Raises questions about the health benefits of vegetarianism
Michael Clarke Duncan, most famous for his superb role in Green Mile with Tom Hanks, passed away on September 4 at the age of 54. Earlier this year, he appeared in the PETA video below—where he spoke of how much better he felt since becoming a vegetarian three years earlier.
A giant of a man at 6’5″– he reportedly weighed 360 when the Green Mile (with Tom Hanks) was filmed. In recent months, he apparently weighed closer to 280 and credits some of that weight-loss with his becoming a vegetarian in 2009.
Many people will now assume that his death may have been caused by his vegetarianism. But not me. For starters, we don’t know what kind of vegetarian diet was he eating. In the video below, he talks mainly about not eating meat, but he never mentions that he’d given up milk, cheese, eggs or seafood.
Apparently, his primary motivation for making the dietary change was his love of animals although he does mention health in this video. He also mentions that he read “Skinny Bitch” and “Skinny Bastard,” where he learned more about needless animal suffering.
So why did he die so young if he was eating a healthy diet? I can only speculate since I don’t really know exactly what he was eating. For most people who describe themselves as vegetarian, they continue to eat dairy, eggs, cheese and seafood. If they give up all animal products, they generally then call themselves vegan.
But many vegans also eat a very unhealthy diet. They avoid all animal products but don’t eat nearly enough whole, plant-based foods to protect themselves against disease. In the video, Michael talks about eating a lot of legumes, fruits and vegetables; but we know nothing about whether he also ate a lot of cheese pizzas.
We also don’t know whether he had a history of heart disease or if he was taking any cholesterol lowering medication. We do know that if he had been a patient of Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn at the Cleveland Clinic, that he would have been told to give up ALL animal products & all oil and to cut way back on high fat plant foods like avocado, nuts and seeds.
Then, if had followed that diet-style faithfully, he would have had a 95% chance of reversing his heart disease. That’s the success rate that my friend Dr. Esselstyn has enjoyed for the past 30 years.
Whether his heart disease was diagnosed or not, we know that it existed long before this week, when he suddenly died. That’s because we know that heart disease can begin many decades before your first heart attack. Sadly, the first symptom of coronary artery disease is frequently a heart attack.
Like many others, Mr. Duncan was probably just another innocent victim of the lack of clarity about what we should be eating for optimal health. He would’ve gotten that clarity from Dr. Esselstyn. But now it’s too late.
- Source article. Michael Clarke Duncan: Gentle ‘Green Mile’ giant and a vegetarian
- Earlier blog. Clinton or Cheney? Which heart treatment do you prefer?
- Earlier blog. Eliminating the #1 cause of death. Dr. William Roberts
- Video. The Last Heart Attack on CNN with Dr. Sanjay Gupta
- Earlier blog. “Toothless Paper Tiger” — Heart Disease (Blog # 200)
Unlike cancer, heart disease is reversible in 95% of the cases at almost any age. As Dr. Esselstyn says, “it’s a toothless paper tiger that need never exist.” You won’t learn how to reverse heart disease from the American Heart Association but you will learn it here. In addition to the following 4 items, you may also wish to purchase Dr. Esselstyn’s book, Prevent/Reverse Heart Disease, on Amazon.
Handy 4-piece take-charge-of-your-health kit—from Amazon.com
- The movie that’s changing the lives of millions: Forks Over Knives DVD
- Healthy Eating, Healthy World, The “big picture” about food (our book)
- An essential scientific resource: The China Study by Dr. T. Colin Campbell
- Dr. McDougall’s new book, The Starch Solution, with lots of great recipes.
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In the article you said, “Michael talks about eating a lot of legumes, fruits and vegetables; but we no nothing about whether he also ate a lot of cheese pizzas.” ?! Does anybody notice the error? We no nothing about. We KNOW nothing about. You should edit and error proof your articles. I’m very surprised to see that an author would make this mistake. We ALL make mistakes, but that’s what proof reading is for. Other than this error, I found the article very informative and educational. Thank you.
He was a wonderful actor whose every performance was memorable. It’s sad how whenever anyone who is vegetarian or vegan dies, people who eat the SAD always take the opportunity to slam healthier eating. What I haven’t seen discussed online is the likelihood that he was a steroid user, either now or for a period of time in the past. I’m not an expert on the consequences of steroid use but it stands to reason they can’t be good for one’s heart.
If you would like to hear Dr. Esselstyn in person, consider attending the Healthy Lifestyle Expo October 12 – 14 in California with Dr. Neal Barnard, Dr. Esselstyn, Dr. John McDougall, Dr. Michael Klaper, and others. It’s a fantastic conference that I have attended for many years. For more info see http://www.healthylifestyleexpo.com/index.htm
Another timely post. While it may take time to go through all the links and videos one should have a little better idea about diet and disease and the possibility of reversing many conditions. The following is an excerpt from “The Pritikin Promise” which discussed these problems about 40 years ago. This may explain what caused Michael Duncan’s heart attack and subsequent death.
Dairy products can keep total cholesterol low while still allowing cholesterol deposits in the artery walls to form boils that eventually prevent blood from reaching part of the heart muscle. Studies suggest that a factor in milk lowers blood cholesterol levels (Am. J. Clin. Nutr., 27: 464-69).
While there is positive correlation between the amount of cholesterol in the blood and the incidence of cardiovascular disease, low cholesterol levels influenced by the consumption of dairy products are misleading and cannot guarantee freedom from disease now or in the future.
Also see Udderly Amazing which discusses dairy products and their role in disease.