However, I was not as surprised by his untimely demise as some. You may have heard me mention him from time to time as "my vegan friend." Not even 50 years old, he had the look of someone older, and always looked rather sickly and pale to me. I am not necessarily attributing this to his veganism, although, as you may have read in previous blog posts, I don't see it as the healthiest way to eat. I remember thinking as he vehemently espoused the vegan lifestyle to anyone who would listen (or even look in his direction), that I wondered if he would live to 60.... A terrible passing thought to have, but he was one of those I would call a "rabid vegan," who sought constantly to convert others to his way of eating, though the effects it seemed to have had on his body and health didn't really appear to be all that positive.
Don't get me wrong: I feel there is room in the world for all types of eaters - vegan, vegetarian, omnivore, whatever floats your boat - it's ultimately up to you. However, I also know that unhealthy eaters can be found in all of these genres. Affiliating yourself with a certain type of eater doesn't automatically make you healthy, although many people seem to think it does.
But I wasn't seeking praise for my dietary habits. Instead, I was truly surprised that anyone thought my friend's diet was healthy! He frequently ate lunch at the office, and the majority of the time, his lunch consisted of something along the lines of a vegan TV dinner (think processed vegan mac & cheese - no vegetables), white (vegan) bread, french fries, and a Coke (or sometimes fruit juice). There is no meat on earth that would have made this meal more unhealthy! I don't know if he ate better at home, but from what I saw, he was pretty much a processed food junkie for the most part, and was doing no favors to his diabetic condition either.
Just avoiding meat does not make you healthy. Neither does just avoiding carbs - although, that being said, many processed foods contain high levels of simple carbohydrates, which are now linked to a variety of diseases and health conditions, and reducing your intake of carbs would most likely reduce your intake of processed foods as well - which is a good thing.
As an omnivore, I see most foods as healthy in moderation - assuming they are, as always, whole, fresh, naturally occurring foods that are cleanly, humanely, and naturally raised and processed, so for me, completely avoiding any entire food group seems a bit unbalanced. The human body was meant to consume a wide variety of foods to maintain health. But when it comes down to it, what you actually put into your body is usually a lot more important to your health than what you avoid (excluding, of course, things that are allergenic to you or poisonous). Vegan, vegetarian, or omnivore, you're most likely not going to live a long, healthy life if you eat mostly junk food, and processed items that the body was never meant to consume. Period.
The fact that my co-worker believed that our friend was healthy just because he was vegan is quite alarming to me. It shows just how little people really understand food, and the impact that what you eat has on your health.
This is why I do what I do, and why every day I become more impassioned about spreading the word about true health. It's not just a hobby, or some little fun blog that I post every week just for kicks. It is about life and death - quite literally. People are dying every day because they don't know any better!! It breaks my heart, and sickens me to no end. It makes me more aware than ever of the urgency of my mission.
But I can't do it alone! Those of us who know, who are awakening to the call to true health, and a holistically balanced life, have the responsibility to make others aware as well. Please "Like" us on Facebook, share this blog with your friends, invite them to read and research for themselves, ask them to check our resources pages for recommended reading, tell them to subscribe to our weekly newsletter - whatever you can do to share the message, and help those you love take responsibility for their own health, and realize that it is up to them whether they are sick or healthy, whether they live long, full lives, or leave those they love to mourn them all too soon.
R.I.P. Andy Christian. You are missed.