After being sick with various illnesses* my entire adult life (23 - 41 years old), and after my Mom's breast cancer diagnosis, I decided to be plant-based (entirely no animal products at all) for health reasons in July of 2015. I have noticed a huge difference in my health and my energy levels, and my family and friends can see the changes, too. Since then, I have transitioned away from using animal products as much as possible and almost
feel comfortable calling myself a vegan.
In spite of the obvious improvements in my health, my Mom called today and needed to "pass on" her dearly beloved chiropractor's belief that not eating animal products is dangerous: supposedly I won't be getting the proper balance of amino acids! This woman (with absolutely no nutritional training as far as I know!) told my Mom that I will have a higher chance of dementia and Alzheimer's Disease because of my dietary changes (even though the studies I've read show exactly the opposite), and she decided to recommend an "appropriate" diet for me, which should include at least two eggs per week, at least two servings of chicken, and at least one serving of grass-fed beef.
I explained to my Mom that that's exactly the diet I was eating when I was at my sickest. I explained that the health difficulties in studies of vegans were not from lack of appropriate amino-acids, but because of improper omega 3 to omega 6 balance and that I am addressing that by eating 2 tablespoons of flax seeds every day in addition to not eating many processed foods and not using much added oil. I have two Masters degrees and I KNOW how to do research (from actual articles, not from slimy online mysterious "experts").
I feel confident in my choices (or at least I thought I did!), but I started shaking, and got all churned up inside. I didn't realize until I was typing this out that the emotion I'm feeling is absolute RAGE.
* Eating this way has made a bigger difference than anything else could have.
* I don't need the scary anti-inflammatory drugs and steroids and immunosuppressants my Gastroenterologist wanted to give me for Crohn's Disease.
* I can actually FUNCTION as a human being now because I have overflowing energy and positivity again (I got sicker and sicker until I had to fight every day to even get off the couch to take a shower. It was really sad).
* I don't have to obsessively count calories (as I was doing) to maintain a fairly thin frame and I have a healthy relationship with food AND my body.
I thought my Mom was seeing these same things. As I mentioned, she has already had breast cancer. She also is heavier than she'd like to be and has high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and chronic back pain. My Dad is in a similar situation, but without the back pain; he has prostate symptoms instead and is constantly being monitored for prostate cancer. My parents are typical for the baby boomer generation with the chronic lifestyle-caused illnesses that are making life less pleasant and that will probably eventually kill them.
I was hoping that seeing the changes in me would encourage changes in them, but I know that they don't particularly WANT to change. They love food. They love going out to eat. They LOVE crap food, packaged food, easy food, quick food, and food with lots and lots of artificial everything ("because it tastes good!") even though they wouldn't admit that. It's all a treat, and every day should be a feast because they can.
I realize that I have changed the rules (again
- first I was gluten-free due to Celiac Disease, then I veered away from GMOs and conventionally grown foods towards organics, now I'm plant-based). I realize that they bond over food in a way I don't and never really have. I realize they are significantly older than I am and that their habits are much more deeply ingrained, and I realize that they are afraid of change
I suspect that this (irresponsible) chiropractor has just given my Mom grounds for not changing anything ever because she now thinks that all nutrition advice is just one person's opinion. And now I'm going to have to fight the "just one egg won't hurt" and "how could chicken be bad when so many doctors recommend it?" battles because of that bossy chiropractor who doesn't even know the science (Though to be fair, I would've given myself the same advice two years ago before I actually did the research myself). And this chiropractor's opinion will weigh exactly the same as my well-informed, evidence-based, factual approach. Actually, her opinion will probably weigh more because my parents don't want to change. But I have not based my dietary changes on OPINION. I have based them on proof, on science, on the majority of the evidence.
If it was truly out of concern for my well-being, I would have liked my Mom to ask, "So what about your amino-acids? I don't even know what they are, but my chiropractor was telling me how important they are and that they should come from meat and eggs. Where are you getting yours since you're not eating those things?" I could have answered that. But instead, to avoid conflict, she just put it out there that her chiropractor didn't think I was eating a healthy diet, and since her chiropractor is a "health professional," that automatically puts me in the wrong (though I believe I have more nutritional knowledge than she does!) And it leaves my Mom off the hook for being pushy or invasive (though she is really truly doing both, though I understand out of love and concern).
While I realize that there are a lot of competing ideas out there and most people don't like trying to figure things out for themselves, it's extremely frustrating to me that people seem to clamp their eyes together as hard as they can to avoid seeing what's right in front of them. All I can do is to keep living and eating how I believe is best and let other people do what they want.
I may send Dr. Greger's book ("How Not To Die") and The China Study to that chiropractor, though . . . but wish I didn't have to pay for them in order to educate someone else (who SHOULD be educating herself!)
I've only been at this for ten months. Anyone else farther down the path have thoughts or encouragement for me?
* I have been diagnosed with endometriosis, Celiac Disease, hypothyroidism, Crohn's Disease