Living To Be 100
"The adoption of agriculture, supposedly our most decisive step toward a better life, was in many ways a catastrophe from which we have never recovered." Jared Diamond
When Jared Diamond wrote these words, I wonder if he pondered living to be 100. I have just completed his book "Guns, Germs, and Steel". This incredible world history, told from an evolutionary biologist's perspective shares good company with "The China Study" by T. Colin Campbell, Ph.D., and his son, Thomas M. Campbell II, MD
The China Study is a revolutionary study that proves the correlation between nutrition and heart disease, diabetes and cancer. It demonstrates irrevocably that human populations relying primarily on a plant-based diet live the longest and healthiest lives. After reading this book, I realized that it is entirely possible that I will be living to be 100 – along with everyone else who has been inspired by these important medical findings. I am a very happy vegan today and my culinary adventures have grown exponentially – surprising but true.
Guns, Germs, and Steel demonstrates that evolutionary microbial survivors (citing the occupation of North America by 'conquistadors' and the tragic smallpox mortality that ensued, for example) are the greatest threat to humanity today. Factory-farming practice that is widely accepted by the livestock industry has catalysed this 'cross-species' plague. Continental differences measured by archaeological evidence, fascinating at first glance, has become a central concern within the global scientific community. The impact of human ingenuity, exponential population growth and the corresponding sustainability demands placed on the planet have culminated, resulting in pressures on the supply / demand paradigm. The human race cannot continue doing 'business as usual', especially if we expect to live to be 100 – or even 50 for that matter.
Food production is central to human history, from Stone Age hunters and gatherers to the modern era of industrialized agriculture. Humanity has faced pathogenic 'jumps' from livestock to humans for centuries, whether it be the bubonic plague of the 14th century, or the prolific AIDS / HIV virus that emerged in the 1970s, or the ever-mutating H1N1 / Bird Flu that wreaks havoc on the safety of food production in the modern world.
Is it realistic to imagine living to be 100? Following is some serious 'food for thought' and yes, the pun is entirely intentional.
Ground up sheep and cattle remains, including spine and brain tissue, are systemically fed to vegetarian cattle, directly responsible for the human cases of the fatal 'Creutzfeldt-Jakob' disease in Canada. It has nearly shut down Canadian beef export, devastating farmers and paralyzing local economies. Japan only recently lifted the trade ban on Canadian beef. To grow larger livestock, North American farmers routinely use large quantities of antibiotics to boost livestock yield. Meat and dairy products carry this down the food chain, resulting in disturbing and dangerous genetic changes to human disease vectors. Within a few scant decades antibiotics will no longer respond to these virulent microbial bombs.
The fact that cross-species infections increases when the hosts are so closely related genetically, reveals that human immunity is under attack in ways that we could never have predicted. A widely-held view within the bio-science community believes that the AIDS virus jumped from non-human primates to humans – supported by the large scale bush meat harvesting in West Africa. AIDS researchers infected primates relentlessly and inhumanely over the past two decades, and only recently acknowledged the fruitlessness of this endeavor.
The race to find ways to mitigate the real possibility of a human pandemic within the next 50 years is evidenced by leading 'influenza labs' that have developed a biomorphic virus: ferret-transmittable, demonstrating 'cross-species' infection to humans. In a recent press release, The National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity, a US government advisory panel, asked the journals Science and Nature to delay publication of the research until a system could be set up to allow scientists who need access to the work to see it "while keeping sensitive information from dangerous hands".
A few years ago, I shifted to a plant-based diet – eating certified organic and locally-grown whenever possible. As a direct result, I have less dependency on the over-wrought healthcare system, I sleep well and wake refreshed, and I am contributing to the sustainability of our planet.
Ground-breaking vegan chef and social activist Isa Chandra Moskowitz says it well, '… my taste buds are finally catching up with my ethics. "I leave you with this inspiring TED Talks lecture, presented by Dan Buettner, who has studied the world's "Blue Zones," communities whose elders live with vim and vigor to record-setting age. He shares the 9 common diet and lifestyle habits that keep these centenarians spry.