fertilizers used in growing mono crops such as corn, soy, and wheat. Along with government subsides to encourage the change from growing diverse crops to mono crops, it was soon apparent that we would have more than enough to feed society. Incomes grew and attention turned toward conveniences. Television showed Americans what the rich and famous were drinking, smoking and eating, and quickly the mass society began to emulate their behaviors.
Wealthy people don’t cook. They go “out” to dinner. They don’t have “time” to cook or garden. The outdoors became a place for leisure and not backyard gardening. Spending money on things and leisure activities is perceived as climbing the social ladder. Even eating, drinking, and eating can be perceived as a fitness indicator. I am so fit, that I can eat and drink what I want and still be healthy. “I’ve earned the right to eat lavishly.” This is also seen when people actually gain weight training for and racing a marathon. Many gym injuries occur as people try to work off their over indulgence.
It seems as though we chase what others have with regard to perceived satisfaction and happiness in just about everything with one exception; health.
Poor nutrition is estimated to be responsible for 700,000 deaths annually. Yet, it does not fit into the paradigm of social “status.” We know that eating a simple diet with an energy intake equal to or slightly less that what is needed is the best recipe for health and longevity. Fresh fruit, vegetables, whole grain, and beans are the staples we all agree will make us healthy. Yet it is not socially satisfying. Eating a plant based diet is not enviable as eating filet mignon or wild caught salmon. French cuisine is described as rich not only because of the high fat content, but because it is the perceived choice of the rich.
If early adopters of new innovations are more likely to be the more affluent, yet they are also more likely to desire tasty high calorie foods that are made for them, then how will we ever get society to see the benefits of a plant-based diet. This, I believe is the social dilemma that deters most people from achieving optimal health and wellness through plant based nutrition. Even though people know that plant based nutrition is best for their health, there is the yearning to be like the “social elites”. Live with abandon and still appear healthy. After all you have to die of something, they say. Perhaps, but you don’t have to spend the last 20 years of your life in and out of doctors offices, racking up medications and surgeries. The rich and famous may have access to CRISPR DNA technology that may someday fix the damage that was done through years of overindulgence, but for the majority of us, we will be better served by eating a healthy plant strong diet.
Trying to eat the nutrition that is depicted as desirable in the media has never been more dangerous. Help make being healthy a priority by standing up for your plant based choices. If asked why you are eating rabbit food or why you are one of those vegans, simply say you are trying to eat the best foods, in the least amounts, to remain healthy, harm the fewest, and save the planet. I can’t think of something more satisfying than that.