Doug Schmidt loved to eat meat and ate it every day, until at the age of 49,out of the blue, he suffered his first heart attack. "No one expects to have a heart attack at age 49," he said. In the hospital, near his home in Rochester, NY, he made the decision to follow the American Heart Association's dietary guidelines and cut way back on meat and dairy and switch to amore whole-foodplant-baseddiet. Then, just a few months later, he was sent back to the hospital barely able to breathe, and the doctors told him he could have another heart attack any minute.
After getting through that ordeal, Doug knew it was time to take matters into his own hands and not trust that the AHA had the right approach. He and his wife started doing more research while he was recuperating and found out that a plant-based dietbased on whole foods and zerooil was the healthiest way to go for someone in Doug's position: No meat, no dairy, no animal fat whatsoever. "She wanted to keep me around," he recalls. Eventually, he adopted a completely vegan diet which ended up saving his life. Within weeks of going full-on vegan, he started losing weight and his blood work improved. Every three months he checked in with his doctor and within 3 years he was completely back to normal healthy levels of cholesterol and other markers for cardiovascular disease.
All in all, changing to an oil-free whole food plant-based approachhelpedDoug lose sixty pounds and change his entire life, including changing his career path (he is still working as a school teacher) to focus more on educating others about how to start a plant-based diet of their own, for whatever their reason may be. The Beet chatted with Doug on Zoom andhe sharedhis entire journey over the past 9 years since he got healthy, including the challenges, the rewards, the motivations, theexact foods he ate to get healthy, and what inspired him along the way. Here is his play-book including the helpful movies to watch, books to read, and more.
DS:"I had a heart attack at 49, and nobody expects to get a heart attack at 49. All the research showed that if I didn't change my eating habits, I would have another heart attack within five years. Initially, I found Dr. Caldwell Esselstyns work on preventing and reversing heart disease, and at first, I said 'Thats too extreme, I'm not going to do that.'
"So the first year I followed the American Heart Association guidelines, which said I could have a little meat, I could have dairy, I could have eggs, and I ended up in the emergency room with a threat of another heart attack. After that health scare, I took things more seriously but still, the switch didnt happen overnight. It took us about three years to get fully on board. I switched my diet to save my life, but you know that there has been the added bonus of helping the environment and helping the animals, so its allowed me to walk a little softer."
DS:"Once we [my wife Shari and I] made that full conversion over to a whole-foods plant-based with no oil once we did that, all my blood work numbers came in line.
"My total cholesterol dropped down to under 150. My blood sugars all dropped in line. I lost 60 pounds, I went from 225 to 165 pounds. Once the weight started dropping off,as I consistently ate clean plant-based foods, the better my numbers got.
"I had a great doctor, who would take blood work every 3 months and he could tell if I was staying on track with my diet.My doctor would know if I hadnt lost weight, hed know if my cholesterol was still high. And as soon as I started eating properly, all those numbers came down and came in line. So it really was miraculous, once that started happening. With those health benefits, that was sort of all the encouragement I needed to keep going."
DS:"I had my heart attack just before we met, so she wanted to keep me around. So she was very instrumentalin my making theswitch. She took the E-Cornell plant-based nutrition course and she would read andsay to me:"Oh, we got to stop eating this! Oh, weve got to stop eating oil!" And I replied "Really?" But she helped me transition the most, because we did it together. She also had all the same health benefits as mI had. She lost 30 lbs and her numbers also all came in line and she felt healthier."
DS:"We really didn't see a lot of the weight loss until we hit that no oil phase. In the first week of not eating oil, she lost 5 pounds. Then it just started dropping off after that"
DS:"Pretty much every day. Dairy was definitely all throughout our diet.Pecorino Romano went into just about everything I made. Actually, when I had the heart attack, we moved to an 8-acre farm, and we decided we were going to grow a lot of our own food or as much as possible. That included raising chickens, not for the meat, but for the eggs. When we made that transition over, now we had chickens, but we werent eating the eggs. We werent going to just give those chickens away, but we weren't going to eat them either.
"So they just lived out their lives on the farm, being chickens. It was interesting to interact with them, they were great creatures to interact with. We now laugh, when we look at our pantry right now and see that it doesnt look like what it did ten years ago. The things that are in there are like, My gosh! How 'Hippy-eating, Kombucha-drinking' our pantry looks now. We just laugh."
DS:"I was a baker in a previous life. I used to be a bakery trainer for a major supermarket chain, Wegmans, before I became a teacher. So I can bake anything, from Croissants to Danish to Cakes, and I also have a sweet tooth. So that was sort of hard. I asked myself "how do you make a dessert without all that added sugar, without all the added fat or the eggs, or the dairy"? Especially because the cornerstone of most pastry is eggs, as well as butter, and dairy. So it was tough to make that change.
"Probably the hardest thing to give up was the cheese. The meat wasn't too hard, but you know, the cheese, which we used to put on everything. Andthen we had to figure out ways to get away from that taste addiction."
DS:"Oh, yes, Im still baking. For eggs and dairy, I don't think of it as substituting eggs and dairy because they serve as a certain component. Whether its eggs for a binder or for a lift in a product orfor addingfat. So, I look at things I can use instead, for fat, for binders, and for leavening. So for instance instead of fat, a lot of it now comesfrom using nuts.
"I used to make a French Pear Tart that was totally decadent, and it contained a lot of eggs, butter, and dairy in it. I make that same tart now with crushed nuts, oats, and a little maple syrup for the crust. For the filling, I use flax meal to make the typical flax egg, and thats enough to act as the binder. So I do things like that.
"I look at ways of incorporating beans to give a creaminess, not just black beans but white beans, to give creaminess in a filling. Also using those old skills and substituting non-dairy milk, I can make a simple custard that tastes just as good as the old one, but without any of the animal products. I found some workarounds for most of these things."
DS: "It hasnt changed too much. Typically I have an oat-bowl in the morning, with lots of fresh berries strawberries, blueberries, raspberriessome flaxseed, Lately, weve added [plant-based] yogurt to our breakfast mix that we make in our instant pot. For the base, we start with a soy-based yogurt as the culture, and we just use soy milk and put it in the instant-pot overnight, and the next day when you wake up, you have about 4, 5 cups of fresh yogurt. Then we also have a bowl of steamed kale with some balsamic vinegar on the side and thats breakfastand thats also basically lunch. We eat two meals a day. For dinner, it's whatever we're creating at the moment. A lot of bowls, stir-fries, soups, and salads, depending on what we're in the mood for. Right now we're preppingour second cookbook, so it's whatever we're cooking for the cookbook is what's typically for dinner."
DS:"Our first cookbook is called Eat Plants, Love: Recipes for a Good Life, and the second one that will be coming out this fall is called Eat More Plants, Recipes from the Good Life Challenge and we had some of the people who took our 10-day challenge contribute recipes to it."
DS:"Right now, were taking Complement, which is done by the guys from Plant-Based Athlete. It gives us our B-12, our D3, and also K2, which is for heart health, specifically for me. It has all the stuff we need, and it also has magnesium and other essentials. Initially, we were taking K2, D3, and B1 separately, but we figured we might as well get it all in one package."
DS:" I always tell people it is going to be hard, because you're giving up a lifetime of eating habits, so take it a bit at a time if that's the kind of person you are. Or you can just go all in. You know the first thing we tell people is that dairy is probably the most addictive and is what most people strugglewith.
"But you'll also immediately see results. We do our 10-day challenge, in which we say just do it in ten days because you can do anything for 10 days. That really gets people clean in 5 or 6 days, they feel the results. We tell people going 75%plant-based isnot giving you 100% of results. The only way you really see results is going all in.
"We also tell people,youre going to struggle, relapse, or fall off the wagon, as some people say, but it's okay, you have a chance at the next meal to eat healthily. Just keep working at it, its like any habit, you have to practice it to make it easier. And the longer you do it, the easier it gets."
DS:"One that really hit home was The Game Changers. And,Forks Over Knives of course is a good one. The one that actually made me go vegan was the one Joaquin Phoneix narrates, Earthlings. Its the movies opening with the definition of Earthlings that really made me stop and think. Its saying that it's humans arrogance to think that we're the only sentient beings on Earth.
"Any creature that lives on this Earth is a sentient being, they are all earthlings, which really hit home to me. You can't go back [to eating animal product] if you're true to your morals about animal welfare. I don't know how people can revert back."
DS:"It's that I walk a little bit more softly on the earth. Whether that's in my interactions with people or interactions with animals, I know that eating this way helps everything and everyone. It helps the environment, it helps the animals, and I know I'm not hurting anyone.
"That next step for me is to be gentle, generous, and kind, and giving that to the humans I interact with. So it is to walk softly on the earth, or gently. That sort of encompasses everything. My wife and I talk every once in a while, and we ask each other: Would you ever go back to eating certain things. For instance, I loved eggs. I loved meat, but when you think about where these things came from, and those abuses that those animals go through, you cant let go of that idea. For me, that mantra is walk softly on the earth."
- 5 science-backed benefits of fasting, and how to fast safely and effectively - INSIDER - October 22nd, 2020
- Do you really lose weight by fat-free and sugar-free diets? Know the pros and cons of such eating patterns - Times Now - October 22nd, 2020
- DECODED: Why is it harder for short people to lose weight - Times of India - October 22nd, 2020
- Best weight loss diets: Experts weigh in on Whole30, Paleo, Keto and more - CNET - October 22nd, 2020
- Suniel Shetty reveals his formula of gaining and losing weight - GQ India - October 22nd, 2020
- Study says this is the #1 thing that causes you to gain weight - BGR - October 22nd, 2020
- Lose weight in your sleep with these bedtime drinks - TheHealthSite - October 22nd, 2020
- Woman missing for 2 weeks found safe in Zion National Park - Seymour Tribune - October 22nd, 2020
- Health and Wellness Predictions For 2021: Helen Lee Schifter - Taste Terminal - October 22nd, 2020
- Slimming World consultant inspired to lose weight after feeling like a failure to her class - Lincolnshire Live - October 21st, 2020
- #HealthBytes: Effective tips that can help you lose weight - NewsBytes - October 21st, 2020
- How does Slimming World work and how much is it to join? - The Irish Sun - October 21st, 2020
- 'Its literally the perfect knife': Dan Hong on the three most useful objects in his life - The Guardian - October 21st, 2020
- After losing 140 pounds, Saskatoon woman shocked to learn province won't cover skin-removal surgeries - CTV News Saskatoon - October 21st, 2020
- Weight Loss Tips: Nutritionist Tells What Actually Works For Losing Weight Effectively - NDTV - October 18th, 2020
- Using the Pandemic as an Opportunity to Lose Weight and Get in Shape - The New York Times - October 18th, 2020
- You Can Still Eat Dessert and Lose Weight Unless You're Making These 3 Mistakes - LIVESTRONG.COM - October 18th, 2020
- 7 tips from Mumbais best fitness trainers and nutritionists on how to lose weight - GQ India - October 18th, 2020
- KETO Diet: Is It Just Hype Or A New Way Of Life? - Greek City Times - October 18th, 2020
- Want to knock off 5kgs in a month? Try this - NewsBytes - October 18th, 2020
- This Guy Lost 270 Pounds and Got Jacked After a Seizure Gave Him a Serious Wake-up Call - menshealth.com - October 18th, 2020
- Is it safe to do intermittent fasting while breastfeeding? - TheHealthSite - October 18th, 2020
- Amy Duggar Claps Back at Troll Who Told Her to Have More Kids, Lose Weight - Us Weekly - October 18th, 2020
- How Often Should You Work Out? For Weight Loss and Muscle Gain - Greatist - October 18th, 2020
- The Arctic is on track to lose more ice this century than at any point since the end of the Ice Age. Photos show the dramatic melting. - Business... - October 18th, 2020
- Phillip Schofield's months of hell and secret torment - losing weight, vomiting and missing work - Mirror Online - October 18th, 2020
- This Clever Technique Will Help You Lose Weight and Stay Fit - Slate - October 13th, 2020
- Is The Keto Diet Good For PCOS? Benefits Of Low-Carb Diet For PCOS - Women's Health - October 13th, 2020
- Is keto a healthy way to lose weight? Everything to know about the divisive low-carb diet - The National - October 13th, 2020
- How to Lose Fat Without Losing Muscle, According to Experts - Greatist - October 13th, 2020
- On a weight loss diet? Here are two quick and healthy breakfast recipes to kickstart your metabolism - Times Now - October 13th, 2020
- 806 Health Tip: Consistency Is Key To Losing Weight - mix941kmxj.com - October 13th, 2020
- Be specific with your intentions - Stabroek News - October 13th, 2020
- Weight loss: Signs your workout is actually making you gain more weight - Times of India - October 13th, 2020
- Kelly Osbourne shows off incredible 80-pound weight loss in skintight black jeans and low-cut top before - The Sun - October 13th, 2020
- AJ McLean's Body Transformation since Joining DWTS How Much Weight Has He Lost? - AmoMama - October 13th, 2020
- Scots mum claims she was fat-shamed by NHS weight loss leaflet just seven weeks after giving birth - Daily Record - October 13th, 2020
- Arthritis pain: Why weight loss helps; 3 ways to stay active and manage joint pain at home - Times Now - October 13th, 2020
- How to lose those last few kilos the healthy way - Who - October 13th, 2020
- Active-living passions draw family doctor... - Bothell-Kenmore Reporter - October 13th, 2020
- Burn belly fat and get in shape fast by adding these workouts to your routine - TheHealthSite - October 13th, 2020
- Oregon nose tackle Jordon Scott never wavered from 2020 vision of playing for Ducks - The Register-Guard - October 13th, 2020
- Piers Morgan bashes Meghan Markle over her belief of being the most trolled person - The News International - October 13th, 2020
- Gemma Collins looks slimmer than ever in pyjamas after 3st weight loss in Happy Monday snap - The Irish Sun - October 13th, 2020
- From keto to intermittent diets: All you need to know - The Indian Express - October 9th, 2020
- Weight loss: Could eating more be the key to losing more weight? Here's why - Times of India - October 9th, 2020
- 6 Things you need to do every day to lose the extra kilos - PINKVILLA - October 9th, 2020
- The #1 Best Thing to Drink If You're Trying to Lose Weight - Yahoo Lifestyle - October 9th, 2020
- Most Ridiculous Diets That People Actually Try and the Reality Behind Them - Flux Magazine - October 9th, 2020
- This Berlin-based startup will help you lose weight via healthy intermittent fasting; raises 4.2M - Silicon Canals - October 9th, 2020
- Why you may not be losing weight on the keto diet - Report Door - October 9th, 2020
- Fit and fabulous after 50 | Features | wfmz.com - 69News WFMZ-TV - October 9th, 2020
- Avoiding the temptation of unhealthy food Click Liverpool - Click Liverpool - October 9th, 2020
- How Cycling Helped This Man Recover From Open-Heart Surgery - Bicycling - October 9th, 2020
- What is keto diet, how does it impact your body? Is it risky? - The Indian Express - October 9th, 2020
- American lost 55 kilograms and shared her secret of losing weight - The Times Hub - October 9th, 2020
- Weight Loss: Burn Some Calories With This Advanced Cardio Workout That Can Pump You Up Instantly! - NDTV - October 9th, 2020
- Do chia seeds really help with weight loss? Health benefits, nutrition facts and ways to include them in diet - Times Now - October 9th, 2020
- Dietitian, breast cancer survivor focuses on ways to avoid recurrence - Huntington Herald Dispatch - October 9th, 2020
- Why you may not be losing weight on the keto diet - Business Insider India - October 4th, 2020
- Losing weight through dieting, exercising or combination methods - San Marcos Daily Record - October 4th, 2020
- College 101: 5 Health Reasons to Lose Weight - Daily Cardinal - October 4th, 2020
- Weight-loss tips from a woman who lost 122 pounds in her 40s - TODAY - October 4th, 2020
- HARRIET COLE: It's never too late to start losing weight - Goshen News - October 4th, 2020
- This Is The Worst Diet for Weight Loss, According to a Dietitian - Yahoo Lifestyle - October 4th, 2020
- A Nutrition Expert Just Said This Is More Important Than Losing Weight - Yahoo Lifestyle - October 4th, 2020
- Does Intuitive Eating Work? What Happened When I Tried Intuitive Eating - GoodHousekeeping.com - October 4th, 2020
- Weight Training Helped This Guy Lose 230 Pounds and Get Ripped in the Process - menshealth.com - October 4th, 2020
- What You Should Know About How PCOS and Weight Are Connected - LIVESTRONG.COM - October 4th, 2020
- All For Nothing? Top 4 Reasons Why You're Not Losing Any Weight - Be Global Fashion Network - October 4th, 2020
- The herbal supplement shown to boost sexual performance and encourage weight loss - Express - October 4th, 2020
- Foods that will help control appetite and reduce belly fat - The Indian Express - October 4th, 2020
- Where You Carry Body Fat May Affect How Long You Live - The New York Times - October 4th, 2020
- Study reveals enhancing blood sugar control boosts brain health for people with type 2 diabetes - Devdiscourse - October 4th, 2020
- This 80-Somethings Couple Share Their Secrets to Longevity - The Beet - October 4th, 2020
- Qualifier Trevisan's career takes off with stunning win - Yahoo Sports - October 4th, 2020
- Intermittent fasting doesn't help you lose weight, UCSF study suggests - CNBC - September 30th, 2020
- UK's Johnson says he is fit as a butcher's dog after losing weight - The Union Leader - September 30th, 2020
- Boris Johnson is 'fit as a butcher's dog' in need of walkies but heading in right direction - iNews - September 30th, 2020
- UK's Johnson says he is fit as a butcher's dog after losing weight - Reuters - September 29th, 2020