Hippocrates, the father of medicine, emphasized the importance of diet in achieving health by saying, “Let thy food be thy medicine and let medicine be thy food.” Many centuries later, Thomas Edison predicted that “the doctor of the future will give no drugs but will interest his patients in the care of the human body, in diet, and in the cause and prevention of human disease.” Indeed, their words are now becoming a reality.
In 2003, the World Health Organization (WHO) warns about a leap in cancer cases if lifestyles are unchanged. The report singled out the dangers of “Western lifestyle with fat-rich diet and little exercise” with the warning “obesity is spreading epidemically throughout the world.”
In 2004, WHO issued the Global Strategy on Diet, Physical Activity, and Health. The organization stated that “Globally, the burden of non-communicable diseases which in 2001 accounted for almost 60 percent of the 56 million deaths annually and 47 percent of the global burden of disease has even rapidly increased.”
Vegans, by virtue of their diet, have lower risk of getting these deadly lifestyle diseases. According to a study published in 2004 at the Journal of National Cancer Institute, those who had eight or more servings of fruits and vegetables a day were 30 percent less likely to have a heart attack or stroke—the biggest killer among lifestyle diseases.
To address the problem of the increasing incidence of lifestyle diseases, WHO’s Global Strategy recommends the following:
· Achieve energy balance and a healthy weight;
· Increase consumption of fruits and vegetables, and legumes, whole grains, and nuts;
· Limit energy intake from total fats and shift fat consumption away from saturated fats to unsaturated fats and towards the elimination of trans-fatty acids;
· Limit the intake of free sugars; and
· Limit salt (sodium) consumption from all sources.
In terms of diet guidance, WHO has switched from the food pyramid to the round shape of a plate—as illustrated in the “MyPlate” campaign. The vegan version removes milk and defines protein as coming from vegetables. Thus, our “VeganPlate” as likewise divided into four portions will have:
· Grains/Root Crops
· Protein (Beans)