Why I'm A Vegan: A Cardiologist Explains
Years ago when I was a resident physician, I read Diet for A New America by John Robbins and chose to practice a vegan diet as the core of my health maintenance program. I want to explain why I continue to eat, shop and dine in this manner in the face of so many options, and why I recommend it to my patients
V is for Vitality.
I eat many chlorophyll-rich vegetables (including some raw and living foods such as sprouts, sea vegetables, and blue and green algaes), which helps me power me through long days with a bounce in my step and a sharp mind. I also get a bounty of fiber, phytonutrients, minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants, due to the rainbow of colors that make up my daily selections. This supplies protective biological pathways with the building blocks needed for optimal health and energy. Spices enhance my health and add flavor to my plate. Almost any chronic disease can be improved upon by the vitality in a vegan menu.
E is for the environment.
The world's population now exceeds 7 billion persons and by the year 2050, it will exceed 9 billion. Diets rich in meat, eggs and dairy, and the methods required for their production, will simply not be sustainable and will cause serious further damage to our planet promoting climate change. A few years ago, the United Nations Environment Programme called for a shift to a vegan diet for the planet Earth. I vote with my fork and spoon every day by reducing my carbon footprint and protecting the planet for my children and theirs.
G is for gastronomy.
Vegan diets are anything but boring or bland. Only a few food items are excluded, such as animal meat, animal dairy, and eggs. That leaves thousands of menu offerings from fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, seeds, spices, and legumes. I have a favorite restaurant that offers a weekly 3-course vegan gourmet menu and, after nearly 5 years, the selections have never been repeated! Your palate can learn to appreciate the subtleties of flavors never to be found in meals overwhelmed by meat, eggs and dairy.
A is for animal rights.
Simply put, the average piece of meat, chicken egg, or dairy product consumed in America is produced through cruel factory farmed methods that favor pain over compassion, and production numbers over quality or cleanliness. I agree with Leonardo da Vinci when he wrote that “the time will come when men such as I will look upon the murder of animals as they now look on the murder of men.”
N is for natural.
Our food chain has been transformed in the last 50 years to a toxic soup of pesticides, herbicides, antibiotics, and hormone-treated choices. Food colorings, preservatives, and synthetic “vitamin” enhancements are prevalent.
The vast number of choices in grocery stores and convenience shops are not farm food, but chemical “frankenfoods” catering to our food addictions but not our health.
Although a vegan diet requires a familiarity with GMO and organic trends in the food chain, in general, an apple, a bunch of kale, or a pound of flax seeds represent choices closer to the farm, more directly from a plant, and farther from a factory and its toxins.
I feel fortunate that a kind soul lent me John Robbins’ book over 25 years ago so I could embark on a vegan health journey that has enhanced my life and allowed me to teach so many its virtues. Although we sometimes hide behind the word, VEGAN as explained here is something to embrace, share and promote.
I hope you join me.