It wasn’t planned.
Last October my doctor told me my cholesterol was twice as high as it should be, well into the danger zone. He said he was going to put me on medication that I would have to take for the rest of my life. “I want you to start right away but I’ll give you eight weeks to change your diet. Eat less red meat, eat chicken breasts—the white meat only, and fish … ” I had already been eating this way for quite some time (as the rest of my life was falling apart, I’d thought this was the one thing I was doing right) but I said nothing as I panicked and my morale sank even lower into something beneath depression; I went underneath that and entered the realm of sub-depression.
His clear blue eyes looked straight into mine as he continued, “That might lower it a bit but it won’t be enough, so we’ll do another blood test in eight weeks and then I’ll put you on the medication.” I think the good doc might have been doing some sort of psychological aikido motivational thing here, because without saying a word to him I decided right there at that instant that I was going to be—no, I was now from that moment on, a vegetarian.
Back home, I sent a message to my friend Nana: “Can you recommend one book or resource to start off with? … I’m concerned about getting enough protein and about finding out what can actually help reduce cholesterol and oh, yeah, on top of that, I have to lose 25 pounds. So a few lifestyle changes are obviously in order. And I hate tofu! So I’m sort of up the creek, here. I’m off to a vegetarian restaurant … Never thought I’d see the day …”
Half an hour later I sent her another message: “So I nixed the restaurant idea … and am enjoying (?) my own bizarre creation: a spinach, cantaloupe, almond and sesame seed salad (without dressing). Can’t say I’m a fan, and I’m feeling slightly bogus, like an imposter or something …
Nana got back to me a half hour later. She mentioned something called The China Study, and provided a link to a video of Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, who she told me “is famous for treating Bill Clinton.”
She suggested following the video with a look at a vegetarian/vegan food guide pyramid, and mentioned a Dr. Greger and a Dr. Barnard. I didn’t get far enough to actually read anything. I Googled the China Study and saw way more reading material than I had the energy to confront. I got halfway through the video and stopped it. I had no mental energy left to figure out whether or not I was going to use olive oil or something else. I’d made the decision. I was going to make this as simple as possible: vegetarianism was now already behind me – I was now a vegan. Done.
I had no idea how to proceed or what groceries to buy and I felt overwhelmed and terrified but I knew that one thing: I was now a vegan. Done.
So that happened.
It’s almost a year later I’m still on the vegan path.
Thank you, Nana. More to follow.