October 3, 2012

Vegans Find the Fountain of Youth

Have you seen Forks Over Knives?  I avoided it for years, I guess because of all the hype, and finally watched it just a few weeks ago. The film showcases Dr. Esselstyn (his son created the Engine 2 Diet) and Dr. Campbell (The China Study) to prove how an all-plant diet reverses and prevents numerous diseases.  

Right after watching the film, I volunteered at Portland's VegFest.  As I checked in volunteers, vendors, and guest speakers, who do I end up getting to chat with casually in spite of the trail of early-arrivers following him everywhere as if he were Michael Jackson?  Dr. Esselstyn -- kind of a superstar in the vegan world.  

As we studied the program together, Dr. E. said, "Oh, Ruth's speaking after me.  Which room is she in?"  At the time, I didn't know Ruth, but I explained the schedule and was impressed that the superstar wanted to hang out and listen to other speakers.  

Later, a woman looking much like the drawing above checked in at the table.  My friend helped her, but I joined in the conversation.  As the woman talked about how glad she is that her example inspires others to change their diets, I realized who she was -- she was in the film too, the woman who had breast cancer but she and Dr. McDougall managed to contain it using a vegan diet and no drugs, but to add to that, she ran the Ironman numerous times -- as a cancer patient-vegan-post-menopausal woman!

When I told her Dr. E. wanted to sit in on her talk, she got nervous and so humble, I found myself telling her how amazing she is.  She looks like a super-lean 80s aerobics instructor (it's the headband, I think), but she can run-bike-swim circles around islands in Hawaii and she's now 77 (I think that's what she said in her talk, but McDougall's website says 67).

Ruth's talk inspired me.  She's wacky in an endearing way and extremely passionate about her vegan lifestyle.  I won't be doing any Ironmans, no marathons, but I do want to be a bit like Ruth.  When I was five years old, I decided I wanted to live to be 100.  Later, in my 20s, after watching a a few people I loved die (it can take years), I revised my goal to living to be a happy, healthy 100.  

Ruth's not 100, but she started doing extremely hard things in her late 40s and continues near 80 (I think) to run, bike, swim, and exercise wherever she is.  She taught the audience how to do some butt exercises while sitting, and everyone started bouncing up and down in their seats.  Her point seemed to be -- always work at health and wellness, every bite every moment.  I am not that disciplined, but I figure if I can be like her 70% of the time, I'll make it to my happy, healthy 100.  


  1. oooh! I love this post.. from the title, to the picture, to the message. I love this month! :)

  2. I was a volunteer at the Portland VegFest! I was at the NW Veg table Sunday morning. Wasn't it a great turnout this year? Just loved it.

  3. Yes, Fork and Knives is great, and I am thoroughly enjoying your illustrations. Go Ruthie!