Dr. Colin Michie is a paediatrician specialised in nutrition, haematology and infectious diseases. He works as the Associate Academic Dean for the American University of the Caribbean Medical School in St. Maarten of which Bo Peng is a student.

Because body-rebuilding is a continuous process, we need to account for all this outsourcing. In 1824, Frenchman Jean Anthelme Brillat Savarin wrote, “Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you what kind of man you are.” This phrase was later amended by other nutritionists to a shorter version: “You are what you eat.” It has been used by many to coax us into changing our diet in one way or another for over a century. But this is not the whole story.

In some countries and cultures, food plays roles as a supplement or medication. You would not be surprised, for instance, by a Chinese mum cooking pork belly (particularly the part with pork skin on it) for her daughter who recently complained about having skin wrinkles. You could also find a Chinese grandpa preparing some ox bone soup for his grandson who had just fractured his leg at a soccer practice. You bet they would both totally go with Pot-au-feu, the famous French beef stew containing lots of marrowbones, if they could master the art of French cuisine. Using pork skin to build skin and ox bone to build bone illustrate a central concept of Chinese food therapy. Meals based on age, gender and even seasons are also believed to have beneficial health effects. By carefully choosing what, how, as well as how much you eat, you could achieve your health goals.

So what you eat, why you eat it and what you are made of are personal. Often it is determined by your family; but your choices of diet have social impacts. The responsibility for all our choices as we rebuild ourselves into the future will come back to us, just like some Old Testament prophecy, Loki in a Marvel film or some pesky indestructible vampire on a Netflix series. Human dietary choices specifically have changed the global climate and planetary health for the worse. Meat consumption, in particular, has had profound effects, causing environmental destruction and contributing to climate change.

A report published in the Lancet in February has described this clearly, pointing out that it is not only personal responsibility, but that of the food industries and advertising that has driven our societies into valuing foods that have deleterious effects on mother earth. (https://www.thelancet.com/pdfs/journals/lancet/PIIS0140-6736(18)31788-4.pdf?utm_campaign=tleat19&utm_source=HubPage)

It is interesting that Brillat Savarin wrote about this problem too. He noted, “The destiny of nations depends on the manner in which they feed themselves.” We need to think carefully and often about the plant-based diets described in this supplement over the last few weeks. Another way to look at this has been spotted on a tote-bag in Bogota:

La Tierra

Es de quien

La Ama

Y a proteje

(The land belongs to those who love and protect her).

Where do you stand on this? Rebuild, responsibly.