Over 25 years ago, I embarked on a career as an invasive cardiologist skilled in placing first balloons and then stents in every nook, cranny, and granny that needed them. That single focus lasted only three weeks, because then Dr. Dean Ornish published the Lifestyle Heart Trial, which showed that the diet I had been eating for over a decade could reverse heart symptoms and plaque. My career quickly transitioned to one of both interventional procedures and nutritional consultations with patients. Today, I have retired the balloons and stents and offer only heart disease treatment and reversal programs, using plant-based nutrition as the foundation.
Over the years, I’d be asked to address real-life challenges from my patients who had watched Forks Over Knives and were embarking on plant-based diets. The most common questions were Who else eats this way? and Where can we eat out with friends but still follow our heart disease program?
THE FIRST STEP: A PLANT-BASED NUTRITION SUPPORT GROUP
To help with the first question, I co-founded a plant-based nutrition support group in Detroit that has now grown to over 1,000 members (www.pbnsg.org). Our monthly meetings provide information from noted speakers local and distant, a forum for answering questions (Why no added oils?), and local friendships/community. To help with the second question, the group arranged for some whole-food, plant-based menus at local Detroit restaurants. Because most of these eateries also served dairy and meat, the comfort level was not complete.