Man Eating Plants: How I Learned the Secrets of a Diet for a Healthy New World

Instead of taking the drugs, at the age of 37 I decided to adopt a plant-based diet.

The Good Men Project

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Photo credit: iStock

By Jed Diamond Ph.D

I grew up in a small family of meat eaters. For breakfast my mother would make me a hamburger, usually served with apple sauce and instant white rice on the side. For lunch I would have some beef ribs, with similar side dishes. Dinner was the main meal of the day, so I got a sizeable steak and she would add a helping of canned peas because

a growing boy needs a few vegetables to go along with his meat,

she would tell me. It went without saying that I would have a glass of milk to go with the meal and ice cream for dessert if I cleaned my plate.

We weren’t the only ones who ate a similar diet in the Los Angeles suburbs of the 1950s. Television was still relatively new and there were ads for home freezers and sides of beef that were relatively inexpensive and would be delivered regularly. We were a little unusual in that we were a two-person family. My father had been hospitalized following “a nervous breakdown” when I was five years old. His journey in and out of the mental hospital is a story I tell in my memoir, My Distant Dad: Healing the Family Father Wound.

After my father left, my mother had to get a job outside the home to support us. I was an only child and these were the days where boys were taught that to grow up to be healthy and strong, meat and dairy were the cornerstones of the best Male American Diet. It was a long while before I realized that this kind of diet was not only unhealthy but crazy and deadly.

I was a sickly kid growing up, despite what society at large was telling us about the benefits of meat and dairy rich diet. I had asthma, had become increasingly pudgy, then later, overweight. As an adult, I was too busy chasing the American dream of financial success to think about what I was putting in my body. I became a psychotherapist and later a writer. But my life changed one day when I came across a book by John Robbins, Diet for a New America: How Your Food Choices Affect Your Health, Happiness and the Future of Life on Earth.

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