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As a vegan, who eats 85% of of his food raw

I'm just curious, Decath, how you came to this decision. Not a lot of conservatives I know are very interested in a plant based diet. What convinced you? Books? Your doctor? Friends? Family?

My disclaimer - long time vegan (the ethical sort, not the strict vegetarian for health sort).

I'm always interested in people's stories around how they decided to make a switch. Please don't think I'm baiting you ... I am genuinely curious. I also live with an omnivore who has health problems, and I'd sure like to keep him around for long past retirement (early or otherwise) and wouldn't mind hearing how your DW is handling this (or how you are handling this in the face of potential reluctance from your DW)


Thanks for asking. I enjoy talking about health and exercise to people as much as discussing FIRE plans). Warning: Long reply.

I consider the ability to live a quality and quantity life an integral part of my FIRE plan. If I successfully FIRE at age 53, then I want to be able to do many of the things that I have been unable to do as a working stiff with a wife and 3 kids.

Growing up, my dad (a staunch independent, strong-willed libertarian) was interested in healthy living. However, giving the knowledge he had at the time, it was limited. My family did a good job of eating fiber rich foods but we ate entirely too much sugar, white flour and processed foods. Thanks to him, I at least had an open mind.

I was an all-around athlete in JH, HS and college. From 23 – 25, I aggressively pursued a birth on the US track & field team as a decathlete. However, I was plagued with injuries and never was able to compete in any major competition. I had all this amazing speed, strength and athletic ability but yet was never able to prove it to anyone except in the few local meets (when I was uninjured) where I competed in individual events.

I stopped training at the age of 26, just after I broke my heel pole-vaulting. It took about a year to heal. Then at the age of 27, my knee started giving me problems (from a HS football injury). I had it scoped and was sidelined for another year. By then, any Olympic dreams were dashed.

I was frustrated by the amount of time it took my body to heal and I was getting sick all the time. Colds and flues 3-6 times a year.

By the time I was 30; I was getting arthritis in various parts of my right arm (which I used to throw the shot, discus and javelin) and in both heels and generally just felt like my body was falling apart. I was eating an OK diet but I still ate too much sugar, drank 3 or 4 cups of coffee per day and overdosed on dairy products (because the propaganda says milk does a body good <g>). I was also experiencing severe “air born” allergies that progressively got worse with each passing year. Coaching my son during baseball season was nothing short of misery with the freshly cut grass and dirt always blowing in my face. I suffered 3 months during the spring and 3 months during the fall, despite taking allergen shots.

I still wanted to compete in sports (flag football, basketball, tennis, golf, softball, volleyball etc...) so being sidelined and playing with these pains were killing me.

During one of my weekly trips to our public library with the kids, I saw a book called “Fit for Life” by Harvey and Maryland Diamond displayed in a featured section. I checked it out and devoured it. Basically, they promoted a plant based diet, with most of it being raw.

I decided to take it slow at first. I replaced my normal breakfast of cereal and milk with raw fruit. The results were dramatic. My allergy problems were cut in half in a few weeks. Encouraged by that, I gave up dairy completely and then I quit eating processed sugar and caffeine (the hardest of all). I experienced severe headaches. Several times, I cowered and drank some coffee to relieve the tension headaches. But that only prolonged the detoxification. In the end, I figured cold turkey was the best way and I painfully endured it.

After a month or so, I noticed many of the arthritic pains subsiding. I continued to read books, magazines and articles (this was during the summer of 1991) about healthy living and decided to try veganism as well as start heavily supplementing with plant based dense nutrients like: barley grass juice, carrot juice, beet juice, wheatgrass juice and whole food organic vitamins.

Initially I did not feel much different other than my body fat declined from 10% to 6%. I experienced detox symptoms and was pretty discouraged by them. I would feel good for one day and then lousy again for a week. I remember missing a lot of days from work. It started worrying me. But eventually, the good days outnumbered the bad ones and by the end of the summer I felt better than I remembered. I started testing my bad knee by going on long distance runs. Being 6'5” and well over 200 lbs, I knew I was risking it. But the knee problem was gone. The cartilage had grown back. I was very much encouraged. I gradually worked back into a sports competition program, playing full court basketball year around, trained in taekwondo, softball, golf, tennis etc...

From the ages of 31 to 34, I ran a youth track & field club, mainly for my 2 kids, and would train with the HS kids. Except the occasional sub 11 second 100 meter speedster, there was not a HS kid that could out run me in the 100, 200 or 400. I put my knee, heels and body through the same training regimen of those HS kids and never had any of the previous injuries and problems before my diet change.

I was hooked and for the most part and have adhered to the following diet for the past 15 years. Basically I avoid the following foods with only an occasional lapse: sugar, white flour, white salt, caffeine, meat, dairy and alcohol. I grow organic veggies year around in my TX garden and buy organic veggies and fruits where I can find them (food co-ops and Whole Food's Stores). I still supplement with fresh veggie juices with my Green Life Juicer. Two glasses of carrot/beet juice per day, and 2-3 glasses of barley grass juice (from cold processed powder). I eat 85% of my food raw. The rest is cooked (beans, rice, steamed veggies, whole-grain breads etc...)

I just recently started competing in Master's track & field and hope to compete in the decathlon and other track & field events at the national and world levels. Last year, I had to re-examine myself as I started letting some old dietary habits creep in such as sugar and caffeine. As a result, I tore a groin muscle during a difficult week of training back in March of 2006. I was sidelined during all of 2006. In frustration, I went back to my pure diet at the end of 2006 and will have my 1st 2007 competition this May.

The social aspects of my diet have been frustrating. Initially, I experienced a good deal of opposition from friends and family. I tried to keep it to myself but many family members pried into my business and insisted on knowing why I did not eat their “chocolate pies” etc… Many took it personally, despite being rational and diplomatic about it.

Funny thing is that now that we are all older in our 40's, 50's & 60's, they are not nearly as critical. During family get-togethers, I'm out playing touch football with teenagers and outrunning them. They are sitting on their butts watching TV because they are overweight, out-of-shape and/or hurting from arthritis.

As far as it being a conservative/liberal issue, I can't say one way or the other. It seems to me that personal health should not be politicized. But I know people do it. I've had conservatives automatically accuse me of being a Buddhist like tree-hugger when they see me eat nothing but fruits and veggies. I just be nice about it and gently explain to them my reasoning. Some persist and try to convert me back to the “dark side”. There is something comical about an overweight person with a long list of health problems trying to preach to me the virtues of eating 'ice cream or steak” when I look and feel the way I do and they look and feel the way they do. <g> Oh well. The only way to convert people is to “kill them with kindness”. <g>

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