Veganism Is My Health Insurance

Categories: Beet Reporter
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Going to the doctor is hardly an option for me. It hasn't been since I left my last full-time job -- and the health insurance it offered -- about a year and a half ago, when I decided to pursue my writing career.

As a freelancer, I'm lucky to enjoy a steady stream of work and a lot of creative freedom. But independent contracting has some pretty obvious drawbacks as well. The best way I've found to pacify my worry is to do everything I can to avoid getting sick.

To this end, I exercise five to six times a week. I don't drink, smoke, or do drugs, period. Adequate sleep is a priority, and when I see people sneezing or exhibiting some other sort of facial drizzle or pallor, I give them plenty of space. All of these things are incredibly important to my admittedly not fool-proof plan. Then there's food.

What I'm really banking on is the holy power of greens. I believe that organic produce like spinach, kale, bok choy, collard greens, romaine lettuce, celery, cucumber, arugula, carrots, mushrooms, onions, and apples renders me more or less immune to most communicable diseases and staves off metabolic, genetic, and degenerative illnesses as well.

Legumes like sprouted organic mung beans and red lentils, chick peas, black beans, pinto beans, and bean curd (tofu), plus grains like organic quinoa, millet, and brown rice provide clean and light fuel for all the things I require of my body and brain each day.

My mind has become progressively clearer and sharper as I've cut out processed foods (like Boca burgers) over the course of the last two years. I make better decisions in my relationships and have better stamina in my work. I'm a week into my second attempt at cutting out extracted oils, and I find myself enjoying waves of physical energy that I can only compare to those I experienced as a ten-year-old running around the neighborhood during my summer vacation.

I didn't come up with my eating theories in a vacuum. I've done a lot of reading on the benefits of plant-based diets, especially the works of Dr. T. Colin Campbell, Dr. Caldwell Esseylstyn, and Dr. Joel Fuhrman. Though I'd read some of Dr. Fuhrman's Nutritarian Handbook before, my interest in all three of these doctors was ignited when I watched the documentary Forks Over Knives, in which many sick people are cured or greatly improve their lots by moving to plant-based diets. Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead, a documentary about the curative powers of juice-fasting, also played an integral role in growing my passion for plant-based nutrition.

Since I've opened my eyes, I've seen evidence that diets rich in fruits and vegetables and devoid of meat and animal products can bring people back to life. A close friend's mother beat cancer through a macrobiotic diet alone. A few other tough ladies I know did so with a combination of juicing and Western medicine. And I've seen living examples of people who have committed to plant-based diets for decades, thereby essentially halting the aging process and avoiding illnesses that many would have called "inevitable" based on their family histories. (For more on this, read my column next week, when I interview Annette Larkins, a raw vegan in Miami who looks, moves, and speaks like a foxy 35-year-old at 70).

On a smaller scale, I've personally put these principles to the test. A few months ago, I woke up with the slightest sore throat. I immediately stopped eating solid food and began a short vegetable juice fast, with the intent of letting my body redirect the energy it would have used for digestion toward fighting off the pathogens I suspected were gaining ground in my system. Meanwhile, I was saturating myself with an intense wash of micro- and phyto-nutrients with each sip of green juice I drank.

The result? I had cold-like symptoms for exactly one day. One day. Who do you know who has a cold for a day? Beyond that, I don't remember the last time I was ill. I recently came out clean after my roommate suffered with a nasty stomach flu for several days. In late January, I received a week-long visit from a close friend with a vicious cold. I came out unscathed and ran a marathon the next week.

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22 comments
Giaviaemail
Giaviaemail

my eye sight has improved also since eating a clean plant based dietThank you for your articles they are very helpful!

PlantPoweredLiving
PlantPoweredLiving

Excellent article, Camille.  Your advocacy for human beings to focus on their health is a shared goal.  Thanks for your insights.   Keep on being extraordinary.

Love, Light and Aliveness,Co-Visionary of www.PlantPoweredLiving.com

Tallmark
Tallmark

Read "Councils on Diet and Foods" by Ellen White. Written 150 years ago talks about all the things Dr. Esselstyn talks about. Other good doctors are John McDougall and Lorraine Day.

ChuckWPG
ChuckWPG

I liked the article , it is what it is, an opinion piece so why did some take offense?  Camille shouldn't respond to ad hominem attacks, the internet is full of hate let them think what they want.

veryveg
veryveg

Going vegetarian/vegan is one of the best actions we can take to improve our health. According to the American Dietetic Association, vegetarians are reported to have lower body mass indices than non-vegetarians, as well as lower rates of death from ischemic heart disease; vegetarians also show lower blood cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure, and lower rates of hypertension, type 2 diabetes, and prostate and colon cancer.  Please visit MeatVideo.com to learn more. Or ChooseVeg.com for information on how you can help end cruel and unnecessary suffering and adapt a more compassionate lifestyle.

JeffThePlantEater
JeffThePlantEater

It's really amazing how powerful plant-based foods can be once you decide to go all-in.  I've experienced all the same transformational effects that you mention here.  I went from a bloated overweight lazy frat guy to slim, clear-headed, and full of energy.  Just did a juice fast this past weekend and I haven't ever felt better.  Love your posts - check out my blog at www.theplanteater.com.

sane_vegan
sane_vegan

juice fasts? i think you are ready to graduate to the next level of unsupported superstitious woo and attempt cleansing enemas.

GetSkinnyGoVegan
GetSkinnyGoVegan

This is so relevant these days.  To the other commenters, of course modern medicine has it's place and I don't think she was saying that medical care was worthless.  It is just the reality that a majority of illness is caused by lifestyle and our offices and hospitals are crowded from a lot of preventable things.  So in any case it is beneficial to take care of oneself to the best of one's ability, and even more important if one has no insurance.  

ConcernedEater
ConcernedEater

when you trip and break your ankle, will a quick juice fast heal that up in a day? sure, you exercise 5 days a week and eat a good diet. of course you are going to be in good shape and in overall good health. advocating a vegan diet in place of health insurance is kind of insane though. 

Jim Corcoran
Jim Corcoran

I totally agree and share the same experiences around health!  I've been doing it 24 years and consider my vegan lifestyle one of the best decisions of my life.

There are many reasons why the number of vegans has doubled in the US in less than 3 years. Here are two uplifting videos to help everyone understand why so many people are making this life affirming choice: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v... and http://www.veganvideo.org

StillNeedIt
StillNeedIt

And after all your planning, you get hit by a bus...

Alex Cuevas
Alex Cuevas

Hey Sane_Vegan - try it for yourself before you judge... the power of fasting is amazing..

Camille Lamb
Camille Lamb

What vegan hasn't seen Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead? There are many individuals who have stopped taking medications for chronic conditions and ostensibly allowed their bodies to heal themselves through organic juice fasts and plant-based diets. There isn't much money for the FDA or wealthy prescription drug companies in doing clinical trials on juice fasting, but preliminary evidence from minor trials does exist that juice fasting can have a salubrious effect on tumor growth. http://www.cancer.org/Treatmen... Dr. Joel Fuhrman, MD, is a respected authority on plant-based nutrition/medicine, and he advocates the use of fresh vegetable juices as part of a plant-based diet, or a fast. Dr. Andrew Weil on fasting: http://www.drweil.com/drw/u/id... The same principals that underlie juice fasting - that the body has the capacity to heal itself if we just get out of the way - were the foundations of Hippocrates' teachings. 

Alex Cuevas
Alex Cuevas

I too have op'ed to KICK the reg health insurance (i could not afford it) and do not need to pay the crazy prices b/c i too am a vegan and am very healthy - rarely get sick...  although, i do have "get hit by a bus" insurance that has stupid crazy deductible in the $1000's - but i use it for just that... non-diet related health problems, which if we look at the statistics, eliminate a gigantic chunk of why people go to the doctor in the first place...  CHEERS TO YOU CAMILLE  - KEEP ROCKIN!

Camille Lamb
Camille Lamb

I do not know who "advocat[ed] a vegan diet in place of health insurance." It is my current misfortune, and that of about 50 million other Americans, to be uninsured. I don't have the means to change that fact. I can, however, choose to take control of my health in every way possible. 

I'm sure that even those who are insured would rather not have to make trips to the doctor. A plant-based diet is a proven way to avoid, arrest, or reverse medical problems (lupus, diabetes, heart disease) that many Americans have sadly come to accept as inevitable. Of course I would prefer to have the ability to have a sprain attended to without incurring medical bills I can't afford. You're missing the point - I don't have a choice. So I accept that reality, and change the things I can. 

Alex Cuevas
Alex Cuevas

Ladies and Gentlemen - please welcome "StillNeedIt" to the forum; aka Hater Nation 

Diego
Diego

shutup hater

Guest
Guest

This is unrelated to the argument for veganism but it is in fact possible to get decent health insurance as a freelance writer. Try looking into programs through Mediabistro and other freelancers' unions! It's really not that expensive. Of course you have to pay from what is essentially a post-tax income, but you can deduct it as an expense. I urge you to check that out -- even if you don't go to the doctor regularly, it is nice to know you have the option in case something freakish goes wrong. Good luck!

Don1954
Don1954

Actually, 3% of Americans don't have medical insurance that want it.

Aaron Hebert85
Aaron Hebert85

Everyone has a choice. Last year I lost my job and my insurance along with it. I started my own business to make money but still had no insurance. Instead of complaining that I couldn't afford coverage for myself and my family, I cut back my budget and shopped around for a provider. There are things that all of us can cut out of our monthly costs to be able to provide for ourselves instead of crying when someone else doesn't give it to us for free.

Camille Lamb
Camille Lamb

I fail to hear anyone "crying" here. You seem to have missed the point.

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