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How I Came to Adopt the Whole-Food, Plant-Based Diet

There was a time not all that long ago that I would never have imagined I would be a vegetarian, let alone a vegan. But all of us have no doubt had the experience of changing course on something.

Over the last few years I had slowly but surely progressed to the point where I referred to myself as a “fishetarian” or “pescetarian” - a lacto-ovo vegetarian (a vegetarian who eats eggs and dairy products), who also ate fish. My core motivation was a vague notion that it was better for my health, along with concern for animal welfare and a distaste for “factory farming” practices.

Last September when I went for my annual physical exam my cholesterol levels came back bad. Progressively over the last ten years, even though not overweight, I had seen my numbers creep up through “borderline” to the point where I was slightly beyond “borderline” and my doctor was the third one to urge me to start taking statin medications. The doctor used some formula to calculate my risk of a heart attack, and although it wasn’t as if I was a walking heart attack waiting to happen, it was nonetheless significant. I was actually shocked as I had expected my numbers to be no worse, if not better than prior years as this was the year in which I had been “fishetarian” for most of it. I told her to give me a few weeks to do something about it with diet and I’d come back for testing.

Right around that time I happened to be reading something completely unrelated to nutrition and health – an investment newsletter actually, which is totally wild – where mention of Dr. Joel Fuhrman was made. The writer had recently met Dr. Fuhrman and had adopted his recommendation of a “whole-food, plant-based” diet. I decided to check out this Dr. Fuhrman and a search at amazon.com lead me to his book Eat to Live. I ordered it and started reading it right away.

I couldn’t get to the end of the book fast enough so I could get on with the show! I just found the book so totally motivating. I immediately made the decision to give up all animal protein, and started eating a whole-food, plant-based diet.

I went back for retesting of my cholesterol about 8 weeks later. I told my doctor that I had adopted a vegan/whole-food, plant-based diet and she cautioned me to not expect too much so quickly as I was male, “of a certain age”, and had a family history of high-cholesterol. I just smiled sweetly, or was it smugly, as I had total faith in Dr. Fuhrman’s recommendations and promised outcomes. As far as I was concerned, my numbers were going to be good. This is the email message she sent me when she got the results back:

Hi John, Great news! Total cholesterol down to 176, HDL still at 48 (which was always good), LDL down to 117 (from 151)! This is an impressive result. You lowered your heart attack and stroke risk by about 30%, which is about the same result you would have had with a statin.


So it was my desire to achieve and maintain good cholesterol numbers through diet without need to take medications that brought me to the whole-food, plant-based diet. You too can achieve fast improvements in the areas of weightloss, type 2 diabetes, vascular health (heart and stroke), blood pressure, and protection against cancer by adopting a diet that is whole-food plant-based. I can’t think of any better place to start than by reading Dr. Joel Fuhrman’s book “Eat to Live”. If you have type 2 diabetes, you might also want to read his book new book “The End of Diabetes: The Eat to Live Plan to Prevent and Reverse Diabetes”.

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