Following my second heart attack on May 7, 2021, I knew I had to make major changes to my diet and lifestyle. The first change was to my diet. Since my first heart attack, I have researched and studied as much as possible on the optimal diet for someone with Coronary Artery Disease. No matter what direction you look there is a ton of conflicting information. Most of the time I suffered from paralysis by analysis. But the consistent message that I was able to gather was that eating whole foods was a great start. From there the information continuously seemed stacked in favor of eating as close to plant-based as possible for people suffering from heart disease or looking to prevent/reverse heart disease.
I decided to go all-in on a plant-based diet. I didn’t want to overwhelm the house by making a dramatic switch right away so we eased into the diet to make sure we could handle it at home. Luckily Beth loves to cook and accepted the challenge of preparing meals right away. Although it wasn’t my intention to go plant-based immediately, we had no problem making the switch. It was easier than we had thought.
With this post, I want to address the most common complaint/question I get which is people don’t understand how someone could go all-in on a 100% plant-based diet. Most people that ask me about my diet either refuse to think about giving up meat and other animal products or they reply that maybe they could do vegetarian but not plant-based (vegan).
So why did I change to a completely plant-based diet and advocate for others to do the same rather than try switching to vegetarian first?
I believe the science shows that a whole foods plant-based diet is the best diet to prevent/reverse heart disease (here) whereas a vegetarian diet can actually be more harmful to your health.
My biggest argument is that many people don’t want to eliminate dairy and dairy in my opinion is more unhealthy than eating certain meats. The reason for this is dairy has high amounts of saturated fats. In a standard American diet, people may not indulge in high amounts of dairy products. But once people make the decision to ditch meat and follow a vegetarian diet, people will begin to load up on more cheese, butter, and other dairy products to fill the void of meat. An argument can be made that this switch is actually MORE unhealthy than keeping meat in your diet. (Click for more info on saturated fat and dairy products.)
So although people make the switch to eating a vegetarian diet, their weight actually will increase due to the unknown addition of more fat in their diet plus the increase in carbohydrate consumption. With the addition of more fat to your diet, you are doing more harm than good. As a reminder, we are making the switch to optimize our health and prevent/reverse heart disease. Adding fats will counter our ability to reverse disease.
I am curious what your thoughts are? Have you thought about going plant-based? Met any challenges with the idea? Stay tuned for tomorrow where I discuss my favorite plant-based foods.
We started with Everyday Cooking with Dr. Dean Ornish. I highly recommend checking out this book to get started. If you are not completely ready for a 100% plant-based diet, then I recommend trying a Meditteranean Diet which is a step in the right direction towards plant-based living.
*Since going completely plant-based in May, I have lost 50 pounds without actually trying to lose weight. If you are interested in my full plan, please subscribe to my e-mail list for upcoming announcements.