“I was a black belt in smoked meats”, are the words of John Teeters, M. D., chief of cardiology at Highland Hospital.

Was.

The meat loving cardiologist from North Carolina changed in spring of last year to a plant based diet, after being participating in a six-week introduction offered by Rochester Lifestyle Medicine. A programme he only did because it was believed having a cardiologist taking part would encourage more people. Very much a practice what you preach type situation.

Dr Teeters was like many before him, a sceptic with incredibly low expectations of the diet stating that he “was a wholehearted skeptic who wanted to prove that this was not all it was cracked up to be,” and that “Nobody could sustain this kind of lifestyle” wanting to prove people and the diet wrong.

It took two weeks before he changed his mind. Which isn’t overly surprising after the diet seemed to deal with his issues in lacking energy, daily headaches and chronic reflux symptoms.

He once was an athletic man competing in triathlons, but after years on what he describes as a “typical Southern diet” of smoked meats he weighed 315 pounds and more importantly says that “I just knew that I was unhealthy”. However after a year and a half on a plant based diet, he’s done a 180. Not only has he lost weight (90 pounds) and feeling better and healthier than in years, but he’s now a passionate advocate of the vegan diet.

As a cardiologist he’s in a position to help his patients with practical, sage advice coming from not only a position of personal experience but from one based on factual evidence highlighting that “More so than anything, I was impressed by the data that showed, bar none, the plant-based diet was better than anything we have to offer for cardiovascular risk reduction”. And hell, if a meat loving cardiologist is saying that, it’s probably a fair indication there’s something in it.

He’s not the first doctor to go vegan, he won’t be the last and he’ll continue being one of many in a position of influence helping spread the message. All of which is rather lovely really.

That said it’s not been entirely easy for him, of course. Everyone has their own struggles. In his case, he’d convinced his wife to build an outdoor smoker only six months before he became vegan, but well… In his words “She’s still speaking to me”.

Although, it’s probably worth noting he could still get some mileage out of the smoker with some damn good Southern style vegan food anyway.

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