Upon the advice of many, I am launching a blog to provide information based on the concepts in my new book, Eat Vegan on $4 a Day. And to help you get there faster and easier than I did. I’m a former TV investigative reporter and financial consultant with a huge family history of breast cancer (mom, aunt, and both sisters), heart disease (sister, both parents, all grandparents), diabetes (sister, parents, all grandparents), and more. I almost died of a colon blockage at the age of 28 the same year my sister got breast cancer for the second time. ER docs told me I would need to be on medication the rest of my life unless I made some major changes to avoid our family’s fate. I didn’t get all the good genes and my life as the media have reported over the past 30 years has been an experiment to beat the odds. I continue to place in 5K races for my age group and ran my first marathon last year.
Either I’m a genetic freak or I have made lifestyle choices that are worthy of major medical research. But as I have long said, when you understand there is no money in broccoli then you understand why you have to do your own investigative reporting and figure out what is right for you. And when you understand there is no money in broccoli then ask your doctor if veggies are right for you. As a reporter (and as Dr. Neal Barnard so kindly said in the foreword he wrote in my book) I have no vested interest or product gadget or gimmick to sell. I simply wanted to find the best path for me that keeps me free from the genes and environmental factors that have destroyed our family. No one should have to witness the pain and suffering I’ve seen since my aunt died of cancer in our home when I was 5.
Our family used to convene at hospitals joking that the latest medical malady that united us bedside was that year’s family reunion. We would also joke about how all our hospitalizations paid for the new hospital wing. In retrospect it wasn’t funny at all. And going forward no matter how health care is funded we simply can’t afford the bills that poor food choices will cause. It is way cheaper to eat healthfully not only by the foods you choose at the grocery store but in the savings from avoiding drugs surgeries and absenteeism from work and life. It is way more fun to feel energetic to participate in life and avoid the major inconveniences of having your chest cracked open from heart disease daily insulin or lost limbs from diabetes or chemotherapy from cancer. I’ve seen it all up close and personal. Not fun. Not cheap. My parents were so sick by the time I had children they couldn’t lift them up let alone babysit them. Everyone loses.
About 2/3rds of all cancers are related to diet and therefore very preventable. Genes are not an appointment with destiny. They don’t determine fate. I have three daughters. With our family history the sad odds are one of the four of us will get breast cancer. You can bet that my life is also dedicated to making sure that doesn’t happen as best I can. I hope they can live in a world where choices are easier doctors suggest specific diet changes before rushing to prescribe and the odds of getting cancer and other preventable diseases will be much less.
So join me on a journey to stay focused on what works. What works for you may be different than what works for me or your friends. As a certified personal trainer and running coach I encourage you make sure that you are checked out with your doctor before beginning any new exercise or diet program. I am not a doctor. Just someone who has used well-developed skills to do the investigative reporting job of my life…dodging disease. I am trained to follow the money ask who paid for the research and then find out who really paid for the research. Benefit if you like from my trials and errors and decades of research as if my life depended on it. Trust me. It does. As recent vegan and former President Bill Clinton is fond of quoting me (though I don’t think he knows he is) “I just want to be around for the grandchildren.” My parents lived until their nineties. But mom had Alzheimer’s for years and Dad had all the typical diseases of affluence. The parents I knew were gone decades ago.
I’ve resisted, like many of my colleagues have, writing a blog. “Real journalists don’t write them,” “don’t write for free, don’t give it away,” I heard. “You’re the expert on food financial planning” I was told. Experts don’t have time to be writing for free.
The line over what is real and what is not has become very fuzzy lately. Doctors who promised they would never blog are doing that now. All I know is I have been doing a lot of free writing lately for columns magazines and more than anything social media. I am blown away how a focused morning on Facebook is very correlated with a big jump in sales on Amazon. My journalism school professors must be laughing somewhere in Costa Rica. I think that’s where they were last seen.
And oh, a final note: If there’s anyone out there who would like to study why I seem to defy the odds I’m available for research. I’ve been a participant in “The Sister Study” for years. But I am not aware of any other study I “qualify” for. Most of the studies I see are with those who have already been diagnosed with cancer. I keep offering but no takers. Perhaps because there’s no money in broccoli… just sayin.’