What Happens When You Can’t Control The Message?

Several months ago a French TV crew visited our home to interview me for a show called  Les Pouvoirs Extraordinaires du Corps Humain.

Loosely translated this means The Extraordinary Power of the Human Body.

Great subject. And the interview made for a fun afternoon. But after it was over, I forgot all about it. I had never heard of the show. I guess I assumed that at some point it aired uneventfully on some obscure cable channel that nobody watches. It wasn’t until a few days ago that I received word from the producers that the show would be premiering on primetime French broadcast television this week.

Cool. Still, I had no expectations. So I was beyond surprised, as well as amazed and delighted, when my website almost blew up due to an insane amount of traffic after last night’s airing on France 2 TV (you can watch the 7+ minute segment clip above).

With a viewership I have since learned approximates 6 million, the fun and high-gloss, high-production value adventure show explores the limits of human potential through the eyes and first-hand experiences of it’s hosts — well known French physician  Michel Cymes and former Victoria’s Secret model  Adriana Karembeu.

It was quite an honor to be featured. I am extremely flattered to be introduced to France in such a well produced, mainstream way. Happy with how I articulated my message and perspective. Blown away by the show’s beautiful production value. And overwhelmed by the deluge of positive responses I have received on social media in response to the interview.  For those that tuned and subsequently reached out to me, my sincere thanks.

So far so good.

But here is where the story takes a bit of a weird turn.

Interwoven into the segment is “opinion and commentary” provided by “expert” talking-head nutritionist Dr. Brigitte Danchin. I haven’t spoken French since 9th grade, so I don’t know exactly what she said. And I admit to knowing nothing about Dr. Danchin or her background. But from what I gather based upon the e-mails and social media messages I have received as well as an article posted on the popular French blog  Vegactu, Dr. Danchin’s points — unsubstantiated by any cited scientific source or authority — go something like this (followed by my own responsive editorial spin):

Being Plant-Based Is A Full Time Occupation: Before embarking on a plant-based diet, be very afraid. Planning how, what and when to eat will consume every minute of every waking moment of your day. Maybe even invade your dreams.  I don’t have to overemphasize the incorrectness of this presumption.  Sure, it does involve a bit of planning. Especially when you travel.  But honestly, it isn’t that big of a deal.  I’ve been doing this about 8 years at this point and I honestly don’t think about it all that much. This is a scare tactic, pure and simple.

Meeting Protein Needs Becomes a Complex Equation on a Plant-Based Diet: Nonsense. For my opinion on this, please read Slaying The Protein Myth.

Plant-Based Is Ill-Advised For Pregnant Women: Simply untrue.  For more information on this, check out the articles, resources and guidelines on Physicians Committee For Responsible Medicine  and The Vegetarian Resource Group.

Rich Is an Outlier: The idea goes something like this: OK, it seems to be working for Rich but Rich is the only one doing this. Nonsense. To be sure, the plant-based athlete is not yet the norm.  But it’s hardly unheard of. There are world class athletes all across the globe kicking ass and taking names on a plant-based diet.  How about Carl Lewis, one of the most decorated track and field athletes of all time? Two-time Olympic gold medalist bobsledder AND arm wrestling champion  Alexei Voyevoda ? Guinness World Record Holding Strongman Patrik Baboumian, who I personally witnessed carry 1200+ pounds (550 kg) on his back for 10 meters ( CLICK HERE  for the video I captured of the effort). Then there is MMA fighter Mac Danzig, and world renown ultra-marathoner Scott Jurek, who won the prestigious Western States 100 mile trail race 7 years in a row. I could go on all day listing such athletes, but you get the point.

This is not about Dr. Duchin. I have nothing against her personally.

This is about what happens when you can’t control the message.  

I can’t control the reaction to what I put out there — only the actions I take.

It’s the difference between traditional media — as mightily powerful as it still is — and the post-empire new media digital age. And it’s why I love blogging and podcasting so much.

My question is this: why temper my message with a biased and misinformed counterpoint opinion that counsels against exploring the lifestyle the show is concurrently celebrating through my story?

I can only assume it is out of fear. Ignorance. Or perhaps because it threatens the network’s bottom line — after all, France 2 TV is a business supported by commercial advertising revenue, some of which I have to assume derives from meat and dairy based food products.

To me, eating plants is the most natural thing imaginable. But I tend to forget that not everyone shares this view. And for many, this isn’t just a new idea, it’s anathema. And new ideas are always scary. Challenging the status quo always results in feathers ruffled. And maybe what I propose is more new to France than it is in places like the US. 

I get it.

But I’m willing to ruffle those feathers because I know it works.  I’ve experienced it first-hand. It changed my life and the lives of countless others I have had the good fortune to witness. And if you are willing to take the leap, it can change yours too.

I’ll leave you with this: 

“There is a principle which is a bar against all information, 
which is proof against all arguments, and which cannot fail 
to keep a man in everlasting ignorance—that principle is 
contempt prior to investigation.”  — William Paley

Peace + Plants,

Rich

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