John McDougall, MD, The Healthiest Diet on the Planet


Since 2009, It’s All About Food, has been bringing you the best in up-to-date news regarding food and our food system. Hosted by Caryn Hartglass, a vegan since 1988, the program includes in-depth interviews with medical doctors; nutritionists; dieticians; cook book authors; athletes; environmental, animals and health activists; farmers; food manufacturers; lawyers; food scientists and more. Learn about how we can solve many of the world’s problems today and do it deliciously, here on It’s All About Food.

Part I: John McDougall, MD, The Healthiest Diet on the Planet
john-mcdougall_photocredit_robert-stewartJohn McDougall, M.D., is a board certified physician and nutrition expert who teaches better health through vegetarian cuisine, John A. McDougall, MD has been studying, writing, and speaking out about the effects of nutrition on disease for over 30 years. Dr. John and Mary McDougall believe that people should look and feel great for a lifetime. Unfortunately, many people unknowingly compromise their health through poor dietary habits. Dr. McDougall is the founder and director of the nationally renowned McDougall Program: a ten-day residential program that he and Mary McDougall host at a luxury resort in Santa Rosa, CA where medical miracles occur through diet and lifestyle changes. In addition to her formal training as a nurse, Mary McDougall provides many of the delicious recipes that make the McDougall Program not only possible, but also a pleasure. Dr. McDougall has cared for thousands of patients for almost 3 decades. His program not only promotes a broad range of dramatic and lasting health benefits but, most importantly, can also reverse serious illnesses including high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes and others, all without the use of drugs. A graduate of Michigan State University’s College of Human Medicine, Dr. McDougall performed his internship at Queen’s Medical Center in Honolulu, Hawaii, and his medical residency at the University of Hawaii. He is certified as an internist by the Board of Internal Medicine and the National Board of Medical Examiners. He and Mary are also the authors of several nationally best-selling books as well as the co-founders of Dr. McDougall’s Right Foods, which produces high quality vegetarian cuisine to make it easier for people to eat well on the go.

Part II: Caryn discusses several recent articles in the news covering the Great Barrier Reef, Rebooting our Food System, Mammograms and Breast Cancer Awareness Month.


Caryn Hartglass: Hello everybody! I’m Caryn Hartglass, and you’re listening to It’s All About Food. Thank you for joining me. Thank you for joining me on this very beautiful mid-October day. Thanks to climate change and global warming, we’re experiencing great weather here in New York. It’s like summer time. There’s always a bright side to look at everything that’s going on, and even though the planet is warming up, we should take advantage of the beautiful weather that we have, when we have it. I’m especially enjoying breathing today. You know I like to talk about breathing, and I woke up this morning and the air was just so incredibly sweet. And I hope it is where you are. Okay, I’m very excited about this. I’m going to bring on my guest for the day, Dr. John McDougall. He is a board certified physician and nutrition expert who teaches better health through vegetarian cuisine. Dr. McDougall has been studying writing and speaking out about the effects of nutrition on disease for over 30 years. Dr. John and Mary McDougall believe that people should look and feel great for a lifetime. Welcome to It’s All About Food Dr. McDougall.

Dr. McDougall: Well, thank you. I might as well just continue your discussion. There’s one card to play if we’re going to save planet earth, and it has to be played now. And that’s the food card, because unless we play the food card, we can’t play the other cards, which are transportation and energy. We just don’t have time to do it. The food card for your listeners may be new to you. The food card would be changing our source of calories from livestock: pigs, cows, chickens, fishes, to a source of calories of starch, which is potatoes, corn, rice, beans, peas, and lentils. With that change, overnight we can reduce greenhouse gas production by over 50%. There are estimates that food related greenhouse gas productions could be dropped 70% overnight. So what am I talking about? I’m talking about changing the diet that we eat in New York City, and Atlantic City, and Shanghai, and have it based on cows, and pigs, and chickens, and dairy products, and so on, back to the traditional diet people ate 35 years ago in China, or 35 years ago in South America. And that’s a diet based on rice. 90% of the calories in China came from rice before 1980, or potatoes before 1980 in South America. Probably 90% of the food came from potatoes. So that’s what we have to do if you want to fix the planet, if you want to save what we have for our children and grandchildren, which is my primary motivation these days in life, we have to play the food card.

Caryn Hartglass: Well, I’m right there with you, and I’ve committed my life to this mission. I just wanted to say before we dig in a little deeper, how you and Mary want to help people look and feel great. I have the promotional picture of you.

Dr. McDougall: I’m almost 70.

Caryn Hartglass: You are looking so great.

Dr. McDougall: The next cover of the book will have Mary’s picture on it too. She’s 70 years old. She’s more beautiful everyday. We’ve been together for 45 years. And I really do mean that. I used to hear that when I was a kid. People talked about their spouses, 20, 30, 40, 50 years older than me, and they would say things like, “She’s more beautiful everyday”, and I’d say, “You’ve got to be crazy”, and now here Mary and I are 70, and I look across the table at her, and I go, “You know, she’s more beautiful everyday”.

Caryn Hartglass: Aw. You’re bringing tears to my eyes.

Dr. McDougall: Well, it’s true you know. There’s something about getting older. You find out some things you try to share with younger people. It works out sometimes.

Caryn Hartglass: It works out sometimes. Now, I’ve heard you speak many many times back in the 90s, and what I always loved was that you had this fire in your belly.

Dr. McDougall: Yeah, it’s still there.

Caryn Hartglass: And it’s still there. I just read The Healthiest Diet on the Planet, and I’m like, “Nothing has changed”. So what keeps it burning? The telling of your stories has been the same pretty much for decades.

Dr. McDougall: 40 years.

Caryn Hartglass: Yeah. How do you feed that fire?

Dr. McDougall: Well, it’s of course my basic personality and makeup and the fact that I was given a great lean life by having an amazing father and a very nice mother too, but all that gave me the background, the inborn personality, and the guidance of very honest parents. It gave me a background for when I discovered something that I thought was extremely important, which is why 80% of the people in this country are sick, and how to cure them. I discovered that back in my medical residency, which was between 1976 and 1978. It gave me a passion in life, because I’m a doctor. I want to help people, and that’s really all I want to do. I just want to cure type 2 diabetes and reverse heart disease, and slow and stop and reverse cancers. And all things that I knew were true based on the scientific research, I wanted to help my patients. That’s why I became a doctor. That’s why the other people in your audience who are dietitians and physicians have other healthcare positions in life. That’s why they went into the business too, to help their customer, because it makes you feel good in return. Well, that was all my motivation back 40 years ago, and I’ve been very successful at what I do as a doctor. But I also became interested later on. It wasn’t an issue. I’ll tell you the truth. I had no sympathy at all for animal rights and the cruelty of the animals. As I grew, as my eyes were opened, I realized that, and then about 20 years ago, I realized that the only chance we have of saving the planet is to fix the food. So I’ve been kind of focused on that now, and when people ask me how I still get out of bed in the morning and have a big smile and enthusiasm is because I have seven grandchildren. They have no future, and wherever I go, I try and tell that story. Yeah, I can cure your diabetes. That’s no problem. I can cure your heart disease and give you a good [?] movement. That’s no problem, but what we’ve got to do is so much more important than that, and everybody knows that we have people like Elon Musk talking about sending everybody to Mars. There are all kinds of highflying ideas out there about what we’re going to do, but they’re not practical from my viewpoint like it is to take and tell people to start eating potatoes and rice again. You can build a spaceship and go to Mars, but excuse me; I’d rather just stay here. I’m in California, kind of like it. I don’t want to go to Mars.

Caryn Hartglass: We don’t know how the wind surfing is going to be on Mars, right?

Dr. McDougall: Yeah, well, I don’t know. I hear all these stories, but maybe they’ll have some good wind.

Caryn Hartglass: Okay. The unfortunate thing, and there’s many unfortunate things, but as you were learning and your eyes were opening about what really creates health and what creates disease, countries outside of the United States as you mentioned, were starting to adopt the standard American diet, and over the next few generations, started to have diabetes that didn’t exist before and heart disease that didn’t exist before as they were adopting our diets. And it’s very frustrating to see as some of us have this knowledge; we’re still sharing the wrong information.

Dr. McDougall: Yeah, I think China is a great example. Before 1980, they had no obesity, no type 2 diabetes, virtually didn’t exist. You can find all this published in the Journal of American Medical Association in the year 2013. They did the evaluation of the health of the Chinese population, and before 1980, when 90% of their diet was rice. It was white rice, but they still did well on white rice. Before 1980, people were really healthy, and then China became an economic giant. And now, they brag, and they do brag, that 12% of their population is frankly diabetic, and half are prediabetic, and obesity is rampant. A same thing has happened in India at the same time. It used to be only the high classed, the high tiered people on the continent of India that were fat and diabetic and sick, and now, it came out last year, that the middle class in the continent of India, they also retained the same poor health as the high class. So it’s just spreading worldwide as people have access, because of fossil fuel, and because of technologies that we’ve developed. As people have access to all this rich food, everybody can eat like a king and a queen, and they get fat and sick like kings and queens. They’re dying, their families are dying, the planet is dying, and I don’t know you fix it. There’s got to be some way to make it profitable to do the right thing, and so far, very few people have figured out how to make money doing the right thing.

Caryn Hartglass: Well, let’s talk about that, because there are some businesses now that are promoting a plant based diet, but they’re creating highly processed foods made from plants, and that’s where the investments are.

Dr. McDougall: Yeah, that’s of course a growing business to make a veggie burger look like a bloody beef burger. You know there are companies that do that.

Caryn Hartglass: It doesn’t even taste good.

Dr. McDougall: It’s the wrong message. You’ve got to listen to my words carefully, because I don’t really mean exactly what I’m saying. Our focus of attention shouldn’t be eating a vegan or vegetarian diet, because vegan diets can be oil, and fake meats, and fake cheeses, and there are too many fat sick vegans out there. Our focus of attention needs to be to obtain the bulk of our calories from starch, like traditionally I told you just a minute ago that people did. You obtain most of your food, 90%, 70%, probably 90% of your calorie intake from traditional foods, like potatoes and corn like the Mayans and the Aztecs are the people of the corn.

Caryn Hartglass: I like potatoes. I like corn.

Dr. McDougall: The reason that people like potatoes is because that’s the food for human beings. If you ask the question, “What does a cat eat?”, well cats kind of eat meat. I have a little cat on the side of porch right now, and he brings me little birds, and little moles, and little rodents everyday with a big smile on his face, and he thinks that I’m going to be happy, but I keep telling him, I keep saying, “Einstein, that’s not my food”, and I turn around and offer him a baked potato, and he looks up at me, and he thinks, “Hey dad, that’s not my food”.

Caryn Hartglass: Your cat’s name is Einstein?

Dr. McDougall: This cat’s name is Einstein. He’s our last pet. Yeah, okay, you can go vegan, vegetarian, whatever you want to call it. Whole food, plant based nutrition is a great word used, but it doesn’t really tell people what they need to eat. You need to eat starch. You are a starchivore, a starchitarian. You’re a starch eater, and you live in New York, and so you have all kinds of ethnic populations. And they can stop right now on this radio show, right now when they’re listening; they can stop and say, “Huh, that’s what my grandma and grandpa ate. My parents are from Thailand, and that’s what they ate. They were never overweight, never had diabetes” or “My parents, they’re from Mexico or Central America. They lived on corn and beans, and nobody was sick or fat”. So all of your listeners out there, if they just stop for a minute and think back about their childhood, their grandmother, grandpa, what they ate, and what’s happened in these 35, 50, 70 years time, they go, “Uh huh. This is no mystery why people are sick. This is no mystery why we’re destroying the planet and things aren’t going right, and why the biggest shiniest buildings in your town are hospitals”. It’s the food, and I think that’s the name of your show, isn’t it?

Both: It’s All About Food!

Caryn Hartglass: Okay, I want to ask you about oil. Many people when I talk about not consuming oil are quite surprised. In fact, I have a very dear friend with me in the studio right now. She just arrived from the south of France, and I told her what we’re going to be talking about, and one of the things is oil. Can you talk about oil?

Dr. McDougall: Sure. Oil is essential for human health. It’s delivered and packages like oranges, and potatoes, and rice, and corn. And what people have been doing for quite a while. Oil doesn’t exist in a free form in nature. You have to process the food to get the oil out, so what people have been doing for a long time is they’ve been taking corn, and olives, and nuts, and so on, and they’ve been processing them, and squeezing the oil out, and now they have isolated oil. This is not food. This is isolated fat. There’s no protein, no sugar, no vitamins, no minerals. It’s just isolated fat.

Caryn Hartglass: No fiber.

Dr. McDougall: No nothing. It’s just oil. So they process it out of the food, and now it becomes at best a medication, and at worse, a serious toxin, poison. And your friend, I don’t know what she looks like, but if she’s right there in the street, I would tell her that one of the–

Caryn Hartglass: She’s slim and lovely.

Dr. McDougall: Oh good. Well, if she wasn’t, then maybe it would be more meaningful, but one of the mantras I teach my patients is, “The fats you eat, is the fats you wear”, and the most efficient thing the body can do with oil is just move it from the fork and spoon to your body fat. And it does it so efficiently, it doesn’t even changed the chemical structure of the fat, so if I biopsy your butter, your thigh, or your abdomen, and analyze that fat in your body, I can tell what you like to eat. If I analyze it, and it’s full of omega-3 fats, I know you’re a big fish eater. If it’s full of monounsaturated fats and olive oils, your preference is full of margarine, or full of trans fats, and I know you’re eating margarine.

Caryn Hartglass: So you can tell the difference between a coconut butt or a fish butt?

Dr. McDougall: Yeah, it is not that simple, but for example, people who eat dairy, there’s a particular chemical structure where the double bonds are placed at the carbon-15 and 17 position. So if I biopsied somebody’s butt fat, and took it to a lab and analyzed it, and I saw a lot of C-15s, C-17s fats in their body fat, I know they’re really into cheese, and milk, and things like that. So yeah, the fats you eat are the fats you wear. And the other thing you should know is that good fats, they’re called omega-3 fats; they’re very powerful drugs. They send the blood caused bleeding problems; they suppress the immune system, increase your risk of infection, and dramatically promote cancer growth. And then the omega-6 fats, which were like sunflower oil and corn oil, they’re a highly [?] 3, 4 years ago to prevent heart disease. We took out animal fat and replaced it with polyunsaturated fats. Well, at least we’re omega-6 fats. And now these days, analyzing the data from the studies done 40 years ago, we see that those who went to the good omega-6 fats have more heart disease; more damaged arteries than those who stayed on the butter. So these oils are dangerous. They make you fat; they cause type 2 diabetes; they damaged the arteries; they change the immune system, when they’re isolated. Now, when they’re in the food, in the orange, the banana, etc. they’re not only perfectly fine, they’re necessary.

Caryn Hartglass: Okay, two quick questions. You said those studies showed that butter was better than omega-6 oils.

Dr. McDougall: Yeah, omega-6 right? There were studies done like the [?] health study, and a whole bunch of randomized, well controlled trials that they did in the 1970s, when they believed that the answer was to switch from saturated fats. Saturated fat means meat, dairy, and eggs. That’s synonymous. So they could see based upon all kinds of epidemiologic data and thousands of animal experiments that eating saturated fat or animal fat plugged the arteries, and so they cause disease and strokes. So the researches back then — 40 years ago — decided they’ll set up these control trials, and they’ll take the animal fat out and replace it with sunflower oil or corn oil, with oils. And they saw more cancer, more gallbladder disease in the oil consuming groups, and over the last couple of years — several journals including the British medical journal — I have published follow-up results of those experiments, where they used these omega-6 oils and showing that the damage to the arteries was horrible, and worsened heart disease and so on, and later an amount in animal fat. So the point being is you want to eat oil, but you want to eat it in the form of a bowl of rice, or a bowl of beans. Don’t eat it as an isolated, concentrated ingredient. It’s toxic.

Caryn Hartglass: Okay, I got you. Thank you. I really like the way you pointed out a number of things in the book that I just wanted to mention. One, which I never realized I talk about on the show, and with many people over the decades about protein, calcium, and omega-3 oils. I never made the connection on kind of how they’ve been marketed. We think of animal food as protein, we think of milk as calcium, and we think of fish as omega-3 oils, and it’s a very limited and not a very good way to think of those nutrients, and we forget about all the other nutrients that are so important.

Dr. McDougall: Well, this is just business at its worst. What these industries, the meat industry, the dairy industry, and so on, they’re just doing the same thing as the car industry, and your lipstick manufacturer, or whatever. They’re doing something called unique positioning. What you do, is you find something unique about your product, or you advertise it big time to the death of your customers in this case. So when I mention protein, people automatically say meat, dairy, and eggs. Well, that concept that was created by those industries, because there has never, ever, in all of human history or scientific research, ever been a case of protein deficiency ever reported. It’s nonexistent, unless your starving to death, and then everything’s deficient. Likewise, if I mention calcium, the dairy industry has worked for 80 years to try and make the connection of their product, which is high in calcium, to good health. But there’s never been a case of calcium deficiency ever reported on any natural diet in all of human history. They uniquely position an ingredient in their food, however there’s no disease related for not eating that food. It’s just so bizarre, it’s hard to believe, unless you study it, but it’s just business. They’re not trying to hurt you. This is not a conspiracy. They just want you to buy their beef, or their pig, or chicken. That’s all they’re trying to do. They’re just acting like all human beings too. And then the third point is omega-3 fats and fish. No animal can desaturate it at the carbon-3 position. No animal can create omega-3 fats. Only plants do that. If a fish has omega-3 fats, because it ate algae, or some other seaweeds, because only plants can make that particular chemical change, which is to make a double bond at the 3 position. But anyway, that’s what they do. They just do business, and the result is your children are fat, and constipated, and sick, and your female spouses are dying of breast and uterine cancer, and your male spouses are dying of heart attacks, and everybody in the family’s fat and sick. And you’re paying four times as much for your food as you should be, because you’re eating all their expensive garbage, whereas you could be living on rice, which you can get for about 25 bucks for 50 pounds, and beans you can get 20 pounds for 14 dollars, and potatoes you can get 20 pounds for 9 dollar at Costco. So they’re ripping you off. They’re killing you. They’re stealing your money. Basically, they’re criminals. They’re basically criminals who are getting away with it, and nobody can stop because they have all the money.

Caryn Hartglass: And there’s a lot of medical malpractice that’s going on just either from ignorance or —

Dr. McDougall: We could 10 more shows on that.

Caryn Hartglass: Yeah, I know. Okay, I want to ask you about supplements. So you promote using B-12, but you don’t recommend taking vitamin D?

Dr. McDougall: Well, B-12 is the only nutrient that I recommend people add back, and it’s a long story. If you don’t B-12, and you’re a strict vegan, your chance of having a disease related B-12 deficiency is probably less than one in a million. But just to avoid the subject, I’ve always recommended B-12. But the whole D story I’d like to spend my time on, is that vitamin D as all of you old enough to remember, comes from the sun, and it always did, always will. The action of sunlight on various [?] in your skin makes vitamin D through a whole bunch of processes in the kidney, and the liver, and so on. Well, that’s where it’s supposed to come from, is to get sun. Well, things happen. Maybe 30 years ago, researchers noticed that as people moved away from the equator, they had lower vitamin D levels in their blood, and they also had more heart disease, breast cancer, colon cancer, obesity, etc. So what they said is, “Well, it must be a lack of vitamin D that’s causing these disease”, because as you go away from the equator, you have less ultraviolet radiation exposed to you. That’s true, but also as you move away from the equator, populations eat more meat and dairy, and less starch. And that’s really the true factor. But anyways, to get to the bottom end of the story, what happened is this became one of biggest cases of disease maundering in all of medical history. Disease maundering is turning people into patients. So what the doctors in the laboratories in the supplement industry did as they went out and encouraged everybody to check their D levels, well 9 out of 10 people flunked the vitamin D test for a couple of reasons. One, they don’t get enough sun. The other is they’re chronically ill, and one of the results of chronic illness and chronic inflammation is it suppresses D levels. But anyways, the bottom line is that everybody’s taking vitamin D. When I say everybody, I would say half of my patients. So they’re taking vitamin D. It raises their vitamin D levels. However, the outcomes, which you’re looking for, the positive outcomes are not there. In fact, it’s negative. Three major studies have been published in the last five years that show when you supplement people with vitamin D either by pills of injections, all three major studies, and there aren’t any other ones, so you can go look for them if you want. But these are randomized control trials. They all show that those who take supplements have an increased risk of falls and fractures, because the vitamin D is unnatural. You’re supposed to get it from the sun, and it causes nutritional imbalances that lead to nerve and muscle problems, and more falls. It’s just a bad deal, but it’s a big business.

Caryn Hartglass: Wow. I need to read those studies, and I’m kind of fascinated about this, because you’re the only one I’ve heard this from.

Dr. McDougall: Well, go to my March 2015 newsletter at, and you’ll see two studies discussed. Since I wrote that March 2015 newsletter, JAMA Internal Medicine came out with a third, so you can find the three studies. There are no other large, well done studies that show otherwise. Researchers, scientists, people who take the trouble to read the science know what the truth is. And unfortunately, it’s not profitable, so the truth gets told through the eyes of the financial accountants.

Caryn Hartglass: So what if you’re eating the healthiest diet on earth, and you get a reasonable amount of sun, and you have low levels of vitamin D.

Dr. McDougall: Well, first of all, reasonable amounts of sun. A very white person like I am, you can make all your vitamin D at a latitude of Boston by exposing my hands and cheeks to five minutes of sunshine at noon, three times a week. That’s all you need. Now, if you’re a darker person, you need more. You should get sun. It’s extremely important, but you don’t need a lot. More is better to a point, to the point where you start damaging your skin. You don’t want to do that. And the other thing you can do is you can stop your diseases of chronic inflammation, which is you become chronically inflamed by consuming animal foods and not consuming vegetable foods and grains, which is contrary to what you’re told, but if you want to see the major studies, I’ve put those studies in The Healthiest Diet on the Planet. I have a whole two pages of the studies that clearly show that eating animal foods cause tremendous inflammation in the body, and eating plant foods does exactly the opposite, and those who say otherwise, don’t have any research on their side to prove it, except for some convoluted interpretation of some extremely weak evidence. They’re lying. They’re plain and simple lying. So just go out, get some sun, go for a walk, and eat a starch based diet, and likely most of your problems will go away, you’ll get off your blood pressure pills, diabetic pills, and your bowels will work, and your indigestion will stop, and you can play with your grand kids, and whatever. It’s really that simple.

Caryn Hartglass: And life is good.

Dr. McDougall: Life is good.

Caryn Hartglass: I have one last question. The title of your book, The Healthiest Diet on the Planet. Now, I know a lot of books are growing with sensational titles today to get people’s attention. Is this indeed the healthiest diet on the planet?

Dr. McDougall: That title was brought to me by my editor, and yes, it is the healthiest diet on the planet. It’s the diet that 99.999% of people who walked planet earth have consumed as we’ve talked about. People are starch eaters, so it is the healthiest diet on the planet without a question. It’s the diet that almost everybody who’s lived on planet earth has eaten, and I think it’s a very catchy title. I think it’s absolutely true. I know other people who make certain claims, but if you just open your eyes and look at the things you and I’ve talked about for the last few minutes, you can see that. You can see that the grandma and grandpa who came from Africa. They had no hemorrhoids, they had no gallbladder disease, they had no heart disease, no breast cancer, yet African Americans today are horribly diseased with cancer, and obesity, and heart disease. It has nothing to do with your genetics. It has to do with the change of a diet from a starch based diet — which they ate in rural Africa, a diet of corn, and beans, and brewed vegetables and so on — to moving to New York city and eating a diet high in meat and oil, animal foods and oil. This is not rocket science. Every single one of your listeners, if they just stopped for a minute, and they just looked around, and open their eyes, and think about their experience, they’d go, “Oh my goodness. This is so stupid. Where do you make money teaching people this”? That’s the problem.

Caryn Hartglass: Well, Dr. McDougall, I want to thank you very much for joining me, and I also want to take a moment to thank your wife, Mary. The recipes in the back look great, and you talk about eating potatoes, and rice, and corn. You can eat them plain, and they’re great, but she’s put together many wonderful recipes that make those foods even more delicious, and fascinating, and fun.

Dr. McDougall: Well, I will tell her that, and I will give her a big hug too.

Caryn Hartglass: Okay. Yeah, please give her a hug for me, and I’m giving you a hug too.

Dr. McDougall: My pleasure.

Caryn Hartglass: Thank you again, Dr. McDougall, the Healthiest Diet on the Planet.

Transcribed by Kevin Zhao and Doreen Morton, 12/24/2016


Caryn Hartglass: Hi everybody! I’m Caryn Hartglass, and it’s time for part two of It’s All About Food. And it is almost all about food. I was just talking here with my friend, I mentioned my friend Josée is here from France, and she mentioned a very good point in the last 30 seconds, and that was food is important, but there are a lot of other things that contribute to disease and that’s our very dirty environment. Our environment is filled with all kinds of toxic chemicals and it’s different in different regions, in where we live, our water unfortunately. Many water sources are not clean. Our soils, for overgrowing with pesticides and herbicides and petrochemical fertilizers our soils are not alive, and they need to be alive with healthy bacteria and small living beings, insects, in order to grow what we need, nutritious healthy plant food. So there’s… there’s really a lot that is part of health, we cover a lot of that here on this program, and I think that goes right into very well with the first topic I wanted to talk about on the second part of this program, and that is the Great Barrier Reef of Australia. A lot of people have talking in the last week about an article that’s been going around, which had another sensational title. I talked about how Dr. McDougall’s book, The Healthiest Diet on the Planet, is somewhat sensational because there are many different kinds of plant-based diets, and is one really superior to another? Even in the whole foods plant based diet, there are many variations. Is one healthier than the other; I don’t know that we know that. So, moving to another sensational title, there was an article that came out that said, “The Great Barrier Reef of Australia passed away in 2016 after a long illness. It was 25 million years old.” And it’s a heartbreaking article, but it’s a bit of satire, it’s not true. The Great Barrier Reef is still with us, it’s just not as healthy as it used to be, but the article touches on many, many important issues, one that when temperature rises too high, the algae in the water produces too much oxygen and it becomes toxic in high concentrations. The coral there must eject the algae to survive and without the algae the coral turns white, which is called bleaching, and it begins to starve. So this happens with the rise in water temperature and we know our oceans are getting warmer. It also happens because the oceans are taking in more carbon dioxide, and that makes the water more acidic, and that also threatens the coral. So this lovely area, the Great Barrier Reef, a wonderful place where many people like to go and scuba dive, and do all kinds of water activities, it’s really a stunning, lovely place. I haven’t been there yet, and I would like to visit, Jose’s been there, she’s telling me, but it hasn’t passed away yet. But the point is, sensational titles get our attention, and there so much going on in the news today that it’s so easy to, I know when I get all my emails I just go, delete, delete, delete, delete, delete. I don’t have time to process most of the things that come in, and there are so many different blogs and newspapers, check your Facebook page and all the timelines that are going on, there’s just so much information. It’s the ones that have sensational titles that people start talking about, so I’m not surprised that this satirist chose, “The Great Barrier Reef of Australia passed away in 2016 after a long illness. It was 25 million years old.” as a title, and the author ends the article saying that, “the Great Barrier Reef was predeceased by the South Pacific’s coral triangle, the Florida Reef, off the Florida Keys, and most other coral reefs on Earth. It is survived by the remnants of the Belize Barrier Reef, and some deep water corals. In lieu of flowers donations can be made to Ocean Ark Alliance.” It’s cleverly written, but the point is we have a problem, and when the ocean goes, there’s really no life anywhere because the ocean supplies us with oxygen. The ocean supplies us with a lot of temperature control. It supplies us with all kinds of life and balance, there’s a balance between the water and the ground and the air. So, we’re doing a lot of damage, and what do we say here on It’s All About Food about what causes a lot of that damage, certainly, quote, progress, civilization, 7 billion people on the planet, but a lot of it is what we eat, and a lot of it is the animals that we raise for food. And as there are more people on the plant, and more people consuming animals we have to unfortunately concentrate those animals in small spaces that we call factory farms, and it’s very inefficient to grow plants to feed these animal, to make food for humans, and we’re learning more and more about the devastating impact it has on the environment. It’s not only horrifically cruel, and it’s not only bad for our health as Dr. McDougall was telling us earlier, it’s devastating on the environment and a lot of it, even though what we’re doing on land, it connects to what’s going on in the ocean. And we see it unfortunately in beautiful places like the Great Barrier Reef, and I hope that at some point we are able to turn this around because I would really like to visit it sometime. I don’t have any plans to go there any time soon but I’d like it to be there and in a beautiful, healthy state when I do get to visit. There’s another article, it’s kind of connected to all of this, that came out recently called, “Rebooting the Food System”, and it’s reporting that there’s a new global collaboration between Eat Foundation, I’ve mentioned the Eat Foundation before, I recently went to their conference at the UN a few weeks ago called Eat X, and they are collaborating with the Jamie Oliver Food Foundation and the United Nations Food program, and they’re taking aim at obesity, hunger, climate change, and environmental degradation all together. It’s a good article. I smile when I read it because they’re mentioning issues that people like myself, people like Dr. John McDougall and many people I’ve had on this program, have been talking about for decades, decades. We’ve had numerous opportunities to make change to reboot the food system, to do things that are radical, but it takes a long time for people to get the message, for people to understand the message, and unfortunately things need to get dramatic, things need to get sensational before we want to get off our butts and do something about it. So I want to look at the positive side, and some of the things they mentioned in this article are talking about how many people have food instability, food insecurity, malnutrition and hunger haunt 1 in 9 of us, and at the same time we’re overweight. Obesity has nearly doubled since 1980. A staggering 30% are now overweight or obese, and at the same time, all these crazy things are happening all at once, so much food is wasted, I know here in Manhattan alone how much food is wasted, I participated in a number of dumpster dives a few years ago, and at 10, 11 pm at night, all this food is put out in plastic bags on the streets, bakeries put out perfectly good bread because they can’t sell it the next day, it has to be freshly baked. Huge green garbage bags filled with bagels. Now, I don’t eat bagels, they’re made with refined flour, but it drives me crazy when I see this food, food that can nourish so many people, being put out on the street, and then there’s the waste that happens in your own refrigerator. I know I cry if there’s something that goes bad in our house. I use everything. I don’t let anything go bad, and when it does, I feel really sad. The best thing to do with food waste, if you have it of course, is to put it in compost so those nutrients can get back into the soil, but for the most part that’s not what we’re doing. So waste is definitely an issue, and the article continues and says, “we’re polluting ourselves”, we just covered that. What’s interesting is they say, “one third of the greenhouse gasses that drive climate change are from agriculture production and the livestock industry alone account for almost 15% of all human caused emissions.” Now we’ve talked about this many times on the program, and that number is really loose. It’s really hard to nail down what the exact figure is, but what we do know is animal agriculture is toxic, to eat animals foods, and what the industry is doing to our environment, it’s a filthy business. And it says, “we’re running out of band-aid solutions,” now in my mind, the only solution, and they mention it right here in the article, it’s pointing towards healthy plant based diets. They say, “low in meat, animals products, and processed foods.” I would like to say none, but okay let’s say low, really low, because people don’t know how to… how to calibrate that. When you say a little is okay, sometimes the floodgates open and they eat a lot because they said, “Oh this doctor said it was okay to have a little.” What is “a little”? “A little” is really not very much, so maybe three to six ounces of animal food a week maybe, not a lot. Dr. Joel Fuhrman says less than 10% of your calories, and he’s really encouraging a 100% plant based diet but if people want to eat animal foods he gives you a number, but still people really don’t know how to calculate those things. Okay, and they also mention in this article it’s a huge business opportunity. That’s an interesting topic. I would like to believe that there is a way for many people to profit so that investors see an opportunity in growing healthy, organic food. Right now what I see as I mention earlier, is the businesses that are making processed plant foods to replace animal foods, it’s clever, it’s better than growing animals for foods, so we’re starting to see many, many plant milks, rather using the cow or the goat to get milk, or replacing the animal and using plant ingredients to make an essentially similar product. There’s even a company, I haven’t tried it yet, that makes milk from peas and it’s supposed. Through some sophisticated process, taste just like cow milk, which in my mind, isn’t a good thing cause I don’t like the taste of cow milk, but’s supposed to have casein and whey, the component in cow milk that we know aren’t good for us, so I’m kind of confused about that one. And then there are businesses that are making lots of plant-based meats. The thing that I find interesting, I’m not really a fan of the newest plant based meats, you’ve heard it here. I don’t really like the Beast burger, I don’t… I’m not fond of Impossible Foods’ Meats, Gardein is okay. The ones that I like are the foods that you find, and not all of them, but there are some products sold by May Wah here in New York City. Plant based meats that are made by monks in Taiwan, and they’ve been doing it for a really long time based on a century old recipe, and I find these are tastier and they’ve been around a long time and it’s not sexy. Investers like these new companies that are popping up that are kind of recycling information and that we’ve been putting out for a long time, and making variations on products that have been out for a very long time. And that’s where the money is. So you got to go where the money is. We need a complete reboot, as that article is talking about, a reboot of the system, and that will include how we make profits so that means a complete reboot of our subsidies system that provides incentives and tax breaks and money to the farmers that are making foods for animal feed, soy, alfalfa, corn, primarily grown to feed animals to feed people and those benefits, those incentives need to go to growing organic plant food for human beings in more efficient and effective ways, and I would like to see the big agribusiness giant farms broken up into smaller farms, let’s bring farming back. It’s coming back in little pockets but it needs to be sexy, it needs to be respected, we’re no where without food and our farmers need to be given a big boost and it shouldn’t be that difficult to grow food, and there are more people starting organic farms, not organic farms, urban farms. I love this idea of growing gardens all over the city, not only is it great to grow healthy food this way, but it’s beautiful to look at. Which reminds me of an article that I wanted to bring up, I was going to bring it up later, cause I wanted to end on a happy note but… I’m going to bring it up now. In terms of adding greenery how important it is for all of us human beings, I just found an article, and actually Jose, my guest, who’s sitting with me, was her son her posted it on Facebook and I saw it and I grabbed it and I loved it. And the article, it talks about the Japanese practice of forest bathing, and it is scientifically proven to improve your health. So now they have studies that show if you sit amongst trees, in a woods, it is healthy, it is beneficial, it can lower your heart rate and blood pressure, it can reduce stress hormones production, it can boost the immune system and improve overall feelings of well being. Take a walk in the parks, and parks, even urban parks like the beautiful one we have here in Manhattan, Central Park, or the Queen’s Forest Coronado Park, which I was surprised to find out is bigger than Central park not too long ago, anywhere where you can find lots of trees, sit amongst them. It’s good for you, and breathe! I love talking about breathing and breathing in the woods is a delightful experience and it really doesn’t cost anything, just some time. So if you’re curious about it, you can just Google, “forest bathing”, there are actually meet up groups that bathe in the forest together. I like that. Whew! Okay. So, another article I picked out to just briefly mention, it’s on the website The article is, “Do you eat meat? What about animals? Scientists slice open a carnivore’s paradox.” Basically the article talks about the further away we get from seeing the animal, the more we’re likely to not mind eating. So when we see body parts of chickens for example, wings and breasts wrapped up hygienically in plastic, we don’t feel so bad. We feel worse apparently according to these studies, it’s not true of everyone and I know that, but let’s say you go to a luau or something and you see a pig roasting with its head, your less likely to want to eat that pig meat than if you were offered it without the head. So this is based on studies that they’ve done, the further away we get from acknowledging the meat on our plate is an actually sentient feeling, living being, the more we don’t mind eating it. Now people will say that if factory farms had glass walls people wouldn’t be eating meat, and I would really like to believe that’s true. I don’t believe it’s true for 100% of us. But, if more of us realized where our food is coming from and how it’s made and decide to take the more compassionate path, the healthier path, the more environmentally friendly path, and choose more plant foods, I like to think that we’re all sheep and we go with the masses, so we’re just waiting for that tipping point to move the masses towards more plant eating and less meat eating. Now one last thing in this article that I have to mention is the terminology. Language is so important and marketing is so good at manipulating our language. So a popular term is “harvesting”, “meat harvesting”, and more people are using the word “harvesting”, instead of “killing” or “slaughtering”. It sounds, it sounds so nice and natural and harmless and something that goes with the cyclical nature of life, but it’s not. Harvesting is not, when we’re talking about meat harvesting we’re talking about taking the life away from sentient beings that want to raise their families, raise their babies, live with their friends and families, and grow and live and range, roam the earth and do what they like to do, be it roll in the mud and the dirt and the leaves and peck at themselves and each other, and they have a right to do that. Okay, last thing, what month is this everybody? Okay if you’re listening now or listening soon in the future it’s October, and October is pink month! It’s Breast Cancer Awareness month, you know how I feel about this right. We don’t need any more awareness about breast cancer. We all know about cancer. In fact I remember when I was a little girl, my sister and I were very aware of cancer, specifically when it came to cigarette smoking. Somehow we got, we were really scared about cancer and cigarette smoking, I don’t know how we got it, but that c-word, that cancer was really scary to the point where we would have, we would put on little shows in our backyard and charge like 10 cents, 25 cents, I don’t know back then, to raise money for cancer research. But it was something; the fear of cancer has been with us for a long time. What I don’t understand is why the fear of heart disease is not the same. Does anybody have that answer? Cancer seems so frightening and yet heart disease, it doesn’t seem as scary. And the thing about heart disease that we all know, heart disease is preventable; heart disease is reversible if you catch it in time, that’s nice. So maybe that’s why we’re not as afraid of it, but it’s not really keeping many people from getting heart disease themselves. Cancer seems a little more mysterious. We certainly know that, I would say upwards 60% maybe more of the cancers that people are being diagnosed with today are preventable. A large amount of cancer is preventable. Then, there’s a certain percentage that’s a mystery. What I would like to see is that with people jumping on this plant based whole foods bandwagon we all get a lot healthier, and then the remaining diseases that exist we can focus our help, our research dollars on the real mysteries out there, not the diseases that we cause. We spend so much trying to figure out how to cure diabetes. We know how to cure it. We know how to prevent it. We know how to reverse it. It’s a diet disease. Now cancer’s a little more mysterious. Okay so October’s Breast Awareness month. I know I’ve heard from my health insurance company to get my mammogram. I want to say that I have never had a mammogram, and I hope that I never will. There’s a lot of controversy around mammograms, and there’s a new study that just came out, and it was published a few days ago in the New England Journal of Medicine by some researchers at Dartmouth, specifically Dr. H Gilbert Welch, a physician at Dartmouth. There’s a wonderful little YouTube video that I recommend watching, he really does an excellent job of putting in layman terms, easy to understand terms, what their research was about, and what their findings were. So the findings are kind of confusing, but basically the improvements that we’ve seen in breast cancer with improvements in mortality, decreased mortality, have been primarily because of treatment. The treatment options have improved, or so says Dr. H Gilbert Welch, and I will agree that the treatment options have improved, maybe not improved in the way that I would like to see because I don’t think women should have to go through the things that they go through in order to get to a point where they’re in remission, and the disease is gone. But what has not helped, according to this study, are the mammograms. So they try and interpret the data and basically the data has told us that mammograms haven’t really contributed very much. Now it’s kind of hard to parse out and if you want to listen to his YouTube video you can do that. I just want to highlight a few things that he said. As I mentioned, “Falling breast cancer moralities is largely the result of improved treatment, and while screening mammography helps some women by advancing the time of diagnosis for cancer, is destined to become larger. More often it identifies women with small cancers that would have otherwise never bothered them. Now the interesting thing about many of these small cancers is that if we know about them or if we don’t know about them we can manage them because they’re slow growing. Many of them are not aggressive, many of them are slow growing, and when we move to a healthier diet of foods that boost our immune system, anti-cancer fighting foods, we can take care of those. A lot of people talk about how we always have cancer in our bodies but immune system is able to manage them. The thing is our medical industry likes to make cancer scary, wants us to sign up for more diagnosis and to find more stuff, and unfortunately many women are being over diagnosed and being treated for things that they don’t necessarily have to be treated for. Now he makes an important point, “Screening mammography is a choice, women who feel good about screening can feel good about continuing it, and for those who do not can feel equally good about not pursuing it.” It really is a choice, if you found something that’s bothering you, you might feel better to have a test to see if there’s something there, or choose some of the other tests that are out there. There are a number, ultrasound in this country; unfortunately there are other methods that haven’t been approved by our FDA. And that’s that. So, we talked about a lot today, haven’t we? Are you digesting that well? I hope so! If you have any comments and questions about today’s program or anything about food you can contact me at, and you can find me at, that’s where I live, and check out my blog, daily blog, What Vegan’s Eat, if you’re new to this program and new to plant based eating, I post everyday what I eat. It’s real food. I’m not lying, I’m not making it fancy, it’s just my breakfast, lunch, and dinner, it’s real, and sometimes I link to recipes to be helpful. Thank you so much for joining me and for caring about food! Have a delicious week!

Transcribed by Zia Kara 12/6/2016

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