view from bluffs overlooking Mendocino Bay

by Sid Garza-Hillman

A preamble:

I’ve been 100% plant-based since 2002, and over the last fourteen years, primarily whole plants (as opposed to the junk vegan foods like fake meat, fake cheese, Oreo, and refined ingredients in general – oil, sugar, protein powder). My work as a nutritionist is focused on simplifying things for guests of the resort and clients. I find many people are confused and, oddly, sometimes over-informed—so deep in the weeds that they’re very stressed out about minutiae and finding it challenging to eat a healthy diet even though it is actually pretty darn simple. In other words, it’s not that they don’t know enough about nutrition, it’s that they lack the tools to create a healthy eating habit with minimal hassle and stress – a habit that is about joy, vibrancy, and strength, and not about militancy and restriction.

Preamble complete…

As passionate as I am about the benefits of a 100% whole plant-based diet, the fact is that it is not necessary or essential for a long, healthy life. For evidence of this, one only need look to the world’s Blue Zones – little pockets around the world where people live the longest and are arguably the most active and healthy. If you’re wondering how many of these zones are 100% vegan, the answer may surprise you: zero.


What the Blue Zones do share are diets focused mostly on whole plants. Maybe not 100%, but mostly. Incidentally, they also share exercise, actual socializing (i.e., not social media), moderate alcohol consumption (if any), multi-generational households, and in general a lower stress lifestyle…In other words, living well is a bigger picture than diet, and, if someone is super stressed and militant about food, that isn’t living well, is it?

Here’s where it gets interesting for me. While it may not be necessary to eat a diet of 100% whole plants to live well, you can. But the question is, why would you? I mean, if you don’t have to, why go the distance to remove all animal products entirely from you diet?

Here’s why:
Because now more than ever, it is profoundly important for human beings to consider the longevity of the planet, not just of ourselves.

So…here are the big IFS.

IF you care about slowing climate change.
IF you want to significantly reduce health care costs.
IF you care about feeding the world’s hungry people.
IF you don’t feel good about supporting the horrific factory farmed animal industry.

Then a 100% vegan diet is the way to go.

This is not about restriction or a ‘have to,’ but about a desire to make the world a better place for everyone in it – humans and non-humans alike.

No, the Blue Zones are not 100% plant-based.

But it’d be better for the planet if they were.
Sid Garza-Hillman is the Stanford Inn’s Wellness Programs Director, Nutritionist, Cooking Instructor, and Functional Breathing Coach. He is the author of Approaching the Natural: A Health Manifesto, Raising Healthy Parents: Small Steps, Less Stress, and a Thriving Family, and most recently, Six Truths: Live by these truths and be happy. Don’t and you won’t. Listen to him on the What Sid Thinks Podcast.