Will Tuttle, World Peace Diet, revisited for 2011

Dr. Will Tuttle is an award-winning speaker, educator, author, and musician. His music, writings, and presentations focus on creativity, intuition, and compassion. He is the author of The World Peace Diet which has been called one of the most important books of the 21st century: the foundation of a new society based on the truth of the interconnectedness of all life.

TRANSCRIPTION:

Caryn Hartglass: Hello, I’m Caryn Hartglass, and you’re listening to It’s All About Food. Thank you for joining me today! Before we get started with the main portion of the show, I wanted to talk about something new and exciting. I have recently founded a new non-profit called Responsible Eating and Living, and it’s an opportunity to get involved really intensely with all of the things that I am so passionate about, and I welcome you to visit the new site, responsibleeatingandliving.com, responsibleeatingandliving.com. One of the things I love about the name is the acronym, which is REAL, and we’ll be doing lots of video programming, including food shows, news, there’s already quite a few recipes and pictures of some great food items. Of course, everything is plant-based, and many of the recipes are gluten-free, and so some of the recipes that I talk about on It’s All About Food as well as on my other show on Sunday, Ask a Vegan, I will be putting up the details on this site: responsibleeatingandliving.com. So please, check it out. There will be lots of opportunity for responses, for feedback, and so I hope to hear from you there.
So today, we have really a wonderful guest, Dr. Will Tuttle. He has inspired so many people with his work, specifically the book that he wrote that came out several years ago, The World Peace Diet. Dr. Will Tuttle is an award-winning speaker, educator, author and musician. His music, writings, and presentations focus on creativity, intuition, and compassion. His book, The World Peace Diet, has been called one of the most important books of the 21st century, the foundation of a new society based on the truth of the interconnectedness of life.
Caryn Hartglass: Will, welcome to It’s All About Food.
Dr. Will Tuttle: Thank you Caryn, I’m delighted to be here on this show!
Caryn Hartglass: I’m so glad we could work this out, because I know you have a busy schedule and you’re everywhere.
Dr. Will Tuttle: Right, one place at a time but a lot of different places. We’re in Palm Springs at the moment.
Caryn Harglass: Is it hot?
Dr. Will Tuttle: It’s actually, it’s pretty warm, although it’s overcast so it’s not too bad.
Caryn Hartglass: For those who aren’t familiar with Will Tuttle and his book, The World Peace Diet, you have really dedicated your life to this mission, this beautiful mission of making this world a better place.
Dr. Will Tuttle: Well thanks, I think you’re also doing the same thing. I think we’re working pretty much on the same team here to try and raise consciousness about the ramifications of our food choices.
Caryn Hartglass: Okay, but your home is a moving target.
Dr. Will Tuttle: Right, we have a rolling home, it’s parked here at the church, we are getting all of our energy from the sun, we have solar panels on the roof. It’s a 6-wheel trailer, we’ve been living in it, my wife Madeline and I, for now about 16 years.
Caryn Hartglass: 16 years! Most people could not and would not do that.
Dr. Will Tuttle: Well it’s a small space, it has some advantages. If I want a new pair of pants, I have to give away a pair of pants, I can’t store a bunch of things. But yeah, it’s about 220 square feet, I guess we’ve been living in. But it’s really fun, we enjoy it, we don’t feel like we’re giving up a whole heck of a lot, because like you were saying, we really are dedicated to spreading the message, and this is a good way to do it, because we’re able to give lots of events, over 150 events a year around North America, and lectures and presentations, concerts and workshops and things, focusing on helping people to see more deeply into the implications of our food choices, and to help connect with health and compassion, sustainability, and the big picture.
Caryn Hartglass: How did you first decide to live this way, I’m curious?
Dr. Will Tuttle: Actually, I was teaching college back in San Francisco in the ‘80s, and I really loved it, but I got a 1971 Volkswagen bus, decided to try living in that and traveling. I did a walk, actually, that people were doing from Santa Monica to New York City, called Global Walk for a Livable World back in 1990, and after that moved into my Volkswagen bus, and lived in that for three years while I traveled and did workshops and concerts. Then I met Madeline in Switzerland, and we moved into a little house in Irving, California for a few years while we made albums, and I felt though it was time for a change. We decided to try living in an RV. I never really thought we would do it, we thought we would try it for a few months, and that was 16 years ago. It really works out great for us and we enjoy it, and it’s just one of those stories, we just thought we’d try it for a little while and we’re still doing it.
Caryn Hartglass: You are, that’s a good one. Now you have a website, willtuttle.com.
Dr. Will Tuttle: Yes, and that has our schedule on it, if anyone wants to see where we are, where we’ll be coming, where we are presenting, if you have friends in certain cities around the country. Also if you’re interested in having us come to where you are, just send me an email. We really try to make loops around North America and include as many of the different corners as we can, so we’ve been pretty much to every state and done things over the last few years. We have the music and the art, as well as The World Peace Diet, downloads and videos, and all kinds of stuff like that too.
Caryn Hartglass: How many years ago now did The World Peace Diet come out?
Dr. Will Tuttle: It came out at the end of ’05, so it’s been just about 5 years, we’re just now in the 6th year.
Caryn Hartglass: We’ve seen some significant change I think since that book came out, some positive change.
Dr. Will Tuttle: Right, I think we’ve definitely seen a lot of change, I think we’ve seen positive change in terms of the vegan message reaching more and more people in the mainstream. I think we’re seeing some definite positive changes happening, in terms of people’s awareness about the ramifications for their health, the idea that diabetes, osteoporosis and heart disease and cancer are pretty strongly linked to eating diets high in animal-based foods. It’s getting more and more traction through the work of a lot of people, and we’re working with those ideas but even more, I think, with the idea that our cultural health, our spiritual and psychological health, and the environmental health too are very powerfully affected by our food choices probably more than anything else. The World Peace Diet message is essentially about our psychological, spiritual, and cultural health, that we need to understand how our violence towards animals for food boomerangs in ways that are not only devastating to the animals themselves but into the whole realms of life that we share on this planet. But really to our culture, our relationships, our own inner peace, all these things are really affected.
Caryn Hartglass: Well I’m a believer. No question there. I was reading recently, I think it was a Lebanese journalist who happened to be in Manhattan and she was surprised to see one of these protests—we have these horse drawn carriages in Manhattan, and a lot of tourists take advantage of them, and there’s a number of groups that are trying to get rid of this tradition because the horses are so poorly treated. In the winter, it’s terrible, because the horses are so cold, and in the summer it’s horrible because they’re parched and so hot. It’s a sad thing. But it’s a really, a very small, small piece of a very cruel big picture puzzle. What this woman remarked was how fortunate we are here in this country where we have the luxury to be focused on animal rights, whereas in the Middle East right now so many people are struggling for human rights. But, like you say, it’s all connected. It really all is the same thing, and I would like to think that when all of these other people that are so focused on their own misfortunes finally get past that, we can resolve all these other important issues.
Dr. Will Tuttle: Right, exactly. I think it’s obviously essential that we make these connections to the bigger picture. There are people in the Middle East who are also concerned about the mistreatment of animals by humans, and so I don’t think we should say that they aren’t concerned about it. I think personally, from the research I’ve done, and just seeing the way the media works, and the way I believe our thinking works, that when we have a massive subterranean violence going on, that’s more or less hidden, the killing of millions of animals every single day, it creates a huge amount of violence that people are eating and causing and that will then boomerang back into the culture in a whole range of ways, and that happens in every culture. I don’t think it’s, but in the United States, we’re probably eating more meat per capita than almost any country in the world, and interestingly enough, we have other statistics like, we have more people incarcerated per capita than pretty much any country in the world as well, and the largest military budget in the world, also, and probably the biggest war machine.
Caryn Hartglass: People don’t make those connections.
Dr. Will Tuttle: Right, right, exactly. I think those are very important for us to realize. It’s one thing that’s very interesting, really, is that it is getting now quite fashionable to make the connection that when we have people who are later very disturbed and commit acts of violence towards human beings, people who shoot them, shoot people and so forth, do sort of mass killings, that they always practice on animals. They practice on animals when they’re younger, when they’re children or when they’re younger, and yet we don’t see that as a culture we are doing the same thing. We are practicing on animals on a massive scale, and doing the same thing. Then we end up with massive war profiteering going on, and massive profiteering from pharmaceutical industry, as well as from the meat, dairy, and egg industry. I think more and more people are beginning to realize that they are complicit, in a sense, if they are eating animal foods, that they are causing this to happen in a very direct way, and really harming themselves in a lot of ways too. Culturally as well as physical health, but also culturally. For example, there’s a group of people in Cincinnati who were inspired by The World Peace Diet, who are now doing World Peace Diet study groups through some of the progressive churches and also through some of the, especially one of the yoga studios, a couple of the yoga studios. They have branched out also and created an outreach to churches, especially to, just to ministries, and go into these churches, especially to the ministers, and show videos that make the connection between ill health and violence and eating animal foods. Very interesting to me that a couple of the churches, especially the ones that are African-American, one in particular, the minister was really quite appalled. He made the connections, he saw how the government has these programs in place to basically force inner-city, black kids to eat huge amounts of dairy and a lot of high-processed animal foods that cause obesity and diabetes and all kinds of allergies and all kinds of disease, actually, as well as probably a lot of psychological problems to the children, and that it’s a way of really oppressing his people. He said, “You know, we have just got to get our entire congregation to go vegan, because that’s the only way we are going to claim our power back again, that’s the only way we’re going to claim our own independence and our own freedom, is if we stop eating these foods of violence and oppression that are not only devastating and cruel to animals, but are the same thing to us and our children.” I think we have to start to realize that, that our compassion for animals is really compassion for ourselves. Liberating animals is liberating ourselves, and the two go together. We’ll never be able to be free and healthy ourselves, and to celebrate our lives the way we are intended to on this planet as long as we have this massive industrial killing machine of animals that causes enormous violence to them and causes huge numbers of human beings, our own brothers and sisters, not only to starve but to work in the slaughterhouses.
Caryn Hartglass: I’ve been thinking about this concept of freedom a lot in the last few weeks, and it’s interesting that you brought up the story of this African-American minister, because you’ve probably heard this, people say, “I like my meat, and I want to eat what I want to eat!” So often, and those people especially do not realize that they don’t have free choice, they are not thinking, they have been totally manipulated by marketing to “choose” the things that they want. It’s not about freedom, it’s about manipulation and marketing. You probably don’t watch any television, and I certainly don’t watch a lot, but I heard about the show Mad Men, and so I’ve been renting some of the past seasons just because I wanted to know what all of this hype was about. Even though it’s a fictional story, you get to understand how marketing started in this country, and where we are today with it. It’s so subliminal, it’s so huge, and it starts very young. These corporations get us when we’re young, and we don’t have freedom of choice. We are marketed and hypnotized and manipulated.
Dr. Will Tuttle: Absolutely. I think probably, what you’re saying is one of the absolutely most important things that any of us can not only understand, but can begin to articulate to others, because this is I think the most powerful way that we can actually spread a message of compassion and health and liberation, is to realize that when we meet anyone who is eating animal-based foods, that they are never any in any way doing it out of their own free choice. They’re doing it really for only one reason, and that reason is that they have been indoctrinated to do so by a huge range of forces. A lot of the forces are like what you’re saying, the corporate marketing, but even beyond that it’s typically like in my case, as soon as I lost my mother’s breast, I started getting dairy, I started getting meat, I started getting eggs from the people that I totally trusted: my own mother and my own father, my relatives, my grandparents, everybody around me, my teacher, the minister. So the corporations and the corporate marketing is one aspect, but it’s the entirety of this culture. Every institution is involved in this indoctrination and marketing of animal food.
Caryn Hartglass: I know that there are probably people listening, and plenty of people who aren’t, that will say, “No, I really love my food.” I am going to say, “You add sugar, salt and fat to anything and you can make it taste good.”
Dr. Will Tuttle: Well yeah, not only sugar, salt and fat but it’s well known that most of the processed meats used in places like Kentucky Fried Chicken and all these places have huge amounts of MSG and other things that are very, these taste enhancers that are, especially for children, make food taste bigger than life. It’s hard to get people off of that kind of stuff because it creates a certain craving, and there’s a lot. Plus, they found, Neal Bernard’s done research when these foods are animal foods in general, especially cheese, also tuna fish, a lot of other meats, they seem to create casomorphins, which are physically addictive as well. So, there’s multiple levels of addiction that are going on, like physical as well as just the idea. Maybe when, as a little kid, I would come home from playing outside and I’d smell roast beef, and I know that meant my mother loved me because she was making a wonderful meal, and so if I don’t smell roast beef then somebody doesn’t love me. It’s these childhood sort of associations, I think, that are powerful. When people say, like you’re saying, “I love meat,” what is it that they really love? I think a lot of it is psychological, a lot of it is perhaps some level of addiction, and a lot of it is simply their own self-image. So in The World Peace Diet I have a few chapters that kind of go into that and try to deconstruct why we’re eating animal foods, what it is that we really love about it, and I think the beauty of it is that we realize that it’s not only possible, but it’s not that difficult to make the changes, and that we will, within a few weeks, we will love the new foods that we’re eating because we’re basically creatures of habit. A lot of it is simply some way to simply have a support system in other people. I think veganism on its own is pretty easy to move to, to shift to a vegan diet, but the hard part most people have is really in the other people—
Caryn Hartglass: Their family and their work environment.
Dr. Will Tuttle: Their lives, their family, their coworkers, where are they going to eat, restaurants, wherever it is. So that’s why we focus on in The World Peace Diet, I have a facilitator training program now that I’ve started doing it, and also a mastery program, and we talk a lot about how we can be effective advocates. One of the big things is to help create community, wherever people are that support them, because without a community of at least a few other people you can talk to about things, and get recipes from, people feel so alone and alienated, and we just don’t want to feel that way as human beings, so that’s a big part of it.
Caryn Hartglass: I keep forgetting because I’m at peace here in my home, and with my family, and with my food choices, and I do a lot of cooking, and it’s all plant-based, and my world, everyone knows who I am and what I eat, they know I’ve been all about food for decades. There are so many people out there that are just discovering, and it seems so hard to believe, especially when I’ve been in it for so long, that some people just don’t know, most people don’t, and they do need support and they do need help.
Dr. Will Tuttle: Right. Exactly. That’s really the key. We have a tendency, since we’ve been doing it for a long time to assume that people are aware that, for example, a cow will not give milk unless she is impregnated. People seem to think that cows just give milk because that’s what God made them to do. They have to steal the babies, and then you have to kill the babies and impregnate them again immediately, otherwise they will dry up. So this huge underlying cruelty,
Caryn Hartglass: That is a very ugly story.
Dr. Will Tuttle: Right! It’s completely invisible because people don’t even think, and no one talks about these basic truths underlying what’s going on.
Caryn Hartglass: I would think that, I’m not a religious person, and I would think that the churches and synagogues would be the leaders in this compassion movement, and they’re not. Right there in the Ten Commandments is “Thou shalt not kill,” and I talk a lot about, well, who are they talking about? There are some particular groups, I know you speak to a number of different churches, the Unitarians, they’ve been moving a bit on opening this concept. You do speak at churches from time to time, are there some that are more open to this and are more welcoming?
Dr. Will Tuttle: Actually, virtually every single Sunday I am speaking in a church. It’s mainly what we would call progressive churches, the most open-minded, liberal of the churches, both the Unitarian churches and Unity churches. I would say they are very much like typical, liberal people. They enjoy a good steak, and they like to talk about how we should reduce the military budget, but in terms of actually changing their own diets, they’d rather change the subject. It’s been pretty disappointing for me to see the degree of resistance in the progressive community to looking at the cruelty to animals for food and the cruelty to humans, really, for food. It’s made me, again, more aware of how powerful the indoctrination is when it comes around food. Even people who are normally able to see past the indoctrination of our culture, and don’t just go around thinking that Americans are better than everybody and all that kind of stuff. When it comes to eating animal foods, they’re maybe willing to give up red meat, but that’s a huge accomplishment. For example, in the Unitarian movement here, in the whole denomination in North America, for the last four years the focus has been, they take a study action issue, and the study action issue for the last four years is supposed to end next year, five years in all, is ethical eating. So I thought, this is incredible, five years that hundreds upon hundreds, literally tens of thousands of people are going to be focusing on ethical eating, wow! Yet I realized that their focus on ethical eating is limited to typically to maybe, something about is it local or not. The actual openness to looking at plant-based foods as a real, powerful option is very similar to what it is in the mainstream public. They resist, the ministers typically resist. Not to be cynical, I don’t think I am cynical, but what I really do understand more and more is that the way churches are run today is essentially they are run as businesses, in the sense that they need to make sure that their customers are happy, that the message that they are getting is going to keep them coming back, and giving generously to the church. If you give a message that is upsetting to the people, they are going to reduce their giving or maybe not even come back, or something like that, then you have a message that is just not going to be given. And that’s pretty much how The World Peace Diet message or the vegan message is viewed by most ministers, and so it makes it quite difficult, actually.
Caryn Hartglass: That’s a message that’s true not only in churches that are like businesses, but with actual businesses. Everybody just wants to make sure the money keeps coming in.
Dr. Will Tuttle: Right, and it’s a huge—
Caryn Hartglass: It’s true with a lot of these chronic disease philanthropic organizations. We know that at least 60% of cancers could be prevented with diet and lifestyle. We know this and probably more. We know that prostate cancer can turn around by eliminating dairy products from the diet. Dean Ornish did a great study. There are so many things that we know. Diabetes and heart disease, we know that they’re preventable. We know that they’re reversible with diet, we know these things, and yet when these people have their fundraisers and their galas, they’re serving up the food that creates these diseases, because that’s what going to bring in the big checks.
Dr. Will Tuttle: Right, exactly, and most people who are eating these foods, even though they are not profiting directly, and in fact are losing a lot of money, they also would rather not know because they’d rather not think about the violence that they’re actually causing. So, there’s several different angles that the cover-up continues, the motivation for the cover-up to continue is very powerful. We’re really having to appeal, I guess primarily, to the truth, the basic physiological truths, that we’ll be a lot healthier eating a plant-based diet, and then to the ethical and moral dimension. Anyone who has a dog or a cat knows that animals are capable of suffering, that they do have interests, that they are the subjects of their lives, and that harming them is unethical, if we don’t need to obviously. These are really basic, obvious things, and yet we humans seem to have an amazing power to rationalize and blind ourselves to these things. I think a lot of that is because of being raised in a culture where we’re eating so many animal foods, we practice this, I think honestly, and I talk about this in The World Peace Diet, that I think every meal when we’re growing up as children in households of eating animal-based foods, that every meal is really a ritual of disconnectedness, a ritual of elitism and privilege, and a ritual of domination of the inner feminine.
Caryn Hartglass: And numbing ourselves to all of the possible feelings that we can have. We need to take a quick break, Will, but we’re going to be right back because we have so much more important things to talk about. We’ll be right back.
—Commercial Break—
Caryn Hartglass: Hello, I’m Caryn Hartglass, and you’re listening to It’s All About Food. I am speaking with Dr. Will Tuttle, the author of The World Peace Diet, and he is a visionary, lecturer, musician, and a very, very beautiful person. Will, thank you for joining me, and let’s continue about what we were talking about, this numbing that we all go through in order to live the lives that we do today. We see it in so many ways, not just obesity, people are really surrounding themselves with fat.
Dr. Will Tuttle: Right, I think it’s a desensitization process that we force all children to endure growing up in this culture, to disconnect from their natural feelings of compassion and kindness, through forcing them to eat the flesh of animals who have been hyper-confined, and killed in very violent, cruel ways. So, we just would rather not think about, we would rather not feel, we would rather not connect, and so we find a culture that has a huge obesity epidemic. I think that is symbolic I think of not wanting to feel, and covering ourselves over, but also huge amounts of drugs, and other things that keep us from actually perceiving reality directly, and addiction. There is a book I just read, I’m actually reading right now by Jane Velez Mitchell called Addict Nation that’s about the huge variety of different addictions that people in the United States are subject to. It basically covers the gamut from consumerism to pornography, to drugs and alcohol, cigarettes, violence, crime, all kinds of different addictions that keep people sort of disconnected from the actual moment, the actual presence, and what they are, who they are, what they’re doing. I think that really the driving force behind all of that is the food and the mentality underlying food which is, of forcing us to disconnect from what we’re doing to other living beings. Another part of that I think is PTSD, which is post-traumatic stress disorder, which is something that is rampant in our culture.
Caryn Hartglass: Absolutely.
Dr. Will Tuttle: We are starting to realize this. I talked about it somewhat in The World Peace Diet, but the basic work in our culture, which is done by so many people, agriculture and food, people who are working in the industry are committing such horrible acts of violence towards cows and pigs and chicken and turkeys and fish—
Caryn Hartglass: Every second.
Dr. Will Tuttle: Yes every second. These people have PTSD, they are committing such violence and are in such violent environments, they not only have the highest rates of work-related injuries, but also of suicide, drug addiction, alcoholism, and then when they go back home and back into their communities, they are abusive of people in their communities, of their wives, and spouses and other people. And so, those people are traumatized, and it radiates out from there. There’s this ongoing web of violence that is continually reverberating, and then it gets picked up in the news media and it gets, I think, we’re continually being bombarded with images of violence and actual actions of violence because we’re killing in the United States, the conservative estimate is about 75 million animals every single day for food. This is a huge project, it takes whole armies of people, and the numbers of people are very large because these are very short term jobs, typically, so they’re turning over a lot. There’s a lot of people who have PTSD, and PTSD, it just drives people into acts of senseless violence towards others, or to suicide, or to damaging behaviors. This is the underlying price we’re paying for the nice little saran-wrapped piece of flesh that we’re seeing when we go into a grocery store or when we order a prime rib, or whatever. I think that it’s one of the main driving forces behind the wars that we’re fighting, which also create more PTSD, and have more people coming back and committing violence. This is a very hidden, but enormously powerful dimension in our shared life here on this earth that we have to become aware of. I think because of that, the inner feminine sensitivity that resides in both men and women is really repressed in our culture, and because it’s repressed, we can do the kinds of things we’re doing. We can send people off to kill other people, we can cut down the rainforest. The Amazonian rainforest now is being devastated at the rate, again a conservative estimate, of one acre per second, and that’s been increasing very rapidly lately, and the driving force behind that is the same thing. It’s to grow soybeans for animal feed and to cut down and clear for grazing. The oceans are being all similarly basically devastated for fish to feed to animals, and I think we have to realize that the violence that we’re inflicting on the ecosystem and on other living beings is always violence that will come back to us. So even if we, for some reason, don’t feel a natural sense of kindness or compassion for animals, or for starving people, who are implicated, if we only care about ourselves, I think we have to start making these connections and realizing that sooner or later it comes back to haunt us through some kind of illness, and physical and psychological are all connected.
Caryn Hartglass: You meet many, many people, and you give your talk to so many different places. Who are the ones that are hearing the message? Who are the ones where the veil is lifted and get it?
Dr. Will Tuttle: I think there’s a lot of people who are right around college-aged, seems to be, and who are somehow predisposed to asking questions, are getting the message. I also find a lot of people who have been told, perhaps by their doctor or somebody who are older, or through their reading, that they should eat less meat, that when the read The World Peace Diet, or come to one of my lectures, they suddenly realize, “Oh my gosh, it’s so much bigger than I ever imagined.” Those people often become very highly motivated to spread the message as well. I think there’s a broad spectrum of people who are getting the message. I got an email not long ago from a hunter in Oklahoma City, where we spoke there in Oklahoma, and he’s even a writer for one of the hunting magazines, and he said, “My wife and I went to your lecture and we’re now vegans.”
Caryn Hartglass: Wow!
Dr. Will Tuttle: So I think the potential, it’s just someone who is able for whatever reason, it’s almost kind of hard to predict, to question the indoctrination, someone who is able to do that, and I’ve found people in their 60s, 70s, and 80s can go vegan just as well as people in their 20s and 30s. People in their 20s and 30s sometimes seem to have a very strangely difficult time also to make the change because they’ve gone through 20 or 30 years of indoctrination themselves, even if they are relatively young. So, it’s not only young, progressive people. I’m seeing people of all walks of life making these changes, and a lot of times it’s just a matter of hearing the message a few times, more than just once. You’ve got to hear it a few times, and it has to get in there past the usual defenses somehow, and so I always approach it, myself, that we’re on the same side. I think that approaching anyone in any kind of a blaming way is not only counterproductive, but it really in a sense isn’t true. All of us have been born into a culture that’s forced us in so many ways to disconnect from our natural wisdom and compassion, and to remind people of that, and to be their friend, and to be on the same side with them rather than to be someone who is accusing them and blaming them and judging them is so much more in alignment with the truth of the way it is.
Caryn Hartglass: I was a part of it, it was a long time ago, but I did eat meat, I did eat dairy.
Dr. Will Tuttle: Right, same with me! I was born and raised in a typical family eating huge amounts, and I was the older brother that basically forced by my little sister to eat meat, that was my job, “Eat your protein!”
Caryn Hartglass: Does she eat meat now?
Dr. Will Tuttle: The beautiful this is that both my sister and my mother, who are very fundamentalist Christians, and we don’t see eye-to-eye on that, but they’re vegans, and now they’ve been vegans for about 15 years, and they’re very committed, especially my sister. She really understands it, even though she’s a fundamentalist Christian, where sometimes people think that those people are less likely to be vegan. I’ve found quite often they can see that God, in their terms, God would not want us to torture his creation and would not want us to harm beings that he has made, that kind of thing. I think when they understand this, they’re very consequent and noble people, really living an ethical life, and I think that’s really what veganism is. It cuts across all religious, and I think pretty much all philosophical boundaries, because it appeals to that part which is at the very root of the ethical impulse, the root of the impulse to live in a sane, empathetic way.
Caryn Hartglass: I think when you think about it, there’s no reason not to subscribe to a vegan diet, a plant-based diet. There’s no reason not to. I’ve got every argument—I don’t like to use the word argument, but I have every reason: it’s the best thing for the environment, it’s the best thing for health. If you want taste, people that that eat a plant-based diet, we are obsessed with our food. We love our food. We’re all, for the most part, big foodies.
Dr. Will Tuttle: Really the only reason that seems to carry any weight at all is the historical argument, that this is what we’ve done, this is what we’ve been doing, this is how we life. We’ve been eating meat, and I think we eat a lot more meat than we normally ever have, but that’s also not a valid argument. You can say all kinds of terrible things we’ve always been doing too, and we don’t use it for that reason—
Caryn Hartglass: Absolutely. Tradition is not a valid argument.
Dr. Will Tuttle: Right. And the idea that you need it to be healthy. I think that’s another one that’s probably the most difficult to counteract, is if I meet someone who says, “I was a vegan for five years, and I just didn’t do well, so I have to eat meat, my doctor told me,” or whatever, it’s a little hard to argue with that in the sense that someone says, “Well, that was my experience, and I wasn’t healthy,” however, I was still personally, I don’t think it’s true. We have to remember that these people are living in an ocean surrounded by other people who are eating animal foods, and the medical people they go to for advice are saying, “What? You’re not eating meat? Where are you going to get your vitamin B12, and your Omega 3’s, and where are you going to get your protein and amino acids you need, and your calcium? You’re really not being responsible.” I wrote quite a bit about it in The World Peace Diet, the placebo effect and how foods that we find to be disturbing or disgusting or substances that way tend to make much better placebos. I think we’re starting to, more and more, realize that health is a very complex issue, not just about food. Food is one aspect, but it’s how we’re feeling about ourselves psychologically, and there’s many, many different things involved. I think if we’re going to be vegans, which I hope everyone is, I think it’s very important for us to eat a healthy vegan diet, to eat whole foods that are perfectly, organically grown, and unprocessed, and prepared with love and appreciation, that these are all eaten slowly and mindfully. These are all important elements as well as living a life where I’m basically happy, I’m doing work that I feel good about, because being a healthy person really requires, I think, a multi-dimensional approach, and eating a plant-based diet is certainly, I think probably the biggest positive thing anyone can do, but there are many other things that very often I think vegans tend to ignore, or people who are eating regular meals also tend to ignore, and so I want to encourage everyone to really be healthy, especially vegans. I think for vegans it’s really incumbent upon us to be healthy as examples—
Caryn Hartglass: Absolutely.
Dr. Will Tuttle: And take care of ourselves and to cultivate a positive mental attitude, to take time every day to connect with the beauty that’s in the world, and in our own, perhaps take time to create or to meditate or to get beyond just the stresses of daily life.
Caryn Hartglass: I believe that the vegan diet is the healthiest diet, but we don’t have the data that supports that. What we do have is that a plant-based diet may be, where at least 90% of our calories come from whole, fresh plant foods, is the most healthy. But we don’t know, if we ate a little bit of animal products or none at all, we don’t know if there’s a difference. Ok, that’s fine. I personally, for me, I don’t want to have the animal foods. Another thing that we don’t know, I’m always so suspect when I hear, suspect and saddened when I hear people that say, “Oh I was vegan, oh I was vegetarian, and I didn’t feel well and I had to go back to eating animal foods.” There’s a part of me that says, “You weren’t eating the right foods, honey, and if I were feeding you, you’d feel a lot better.” I’m a real proponent of dark green, leafy vegetables, I think that the greens should be at the bottom of the pyramid, we all should be cramming greens, and people aren’t. Ok, so there’s all of that, but, we don’t know this for sure, but it could be that some people who have been consuming animal foods for most of their lives have a certain metabolism that has accustomed themselves to doing so, and when they start to eliminate those foods they may have a physical problem. So, I can be compassionate about that, but I still believe that we should be eating, getting most of our calories, at least 90%, from plant foods, and that’s everyone.
Dr. Will Tuttle: Right, exactly, it’s important to understand that when we switch to a plant-based diet, and I think that’s an incredibly important, positive thing to do, the body will naturally start to detoxify. Detoxification is usually experienced with some sort of symptoms, and people get flu-like symptoms, and start to clean out, and sore throat and different things, and be low on energy. Then if they don’t understand that that’s what’s happening, they may go ahead and start eating some cheese or some meat, and suddenly the symptoms stop, and they think, “Oh, I feel better now.” Well, that’s because they just stopped cleaning out, and they just, the body was really doing something that was going to be much better in the long run if they had gone ahead and gone through with it. So there’s that whole aspect of the natural cleansing which does take place, which many people don’t understand, and the medical profession absolutely does not understand.
Caryn Hartglass: Oh, absolutely not.
Dr. Will Tuttle: Then the other aspect is we have to remember that, I know in my own case, I think this is probably true for most people, I was told from the time basically I was born that if I didn’t eat meat and dairy and eggs, I would probably not get enough protein, I would probably not be healthy. So we have to remember we have these voices in a very deep level in our own consciousness in our own minds and our own cells, almost at the cellular level, and it’s important to consciously clean those out, and become aware that, yeah these old voices, and we’re surrounded by those voices too. Everywhere we look we see billboards, and we see articles that pretty much reinforces this. We have attitudes and friends and family where they say, “Well, where are you going to get your protein? Where are you going to get this and that?” I think it’s very important to realize the psychological dimension of our own programming is very powerful. Our bodies, I think, are amazing instruments. They will pretty much, whatever you feed them, they’ll do their best they possibly can to adjust to it and be healthy, and so you can live your life and accomplish what you are here to accomplish. Given all that, I think we have to realize the incredible power of our mind. I remember when I, as a kid, sometimes I didn’t want to go to school. I would say to my mom, “You know, mom, I don’t feel good, I can’t go to school today.”
Caryn Hartglass: “I have a stomachache.”
Dr. Will Tuttle: And I would literally get a stomachache. I would convince myself, and pretty soon I had one. If you have someone who is saying, “Yeah yeah, I just don’t feel good, I’m just not getting my meat,” they will, they can definitely manifest that.
Caryn Hartglass: It’s interesting what you said about the power of the mind and detoxing. There’s a whole bunch of things that come to my mind. Number one, when people don’t feel well for a variety of reasons, sometimes they may just be tired, and they say, “I need to eat more protein.” It’s just amusing the way that people self-diagnose, and often self-diagnose incorrectly. Sometimes, when people feel tired, they need to sleep, you know? People don’t get enough sleep, or maybe they don’t get enough water. It’s something really basic, something really simple, but sometimes, they’ll say, “I need more protein,” or if they’re changing their diet they’ll say, “Oh, maybe I need to eat meat.”
Dr. Will Tuttle: Protein doesn’t give energy, protein’s much harder to digest than complex carbohydrates which break down right into glucose for quick energy. I just think people self-diagnose that way, and it’s just a complete, it’s just a mythology.
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah, so many of us know so little, and even the ones that know so much, we still know so little.
Dr. Will Tuttle: Right! Doctors, I mean, doctors are basically, doctors give nutritional advice, people don’t even question it, and yet these doctors, where do they get their information? They’re not taking any classes in medical school, so they’re just getting it from the same place as the local car mechanic. I usually say, you’re better off going to your local car mechanic for nutritional advice than going to your doctor.
Caryn Hartglass: Right. The thing about detoxing, I really think there should be more on this subject, because there’s a lot that the medical professionals don’t talk about. Now, I have my own personal experience, and this not exactly related, but kind of. I at least opened my mind to it, and that is, when I went through my cancer treatment a few years ago, I went through a bunch of chemotherapy rounds, and it took a year before all of that cleared out of my body. One year. And nobody told me about this, I’m just really in tuned. I knew how great I felt before, and I had arthritis and stiffness in my hands and in my feet in the mornings when I would wake up, and I knew that was from the toxins that were in my body that took exactly a year to get out. There are many people that they’re changing their diet, and many of them can be very overweight, and there’s a lot of toxins in their body. That can take a long time while they change their diet where they’re still not feeling their best. But on the other hand, the body is amazing, and it bounces, it is so resilient!
Dr. Will Tuttle: Right, that’s really important to understand. These toxins will sequester themselves away in the fat cells, and they’ll be very often the last things to go, and people finally start losing the weight going on a vegan diet, and you’ve got to remember that all those animals, all that animal food, all that cheese and eggs and yogurt and milk and flesh of animals, these animals were given all kinds of different hormones and things and antibiotics, that also end up in our own fat sequestered away. Eventually, that’s going to want to go out, you’re going to want to clean that out, and that’s the point I wanted to emphasize too. As we travel around this country, and we talk to so many people, the overwhelming sentiment I hear is, people saying, “When I went vegan, I just had so much more energy, I lost the extra weight, and I feel so much better.” That’s been basically what 90% of people say.
Caryn Hartglass: How many times have you heard that? So many times.
Dr. Will Tuttle: That’s the main thing. There will be some that will say, “Well, I had a hard time.” I think a lot of the hard time was because they were cleansing, or they were seeing doctors who were not sympathetic, and I think that’s very hard because a lot of people really internalize whatever a medical professional says, they will really internalize it at a deep level and they’ll just, it just becomes almost a self-fulfilling prophecy. They’ll say, oh the doctor said that I’m not getting enough protein so I’m probably going to be low on energy, and sure enough, here I am, low on energy.
Caryn Hartglass: Right. Now you travel around the country in your mobile home, and I assume you prepare a lot of your meals in your home?
Dr. Will Tuttle: All of them, actually.
Caryn Hartglass: Because people often talk about how challenging it is when they’re on the road to eat well.
Dr. Will Tuttle: Right, well we only buy organic, and that’s actually the most challenging for us, since we’re, every single city we’re in, every weekend we’re in a different city. So, besides eating vegan food, we only eat organic and unprocessed whole foods.
Caryn Hartglass: Amen.
Dr. Will Tuttle: So, for us I think it’s probably, we’re the hardest of the hard. But we actually have to say, when you just are dedicated to it, it’s not that difficult.
Caryn Hartglass: You find it, I agree.
Dr. Will Tuttle: There’s always, typically always, places where we can buy organically grown vegan foods, like the local health food stores, and even the organic sections of regular grocery stores in a pinch. We have a refrigerator, and we store things. My wife is Swiss, so she’s all about organizing, she’s got plenty of stuff stored away in case of a rainy day, that kind of thing.
Caryn Hartglass: You can always find beans and rice, dried foods that are organic that last forever.
Dr. Will Tuttle: Exactly, you can always find those, and you can always find basically at this point, organic produce and fruits, and so, we really, it’s just like you say, we love our meals, they’re just celebrations of absolutely the most delicious food, and we have a chance also quite a bit to have dinners with people as we travel around. Like tonight, they’re serving a dinner here at the church before, and local people are making it. So we get to experiment and see what people are doing, and it’s really just fantastic to see.
Caryn Hartglass: Will, thank you, we’ve come to the end of the hour, believe it or not. I just wanted to remind people about your website, willtuttle.com, and if you haven’t read The World Peace Diet, please pick up a copy, it will change your life. If you have an opportunity to have Will come and speak at your church or your community center, he is everywhere, and can get there. Thank you, thank you, thank you Will.
Dr. Will Tuttle: Thanks so much Caryn for the great work you’re doing!
Caryn Hartglass: Yes, I hope I get to see you somewhere soon. Ok, thank you so much. I’m Caryn Hartglass and you’ve been listening to, It’s All About Food and please check out my very brand, shiny new website, responsibleeatingandliving.com. Have a delicious week!

Transcribed by Sarah Gumz, 2/6/2014

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