Boy, is there ever a lot of information out there about how to eat and be healthy-to live up to our own personal potential. Medical doctors, who once knew nothing about nutrition are weighing in on this issue which, in the short and long term, affects every one of us. Colleen Patrick-Goudreau, an ever present voice in the vegan community mentioned in one of her Food for Thought Podcasts, that the desire to enjoy good health is universal- It is not exclusively vegan or non vegan.
I encounter a lot of dissent in the vegan community about whether eating and being healthy is a goal or a benefit of being and living vegan. According to the definition of veganism coined in 1944 by Donald Watson:
Veganism denotes a philosophy and way of living which seeks to exclude — as far as is possible and practical — all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose; and by extension, promotes the development and use of animal-free alternatives for the benefit of humans, animals and the environment. In dietary terms it denotes the practice of dispensing with all products derived wholly or partly from animals
It is very clear that the goal of veganism is to end the exploitation of nonhuman beings. And by exploit, Watson means use in any way , the beings with whom we share this earth. The issue of our own health and personal gain does not even appear in the definition. In other words, veganism is all about the nonhumans we enslave, abuse, steal from and ultimately kill for our wants, not needs.
And I believe in this. I am not sure there is any middle ground but yet, good health is important for all of us. So, is it possible to be a vegan and live according to the principles set out by Donald Watson, while still being warriors in the area of our own health? My short answer is, most definitely, yes! Let’s all be the best we can be.
To this end, I am becoming acquainted with the leading experts out there in the area of plant based nutrition. Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, who worked as a surgeon at the Cleveland clinic in Ohio has this to say about heart disease.
I don’t want my patients to pour a single thimbleful of gasoline [oil, meat, dairy] on the fire. Stopping the gasoline puts out [and prevents] the fire. Reforming the way you eat will end [and prevent] the heart disease.
Now, we all know that if we don’t have a healthy heart, we don’t have a whole heck of a lot in terms of quality of life and longevity. So how can we advocate for nonhumans if we are incapacitated or dead? For vegans, the meat and dairy is a no brainer, but what about the oil? You know -all those processed oils that have been marketed as being heart healthy? There is olive oil, sesame seed oil, coconut oil (which, BTW is 100% artery clogging, saturated fat), walnut oil, flax oil, and the list goes on……
According to Esselstyn, it doesn’t matter if they are refined or not, filtered or not. They are still 100% liquid fat and are death for the human body. We can’t process them. We store them in the tissue in our bodies and in our arteries. They are not the same as the fats that are naturally occurring in plant foods, such as quinoa and yes, even broccoli. He does however, exclude nuts, seeds and avocados from the heart healthy naturally occurring fats in plants. He says that, for those who have already been diagnosed with heart disease, nuts, seeds and avoacados are too high in fat too eat at all, never mind daily.
Dr. Esselstyn is not just spouting theories about heart health. He treats his patients using this method of plant based eating and has conducted studies with heart patients for more than twenty years. He and his wife have been plant based for nearly thirty years. So he walks the talk. I don’t know if he is vegan. He doesn’t seem to get into that in any of the videos and articles that I have watched and read.
This is a very interesting video that I watched this last Friday. Dr. Esselstyn explains how the heart and body work and why, medically speaking , the average age of the onset of heart disease in North America is decreasing as we speak. The beginning of heart disease is seen sometimes in teens and regularly in people in their twenties. Holy smokes! This is frightening!!
Please watch it and then let’s talk about how to be healthy in a industry driven society that is promoting poor human health in order to bolster the health of their bottom line.
Annie’s Vegan View
Veganism and good nutrition and vitality are not mutually exclusive, even though the goal of veganism is nonhuman animal liberation.
Being the healthiest you can be is a gift you can give to yourself, to those in your inner circle and to all other beings who rely on you for your help.
Take some time to look beyond what someone is trying to sell you and do some research about the human body and what it needs to thrive.
You are worth it!
May all beings be happy and free.
6 thoughts on “Dr. Esselstyn and the health of our heart”
Thank you for this clip Annie. I am also a fan of Dr. Esselstyn but was surprised to learn that he doesn’t approve of eating nuts. I thought they would be good for us as rich in fiber, poli-unsaturated fats and essential minerals. Also surprised he’s anti-smoothie as being too high in fructose. The Gerson Method is all about juicing so I am conflicted about these two different approaches.
I agree with you that the Plant Based Diet, although it advocates for a Vegan lifestyle, stands on its own and doesn’t include in his Manifesto the cruelty-free/compassion towards non human animals that is the essence of Veganism.
Perhaps, as Vegans, we may be more sensitive to Dr. Esselstyn’s message as already familiar with many ‘restrictions’ in our diet (although I don’t like the word ‘restrictions’ as I have never felt I was sacrificing when abandoning my old diet) or because we take more time to inform about our food to make sure we don’t miss any crucial nutrients. I am wondering though, if it’s also an ‘age’ factor? Meaning, when we pass our 40s we may be more concerned about our health and lifespan. I watch and abhor as way too many Vegan Food recipes abound in coconut oil, cream and butter!
I am reading your comment after just walking into our hotel room. We spent the weekend attending the Engine2Diet Plant Stock at the Esselstyn Farm in New York State. There were wonderful plant strong speakers as well as wonderful food. I am super excited to share what I learned about nuts and juicing and smoothies. This will be in an upcoming post.
The weekend was not about veganism. I think that it is still an emotionally charged issue. Maybe they feel it would get in the way of the message they are trying to get out there. I have no idea if they are even vegan. But as I have said before-a healthy vegan is a productive vegan and that is where I want to be headed.
I am looking forward to hear all about your weekend at Esselstyn Farm and your insights. Thank you!
I am looking forward to sharing! Gonna get on it tomorrow!
Thank you for your article. I enjoyed reading it and also watching the talk by Dr Esselstyn. It struck me how much money goes into treating these conditions through medication and surgery whereas not much at all goes into preventing these illnesses through a plant based diet. Not only can it slow the progression but also reverse it, even when genetic factors are taken into consideration.
I particularly liked the talk by his wife Ann Crile Esselstyn who is a plant based advocate. I learned a lot from her about the foods which are good for us and not so good for us. I did not know that oil was so bad for us. I thought olive oil was good for us in small amounts. I tend to use olive oil or almond oil when cooking and coconut oil when baking. After watching this I will be giving the vegetable broth a go, that she talks about. I know I use far too much oil, especially when I fry mushrooms or aubergine as it just tends to absorb it all.
I will also be trying to eat more leafy greens, beans, lentils and whole grains. I like her idea of using the big leaves of greens as a wrap and filling with hummous and vegetables. It sounds delicious.
I am also going to try the oats for breakfast with blueberries and banana. At the moment I usually have toast for breakfast with home made jam but I know I eat far too much bread and I am not sure it is good for us. As winter is fast approaching the idea of a warming bowl of oats made with unsweetened almond milk sounds like a welcome treat.
Thanks so much for this Anne! It has given me so many good ideas for making changes to my diet.
Glad you enjoyed the article. We can always include more fruits and veggies in our diet and switch it up from time to time, just to keep things fresh and our taste buds satisfied.