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.