Self described as following an ‘Army Style’ plant based lifestyle, I recently had the pleasure of finding out what inspired 84 year old Henry, to give up all animal products from his diet. When I think of army style, I think of ‘no-nonsense’, keep it simple, just get it done. Well that is the simplistic, but very do-able diet of this inspirational, 84 years young, Henry Rice of Victoria B.C. who has been vegan since September 17th, 2017. He shared that during his last medical, his family doctor wanted to know what he had been doing differently because of his fantastic blood work results! Yay Henry!
I was privileged to have this health-savvy man share his newly founded vegan lifestyle experience with me, and here it is….
There are lots of different ways that a person describes that they no longer eat any animal products: Vegan, Cruelty Free Diet, Whole Foods Plant Based, ‘Not eating anything that had eyes and a mother’, Raw till 4:oo, Junk Food Vegan etc…. Some vegans (who don’t want to have anything to do with animal exploitation) also avoid buying leather shoes, purses, clothes, cars that have a leather interior, products tested on animals such as cosmetics, beeswax products etc… Since there is no universal definition accepted by everyone, it sometimes needs a little elaboration. Henry’s definition is living a ‘plant based lifestyle’. Based on his typical meal of fruits or vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds, I would describe him as a mostly unprocessed, plant based consumer.
Unlike Henry, there are, unfortunately, many people who claim that a plant based diet didn’t work for them, but that is kind of like saying: I ate Food, and it didn’t work for me. It’s not necessarily what we don’t eat but what we do eat that determines our health. Sometimes a person that goes vegan complains that they are tired and have no energy, and probably 99% of the time it’s because they just aren’t eating enough calories. It’s not really difficult to grab a handful of nuts, buy a green smoothie at Whole Foods or Jugo Juice, or eat some fruit if you’re on the road, as they don’t require any time to prepare and are nutrient dense while supplying lots of energy.
An example of unhealthy vegan food would be a consistent diet of fast food. For example: deep fried tofu and fried white rice, with vegetables (likely with msg) or French fries made with oils, which are cooked at a very high temperature creating an end product high in free radicals. There are also lots of yummy vegan desserts such as cookies, ice creams, gummy products that are gelatin free (Squish) and other desserts which are cruelty free but high in sugar and fat. They are a healthier choice for a treat than dairy products though. Keeping it healthy can be challenging when one eats out so something like a bean and brown rice burrito with salsa, lettuce, and no cheese, is ideal. A fruit smoothie or salad is also filling and nutrient dense. Kombucha can be a nice healthy dessert with its fizzy sweetness and it has the same probiotic benefits of sauerkraut.
How many people know that sushi rice contains white processed sugar or high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) mixed with vinegar? It’s pretty much a universal recipe that makes the rice sticky. Again it can sound healthy to say: ‘I had vegetable sushi for lunch’ (after all it’s not smothered in oil or deep fried) but if you didn’t make it at home yourself, there’s a 99% probability you had a portion of GMO white sugar or GMO HFCS too. When we make sushi at home; we don’t use any sugar or high fructose corn syrup in the rice. This probably isn’t even an option when eating out.
Getting back to Henry and his way of eating, is a great example of how to do it right. It’s much easier to eat healthy food when we prepare it at home. He uses a pressure cooker which has the advantage of cooking vegetables fairly quickly and also not using much water. This way we don’t lose the nutrients the way we do when we boil or steam our carrots, potatoes or brussel sprouts and pour the water and nutrients down the drain.
What Inspired Henry, who was previously vegetarian, to give up ALL animal products? Basically 2 things:
1)Dr. Michael Greger’s PBS production of “How not to Die” which can be found at Pbs.org
He’s the author of the book with the same title, and he’s published this (see below) cook book too.
Dr. Greger is a no-nonsense kind of doctor. He spends his days reading every English language medical journal article on nutrition, published each year and then coming to scientific conclusions based on summarizing studies performed on similar topics. He does the research so we don’t have to. He then shares this research in short 5 minute videos on his website and YouTube page NutritionFacts.org. His footnotes are extensive and he provides lots of details about the studies he researches and reviews. It’s an educational website and is strictly science based. With so much untruth out there, by so called experts, and crazy opinions of what a healthy diet is or isn’t, it’s nice to just get the facts. We are living in a world of information overload so a science based website is quite a relief.
How does Dr. Greger get paid when there are no advertisements on his website and he doesn’t accept corporate sponsorships? All the proceeds of his books, dvds and speaking engagements are donated to charity. His website was originally funded by the Jesse and Julie Rasch Foundation to help get his educational program off the ground. Dr. Greger himself, was inspired by his grandmother who was ‘sent home to die’ because of poor health, but then lived another 30 years by switching to a healthy diet.
Mr. ‘How not to Die’, pays his bills by drawing a salary from donations made to NutritionFacts.org. It doesn’t appear to me that his information is biased, and in fact, it appears to be a labour of love for him to share nutritional education with the world. He doesn’t sell any products other than having published two books, but as stated, the proceeds go to charity. How refreshing that there is no ulterior motive, other than to give people, well…The Facts about Nutrition. Dr. Michael Greger himself consumes a Whole Foods Plant Based Diet because the research results have convinced him that animal products are nutritionally unnecessary for humans, and in fact, may contribute to poor health and disease. With the amount of pesticides that animals are consuming now in their food, which become very concentrated in their body, eating animal flesh (meat), mammary gland secretions (dairy), and eggs, are no longer the best choice for humans as they are loaded with toxins and both natural and artificially added hormones that we don’t need. Free range means very little (with regards to cows, or chickens) as it does NOT address what they were fed and therefore what they are made of. Free Range animals very likely were still injected with steroids/growth hormones at a young age or they have these additives in their food.
Henry feels that ‘no doubt, we are what we eat and unfortunately, many do not believe it’.
If we are what we eat, then let’s look at what we’re really eating. If a chicken, when just a chick, is vaccinated with steroids and antibiotics (I recently spoke to a new chicken farm owner and all 500 of her chicks were vaccinated. It was just a ‘given’ that this be done); there are several questions we should ask ourselves, such as…
1) Why are chicks vaccinated? I would venture to say that monetary greed demands that chickens make the biggest, and as many eggs, as possible to increase profits. Chickens now grow faster and bigger than ever. Many chickens are obese and some die of heart attacks. Interestingly humans are also growing bigger, fatter, and faster than ever. Could there be some connection to what humans are eating and our obesity rates?
How do those steroids and veterinarian medicines affect humans? They aren’t tested on humans, only on animals. How many boys and men do we now see at the pool or the beach with man boobs, versus 50 years ago? How young do girls and boys now start puberty? A hundred years ago, the average age of onset of menses in China was age 19, not as young as age 8 today for some girls, as is now not unheard of, in the United States. Who enters puberty sooner? Vegans or Vegetarians? People who eat the most animal (ie: steroid laden) foods enter puberty sooner, and this isn’t just in animal flesh. This includes cow’s milk, eggs, yogourt, cheese, butter, most cookies, muffins, cupcakes, croissants, ice-cream, pies (pastry), milk chocolate, milk shakes…you get the picture. If we wouldn’t voluntarily vaccinate our children with steroids, then why are we voluntarily giving them these same steroids, through their food choices? Fact: Accelerated puberty equals an accelerated lifespan.
2) Why are chicks being vaccinated with antibiotics? Considering that 99% of chickens in the United States are living in cramped, indoor, and filthy living conditions their entire lives, the antibiotics are intended to prevent them from dying of sicknesses before they are killed for food, or found no longer profitable as egg producers. These poor birds are expected to get sick, so why would we eat sick and medicated birds or the eggs they produce? It does not seem like a healthy choice to me. Unless you visited the chicken farm yourself, chances are extremely high they are medicated and living a sad life.
The last questions we might have are:
3) What affect do all these steroids and antibiotics have on our environment, such as our drinking water, the oceans and soil quality? The residues of these veterinarian medicines do not just disappear because we can’t see them. They are here in our environment and everyone is affected: the fish, birds and us. For someone to say that they are vegan for health reasons only and that they don’t care about the animals or the environment….well they are missing some critical information on how raising animals pollutes the earth and indirectly, everyone who lives here.
4) Lastly, do we really want to eat food that was in a state of pain, stress, fear, sickness and exploitation before it became our ‘healthy’ chicken burger, bbq drumsticks, bucket of wings, or Kentucky Fried Chicken? How healthy is the molecular vibration of a distressed being, that didn’t want to die, on our health when consumed unnecessarily as food? If the last sounds out of their mouth before they were killed were a plea for help, for their life to be spared, is that really the best source of nutrition for your body and soul?
Dr. Greger is the ex-Public Health Director of the Humane Society of the United States. Hmm, perhaps his ulterior motive is to prevent cruelty to cows, chickens and pigs, in the animal agricultural business. Is it a conflict of interest to be compassionate? Not if you’re an animal. What if we treated others the way we wanted to be treated without prejudice for whether ‘the others’ were a cat, dog, chicken or cow? The caring for, and wanting to protect innocent animals, who have no voice, and very little, if any, legal rights is a topic that Dr. Greger on some occasions, acknowledges, but his primary focus is the health benefits of a 100% whole foods plant based diet. There are more benefits than disadvantages to being vegan. The 3 big ones are:
1)healthier humans 2) eliminating animal cruelty and killing and 3) a less polluted planet.
I have to admit that when I bought his audio book, How not to Die, I pretty much listened to it every chance I got for about 3 days, in entirety, as I found his material to be so compelling, I just couldn’t turn his audio book off.
2)Dr. Gabe Mirkin, a previous talk show host in Victoria was also instrumental in Henry’s transition to give up animal products. He advocates such bold statements as:
“Increasing Exercise after age 50 Prolongs lives” (this would make a lot of people unhappy, such as those people who have had a stroke and then ‘refrain from exercise, in case it causes them to have another stroke’.) There’s also the people I’ve talked to that are convinced that gaining weight as we age is inevitable so they’ve just given up and stopped exercising altogether and…gained even more weight.
Although Dr. Mirkin probably doesn’t have the research team that Dr. Greger has (7 full time staff, plus additional volunteer researchers) they agree on some but not all points. Dr. Mirkin posted an article, that I read yesterday on his website, citing a single study, stating that Cheese and Yogourt may help to prevent (bone) fractures. I have no idea how old this was but it’s archaic. This completely contradicts the science of nutrition I learned last year in University. Americans are the biggest consumers of cheese and yogourt, and have the highest bone fracture rate of any other country.
Research from more than 20 years ago (see: Dr. Colin T. Campbell The China Study) clearly showed that casein, the protein found in dairy products can turn on cancer cells. His data collection in China also measured an increase in prostate cancer in men who consumed the most dairy, as well as increasing the incidence of breast cancer in women. Henry was right! If humans can get all the nutrition (including calcium) they need from plants, why would they consume any dairy products and increase their exposure to toxic 2nd hand concentrated pesticides, veterinarian medicines, steroids, pus, antibiotics and potential bovine AIDS and bovine leukemia cells? Why would anyone knowingly consume pasteurized pus? Oh, you didn’t know that there is a allowable number of PPM (parts per million) of pus allowed in milk? That’s something you might want to look into. This could break you of your Hagen Daas addiction once and for all.
Dr. Mirkin didn’t add the negative side affects of consuming dairy in the above article on his website which is unfortunate. Hopefully we are thinking for ourselves though and looking at the big picture. Smoking reduces stress (as we see office workers ‘chilling’ outside their office towers, puffing away) BUT it also causes arterial sclerosis and lung cancer. I don’t think the stress reduction is worth the flip side of the coin.
Henry points out that many years ago Dr. Mirkin recommended ‘no eating meat or drinking milk for men due to (negative) impact on the prostate.’ It’s potentially confusing to many people, to have the same doctor though, recommend a food such as yogourt for bone strength and then suggest it be avoided due to a negative affect on prostate health. The onus is back on us to make our own decisions.
Another source of health information for Henry which may have led him to his plant based lifestyle was a book called ‘Food and the Gut Reaction’ by Elaine Gottschall. It provides information on the relationship between food and such disorders as Crohn’s disease, diverticulitis and celiac disease. This can be a very complex topic as I learned from Dr. Greger, who was one of the lecturers in my Plant Based Nutrition Studies. Interestingly I heard him speak about a study where the majority of self described celiacs and gluten intolerant individuals were proven to NOT be allergic to gluten at all but rather the eggs and dairy products used in the glutinous products they ate. Think: waffles, muffins, scones, donuts and whatever other predominantly wheat based products are sold at Tim Hortons, Starbucks etc….Very few participants in the study were actually allergic to wheat.
Another area of study that would be insightful would be the examination of how much of the allergic or gut reaction was a result of the round-up or equivalent pesticide used to grow the majority of wheat crops in North America today. It’s not uncommon to hear of North American’s that go to Italy where the wheat products are not grown with pesticides, to be able to eat pasta and bread with no negative gut reactions whatsoever. Perhaps it’s a combination of pesticides in both the wheat flour and in the food consumed by the animal products used in the production of baked goods. It’s complex.
I asked Henry; Since less than 1% of the human population is vegan, and high schools here in Canada still teach students in Food Studies courses how to prepare a roast (beef) and chicken entrees as well as meals prepared with eggs and dairy (and serve them in their cafeteria) what do you think of the idea of a Plant Based Nutrition course being offered in elementary or high school? His response: ‘Sounds reasonable to me but I would not start too young on PBD. The older generation need it more, only they do not know it. I agree that the older generation needs it if they are still consuming animal products but:
Fact: Children today are expected, for the first time in history, to have a shorter lifespan than their parents. The reasons are multiple: how does an entire lifetime of consumption of GMO foods affect ones long term health? Obviously, negatively. If ideal health is a result of 80% diet and 20% exercise then the diet has the bigger affect. Physical activity is easy to get in if the effort is made to incorporate this as a new habit or routine. But how do we get rid of foods laced with pesticides, air pollution and water containing prescription drugs and toxic metals? We all have to breathe drink water. There are only so many variables we can control but diet is one of them. A whole foods plant based diet is ideal for everyone and the sooner it’s started the better.
The logical choice is a 100% whole foods plant based diet like Henry’s. The less processed a food, the better. The more organic foods in our diet, the better. He doesn’t keep stats, count his calories or measure how many grams of protein he eats each day. Henry’s eating style is intuitive, contains no animal products and it’s working for him. His only tracking device is his Fitbit. Maybe we could all try the same….
To your health, a clean environment and a cruelty free world.