By Dr. Padma Garvey
The Season of Giving is here, during which time it is easy to get caught up in the commercialism and overindulgence. However, we can use the food we eat during the holidays to make our expressions of giving more meaningful to more people than ever before.
We have a passive relationship with food nowadays. We don’t see it grow before our eyes. We are blind to the hardships faced by those who harvest our food for us. We are unaware of how it is slaughtered. Instead it comes packaged, processed, and adulterated, laden with additives, hormones, antibiotics, and empty calories. The food we eat harms us more than we realize in subtle but real ways. By making some changes in our diets, though, individuals can ‘give’ a meaningful gift to themselves, their families, their fellow man, and to our shared earth.
Focus on prevention
As parents, we want to be healthy for our families. A plant-based diet actually helps PREVENT breast, prostate, colon, and uterine cancer, and as an added bonus, prevents heart disease and diabetes. That’s right. I am not satisfied with early detection. We need to focus on early PREVENTION. A plant-based diet provides our bodies with cancer-preventing nutrients, ones that actually turn off our bad cancer genes.
The effects our food has on our future starts in the mother’s womb. What a mother eats while pregnant can turn on and off our good and bad genes. Every meal after birth can promote health or can lay the foundation for future health problems. By providing our children with a whole foods, unprocessed, plant-based diet we can give them the meaningful gift of health and a life free of cancer, heart disease, and diabetes.
Steps toward a plant-based diet
Land and water are precious resources. A plant-based diet allows for more equitable usage of these resources and will actually provide more nourishing food for all our fellow men. With the population of the world around 7 billion people, we all need to share these resources so that no one on earth goes hungry.
Global warming seems too big of a problem for any one of us to tackle. A plant-based diet is the most ecofriendly diet. If we all took some steps towards a plant-based diet we could impact greenhouse gas emissions more than if we all bought a Prius. We would literally be giving to our shared earth.
Try something new
It seems too good to be true that decreasing our consumption of animals and dairy could have such profound and far-reaching effects. And yet this is exactly what could happen if each and every one of us took some steps towards a plant-based diet in our lives. I encourage you to try something new this holiday season by revamping some of your holiday meals and baked goods. There are so many wonderful plant-based recipes available on the internet. I suggest starting with my stuffed mushrooms. I take it as the ultimate compliment that my Sicilian mother in-law thought they were stuffed with sausage the first time she had them. Enjoy the holidays. Make this season more meaningful than any before it by giving to yourself, your family, your fellow man, and our shared earth.