I have been plant based since I was 17 years old. And for good reason.
I am a Seventh-Day Adventist (SDA) of Blue Zone fame. The Blue Zones, made famous by Dan Buettner who authored the bestselling book by the same name, are the places in the world where people live the longest. The five longevity hotspots where people live longer, healthier lives are:
The final three have the largest concentration of centenarians – people who live over 100 years old.
Loma Linda is an Adventist community in Southern California where Loma Linda University (my alma mater!) and Loma Linda University Medical Center draw many people who share our faith to study and work. As a church, we focus on health, have advocated a vegetarian diet since 1863, abstain from alcohol and tobacco, and both promote and engage in regular exercise.
Here’s a photo from our Battle Creek Sanitarium, run by Dr. John Harvey Kellogg, where daily aerobics classes were held along with hydrotherapy, gymnastics, breathing exercises, “open air” and sunlight therapy, nutrition therapy, health education and more! Famous guests of the San included President William H. Taft, John D. Rockefeller, J.C. Penny, Andrew Carnegie, Amelia Earhart, Thomas Edison, and Henry Ford.
Another component that Buettner recognized as key to our health and longevity is that we observe the seventh day Sabbath where we take 24 hours from Friday sundown to Saturday sundown where we do not work or make others work. We spend this time with family and friends, at church, out in nature, hiking, studying the Bible, and other rejuvenating activities.
Being an Adventist is one of the influencing factors in why I became plant based in my first year of college. After graduating high school, I decided to attend Southern Adventist University – an SDA institution in Tennessee. Because I love languages, I chose International Studies and Spanish as my major.
As one of my pre-reqs, I took Human Nutrition and decided to use myself as a guinea pig to test what I was learning. In following a plant based diet (which was made easy by our vegetarian cafeteria), I experienced firsthand the Freshman 15…in reverse. Yes, I lost somewhere between 10 and 15 pounds (I’m not sure exactly how much because I’ve never been one to weigh myself) and discovered an incredible energy and vitality that made me decide to become a dietitian so that I could help others experience this too.
After a year studying abroad in China and Spain, I changed my major and headed back to my dear California and where else than Loma Linda University!
That was just the foundation of my plant based journey, and there are so many other reasons why I have decided to stay plant based for all these years. I will share those with you in Part 2!