When I was a child, I became aware that older people in my family were under threat of death from seemingly unstoppable forces of heart disease, diabetes, and the worst: cancer. By the time I was in college, I was convinced that at any moment anyone, no matter what their life background or history, could be hit by a stroke, heart attack, or be told they had cancer. It worried me greatly and I felt helpless to prevent these silent killers that snuck up on unsuspecting people and claimed them. Cancer was the biggest boogie man in my life. At least, this is what modern medicine led me to believe.
When I decided to try on a plant based, whole foods diet, I was amazed by how much healthier and alive I felt, even after just one week of cutting out animal products and replacing them with vibrant, whole fruits and veggies, nuts and legumes. The research I did at that point was summed up by a familiar quote from Hippocrates, “Let thy food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” I effected tremendous changes in my health just through a change in my diet. After one week of eating a whole foods, plant based diet, my chronic and debilitating knee pain was completely gone. Today I am able to run a 6-8 miles a week. After just one week of this new lifestyle and the energy levels I had when I was 10 years younger were mine every day. My skin acne cleared up completely. I felt I could think more clearly and respond to my young children with more energy and patience. Everyone in our family became ill with common colds and flu with a marked decrease in frequency.
When I realized I could effect this kind of positive change through my diet, I began to research more and find out that most of the ailments in western culture that result in painful or sudden death are due to diseases uncommon in places where animal product consumption is low or non existent. Cancer, heart disease, and diabetes are products of the western diet, and they are not commonly found in regions where people consume plant foods (mainly because of the high cost of animal products). When I realized that the boogie man could be avoided by eating whole plant foods and eliminating animal products, the worry of such diseases striking without warning completely dissipated. There is a prevention to these diseases, I am not just going to be a blind victim to a painful ‘end of life’ experience. I am going to be proactive and do all I can to live vibrantly and avoid cancer.
Dr. Gregor’s videos on the Science of plant nutrition have been extremely insightful as I re-educate myself on nutrition and health. His latest book, “How Not to Die”, is a summary and further inquiry into the many studies and evidence that tells us that eating plants, not animals, is what will keep us the most healthy for the longest time. My goal isn’t to live forever, rather to have a long health-span and take care of my body.