Koreans returning to a plant-based wholefood diet

Koreans returning to a plant-based wholefood diet

There is a little revolution happening right now across Korea.  After decades of following the Western model of highly-processed animal foods, sugary-foods and all the wrong kind of fat, groups are turning back to real food and real health.

Sick Koreans are questioning the Western food supply

The Korea Herald reported this trend yesterday after talking to many local people involved in the new emerging trend.  The paper reported on Son Yu-kyong and her husband, “It used to be beef ribs when we ate out 10 years ago but not anymore,” the 41-year-old housewife said.  Her meat-loving husband used to have itchy skin and a pot belly, and her daughter was allergic.  All the troubles were gone after they took up vegetarian cuisine based on temple foods.  “After we switched to a vegetarian diet my body changed 180 degrees,” her husband said. “So, I think it’s the food that can both make you sick and heal.”

Korea is getting sicker and fatter every year – just like all of Asia

Long ago Korea moved away from their traditiona,l plant-based wholefood diet and embraced the modern Western model, the ‘agriculture-based’ society.  Diabetes is often linked with meat consumption and has always been labelled an “illness of the wealthy.”  Official government statistics show that the annual beef consumption per person in Korea was less than 3kg in the early 1980s.  Now it has more than tripled to over 10kg in 2011.  The Korea Herald also reported that “according to the latest statistics from the governmental National Health Insurance Corporation, high blood pressure and diabetes were the most costly illnesses in the nation’s health care system in 2010 with their treatment bills reaching 2.2 trillion won ($2 billion) and 1 trillion won, respectively.  The nation’s total medical expenses were up 10%”.

Eating more meat and dairy products and getting sicker each year

Originally Korean cattle were raised for ploughing the fields - not for meat.  Chicken and pork were always only served on very special occasions such as ancient rituals, weddings or for New Year celebrations.  Meat-eating in Korea has always been associated with being wealthy or privileged so everyone has aspired to eat it more to be seen as ‘better off’.  Their traditional, healthy, plant-based wholefood diet was filled with a variety of fresh fruits, wholegrains, legumes, nuts and seeds but most meals were built around well-prepared seasoned or fermented local vegetable delicacies.

The Korean Centenarians

One longevity village in Korea bases their diet on fermented soy bean paste and seasoned vegetables.  Kim Jong-nyuh, 85-year-old resident says “We usually eat kimchi, spring greens and fish.  We don’t really eat beef and pork”.  The Korean centenarian’s say ‘eating more vegetables, eating less overall and not drinking alcohol’ as their main secrets.  Asked to what they attribute their centenarian longevity?  Over 70% said they never drink, 54% cited eating in moderation and 67% said they eat a lot of vegetables.

Sounds like good advice to me.

Quotes taken from an article published in The Korea Herald on April 15, 2012.  Longevity village quotes as published by Lee Ji-yoon, in Arirang News on June 10, 2011. 

Posted: Monday 16 April 2012