Vegan Hopes to Live to 150
Posted Aug 12, 2012
Peter Filak was looking forward to his lunch break. When it came, he found a
seat in the Bloomsburg hospital where he worked as a nurse, pulled out a
banana and promptly chowed down -- peel and all.
His coworkers stared.
He's used to the double-takes. For more than a year, he's been living
Filak eats a lot of bananas and other fruits and vegetables because diet
is an important part of his life goal. He wants to live longer than anyone has
ever lived, and he's aiming to reach his 150th birthday, at least. Right now,
To meet his goal, he adopted an unorthodox lifestyle. Filak embraces
organic produce, moderate exercise and low-stress living and shuns meat,
processed food and unhealthy chemicals.
He last ate meat -- microwaved turkey meatloaf -- nearly 16 months ago.
The same day, he began reading "The China Study" by Dr. T. Colin Campbell and
Thomas M. Campbell II. The book advocates a plant-based diet to reduce the
risk of cancer, diabetes, heart disease and obesity. That day, Filak became a
His diet is now raw fruits and vegetables and nuts. When he's home in
Trucksville, he shops in the Wegmans produce section. He doesn't cheat on his
diet and he doesn't have cravings.
His path to eating unpeeled bananas in public started in elementary
school during a Drug Abuse Resistance Education class. The class got him
thinking about all the choices he was making that affected his health. From
there, he adopted one good habit after another. Today, his entire lifestyle is
focused on his health and on living for a very, very long time.
"It's more of a 'why not' question, not a 'why' question," he said in an
email. "I cherish life to the utmost degree and I want every ounce I can get
out of it. Suffering and succumbing to disease in the ages that we consider
old is just not for me. I want more. I want to see how far I can take this.
It's life that I love."
He used to lift weights and run, but that exercise became a chore, not a
stress reliever. Now, he exercises with walks around his neighborhood and
Ultimate Frisbee games. He tries to keep his stress low. Filak left his
nursing job in Bloomsburg and gave up his organic scrubs for a position as a
nurse at an environmental education camp in Massachusetts.
Filak doesn't use a toothbrush or toothpaste. He gets his organic tooth
cleaning products from the produce section. His shoes are more like oversized
baby booties, and he goes barefoot as often as possible. He'll go to
smoke-free bars with friends and doesn't drink. He wouldn't sacrifice his goal
for a significant other in the future, and he doesn't want to force his
lifestyle on anyone. He avoids unnecessary risks. He sleeps on organic sheets.
He's not afraid of death, and he absolutely, completely believes he will live
to 150 and keep going.
His ultimate goal, besides surviving long enough to see the year 2139, is
to live self-sufficiently. He wants to grow his own food, build a small cabin
and live off the land. His website, www.moreapplesaday.com, explains his ideas
about healthy living.
Filak educates himself about health and makes choices that go further
than the health and safety regulations that protect Americans.
For example, the Food and Drug Administration ruled in July that baby
bottles and kid's sippy cups can't contain the chemical compound bisphenol A,
better known as BPA. The compound is still in other products. Filak tries to
avoid that compound and any others that could be unhealthy. He doesn't drink
water from plastic bottles.
Instead, he uses a glass jar. He doesn't keep his food in plastic bags.
Instead, he stores his produce in organic cotton.
The public and government are scrutinizing BPA now, and eventually,
another widely used compound will be revealed as unhealthy, he predicts.
Filak's concerns about harmful chemicals are valid, said Dr. Smita Nikam,
an internal medicine physician with Geisinger Health System. There are many
studies about chemical absorption in the body, but most are done on animals,
and not enough have been done on humans to make conclusions about many
compounds -- but when it's practical, better safe than sorry, Nikam said.
"We don't have anything to say this plastic is toxic and people should
avoid it and it has to be eliminated completely or banned. As far as I know,
the FDA is still reviewing data," she said. "But you don't want the FDA to
tell you five years later that 'yes, there is something harmful in that.'"
As for living to 150, Nikam is skeptical. The record is 122 years, held
by a French woman named Jeanne Calment, who rode a bicycle until she was 100
and gave up smoking when she was 117, according to The New York Times. Nikam
said Filak is giving himself a good shot by following his adopted lifestyle
and by starting early.
Another Geisinger employee, dietician Grace Zeleznock, RD/LDN, said if
someone came to her whose diet was exclusively raw fruits, vegetables and
nuts, she would encourage that person to eat other foods, too. A diet of raw
produce and nuts might be lacking in vitamin B12, calcium, vitamin D and iron.
"If you're asking if this is a healthy diet, I would say no," she said.
She recommends including lean cuts of meat, healthy fats, whole grains
and dairy in Filak's diet. Calcium and vitamin D help prevent fractures, which
are a problem for older patients.
Filak said he also learned the standard nutrition guidelines when he was
in nursing school, but as he looked for more information, he came to different
conclusions. He's committed to what he calls his "natural diet."
If his strategy works, his brothers will be in their 70s, reaching the
average life expectancy for American males, around the time he's ready for a
A little bit of Filak's life rubbed off on his younger brother, Yuri, who
stopped eating fast food, but still loves to pose hypotheticals for his
brother, like "What would you do if he were stranded on an island and could
only eat meat?"
Of course he'd eat meat, Filak answered. His goal is to live longer, not
"It's discomforting to realize that we have everything we need in order
to live longer," Filak said. "It's all here, in our grasp, right there in
front of us. But nobody reaches for it, and when somebody does, it's
©2012 The Citizens' Voice (Wilkes-Barre, Pa.)
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