Why I Eat a Plant Based Diet

In about April 2015 I decided to stop eating animal products.  For the previous year or two my son had become a vegan, and I listened to his reasoning for his life-style changes.  At first I was turned off by what I thought were his overly extreme positions on animal cruelty, environmental concerns, and initially his advocacy of an all-raw vegan diet.  As time went by though Kay and I cut more and more meat and dairy from our diets, and finally we decided to make the plunge.  My reasoning was two-fold. By far the most important was health.  I am  convinced that eating a plant based diet that is low in fat and highly processed foods is the healthiest way to eat.  I am convinced that this way of eating can reduce the risk of and prevent many cases of heart disease, diabetes, hypertension and obesity.  In addition I am convinced that one of the primary causes  (arguably the primary cause) of our current environmental crises with global warming and the ozone layer shrinkage is animal husbandry.  Clearing vast swarths of our planets natural areas to produce food for cattle and to graze livestock, the huge methane release from ungulate feces and belching, the overfishing of our oceans, and the disaster that is mass-pork production has significantly contributed to the current state of our planet.  I was prompted to write this post after reading about Dr. Kim Allen Williams advocacy of a plant based diet.

Dr. Williams was the president of the American College of Cardiology in 2015-2016, and is the head of the Rush University School of Medicine.  He has been eating plant based since 2003 when he noted his LDL cholesterol was getting higher, and when he stopped eating animal products it dropped dramatically.  More recently he has been an outspoken advocate of plant based eating, and in a speech to the Food=Medicine Conference in 2015 he stated:

“There are two kinds of cardiologist: Vegans and those who have not read the data.

For more information see a link to “the data” on a blog post by Dr. Williams in the American College of Cardiology In Touch Blog.

For a good summary of his positions see the NY TImes article, Advice from a Vegan Cardiologist.

If he, in his position, can strongly advocate for plant-based eating, then I can too.  It is not difficult to eat a plant based diet. The trick is to substitute healthy plant-based foods for animal products.  That too is not complicated, but requires some degree of discipline.  Try to eat more fruit, vegetables and unprocessed grains, nuts, and seeds.  Use the convenient more processed foods as add-ins to the diet rather than a primary source of caloric intake. Most of all do the best you can.  Any steps toward major reduction in animal product intake is a step in the right direction.  Consider flexitarian eating, where you eat plant based most of the time but occasionally consume animal products if you are not ready for the commitment to eat fully plant based.  as Nike would say, Just Do It!

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