vegan for heart health month? why yes, please.

Vegetable Stand
February is, among other things, American Heart Month. I have mentioned how I am working on losing 1-2 pounds a week this year. On top of that, I have my 3-year follow-up heart exam in July. The last time I saw my cardiologist he called me fat. Okay, he didn’t use the word “fat”, but he did say I could stand to lose about 40 pounds, which was a polite way of calling me fat. Fast forward 2 years and I could now stand to lose double that, which is a polite way of saying I’m obese. Since I want to at least be back down to what I was 2 years ago by my follow-up exam this July, I need to lose some serious weight by then—hence the 1-2 pounds a week goal.

In light of this goal, I have been doing a walk/run program, and I have also been closely watching what I eat. I’ve also done a bit of reading regarding vegetarian and vegan diets. I began by reading two of Dr. Dean Ornish’s books (Dr. Dean Ornish’s Program for Reversing Heart Disease and The Spectrum). This prompted me to read John Robbin’s Food Revolution, which led me to read Dr. T. Colin Campbell’s The China Study, which lastly led me to read Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn’s Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease. Although I do not know whether or not a strictly vegetarian or vegan diet is the healthiest way to eat, the evidence saying so is rather compelling.

I should say at this point that I love my fatty burgers, potato chips, chili cheese fries with jalapeños, ice cream, vanilla/chocolate/strawberry milk shakes, filet mignon, fried shrimp, fried chicken, beef tacos, and so on as much as the next person. It’s not as if I awoke one morning and saw the light and all of these foods suddenly tasted like cardboard (although, if this were to happen it sure would make February that much easier). Anyone who has seen me the past few years could attest to the fact that I love these foods. What is also pretty evident is that I have not lost any weight while consuming them. Here you might say that if I had only eaten them in moderation instead of ordering two #10’s each time I went to McDonald’s, maybe then I  would be skinnier. Perhaps. However, I think it might prove easier if I just forewent the foods altogether. After all, if it’s a fact that once you pop, you can’t stop, why pop to begin with?

In Campbell’s book, he recommends giving the vegan diet a month’s trial run. Seeing as it’s near the end of January, I decided upon February. After all, it is the shortest month, and if I am to have any success with this it most likely would occur the month with the fewest days. As providence would have it, I received an e-mail from a local health care provider reminding, or in my case informing, every one that February is America Heart Month. Eureka!

As I’ve begun to plan out my entire month’s worth of eating, I surely have my concerns. What if I go out to eat? What about going over to a friend’s house for dinner? What about the Super Bowl? How strict am I going to be with this diet (primarily because Esselstyn calls for eliminating not only meat, dairy, nuts, and fish, but also all oils, and processed and refined grains)? What about vitamin B12? For your pleasure, I will outline a few of my personal dietary decisions, as well as my plans for the Super Bowl in a future post. As for now, let’s just get used to saying it’s going to be a meat-, dairy-, and fried-free February!

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