Chapter 6.  The Vegan Path
The Simply Fit Diet promotes itself as accommodating the desires of the most committed carnivore as well as the
most virtuous vegan. The previous chapter described one path to fitness, a path that a larger number of readers
will likely find easier than the path described in this chapter. However, both paths have their merits, and features
of each are likely found in the most healthful diet. If you skipped the previous chapter, please go back and read it.
Strategies described in that chapter should be used on the vegan path, including:

•        Adopt a reducing eating pattern: eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a merchant and dinner like a pauper.
      Be hungry at night.
•        Strive for variety in your food, including buying in season and on sale. Try a new food weekly.
•        Beware of fattening food combinations.
•        Avoid drinking your calories.

Do you know any fat vegans?

The most prominent feature of the path described in this chapter is the substantial elimination of animal products
from your diet. A person who does not eat animal products (no meat, no fowl, no fish, no eggs, and no dairy) is
known as a vegan. The question at the start of this section is, “do you know any fat vegans?” You likely know
some fat vegetarians. Vegetarians do not eat meat, but generally eat dairy products and eggs. A vegetarian
could comfortably chow down on a spinach and mushroom pizza dripping with cheese. A vegan would not. Some
religious groups promote vegetarianism, like Hindus. But when you see photos of crowds in Hindu areas, you
often see overweight people. Vegetarianism does not automatically lead to a trim figure, but veganism does.

On this path, I do not ask you to give up animal products completely, although you may if you choose. Rather, I
ask that you only eat animal products, including eggs, dairy products, fish, fowl and meats, once every six meals
or less. Further, I ask that you continue to “dump the junk,” as described in Chapter 4. That means no
manufactured foods with added sugar, oil, or salt.

The grain-free path eliminated all grains, but on the vegan path you may eat whole grains with the exception of
wheat. That means you can have a hearty bowl of oatmeal with fruit for breakfast. Your lunchtime salad might
include quinoa, and your evening stir fry can be served over a bed of brown rice. Using the watermelon analogy,
you have already cut off one end of the watermelon representing junk food. On this path, cut off the other end of
the watermelon representing animal products and take off one more slice representing wheat (Figure 16). All of
the remaining food in the world can be your diet on this path.
Giving up animal products sounds quite radical to many
people. Meat is integrated into American culture. For
men, meat and masculinity are nearly synonymous. A
generation ago, Daddy was the one who would, “bring
home the bacon.” For many men, the best dish they can
cook is meat on the barbeque. To think of life without
meat is radical. However, there are many reasons to
consider eliminating animal products from your diet. The
first is because the animals we kill and eat are sentient
beings who feel pain. Some people choose not to eat
animals because they do not want to kill them. Another is
that animals are on top of the food chain. They take
enormous resources to grow and they produce enormous
waste when killed. It would be easier to feed all of the
hungry people in the world if so many resources were not
dedicated to producing extremely resource-rich animal
products. But these philosophical reasons to become
vegan are beyond the scope of this book. This book is
about losing weight and achieving fitness and a mostly
vegan diet helps to achieve that goal.

First, studies show that vegans are lighter and healthier
than the general population. Compared to omnivores,
vegans have lower rates of coronary heart disease,
hypertension, diabetes and cancer. Vegans are less likely
to be obese and more likely to live longer than the
general population.
On the vegan path of the Simply Fit Diet, dump the junk, animal products and wheat.  Limit your consumption of animal products.
Figure 16. On the vegan path, eliminate junk,
animal products and wheat.  All the other food in
the world will be your diet.
Second, there is growing evidence that consumption of red meat and animal products is correlated with an
increased risk of cancer and circulatory diseases. The
National Institutes of Health says, “past research has tied
red meat to increased risks of diabetes, cardiovascular disease and certain cancers. The studies have also
pointed to an elevated risk of mortality from red meat intake.”

T. Colin Chapman, in his book
The China Study, describes studies of mice exposed to carcinogens where their
risk of developing cancer could be turned on and off
not by the amount of carcinogen exposure, but by the
amount of animal protein in their diet. Incredibly, mice with low animal protein intake had no cancer, even when
exposed to the same quantity of carcinogens as the animal protein-eating mice who developed cancer. Scientists
cannot ethically experiment with people the way they do with mice, but in a huge study of regions with diverse
diets in China, Chapman demonstrated that the areas with the highest animal protein consumption also had the
highest levels of disease.

In the prior chapter, I described the advantage of eating a wide variety of foods. Veganism multiplies this
advantage. First, fats have about nine calories per gram. Carbohydrates only have about four calories per gram.
On a vegan diet, you will displace the calorie-dense fats found in meat, cheese, and other dairy products with
lower calorie options. Therefore, to get the same number of calories, you will need to eat more food. For example,
a 7-ounce steak at a popular chain restaurant has 280 calories and provides 34 grams of protein. You can get
just as much protein by eating broccoli, but it will take a 44 ounce serving, and that serving will have 170 calories,
still less than the steak. To equal the calories of the steak, you would need to eat about nine cups (72 ounces) of
broccoli. As you can see, you need to consume more food to meet your nutrition needs on a vegan diet.

Of course, humans like variety. Your diet will not consist solely of broccoli. You will naturally seek out and
consume a wider variety of foods, especially vegetables and fruits, when you are on a vegan diet. This wide
variety of vegetables and fruits will provide your body with large quantities of the healthful nutrients plants
provide, both known and unknown.

You will also note that I have asked you to eliminate wheat while on the reducing phase of this path. There is
growing evidence that wheat is the most fattening grain and for many people may have harmful effects. For an
exploration of reasons why wheat may be bad for you, check out William Davis’ book,
Wheat Belly. But I am not so
concerned about the reasons, just the results. Elimination of wheat helps with weight loss. One explanation of why
eliminating wheat helps with weight loss is that wheat is the most commonly consumed grain in America–it is in
almost everything. Eliminating wheat while on a reducing diet may help you to lose weight because you will simply
have fewer eating options. An alternate explanation is that wheat causes a surge in insulin which tells the body to
store fat. Eliminating wheat may lead to weight loss by lowering insulin levels. Please remember that beer is made
with wheat and is restricted on this path. You may choose to drink wine or other non-wheat based alcoholic
beverages on this path.

The thought of starting a vegan diet is probably more difficult than actually doing it. The first time I went on a
vegan diet was in response to my brother losing his leg due to diabetes. I read
Dr. Neal Barnard’s Program for
Reversing Diabetes
and thought I would give his method a try. At first, I said I would go a week without meat. But
later I decided I would go one day without meat. Finally, the night before starting the vegan diet, I retreated to
agreeing to breakfast without animal products. I consider myself a relatively open-minded, non-macho American
man, but I found meat and animal products to be deeply ingrained in my lifestyle. However, once I skipped animal
products for one meal, I found the results positive. I gave them up almost completely. I did not die. I did not pass
out from lack of energy. And although I started eating more frequently than I had before, and eating more volume
than I had before, my weight dropped steadily until it reached a healthy level. If you try the vegan path, you will
find that animal products are not necessary for health or energy, and that you obtain a more pleasant, lean-
burning energy from vegetables, grains and fruits.

The Eden diet.

Whether you think the Bible is the work of God, or an interesting historical document, it has enormous impact on
our culture. The Bible starts with man and woman living in the Garden of Eden, and their diet is vegan. They eat
no meat or other animal products. Genesis 1:29 recounts that God created man and said, “I give you every seed-
bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for
food.” On the surface, meat and animal products are imbedded in our consciousness and culture. But when you
dig a little deeper, so is veganism. If you believe that the Bible is the word of God, you should also consider that
the ideal diet described in the Bible is a vegan diet.
To juice or not to juice.

The wide availability of high speed juicers and the recent popularity of films like Joe Cross’ Fat, Sick and Nearly
Dead
, have made juicing popular. Juicing effectively takes a vegan diet and liquefies it. A frustration with juicing is
that a single fruit or vegetable produces only a dribble of juice, so a large mass of plants is required to make a
meal. Further, the abundant fiber the body would normally obtain from the vegetation goes into the garbage.
Personally, I prefer to “juice” my vegetables with my teeth and to get the full benefit of nature’s goodness from the
food I eat. On balance, I see juicing as a bit of a gimmick, but if it is a gimmick that gets people to eat healthy food
and lose weight, I see no harm to it on a short term basis.
Protein and vitamin B-12 on the vegan path.

People unfamiliar with a vegan diet may wonder if it provides adequate protein. The government recommends
that women get 46 grams of protein a day and men get 56. Plant products like tofu, beans, and nuts provide
plentiful protein. For example, a cup of cooked soy beans has more than 30 grams of protein, a cup of lentils has
18 grams of protein and a four-ounce handful of cashews has 20 grams of protein. If you consumed all of these in
a day, you would have 68 grams of protein. It is not difficult to put together a healthy diet with more than enough
vegan protein.

Vitamin B-12 is another matter. Animal products are rich in vitamin B-12, but non-fortified plant products lack this
essential nutrient. The government recommends that people over age 14 get 2.4 micrograms of vitamin B-12 a
day. As a preliminary matter, your body’s store of vitamin B-12 will last for months before experiencing a
deficiency, so a short time on the vegan path should cause no harm. Further, on the vegan path you may
consume animal products once every six meals. Occasionally eating three ounces of cooked clams would give
you about 84 micrograms of vitamin B-12.

However, both vegans and about 30% of people over the age of 50 are at risk of a vitamin B-12 deficiency.
Artificial sources of vitamin B-12 can help. Eight ounces of fortified soy milk provides three micrograms of vitamin
B-12 and two tablespoons of fortified yeast provides 7.8 micrograms. Many fortified breakfast cereals provide
generous doses of vitamin B-12, although it is hard to find a cereal without added sugar. You could also take a
vitamin B-12 supplement. If you follow a mostly or completely vegan diet you should research the issue of vitamin
B-12 requirements and meet with your doctor to establish whether supplementation is appropriate for you.

Vegan cave men?

Proponents of the paleo lifestyle will likely gleefully ask, “have you ever heard of a vegan caveman?” The answer
is, “not really.” However, I would ask, “have you ever heard of a caveman who drove his leather-interior 4x4 truck
with one-touch down power windows to the drive-through and traded a piece of paper representing ten minutes of
his time for a day’s worth of calories?” The answer to this question is, “certainly not.” Paleo diets are currently
popular and are easily accommodated on the no-grain path. However, paleo diets, vegan diets, and almost all
diets, for that matter, are artificial restrictions of the dangerous abundance of food we have created in recent
years. A more important question than, “did cave men do it?” is, “does it work and is it healthy?” A vegan diet both
works toward weight reduction and is healthy.

Why does the vegan path work?

Following the vegan path on the Simply Fit Diet leads to consistent weight loss, even though you will probably be
eating more volume and more frequently than on your previous diet. Vegan advocates point out that an animal-
free diet contains much less fat than a carnivorous diet. If consuming fat makes you fat, the vegan path provides
a solution. Further, obtaining almost all of your nutrition from plants forces you to eat a large volume and variety
of plants. Plants are more nutritionally rich than animal products and those nutrients may make you healthier and
help you to lose weight. Alternatively, eliminating almost all animal products and wheat products limits the foods
that are available to you. This may result in your consuming fewer calories, providing an explanation palatable to
the calories in/calories out crowd. And most probably, it is a combination of these factors. However, the important
thing is not why it works, but that it works. Following the vegan path will result in steady weight loss, and as long
as you stay on the path, you will reach your weight goal.

Vegan path conclusion.

When you plan a trip, there is usually more than one path to your goal. The same applies to weight loss. Both the
grain-free path and the vegan path will lead to steady, sustainable weight loss and help you to improve your
health and lower your chances of disease. The changes you can expect on the vegan path are the same as the
ones described for the grain-free path at the end of Chapter 5.
All original contents copyright 2018.