You’ve heard constantly from your parents, grandparents, and teachers: “Eat your vegetables.” And most of the time, you’ve probably resisted their command, right? Vegetables taste gross! But why do the adults in kids’ lives constantly try to enforce this habit on us?

The simple answer: they’re good for you. That’s the answer you’ll receive 90% of the time as well. And you’ll wave it off. Greens couldn’t be that powerful, could they?

Let’s delve a little deeper. According to the documentary Forks Over Knives, Dr. T. Colin Campbell of Cornell University went to the Philippines in the 1960s to deliver “high-quality” animal protein to the children. He noticed that wealthier children who consumed higher amounts of animal protein were more likely to get liver cancer. Moreover, Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn discovered that many of the degenerative diseases that are routinely treated in countries like the U.S. were virtually extinct in countries where meat, dairy, eggs, and other animal products were rarely or never eaten. Their discoveries led them to more research and studies, one of which was one of the largest health-related investigations that took place in China. Its results, along with Dr. Campbell’s and Dr. Esselstyn’s research, gave the scientists a life-changing, revolutionary conclusion: degenerative diseases (heart disease, type-2 diabetes, certain cancers) could all be stopped or cured with one simple solution— vegetables.

Sure, it seems insane. But with the research, the data all adds up. Forks Over Knives followed many patients with heart disease or diabetes and tracked their health as they took on a plant-based diet. The results were unanimous: blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol, and overall health dramatically improved. Patients reported they had more energy and felt little to no symptoms of their previous conditions.

If you’re still not convinced, take a look at this study of rats from India. One group of rats were fed a diet of 5% casein, the main protein in cow’s milk, while another group’s diet contained 20% casein. After a mere three weeks, the rats fed 20% casein started developing cancer and tumors. The rates of cancer and tumors in these rats only increased over a course of twelve weeks. Meanwhile, the rats fed only 5% casein developed little to no cancer or tumors.*

Dr. Campbell replicated the study on his own to see for himself if the results were true, but he added a third group of rats. These rats were fed 5% casein for three weeks, and 20% for the next three weeks. The cycle continued for twelve weeks, and the results matched matched the Indian study with uncanny accuracy. For the first three weeks with 5% casein, the rats developed little to no cancer or tumors. The next three weeks with 20% casein, the cancer and tumor level skyrocketed. The next three weeks with 5% casein, the cancer and tumor levels dropped back down, and the next three weeks with 20% — you guessed it — the cancer and tumor levels went right back up again.** Based on this information, Campbell came to yet another, possibly even bigger, stunning conclusion: we can essentially turn on and turn off cancer.

These results aren’t limited to just rats— it applies to us humans, too. In the early to mid-1900s, as Asian immigrants came to America, they kept their diets from their home-countries: greens, grains and fruit, with some fish. They lived long, healthy lives and were still functioning well over the age of 80. Their children were probably fed what their parents cooked, but they also were introduced to western food such as McDonald’s and other fast-food chains. This generation were slightly heavier than their parents and lived slightly shorter lives. Their children, the second generation of U.S.-born children, ate mostly western diets. They had the highest weight and the most levels of diabetes. Plainly, the diet of Asian countries – that is, greens and grains– produced healthy, long-living citizens, and the western diet, meat and dairy making up the majority of the food, caused cancer and disease.

In countries like America, where a majority of our diet comprises of meat and dairy, it’s no wonder that two out of three citizens are overweight and half the population is taking prescription drugs. Cases of type-2 diabetes are steadily increasing, especially among children. Heart surgeries such as bypasses (a procedure where a surgeon takes a vein from the patient’s leg and sews it to their heart to direct a flow of blood from a clogged artery to the sewed-on one) are common, and heart disease and cancers are our leading causes of death. The country spends trillions of dollars on medical bills for treatments for these things, but the answer is right in front of us— vegetables. We need to cut out the excessive amounts of meat and dairy in our diet and switch our meat-based diets to plant-based diets. It’s not like you can never have another steak, or slice of pizza, or strip of bacon, we just need to severely monitor and reduce the amounts we do eat. Otherwise, we’re facing a generation that will live shorter lives than their parents.

*The Indian study’s results: https://blogs.commons.georgetown.edu/cctp-638-aaz26/files/2014/12/photo-2.png

**Dr. Campbell’s 3rd group of rats’ results: https://blogs.commons.georgetown.edu/cctp-638-aaz26/files/2014/12/photo-1.png