The Satya Interview with Joshua
Joshua Rosenthal is a holistic health counselor and the founder
and director of the unique Institute for Integrative Nutrition (formerly
known as Gullivers) in New York City where he also teaches. Now
in its tenth year, the Institute trains over 200 counselors a year
the practice of what they call Integrative Nutrition, which is a broad-based
approach to health that avoids affiliation with any one dietary theory. Angela Starks asked
Rosenthal about his own and the schools
philosophies, and learned that the food on our plates isnt the
only kind of nourishment that we need.
You say that vegetarianism or veganism isnt for everyone. Why
Most people who teach nutrition have a theory or what Id call
a dogma: advocates of the Atkins diet say everyone should eat meat,
vegans say everyone should be vegan, macrobiotic people say everyone
should be macrobiotic. I studied all the different dietary theories,
but it is not about the theory, it is about having respect for the
and that we are all very unique. There is no one way of eating that
fits for everyone. Some people do well on a vegan diet; some people
do very well eating meat.
If someone is Puerto Rican its very different than if they are
European; if they are African American its different than if theyre
Swedish. The intestinal system, like all parts of the body, is made
up of the foods that the individual and their ancestors have been eating
all along. The intestines have therefore become highly efficient at
digesting those specific foods, and if you keep giving it those foods
it knows how to deal with them. You may need to make adjustments, but
the more someones parents were vegetarian the more easily they
can be vegetarian too.
Well suited to vegetarianism or veganism are people who have blood type
A, B or AB (especially A). To explain this very briefly: the theory
is that A blood type evolved after people killed off most of the wild
animals they ate for food and started to grow food to survive; and B
evolved when people lived in places like India and Afghanistan where
there was not much good land to grow food, so they had to rely on animal
milk. A is best suited for veganism; B can best digest dairy. Human
bodies evolve as reality changes, and eventually there may be a C blood
Also suited to a vegetarian diet are people who are young and physically
active because that increases nutrient absorption; and people whose
ancestors come from a third-world type of diet. Other people
who are suited to it are those whoand this is where I was atare
grossed-out by the mere thought of eating an animal. But such people
need to know what they are doing, so another prerequisite is education
about nutrition; they need to understand things like where do
I get my protein? and what am I craving and why?
More suited to eating meat and dairy are blood type O people whose
ancestors ate meat; and people who dont educate themselves about
nutrition nor have time to prepare food for themselves.
But wouldnt you say that everyone needs to be more educated
There are different health problems for people who eat meat, people
who eat junk foods, and people who are vegetarian/vegan. Everyone needs
educationthanks for clarifying that. It just tends to be that
people who overeat meat havent woken up yet to the subtleties
of food. Its not just that they eat meatthey also tend to
eat processed food. They havent recognized the importance of foodunlike
the average vegetarian. Once you are awake, you are more likely to think
I should learn about this. Vegetarians and vegans are more
sensitive in general and notice that they feel different.
What are some of the pitfalls that you see newly-converted vegetarians
They may eat too much chemicalized artificial junk food; people think
that just because its in a health store it must be healthy.
For me personally, in many ways I was healthier before I became vegetarian.
That diet didnt suit me, therefore I started to feel cold and
spacey. You want to be in the world, not out of it, so I ate way too
much yogurt and peanut butter whose heaviness made me feel
grounded, but overdoing these foods ultimately made me less healthy.
I dont have a strong digestive system so I used to find that my
whole life was centered on food. Thats fine, but if Id continued
that way I wouldnt have formed the Institute. Id be basically
living in a tree or kind of on the fringes of society, because I wasnt
able to have such a clear kind of energy on a strict vegetarian diet.
But I want to make sure that I say that I really believe in people
being on a vegetarian or a semi-vegetarian diet. Im certainly not against
individuals eating small amounts of meat; its just that, with
the increasing population, it is totally unsustainable for our planet
for people to be eating lots of meat. Thats the bottom line.
So, although theres no single perfect diet for everyone, there
is nonetheless a limit to the amount of meat and dairy that anyone
Meat is known to cause various diseases, and a lot of health problems
improve when people stop having meat or dairy even for just a week or
month. Besides, most meat that people eat in America is poor quality;
Europeans will not even allow it into their countries.
If you are going to eat animal food, start lower on the food chain with
egg or dairy. If you are eating meat, try wild, lean animals who have
been moving around and are healthy.
Basically, our philosophy is that most people should eat a semi-vegetarian
diet with sufficient protein. If they are eating animal foods, it should
be of good quality and small quantity. I recommend that meat eaters
have small homeopathic amounts as often as desired.
What are your thoughts on the Zone diet and the Atkins diet?
I think that we can learn from everyone and everything. I learned from
the Zone diet, for example, that it was helpful for my energy level
to include protein in most meals. The problem with the Zone diet is
that people get carried away; they turn it into a high protein diet
or they are led to believe they now need to measure their food, to
willpower to control how much they are eating and to eat the Zone diets
own packaged food products.
Relatively recently, they came out with something called the Soy Zone
to address the needs of vegetarians. But I dont go for that because
a lot of people are allergic to soy.
The big thing in nutritionespecially in Americais weight
loss, and with the Atkins diet you will lose weight. A lot of times
I get overweight clients who are eating a vegetarian diet and when
increase their protein and lower their carbohydrates they lose weight
and they are happy. So you can apply principles from the Atkins system
to a vegetarian diet.
What sort of diet do you follow yourself, and why?
Most of my food is vegetarian, but it isnt rigid. Its seasonal:
in the summer I eat much more fruit and raw food, and in the winter
I tend to have more animal protein.
I dont decide my food from my head. Animals in the wild dont
refer to books. So after all my educationeven though it was important
at the startI just trusted my body. I let go of all the dogma
and said to myself, lets just go for it and see what happens.
Then I did some interesting things, like eating more animal food in
the winter. But this was a progression over 10 years; in the beginning
I would get sick even just looking at animal foods. Now I will incorporate
a little egg into a breakfast of mostly vegetables. Im amazed
this breakfast will carry me for six hours, whereas before I would
I prepare most of my food myself. I used to depend on a restaurant
or someone making food for me because I didnt really know how to
take care of myself. However, when someone who loves you makes food
for you, the effect is like a prayer, way beyond protein, calories,
and carbohydrates. Its healing.
Theres also a big difference in having food thats raw or
freshly cooked. It still has what I call vibrational energy. Everyone
today is looking for more energy. We are vibrational beings and when
the food carries a strong and harmonious vibration it strengthens us.
Tell us about your concept of Primary Food.
I used to have a natural foods store in Canada, and my customers had
a certain look and were into all the right foods. But at the movie
next door, people were just buying popcorn and eating whatever they
wanted, and in a way they seemed healthier and better adapted to society.
Thats when it first piqued my curiosity, and I ended up with this
theory that although food is very importantbecause food creates
our blood, and the blood creates our tissues, cells, thoughts, feelings
and our futureI call that food secondary. Because
whats Primary are certain things in life that feed us even more
than food. There are times when we are in love and dont even need
to eat because everything feels great, or if youre working on
an assignment you forget about eating. But if you are lonely and you
havent had a hug for weeks, then all the food in the world isnt
going to feed that hunger. Almost no nutrition theory addresses Primary
Food, so I brought this in to serve people and give them better results.
I think its unfair to say eat well and your life will work
out. You need to have the same kind of education around relationships
as about food. Its a truly holistic approach.
Why did you rename your school the Institute for Integrative Nutrition?
I had experienced myself and other people in nutrition trying to push
their theory in a rigid and dogmatic way and not recognizing that diversity
is what life is about. When it comes to food, its much more helpful
to listen than to talk. I have a Master of Science degree in Education;
I studied how people learn and I specialized in counseling so I look
at what effects change in people. You should try to hear the person,
what their concerns are, whether its your client or your mother.
Its not that your mother wants to be unhealthy, but if you just
start cramming information it wont work. Shes not trying
to be sick; shes just in fear, and so much information has been
fed to her, that with a little bit of patience you can help her out.
Integrative nutrition is like having respect for different religions
and peoples choices.
Anything else you would like to add? Some advice for our readers
about vegan or vegetarian nutrition?
I would say trust yourself and encourage others, especially young people,
to believe in themselves. Its okay to make mistakes. Even if
everyone is telling you this wall is blue but to you it looks yellow,
to what you believe in.
Remember that there is no perfect diet. The diet is ever-changing,
even for the same person. I guarantee that the food you eat today is
different than what you ate two or three years ago. People dont
have the foresight to understand that what they eat two or three years
from now will also be different from today. Its a journey, not
a destination. And if the same diet that got you healthy today stays
the same for too long it can cause you illness. Its a fascinating
field. Its amazing though, that people overlook the one thing
that is so simple: life itself.
The Institute for Integrative Nutrition is located at 120 W. 41
St. in Manhattan. The school hosts free orientations for prospective
students to discuss career opportunities and learn about the curriculum.
Upcoming orientations are on Friday, March 15 and Sunday, April 29.
For information, call (212) 730-5433 or see www.integrativenutrition.com.