The Myth of Vegetarianism

“Should I be a vegetarian?”

Many individuals contemplate becoming vegetarian as a fast track to the health outcomes that matter most to them. Some even believe – with great angst – that such a restrictive diet is the only path to their desired health outcomes. The truth is vegetarianism isn’t a guarantee of weight loss, vitality or longevity. My patient David’s story is a great illustration of this nutritional truth.

David* was in his late 40’s and an ovo-lacto-vegetarian for decades. (Ovo-lacto-vegetarian is the fancy way of saying – when it came to animal derived foods – he ate only eggs and dairy.)

David showed up at my virtual doorstep with top priorities of improved energy and a commitment to shed the 20lbs he’d re-gained in quarantine. David’s energy had steadily decreased in the past decade, and since college, he’d lost and gained 20lbs more times than he could count.

Most concerning to David was the toll of his plummeting physical and mental energy on his work and his family life. As a senior partner at a major law firm, fulfilling his professional ambitions was of great importance to him. And as a dad of two growing boys, he was struggling to keep up on the slopes, tennis court and in everyday life.

David was unwilling to allow his health to further interfere with his career and family.

In our first appointment, David shared he had a family history of heart disease. I figured this into the data-gathering and ordered specific labs so we could understand David’s own heart health status.

A week later his heart health related lab results came back, and we saw a sea of red. Red as in “check engine light ON”.

➡ Cholesterol panel: ALL RED

➡ Cholesterol particle size: ALL RED

➡ 4 Inflammation markers: 3 RED, 1 yellow

 ➡ Omega-3 fatty acid status: ALL RED

In fact, David’s lab results so clearly showed addressing his heart health was immediately urgent that, for David, the appropriate next step was a trip to his GP for statin (cholesterol lowering) medication.

How did this “walking heart attack” situation happen?

Yes, David had a family history of heart disease, but studies show on average only 20% of your heart health is given by your genes. 80% of your heart health is dictated by how you treat your genes, a field of science known as **epigenetics.

But David was a vegetarian, right? How could his nutrition contribute to his high cholesterol?

Well, David was sort of a vegetarian. 

One thing I’ve learned in decades of guiding people to sustained and transformative health outcomes is the devil is in the details. Between his two appointments, David tracked what he was eating and drinking, when he felt most tired and his weight. Even before I had his lab results, I reviewed his tracker to better understand the root-cause of his health challenges.

David’s lab results and tracking allowed me to identify the sources of his low energy, weight gain and poor heart health. I refer to this information (labs + tracking) as his data, hence the name “data-driven natural medicine”.

What did I learn from David’s tracking that I couldn’t learn from a lab test?

I was able to see what nutritional choices were significantly and meaningfully contributing to David’s high risk for heart disease. While his choice to eliminate most animal proteins decades prior was a stand for the planet and his health, in his day-to-day eating there was nary a vegetable in sight! He was what I like to call a “macaroni and cheese-atarian” (with a heavy helping of dessert du jour!)

David’s tracking also allowed him to see what he was doing. In his second appointment, even before we reviewed his tracker together, David said, “Wow, I just never realized how much cheese and pasta I eat. Between ice cream and cheese, I must be made up 70% of dairy!”

Also, David was getting only 6 hours of sleep per night, typically interrupted. Not only was this one of the reasons he was perpetually exhausted but insufficient sleep drives heart disease, causing narrowing of the arteries (atherosclerosis), elevating blood pressure and more.

So medications and that’s it?

While getting David in the right healthcare hands to begin statins was the immediate action appropriate for him, this was just the place to start. He and I got to work on his customized, data-driven Plan of Action – in his nutrition, in his lifestyle and with select supplements to support his heart health, energy production and his nutrient status.

After seeing his lab results and reading the articles I provided on heart health and omega-3 fatty acids, David chose to reintroduce fish into his diet. He started eating for blood sugar stability and began incorporating vegetables every day. He didn’t quit his macaroni and cheese habit overnight because he knew first hand the shortcomings of an “all or nothing” approach. But he did decide that desserts had to go. From David…

“For years I’ve been kidding myself. I always told myself I could have just one scoop of ice cream, but I always end up eating the whole pint of ice cream. I know my wife can just have a scoop, but I can’t. Once I taste that sugar, I lose control! And then when I’m done bingeing not only do I feel awful physically, I feel ashamed. I think that’s even worse. It’s just not worth it. I’m done with being owned by sugar.”

David’s stand for his health and his future paid off.

➡ After 1 month of working together David was sleeping like a baby for 7 hours straight nightly.

➡ After 2 months, his energy and work performance was A+ status.

➡ After 5 months, he was a weight he hadn’t seen since college.

Perhaps most important, David was confident he had the information and strategies he needed to sustain his renewed vitality. 

When we repeated his lab tests after 6 months of working together, David’s cholesterol had improved so much that he was able to go back to his prescribing physician and ask to cut his statin dose in half.

And I’m excited to see what his labs say at the year mark!

But it wasn’t just the data that made David’s transformative and sustainable health outcomes possible. 

Yes, data is essential to create an effective plan of action. But information alone doesn’t get the job done.

What allowed David to translate information into consistent action and triumph in his health? He got crystal clear on how he wanted his health and life to go and owned his ability to be guided towards – or away from – this intended future. He stood for a future with his health handled. A future where he walked with confidence in his body and energy, fueling his lofty professional goals and keeping up with his growing boys.  David could see that on the current trajectory not only were his career ambitions and personal fulfillment at stake, so too was his life. He was at a fork in the road and  – seeing what was at risk – the choice was easy.

David is an example of someone who stepped into this Well Empowered work together expecting only physical outcomes – improved energy and weight loss – and getting so much more. He gained access to producing and sustaining outcomes with ease, ones that he had struggled to produce for many, many years.

As you read this, I invite you to contemplate…

What would become available for you and your life with your health handled?

How would you walk throughout your days if you felt great, looked great and preserved your vitality with ease?

If you see a future you must have, I invite you to schedule a complimentary virtual consultation with me to explore how taking a Well Empowered approach could make this future your reality.

When your health is handled, you bring your gift fully to the world. And that is not to be missed. 💚


*Name changed for confidentiality

**Epigenetics translates literally to “above the genome”. The science of epigenetics studies how we eat, move, sleep and live impacts the way our genes are expressed – and therefore our health.