Eating Mostly Plants

“Nothing will benefit human health and increase the chances for survival of life on Earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet.”  

– Albert Einstein

I eat mostly plant-based food because doing so is good for my health, good for the planet, and good for animals.

Luckily, I’m not a foodie. So it’s easier for me to “eat to live, and not live to eat.”

Good for My Health

Eating a plant-based diet defends against heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes.

  • In 1974 Chinese Prime Minister Zhou Enlai directed the government to undertake most comprehensive cancer study in history, tracking every reported cancer death for 10 years. The study examined the diets, lifestyle, and disease characteristics of 6,500 people in 65 rural Chinese counties. “The major message from the China Study is a plant-food-based diet, mainly cereal grains, vegetables, and fruit, and very little animal food, is always associated with lower mortality of certain cancers, stroke, and coronary heart disease.”  Why? The enzymes and hormones found in meat create inflammation and high acid levels, which lead to cancer, stroke and heart disease.
  • U.S. and Italian researchers tracked ~6,400 adults during nearly two decades and found that those who ate a diet high in animal proteins during middle age (aged 50 and over) were four times more likely to die of cancer than contemporaries with low-protein diets — a risk factor, if accurate, comparable to smoking. They also were several times more likely to die of diabetes, researchers said.
  • The Harvard School of Public Health, oversaw a study that charted the health of a group of nurses over a twenty-year period. The study found that nurses who drank one or more glasses of skim or low-fat milk had a 69 percent increase in ovarian cancer over women who rarely or never drank milk. The study also found nurses who ate yogurt five or more times a week had almost double the ovarian cancer rates of nurses who never ate yogurt.
  • Also from the Harvard School of Public Health: consumption of more than two glasses of milk per day was associated with almost twice the risk of advanced and metastatic prostate cancer. Drinking a lot of milk and eating a lot of yogurt leads to higher rates of prostrate and ovarian cancer.
  • You’re not just what you eat. You’re what you eat eats too. “Farm animals get 80 percent of antibiotics sold in the United States.” Chickens are fed antibiotics, prozac and painkillers to maximize production and yield.

Good for The Planet

“Livestock production is one of the major causes of the world’s most pressing environmental problems, including global warming, land degradation, air and water pollution, and loss of biodiversity.”

– UN Report, “Livestock Impacts on the Environment”

  • Because methane is so effective at trapping heat, scientists at the UN now believe that gasses produced by animal agriculture are responsible for 18% of all greenhouse gas emissions. Conversely, the combined fossil fuels (coal, gas, oil, etc.) used to power the automobile, train, and airline industries account for only 13% of greenhouse gas emissions. That means by eating beef, you’re actually contributing to global warming more than you are by driving cars, riding trains, or flying in planes.
  • “91% of the rain forest that’s been destroyed has been due to raising livestock.”
  • A study published by the USDA found that 80% of agricultural land in the US is used either to raise animals or to grow the crops—corn, grain, oats, and so on—to feed them.
  • Across the globe, the numbers are just as staggering. According to the United Nations, the land used for grazing “occupies 26% of the Earth’s terrestrial surface, while feed-crop production requires about 33% of all arable land.”
  • “If the current world population at 7 billion were to adopt North America’s meat-based diet, it would require four planet earths to support this demand.” —Vancouver Sun
  • According to the USDA, private homes represent about 5 percent of the water consumed in the United States. Animal agriculture, on the hand, represents 55 percent of the water we use.”
  • According to the PETA, 660 gallons of water were needed to produce that one single burger. If you buy a pound of ground beef, 1,799 gallons of water were needed to produce that single package. Animals raised for food have to eat as many as 13 pounds of grain to create just one pound of edible flesh. Compare that to 700 gallons to produce 1 pound of cheese; 475 gallons for 1 pound of eggs; 132 gallons for 1 pound of wheat; 119 gallons for 1 pound of potatoes; 108 gallons for 1 pound of rice.
  • You could float a battleship on the amount of water that’s needed to raise a single thousand-pound beef cow.
  • Animal poop, antibiotics, and chemicals leak into streams, creeks and rivers, and ultimately our drinking water.  “Cutting back on meat consumption would protect waterways from pollution caused by fertilizer production, runoff from chemical fertilizer and manure, and soil erosion. Of course, producing more fruits, vegetables, beans, and nuts still would require water, but far less than is needed to produce animal products.”

Good for Animals

  • At grocery store ask: “Am I going to make a selfish choice that causes pain? Or am I going to make a compassionate choice?”

    – Russell Simmons

  • In the US 10 billion animals are raised and killed every year for food. Animals killed for their meat in America: every minute: 38,000 Every hour: 2.3 million Every day: 55.6 million
  • Worldwide 65 billion land animals are killed every year for food (this doesn’t count the billions of marine animals killed every year).
  • “The average person will chomp down on 7,000 animals during their life.” – USA Today
  • Broiler chickens (those raised for meat): Today, broilers reach the slaughter weight of 5 pounds after just 47 days. To help understand just how unnatural a growth spurt that is, a report by the University of Arkansas says the human equivalent would be a human weighing 350 pounds by the time he or she turned two years old. Despite enjoying a life span of up to fifteen to twenty years in the wild, most broilers are ready to be slaughtered after just six weeks.
  • Layer chickens (those raised to lay eggs): Artificially inseminated to start laying eggs after 20 weeks of age. Industrial egg-laying hens have been bred to produce more and faster, laying about 320 eggs over a life span of about 72 weeks, compared with a productive life of around four years in more traditional breeds that lay at a fraction of the rate. In nature, wild hens lay only 10 to 15 eggs annually. Like all birds, they lay eggs only during breeding season and only for the purpose of reproducing. This high intensity of production tends to affect their bones, which can become brittle and easily broken; the birds become stressed – which is why beak clipping is necessary – and listless.
  • “Don’t have your grandkids or great-grandkids looking at you the way a kid today would look at segregationist. When they look back at you years from now, be seen in the same light as the abolitionists who fought against slavery, or as a protestor who spoke out against Hitler. Don’t let history count you as one of the sheep who stayed quiet and looked the other way while people around them were being sold in chains or thrown in the ovens.”

But What About Protein?

As a former college athlete, this has been a tough hurdle for me to overcome.  Even though I’m getting plenty of protein from plant-based foods, I still equate animal protein with muscles, strength and vigor.

But the truth is few of us are weight lifters or olympic athletes – we don’t need the extra protein. Most Americans eat too much protein, which comes with additional potential disease risks. “32 studies were identified. The adverse effects associated with long-term high protein/high meat intake in humans were (a) disorders of bone and calcium homeostasis, (b) disorders of renal function, (c) increased cancer risk, (d) disorders of liver function, and (e) precipitated progression of coronary artery disease.”

For an active adult, eating enough protein to meet the recommended daily allowance would supply as little as 10% of his or her total daily calories. In comparison, the average American consumes around 16% of his or her daily calories in the form of protein, from both plant and animal sources.

The DRI (Dietary Reference Intake) is 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight, so the average amounts would be 55 grams / day for an average man, 46 grams / day for a woman. As I’m slightly more active, I give myself a slightly higher range – 0.8-1 grams of protein/kilogram guideline.

My ideal weight is 150 lbs = 68 kg = so protein target for me is 0.8-1gram/kilo so 55-68 grams.

My strategy to get this daily amount?

  • 3 servings carbs = ~15 grams
  • 3 servings vegetables = ~10 grams
  • 2 servings nuts & seeds = ~15 grams
  • 2 servings beans = 15 grams
  • Total = 55 grams
  • (optional) 1 scoop protein powder as a supplement = 24 grams

Meat every once in a while is okay – just be thankful to the animal

I also keep a grocery list of protein rich foods for carbs, beans, nuts, vegetables, fruits and spices. I bold what I need, then shop once a week. A full pantry at home helps prevents late night binge eating, which has been the hardest part of sticking to a healthy diet.

Useful Rule of Thumbs for Measurements

  • 1 tablespoon = 1 large spoon
  • 2 tablespoons = 2 large spoons = 1 ounce = 1/8 of a cup
  • 1 cup = 236 ml = one average size coffee cup = 1/2 pint = 8.1 ounces
  • 100 grams = 0.1 kilogram = 3.5 ounces
  • 1 gallon = 4 quarts = 8 pints = 128 ounces = 256 tablespoons = 768 teaspoons

Meat / Eggs / Dairy Protein List

(High Protein but Comes with Higher Cost)

  • 3 ounce Chicken / Steak / Pork – 28 / 26 / 22 grams protein
  • 1 egg – 6 grams
  • 1 cup skim / 1% / 2% milk = 8 grams
  • 6 ounces Greek Yogurt – 17 grams
  • 1 cup regular yogurt – 11 grams

Carbs Protein List = 3 servings = ~15 grams

  • 1 cup cooked brown rice – 7 grams
  • 1 cup white rice – 4 grams
  • 1 cup cooked pasta – 8 grams
  • 1 cup cooked oatmeal – 6 grams
  • 1 cup cooked quinoa – 8 grams
  • 1 slice wheat bread – 3 grams
  • 1 sweet potato – 2 grams

Vegetable Protein List = 3 servings = ~10 grams

  • 1 cup broccoli = 5 grams
  • 1 cup cauliflower = 2.4 grams
  • 1 cup spinach = 5 grams
  • 1 cup red pepper = 3 grams
  • 1 cup tomatoes = 2 grams
  • 1 medium zucchini = 2.4 grams
  • 1 avocado = 4.2 grams

Nuts and Seeds Protein List = 2 servings = ~10 grams

  • 1 ounce pumpkin seeds = 9 grams
  • 1 ounce peanuts = 7 grams
  • 1 ounce cashews = 4 grams
  • 2 tablespoons almonds = 4 grams
  • 2 tablespoons peanut butter / almond butter / cashew butter = 8 grams

Legumes & Beans Protein List =  2 servings = ~20-30 grams

  • 1/2 cup firm tofu = 10 grams
  • 1 cup garbanzo beans = 15 grams
  • 1 cup white beans = 17 grams
  • 1 cup pinto beans = 15 grams
  • 1 cup lentils = 18 grams

Drinks Protein List 

  • 1 cup soy milk = 8 grams
  • 1 cup almond milk = 1 gram
  • 1 cup beer = 0.8 grams protein
  • 1 cup coffee / tea = 0.3 grams / 0.1 gram protein
  • Protein Powder =  1 scoop/ serving = ~24 grams

Drink More than 5 Glasses of Water / Day (more than 1.5 Liters)

“Probably the best evidence we have for a specific recommendation for how much water you should be drinking comes from the Adventist Health Study. Twenty thousand men and women were studied. Those who drank five or more glasses of water a day had about half the risk of dying from heart disease compared to those who drank two glasses or less daily.”

“How can you tell if you’re dehydrated? Just ask your body. If you chug some water and pee most of it out soon after, this would be your body’s way of saying it was all topped off. But if you drink a bunch of water and your body keeps most of it, then your tank was running low. Researchers used this concept to develop a formal dehydration assessment tool: Empty your bladder, chug three cups of water, and then see how much you pee an hour later. They determined that if you drink three cups and urinate less than one cup within that hour, there’s a good chance you were dehydrated.”

Bonus Health Tip: Sit Less Than 6 Hours

“After tracking the health of more than one hundred thousand Americans for fourteen years, an American Cancer Society study found that men who sit for six hours or more per day have a 20 percent higher overall death rate compared to men who sit for three hours or less, while women who sit for more than six hours have a 40 percent higher death rate. 20 A meta-analysis of forty-three such studies found that excess sitting was associated with a shorter life span, 21 and this may be “regardless of physical activity level.” In other words, people who religiously hit the gym after work may still have shortened life spans if they are otherwise sitting throughout the day.”

Other Strategy to Eat More Plant-based Foods, from How Not to Die

“Realizing that most American families tend to rotate through the same eight or nine meals, step one suggests that you think of three meals you already enjoy that are plant based, like pasta and marinara sauce that could be easily tweaked to whole-grain pasta with some added veggies. Step two asks you to think of three meals you already eat that could be adapted to become a green-light meal, like switching from beef chili to five-bean chili. Step three is my favorite: Discover new healthy options.”

How to Respond to Friends Who Think You’re a Hypocrite for Eating Meat

I am not perfect. Yes, sometimes I cheat. And sometimes I just want to eat meat. But by this same logic, everyone is a hypocrite. You are not a trainer if you teach the wrong technique, or you are not on an Atkins diet if you miss one day of protein. Why are vegetarians held to perfect standard? We’re just trying to do our best for our health. What’s wrong with that?

How to Deal with Social Situations

Just order the vegetarian option and let the action speak for itself. You don’t have to give any reason. If someone invites you to their place, ask to bring your own food.

Resources

How Not to Die

Vegan Protein list

Tomo, Developer

Tomo

“I think there would be some drugs involved to be honest… and some elements of hedonism and a lot of music. I think I would enjoy a mix of those 3 things.” (Tomo, 39, USA)

Tomo’s perfect day:

  • Psychedelic drugs – “it’s not about feeling good or euphoric or numbing pain, but actually about changing the way you experience things. It would be a day where your senses are enhanced or altered. Because of that it would be a very abnormal day. It would also warp your sense of time.”
  • Music
  • Unplanned – “[music / psychedelics] are just the start. the perfect day wouldn’t be planned much further than that… ideally, you would be able to do what you want for the rest of the day.”

Tomo’s music recommendation

  • Richie Hawtin – electronic DJ

Salah, Coffee Shop Owner

“People are greedy and always want more: lots of money, girls, fun nights out. When you’re young you want everything fast, you don’t know what’s important. As you get older, you realize that the things that matter are the small things, the things you take for granted. You never realize what you have until you lose it.” (Salah, 31, Yemen)

Salah’s perfect day:

  • Good health for him and his family
  • The people you love are okay
  • Being “home,” which means being with the people you love

In his early 20s, Salah made “perfect money” working for his family’s construction business in Yemen. He’d party weekends in Dubai. But then suddenly war forced his factory to close. He moved abroad, pursuing a childhood dream and opening coffee shops in Malaysia and Vietnam.

Chew, Retired IT Professional

Chew

“I love my [retired] life right now. Life is good. I can’t complain. It’s wonderful.” (Chew, 69, USA)

Chew’s perfect day:

  • Sleep in, get up late
  • Have a nice breakfast, read the newspaper
  • Check the stock market
  • Play pickle ball
  • Have a late lunch
  • Sample free food at Costco
  • Stretch at 24-Hour Fitness
  • Take hot shower
  • Take a nap
  • Dinner with wife
  • Watching mixed-martial arts on TV
  • Taichi and go to bed late

He would want to feel:

  • Like it was a long day, so he’s tired and can sleep quickly

Ramon, CEO

Ramon

“I got to think about what I wanted to be and I got to spend it with the people I love.” (Ramon, 42, USA)

Ramon talked about 3 perfect days from his past, present and future.

Past: At 23 he flew with his brother and best friend to a gaming convention in Dallas. They had dreams of starting a business together. “I remember taking notes and observing everybody. The sky was the limit. I felt like I was young and could do anything.” Then Ramon flew to Las Vegas. He won enough money to pay for the entire trip, plus tickets to the musical Stomp for his best friends and crush.

Present: this year Ramon got married – “There are only 2 times you can get everyone in a room that matter to you, your wedding and your funeral.”

Future: doing charity work with his wife.

Ramon’s perfect days share 3 common elements:

  • A day of possibility
  • With the girl you’re in love with
  • Surrounded by good friends and family

Grace, Retired Homemaker & Accountant

“A perfect day is totally relaxed and I can do whatever I want, whenever I want, spend whatever I want, and be with whoever I want.” (Grace, 67, USA)

Grace’s perfect day:

  • Spending day with family in relaxing way
  • Be on a cruise ship – “you don’t have to figure out where to eat, how you’re going to feed the whole family, what type of food everyone likes, and anyone can be anywhere they want but together.”
  • Thankful for what she has – “roof over head, food on the table, don’t have to worry about health and finances, being American”

She would want to feel:

  • Totally relaxed
  • Grateful for what you have

Cô Hoà, Vietnamese Language Teacher

Co Hoa

“My perfect day is simple. Beautiful weather, good food, lots of time, with family – that’s it.” (Cô Hoà, 20s, Vietnam)

Cô Hoà’s perfect day:

  • Beautiful weather (no rain)
  • Wake up early at 7am
  • Has lots of time to cook, watch TV and read 
  • Doesn’t have to work
  • See beautiful scenery
  • Be with family the whole day

She would want to feel:

  • Comfortable
  • Happy

Marc, Dancer & Videographer

Marc

“A perfect day has an element of surprise. I don’t want to know what happens between noon and 7pm. I want to leave that up to chance.” (Marc, 28, USA)

Marc’s perfect day:

  • Early morning walk going nowhere
  • See the city wake up to the sun
  • Break a sweat in the gym
  • Breakfast with a loved one
  • Making a movie from start-to-finish for 4-5 hours – “it’s pure magic”
  • Check social media and “live in virtual cave”
  • Not having a plan and getting lost somewhere  – “An element of getting lost while on the way to something. Because that makes time seem to slow down. You start to take in all the sights. You take it in slower perhaps? It makes that day seem like journey.”
  • Watching the sunset – “A day that you see the sunset is a day not wasted”
  • Playing board games with parents
  • Dancing from 10pm-5am at an Afro-Latin dance festival

He would want to feel:

  • High on caffeine, with a sense of clarity and awesomeness

Recs:

  • Monopoly Deal Pack
  • Beautiful Light by Uppermost

Sparky, Waiter

Sparky

“When I was a kid there was a river behind my place. I would go there and fish the whole morning. When I catch something I just bring it back to my Grandma and say, ‘Hey I have some fish. We have food today.’ At that time my family was very poor so I had to live far away from my parents and live with my grandma. We tried to grow rice, vegetables, chickens, everything we can to have food everyday. For me a perfect day when I catch some fish to bring back to my grandma. It would make me proud.” (Sparky, early 20s, Vietnam)

Sparky’s perfect day:

  • Fish all morning, bring fish home for grandma
  • Need people by his side
  • See girlfriend after work, chit chat, and think about future

He would want to feel:

  • Loved – “I want to give love and warmth to friends and family. I know how we miss the warmth and the love.” 
  • Not stressed – “not think too much”

The Art of Gathering by Priya Parker

Big Idea: 

Design choices that place people and purpose at center of gatherings make them transformative.

Context:

Trained in the field of conflict resolution, Priya Parker is a professional facilitator. She helps activists, politicians, businessmen, educators, and philanthropists create transformative gatherings. She has worked on race relations on American colleges and on peace processes in the Arab world. She studied organizational design at MIT and public policy at the Harvard Kennedy School.

My Personal Story:

I have a theory: you can know more about someone from 5 minutes on a basketball court than 5 months in an office. Whether it’s basketball or board games, shared, non-work activities show people’s true colors. This book helped me understand the fundamentals of transformative gatherings. 

Exercise 1

Commit to a gathering about something. Don’t conflate category with purpose. For example, don’t celebrate turning 40. Instead ask yourself the purpose of your birthday party this specific year. 

“Gatherings that please everyone occur, but they rarely thrill. Gatherings that are willing to be alienating— which is different from being alienating— have a better chance to dazzle. How do you arrive at a something worth gathering about? What are the ingredients for a sharp, bold, meaningful gathering purpose? Specificity is a crucial ingredient. The more focused and particular a gathering is, the more narrowly it frames itself and the more passion it arouses.”

For your next gathering, make purpose your bouncer. Let it decide what goes into your gathering and what stays out. Specifically, pay special attention to who you invite and who you don’t. Yes, this means excluding people – even good friends or important people – if their presence distracts from the gathering’s purpose.

Exercise 2

Rules-based gatherings bring freedom and openness to gatherings. Use rules to create a temporary alternative world.

“There is a certain kind of fun in trying something for a bounded moment. The kind of restriction that might feel oppressive if permanent can seem compelling and intriguing when it applies sometimes, as part of a conscious effort to create that temporary alternative world.”

For example:

The Influencer Salon gathers 12 strangers every month to cook and eat together. The invitation contained these rules:

  • Conversation: we ask that guests do not discuss their careers or give their last names until after the presentation portion of the evening
  • Photography: photos are only allowed during the presentation portion
  • Attendance: People who confirm and do not attend are unlikely to be invited again

Some other rules I liked while reading this book:

  • You are not allowed to buy your own drink
  • One conversation at meals
  • Turn off technology
  • No talking about kids
  • Wear white, including socks, shoes and headpieces
  • If you’re going, be there from start to finish
  • If you don’t respond to the RSVP you won’t be invited again
  • Share challenging moments that seldom come up in ordinary conversations

Implement at least 1 rule that enforces the gathering’s purpose.

Exercise 3

Like all good stories, memorable gatherings start and end with a bang.

Start your gathering off by priming, ushering and launching.

Your gathering begins at the moment your guests first learn of it, not at the actual event. Take advantage of this pre-game window to sow any special behaviors you want to blossom at the event. 

“Every gathering benefits or suffers from the expectations and spirit with which guests show up… priming can be as simple as a slightly interesting invitation, as straightforward as asking your guests to do something instead of bring something… it could be the way you name your gathering.”

Then help usher your guests across the threshold of your gathering. How can you great a physical or psychological passageway that tunes out the prior reality and captures people’s attention and imagination? This could be a door, passage, trip, or even greeting guests as they arrive.

Then launch the event by awe-ing guests and honoring them.

“The opening is, therefore, an important opportunity to establish the legitimacy of your gathering… your opening needs to be a kind of pleasant shock therapy. It should grab people. And in grabbing them, it should both awe the guests and honor them. It must plant in them the paradoxical feeling of being totally welcomed and deeply grateful to be there.”

Endings should mirror your openings. When you feel energy waning or conversations dying, announce a last call to signal the outbound ushering process.

“So you’ve issued your last call, people have been primed to think about the end, and the event is winding down. How do you actually close? A strong closing has two phases, corresponding to two distinct needs among your guests: looking inward and turning outward. Looking inward is about taking a moment to understand, remember, acknowledge, and reflect on what just transpired— and to bond as a group one last time. Turning outward is about preparing to part from one another and retake your place in the world.”

For example, the organizers of TED ask a comedian to close a days-long conference with a 15 minute wrap.

You can also reaffirm not just what the group did but who they were during the gathering.

Then connect the world of the gathering to the world outside. That could be a verbal or written pledge, a physical symbol, a letter written to their future self, a gift to turn an impermanent moment into a permanent memory.

Think through how your gathering’s opening and ending. For the opening focus on 1 action you’ll take to prime, usher, and launch the gathering. For the ending, make sure to have a last call, and  closing session that looks inwards and turns outwards before re-entry into the real world. DO NOT start or end your gathering with logistics. 

Quote:

“Gatherings crackle and flourish when real thought goes into them, when (often invisible) structure is baked into them, and when a host has the curiosity, willingness, and generosity of spirit to try.”

“Before every gathering she creates, she asks herself two questions: What is the gift? And what is the risk? She thinks of each of her gatherings as fulfilling a specific need for a specific group of people. But for that gift to be given, she has learned, there needs to be some amount of risk. ‘No true gift is free of risk,’ Benedetto told me. She defines risk as ‘a threat to one’s current state that could destabilize the way things are.’ The risk is what allows for the possibility of the gift.”

Dope Footnotes

Priya believes in a certain magic of numbers and density in creating transformative gatherings. I will refer to these often! From her book:

Numbers of people

In my experience, there are certain magic numbers in groups. Every facilitator has his or her own list, and these are obviously approximations, but here are mine: 6, 12 to 15, 30, and 150.

Groups of 6: Groups of this rough size are wonderfully conducive to intimacy, high levels of sharing, and discussion through storytelling.

Groups of 12 to 15: The next interesting number is around 12. Twelve is small enough to build trust and intimacy, and small enough for a single moderator, if there is one, formal or informal, to handle. (When multiple facilitators are required at a large meeting, it is customary to divide the number of participants by 12 to figure out how many facilitators are needed.) At the same time, 12 is large enough to offer a diversity of opinion and large enough that it allows for a certain quotient of mystery and intrigue, of constructive unfamiliarity. 

Groups of 30: Thirty starts to feel like a party, whether or not your gathering is one. If smaller gatherings scale greater heights of intimacy, the group of 30 or so has its own distinctive quality: that buzz, that crackle of energy, that sense of possibility that attaches to parties.

Groups of 150: The next interesting number lies somewhere between 100 and 200. When I speak to conference organizers who think about group dynamics, the ideal range I hear again and again is somewhere between 100 and 150 people. While they disagree on the precise number, they all agree that it’s the tier at which, as one organizer told me, “intimacy and trust is still palpable at the level of the whole group, and before it becomes an audience.”

Tides of humanity: Well beyond these gathering sizes is the sea of humanity. Think Bonnaroo, the World Cup, Tahrir Square, the Million Man March, the hajj in Mecca, the Olympics. These are gatherings where the goal is not so much intimacy or connection as tapping into the convulsive energy of a massive crowd.

Density: 

Billy Mac, an event planner, swears by the following parameters for the number of square feet required per guest for different vibes: 

  • Square Feet Per Guest   |   Sophisticated   |   Lively   |   Hot 
  • Dinner party   |   20 sq. ft.   |   15 sq. ft.   |   N/ A 
  • Cocktail party   |   12 sq. ft.   |   10 sq. ft.   |   8 sq. ft. 
  • Into the night/ dance party   |   8 sq. ft.   |    6 sq. ft.   |   5 sq. ft. 

He suggests dividing the “square feet of your party space by the number to get your target number of guests.” If your entertaining space is 400 square feet and you want a sophisticated dinner party, invite 20 people. If, instead, you want a “hot” dance party, invite 80 for that same space. Mac says one of the reasons party guests often end up gravitating to the kitchen is that people instinctively seek out smaller spaces as the group dwindles in order to sustain the level of the density.