It all began with a documentary… Forks Over Knives. Actually, this story starts a couple of years before watching the movie that literally changed my life and launched the movement known as “Vegan For One Day”.
As a forty-something with two kids and a wonderful marriage, I always considered myself happy and healthy. I ate well, never had a weight problem, and exercised on occasion. But in hindsight I realize that all was not as it seemed. At least not in the truest sense of the word “healthy”.
One day I noticed that I had a small pain on my left side. Don’t worry, this isn’t one of those horrific stories of young guys getting a heart attack and leaving loved ones behind, but it was certainly something that got me worried. Was this the start of a real issue? Was really healthy or just getting by? What would happen to my loved ones if I wasn’t here? Do I have enough life insurance? This small episode had me worried. In fact, so much so, that I met with my insurance guy and got a physical before considering this issue resolved.
Fast forward. During the summer of 2015, there was quite a bit of loss in my family. Within a two week span we said goodbye to a grandmother and my wife’s mom. Add the complexity of losing my mother at the age of 19 and my dad’s recent visit to the cardiologist and things started to unravel. Not to mention that little pain in my chest was back again. I took it as a sign to get myself to the doctor.
As is typical with me, I wasn’t about to wait for a doctor to tell me that I wasn’t as healthy as I thought or that I need to take medication for some ailment, eat better, and exercise more. So I started searching for answers while I made an appointment with my doctor and a cardiologist… and things started to change for the better.
One day I got home after a long day at work and my daughter Sami said, “Daddy, you have to watch this documentary, Forks Over Knives”. To which I replied, “Maybe later”. A few days after that, she was back at it again, “Daddy, you have to watch this. Can you just watch for a little while?” “Okay Sami, I’ll watch with you,” I told her. We watched the documentary and it had a real impact on me and my daughter.
The only way to explain my reaction to watching the documentary was like that scene in the Wizard of Oz where you’re confronted by this threatening voice and image only to find out that it’s a little old man – the so called “wizard” behind the curtain. My eyes had finally been opened regarding the food we eat, how it impacts our health, and the environment. It got me hungry for more, much more.
The next step was to see what other resources were available to confirm or deny what my daughter Sami and I had just seen. This wasn’t something to take lightly. Everything I had been told up to this point, about health and well-being, was now in question. As an educated person and successful business person (I have an undergraduate from Rutgers, a Master’s degree for Northwestern, published 5 books, held leadership positions at a number of public and private companies, built and sold my own business, and continue to consult for large corporations), I know that you need multiple references before accepting something as fact, and you can’t believe everything you’re told. That’s called common sense.
There were a number of additional resources that put me over the top. Others had traveled this road before and left very clear messages that separate fact from fiction. Regardless of your position, you can’t deny the large studies, videos from inside the slaughter houses, and numbers around health, disease, and obesity – just look around, it’s not a hard conclusion to validate. These resources included:
- Forks Over Knives: Lee Fulkerson and John Corry:
- Food, Inc.: Eric Schlosser and Michael Pollan
- Vegucated: Marisa Miller Wolfson
- Eat to Live: Dr. Joel Fuhrman
- The China Study: T. Colin Campbell
You can find all types of information on the web about the impact of nutrition on health but these are the materials that appear to be most widely accepted, validated, and real. Instead of debating whose information was right and whose was wrong, I figured it would be more real if I simply made the changes in my own life and noticed any change.
Okay, I’m never eating meat again
What I’m about to say is totally extreme and will set some people off. But after spending the time to watch, listen, learn, check the facts, and changing what I consumer, it has to be said. The dairy industry, beef industry, and even government subsidies all point to one thing – profit. And it doesn’t serve you. Don’t get me wrong, I love making money but I also have morals. I believe that getting rich on the backs of the American people with false and misleading information that make them sick is not okay. It’s certainly not okay for me or not for my children.
After having this immersive experience and learning about the negative impact that meat and dairy guidelines have on my own health, I decided to make a personal change. As such I’m never eating meat again and avoiding dairy. Okay, spoiler alert, “Never” doesn’t actually mean never. Trying to conform to some extreme is pointless. Life is too short to be stressed out about adhering to unrealistic guidelines and I know that from being an adult. Eggs are in practically everything and small portions of dairy can be difficult to avoid. But I have adopted a Vegan lifestyle to the best of my ability. This means salads for lunch, whole grains, lots of fruits and vegetables, little if no dairy, and no meat.
Since being on a largely Vegan diet, my congestion is no longer a concern, an issue that 20 years of going to the allergist never solved, my cholesterol is now around 150, and I’m feeling a lot better. Not to mention blood work that would impress any doctor… I’ll be posting my latest numbers online. I even gave up my daily vitamin after 35 years that someone told me I had to take when most studies show little if any affect. The upshot is that having a Vegan lifestyle (without being 100% ridged) is making a difference for me. But why else have I decided to do this?
It’s not just about me
My kids are exposed to the same nonsense I heard as a kid like “Drink your milk”, “Eating meat is the only way to get protein”, etc. Did you know that protein is found it natural foods, not just animal products? For example, 51% of the calories from spinach are protein! FACT, check it out– do the research yourself, question everything. You will find tons of conflicting information about how much protein is in what, but all the doctors and nutritionists agree that protein is available in fruits and vegetables, beans, nuts, and legumes – not just meat. When it comes to your health YOU are responsible and you shouldn’t blindly follow someone else’s guidelines.
As you learn more about the impact certain foods have on your health and the impact they have on the planet, I think you’ll be surprised. I know I was. After learning so much about something so important, my daughter and I decided to make a change and wanted to share what we learned with others. At the same time, we quickly realized that not everyone is interested in making the changes we’ve made. However, it is important for individuals to make informed choices about what they’re putting into their bodies..
This is where the idea for “Vegan For One Day” came from. By eliminating meat and dairy and adding nutritious foods to your diet like fresh fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, and legumes, has a significant and positive impact on your health and the state of our planet. My personal belief is that saving just a portion of the 50+ Billion (yes, that’s billion with a “B”) animals that are slaughtered annually to feed our growing population isn’t all that bad either. In fact, it’s one of the primary reasons I chose to walk down this path.
Realizing the world isn’t going to change after watching a few documentaries, my daughter asked the question, “Well, what if everyone gave up meat for a day or a week? That has to count for something.” And she was right. You have to walk before you run. So why not try it for a single day? Before my transformation, I was eating meat 2x/day, 7 days per week. That’s a lot of genetically modified chicken and corn fed beef. By the way, cattle naturally consume grass but in order to grow them bigger, faster, and meatier, they are corn fed. And by the way, chances are that Monsanto seeds were used by the farmers to grow the corn. Don’t even get me started.
Vegan for One Day
Major life changes are not easy for anyone. Sometimes it’s a heart attack, the loss of a loved one, or another significant event that forces change. That’s why choice is so important. Being able to make a change on your own terms is always a plus. It’s also why starting a movement that asks and expects people to make a permanent and radical change to do something so personal (like what they put in their bodies every day) is just unrealistic.
Our goal here is to simply start with education. Maybe if we all had access to the information, we’d start to see trends and make more informed decisions. That’s reason fewer people smoke cigarettes today and die from lung cancer – education. Yes, some people choose to smoke and suffer the consequences and that’s okay…but they had access to the information to make informed choices.
Choosing to become Vegan isn’t an all or nothing proposition, at least not for my daughter and me. Our goal is to eat a vegan diet most of the time. As a result of our approach, we are healthier, feel great, will live longer, and are doing our part to save the planet.
The best place to start, after you understand the benefits of a vegan style diet, is to give it a try. Sami and I would like you to join us. GO VEGAN FOR ONE DAY. Why only one day? To prove to yourself that you can do it. Even going vegan for just one day will save precious water, reduce greenhouse gases and start you on the path to better health.
That’s our story, what’s yours? Join us today by signing the pledge and going vegan for one day. We are honored to have you support our cause.