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April 29, 2011



I am a long time fan of your blog and refer people to it regularly. A pesco-ovo-vegetarian (non-smoker, exerciser, etc.), I've cut out all added fats and reduced the amount of nuts I eat. I have never had a weight problem and no ailments bút irritable bowel syndrome - which isn't always the consequence of bad habits. Largely in remission (for 20+ years), I still can't tolerate gluten, soy or nutritional yeast. Food intolerances are quite common (soy and gluten in particular) yet you nor the several doctors ever seem to address this issue, while it makes a very restricted vegan diet (which this is, without nuts and oils and - in my case - without gluten, soy and yeast) far more complicated than the easy peasy you all make it out to be.

Cathy Marlow

I saw it and can't wait to see the movie. I'm telling everyone about it! People always tell me they know what they need to be doing, but just aren't doing it. I was that way too, but figured I'd do something if I actually got sick. But, when I read what actually happens in your body and that you could have something horrible happen and not die from it and live w/a much lower quality of life, I knew it was time to change plus I want to lower my illness rate and up my energy. Especially w/a history of cancer in my family, the information is so powerful. I'm amazed this is getting mainstream attention and hope others can open their minds to it and see what I did or have their own life changing understandings. Powerful stuff! Your site has helped me a lot and even my mom who is not veg loves your site and gets closer little by little.

I wish they would have given them the entire hour but at least he let them say what they wanted! It's a start. We are going to see the movie on May 13th here in Phoenix!

Healthy Librarian


I definitely understand your difficulties with following a plant-based diet with gluten and soy intolerances--and I don't mean to minimize them.

It does make it more difficult. I'm a FIRM BELIEVER in doing what you can, and not worrying about it. The Esselstyn's rarely eat soy--and mostly just for a dessert--and seitan is not a common ingredient in their recipes. Bionaturae has AMAZING gluten-free pastas.

Also, one of my readers follows a gluten-free, oil-free diet--and I'm pretty sure she doesn't eat soy--or rarely. I'll ask her how the heck she does is! I want to know!

1. Take a look at Ornish's book, "Spectrum" and just figure out what works best for you. He'd say, load up on vegetables, fruit, & beans. For Ornish, egg whites, non-dairy milks, or fat-free dairy (although I disagree with this one!), and wild salmon are all good sources of protein. Cutting out added oils will make a huge positive step. W/O heart disease, walnuts are fine.

2. Just got a new book: "The Complete Guide to Vegan Food Substitutions" with loads of suggestions for substitutions for gluten & soy. Unfortunately, when it comes to using them as a "protein" in a meal she subs seitan for tofu---tofu for seitan--neither of which works for you!

3. For people who don't have active heart disease-they came to this way of eating slowly, step by step, getting used to what works best for them.

4. Up until a few months ago, I never used nutritional yeast, & I rarely used soy in my cooking. And, from there, it's not too hard to cut out wheat, rye, & barley. But, beans are a must. Look, we do the best we can--and everything is a step in the right direction.

5. If you've kept IBS in remission for 20+ years you're doing something very right!

Healthy Librarian


I'm pretty much like you--I was convinced to make the switch when I learned what was going on on the inside--even when we're symptom-free. And when I saw Dr. Steven Nissen's research with IVUS--intravascular ultrasound--how arteries can actually be open while the atherosclerotic plaque forms from the inside out--you realize how insidious our diets are.

When plaque forms in this way--you can pass stress & angiographic tests--remain asymptomatic--but still have inflamed blood vessels that can throw clots that can cause heart attacks or slow insidious mini-strokes.

Google ???: I was surprised that the FOK gang was only on for 1 hour, too. So much they had to say. Enjoy the movie--and let us know what you think.

Ken Leebow


While no fan of Dr. Oz, I did tape the show.


1. Laughed when you mentioned Dr. B. could have done a better job displaying appetizing meals. I was thinking the same thing when I watched it. And, yes, yours look amazing. Next time they're on, maybe they should place a call to you. I'll be on the lookout for you on Oprah.

2. While I didn't take notes, Rip seemed to be making many claims (from studies) about cancer-reducing/fighting foods. I was not going to spend time researching his claims, however, they seemed to be "over-the-top". So, I didn't find it to be totally credible.

I am no fan of "the study of the day". Typically, these studies are not reported properly by the media. For detail analysis of this, I recommend subscribing to Gary Schwizter's blog: - a valuable resource.

3. While I am not a vegan or a vegetarian, I am a fan of Drs. Esselstyn, Campbell, and Barnhard. I have viewed hour-long presentations by all of them.

Take-away quote from Barnhard: "Fiber is your friend." On a PBS special he said ... For every additional 14 grams of fiber you consume, you will reduce calorie intake by 10%. He recommends 40-grams of fiber per day. The average American consumes about 15. Just that one tip from Dr. B could end the obesity epidemic in this country.

Take away quote from Esselstyn: Genes load the gun, but lifestyle pulls the trigger.

4. I think there's too much differing information floating around. This, unfortunately, makes it very confusing to the average consumer. For example, wild salmon is good for us (heart-healthy - get those Omega-3s), but Dr. B says no! Most people advise eating raw almonds, but Dr. E says no! Those are just two examples of hundreds.

So, with point 4 in mind ...

I have found to lead a healthy lifestyle and to stay out of the "Circle of Disease" if we avoid this ... Fast Food, Junk Food, Candy, Soda, Highly Processed Food and add this ... Exercise we are well on our way to healthy living.

I believe we are a disease-prone society because we are on The Main Street Diet ... details here:

Finally, since people ask me all the time: "What do you eat?" I have decided to document that for 14-days. I have done that at:

I encourage all health-advocates to do the same because most have been able to stay out of the Circle of Disease. It would be beneficial to observe ... what they eat. There's a rich-array of things healthy people eat and a wide variety of foods.

So with that, I wish you good health.

Ken Leebow

P.S. Thanks for all your great information and detailed analysis. It's most helpful.

Healthy Librarian


A right on analysis of the show, the studies, and the differences in diets!

I'm with you--Rip's "study of the day" presentation was more of Oz Show-type-hype---but, bottom line, eating a huge array of phytochemicals from plants is synergistically beneficial---zeroing in on one--I don't think so.

My takeway from Rip:

1. Nutritional yeast is a worthwhile product--I know from personal experience with it.
2. Greens, like escarole, are win-win-win foods--eat a lot--eat a variety
3. Banana ice cream is a healthy sugar-free- substitute to satisfy the evening snack monster. I know from personal experience.
4. I'm not running out to buy freeze-dried strawberries or rhubarb---they're just examples of the hidden power of fruits & veggies

Re Barnard--yep, Fiber Rules. Without even thinking about it, I clock in at over 60 grams of fiber a day. Keeps my full and my digestive system moving.

Re your diet: It's good for everyone to hear--there is a CONTINUUM of a healthy diets--it's not all of none. If you can't do everything--don't worry about it--get there step-by-step. Don't give up just because you can't be PLANT PERFECT!

Re nuts: Hope to write a post about this persnickety one sometime soon.

My take: walnuts rule because they are mostly omega-3s, & have poly-unsaturated fats--and research backs up its positive effect on arteries, blood pressure, & type 2 diabetes.

Most other nuts--like almonds--have mostly monounsaturated fats. On the face of biomarkers, they seem harmless, lowering LDL, raising HDLs. All nuts, except walnuts are sky-high in omega-6s, peanuts (really legumes) are the worst.

Dr. Larry Rudel of Wake Forest knows that they monounsaturated fats (in olive oil, especially) DO NOT protect us from atherosclerosis--and they can promote atherosclerosis. That's his conclusion after a lifetime of research.

I can live with mostly walnuts--and occasionally eat a little of the others. Just my opinion.

Thanks for the Schwitzer blog recommendation. I value your opinion--and will check it out!


Thanks for the Cindy's salad dressing recommendation--I'm going to Whole Foods this morning and will look for some.

Have you ever tried mixing frozen berries with frozen bananas for your ice cream treat? REALLY good.

I've been working towards a more plant-based diet, but I have multiple food intolerances myself. Lactose, nut and soy intolerance, fructose malabsorption, though I can eat fruit that's evenly balanced with fructose/glucose. The information you posted about lysine was very valuable to me. I may have a deficiency because I was eating lots fo grains, but I can't eat a cup and a half of beans like Ginny Messina recommended due to my digestive issues. I tried eating a little chicken this past week, but by week's end I'm feeling a case of the "food flu" that I get when I eat to much of something that disagrees with me. Sounds terribly neurotic, I know. I'm thinking lysine supplements might be the answer.

I'd also like to recommend this seasoning combo to your readers: Penzey's Smoked Spanish paprika and a dash of chipotle, with or without soy sauce. It's great in grain and bean dishes!

Healthy Librarian


Read my reply to Lou--and re the grain--lysine absorption--read up on phytates (phytic acid)& how soaking grains helps. Also, have you seen the new sprouted rice & grains at Whole Foods? It's like the grains used in Ezekiel Breads--but you cook them yourself.

I think (not sure) that the soaked & sprouted grains make the nutrients in grains far more absorbable. Worth experimenting with.


The frozen banana smoothie/shake/"ice cream" was a revelation for me last summer. What a great way to use over-the-hill bananas without heating up the oven for breads or muffins! As a Sunday-afternoon-90-degrees-in-the-shade-and-the-AC's-out snack, it's a lifesaver.
As for the show-it's a TV show, with all the cut-short comments and hyperbole. He could have had ONE of those guests for an hour, or done a series.


I'm not sure if you addressed this already. If not, could you comment on whether it would be okay (more acceptable) to make a salad dressing with actual olives? Kind of like the Isa Chandra Moskowitz dressing made with cashews that you featured (thanks for that! It was a big hit here.). Maybe a broader question is, how much processing is ok for food? I'm thinking you'll say that if the fiber is retained after processing, it should be ok to eat.


Debby, thank you for taking the time to email me in addition to your reply here. I will definitely look into your suggestions.



Thank you so much for your detailed response here and in your email! I should explain that I've been a vegan throughout my twenties and then strayed into occasionally dairy, but mostly ovo-pesco vegetarianism. I should also admit that throughout the last couple of years on this more social-life compatible diet, my IBS has been flaring a bit. By now I've cut out all dairy and gluten, which has improved matters, but not resolved them. Now that gluten are out (and pretty much any grain, except oats) my diet has become more complicated. It's of utmost importance to me that food is satisfying - I believe it's key for both healthy digestion and maintaining weight - but gourmet cooking is not my hobby. So I struggle with these changes. From my own experience I know that your palate does quite easily adapt *if you're motivated enough* and that this shift in taste is genuine (not merely an effect of suggestion and will power). I guess I've been resisting the inevitable, and my protest here though realistic - grains and soy are a problem for quite a few folks, and without these bulk foods this type of (vegan) diet becomes more difficult - was part of it. Since writing I've decided to cut out animal protein from home cooking again and get back on beans and lentils. Let's see what happens.

Oh, and I'd love to hear what your gluten-free soy-free oil free reader is eating!

Best regards,

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