After 3 heart attacks, by-pass surgery, he could barely walk– a new diet changed his life at 80!
Intro: Sustainable Earth Eating’s Monthly Newsletter: Food is Climate brings news of plant-based recoveries that surprise just about everyone, even the subject. We thank Al Schmidt for allowing us to share his amazing story-from barely walking to a month later walking a mile+ daily. Read on…
At the age of 80, six years ago, Al Schmidt was practically a full-time cardiac patient, on death’s door. He had already suffered decades of cardiac events: three heart attacks, five-vessel bypass surgery, and the implantation of three stents. Due to his severe angina, he could not climb stairs, and could not walk to his neighbor’s house without severe and frightening chest pains. He could not take the trash out. Stair lifts were installed in his house as he could not climb stairs. His existence was limited to sitting in front of the computer or the TV—and he hates TV. He had become depressed. He kept a daily diary of his medical events, and the most overused word in the diary was “pain.” He knew that he had reached End Stage Heart Failure. In his diary, he made a note to look into receiving End of Life Counseling.
COP 27… Greenwashing or actual progress? No reductions set for animal agriculture
Has there been any progress at COP27 in Sharm el-Sheik, Egypt, or should the entire conference be written off as—in the view of Greta Thunberg—“greenwashing?” On the positive side, there was more discussion of agriculture at this COP than at any previous one. Greenbiz reports that COP27 “became the food systems COP,” with food and agriculture systems finally taken seriously as a significant part of both climate problems and climate solutions. Still, it’s disheartening that much debate concerned goals rather than actions; the considerable time spent arguing over whether or not to abandon the Paris Agreement to contain temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius by 2100 was time wasted. Climate equity was addressed, with a “loss and damage fund,” created, which would help nations such as Pakistan. Responsible for only 0.3% of the world’s carbon emissions, this year Pakistan saw floods that inundated one-third of the country. On the hopeful side, BBC reports that young climate activists from around the world made their presence felt more than at previous COPs.
Brazil’s Lula weighs in
On another optimistic note, president-elect Luiz Inácio, Lula da Silva of Brazil pledged at COP27 to restore the Amazon rainforest. “We must stop this rush to the abyss. There is no climate security for the world without a protected Amazon,” he announced. Lula faces a monumental task in
reversing the rainforest-destroying policies of his predecessor, Jair Bolsonaro, and in pursuing those who criminally exploit the Amazon, but at least now there is a fighting chance to save the world’s largest rainforest. Nothing could be more important.
No action on animal agriculture
These rays of hope aside, COP27 failed to announce any actions that will lead to reduction in harm done to our climate by animal agriculture. “The livestock sector’s cultural power greatly outweighs its economic power. Our connection to food is more personal than our connection to energy sources.” These words of George Monbiot, author of Regenesis, in a recent piece in The Guardian entitled, “There’s one big subject our leaders at COP27 won’t touch: livestock farming.” Monbiot’s piece should be required reading for anyone seeking to coming to grips with the extraordinary and ongoing failure of climate summits—and climate leaders generally—to acknowledge and tackle the role of animal agriculture in destroying our climate. Monbiot points out that, even as we learn how central is the role of methane in heating our world, and understand that raising livestock is the greatest anthropogenic methane source, “Livestock is mentioned in only three agreements, and the only action each of them proposes is ‘management’. Nowhere is there a word about reduction. It’s as though nuclear non-proliferation negotiators had decided not to talk about bombs. You cannot address an issue if you will not discuss it.” To get a visual,on-the-ground feel for the degree to which animal agriculture was ignored at COP27, watch this video from Klaus Mitchell of Plant Based News.
He was dizzy, weak, disoriented, and frequently fell…
“Grasping at straws,” in his words, Al signed up for a cardiac rehab program at Kaiser. He had trouble even walking to the meeting room. A dietitian made a presentation advocating the plant-based diet. Feeling that he had nothing to lose, Al decided to try it. He was advised to read three books: Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease, by Caldwell B. Esselstyn, MD, How Not to Die, by Michael Greger, MD, and The China Study, by T. Colin Campbell, PhD, and Thomas M. Campbell II, MD. He read all three books.
After four weeks on a whole food, plant-based diet, Al went to Lake Tahoe and walked for over a mile, at an elevation of 6,000 feet. He climbed stairs to return to his car, without effort. Once back home, he began to resume his long-forsaken habit of walking over a mile and a half. His serum cholesterol fell from 250 to 149 in three months. In the same time, he lost 30 pounds, going from 180 to 150. (He’s 5’11”.) His kidney function went from 40% to normal. The dark blue skin on his ankles, caused by the pooling of blood under the skin due to chronic venous insufficiency (the blood failing to flow upward as it should) disappeared in less than a year. His angina pains went away. So did the dizziness, weakness, disorientation, and recurrent falling. His serum cholesterol now, six years later, is 115.
After all of these improvements, Al returned to see his cardiologist. In fact, instead of taking the elevator, he walked up four flights of stairs to see her. When she saw how improved he was, she asked if he would be willing to share his story, and arranged for Al to speak before 100 medical professionals!
Today, Al enjoys his life, enjoys his food, and feels full of energy. Last summer, he hiked five miles, at an altitude of 11,000 feet. In his words, “I have no issues maintaining my current weight. My diet/lifestyle gives me a fantastic amount of energy at 86. It sounds hard if you have not tried it, but the food you eat is so fresh and healthy that you really feel satisfied after a meal. I am never tempted to stray back to the way I used to eat. Why would I? I had no energy, could not do anything, and was afraid of dying.”
Al’s ankle, before and after adopting a whole food, plant-based diet.
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