In what is possibly the most compelling argument that human beings are plant-eaters, the people in the five Blue Zones of the globe all eat a diet that is mostly plants.
Let’s back up. First, what are Blue Zones?
The Blue Zones are regions of anomalous longevity. In other words, they are demographically significant regions of Planet Earth where the human beings live longer than anywhere else. In fact, people in these regions are ten times more likely to live to 100 than people in the United States!
And not only do these people live the longest lives of anyone on Earth, they also live the most disease-free years, and the vast majority die suddenly of old-age! Sounds good to me!
After years of studying birth and death records, Dan Buettner and his team at National Geographic settled on five distinct regions with scientifically verified longevity. There were many regions considered, but due to incomplete birth and death records many could not be verified.
The five regions are: Loma Linda, California, USA; Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica; Sardinia, Italy; Ikaria, Greece; and Okinawa, Japan.
Five very different regions geographically with one thing in common — the humans here live the longest of anywhere on Earth.
What Do They Eat?
Perhaps most surprising is that the people in each of these very culturally different regions eat a diet that is very similar in one key way: 95-98% of their daily calories come from whole plants! In Okinawa, nearly 60% of their calories come from sweet potatoes alone!
This of course means that in none of the regions are the people completely vegan, and that’s OK! I’d suspect if they were 100% vegan they might see just the slightest uptick in their life expectancy. But that’s not the point — the point is they eat way more plants than we do!
Either way this should be good news! You don’t have to entirely give up meat and animal products to experience outstanding longevity! You do, however, have to commit to the vast majority of your calories coming from whole plant foods. If you ate a 2,000 calorie diet this means just 100 daily calories from animal sources. That’s not a lot!
When the average American consumes just 5% of their calories from whole plant foods, this can be equally as daunting as the prospect of a fully vegan plant-based diet! (SOURCE)
Factors Beyond Diet
Now to be sure, there are other factors beyond just diet that produce longevity. In fact, there are nine! And while you’ll have to buy Buettner’s latest book to find out all nine (and how to implement them in your life), I can tell you that two additional key elements are physical activity and social relationships. Check out The Blue Zones Solution for more.
In each of the five Blue Zones, physical activity is a big component of their lifestyle. In the United States and many other developed nations, we have literally engineered the activity out of our day — the elevator instead of the stairs; the remote control for the tv; the desk-based occupations, etc. Yet in the Blue Zones, communities are incredibly walkable and occupations are active. People don’t really exercise deliberately — they just move more.
Could it be that diet has nothing to do with it and it’s just a matter of physical activity? I suppose it’s possible, though by that logic you’d figure there would be very active communities who eat meat-heavy diets making the cut, and that just isn’t so!
The second major component is social relationships. Many of the people in the Blue Zones maintain the same friendships for all 90 to 100+ years of their lives! That’s pretty incredible! In our modern world of isolated work, social media, and television, it is safe to say that we do not emphasize social relationships as much as we used to and probably should!
There are several other factors that go into the makings of a Blue Zone, and to be sure diet isn’t the only component. However it appears to be the undeniable cornerstone of their longevity. And as I started out saying, in what is possibly the most compelling evidence we have that we are meant to eat mostly (or all!) plants, each of the longest living communities on Planet Earth eat at least 1,900 of their 2,000 daily calories from whole plant foods!!!
Human beings are plant eaters, and when we emphasize these foods we are designed to eat, we are rewarded with disease-free longevity. Go Plant-Based Today!