“Diet,” to many people that word is synonymous with deprivation. My wife, Tess, uses the word “lifestyle,” for what we are doing/changing, although I am not sure what label best works for me. But believe me, I’ve lost weight, and deprivation has nothing to do with it. Before I share more about the change in my life, I would like to share the why. Why me, a normally reserved individual who shies away from even picture taking, want to become an advocate and starts blurting out stuff almost overnight. Fame, Fortune, Ego? No, although I’d take fortune…that’s not it. Once I did my research, implemented the changes, and as I live with the benefits, there only one way to express it…I was PISSED OFF. Hell, I still am. A major reason I’m out sharing my story, journey, and experiences is because I didn’t know about this sooner. I grew up with a completely different information rubric. My “education” was at best, lacking, and at worst, paid for by companies that valued a dollar over truth. Some will say that’s advertising, but my perception of nutrition was wrong. Food triangle, whole milk for strong bones and teeth, vegans suffer from weak bones, dyeing fish to look more appealing…why aren’t we taught the truth earlier in life, so that we can make our own decisions? I am confident that if you do your own research like I am asking you to do, you too will be asking, why didn’t I know about this before? I will share more about this later; however, I wanted to just put that out there — how I feel and why I share.
I thought that I was eating healthy. Bombarded with messaging which extols the virtues of eating lean meat, fish and drinking milk. To experience a healthy and vibrant lifestyle one must consume a balanced diet with low fat this, all natural that. I, like many of you grew up on some from of the USDA Food Pyramid, but from the start, the nutritionists information was altered and the practice continues to this very day. The industries which surround meat and dairy production go to great lengths to control this narrative all in the name of profits.
What I didn’t know was how much sodium were in those meals, how much cholesterol I was consuming on top of what my body naturally produces, or how many preservatives can be added to “all natural.” One more thing I didn’t know that’s certainly not advertised in very many places is something called the protein debate, which is largely an invention of these meat and dairy industries to keep profits flowing. I have many friends of whom I consider intelligent and one of the first questions I get on learning that I am whole food plant-based is…sure, but where do you get your protein? So, I’ll just say it. All protein comes from plants. Animals are not protein, they, like us, are just in the middleman in the protein process. I get my protein from the source—plants. Further, recent studies are coming to light (e.g., a 2016 meta-analysis), that suggesting consuming extra animal protein, particularly that derived from processed red meat, might actually enhance your chance of dying from heart problems.
Do your research—who influenced the USDA’s food pyramid? Profits are huge, after all.
My heart attack didn’t immediately lead me to becoming plant-based. My cardiologist recommended I try the Mediterranean diet. We signed up for Sunbasket, chose the heart healthy Mediterranean option. The problem was that it wasn’t very good. The meals seemed to taste the same with no variety which made it unsustainable for my wife and me. My Veterans Affairs nutritionist sent me enough heart healthy recipes to fill three binders. A couple of the cookbooks were downloads from the American Heart Association and American Cancer Society websites. It was later in the process that I found out, but I’ll give you a spoiler…guess who the biggest corporate sponsors of these organizations are? If you guessed our earlier USDA influencers, the meat and dairy industries, with a heavy dose of pharmaceutical companies, you would have been right.
I was provided these recommendations; however, I was also doing my own research on the effects of what I was eating had on the plethora of medications which I had been prescribed. Then I found that I’d been prescribed medications just to counteract side effects of other medications, and none of the medications were cures they were just to treat my symptoms. I figured there had to be a better solution. I was ready to eat salads for the rest of my life, if that is what it took. Luckily it didn’t, as I began to see more studies about whole food and nutrition. I found references to things like the China Study, Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, and Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease. Was this stuff real? Was heart disease not only curable but reversable?
Because of the pandemic and restrictions in place for gathering in groups, my wife suggested that perhaps there was an online class we could take to learn more about how and what to cook and learn the benefits of changing what we eat. I fumbled my way to a local resource, Green Fare Organic Café, which offered classes to learn about a whole food plant-based living, and also that they had a restaurant for us to try oil- and salt-free meals. I took Tess (who was NOT on board with my plan) on a date night to Green Fare for dinner. I was pleasantly surprised at our dinner. It appeared that I would not have to live on just salads. While we were there, we were recommended to watch the documentary, “Forks Over Knives.” Once I watched it, I was sold. My wife still was not convinced. She still saw what she would not be able to have—things which she would have to give up. After watching the documentary, I searched the internet and found out that Forks Over Knives had a recipe and meal-planning subscription. There was a free one-week trial, so I told Tess that we would try some of the recipes. In the meantime, we found another documentary to watch — “The Game Changers.” She watched it, and it changed her way of thinking. Her favorite food is pizza, so she asked if there was a pizza recipe on the Forks Over Knives website. There was, we tried and liked it, and she watched “The Game Changers” again. She was then willing to try these plant-based recipes, and I signed up for an annual subscription which includes more recipes, customizable grocery lists, and modified recipes based on how many people and meals you need a week.
After month on the meal-planning and enjoying the recipes, we did a pantry overhaul. We still have a college-aged son who is not completely plant-based; but he was away at school. We cleaned out the pantry and anything that he doesn’t eat or is not a part of our plant-based lifestyle was donated or discarded. My wife was now all-in reading, researching, and watching more about being plant-based. We basically switched to being plant-based overnight. An overnight change isn’t for everyone; however, since it was just us, and we weren’t preparing different meals, it wasn’t hard.
I keep mentioning benefits – ok besides increased virility (which is damn hard being on blood thinners), less aches and pains, increased energy and strength…what else can you expect?
Well, weight loss, quicker athletic recovery, let’s chat cholesterol.
My 2/10/21 (pre-plant based) Cholesterol 271 High, LDL 184, HDL 36 (prescribed statins for over 20 years)
In comparison on 3/3/2022 my Cholesterol was 143, LDL 72, HDL 51
And on 9/15/2022 my Cholesterol was 139, LDL 73, HDL 53
I need a caution here – between 3/3/22 and 9/15/22, I opted to cut my Atorvastatin in half from 80mg to 40mg and on 9/15 stopped taking it altogether, so we’ll see what the next results indicate.
If we leave you with one suggestion to do as you begin your research for your personal journey, please watch the documentaries, “Forks Over Knives” ($0.99 on Amazon Prime) and “The Game Changers” on Netflix.
Be skeptical, apprehensive, and question. When you learn what we did, well, you will be happier that you did.
My upcoming topic on which to share will be regarding Stents and Statins—what I thought they did and what they actually do. I hope that you will continue to follow long as share my story’
DISCLOSURE: The content within this blog post/article is based on research and personal experience of Dan Rollins and is in no way intended as medical advice. It is recommended that you do your own research and consult a physician before making decisions involving your health.