Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Live Healthy - Live Plant Based - Prevent, Reverse Heart Disease

Obviously, everyone has their own right to have their own beliefs and to live their life as they want to live it as long as others are not hurt in the process. 

I had a discussion the other day with a colleague who said to me, "if you could just eat anything you wanted and die 10 years earlier, would you go back to eating meat, dairy, eggs, etc? Would you die at 75 instead of 85 to have the pleasure of eating animals again?" My answer, of course, was absolutely NOT! His was that he would rather continue eating tons of meat, etc. and die at 75 than to have to eat healthy and die at 85. I'm pretty sure that with the way he eats he'll never make it to 75, but that is his choice. Sad for his son, but hey it's his choice. I was a bit taken aback by his answer. But then I realized that his idea of what eating a plant based diet consists of would be horrible tasteless food. While that may have been the norm 10 or more years ago, that simply is not the case now. I wasn't even sure how to deal with this answer and his belief. I had to think about it for a long time to figure out why someone would want to cut 10 years off their life for the 15 or 20 minutes of "pleasure" that they get from eating meat. His deal was meat, not cheese, not eggs, not milk, but meat. He'll eat any type of meat, and I mean ANY TYPE from any part of the animal. Glands, organs, sweet breads, head cheese, brains, hot dogs, etc. 

I finally figured out that his assumption is that I get no pleasure from the food I eat. I even described this amazing butternut squash veggie lasagna that I had made and he just said "yeah, right I bet that was tasty" (sarcasm, of course). The truth is that the food I eat is EXTREMELY satisfying, tasty, delicious and pleasurable - not at all tasteless. There are SO many plant based choices out there that are not only delicious but also healthy. Options abound. 

I then thought back to the fact that he didn't care if he cut 10 years off his life. Immediately, I thought of James Gandolfini who just recently died of a heart attack at 51. 51 is WAY too young to die. He had not been diagnosed with heart disease. Yes, he was overweight and we don't know what other medical ailments he may have had. It was reported that he had eaten a very meat laden, fat filled meal right before, including foie gras. He was an amazing actor, an advocate for pit bulls, a father to a teenage boy and a 1 year old daughter and died way too young. 

What you eat DOES make a difference in your health. Many people who have heart attacks aren't diagnosed with heart disease until they have a heart attack. And unfortunately, for many of them their first diagnosis of heart disease is the fatal attack and no treatment will help them. It's very sad because heart disease does not need to exist and can be prevented and reversed by eating a plant based diet. Tons of proof out there and I wish more people would believe it. 

I've been asked by several people "what, are you trying to live forever?" No, of course I'm not. But for as long as I live, I want to live healthy, pain free, medication free, and functional. I don't want to suffer from chronic illness and declining health. I want to live a vibrant, functional life. I want to be able to run into my 70s or further, to travel after I retire (that's a long way off), to be sharp of mind and wit, and to not depend on others to take care of me in my old age. I am willing to eat a healthy whole foods plant based diet in order to make sure I live this way because I truly believe in the science that shows how much better it is for us to eat this way. Do I think I am making a sacrifice? Absolutely not, the food I eat is delicious, healthy and nourishes my body. 

It made me think to talk to him about this and realize that as much as I want everyone I know to live a healthy, long life some just don't care if they do as long as they have that meal that gives them 15 or more minutes of pleasure. Sad, but true!

Plant based pointers

So I think I have now sent this or a variation of this to a handful of people so I figured I should probably put it on my blog. 

Obviously...I don't think going plant based is hard. I figure if I can do it, anyone can since I travel for work and never know exactly where I am going to be able to eat. 

Breakfast: It's my hardest meal when I am on the road, that’s why I carry my magic bullet blender with me. On the road, if I am not in a hotel with a little kitchenette or at least a fridge and microwave, I make my vega one shake. So I buy VegaOne (it’s pricey, but I feel it’s worth it and I typically only use it when I travel) add almond milk and a banana. Keeps me full until lunch. At home, I typically do oatmeal, usually whole rolled oats or steel cut oats, you can make a big batch and keep it in the fridge for days. I add defrosted blueberries, raspberries, chia seeds and ground flax seed and any other fruit I feel like. I never was an oatmeal lover, but with the fruit, I really like it and it’s very filling. There is a good recipe in My Beef With Meat for Rips Big Bowl, his healthy cereal, it’s pretty good too. Another option, instead of eggs, you can use tofu and do a tofu scramble. Sometimes I’ll do that on the weekend. I am not a tofu lover, but there are some good tofu scramble recipes out there and adding things like salsa, black beans, potatoes, etc helps. Adding a little bit of kala namak salt (black himalayan salt) gives it an eggy taste since it has a slight sulfur flavor (which is what gives eggs their taste)

Making things ahead of time really helps: I do beans from scratch and freeze them in bags to use during the week. Soak dry beans overnight, rinse well in the morning and cook in a slow cooker all day. Adding a piece of kombu, a type of seaweed, helps to degas them. I am trying to cook on Sundays and either put stuff in the fridge for during the week or freeze stuff so I always have stuff to eat, that way it just makes it easier to eat healthy. When I am pushed for time, I typically do something like a black bean and sweet potato burrito with a side of veggies and a salad. Mexican is easy to do so fast that I tend to gravitate to that, and it’s always been my fav type of food. Easy to do tacos that way too.

The only supplement that I take is vitamin B12. I am not deficient, but it’s harder to get on a plant based diet. Actually a lot of meat eaters and omnivores are deficient in it. The brand I use is Deva, it’s vegan and it just dissolves in your mouth. I get it from Amazon.

My plant based gurus are: 

T. Colin Campbell, PhD (
Caldwell Esselstyn, MD (
Rip Esselstyn (
John McDougall, MD (
Neil Barnard, MD (

I heard Dr. Esselstyn speak at Portland Veg Fest last September and it was awesome. Started following a low fat, little to no oil route last year. I use a lot of Happy Herbivore recipes ( and those from Engine 2 Diet, Forks Over Knives cookbook, Dr. McDougal.

If you want some good books to read on the benefits of a plant based diet, here are my suggestions: 

The China Study (T. Colin Campbell, PhD) - the China Study is what really pushed me over the edge and made me go vegan
Whole (T. Colin Campbell, PhD) - his new book Whole came out in May
Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease (Caldwell Esselstyn, MD)
Engine 2 Diet (Rip Esselstyn)  
My beef with meat (Rip Esselstyn)

There are also some good books on plant based/vegan eating in the dummy series and idiots guide series. 

One really easy way to try to go plant based and not have to really think about what you are going to eat is via The Happy Herbivore's weekly meal plan website Every week, Lindsay puts out a new meal plan that covers breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks and has all the recipes for the items in that weeks menu. She also includes a shopping list and it's very easy, not hard to find stuff. It's $5.00 for each meal plan and the new one's come out on Wednesday. It's a great way to not have to think about what you are going to make or eat. She has two plans, individual and a family plan. It really takes the work out of thinking about it! She also has 3 cookbooks (a 4th one is coming out later this year) that you can get on or other sites. Her recipes are easy and taste good too! I often add a bit more spice that she does. 

Happy Herbivore weekly meal plans

Happy Herbivore website:

The Happy Herbivore Cookbook: Over 175 Delicious Fat-Free and Low-Fat Vegan Recipes

Everyday Happy Herbivore: Over 175 Quick-and-Easy Fat-Free and Low-Fat Vegan Recipes

Happy Herbivore Abroad: A Travelogue and Over 135 Fat-Free and Low-Fat Vegan Recipes from Around the World 
Other cookbooks that I use frequently: 

Superfood Kitchen: Cooking with Nature's Most Amazing Foods (this is the updated version)

Crazy Sexy Diet: Eat Your Veggies, Ignite Your Spark, and Live Like You Mean It!

Crazy Sexy Kitchen: 150 Plant-Empowered Recipes to Ignite a Mouthwatering Revolution

The Engine 2 Diet: The Texas Firefighter's 28-Day Save-Your-Life Plan that Lowers Cholesterol and Burns Away the Pounds

Forks Over Knives - The Cookbook: Over 300 Recipes for Plant-Based Eating All Through the Year

I have tons more (a bookshelf full) but figured this was a good start!

Books about becoming vegan, staying vegan, benefits of a plant based diet, etc. 

The Ultimate Vegan Guide

The China Study: The Most Comprehensive Study of Nutrition Ever Conducted And the Startling Implications for Diet, Weight Loss, And Long-term Health

Vegan For Life Everything You Need to Know to Be Healthy and Fit on a Plant-Based Diet 

The Complete Idiot's Guide to Plant-Based Nutrition

Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease: The Revolutionary, Scientifically Proven, Nutrition-Based Cure

Good websites, some informational some are recipe blogs: (cuz sometimes I post some good recipes!)

and tons more, lots of good vegan blogs with recipes, etc. out there too! 

I’m assuming you knew this would be very long winded!