My usual lunch at home: veggie salad with black beans, miso-tahini dressing, rice cake, hot tea.
My father-in-law suffered a cardiac event right after Christmas. One of his arteries was almost fully blocked. He is not overweight, he doesn’t smoke or drink. He maintains a high level of physical activity, even wears a pedometer. But he does consume meat, almost every day.
My mother’s carotod artery is 50% blocked on both sides. Over the past two decades she has been on high blood pressure medication, and now she takes a statin pill every day. She is about 25 pounds over her healthy weight, doesn’t exercise regularly and eats meat and dairy every day.
We went to dinner at my in-laws’ home on New Year’s Day. The talk was mostly of the upcoming heart surgery. A valve replacement for Pop. My mother-in-law hands me a sheet of paper:
“I know you’ll be happy to see this…” she smiles, and waits for my reaction.
“Where did you get this?” I ask incredulously.
“From the cardiologist,” She says.
I give a big whoop. “Yes!! Finally…it’s starting to make sense.”
Whether they adopt a new diet remains to be seen, but over dinner Pops asked me about how I replace meat in meals. Although they know I am a personal chef and that we have both been vegan for the past 8 years, and they always cook a pan of roasted vegetables when they invite us to dinner, they NEVER ask about what I cook. So, I see the questions as a positive sign.
There are so many important environmental and ethical reasons to adopt a plant-based diet, and I strongly support them– but my main goals are to maintain a healthy weight and to prevent chronic disease. So far it’s working. Neither of us have any health problems and neither of us take any medications. We rarely even catch a cold. And we are both over 50.
Here’s the other side:
I am very impressed with this handout. It really marks a breakthrough, I think, in de-stigmatizing veganism and helping to show that a whole food, plant-based diet is not a trend. It is a solid (and simple) healthful way of eating.
But, why wait until a health crisis forces us to shift to a more mindful way of eating? Why not start right now, where we are, in this moment–taking steps to improve our health and the way we feel today?