Turn Your Head and Cough; or, Let’s Get Physical



Blog originally posted on HappyCow.net.

Last week I had a physical. Since becoming vegan over two years ago, I actually look forward to physicals. At my age, for the record I am half-expired, doctors start to salivate over the notion of prescribing some sort of medication to keep people alive. It’s also that time of life when they are making their Viagra quota and are very disappointed when I let them know I’m not interested (in the drug, that is).

My first visit after going vegan the doctor was surprised to find that I had lost twenty pounds and that my cholesterol was lowered and that my blood pressure was perfect. It was as if they were examining a new patient as opposed to someone who was creeping up to “over the hill” status.

I’ll never forget how she looked at me, over her glasses, after reading the numbers, as if I had somehow cheated on the blood test or tricked the blood pressure gauge.

Friends of mine who are the same age are all fattening up and swallowing down whatever pills they need in order to continue with their current lifestyle. I was actually shocked a while back when a close friend of mine told me his doctor had prescribed him a pill that he could take every day that would keep his arteries clear enough so he could enjoy as much meat and dairy as he liked. He was delighted to know that keeping on this one drug meant he could eat as much butter-drenched steak as he wanted. Not thinking that this could be a much shorter time than he was originally hoping for and not noticing that this drug was brought to his attention only when his own father suffered a stroke.

And, of course, with no mention of going vegan.

I am forever amazed at what doctors will prescribe their patients as opposed to telling them to cut out meat, eggs, and dairy. It’s evident that, to a doctor, an all-expense paid vacation on Pfizer is much more exciting than patient health. But I digress.

Last week’s physical was for a new life insurance policy. Standard in-home visit for blood and urine, weight and measurements, and a three-page questionnaire. In the interest of full-disclosure, my weight has gone up 15 pounds in the past year but I blame that on my wife being pregnant to which I blame on having clear arteries without a $3 pill. The circle of life.

I do eat a lot of vegan “junk food” and should balance it out better with more whole foods and fruits and vegetables but as a gluten-free vegan, I kind of try to give myself leeway; which was reflected that morning on the scale.

But, my blood pressure was perfect and the nurse neatly packed away my samples as she began the series of questions. Health history, family health history, depression, exercise, alcohol consumption, smoking … and … done … that was it. She was done. Done? I reviewed the questions and signed off on my answers and she tucked it all into her backpack and left.

Never once asking me about my diet, or more specifically, if I eat meat.

Now, I know I see things differently as an ethical vegan and I am more sensitive about these issues than most people but it still struck me like a bolt of lightning that she asked about smoking but not about meat. Meat is as bad for you as smoking and eggs are worse than both. When you talk about what might kill you in your prime years, the chances of a heart attack or stroke because of meat-clogged arteries is higher than dying of lung cancer from smoking or liver failure from drinking. Meat is killing this country.

But she never asked.

Of course, she was going through the motions and doing what needed to be done for the insurance company but at that corporate level above her, wouldn’t you think they would ask about meat, eggs, and dairy? Or, at a minimum, ask about amounts of these consumed? Or, even less, ask “how’s your diet?”

After she left I pondered this for a while and realized that for the same reasons doctors want to keep the country on life-extending drugs, it’s the same for a life insurance company. They won’t ask these hard-hitting questions. It is one hand feeding the next. And it’s feeding “the next” meat, eggs, and dairy.

Go vegan.


4 thoughts on “Turn Your Head and Cough; or, Let’s Get Physical

  1. Fred

    Had my physical in May- thanks Obamacare- the nurse checking me in does my blood pressure and says it is exemplary, then says ‘let’s check your daily meds’. Goes over everything and says ‘none?’. Said she has never seen a man my age- 59- not on a daily regimen of pills.
    That simple example alone just made my day and reminded me I am on the right path.
    Of course way back in September 1969 when I boldly told my mom I would never eat animals again did it ever occur to me that I was doing it for any other reason than the animals.
    Thanks for the great post.


    • Thank you, Fred, as always for commenting and congratulations on your exam. You’re inspirational to me since I made this decision so late in life to be at my best when I turn 50. And 60. And so on.

      And thanks for all you do for the animals.


  2. Daryl Denning

    I was on cholesterol medication for over 20 years, even while a vegetarian for most of that time. It seemed the family genetic factor was going to keep me on statins for the rest of my days. I had two cardiac catheterizations in recent years after stress tests showed ischemia. So what a surprise! The most recent stress test, in December, 2012, showed no ischemia! And my very recent lab work showed the best overall cholesterol levels in all these years! And this was after taking myself off Crestor several months ago. I wonder ….. could my going vegan at 60 almost 5 years ago have something to do with this? Just a coincidence or incorrect tests, it must be! Or maybe divine intervention? (I have not been good enough to expect that!)
    And speaking of genetic health factors, my older brother had bypass surgery before 60, prostate cancer and surgery about the same time, and now has diabetes. He has not had the usual lifestyle factors that connect with these issues (except maybe consuming “food” from reproductive fertilizations of other animals, secretions from others, and “food” from the corpses of many.) My father and two of his brothers also had prostate cancer and surgery. My PSA levels are extremely low.
    Health considerations were not the motivation for me and my dear wife Mary Ann to go vegetarian in the first place. Nor were they when we finally had our “revelation” that being vegan was a fulfillment of the compassion for other beings and a moral obligation toward our environment. But it is nice at nearly 65 (for me – Mary Ann is a mere 59-year-old) to think that being vegan might keep me off most meds now, reducing the overall over-priced and questionable marketing/profiteering of “Big Pharma” and the overall health care costs that impact us all. There are just so many benefits to veganism. It is not a “sacrifice” to “give up” old ways. The main benefit I feel is to my very soul – “Vegan Food for the Soul”!


    • What a fantastic, and inspiring comment, Daryl. Thank you for sharing your personal health experience and congratulations on the signs of success. I went vegan at 45 (assuming this was the half way point) to see if the second half of my life could actually be HEALTHIER than the first half (which wouldn’t be the case with most people).

      Time will tell.

      The main thing is, I love being vegan (it’s much more exciting and challenging in the kitchen) and I LOVE being an ethical vegan (I sleep better at night know I no longer contribute to such cruelty to so many creatures).

      Thanks again and thanks for all you do for the animals!


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