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You Have More Influence Than You Realize

Many plant based eaters feel frustrated that their doctor, their spouse, their family, their friends, don’t share their plant based passion. Below are two stories to make you realize that you have more influence than you think!

Dr. Michael Macknin, was the pediatrician for our daughter Jane’s three children. He was not plant based. At every appointment he covered all his pediatric bases: “Are the kids in car seats? Are the batteries in your smoke detector? Are your children drinking milk every day?” Three times a year, at each child’s wellness appointment, he asked these questions.

And three times a year Jane’s reply was the same, “You can remove that milk question from your list. We don’t feed our children cow’s milk. We give them oat milk or almond milk, not cow’s milk.”

Jane talked about plant based nutrition and about my husband’s work with heart disease at each visit. Dr. Macknin listened and watched her children grow over the years: a daughter nearly 6 feet tall who won the Ohio High School state swimming 200 IM as a high school freshman and sophomore, a 15 year old boy a fraction under 6’6,” and a 13 year old who excelled in everything. Clearly no lack of milk in their diets.

Eventually, he attended one of my husband’s grand rounds at the Cleveland Clinic.

And then wonderful, open minded, open hearted, Dr. Macknin approached Jane, who is an RN as well as recipe innovator, about working with him on a study for obese children with high cholesterol.

Jane, of course, was delighted and taught the nutrition and cooking classes to the plant based section of Dr. Macknin’s study. And as you can see from the summary of the study below, it was a roaring success!

Vegan diet benefits obese children, Cleveland Clinic study shows

Michael Macknin led a study of obese children who were divided into two groups, and either fed a low-fat, no-oil vegan diet, or the American Heart Association recommended diet. Both groups lost weight. The kids eating the vegan diet, however, also showed significant improvements in systolic blood pressure, body mass index, total cholesterol, total low density lipoprotein (LDL, long referred to as “bad cholesterol”), c-reactive protein (another marker of inflammation), and insulin levels, compared to their baseline. You can read the study, published in the Journal of Pediatrics February 2015.

This is a story for parents of all plant-based children because through their children and their own convictions, they can help improve the health of all children by teaching their pediatricians and any of their doctors the power of plant- based eating. We all have more influence than we realize!

And another story that shows the power of an individual’s plant-based convictions is Jim McNamara’s. Jim had a stroke when he was 55 along with a blocked right carotid artery. Around that time he noticed his left leg cramped when he walked and he’d have to stop to ease the pain. The pain became worse until he could hardly walk across the room and the cramping even woke him up at night leaving his left foot cold and tingling. For relief he had to sit up and hang his leg over the side of the bed.

Finally 5 years after his original stroke when he found it too difficult to walk without pain, he went to the doctor. They tried to put a stent in his leg but the blockage was so great they couldn’t do it and said they had to do a by pass in his leg.

However, before they could do a by pass, they had to clean out his left, partially blocked carotid artery. He was afraid but that went well. However, the by-pass in his leg failed. He was put on Coumadin and was told there was nothing else they could do.

About this time he went to his regular doctor who suggested from tests that it looked as if he had diabetes and should see a diabetic doctor. At this point Jim said it was the lowest he has ever felt.

Then his wife, who had heard of my husband’s work, called him and the result: Jim and his wife came to one of my husband’s monthly 5 hour seminars at The Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute.

Now 5 years plant based, Jim has lost 45 pounds, he walks 45 minutes a day, he is pain free, his psoriasis is gone, he has no toe tingling and no waking up at night, he is off Coumadin, his pre diabetic state is resolved, he is down to half of a half of his statins and plans to take himself off that last little bit with his doctor’s agreement if he meets his blood level goals. Which he is confident he will.

Best of all, Jim says, his wife is plant based, his daughter is plant based, his grand children are plant based, his brother –in law and sister in law are plant based and her 82 year old mother is off her diabetic medications. His brother in law commented: “I’m glad you went through what you have because I sure feel good now.”

Monthly Jim shares his story at my husband’s Cardiovascular Prevention and Reversal seminars at the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute to an absolutely rapt audience.

But all of the above is not what makes Jim feel so moved as a letter he received from his 34 year old nephew, who he hadn’t seen since attending his wedding four years earlier. It is difficult for Jim to read the letter without choking up:


Uncle Jimmy,

I hope you are doing well! I wanted to thank you because of the strength and success that you have had with your health. Because of you, my recent news has been turned into a positive experience. I was diagnosed as diabetic. Rather than fear or anxiety or sadness, I have attacked it head on with diet and exercise. Using a similar diet as you, the doctor is amazed. I have avoided becoming reliant on drugs, something I think my doctor was resigned to.

So instead of drugs, my prescription is vegetables!

I just wanted you to know what an amazing role model you have been.

Thank you!



Jim’s comment: “That tingling in my toes makes it all worthwhile. You just don’t know who you touch.”

So for all of you, who may feel alone or frustrated that the people you care about aren’t with you, have confidence that you are sending a powerful message of the power of whole food plant based nutrition, and people you would never imagine are listening.