A recent article in the Idea Fitness website shares a summary of research done by Dan Buettner, Author of The Blue Zones: Lessons for Living Longer From the People Who’ve Lived the Longest (2008). Blue zones are areas where people live much longer than the rest of the planet such as Sardinia (Italy), Okinawa (Japan), Nicoya (Costa Rica), and the Seventh-Day Adventist Community in Loma Linda, CA.
Buettner sought common demoninators which might help to explain why folks living in these places lived longer. The article on Idea Fitness features a summary by Canadian journalist, Matthew Kadey. Here are the common factors in the Blue Zones that Buettner studied.
Each place had a prodominantly plant-based diet; that diet was not the same in each zone, but it was still plant based.
Daily life was filled with physical activity. Whether it was shepherding, pounding grain, farming or exercise, this was a common attribute of each place.
While the “purpose” varied in each Blue Zone, inhabitants had a strong sense of purpose in their lives. Whether it was commitment to community, fulfillment at work, etc., people in these areas in general had a strong reason to live.
Social interaction was prevalent. Each of these communities had many opportunities for people to gather in social settings; there was a strong sense of interconnectedness.
What can we draw from these results? Kadey suggests that we can learn and adapt from Buettner’s findings ways to lengthen our days. We can switch to a more plant-based diet, keep ourselves physically active, find meaning/purpose in our lives, and take advantage of or create opportunities to have social interactions. Combining all of these appears to be a key feature of the Blue Zones.
Of course, not only do these factors seem to contribute to a long life, but to a healthy, meaningful one as well! Let’s make our own Blue Zones.
It used to be a pretty lonely business going out to eat in a restaurant as a pescatarian/vegetarian. Other folks see 100 items on the menu, but we see 5 or 6…or at least we used to.
There is a boom in the plant-based food industry and it is not because there are suddenly more vegetarians or vegans. The NPD group, a market research firm based in New York State, is reporting that of all those purchasing and eating plant-based burgers 89% are not vegetarian or vegan! 89%!!!
My wife and I went out to dinner with friends this evening and one of them ordered an Impossible Burger (so did I!). He is a meat eater, but we convinced him to give it a try. He liked it. As the article states, it seems that plant-based foods have crossed a threshold; taste has finally caught up to what consumers are looking for. Those looking for variety in their diet want to try new things, but will only stick with it if the taste holds up. Products like the Impossible Burger or nearly everything made by Gardein (www.gardein.com) hold their own against animal-based products.
Of course, just because something is plant-based doesn’t mean that it is necessarily healthier to eat. When you order a burger at a restaurant, it may have some salt, pepper, and other spices mixed in but it is otherwise usually not highly processed. Compare this with an Impossible Burger’s ingredients and you’ll see that it is quite processed indeed.
Even so, as the taste meets a higher standard and profitability grows for plant-based food companies, we can expect to see more variety and more healthy options available for everyone–not just vegetarians. Given the impact of the meat industry on the environment, this could be a win for the planet as well.
This is an interesting and exciting trend and it is nice to know that as vegetarians we are not alone.
Many folks who try to cut out animal-based are worried that they won’t get the protein that they need–especially if they like to work out or participate in active sports.
I have been a pescatarian for the last dozen or so years; a pescatarian does not eat meat or poultry, but still eats fish (in my case this excludes shellfish and other crustaceans). When I made the change, I knew that I could not feed my children and myself pasta every night; I had to plan in advance. Putting together a week’s meal plan at one time helped me to make sure there was variety in what we ate, sufficient protein and greens, and prevented me from having to run to the supermarket every day. The biggest challenge was definitely what to do about protein; I am ovo/lacto so cheeses and eggs helped out a lot. Even if you are vegan, though, there are lots of options out there. Here is an article–complete with some recipes–that addresses the issue. It also talks about some of the concerns that have come up in the past around tofu.