By Serafina Qalo, The Fiji Times
ROKO Tui Cakaudrove Ro Aca Mataitini believes a healthy lifestyle lasts a lifetime. And with the introduction of the Cakau Green program, his team is set to promote healthy living in the province.
The program, which requires the villagers to be vegetarians for one week out of every month, is expected to begin this year.
“Some villagers have already started following the program which is aimed at promoting a healthy lifestyle amongst our people,” Ro Aca said. “I believe fruit and vegetables which can be planted in our own backyard are enough to supply our healthy menu.”
Ro Aca’s favourite shopping centre is the market. “Whenever I go to town on Saturdays to do shopping, I always visit the market for fresh fruits and vegetables. I prefer the market for fruits and vegies so I hardly ever go to the supermarket to get them. And he often eats fruits for dinner. “If I don’t have any fruits at home then I turn to boiled vegetables and I am just enjoying a cheap yet very healthy meal.”
Now he’s taking his own diet out to the villages to promote the importance of healthy living. “Our health depends on the choices of food we eat so choosing wisely when it comes to preparing menus for our families’ matter,” Ro Aca said. “So this program is to help our people in the province eat healthy, live healthy and live a longer life.
“The Cakau Green program only involves vegetables and fruits. There is no inclusion of meat in it and that is any type of meat.”
Preventable diseases, diabetes and obesity are some of the health issues growing in the Pacific as we abandon our traditional – incredibly healthy – diets for unhealthy store food and fast food. “Non-Communicable Diseases have been a major cause of death in the country and claiming lives at a very young age.” Ro Aca said.
Apart from the healthy vitamins and nutrients that fruits and vegetables provide, Ro Aca has certainly saved money from keeping a vegetarian diet for a week every month. He spends less than $50 a week on groceries. In addition, eating fresh fruits and vegetables saves time used for cooking, and adds energy to your day. “The vegetables and fruits are not only healthy but lighter compared to meat. So with this, I am able to do my work and even do extra work in the day because I don’t feel sleepy or too heavy to move around from a big meal.”
The Cahau Green program has so far been promoted in villages on Taveuni, with visits to Vuna, Lavena, Naselesele, Qamea and Somosomo. The healthy lifestyle awareness program was also be taken to the districts of Natewa and Tunuloa. Ro Aca said villagers welcomed the idea of voluntarily having a vegetable diet once a month.
“We are promoting healthy living for our people and we will continue to work with district reps and village headmen to promote the healthy living program,” he said. “We are not forcing anyone, we just hope that people realise the importance of living a healthy lifestyle as it is for their own benefit.”