Going Vegan: My Diet of 2018

Lately, there has been a rush to protect health. While I don’t put all of my marbles into mass media, the world has been screaming about wellness so loudly that it’s shaken me up. And, of course, when I hear that “fried foods cause cancer” and “salt equals strokes”, I get a little on edge. 

Something I don’t often share:

I have a crippling phobia of cancer. 

No, really, it consumes my thoughts. This fear has fatigued me—watching others brace it, hearing of distant and close deaths, even watching my Great Uncle surge through pancreatic cancer and survive. Odds are, you know someone who’s felt the plague of cancer on their family or themselves. And it is unnerving.

So, as 2018 jogged around the corner (I have a lot of hope for this year), I bounced into the nutrition faction of the Internet, only to find that unless you were part of a “diet clique” (for lack of a better term), there was no raw health option for those of us who just want to eat… better. You need to be sacrificing something, or supplementing something. I am not a dieter. I refuse to imprison myself behind paleo or veganism (although I can’t say it’s a bad idea).

Then, I did the English major thing and scrounged for the best medical and science-based books on our New York Times Bestseller List. And, though the journey be long, within two Amazon Prime days’ time, I was neck-deep into Dr. Greger’s “How Not To Die.” Finally, finally, an M.D.’s honest oversight into the epidemic of drugs over diets, how certain foods are fueling our American illness, and how certain foods can fix it (YES! Fixable!).

So, I’ve nearly cracked it:

how to achieve miraculous health while having my cake and eating it too. 

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And, as I go on my merry way, I’ll be sharing the successes and pitfalls of eating for your health and not solely for your body. 

So, what’s the big idea?

Every chapter of the book covers a new disease. “How Not To Die From Brain Diseases” and “How Not To Die From Digestive Cancers” yields all the nutritional yes’s and no’s when it comes down to the nitty gritty from Alzheimer’s to stomach cancer. And the findings? Time to exchange our dairy-based everything for a leafier lifestyle. 

The book is honest, and explains the different organisms in foods that, through a whole macrocosm of studies (literally, a quarter of the book is bibliography), fought and won against disease and cancer cells. So, we’re adding significantly to our diets.

What are we eating that’s wrong?

The book author, Dr. Michael Greger, donates all the proceeds of his book to charity. If that isn’t a man enslaved by his dedication to American health, I don’t know what is.  

According to many (most, but I’m trying to be diplomatic) tests, the thing we’re doing wrong doesn’t require removal of something as much as it requires the addition of good things. Our plant intake has got to increase. We are born herbivores with carnivorous instincts, chewing our way through so much red meat and chicken that we’ve become rabid and our bodies are missing the vital parts of Mother Earth. 

And it isn’t the red meat and chicken that’s so bad as it is the industries that yield them. Stuffing these critters with bad blood, feces, and all kinds of kitchen killers will eventually mean downfall for our bodies. 

How am I going to change?

Dr. Greger’s book is chock-full of solutions and preventative measures (most of them in the form of berries, which I’m cool with). We’re adding flax seeds, oats, whole wheat, and loads and loads of kale to our cupboards this week. And axing out cow’s milk, cutting down on salt, and swapping out our dairy for the cashew and almond life. But, since I am still a born again baker, I feel no problem continuing to add free range, organic eggs to the occasional weekend banana bread. They just won’t be part of our daily meals. Also, while the book doesn’t highlight the dangers of sugar (unless we’re talking Chapter 6, “How Not To Die From Diabetes”), I’ve cut sugar out of my weekday eating, but help myself on the weekends to whatever is in range. You can’t reasonably cut off my sugar supply. I won’t live.

In all honesty, these things are easy. The changes are none more than a clever challenge, really. Addie versus Legumes. Sorhaitz v Spinach. If you’re with me, let’s talk. I’ve got an arsenal of recipes ready to rumble, and I’ll be posting them and updating you weekly on the next best thing I’ve come up with from my studies and findings. Onward!