The cost of treating diseases has been a scandal lately. Truthfully speaking, the debate is all about medical insurance, not healthcare. The real issue driving the national argument remains largely unacknowledged.
Healthcare is our own responsibility, and to the extent that we’ve failed to take care of our health, we’ve opted to place that responsibility solely on the medical profession, like careless drivers who wreck their cars and leave it to a body shop to make things right—only to go out and continue the same pattern of self-destructive behavior.
I had been living—comparatively speaking—a very healthy lifestyle for many years. I had been getting plenty of exercise, eating a lot of organic fruits and vegetables, and taking all the right supplements. Yet my metabolism was slowing down, and for the first time in my life, I was developing a belly bulge. My cholesterol was high and on a steady upward trend.
Shortly after I finished writing Speed Vegan, my doctor confronted me with the bad news that my cholesterol level had rocketed to 289. He urged me to begin taking statins right away. I countered with a radical idea: I would just stop eating animals. He was incredulous, perhaps because patients are typically unreliable regarding diet, but I was clear and committed. From the moment I made the pronouncement, I dropped all animal-based foods.
By the third day, I was a new man. It was as if I had been living with brain fog, and it lifted. My energy levels soared and I began to need less sleep. My metabolism picked up. I shed ten pounds effortlessly. After three months, a new test showed a total cholesterol count of 208. By six months, it was at 130.
Let’s be clear, however, in case someone reading this is becoming inspired to take the plunge. I didn’t just omit the animal products and eat what remained in my former diet—a real problem with some new vegans. I was careful to ensure that I continued to get the nutrients formerly provided by meat and dairy. I found ample sources of plant protein, and started taking additional vitamin B-12 supplements.
Here’s my point: the single most effective thing I’ve ever done to reform healthcare was to stop eating flesh and dairy. But I’m not finished—I’m still learning about what works and what doesn’t. I’m not adhering to a static set of rules like a religious convert. I’m paying close attention to my body’s responses and following my heart all the way. I still consider myself an omnivore (I can eat anything), but I’m constantly refining my choices and becoming an ever more discriminating gourmet. And, to borrow a line from a notorious fast food joint, “I’m lovin’ it.”