Last Updated Jun 22, 2011 1:00 PM EDT
What if you could decrease your chances of getting cancer by 40%? Or heart disease by 50%? How about type II diabetes by 60%? A recent study by the Physician's Committee for Responsible Medicine found that these health benefits are possible from following a vegetarian diet. A vegan diet will decrease your chances of these diseases even more!
To many Americans, the thought of eliminating meat, fish, eggs, and dairy from their diet sounds like a nightmare. In the following interview, vegan expert Kathy Freston reveals how it's possible to follow a plant-based diet without giving up the foods you love. Chicken, cheese and ice cream--every food you love!--all have vegan substitutes that taste great and have high nutritional values. The small changes you make in your everyday diet will make a huge impact in your overall health.
Here's an excerpt from our interview and be sure to listen to the full Kathy Freston Vegan interview on Richer Life Insights.
ROBERT: Okay. So for a lot of people when they hear that they think, "Wow! That's really different than how I eat today." It's kind of a radical shift. And so, I'm wondering if you can talk about why someone would want to forgo eating meat, eating cheese, drinking milk--all of these things that we were brought up to do. Why would someone want to stop doing that? Like, what's in it for them?
KATHY: Well, let's start off with your physical health. Okay? So, a vegan diet helps you to get healthy, helps you to get to a healthy weight because plant foods are naturally high in nutrition, low in fat and have no cholesterol. Vegan food is also full of fiber, so, that makes you feel full and it turns off the hunger signal. And by the way, no, animal foods have a shred of fiber--not any. So, fiber moves through your body like a scrub brush, and it keeps your plumbing working, if you know what I mean.
ROBERT: I do.
KATHY: And because you are avoiding all the saturated fats from meat and dairy, you can prevent and reverse many of the diseases that plague our culture, like heart disease, Type II diabetes, even certain types of cancer. So, when you lean toward a vegan diet rather than an animal based one, you start getting these health benefits fairly quickly. In fact, within the first week, you begin to drop weight; within the second week, your blood pressure and blood sugar goes down; and within the third week, your cholesterol drop significantly. And so, that's all in under a month you're going to see these health benefits. So, that's an enormous change. And, you know, when I said what a vegan is, is about not eating anything from an animal, but I want to emphasize that there's so many great foods that you can eat. So, rather than focusing on what you're not eating, think about all the great beans and legumes and whole grains and pastas and yams and veggies and fruits and all these high protein meat alternatives that you're going to really have hearty delicious food, and they're basically going to be very similar to the thing that you grew up loving, but just veganist version of them. So--
ROBERT: And, you know, my experience has been because I have been a vegetarian for three years, and after reading your book I'm now a vegan with the slight modification (we can talk about later), but when I first started thinking about giving up meat and, more recently, giving up dairy, it was really in my mind a huge, huge undertaking. Like, in my mind it was completely life altering if I had to give up these kinds of things.
ROBERT: But what I discovered is that, once you get into it, it's really not that radical after all, like you talked about. There are so many wonderful foods you can eat, and it's not so much what you're giving up, it's really what you're gaining from it.
Be sure to listen to the full Kathy Freston Vegan interview on Richer Life Insights.
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