The following excerpt is from the 2019 Fall/Winter issue of Sanctuary, Farm Sanctuary’s print magazine
Edited by Meirav Devash

Meet Marco Borges, the trainer and nutritionist who got Beyoncé and Jay-Z hooked on a plant-based diet. His simple philosophy is, “I don’t eat anything produced from or by something that has a face. That means no chicken, turkey, cows, pigs, sheep, or fish of any kind.” We spoke to the Greenprint author about his diet program, the Japanese idea of kaizen, and how to be good to the planet by being good to yourself.

Dig into the research. “I’ve been an athlete my entire life. I was gifted with great genes, but that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t suffer from the same diseases as other people in my family. I was a meat-eater living a similar lifestyle. As an exercise physiologist obsessed with human performance, I couldn’t avoid the research data. You want to prevent heart disease? Eat a plant-based diet. You want to reverse type II diabetes? Eat a plant-based diet. You want to prevent an expression of the ApoE4 gene to prevent dementia or Alzheimer’s? Eat a plant-based diet. It’s the solution to so many ailments. One day, I woke up and said, I know better. Now I’ve got to do better.”

Get the right balance. “Nature created this supercool algorithm. If you eat the right amount of calories every day from plants, you have exactly the amount of fiber, protein, carbohydrates, and fat that you need. Plus, all the amino acids, the branched-chain amino acids and all the antioxidants. But you don’t get the cholesterol, the saturated fat, the hormones, the steroids, and the antibiotics. Some people believe the stress that animals endure can pass through the food that you eat. I don’t want any part of that.”

Make small changes every day. “I’m a big believer in kaizen, which is the Japanese concept of continuous self-improvement. Every day, I want to be better at everything. I want to work out smarter. I want to be kinder and more empathetic. I want to be a better husband, a better father, a better friend, a better citizen, a better human. By living plant-based, I’m leading by example. All my kids have been 100% plant-based since birth. It started as a healthy diet but very quickly became about much more, like treating all beings equally and being sustainable and environmentally-conscious.”

Cultivate awareness. “We’ve lost sight of what we’re putting in our bodies. I believe most people are kind, conscious, and empathetic once they understand. Some things, you can’t unsee. Many people don’t know where their food comes from, how it’s raised, what tortures the animals go through. Being more mindful about your diet can lead you to explore all the other areas of your life where you can create a positive impact.”

Do it for yourself, the animals, and the planet. “Even if you come at a plant-based diet from a purely selfish place and say, ‘You know what? I don’t care about animal welfare or the environment. All I care about is my optimum health.’ I will recommend a plant-based diet. It doesn’t matter why. Your family will be healthier. Your community will be healthier. The animals will be saved. The planet will be a better place. We’ll be better stewards and leave it for future generations to come. But it all starts with selfish love. Love yourself first.”