I Think It's Time to Change the Discussion by Marty The Health Guy

Today's blog is from VegFest London speaker Marty The Health Guy. Marty will be kicking off the festival and speaking at 10:30 am. Learn more about Marty's presentation and our full festival schedule here.


…from self-serving agenda’s to some basic facts…

As a health coach & advocate, the question of a healthy diet and what we put in our bodies comes up again and again and again. Should I eat less carbohydrates & more protein? Should I try a detox juice fast? Which supplements are the best to burn fat and build lean muscle?  I believe it’s these types of questions that continue to undermine the truth about what being healthy means and fosters our growing misconceptions about what our bodies actually need to be healthy and well.

So this begs the question, what does being healthy & well really mean? 

Is it having 6-pack-abs or fitting into a size 2 dress? The world of fitness magazines, infomercials & reality shows certainly suggests that’s the case. 

Or should lowering your risk of heart & cardiovascular diseases and maintain a healthy lean-muscle-to-body-fat ratio through diet and exercise be your #1 priority? I certainly believe this to be a greater and more realistic approach to our collective personal health. There’s nothing wrong with having a 6-pack or working to have a smaller waist, but too many of us head in that direction through calorie-restrictive diets and ignoring the full spectrum of nutrients our bodies need and throw a balanced lifestyle out the window simply to satisfy our personal vanities.

So for the sake of argument, let’s say that you agree that the second choice is the better one. This still begs the question, how exactly do we go about achieving optimal health? As I implied above, the different opinions and industry rhetoric out there points us all in a variety of different directions to achieve that same goal. So what’s the answer? 

Well, this is where I’d like to state for the record that even though I’ve personally chosen a 100% plant-based diet, I have little intention or vested interest in telling anyone that they need to follow in my exact footsteps to be healthy, or that my lifestyle is the perfect one for them. What I want to do instead is shift the discussion away from the many polarizing labels out there to a more fact-based approach of what the physiological truths tell us about what the human body needs to consume to be healthy and well. 

And all we have to do is look at the present state of North American’s state-of-health (or should I say ill-health) to see that we’re certainly not doing a very good job right now!

According to the Center for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) & The Obesity Network, almost 90 million North Americans are clinically obese, which leads to a whole host of cardiovascular diseases & cardiovascular disease is the #1 cause of death in North America! The CDC also states that only 20% of Americans get the recommended amounts of exercise each week, while Statistics Canada reports that only 15% of Canadians do (that’s right, we’re worse than Americans in the exercise dept. – let’s hang our collective heads in shame).

So, despite being inundated with many expert opinions on health and wellness, the state of North American wellbeing is clearly going in the wrong direction and we might be better served to look at some basic facts that transcend all the opinions, labels and agenda’s.

I’ll assume, for arguments sake, that we can all agree that dietary choices play a significant role in our overall health and wellbeing, so let’s start by looking at what we consume that might be causing those scary statistics.

The Real Agriculture Report tells us that the average American consumes 276 pounds of meat per year while the average Canadian consumes 137 pounds of meat per year AND according to a study conducted by the National Cancer Institute to determine if there is a relationship between the consumption of particular types of meats and an increased risk of death from illness found that: “The regular consumption of red and processed meats is directly associated with an increased risk of heart-disease and certain cancers, among other illnesses.”

In direct and healthy contrast, The American Institute for Cancer Research reports that basing our diets on plant foods (like vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans and legumes), which contain fiber and other nutrients, will significantly reduce our risk of getting cancer and cardiovascular diseases. 

And though I’m not telling you to go out and give up meat entirely and start living a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle, I am telling you that if you’re not getting the majority of your diet from plant-based foods you’re not going to achieve optimal health no matter what your health magazine or fitness-based reality show tells you. 

Now go to the grocery store and fill your cart primarily in the produce department & stay tuned for my next blog:


Do you have to eat meat to grow lean muscle & other silly myths…

Marty ‘The Health Guy’ Menard