Heart-Health Tips From a Cardiologist—and a Sexy Vegan

February is American Heart Month, so it’s a fitting time for everyone to stop eating meat and other animal-derived foods. As Dr. Joel Kahn, a cardiologist and the male winner of PETA’s 2016 “Sexiest Vegan Over 50” contest, has pointed out, dietary saturated fatty acids (SFAs), which are commonly found in meat and dairy products, can lead to obesity and cardiac problems.

According to the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, even small reductions in dietary SFAs (e.g., full-fat dairy products, cheese, butter, red meat, and chicken) have potential benefits. For better health, everyone should consider replacing them with wholesome plant-based options.

As Joel points out, even a 1 percent replacement of calories from animal-based SFAs with plant-based choices can keep the doctor away, perhaps as much as an apple a day does. Of course, it’s not hard to change your diet by more than 1 percent. Here are some simple ways to enjoy more fruits, vegetables, and other nutritious vegan foods:

  • Choose veggie burgers instead of hamburgers, soy sausage rather than pork sausage, and curried chickpeas over chicken flesh.
  • Enjoy popular vegan staples, such as black bean and corn chili, spaghetti and marina sauce, lentil and spinach soup, and eggplant soy Parmesan.
  • Skip the bacon and eggs at breakfast, and instead have oatmeal with almond milk and apples, blueberry pancakes, tofu scramble, or fresh fruit and a soymilk smoothie.
  • Whip up some vegetable risotto, a soy chicken pot pie, potato croquettes, or a beefless stew for a hearty—and tasty—dinner.

For more tips on eating heart smart, read Joel’s blog post about the Harvard study and check out PETA’s free vegan starter kit.