My journey into plant-based foods

Monday, Mar 25, 2019

When I became a vegan over 25 years ago, I was like most people, ignorant of the harm I was doing to myself, the animals and the planet. Until more recently it seems the majority of people became vegan because of one of these reasons. Mine was health.

Having returned safely from the war in the former Yugoslavia, to advise the then shadow defence secretary of the horrors that were about to happen, only to cross a London street and be hit by a speeding police motorcycle which amputated my leg, crushed my pelvis and punctured my lung.

Many months in hospital and my body resisting antibiotics, I was forced to try other alternatives to save further amputation above my knee. My good friend claimed she had healed herself from breast cancer on a vegan diet.

I was willing to try anything so I flew out with her to a clinic called Hippocrates in West Palm Beach. Within two weeks on the raw diet of disgusting tasting wheatgrass, I was healed. Being a well-known personality in 1993 in the UK I was asked by the media how I had healed so rapidly. This was the beginning of my journey into plant-based foods.

In the early 90s the only options available for alternate meats and cheese were generally bland and usually vegetarian containing milk or egg, so for a number of years I remained a raw vegan. As time passed it became very boring to go out and socialise, nibbling like a rabbit on endless salads and beans.

This motivated me to start to develop meat, fish and dairy free alternatives that actually tasted great. Initially I started with soy protein as this was readily available and a complete amino acid, but as time passed I started to work with pea protein combined with oat, then algal oils, thinking this could be grown in Europe by farmers to move them away from the heavily subsidised dairy industry.
From these varieties of proteins my team and I developed over 130 exact replication of meat, fish and dairy alternate products for parallel eating.

The reason for this development was to help wean people off their addiction to fast food to move them into flexitarianism and eventually over to veganism as the pallet and metabolism changed. I donated $1 million to feed the poverty-stricken area over 10 years ago in the Bronx, New York. They ultimately started with these alternatives as a direct replacement of fast food chain products.
Brain function increased in schools, type two diabetes was reversed in three months, type one diabetes insulin injections were reduced, asthma, eczema and many other ailments reduced significantly.

Ultimately they ended up once weaned off the meat and dairy, with a 90% whole food diet and only 10% meat fish and dairy alternative replacements.

The far future is however algal oils as every 2.5 tons grown can deplete CO2 by 1.5 tons. As well as it being a great protein it has the benefits of omega-3. Many people believe omega-3 comes from fish but it does not, it comes from the algae the fish eat, yet every day we are destroying the marine eco-system for billions of capsules rather than just debate the benefits of a piece of fish for dinner.

What many people do not understand is that moving agriculture into wholly plant-based farming will have a domino effect into all society.

It will feed more people rather than cows. It will create a healthier nation minimising sickness and health. Healthier workers make a better contribution to society, and as taxpayers rather than living with sickness and from benefits, or being dependent on family. It will help the environment as has been fully proven from all of the science studies on greenhouse gas omissions from meat and dairy farming. Water ways will be cleaner.

If the government subsidise farmers initially to move into the plant-based arena with the huge growth and consumer demand in vegan alternative meat fish and dairy products the farmers will be able to actually make a profit and the billions of EU subsidies that the farmers receive can go into the national health sector instead.

The world spends its time looking for cures in medicine when it would be far better spending more time in prevention and ultimately 90% of that comes down to nutrition not genetically predisposed illnesses.

However we must look at realism ahead of idealism and the realism is now that the corporate world has seen huge sales between companies of hundreds of millions in selling plant-based companies to each other and the changes in consumer choice. It is proven that this is not a trend, it is a movement that can make big business, but ultimately if agriculture moves into this direction it will help save this planet and its people.

More blogs & summaries

2024 Annual Conference summary – Inspirational talks

Sharing journeys towards a sustainable future

2024 Annual Conference summary – Session 4 and closing

How to fund the transition?

2024 Annual Conference summary – Session 3

What levers can the EU pull to deliver systemic change and what did we learn?

2024 Annual Conference summary – Call to Action progress

Call to Action progress report

2024 Annual Conference summary – Session 2

The need for systemic change

2024 Annual Conference summary – Introduction and session 1

Restoring the opportunity for food system transformation

2024 Research lessons to inform future CAP reform event summary

Enhancing agricultural sustainability via trade policy

Responses to our Regenerative Agriculture survey

Forum update July 2023

2023 Regional Event Spain event summary