Two years ago my now cooking assistant walked into one of our classes as a student. Little did I know she was on a mission to save her husband’s life. Below is his story on how and why he adopted a vegan diet.
So there I was sitting in my cardiologist office, and after running every test under the sun, the Dr. looks at me and says, “David, you’re going to die! You’re headed down a one way street towards disaster, and if you don’t turn around and find a new path, you’re soon going to die.”
Now let me set this scene for you: I had just turned 30 years old. My wife and I were happily married with two kids (both under the age of 3), and like most every other young family, food was not the priority in life. Meals generally consisted of which drive-thru would be least likely to recognize us, and when we did cook at home it was usually a combination of the quickest foods we could get to the table (lots of frozen goods, or chicken on the grill). Anything fast and easy!
But one night I found myself lying in bed and my left arm started to go numb a bit, and my fingers started to tingle. It was pretty sporadic, and I was quite confident that I wasn’t having a heart attack, but it got my attention for sure.
The next day I got up and headed off to work. I was talking to my Dad and told him what I experienced the night before, and he told me to call right away and see if I could get in to see the doctor.
I saw the cardiologist and he looked me over – up down – left right – even did an exploratory surgical heart catheter (let me tell you, it wasn’t fun). Long story short, the test results concluded that I didn’t have a heart attach (YET), but I did have a rare heart defect from birth. It was fairly slight, and only became unmasked because of the weight my body was carrying, and the amount of work my heart had to do to support myself.
The Dr. told me I needed to quickly find a way to not only drop some weight, but more importantly to get HEART HEALTHY. He said “David, if you want to be here to see your kids grow up, and live to old age with your wife, you need to find what will work for you and get at it.”
I WAS TERRIFIED!
All I could think about was my family (who I love more than anything in the whole world), and at the same time I had all these questions floating around in my head: How was I going to go home and tell my wife this news? Where do I begin to find information? What does “heart healthy” even mean??
That night my wife and I talked, and she was awesome! She’s always been my biggest cheerleader, and advocate in everything in life, and she truly shined here!! She put her nose to the grindstone and set about finding what to do while I on the other hand did what any guy in my situation would do - I jetted off to Las Vegas on a boys trip for the weekend.
When I returned she sat me down (my life kind of felt like a mafia movie with all the “sit-downs”), and told me everything she’s read, and all the information she can find, keeps pointing back to a plant-based lifestyle. She explained to me everything it was – all the things it wasn’t – and said becoming vegan is the most heart healthy way of living! She said: It’s not just for people fighting cancer, and not just for people with heart issues, it’s for anyone who wants to live a long healthy life, and we’re going to do it together!!
I said “F that!! I’m a man! I need to eat meat! I love milk way too much to give up! Thanks, but we’re going to have to find something else because that’s not me.”
She looked at me (with that look only wives and mothers can give) and asked softly, “David do you trust me?” I said, “of course I do.” She replied, “Then SHUT UP. Eat what I feed you for the next 30 days, and don’t say a word about it until the 30 days is up!”
I said OK! What could I do? Besides I had been a yoyo dieter my whole life so what’s another 30 days of something. No sweat I thought.
Well, the transition to veganism didn’t get off to an amazing start. There were a number of recipes that met the garbage disposal, and a few meals out that we would have liked to of dined & dashed on, but we we’re committed to giving it a chance, and quickly found some new foods we really did like, and eventually found our groove. Then a crazy thing happened. About three weeks into that 30 days we were eating dinner together (I had been eating what she told me to eat, and reading what she told me to read), and I turned to my wife and said “if this is really what being vegan is, then I’m all in.” And I never turned back!
It was 2 years ago that I walked out of that Dr. office (scared, with five expensive medial prescriptions, and tipping the scales at 315lbs).
And, here I am today: More than 100 lbs lighter. A proud, healthy, vegan man!
In that first year alone my cholesterol went from 290 – 107, and I lost about 60lbs. The most amazing part about it was that my Dr. had put me under orders for zero physical activity (for almost all of that 1st year so he could monitor my heart due to the abnormality). So those numbers were strictly (I repeat STRICTLY) a result of the foods I was eating.
Now some will say: David, obviously you had those kind of results. As heavy as you were your numbers were bound to drop. Maybe so, however, one of the things I absolutely love most about being vegan is that while I achieved those kind of results, I didn’t have to diet! I didn’t have to count calories – drink shakes – count Weight Watcher points – I SIMPLY had to be vegan – Truth be told, I didn’t even really practice portion control.
Just recently, my wife and I welcomed our third child (our first “veggie-baby”), and the experience of watching her carry him as a vegan was truly magical. The difference in her pregnancy (compared to her previous ones being non-vegan) was quite unique, and I attribute some of the amazingly blessed health of our new son to the nutrients he consumed (and the foods he didn’t) while in the womb.
There is tremendous power in the foods we eat, and as you can see becoming vegan didn’t just change my life, it prolonged it!
Cauliflower steak, huh? I know it does not sound too appetizing, really - but if you enjoy roasted cauliflower at all, you are going to flip for this. This recipe, by the Bon Appetit Test Kitchen is absolutely delightful! The earthy roasted cauli paired with the raw processed cauli florets/black olives/sundried tomato relish is a perfect pair. It’s a smart and sophisticated, yet simple dish to prepare.
My friend Ellie created this recipe ( or just list of ingredients) and wrote it on my kitch. wall. The idea is to add as much or little of any ingredient until it suits your palate.
We are in the middle of a house re-hab, so writing on the walls is really not that strange. The Man says it looks like a serial killer lives here.
True, I will never win any awards for beautiful pictures, but I’m pretty sure this dish will make up for in taste what it lacks in this photo.
Next time you are jonsing for hot wings drenched in Franks Hot Wing Sauce and then need a cooling off ranch dip to dunk your wings into, try this instead.
This vegan dish will give you all the old favorite flavors you desire without any cholesterol, saturated fat and ridiculously high calories.
Franks Buffalo Wing Tempeh and Ranch Salad
What You Need
2 C dark mixed greens - cleaned
1 8 oz package of tempeh – cut into bite size cubes
1 red onion chopped
½ C carrots - shredded
½ C kidney beans
¼ C celery - sliced
¼ C Franks Buffalo Wing Sauce
½ C prepared vegan ranch dressing
This is the recipe I used for the dressing: http://vegweb.com/index.php?topic=22174.0
What You Do:
Place all your mixed greens into a large bowl.
In a frying pan, put your tempeh and Franks Sauce over medium heat.
In a separate frying pan, either use a little bit of oil or water and then heat up your onions until soft. About ½ way through, add your carrots, just to get them soft as well. Once the onions begin to caramelize a bit, transfer the mixture to the greens in the bowl.
By this time the tempeh should be very hot. Transfer this too, to your greens on top of the onion/carrot mixture. Place kidney beans and celery into bowl and mix well.
Add your ranch dressing and mix again.
I mentioned on Twitter that I was going to take this to a party last night and have received quite a number of requests for it. I saved some for myself so I have it for my toast in the morning (no, I am not hungover…). So, yes, it IS that versatile; take it to a party, spread it on your toast on the morning or even use it in your wrap at lunch. Ditch your fatty butter, mayo, or whatever other crappy oily condiments you have lurking in your fridge and replace with this hummus. Don’t like Franks? (you weirdo), just omit it and you still have a damn good spread.
Franks Buffalo Wing Hot Sauce Hummus
WHAT YOU NEED:
2 14 OZ cans Garbanzo Beans (I like Eden Brand)
1 C vegetable broth (the amount will vary depending upon how thick you like your hummus)
2 cloves garlic
2 TBS tahini
2-3 TBS Braggs Liquid Aminos (or soy sauce)
1 TBS lemon juice
3-4 TBS Franks Buffalo Wing Hot Sauce
WHAT YOU DO:
Puree beans through lemon juice. Once smooth, slowly pour in Franks as food processor / blender is still running.
Recently, the fine folks at Great Day Saint Louis took a chance on me again and we whipped up a deliciously sinless avocado chocolate mousse. This treat requires only six ingredients all of which you can not only recognize, but you may already have in your pantry.
This is all you need:
Process all ingredients in a food processor until smooth. Serve immediately or let it set up in the fridge. Serve with strawberries and fresh mint.