Why I Chose a Plant-Based Lifestyle

There are numerous diets on the market today and I want to tell you why my wife and I chose a plant-based lifestyle. The Keto Diet is a very popular one right now. But, through our ten plus years of studying and trying various diets and reading numerous studies and watching countless videos, we finally decided that only one really works for us. And that’s the Whole-Food, Plant-Based diet which is now our lifestyle. When I talk about plant-based, I’ve shortened it from using “whole-food, plant-based” all the time.

Heart Disease Is the Number One Killer in the United States

Heart disease is the number one killer in the United States (almost 650,000 deaths) for both men and women. Forty-five percent of all reported deaths that occurred in America in 2017 were either from heart disease or cancer. Obesity is a major contributing factor to heart disease, cancer, strokes, and more.

What’s Your Favorite Type 2 Diabetes Commercial

Diabetes in America is at an all-time high. The number of people living with diabetes has more than tripled during 1990 and 2010, and the number of new cases doubles every year. The link between type 2 diabetes and obesity is well known. As the rate of obesity climbs in America, so too has the rate of type 2 diabetes. 

As the rate of type 2 diabetes soar, the lining of the pockets of Big Pharma skyrocket. Just take a look at the ads on television for Jardiance, Lyrica, Farxiga, Victoza, Trulicity, Invokana, Toujeo, and Tresiba just to name a few. What these ads tell me is that if you take their pill, you can continue on your path of unhealthful eating. They aren’t in the business of fixing the initial cause of type 2 diabetes. They are in the business of selling you their medication.

The Standard American Diet (SAD) Is Making Us Sick

What are your favorite foods today? Donuts in the morning or maybe three or four times a week I would have a couple of fried eggs with bacon and hashbrowns. Lunch would be a quick stop at McD’s for a hamburger and fries. Supper would consist of fried chicken, hot dogs, or maybe a steak. This would be considered a Standard American Diet.

When my wife and I got married over ten years ago we were both overweight and unhealthy. We decided to lose some weight and get healthy. With so many different diets on the market and so many different health reports about nutrition, we tried practically everything. There are so many conflicting reports about what to eat and what to avoid and the best way to lose weight. We were confused as hell! It’s even worse today. What is the truth about health and nutrition?

There is significant evidence to show that a whole-food, plant-based dietary lifestyle may prevent and reverse some types of diseases from our Standard American Diet. Studies show that heart disease can be significantly reduced. And if you already have heart disease, it can be reversed in most people. Studies also show that most people with type 2 diabetes are able to get completely off of medication.

What Are Plant-Based Foods?

When I talk about plant-based foods I am talking about “whole-food, plant-based” (WFPB) foods? WFPB foods are unrefined and minimally processed foods like whole grains, vegetables, nuts, legumes, fruit, and seeds. Some people choose to go all out and only eat plant-based foods, like me and my wife. Some choose to eat plant-based foods supplemented by animal products on occasion. 

How Do I Start a Plant-Based Diet?

The key is not to go cold turkey. Start out by being mindful of what you are eating. Our first thing was to eliminate sodas – highly processed, sugar water. I lost 10 pounds within a couple of weeks just doing that. Then we started adding as many plant-based products as possible and reducing dairy, meat, eggs, and processed foods. It took my wife and me a couple of years of eliminating certain things to get where we are today – 100% plant-based. That’s not to say that we indulge sometimes. When we travel we try hard to stay plant-based but sometimes you just have to try a cultural dish. My wife says, “When in Rome…!”

My Three Values In Choosing a Plant-Based Lifestyle

I am mindful of three values when I choose to eat or drink something. First, is it healthful and nourishing for my body? This took a lot of education for me. I did spend a little bit of money taking a Forks Over Knives Cooking Course and a Plant-Based Professional Certification Course after that. There are tons of information and classes online and a lot of them are free. I spend most of my time in the produce section at the grocery store. Most meat and dairy are pumped full of toxins, hormones, antibiotics, and more.

The second thing that I look at is the food that I’m eating comes from a source that isn’t violating our resources. Cows take up a lot of land, use up a lot of water, create lots of waste, and pollute our air and land. Chickens are raised in horrible conditions.

And third, is I have compassion for all animals, not just my pets. Taking a calf away from its mother at birth just so that we can have milk isn’t what I would consider compassionate. The female calves are immediately grown to be impregnated to produce milk and the male calves are sold to companies that are raised to be used for veal.

“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” – Gandhi

I Am Always the Skeptic Nutrition Enthusiast

To sum it all up, I am always skeptical when new studies in nutrition come out. I research them the best way that I know how. In my ten plus years of reading and studying nutrition, I have chosen to live the plant-based lifestyle and I am enthusiastic about it. I can get all the nutrients that my body requires through plant-based eating without meat, eggs, dairy, and processed foods. I will continue on this path until something comes along to change my mind. I started this blog/website to share my findings and I’d like for you to join me on my journey.

The Bible Is A Confusing Book

In her book, The Bible, Karen Armstrong finishes a chapter on Sola Scriptura with the following message:

Sola scriptura could point people in the direction of the Bible, but it could never provide an absolute mandate: people could always find alternative texts to support an opposing point of view. By the seventeenth century, religious people were becoming acutely aware that the Bible was a very confusing book, and this at a time when clarity and rationality were prized as never before.

The Bible pages 181-182 by Karen Armstrong

Amazon Description

As the single work at the heart of Christianity, the world’s largest organized religion, the Bible is the spiritual guide for one out of every three people in the world. It is also the world’s most widely distributed book and its best-selling, with an estimated six billion copies sold in the last two hundred years. But the Bible is a complex work with a complicated and obscure history. Its contents have changed over the centuries, it has been transformed by translation and, through interpretation, has developed manifold meanings to various religions, denominations, and sects.

In this seminal account, acclaimed historian Karen Armstrong discusses the conception, gestation, life, and afterlife of history’s most powerful book. Armstrong analyzes the social and political situation in which oral history turned into written scripture, how this all-pervasive scripture was collected into one work, and how it became accepted as Christianity’s sacred text, and how its interpretation changed over time. Armstrong’s history of the Bible is a brilliant, captivating book, crucial in an age of declining faith and rising fundamentalism.

Did Jesus Die For Our Unpardonable Sins?

My favorite coffee is a dark roast and I spend a lot of my writing at Starbucks. When I’m at home I use a Starbucks dark roast and the drip method, making one cup at a time. It’s slow but worth it. Coffee is extremely good this morning! How do you have yours? Mine’s black!

My First Thoughts This Morning

A thought crossed my mind while sipping on my first cup. I always thought that all of our sins were forgiven because of Jesus’ death on the cross. But, what about the one sin, the unpardonable one, that Jesus says is so heinous that God will automatically give you a one-way ticket to hell? Any guesses as to what that sin might be? 

God’s Unpardonable Sin

Adulterers and serial killers are on God’s Top Ten No-No list but those sins are forgiven by the cross. Thieves, rapists, and pedophiles are exonerated. The Unpardonable Sin is found in three of the four Gospels,  Luke 12:10, Mark 3:29, and Matthew 12:31-32 and basically says that if you blaspheme against the Holy Spirit, you will not be forgiven. And Matthew adds, “neither in this world, neither in the world to come.”

What is Blasphemy?

Wow! So, what is blasphemy you might ask? According to Merriam-Webster, “to speak in a way that shows irreverence for God or something sacred.” If you keep up with the news, you’ll see that if you make fun of a religion, like offensive cartoons, wearing clothing that offends a religion, or insulting someone’s religion, that’s considered blasphemy and in some countries, will get you a ticket to prison.

Our Planet Still Subscribes to Blasphemy!

You may believe that blasphemy laws are ancient and just part of history. But several countries today have laws against blasphemy. According to a 2014 report by the Pew Research Center, about 26 percent of the countries around the world legally criminalize blasphemy. Egypt sentenced a woman in January 2016 to three years in prison for blasphemy. Three men in Burma wanted to advertise their new bar by displaying an ad with Buddha wearing headphones. They were convicted of blasphemy and sentenced to two and a half years in prison. Even though Buddhism has no God to blaspheme, they were convicted anyway.

Our Constitution versus Blasphemy Laws

There are still a few states in the United States that have laws against blasphemy. I question why these laws are still on the books because freedom of speech is guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. What are your thoughts?

I Have Blasphemed For Sure!

As a Christian, I’m pretty sure that I blasphemed God when my three-year-old son suffered and died. My ticket to that eternal fiery pit is in my back pocket and my name has been erased from God’s book I’m sure. Jesus died on the cross for sure for the forgiveness of pardonable sins. Some Christian Apologists say that Jesus died for ALL of our sins including the “unpardonable” sin. There’s a lot of speculation and many theories. How does man know for sure what God thinks? Do you know for sure?  Really? How’s your Greek?

Oh well. If you want to be safe with God, don’t criticize or question anyone’s religion. I’m only sure about two things at this moment. My coffee is just fantastic this morning and I will certainly die one day! Memento mori! (Google it!)

Reasoning With God

I got to Starbucks early this morning and immediately thought about Moses and the Ten Commandments because of a meme I responded to yesterday.

I was just thinking, wouldn’t it be cool when God said, “You shall worship no other gods…” if you could ask him for a reason other than, “Or else I’ll destroy you!”? Here’s a dialogue that I made up between Moses and God prior to the carving of the stone tablets. Warning! This dialogue is not in the Bible. I just made it up.

God: “You shall have no other gods before me.”

Moses: “Excuse me, God. I hate to interrupt but I have a question.”

God: “Oh, what is it, Moses?”

Moses: “I was just wondering about your first commandment about not having any other gods before us? What is the reasoning behind that?”

God: “Good question, sir! You see, I’ve had to deal with these other gods and they’re a real bunch of assholes. They’ll lead you to the slums of Egypt and laugh at you when you get there. That really pisses me off!”

Moses: “So, why do you say that you’ll send us to hell or destroy us if we don’t adhere to your commands?”

God: “Well, Moses, it’s like this. I have a lot of experience with humans and I’ve learned that I have to treat you guys like a drill sergeant would. I’ll give the commands and you follow! I’m indoctrinating everyone so that they won’t stray off the path and won’t have to think about what they’re doing. Just do it, as they say!”

Moses: “Okay! I get it now! Thanks, God, for straightening me out!”

God: “And by the way, there’s no better motivation than telling someone that I will destroy them if they don’t adhere to my commands.”

Moses: “Oh!”

When it came to reasoning with God, Moses did a good job of convincing God not to kill all of his people after the golden calf scene – only 3,000 of them. After all, 3,000 lives for being the first ones to break the very first commandment by God is not a bad deal. Is it? Time for another dark roast!

Doubt

I slept in a little this morning but I guess that’s a luxury of being retired. It’s quiet, I have my first cup of dark roast in hand, and God is already talking to me. The word “doubt” comes to mind for some odd reason.

Doubt is one of those words that Christians are uncomfortable with. As one Christian says, “In believers it is usually a weakness of faith, a wavering in the face of God’s promises (note 1).” Jesus was constantly getting after his disciples for doubting:

“Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. You of little faith, he said, why did you doubt?” (Matthew 14:31).

But, we all doubt – don’t we? If I told you that your spouse was cheating on you, wouldn’t you have some doubt and require some kind of proof before you believed me? I certainly hope you would. In our litigious society people are accused of many things every day. We may or may not believe the alleged accusations until there’s sufficient proof. We have a system that requires proof. We must eliminate all doubt!

No one is immune to doubting at one time or another. In an article written by Jesse Carey in Relevant Magazine he writes about “7 Prominent Thinkers Who Wrestled With Doubt” including Mother Teresa, Martin Luther, C.S. Lewis, and Pope Francis (note 2). You can read the article here.

Our third President and author of the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson, was a doubter. I get a kick out of those who believe America to be a Christian Nation and cite a quote or two from Thomas Jefferson. I’ll have to admit, he was a Christian – my kind of Christian anyway! Jefferson said, “I am a real Christian, that is to say a disciple of the doctrines of Jesus (note 3).” He went on to edit the Bible to his standards, cutting and pasting to create his own Bible, and wrote to a friend:

“I find many passages of fine imagination, correct morality, and of the most lovely benevolence; and others again of so much ignorance, so much absurdity, so much untruth, charlatanism, and imposture, as to pronounce it impossible that such contradictions should have proceeded from the same being.” See a pdf copy of Jefferson’s Bible here.

I may be like Jefferson in his thinking but I’m more like one of the twelve apostles who doubted. He even earned the nickname “Doubting Thomas.” He had followed Jesus through his ministry and was an eyewitness to all of the miracles that Jesus performed. He was there when they fed 5,000 men (more than that if you include the women and children) from scraps of bread and a couple of fish (Matthew 14:13-21). Yet, after Jesus died, he said:

“Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe (John 20:25).”

And Jesus gave Thomas the proof he needed. He allowed him to feel the hole marks in his hands and where the soldier speared him in the side of his chest. Thomas believed.

Being the agnostic that I am, that’s where I stand. I’m leaving room for belief, but there’s gotta be some proof to make me a believer. As Leslie Hazleton says in her newest book, Agnostic: A Spirited Manifesto (note 4), “Belief insists while faith hopes and trusts.” She goes on to say, “You need belief only when you are not sure. Belief is the product not of knowledge, but of uncertainty. It contains within itself the possibility of disbelief.”

I’ll end my thoughts by saying that I doubt like the apostle, Thomas. He was given immediate proof. I am still waiting. But right now, I have little doubt that a second cup of dark roast awaits me. Peace!

Notes:

1. Altrogge, M. (2017). Doubt Definition and Meaning – Bible Dictionary. Bible Study Tools. Retrieved 11 July 2017, from http://www.biblestudytools.com/dictionary/doubt/

2. 7 Prominent Christian Thinkers Who Wrestled With Doubt. (2014). RELEVANT Magazine. Retrieved 11 July 2017, from https://relevantmagazine.com/god/7-prominent-christian-thinkers-who-wrestled-doubt

3. The Bible According to Thomas Jefferson – TheHumanist.com. (2012). TheHumanist.com. Retrieved 11 July 2017, from https://thehumanist.com/magazine/march-april-2012/features/the-bible-according-to-thomas-jefferson

4. Hazleton, L. (2017). Agnostic: a spirited manifesto. New York: Riverhead Books.

Narrow Gates

I’m at Starbucks this morning with a great cup of the bold blend. Ahhh! Got me to thinking about what life is like after death – or what Christians call Eternal Life.

When Jesus started his ministry, he took his chosen twelve and a bunch of other people up on the side of a mountain and gave what we call the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:5 NRSV). “If we were to summarize the Sermon on the Mount in a single sentence, it would be something like this: How to live a life that is dedicated to and pleasing to God…” (note 1). Jesus talked about adultery, divorce, loving your enemies, and praying for those who persecute you (Matthew 4-7). Then he states the Golden Rule (Matthew 7:12), “In everything do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law and the prophets.”

As a Christian I took this lesson very seriously. These were clear instructions that we should be following every day – if we are to be a Jesus follower. To me, these instructions were very frightening because I was almost certain that I could not meet all the criteria from his great sermon. But what really scares me is the Narrow Gate passage (Matthew 7:13-14):

“Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road is easy that leads to destruction, and there are many who take it. For the gate is narrow and the road is hard that leads to life, and there are few who find it.”

Holy crap! Can you see what Jesus is saying? To paraphrase, he’s basically saying that most of us will enter through the wide gates leading to hell (to destruction) and very few of us will get to walk through the narrow gates leading to heaven (that leads to life). That’s a lot for me to digest. Let’s see…

I looked at the statistics (note 2) – only one third of the world’s population practice Christianity, which means two thirds or 66% of the world are going through the gates that lead to destruction automatically. And Jesus told the crowd on that mountainside that only a few of those that heard his words will enter the “narrow gates.” That makes me think again. The statistics also say that there are over 43,000 different denominations in the world. I’m almost certain that each denomination might have a slightly different formula for being saved (salvation). I’m hoping that I am lucky enough to have chosen the correct denomination.

And then I got to thinking – what if I was absolutely sure of my salvation? I have that ticket to paradise in my back pocket. Now what? What is heaven like? The Bible is not clear as to what I could expect. Is it all-inclusive? Is there free tv and internet? Would I have a roommate? Vegan food? Eternal is a long time! It’s forever plus one! What would I do for the first 1,000 years? The next million years? If I didn’t like it, could I change my mind? What if God changed his mind, like he did with Noah?

A lot to think about. Time for a second cup. I wonder if Mahatma Ghandi or Buddha drink coffee. Have a wonderful day!

Notes: ============================================================

1. What is the Sermon on the Mount?. (2017). GotQuestions.org. Retrieved 8 July 2017, from https://www.gotquestions.org/sermon-on-the-mount.html

2. (2017). Gordonconwell.edu. Retrieved 8 July 2017, from http://www.gordonconwell.edu/resources/documents/StatusOfGlobalMission.pdf

3. Bible Gateway passage: Matthew 7 – New Revised Standard Version. (2017). Bible Gateway. Retrieved 8 July 2017, from https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew+7&version=NRSV