John Robbins: to eat his own

Author of "Diet For a New America" to attend Health Classics event, November 10th

by Lorin Hallinan

lmost anyone concerned with healthful eating and how food choices affect the planet is familiar with John Robbins. Robbins is best known for his Pulitzer Prize-nominated international bestseller Diet For a New America - How Your Food Choices Affect Your Health, Happiness and the Future of Life on Earth. This book has revolutionized the way the world looks at food and how it's produced. Robbins also is the author of the recently published book May All Be Fed. A much sought-after guest speaker, he gives approximately 100 talks a year internationally.

Author John Robbins

Personal choices

Robbins has been a complete vegetarian for 28 years. While he's adamant about his beliefs, he's the first to admit he's not really on a soapbox. "I'm not saying other people should do that [become a complete vegetarian]. That's what I feel is best for me," said Robbins. "Sometimes authors and speakers on health issues hold the opinion that what they're doing is a model, and they're asking other people to follow them. I'm not. I'm asking them if it's possible for them to follow their own bodily wisdom and their own inner guidance.
"What I do in my lectures and my books, rather than present an ideal form of behavior, I'm saying, 'Here's the information. Here's what we know.' I'm here to provide information to enable you to make wiser choices in alignment with your values or your lifestyle," he added. "I don't think for a moment that what's best for me is necessarily best for you."

Charter member

Robbins will be the featured speaker at the Chef's Healthy Planet press reception and dinner, to be held in San Diego on November 10 as part of the Health Classic. Gourmet chefs will be signing the Chef's Collaborative 2000 Charter (see article below). Robbins will speak about the exciting charter and what it all means.
The Charter represents a quantum leap for gourmet chefs who are joining together as a collective group to promote locally grown, seasonally fresh and wholesome food. "The charter is an excellent idea," said Robbins. "A lot of chefs are recognizing that all tomatoes are not created equal. The 'FlavrSavr' tomato is the ultimate statement of the process by which tomatoes are grown, not for flavor and nutritional value, but for shipping ability and cosmetic appeal.
"Chefs are waking up to these issues and saying they want locally grown food, not food that's picked way before it's ripe," continued Robbins. "It's an environmental issue, too. Locally grown food does not have to be transported a long distance. Everyone knows the trucks on our road create a great deal of pollution. Switching to a locally grown, healthier and tastier product is going to help the environment. It's very interesting to me how these things come together."
Nutrition and health
"There are powerful forces at work in our world today that affect all of us," noted Robbins. "The prevailing idea of health is really just someone who isn't sick or rendered dysfunctional by some disease process. That's a limited and negative definition of health. That puts us in a reactive mode in terms of medicine. We wait for someone to get sick, then we try to cure them."
According to Robbins, there's another possibility that involves a positive model of health: one that optimizes nutrition to strengthen all the body's systems. "We try to build up health and promote wellness so that the individual is not susceptible to every germ that comes down the pike," said Robbins. "It's a difficult approach, but it works wonders. Unfortunately, our medical system is stuck in the negative. The result is that a lot of people who are going around - even though they're considered healthy - are asymptomatic. But that doesn't mean their quality of life is really what it could or should be."
Robbins, who doesn't go to doctors, said his concept of health insurance is to "eat very well, exercise regularly and handle stress in a positive manner. It's also to contribute to the well being of my fellow humans in a sustainable way." He is currently working on a book about the medical establishment.
Robbins knows that his speeches are not going to win popularity contests. "Battles come with the territory," he said. "If we want to make a difference in this world, we have to give up trying to get people to like us. If I'm giving a speech to 500 people and at least five or six people don't walk out, I think maybe I'm not speaking the truth. This is not about being liked. It's about creating a caring world."
Robbins lives in Santa Cruz, California, with his wife, Deo. The only son of the founder of the Baskin-Robbins ice cream empire, John walked away from a life of immense wealth to "... pursue the deeper American dream... the dream of a society at peace with its conscience because it respects and lives in harmony with all life forms."
As president of the non-profit Earthsave Foundation, Robbins provides education and leadership for transition to more healthful and environmentally sound food choices, non-polluting energy supplies and a wiser use of natural resources.
If you would like to hear John Robbins speak in person, attend the Chef's Healthy Planet event on November 10. Call (619) 272-7370 for more info or to make a reservation.

Lorin Hallinan is a freelance author and former Editor for the Coast Dispatch and Carlsbad Journal community newspapers. A 13-year San Diego resident, she lives in Carlsbad.