By now, most of my readers know that I've been eating a whole food plant-based diet for almost a decade now. My oldest daughter started the transition at age 3 and my youngest at age 1. Although I now advocate for a vegan lifestyle, health was the initial and main reason that motivated this transition, not the planet, not the animals. If you've read my first couple of blog posts, you might remember me mentioning my challenges with asthma, eczema, urticaria, dyspepsia and heart burn, as well as the medical condition that finally tipped the balance for me, "cholinergic angioedema", an allergic condition that put me in a hospital and scared the hell out of me.
Witnessing my daughters suffer from these same conditions is what convinced me that I had no choice but to change. I thought I was eating a healthy diet, but after scouring the medical and nutrition literature, I noticed a common and recurring theme. This "dietary pattern" claimed to be the evidence-based way to achieve optimal health. At that point, even with a PhD in medicine, I still fell victim to some of the typical stereotypes associated with vegan or vegetarian diets. I pictured frail and weak hippies with flowers in their hair and wondered how they had managed to escape the grips of the chronic diseases that keep my medical practice so busy. Then I learned how a plant-based diet focused more on what people ate, instead of the things they avoid, like veganism and vegetarianism. For some people, preventing animal cruelty is what fueled their transition, and a balanced and nutritionally adequate diet maybe wasn't their main focus. In these circumstances, issues with some nutrients of concern may arise if careful consideration isn't given to ensuring nutritional adequacy.
But I was an athlete. I couldn't afford to lose muscle mass or to risk compromising athletic performance when I've dedicated most of my life to sports. My goal was to become healthier, faster and stronger, not