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Big Hint, Meat Eaters: The New President of American College of Cardiology Is Vegan

Big Hint, Meat Eaters: The New President of American College of Cardiology Is Vegan

When doctors make significant lifestyle changes for health improvement reasons, we tend to sit up and take notice. Well, pay attention everyone. The new leader of the American College of Cardiologists is vegan — and he thinks you should be, too.

Kim A. Williams, M.D., incoming president of the American College of Cardiology, discovered in 2003 that his LDL cholesterol level was a worrisome 170. He thought he’d been eating right. He avoided red meat, minimized dairy intake, focused his protein intake on fish and chicken. Sound familiar? You’re probably doing that, too.

A few months before getting that result, wrote Dr. Williams recently at MedPage Today, he had reviewed a nuclear scan for “very high risk” patient who suffered from a “severe three-vessel disease pattern of reversible ischemia.” In other words, the blood flow to her heart was partially obstructed. Her situation was of significant concern.

Upon that patient’s return visit six months later, Dr. Williams said he was amazed to see that her condition had vastly improved. Her chest pain was gone and her scan was back to normal. When he asked her what she’d done, she told him she’d gone vegan, began exercising and started meditating. Specifically, she’d followed the program outlined in Dr. Dean Ornish‘s “Reversing Heart Disease” program.

doctor holding plastic heart

Dr. Williams remembered that remarkable patient when he got his LDL cholesterol result. Intrigued, he took a closer look at the Ornish program and the research behind it. He became convinced that Ornish’s highly positive patient outcomes “reached statistical significance.” That day, he wrote, he switched to a plant-based diet.

Not surprisingly, he reports, his bad cholesterol plummeted to 90 within six weeks. He’s been a vegan ever since. He says:

I often discuss the benefits of adopting a plant-based diet with patients who have high cholesterol, diabetes, hypertension, or coronary artery disease. I encourage these patients to go to the grocery store and sample different plant-based versions of many of the basic foods they eat.

Dr. Ornish responded to Dr. Williams’ blog post with one of his own. He noted:

A recent study found that animal protein dramatically increases the risk of premature death independent of fat and carbohydrates. In a study of over 6,000 people, those ages 50 to 65 who reported eating diets high in animal protein had a 75% increase in overall mortality, a 400% increase in cancer deaths, and a 500% increase in type 2 diabetes during the following 18 years.

vegan dinner salad

“After a week, [Dr. Williams' post is] still the no. 1 most-read cardiovascular article on MedPage Today,” Dr. Ornish added. “I admire Williams for his courage and leadership.”

Certainly, Dr. Williams and Dr. Ornish aren’t the only respected doctors who urge people to adopt a vegan diet and other lifestyle changes for health reasons. Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, author of Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease, conducted a study with patients suffering advanced coronary artery disease. Some of them had been told they had less than a year to live.

Dr. Esselstyn put them on a plant-based, oil-free diet. The 17 patients who religiously followed his program thrived — some of them living up to 20 symptom-free years beyond initial projections. None experienced a cardiac event after going vegan. Before they did so, collectively they’d experienced 49 cardiac events.

These results speak for themselves, folks.

dr. williams is vegan

Photo credit: VegNews Facebook Page

Dr. Williams knows he and his colleagues need to treat the cause of heart disease rather than merely address its symptoms. His ultimate desire is an exciting one:

Wouldn’t it be a laudable goal of the American College of Cardiology to put ourselves out of business within a generation or two? We have come a long way in prevention of cardiovascular disease, but we still have a long way to go. Improving our lifestyles with improved diet and exercise will help us get there.

If the plight of factory farmed animals hasn’t convinced you to stop eating meat, dairy and eggs, how about improving your own health?

Eating vegan doesn’t mean you’ll have to sustain yourself on foods that taste like cardboard and grass. Now more than ever, wonderful, tasty and healthy plant-based food choices are available everywhere. Take the plant-based plunge and see what happens.

What’s the worst possible outcome? Afraid you’ll live longer or something?

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Photo credit: Thinkstock

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10:47AM PDT on Aug 19, 2014

btw...Esselstyn's fad diet is too radical for most people....and totally unnecessary.

Eat a nutritionally balanced diet in moderation and ignore the fads.

10:44AM PDT on Aug 19, 2014

Just had my annual physical today and it indicates that my cholesterol and heart are perfect. I actually have to add a bit more meat to my diet to boost the B's....(can't digest beans or take supplements)

Pay no attention to the scare tactics....if you eat a nutritionally balanced diet in moderation....then you don't have to worry or eat a vegan diet unless you want to do so.

2:12PM PDT on Aug 17, 2014

Excuse me Shalvah, I didn't see where I called you a Vegan

You're still a bit touchy

2:09PM PDT on Aug 17, 2014

@ Shalvah: Sorry, didn't quite see where I called you an atheist

I see where I told you something that many have found out. Didn't call you one though

You're a wee bit touchy and very defensive it would seem

1:51PM PDT on Aug 17, 2014

@ Shalvah: A recent study shows too many Vegans are smug and self righteous with no reason to be at all
I received a star from a care2 member so came back to look at what he had wrote, while searching I came up with this hilarious comment! How did you come to the conclusion I was vegan or are you trying to encourage me to be one... anyway won't work. I don't do Vegan/Vegetarian/Carnivore/Omnivore whatever, I eat what I consider as healthy food that will nourish my body.

4:53PM PDT on Aug 16, 2014


7:13AM PDT on Aug 16, 2014

All Homo Species were meat eaters:

7:09AM PDT on Aug 16, 2014

C H states that there are many alternatives to meat. There are certainly a variety of alternatives, but not all people adapt well to only a plant-based diet and some have gotten ill if they stay on it, while others do exceptionally well. No, we were not born eating meat, however, our food choices expand as we grew older. All mammals begin with drinking milk. You may not need meat, but there are many people who do require some meat in their diet. We are all individuals and often have differing nutritional requirements.

Certainly, factory farms should be avoided and I agree with Suba G when she has often said that: "It doesn't matter what you eat, but it matters how you treat what you eat."

What is the point of using the phrase regarding "stuff our faces?" While I agree that domestic farm animals must be raised away from non-factory farms, the idea that people eating meat 'stuff their faces' is pejorative terminology. There are many people who eat small amounts of meat, not everyone eats too much meat at one meal. No one talks about people 'stuffing their faces' for the most part if eating a salad, but an omnivore is often seen as 'stuffing their faces,' should they eat meat or cheese or whatever animal product that some vegans and vegetarians object to.

6:17AM PDT on Aug 16, 2014

I will not go vegan but I have given up almost all beef for the past year. I try and do the meatless Monday thing too but it might be on a different day of the week. I think the best thing we can do for our personal health is to buy and cook our own foods daily. Growing our own would be great too but there are limitations with that for many of us. To your health!

4:54AM PDT on Aug 16, 2014

@ C H: Actually Humans ARE BORN being Omnivores and yes we do need meat in a completely natural, ie no agriculture/horticulture/technology, state as our ancestors did more than 15k years ago before those were available

But the rest you stated, no factory farms, I agree with you

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