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Portugal is a relatively small country; the most western of Europe. It is best known for its hospitable people, sunshine, beautiful beaches and soccer players.
Unknown to most people is the fact that in this beautiful country, there is a thriving community of people interested in a plant-based diet, macrobiotics and natural health. In particular, a growing number of young people are changing their diet to a plant-based diet in order to preserve the planet, the animals and human health.
I am the director of the Macrobiotic Institute of Portugal, a school that I started with my wife in 1985 and every year we have more and more students to whom we teach about diet, natural health, cooking and many other subjects. The China Study is a book that I have mentioned in our classes, countless times over the years.
In June of 2014, together with the Ministry of Health and the Surgeon General, we had the honor of hosting and organizing a lecture with Dr. T. Colin Campbell at one of the main Portuguese universities. As far as I know, this was the only time a government of any country has fully endorsed and sponsored an event of this kind.
The auditorium holds about 600 people, and it sold out in the first 24 hours of registration. We decided to ‘live stream’ the conference and in the first day, 39,000 people from 37 different countries watched the full event. Quite impressive!
The Surgeon General and the Secretary of Health introduced Dr. Campbell. In their speech praising his work, it was highlighted just how important it is for the Portuguese people to change their diet, in order to prevent many modern day diseases and to decrease the enormous amount of money spent on health care.
Dr. Campbell gave a brilliant lecture. He stressed the importance of a plant-based diet, the relationship of animal protein to the modern pattern of disease as well as the limitations of modern nutritional science when applied in a fragmented, reductionist way.
The event draw the attention of all the major newspapers and magazines in Portugal. The Macrobiotic Institute of Portugal also received considerable media exposure and I was interviewed about diet and health on the news for one of Portugal’s main TV channels.
I have been teaching in Portugal and many other countries about the importance of macrobiotics and a plant-based diet for more than 30 years and what happened on this day was like a “dream come true!” I must confess that I never imagined it was possible to work officially on a joint event with the Ministry of Health or that I would discuss these topics with the Surgeon General about diet and health.
More than anything, I now believe that it may actually be possible to alter humanity’s current destructive dietary and environmental trajectory. For that to happen, all of us who believe that a plant-based diet can have a powerful impact and even help solve many of the world’s problems, need to speak our minds, set an example, and cooperate with each other.
Dr. Campbell’s commitment to his findings, based on a lifetime of research, and his example of vitality are great examples to be observed.
Francisco Varatojo – Director of the Macrobiotic Institute of Portugal, Francisco has been acknowledged for many years as one of the most qualified macrobiotic counselors and is regularly sought by major European centers for seminars and consultations. Francisco began studying Macrobiotics in 1977 and together with his wife Eugenia founded the Kushi Institute of Portugal, after having studied at the Kushi Institute in Boston. He is a professor at the Nursing School Calouste Gulbenkian. In 2010 he was awarded the Aveline Kushi Award for his work in the development of macrobiotics and establishment of health and peace.