The Plant Rx

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Think eating a plant-based diet is crazy? How about this…

Posted by Jenn on January 24, 2013

Ian Before: 235lbs / 262 cholesterol / 145:110 blood pressure

Ian Before: 235 lbs / 262 cholesterol / 145:110 blood pressure

People have often described my diet as radical, drastic and extreme. Eating a plant-based diet to them, even if they agree it is the most healthy thing for you, is akin to asking them to undergo torture.  They have a myriad of responses to me, most of them echoing something to the effect of ” If I can’t enjoy my life then why bother”.   It’s unimaginable to me that they perceive my diet as so radical, drastic and extreme yet they don’t think that cracking open your chest while simultaneously slicing open your legs to take out vessels from your legs to graft to your heart isn’t? I’m beginning to think everyone should watch what is really involved in one of the surgeries, maybe then, they will understand the true meaning of the words radical, drastic and extreme. It is truly very hard for me to understand how anyone would choose bypass surgery over eating plants.  Then again, maybe they think it just won’t happen to them…


Those thoughts bring us to our first success story of the year, Ian Welch from Florida.  Ian can tell you first hand the difference between the two options I described above. Ian’s story is becoming the norm rather than the exception these days due to the overwhelming consumption of the Standard American Diet (SAD).  Fortunately, Ian is alive and well and is able to share his journey with us. When I asked why him why he wants to share it, he says it’s because he wish someone had shared this knowledge with him.


Ian tells his story:

Two years ago I could not have imagined my life today.  At the ripe old age of 40, I was diagnosed with heart disease, four major blockages that if left alone would end my life quickly.

On March 23, 2011 I had Quadruple Bypass Surgery.  I had my chest sawed open.  It was singularly the most influential event in my life and in hindsight I would not change a thing.

Ian after undergoing quadruple bypass surgery at 40 only years old.

Ian after undergoing quadruple bypass surgery at 40 only years old.

The first week out of the hospital my wife, Alicia, started us on a plant-based diet.  By December, I had lost 37 pounds and my cholesterol dropped 109 points.  Since then I have learned that eating a plant-based diet and avoiding oil can drastically improve your health.  My last carotid artery sonogram showed substantial reduction in plaque; essentially reversing 40 years of buildup in a very short period of time.  Not to mention the 20-25% weight loss.

The lightning bolt moments are as rare as a strike of electricity to the head.  They either kill you or offer you the opportunity to walk away; a second chance.  It is precisely these moments that need to be deconstructed because they happen in an instant.  These moments exist a lifetime as either regret or epiphanies.

The reality is; we have no way of knowing how we will exit this world.  For some of us, we will lead long full lives and gently succumb in our sleep at a ripe old age.  For others it will be a tragic exit, leaving loved ones to question how this could have happened.

However, the majority of us will face the challenge of fighting for our years and it comes down to a simple question.  Do you want to spend your last years in a gradual state of decline; mentally and physically?  Or do you want to challenge the odds and finish up on your feet? Your physical body has very simple needs.  It is a fact of biology.  Run your body on the core ingredients it needs, run it clean.  Don’t let your mind dictate what the body wants.  A foundation built on this simple approach will drastically move the odds of avoiding disease in your favor.

I had no plan and it ended in a hospital.  I do not want to go back to that hospital.  I share my experiences for the simple reason; I wish someone had told me sooner.  It took a life-threatening situation to become the person I am today and I like this new and improved Ian.


Ian in Dec. 2011 after adopting a plant-based diet. 198 lbs / 153 Cholesterol / 105:75 blood pressure


Ian Welch: In 2011, at the age of 40, Ian underwent quadruple bypass surgery. Ian completely transformed his life, adopting a plant-based approach to wellness. Ian is currently writing his book; “Heart Disease Saved My Life: Harness the Power of a Chronic Disease Diagnosis.” His goal is to provide others with a plan of action when faced with difficult circumstances. Ian lives in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida with his wife. He is an avid long distance runner & Bikram Yoga practitioner.  He maintains a blog at


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Can a plant-based diet be unhealthy?

Posted by Jenn on February 10, 2011

Telling you that almost everything you do in life can be performed in either a good way or a bad way or can be done well or not well probably isn’t earth shattering news to you. .  Of course there are many variations in between but you get the idea.  The same is true with diets. Like any diet out there, plant-based diets can be complete, healthy and balanced or incomplete, unhealthy and unbalanced. Thus, merely consuming a diet free of meat and dairy products does not necessarily guarantee good health.  Now, before you stop reading in disgust, hear me out.

Don’t get the wrong idea , choosing not to eat animals or animal products is a great thing and does in and of itself confer health benefits.  That being said, not all products free of meat and dairy are created equal.  Let’s use soy & soy products to illustrate.  As a whole food soy beans are an excellent, high quality, complete source of plant-based protein and fiber. So are unprocessed soy products such as soymilk and tamari.  Furthermore, they are low in saturated fat, sugar and sodium.  A true super food!   Then there are processed soy foods.  Processed soy foods have become very common and are very appealing especially to the new vegan looking to shift the protein sources in their diet.  While they still may retain some of the beneficial properties of unprocessed whole soy they also have a much less desirable side.  They tend to be high in sodium, fat, sugar, and often have artificial colors, flavors and preservatives. Although exceptions do exist, calling these foods “healthy” would be more than a slight exaggeration.

Another example would be eating refined (“white”) grains rather than their whole grain counterparts such as white rice, bread and pasta.  While, it is true that these are not animal-based products, which is good, compared to their whole wheat and brown counterparts they have less fiber, less protein and a higher glycemic index.

The whole grains haven’t had their bran and germ removed by milling, making them good sources of fiber — the part of plant-based foods that your body doesn’t digest. Among many health benefits, high-fiber foods also tend to make you feel full longer.

Refined grains, such as white rice or white flour, have both the bran and germ removed from the grain. Although vitamins and minerals are added back into refined grains after the milling process, they still don’t have as many nutrients as whole grains do, and they don’t provide as much fiber naturally. Read the rest of this entry »

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Plant Based Diet With Whole Foods: 5 Strategies

Posted by Jenn on December 21, 2010

Grocery Store Green Bell Peppers

Image via Wikipedia

Journalist and UC Berkeley professor Michal Pollan has made a name for himself in recent years with books and articles about food, such as his award-winning “The Omnivore’s Dilemma.” In trying to make sense of how complicated and artificial our foods have become, he famously advised, “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” With a few simple strategies, you can turn his miniature manifesto into your personal nutrition plan by eating a plant-based diet with whole foods.

    Fruits and Vegetables

  1. Eating fruits and vegetables is one of the simplest parts of your plant-based food strategy. Whether you go for organic or conventional produce, eat an array of colors so that you get a variety of nutrients: yellow squash, purple eggplants, red apples, green kale and so on. To keep your menus interesting, vary your cooking methods. You can eat your fruits and vegetables raw, of course. But to mix things up, try grilling fruit slices by brushing them with canola oil, placing them in a grill pan on low heat for five minutes and sprinkling them with cinnamon. Turn your vegetables into a main dish by grilling them as kebabs: Brush veggies such as cherry tomatoes, zucchini slices and red onions with Italian dressing, place them on skewers and grill over medium heat for five to 10 minutes.
  2. Whole Grains

  3. Whole grains are grains that haven’t been refined through a manufacturing process–they’re better sources of fiber, potassium and other nutrients than refined grains because the bran and germ remain intact. You can find whole-grain versions of all kinds of foods, including bread, rice and pasta. Look at the package carefully to identify a whole grain. Don’t just look for the word “whole” on the label; also read the ingredients to be sure that whole grains appear among the first items on the list. Look for whole grains such as brown rice, oatmeal, whole wheat, buckwheat, millet and wild rice and avoid the word “refined.”
  4. Nutrition Needs

  5. If you’ve decided to go vegetarian, it’s important to understand the nutritional effect of various foods you’ve removed from your diet. A vegan eating plan, for example, eliminates foods with vitamin B-12, and some vegetarian diets are low in calcium, iron and zinc. You can get the right nutrients, though, if you eat a variety of foods. You can get protein from soy products, legumes and nuts. You can get calcium and iron from dark, leafy green vegetables such as spinach. You can get vitamin B-12 from fortified soy products or by taking a supplement. You can get zinc from whole grains and nuts.
  6. Navigate the Grocery Store

  7. One of the keys to eating a plant based diet with whole foods is stocking your pantry and refrigerator each week so that you have what you need to make healthy meals. If you know throughout the week that your ingredients are waiting for you at home, you’ll be less likely to pick up food from a restaurant on your way home from work. To do this, develop the habit of navigating the grocery store wisely. This usually means avoiding the middle of store, where pre-packaged, artificial foods often line the shelves. Stick mostly to the perimeters, where you’ll find fresh produce. Walk down the aisles with a purpose–many whole grain foods are situated in the section with rice and other baking items, but avoid the refined foods you find there.
  8. Plan Ahead for Snacks

  9. One of the most challenging aspects of eating a plant based, whole-foods diet is that it’s simply much easier not to be healthy. So many convenience foods are available that can seem tempting when you’re hungry, and fast food restaurants seem to line every street. So it’s crucial that you plan ahead if you want to make healthy choices consistently. Always take an apple with you, or a small plastic zipper bag of cashews or almonds. Alternately, keep healthy bars with you, such as Lara Bars–these are made exclusively with nuts, spices and dried fruits. Having these on hand for when you’re suddenly starving will help you ward off convenient but unhealthy temptations.

(Source:; By S.B. Plunkett)

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