If you are looking for an informative vacation stop I would suggest Farm Sanctuary . There are two locations, one in Watkins Glen, NY the other in Orland, CA. I visited the Watkins Glen location. Farm Sanctuary is a national nonprofit organization working to end the exploitation of animals raised for food. But, they also have many resources for a better understanding of the typical "American" diet. If you can't visit, you can order their literature. I would suggest "The Truth About" series, which includes individual pamphlets on the truth about veal, pork, beef, poultry, eggs and dairy. The Sanctuary offers a bed and breakfast which allows you the opportunity to view interesting videos in the sanctuary library. One that was especially good is "Diet For a New America", hosted by John Robbins (also available as a book). The video is available through Amazon or Farm Sanctuary and the book is available through any bookseller. Robbins hails from the Baskin-Robbins ice cream family. He was ill and began investigating nutrition and food production, turning away from the family owned business to pursue a more healthy lifestyle. The results of his research are very enlightening. Many of you may already know about the book since it has been in print for quite some time, but the message is still very relevant, since not much has changed in terms of the marketing of the American diet.
I have experienced some wonderful results by adopting a semi-vegetarian diet (I eat small amounts of seafood but no red meat, poultry or dairy.) As a person who has been plagued by digestive problems for most of my life, I can attest that eating a plant based diet really does solve a whole host of problems. No more Metamucil, my acid reflux is under control, etc. etc. I asked myself this question: "If you are what you eat, then which would you prefer to look like -- colorful, vibrant fruits and vegetables or a hunk of dead meat?" It seemed like a no brainer to me.
Also, many of the symptoms experienced by menopausal women, heat flashes in particular, really can be dramatically reduced or, as in my case can disappear by eating soy products. If Asian woman don't have a word for heat flash, well then that's enough for me to take a look at what they are doing "right". Since menopause is just a natural phase that women go through and not an illness (as it is often looked at by practitioners in the US), then maybe our bodies are just rebelling and telling us that we are in fact doing something wrong and we need to wake up. Red meat, refined sugar, white flour -- all of these products have an effect on women during menopause. So, if that is the case, then why wouldn't they also have an effect on everyone thoughout their lifetime? I think the body is just saying, wake up; eat right; you are getting older and the body just isn't designed to tolerate this stuff -- and when my body speaks, I try to listen.
Exercise is another topic, but if you have ever have the opportunity to see seniors who participate in masters competition, in running in particular, you cannot walk away without knowing that exercise does make a difference, a dramatic difference! I know that I was never meant to be sitting still in a chair! I believe, that many times we buy into the ideas and images we are fed on a steady basis. Although our culture promotes the young, skinny body, through media, fashion, and entertainment, the same media promotes the idea that Americans are overweight, and will be overweight. If you believe it, then it will be so -- well that's my motto. I am 5'2 and very fortunate to be petite, but I work at staying fit. It is a lifestyle choice. The whole dieting thing, well it's just another way to sell more stuff, in my opinion. This is a capitalist economy, and the economy does better if Americans eat dairy, meat, chicken and turkey and gain weight because it promotes big money industries.
I believe, the only way to find answers for your personal health and fitness is to read, investigate, and experience. And contrary to popular belief, vegetarianism is not difficult and you can easily get all the nutrients you need and many other added benefits (and it's cheaper too). Beans, tofu and beautiful vegetables and fruits make a luscious, interesting and exciting diet. But, you must believe it is possible before it can be so!