There are physiological arguments for a whole food plant-based lifestyle, as well as credible ecological and deeply spiritual considerations, but I’m going to limit this discussion to just one self-interested reason: it feels good.
I want to preach and shout and cry out, “Why didn’t I do this years ago? How is it possible that EVERYONE isn’t doing this?” This is a common reaction of people who finally cross over from animal-based to plant-based. However, if you’re not ready for it, you would probably think I’m nuts if I did that. I would have thought so too. A few weeks ago, I thought vegans were mostly teenage girls looking for attention or fanatics in weird religions. There may be a few of those, but there is a growing number of diverse, energetic, healthy people that reflect a different reality.
I read a little book more than forty years ago that made a convincing case that the human body is not equipped to eat and digest animal products without some painful, even fatal, consequences. My mind was convinced, but it was too weird, too not-mainstream for me to put it into practice. I have been interested in health information for a long time, and over the years, I dutifully added fiber, calcium, B, C, D3, E, CoQ10, fish oil, turmeric, sweet potatoes, broccoli, lots of water, and whatever was at the top of the news. I limited saturated fats, cut back on red meat in favor of chicken and turkey. I incorporated whole-wheat grains, added wheat germ to baked products and used raw sugar, molasses, maple syrup, or raw honey for sweetening. I ate yogurt and fed it to my family.
I thought I was looking and feeling pretty good for my age, if you don’t count Tina Turner and Jane Fonda, who are even older than I am and looking much better. I haven’t had a real illness in four years. I travel often and get around town and out to the beach. There was the annoying chronic cough, but it had been with me for more than twenty years and was much improved with shots, oral vaccines, antihistamines and inhalers. Acid reflux was annoying, but I was used to it. I avoided some of the known triggers, and there was always Alka-Seltzer. I had eliminated frequent urinary tract infections and endless trips to the bathroom by learning how to press my bladder until it is really empty. Back and joint pain? So many people are so much worse off, how can I complain? Once I was out of bed and warmed up, I could get around, do a little yoga, walk, and ride a stationary bicycle. Hypertension, diagnosed fourteen years ago, has been well controlled with Losartan. Not bad, right?
My son Adrian is a chiropractor who decided a few months ago to try the whole food plant-based lifestyle. He wisely led his stubborn Mamá by example and not argument during a recent visit, as I indulged in pulled pork sandwiches, a daily fried egg, and coffee with thick cream and heaping teaspoons of white sugar. I returned from that two-week visit and, after listening to some medical experts and testimonials on You Tube, I gave his lifestyle a try. I had cut way back on meat already because of problems with acid reflux, bloating, and constipation, but I was really into my fried-egg breakfasts, egg salad sandwiches, cream and sugar in my coffee, and an obligatory Whataburger on every trip to Texas.
It’s been a month now. The cough is all but gone. There is no more acid reflux. I thought I was already sleeping well, but I’m sleeping even better. I wake up rested, get through the day, and go to bed with no body pains anywhere. I have cut the Losartan to half a pill, and my blood pressure is very close to 120/80 or below. My goal is to get off the pills altogether. I’m not yet delighted with my weight, and my belly is bigger and rounder than I would like it to be, but my clothes are already feeling more comfortable. I have so much energy that I look forward to, rather than dread, my yoga routine and some spins on the bike.
I wish I could guarantee that if you’ll do this one thing all your diseases will be healed and you will have amazing energy for the rest of your life. I wish I could tell you that it’s just one thing you need to do, or that there’s a non-variable regimen you can follow that will guarantee results. I can’t tell you that. I can’t make any promises. I can only tell you what I did and share some of the ways it is affecting me. I can share others’ stories. I can point you to serious research published in journals that are vouched for by people much more knowledgeable than I am. I don’t know for sure what will happen in your body and your mind. The only way to find out is to try it yourself because your body and its history, while sharing countless features with other bodies and other histories, is unique.
Salud in Spanish means “health.” It is also the proper thing to say to ward off illness when someone sneezes, and it is the equivalent of “Cheers” when clinking glasses together in a toast, so I think it is the proper way to end this article–a wish for health, freedom from illness, and all the good things that you wish for when you offer a toast.