A few words with.... Heather Shenkman, the Vegan Doc!
I am not sure about yours, but my general doctor is a lady in her mid fifties, quiet, smily, a bit bored with her patients, with little to no idea of what veganism is all about and not likely to ever find out. Not to talk about my cardiologist, who is a balding, boring man able to look at my heart on the ecography screen with the same passion and enthusiasm you would devote to a brick in a wall.
So when I found out there was a young, cool cardiologist, keeping a blog, who is incidentally vegan, I could not refrain from asking her a few questions! And she has been kind enough not only to allow me to add her to The Vegan Club blog roll, but also to answer me: meet Heather Shenkman, the Vegan Doc behind the blog Out Of My Vegan Mind!
Heather, when lay people hear I am a vegan, thinking they know more than me and that they are 'doing better', usually they start commenting I may lack calcium, iron, proteins, blah, blah, blah.... But you are a doctor! No arguing who knows most here! What do people untrained in the medical field tell you about your veganism? What is the typical conversation like?
I hear the same things! But, honestly, it's the standard American diet that is deficient, because it is lacking in fiber and antioxidants that are found in fruits and vegetables and contains way too much fat and cholesterol. With a well balanced vegan diet, it is possible to get all of the nutrients needed in a more healthful manner.
What about the doctor community? How do they react to the fact you are vegan? Do they raise objections?
These days, I don't think you'll find a single physician who will tell their patients that they need to include meat in their diet. I think that other physicians respect me for my choice of a vegan lifestyle and realize that it is healthier.
So when and why you became vegan? Were you motivated by sheer health reasons or moral motivations were also a push?
I went vegetarian at age 16 because I thought it was cruel to eat animals when there were plenty of other options. As I learned more about the horrors of factory farming, and about the health and environmental impact of animal products, I went vegan. I've been vegan now for a year and a half.
You are seriously training. Can you share with us some secrets about becoming athletic/staying fit on a vegan diet?
The most important part of becoming and staying fit is finding activities that you love, and to change your routine to keep exercise from becoming dull. For example, someone who loves to swim could join a masters swim group, or in the summer swim in the open water instead of in a pool.
My diet is full of fruits and vegetables, well more than the five servings a day that are recommended. I also eat whole grains whenever possible instead of white flour. My main sources of protein are soy, beans, seitan, and lentils. And, since I love dessert, I have something "sinful" every day, such as a serving on Soy Dream ice cream or a couple of Fig Newmans.
Finally, what do you enjoy most about being a vegan?
I love how great I feel, that at age 30 I am at my peak athletic performance. It's also nice to have a clean conscience, to know that my lifestyle is kinder to the animals and the environment.
Thanks a lot and our compliments for your graduation, Heather! Our Vegan Doc graduated from her Cardiology Fellowship on June 4th! Congratulations!!!
Many compliments also to Virgine of Absolute Green, who ended up winning the "Power to the culinary imagination" contest on the topic of cooking with flowers with the recipe re-posted below! Many non veggie people contacted Virginie praising her creativity and ability in creating such a recipe not using any animal product and we thought this to be pretty awesome! Comgratulations!