Vegan Isn’t Protective

On the cusp of making it through my first week, recommitting myself to a Protective Diet and learning from PD Education. How I’ve gone so many years without making time to learn from Julie and Jerry is beyond me. Yesterday my yogurt starter and reusable mesh bags arrived. Just finished watching Julie teach a shortened, Class #008 – Understanding Cholesterol. This was a number that climbed to 263 in July 2011, when I was tested. Through a lot of reading and healthy eating following a PD lifestyle, I reduced that number to 199 in just 5 months! In 2013 that number had fallen to 130! As I posted in my 2 Year Review, “Overall I lost 44 pounds inside of 10 months when going plant based. I saw my total cholesterol (TC) plummet from 264 mg/dL to a low of 130 mg/dL! Since that time, it has increased a few points, but I have been able to maintain a TC near 150 mg/dL, which has been called “heart attack proof.” Many if the ailments I had; constant migraines, side pains, joint pains, plantar fasciitis and nerve issues seemed to improve or completely disappear when I cleaned up my diet.

As I look back over nearly 10 years of a plant based lifestyle, I continue to ask myself, “where did I go wrong?” Unlike those “extreme” changes I made October 31, 2011, there isn’t one point to highlight as a key to my downturn. The following years, 2015 and 2016 were truly highlights, physical achievements I never thought possible! That’s when life took a turn things started to change and I started to make excuses for my poor eating habits. That Protective Diet turned less plant based and more vegan. Have you seen all the vegan products on the market that don’t come close to being protective? Here’s an ugly but short list: Oreos, Taco Bell’s Bean Burrito (no cheese), Chipotle’s Sofritas, Ritz Crackers, Nutter Butters, Life Cereal and Fritos. Fat. Oils. Sugars. Processed, so many bad ingredients, these products aren’t heart heathy.

More recently, I started getting more active on Instagram and You Tube and recipes. Initially to pick up some tips and tricks, as well as recipes for my son and wife. While this was beneficial, I picked up some recipes they really enjoyed but then I found some of those “vegan” chefs. Remember, vegan isn’t PD but in my mind I would continually convince myself that “hey it’s vegan, no meat, no dairy, it’s okay.” While I was still able to pick up techniques and ideas, many of the recipes were never going to be found on Protective Diet. The amount of oils in these recipes and frying were incredible! Tofu doesn’t always need to be fried to taste good! Fats along with the sugars made these recipes taste good, but did not promote that lifestyle that was going to improve my health.

Needless to say that vegan misconception continued to drive me deeper into a depression making worse food choices. Consciously, I knew these were bad decisions and that health I had worked so hard for began to unravel. A pound here, a pound there. Suddenly those trips to the gym became weekly, then not at all. The couch or computer chair became my best friend and I had regressed to a point that I felt incapable to return to my form, happy self. To date, I’ve not stepped on the scale, only guessing where my weight is, but know how poorly some of my clothes fit. For this new starting point I believe I will take an initial reading and use the mirror and feel of my clothes to see and feel my progress.

While life continues to throw up challenges, there have been some great steps made in the right direction. Over the last few years I’ve attempted to get back on that journey to health, not that I had completely fallen off, retaining the knowledge and understanding of what I should be eating a plant based diet as Julie promotes. Now is the time! No explanation as to why, maybe it’s the people in my life or the connections made from being involved in PD for years. For me, it’s about holding myself accountable, these posts and tracking my journey are what work for me. Both of which I did when I started this journey back in 2011 after watching Forks Over Knives and being completely turned from a “SAD” lifestyle. So happy to have a group who can relate to similar experiences, we are in this together.

Diver Down, Protective Diet Up

When Halloween 2021 rolls around, I will have been following a plant based lifestyle for 10 years. Huge step in my life making this transition from a diet that included meat and cheese, lots of fats and sugars. That first recipe from Julie, on her Plant Purity website I made, before I even knew what “nooch” was her Cheezy Scalloped Potatoes. I’ve spoke of this experience many times over, but that began my journey alongside Julie and Jerry, eventually joining a Protective Diet.

I’ve promoted the amazing results I experienced in previous posts; weight loss, improved cholesterol, increased strength, more regularity and increased stamina. While some of those results have been diminished over the last few years, I continue to have the mindset that “I’ve got this!” Much like running those ultra marathons, having the knowledge and envisioning crossing the finishing line kept that drive to succeed high. This resulted in crossing the finish line three times (a 50k and two 50-mile races). Since then my interests have gone elsewhere and while I would still love to get out and run, now is not the time. A new hobby I did take up, scuba diving. This too can benefit from a protective diet!

Let me start by saying, neoprene wetsuits are the devil and very unflattering. They are hot, tight and honestly very uncomfortable (coming in at 7mm thick!), but are necessary for diving in cold water (52F) in places like the Monterey coastline. Two years ago, along with my friend Val we earned out PADI Open Water certification. This in part because his son was involved in Boy Scouts and wanted to earn the Scuba Merit Badge, listed as one of the five most difficult merit badges to earn.

In March 2019, we found a local dive shop, Pacific Ocean Sports in Concord, California, paid our tuition and picked up our study materials Over the course of two weekend pool sessions, we learned the basics of scuba diving from buoyancy and breathing to BCD and BWRAF or “big white rabbits are fluffy” an acronym use as a pre-dive check of your dive buddy. Since earning our certification Val and I have really taken to the sport. Val was previously certified and didn’t need to go through the full training as I did, never having breathed underwater in my life.

Looking back on the certification, it’s been one of the best things I’ve ever done and ranks up there with finishing a 50-mile race. While certification isn’t cheap ($600), little by I’ve added  the Advanced Open Water Diver and Rescue Diver to my resume, along with numerous specialties. While training costs money, so does gear but the first 10-12 dives were completed using rental gear, before I started to invest money in my own gear. Now, approaching 50 dives I’ve got a complete line of scuba gear for different underwater environments, while the initial invest is great, we are reducing our cost each time we spend a day or week in Monterey Bay.

With May on the horizon, we will set out for Morehead, North Carolina at the end of the month for three days of diving off the Carolina coastline. This area is known as the “Graveyard of the Atlantic” due to the number of shipwrecks up and down the east coast of the US. It’s a trip we are highly anticipating with the potential to dive on World War II wrecks including a German submarine (U-352) that was sank in 1942. This will be the first time diving on any wreck with the potential to penetrate some of those wreck if the conditions are right. Needless to say, I am excited to view my first wreck.

This will be just the second trip outside the confines of Monterey Bay. The only other time was one of our first dives after being certified and we headed south to Carmel and dove Whaler Cove in the Point Lobos State Natural Reserve. This was one of the worst dives to date due to poor conditions and visibility. None of what we expected to see was seen but it is an area I would love to back to now that I have gain experience.

Monterey Bay is one of the most recognizable areas and popular when it comes scuba certification. Every weekend we are down there, hundreds of divers appear, setting their kits up in preparation to learn the sport or enjoy what the underwater environment has to share. This along with countless seals, sea lions, otters and cormorants. On our night dives we’ve been fortunate enough to see octopus and crustaceans. The bay is also teeming with plant life from grass and kelp to brightly colored fauna growing on the reefs. The Metridium Fields is a beautiful reef about 200 yards off shore with white anemones that covers the reefs.


I don’t judge myself by age, but following a Protective Diet can help me heal my body, lose weight and make me feel amazing. Remember, I said those wetsuits were tight, even more so if you need to drop a few pounds. I’ve started my five month timer, looking at that 10 pounds a month, but won’t need any scale to tell me if I am successful. As many of you know, your clothes will feel loose or you might end up with “BPS” or Baggy Pants Syndrome. Along with the weight loss, this makes me more streamline in the water and hopefully help to regulate my breathing better in order to stay underwater longer.  Dives usually later 40-45 minutes (depending on depth), but my buddy always surfaces with considerably more gas than I do.

While we only scuba one or two days out of the month, we do attempt to maximize our day and 4-5 dives aren’t out of the question. However in a wetsuit with a 42 pound cylinder, a BC (or buoyancy compensator) and 24-26 pounds of weight and a 50-100 yard walk can  cause overexertion before I even get wet. Dropping a few pounds will definitely help my knees, shoulder and back when it to this aspect of diving in Monterey Bay. I relish to have those days where I board a boat, ride out to the dive site, suit up and step off the back in a warm water environment. Until that day comes, I will continue to enjoy the 52-55F degree water in the central coast.



Kill Those Cravings

It’s another morning with Julie, as I sit at work, watching and listening to her teach Class #007 (12/10/2013), telling me how “un-heart healthy” those “healthy” oils are as it relates to our endothelium. It’s a great feeling to have the knowledge of a protective diet. Moving to a plant based lifestyle from the traditional “Standard American Diet” was that “extreme” step my doctor couldn’t fathom, but neither could his words convince me otherwise. Honestly, I believe with all my heart this is the lifestyle I want to continue to follow. As I mentioned yesterday, it brought me to a health level I had never previously experienced. Never in my wildest imagination did I think I would be running a 50-mile race! An unachievable goal that was achieved, thanks in part to taking control of my health.

Let me rewind, it’s Tuesday afternoon, extended at work for an additional four hours, with a 90-minute commute home. I think that pre-COVID, Bay Area traffic is back to normal. Failing to bring breakfast to work and only one serving of the Mix & Mac with spinach and tomato, I arrived home with hunger cravings. You know that feeling, standing in front of the refrigerator or pantry wondering what to cook or eat? That was me yesterday, but that isn’t the PD way. While not following intermittent fasting, I need to get back onto a eating regime where I don’t eat after 6/7pm. Yes, I could have easily made a salad but decided to drink a glass of water and call it an evening.

Now this isn’t how I wanted to satisfy my cravings, knowing Julie would say eat! Sadly, I was restricting myself from food that my body needed. Remember Julie talking about “SUS”? I haven’t “SUS-ed” (is that a word?) in a long time, so I had nothing prepared. Salad. Frozen or fresh veggies. Pasta. How quick and simple are each of those foods? I could have followed Jerry and consumed a bowl of oatmeal. Better yet, as Julie just reminded me in the video, eat a frosty! Yet I decided not to eat in an attempt to break out of that habit of eating later than I wanted. At some point in the future, I am sure I will return to intermittent fasting (IF) but right now, it’s about being consistent.


Let me quickly shift to recipe building. Before I do, all I can do is rave about the flavor of that Mix & Mac! So creamy, filling and delicious. This recipe makes is easy to mix in many different add ins. That alone should make this restart easier. I’ve got no plans menu plan the first 30 days, feel that is where I failed my last attempt in 2018. While Julie has created enough recipes to keep any PD student going, I have this fascination with a few You Tube chefs, some vegan, others not so. The most recent video comes from Gaz Oakley at Avant-Garde Vegan, who recent created a Sticky Braised Jackfruit Bao Buns. While the video left me in stiches, the bao buns looked nothing short of fantastic!

The problem I have seen with many social media vegan chefs, their dishes don’t follow the Protective Diet guidelines (can’t believe the amount of fried tofu!), but does provide inspiration to hack their recipes. I recently “veganized” Sam the Cooking Guy‘s tostada recipe. Not going to share my changes since it wasn’t PD, but a bit of trial and error and even vegan or vegetarian recipes can be transformed into one that fits the Protective Diet. I could have even made the free PD tostada recipe. No-brainer, right?

Back to my buns, well Gaz’s buns. No surprise he used an AP or plan flour and caster sugar for the bao. Searching the internet there are some whole wheat bao recipes that could be modified, using erythritol in place of sugar and whole wheat flour. for the AP. My current hang up, hoisin sauce. Nearly ever vegan hoisin recipe I’ve reviewed use peanut butter, oils, sugar (including dates, raisins and prunes) or maple syrup and molasses.

The last challenge, Gochujang, which is a Korean Red Pepper Paste. Now, I have a tube of Bibigo Gochujang, needless to say it’s not PD. But this ingredient can made and used to provide a sweet and spicy addition to MANY foods. At some point in the next few weeks I will put this recipe together and see how the PD bao buns tastes, sharing my results with you.