The Daily Beet

16 May A Product That Never Changes.

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My husband and I have been watching the series, “Mad Men”. Thank goodness for Netflix! I have a fascination for this time in our history. Some of the people I admire the most in life were young adults during that time, and I loved listening to their stories. I would ask my Grandfather tons of questions about what it was like during civil rights, or during the wars, or what it was like in NY. My Grandmother was a Columbia student, involved with protests in the 60’s, she was drenched in fighting for the rights of others, and I could never stop listening.

I know Mad Men is not an exact interpretation of that time period, but non the less, it fascinates me. The fashion, the dialect, the changing pulse of an American culture that seemed to be drastically moving forward with each passing year.

If you’ve ever watched Mad Men, the thing that more than likely stands out is the smoking. It gets less as the show progresses, but it is woven into the very fabric of society. Nearly every scene includes smoking. Smoking in offices, smoking while pregnant, smoking in cars with children. Smoking, as it seemed, was like drinking water, it’s just something that you did, maybe even to pass time.

We have come such a long way in our collective mind-set when it comes to smoking. I can’t think of one person who I have ever had a conversation with that thinks that there is even ONE health benefit to smoking. It is looked down upon in our society now. We do not allow it in buildings, places to eat, or even 500 feet within certain places of business. There are no more ads, there are no Doctors who would ever recommend it. And it was not that long ago when smoking was just a way of life, even recommended by Doctors.



I believe that our modern day collective take on nutrition is much like our former take on smoking. We have come a long way, in our thinking, however plant-strong is looked at by many as something completely far-fetched, completely ridiculous. After all, even doctors recommend eating meat and dairy! There are TV celebrities doing commercials pushing milk. Billions of dollars are spent in order to get people to believe in a misguided, often dangerous message of how to eat.

Tonight, my husband and I were watching an episode in season 4 of Mad Men. In it, one of the advertising executives, Don Draper takes out a full page advertisement in the NY Times. He writes why is he is quitting tabacco.

The words struck me as deeply poignant in what we are facing today. Switch out the words tabacco for “meat” or “dairy” or “eggs” or “processed food” or “oil”.

“Recently my advertising agency ended a long relationship with Lucky Strike cigarettes, and I’m relieved. For over 25 years we devoted ourselves to peddling a product for which good work is irrelevant, because people can’t stop themselves from buying it. A product that never improves, that causes illness, and makes people unhappy. But there was money in it. A lot of money. In fact, our entire business depended on it. We knew it wasn’t good for us, but we couldn’t stop.” – Don Draper (From Mad Men)

How eerily fitting for the crisis we are facing today in nutrition. With the release of “My Beef With Meat” I have seen first hand some of the hesitancy, some of the backlash, and some of the fear that many have in regards to our message. The message that Rip has so boldly gone forth with is that what many of us have been taught about nutrition is flat out wrong. The message is courageous, a similar message decades ago regarding the harm and detrimental consequences of smoking were more than likely met in the same way. This message is shocking for many.

And yet, what we are up against is a an industry that peddles products that are harming the health of millions, the products do not change, but they know something about their products, they are addictive. People are hooked. The marketers and manufactures know this about our collective conscience regarding what we eat. They add more sugar, fat and salt, and people buy more.

Worse yet, the food industry understands that most of us are looking for good health. So they have learned to use healthy buzz words to sell more products, that are just as dangerous. Maybe even more so because people are fooled by words like “organic”, “gluten free”, “vegan”, “healthy” , “added protein”, “all natural”, “grass-fed”. They buy these products because they seem to make promises of health, and they still get hooked, and they still get sick.

Isn’t it time we experience a revolution in regards to our food choice? Rip likes to say that he believes that everyone has the right to know the truth. There are a lot of people out there who are trying hard to make sure the truth never see the light of day. This message should make you angry. Angry enough to fight for your health, and fight for the truth. We are the only ones who can change things.

The truth about smoking is that WE changed it, together. People learned the truth, they stopped buying the product.

Stop buying the product, take back your health. Go plant-strong.

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Natala Constantine
  • Margie
    Posted at 01:58h, 16 May

    You need a book young lady. I am your Grandparents age!! You have taught me so much!!!

  • Martha
    Posted at 02:30h, 16 May

    BRAVO!!! I have been plant-strong for 6 months now, never felt better. I’m down 40 pounds, cholesterol is down 40 points, blood pressure down and off meds. Food is KILLING US.

  • Leah
    Posted at 05:38h, 16 May

    Great post! I’ve been living in Germany and am reminded every day how great it is that smoking is no longer fashionable in the US (everyone here smokes!). I hope the US will also lead in plant-based nutrition, and so far (in comparison with Germany) they ARE! Great job everyone!

    • Engine2Diet
      Posted at 09:49h, 16 May

      I hope things get better over there!

  • Stephen M Albers
    Posted at 07:42h, 16 May

    You’ve done me a service by alerting me to a pithy docudrama I mistook for a vacuous soup opera. It will teach me and others a lot about how we are sold product.

  • Nancy Johnson Standlee
    Posted at 09:45h, 16 May

    I’m a Mad Men fan and was in college in the 50’s when we were given sample packs of 4 cigarettes after we left the cafeteria. My future husband made $15 a month being the distributor.

    • Engine2Diet
      Posted at 09:49h, 16 May

      Wow, that is fascinating. It sounds like the samples of things like red-bull that are given out at colleges today!

      Posted at 10:20h, 17 May

      My husband was born in 1966 and grew up in NC, a huge tobacco state. When he was in elementary school, they took a FIELD TRIP to a cigarette factory and gave them all kinds stickers and stuff to take home. Thankfully, times have changed as far as tobacco goes anyway!

  • Rosie Falek
    Posted at 11:27h, 16 May

    I was in college during the 60s, the show fascinates me, it’s so true to my experiences. In college, we were given free packs of cigarettes and everyone smoked: in the movies, sometimes you could not see the screen for all the smoke. I never smoked, why? Because my Uncle had cancer and he was convinced it had been smoking that hurt his lungs, so, he always warned me about the dangers. I have been plant strong since Engine Two came out, you too warned me about the dangers…thanks!!

  • mandie marie
    Posted at 12:26h, 16 May

    I love this post! 🙂 It’s such a strange thing that it look so many years for society to accept the research that smoking was harmful. I fear it will be the same when it comes to nutrition. In 20 years I feel that society will finally open their minds and listen and understand the plant-based lifestyle.

  • Jennie Zhao
    Posted at 12:43h, 16 May

    Great article.

  • Cathy
    Posted at 01:02h, 17 May

    Great article Natala. Three and a half years ago I thought I was eating “healthy.” I ate salmon, skim milk, and put olive oil on everything I could. Thank goodness Whole Foods in Cupertino, CA hired a healthy eating specialist in 12/09 and she started teaching a weekly cooking class based on the first Engine 2 book. I was shocked each week by what I learned. Three and half years later, I am back to my high school weight. I’m 57 and never thought I’d be that weight again. I’m perfectly healthy and love eating plant strong. I’m very grateful that Rip wrote a book that made eating this way doable and relevant for me.

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