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‘Veggie Testimonial’: Reflections From a Vegan Nurse

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'Veggie Testimonial': Reflections From a Vegan Nurse by Guest BloggerJust a reminder: Please do not treat the below as a replacement for medical or any other professional adviceif necessary, please do consult with a qualified specialist who can advise you on your individual needs.

I always found it ironic that people with a chronic illness would prefer to take a pill to mask the symptoms of a disease rather than eliminate the very thing that is causing the disease in the first place. For example, over the years, I have witnessed many cases of patients with cholesterol issues. We all know that saturated fat comes primarily from eating animal flesh and results in elevated cholesterol and clogged arteries. Also, dietary cholesterol is only found in animal foods (it’s produced in the liver). Common sense then dictates that the smartest thing to do to improve your cholesterol levels is to reduce your intake of saturated fat by reducing your intake of animal products. But instead, I have seen many people take the “easy” way out by resorting to medications, which only mask or temporarily relieve symptoms instead of eliminating the root of the problem. And the medication itself can even add another problem to the mix—pharmaceutical side effects!

I will always remember one day from the 1980s when I was a young nurse on the heart and stroke ward. I was taking breakfast to one of the heart patients, and it struck me that the type of food I was serving could actually be causing some of the very problems that put the patients in the hospital in the first place. Breakfast was bacon, eggs, and toast slathered with butter. Lunch was a hamburger with cheese and a big glass of milk. Dinner was roast beef, potatoes au gratin, and some limp, lifeless string beans! I decided to ask one of the doctors why we were doing this on the heart and stroke ward. The doctor’s response was to ask me where I had heard that meat was bad, and I replied that I had read it in Prevention magazine. I will never forget his response. He looked straight at me and said, “You can’t believe everything you read.” At that point, I knew that there was something wrong with the “health-care” industry.

I went vegetarian myself, quit working on the heart and stroke ward, and went into another specialty. I just could not continue to serve people the very food that was making them sick. Now 30 years later at age 64, I am vegan and have enjoyed perfect health and have lots of vitality and energy. I give the credit to my vegan diet. I wish that everyone had the joy of feeling so good.

One thing I have learned from being a nurse for so many years is that prevention is always the best route to take. For long-term health, the wiser decision will always be to eat foods that promote health instead of those that cause disease. Who wants to spend their golden years with heart disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes, obesity, doctor’s visits, hospital stays, surgery, expenses, limitations, pain, and misery?

I have seen many cases that could have been prevented by simple changes in diet that not only promote healthy living but also are humane and pain-free. I think if I could go back and advise some of the patients I saw, I would beg them to realize that they are killing themselves one forkful at a time. ”Put down that pork chop and run directly to the produce section of the market! It’s time to pursue the good life.”

It has taken the medical establishment a long time even to admit that meat is the culprit in causing many diseases, but now that we know what to omit for the sake of health, we can remove what causes these diseases. The word is out there in books, newspapers, and television. The research indicates that eating meat is linked to heart disease, strokes, certain types of cancer, and more. The good news is that it is easy to prevent killing ourselves with our forks. It’s simple, and it’s good for us, animals, and the planet.

Go vegan for a win-win!

Sandy Boss, R.N., is a vegan animal rights activist and long-time PETA supporter.

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    Laura says...

    May 28th, 2009, 2:46 pm

    The vegan diet is a terrific option for disease prevention. My husband and I are vegan for animal-rights issues, but we have found that the health benefits are a real plus. I would much rather eat a delicious tofu stir-fry than pop a pill to control my cholesterol. Some great info here Sandy, thanks for the post.

    Frederik Ackermann says...

    May 29th, 2009, 4:51 pm

    Please do your research probably before using dietary intake of cholesterol and saturated fat as a good reason to go vegan.

    Jen-X says...

    May 29th, 2009, 5:49 pm

    Great advice, and you’re story is compelling. I think the medical establishment needs to make prevention a top priority. Good health decisions have to compete with billion dollar food advertising that consists mostly of fatty, salty foods. People need support when choosing a plant-based diet.

    Justin Prater says...

    May 29th, 2009, 7:07 pm

    I understand what you went through. My father under went heart surgery in 2004. He howeverwas served healtier foods. As a matter of fact each patient had a diet customize to thier health needs. I know the dangers of meat. I am a vegetarian. My father is not one but has made drastic differances. I m glad you are no longer working there. Had you continued working you would have contributed to the patients death.

    Linda says...

    May 30th, 2009, 11:45 am

    I do believe that meat and all that fatty food causes health problems, but it does take time to get used to not eating these foods that we were raised on as children, and when our husbands can’t stop eating these foods.
    I have slowly cut down on meats and junk food. I have lost a lot of weight, and feel good about it. Some find it easier than others to change a lifetime of eating habits, but we can do it. Everyday l try to eat the best of foods, and will continue to do so. Everyone should, and hopefully one day l will eat only the healthiest of foods every time that l am hungry. Good luck to all, and don’t give up. (I will never go back to my old eating habits) Linda

    Monica says...

    May 30th, 2009, 11:52 am

    Brilliant article………………..since eliminating meat and dairy milk my husband and I feel so much better……………..top that off with the daily vitamin and mineral supplements……..that is the way to go…………..I have spoken to so many people about this and their really is an alternative to alot of medication.

    meagan says...

    May 30th, 2009, 9:34 pm

    thank you for sharing this.
    i am a student nurse, and i completely agree with you. it is hard to see people so oblivious to what they are doing to themselves… they think that medications will “cure” them without asking any questions. it makes being a nurse very hard, because i am supposed to give medications and promote them when i really don’t agree with what they are doing – masking symptoms without getting down to the root cause.

    monique says...

    June 1st, 2009, 2:47 pm

    IF ELIMENATING HORMONES FROM OTHER ANIMAL’S IS SMART SO IS NOT EATING TOXCINS THAT OTHER ANIMALS EAT.THE PROOF IS IF ONE LOWERS DOWN ON EATING ANIMAL PRODUCTS AND STARTS TO FEEL BETTER,IMAGINE HOW MUCH BETTER YOU WILL FEEL IF YOU STOP EATING ANIMALS IN GENERAL.YOU WILL FEEL MUCH BETTER. THEN TRY TO STOP EATING SO MUCH DAIRY AND CHEESE AND THEN TRY SOY PRODUCTS FOR A BETTER SOURCE OF PROTIEN AND REALY SEE THE GREAT RESULTS.I JUST THANK GOD FOR CHOICES AND MINES IS VEGAN,WE SHOULD ALL BE GREATFUL FOR WISDOM AND USE IT AFTER ALL WE ARE WHAT EAT.

    susana says...

    June 2nd, 2009, 4:11 pm

    I am vegetarian since I started read about PETA and I feel good, and it’s cheaper.

    Todd says...

    June 3rd, 2009, 3:24 pm

    I couldn’t agree more. I’m vegan and trying to get my mom to go at least vegetarian because she has so many health problems (many of which have been reportedly cured or aided by a healthy vegan diet).

    What kills me is, we go every week to an oncology office, and all these people undergoing the worst possible treatments for all sorts of cancers are never once told by their doctors or nurses to cut out the meat in their diets. In fact, they have a yearly Breast Cancer Survivor’s BARBECUE!!! Replete with hamburgers and a hot dogs! Might as well give a lung cancer survivor a pack of cigarettes to celebrate.

    And lastly, I was abhorred when last week I heard that one oncologist actually told his patient to eat more red meat.

    I talked to the patient’s wife afterward and she’s very interested in looking into the vegan diet for him instead.

    Most of these are modern diet-induced diseases completely avoidable by proper plant-based nutrition.

    Thanks for spreading the word!

    Amanda says...

    June 10th, 2009, 9:07 am

    I find the same thing true, especially with people who have a cholesterol problem. When I tell them that bad cholesterol comes from animal and animal bi-products, they act as if I am making it up. They think if they elliminate these things from their diet, the world will come to an end.

    Mike Quinoa says...

    November 29th, 2010, 4:28 pm

    Great blog. The doctor’s disdainful reaction to your concerns about meat reminds me of Dr. Dean Ornish’s spot-on quote, “I don’t understand why asking people to eat a well-balanced vegetarian diet is considered drastic, while it’s medically conservative to cut people open or put them on powerful cholesterol-lowering drugs for the rest of their lives.”

    sheryl says...

    November 20th, 2011, 7:41 pm

    Sandy please call me when you have free time. I would like to talk to you. Sheryl Kelman FENIG

    Fineartmarcella says...

    December 9th, 2011, 9:39 pm

    A fellow vegan nurse here!
    I am in the process of becoming a Nurse Practioner, what is sad is those stubborn meat eaters are my ‘bread and butter’….if everyone was vegan there would be no heart attacks, 70% less cancer, the people wouldn’t want all the pills docs get free benefits for prescribing, I might go broke!!!!
    Please, make me go broke! :)

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