Doctor’s Tip: How to get started with plant-based nutrition |

Doctor’s Tip: How to get started with plant-based nutrition

Dr. Greg Feinsinger

Let’s say you have decided for health, environmental or other reasons to go on a plant-based, whole (unprocessed) food, no-added-oil diet with avoidance of sugar and salt.

You can ease into plant-based nutrition by just eating more fruits and vegetables and less meat, fish and dairy; and certainly your health will improve. However you will derive the most benefit from plant-based nutrition by making a commitment and going all the way. Based on my experience, this is the best way to go, because in 10 to 14 days you will lose your taste for the things you shouldn’t be eating.

Either way, it helps to have some support.

It’s important to first become familiar with the science that supports this as being the healthiest diet you can eat (both for yourself and for the planet). The easiest way to introduce yourself to this information is to watch the 90-minute documentary “Forks Over Knives,” available on Netflix and on YouTube, which features Caldwell Esselstyn, M.D. of the Cleveland Clinic and T. Colin Campbell, Ph.D., of Cornell University.

Next, it is helpful to read one or two books on plant-based lifestyle and keep them so you can refer to them:

“Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease” by Dr. Esselstyn, 100 pages of easy reading followed by recipes. Keep in mind when you read this that some plant-based experts feel Dr. Esselstyn is too hard-core about avoiding nuts and seeds.

Another very readable book is “My Beef With Meat,” by Rip Esselstyn, Dr. Esselstyn’s son. Rip was a professional triathlete and later a fireman and now works for Whole Foods where he has a line of products called Engine 2 Plant Strong. Rip has a good sense of humor, and his book is 130 pages of enjoyable reading followed by recipes.

The plant-based nutrition bible is “How Not to Die” by Michael Greger, M.D. The first half is about how to avoid dying from various conditions common in Western societies, and the second half is about what we should be eating every day and why. The book is 400 pages long, but the last quarter is references.

It’s important to have some good cookbooks, and here are a few:

“Oh She Glows,” “Isa Does It” and “Thug Kitchen,” which has some off-color language.


The best is Greger’s, to which you can subscribe, or you can search various topics.

You can also Google sites such as The China Study, Forks Over Knives, PCRM (Physician Committee For Responsible Medicine), Dr. Joel Fuhrman, or just Google plant-based low fat recipes.

Cooking classes:

Ardis Hoffman does classes through Colorado Mountain College and also on a private basis. Contact her at or call 303-305-9664.

Devika Gurung is from Nepal, now lives in Carbondale, and gives classes in Nepalese cooking. Contact the Dandelion Market in Carbondale (formally Carbondale Food Co-op) at 970-963-1375.

Prepared plant-based meals you can purchase (note that I have no financial interest in these enterprises):

Gurung cooks tasty Nepalese dishes at the Dandelion Market in Carbondale (559 Main St.) at noon on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. She does not use dairy or ghee, both of which are unhealthy ingredients found in some Indian and Nepalese cooking.

For a comprehensive program including prepared meals to help you start a plant-based lifestyle go to on the Internet or contact Peter Goldstein at or call 216-956-7182. This program also involves daily “pep talk” emails and other support.

I give a free PowerPoint presentation about plant-based nutrition from 7-8:30 p.m. in the board room of the Third Street Center in Carbondale the first Monday of every month. I’m also available for free consultations about heart attack, stroke and diabetes prevention and reversal in addition to other medical issues every Monday morning. Call 970-379-5718 to schedule.

The fourth Monday of every month, Davi Nikent’s Rita Marsh, Ardis Hoffman and I have a plant-based potluck at 6:30 p.m. at the Third Street Center in Carbondale, which is a good opportunity to eat some tasty dishes and compare notes with like-minded people.

Next week’s column will be about eating out and what to do when you’re invited to someone’s house for a meal.

Dr. Feinsinger, who retired from Glenwood Medical Associates after 42 years as a family physician, now has a nonprofit Center For Prevention and Treatment of Disease Through Nutrition. He is available for free consultations about heart attack prevention and any other medical concerns. Call 970-379-5718 for an appointment. For questions about his columns, email him at

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