It’s time for New Year’s resolutions again, promises we make to ourselves to change the way we live our lives. According to a 2021 survey, the number one resolution is to exercise more, number two to lose weight, and number four to eat healthier.
Unfortunately a to learn published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology tells us that only about 46% of people who make resolutions succeed in keeping them.
With that statistic in mind, instead of jumping on the latest fad diet, why not try a proven lifestyle makeover that could not only help you lose weight and get healthy, but could also help you live longer?
the Blue Zones are five areas of the world that have a disproportionate number of centenarians (people living to 100 years or more). Not only are they living longer, they are also healthier and remain active into old age. The Blue Zones are Okinawa, Japan; Nicoya, Costa Rica; Sardinia, Italy; Ikaria Greece; and Loma Linda, California.
The diet is similar to the Mediterranean diet, which has been scientifically proven to reduce risk heart disease, cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer, and dementia. Like the Mediterranean diet, it dictates eating whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes, seeds, spices, and olive oil is preferable to butter.
People from the Blue Zones not only eat healthily, but also have a good social network, have a clear purpose in life and exercise regularly. Although they don’t take supplements, read food labels, or even eat the same foods, there are a few other things they have in common that we can learn from them:
1. Eat a 95% plant-based diet. They eat very little meat, averaging just 50 grams twice a week. For comparison, an average burger weighs about 200g and an average steak served in a US restaurant weighs 400g.
2. Eat whole foods. Blue Zoners avoid processed foods, especially processed meats like bacon, salami and sausage, which are the World Health Organization is considered a type 1 carcinogen.
3. Reduce milk consumption. They are generally low in dairy foods, which can be loaded with fat and sugar and are difficult for most people to digest.
4. Eat half a cup of beans daily. Beans are high in fiber and act as a probiotic, helping the bacteria in your gut to thrive. On average, people in the Blue Zones eat four times as many beans as the rest of the world.
5. Drink moderately. As social networking is a dictated part of the Blue Zone lifestyle, drinking a glass or two of wine is permitted and even encouraged. The trick is to drink with food and friends. Binge drinking alone is not allowed.
6. Snack on nuts. They avoid processed foods and eat a wide variety of nuts, which are high in nutrients, fiber, and good fats.
7. Slash sugar. They eat, on average, about 7 teaspoons, or about 28g of added sugar per day.
8. Stop eating when you are 80% full. The Japanese call that hari hacha buthe habit of not eating until full helps prevent weight gain.
9. Eat less eggs. On average, people in the Blue Zones only eat about three eggs a week, and they come from free-range chickens that aren’t injected with hormones or antibiotics.
While the number of people who go vegan or vegetarians has increased exponentially, based on one estimate 1.3 million to 2.6 million in the last four years alone, the total proportion of people remains relatively low at around 2.6 million 3% of the world population for vegans and 5% for vegetarians.
However, the number of flexitarians (people who occasionally eat meat or fish but mostly eat plants) is growing even faster, meaning that plant-based eating isn’t just a fad, it’s here to stay.
As a matter of fact, 47% of Americans consider themselves flexitarian, pescetarian, vegan or vegetarian and two-thirds limit meat consumption.
Likewise almost one third of Europeans no longer see themselves as full-fledged meat eaters. The most commonly cited reasons why people eat less meat are health, weight loss, animal welfare and the environment.
Plant-based is good for business
A plant-based menu is not only good for the environment and your health, if you are a restaurant owner it is also good for business. If you have a table of four Americans, on average, you’ll probably want two plant-based dishes. If you have a table of four Europeans, at least one will likely do it. Therefore, even if your restaurant serves mostly meat, offering plant-based options makes good business sense as it allows friends with different dietary needs to dine together.
Many of the best restaurants in the world are beginning to offer plant-based cuisine. For example Daniel Humm, holder of 3 Michelin stars Eleven Madison Park in New York, which reopened last year with a vegan menu and said, “The current food system is just not sustainable.” Also, geranium Denmark, ranked number two in the world’s 50 best restaurants, has removed meat from the menu.
Phuket has also seen a surge in plant-based restaurants, including those that recently opened soul is located in Karon and is owned by French restaurateur Adelaide Castano. Adelaide says: “80% of our guests are not vegan, they just come because they are curious about what plant-based cuisine tastes like.”
Palmer Owyoung is an environmental activist working with the Kamala Green Club and the Global Sustainability Hub.