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HEALTH MATTERS: Vegan lifestyle can lead to a healthier, longer life

The holiday season can bring good cheer and unwanted weight gain. The vegan movement is changing the way the world eats in an effort to save lives and help people live longer.

Medical professionals warn that holiday time is no excuse for overeating and putting your health at risk.

Queen Vida, a native of Ghana in West Africa, has lived in the United States for 24 years.

“I learned about veganism because I had a variety of health problems including heart palpitations and high blood pressure,” said Vida, who was overweight at 214 pounds when she first arrived in America.

“I came from a large family of 12 children,” Vida said. “I lost seven of my siblings and my parents, some due to health related issues, such as diabetes, obesity and high blood pressure.”

Vida wanted to get serious about living a healthier lifestyle. While she had been living the vegan lifestyle for 41 years, she was still using an abundance of cooking oils, which are high in saturated fat. That ingredient contributed to her weight gain and made it impossible for her to lose the extra pounds.

“Eventually, I learned to substitute the vegetable oil with natural, organic seeds such as sunflower seeds and sesame seeds by blending the seeds with a little water to create a paste and add it to my food preparation,” Vida said. The elimination of saturated oils resulted in Vida losing about 100 pounds in less than a year and keeping it off.

Vida’s vegan recipes found in her cookbook, “Queen Vida’s International Vegan Cuisine,” have been enjoyed by dignitaries and celebrities such as Louis Gossett Jr., Stevie Wonder, Whitney Houston, John Salley, Nelson Mandela, members of the United Nations and more.

“I know and live the benefits of veganism and have trained people around the world about eating healthy,” said Vida, who was selected by the Ghana Board of Tourist as the best vegan chef in the country of Ghana and the World Soul Food Museum in Georgia recognized her as the World Queen of Healthy Vegan Soul Food.

The vegan community is small in comparison to the number of people who are carnivores. World Vegan Month is celebrated around the world in November to raise awareness about the vegan movement and how a vegan lifestyle is accessible and beneficial for a healthier life. According to Vegetarian Times, more than 7 million Americans are vegetarian and 1 million of those people are vegan.

A plant-based power plate consists of four food groups that provides the good nutrition you need — whole grains, legumes and plenty of colorful vegetables and fruits. Animal products in the diet are not necessary to get the protein needed for a healthy diet. (Source: Peta.com)

About 25 years ago, Hosea D. Boyd crossed paths with Vida because of their mutual passion for helping people live a meatless and diary-free lifestyle. Boyd’s vegan journey began more dramatically than Vida’s dangerous unhealthy eating habits to ultimately converting to veganism.

“On Dec. 9, 1993, I suffered my fourth heart attack,” said Boyd who had just been honorably discharged from the U.S. Army after three tours of duty. “The heart was attributed to stress due to my mother’s death on Dec. 2, 1993.

Six hours after the attack, while still hospitalized, the cardiologist asked Boyd what was his pain level from 1 to 10.

“I told him it was a 15,” said Boyd. “To manage my pain, he prescribed morphine to be shot into my IV drip.”

Within 13 seconds after the IV was inserted, Sar Amiel, Boyd’s brother, noticed that something was wrong.

“It was determined that I was allergic to morphine,” Boyd said. The medical error was quickly corrected.

“My brother said ‘to save your life you need to go vegan,’” Boyd said. “I went cold turkey and veganism became my lifestyle.” Six months later, the cardiologist gave Boyd a stress test and he passed with flying colors.

A popular hearty vegan soul food dinner consists of organic kale salad, vegan bacon bits and topped with tomatoes; vegetable fried rice; country-fried vegan steak (vital wheat flour) and gravy; vegan macaroni and cheese; vegan barbecue ribs (vital wheat flour); and agave candied yams. (Source: Queen Vida)

Boyd went on a mission to help establish vegan restaurants throughout the country and promote a healthy veganism lifestyle.

“I went from carnivore to a plant-based diet.”’

As a native of Bermuda, Boyd, grew up eating Caribbean-style soul food, such as codfish and potatoes; greens with pork; spaghetti with sausage; ham hocks; oxtails; and three-cheese macaroni casserole.

The vegan eateries in Los Angeles did not cater to his palette. To satisfy his taste buds but stay true to the vegan lifestyle and cater to other vegans who wanted to eat delicious food, Boyd opened A Taste of Life Vegan Soul Food restaurant with his brother in 2005. After 10 years, the brothers decided to close the restaurant and instead opened a private catering business and a transitional dieting program.

“It’s been 24 years since I became a vegan and have not had a heart condition or any other health issues,” said Boyd, who is a vegan chef and the creator of Ginger Surprise, a healthy natural ginger-based juice.

“The juice is available in six flavors and more flavors are in development,” Boyd said. “It is very popular with medical professionals such as Dr. Cherilyn Lee, Dr. Mathias Fobi and others; and celebrities such as actor/comedian Tommy Davidson, actor Omar Gooding, retired NBA player John Salley, Gossett and more.”

“Going vegan has added 20 years to my life expectancy, according to my medical team,” said Boyd, who used to never leave home without nitroglycerin tablets or patches. A nitroglycerin patch is a prescription skin patch to help prevent attacks of angina, which can feel like a heart attack, and often is a warning sign.

Nitroglycerin sublingual tablets are prescribed to prevent chest pain by placing them under the tongue. They must be taken within 5 to 10 minutes before activity that may lead to chest pain.

Studies show that plant-based diets can help reverse America’s most devastating diseases: type 2 Diabetes, cardiovascular disease and some types of cancer.

“It is important to make some major changes in our diet,” Vida said. “We cannot eat just anything and put it in our bodies because if we do not eat right and eliminate junk food, meat and dairy products, we can expect illness, disease and possibly a premature death.”

Resources:

American Vegan Society – www.americanvegan.org

Ginger Surprise – www.gingersurprise.com

Queen Vida’s International Vegan Cuisine – www.createspace.com

The Power Plate – www.pcrm.org

The Vegan Society – www.vegansociety.com

Veg Source – www.vegsource.com

Marie Y. Lemelle, MBA, a public relations consultant, is the owner of Platinum Star PR and can be reached on Twitter @PlatinumStar or Instagram @PlatinumStarPR. Send “Health Matters” related questions to healthmatters@wavepublication.com and look for her column in The Wave.