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October 29th, 2010
07:59 AM ET

Human Factor: Rich Roll's 'experiment' in fitness

In the Human Factor, Dr. Sanjay Gupta introduces you to a survivor who has overcome tremendous odds. Confronting a life obstacle – injury, illness or other hardship – they tapped their inner strength and found resilience they didn’t know they possessed. Be inspired by their successes, as we have been.

Very late on the eve of my 40th birthday just four years ago, I was blessed with a precious moment of clarity.  Face to face with an unforgiving mirror after a losing battle with a simple flight of stairs that left me buckled over and seeing stars, I was shocked out of a long-held denial and forced to confront an uncomfortable truth more painful than my heaving lungs - that I was woefully overweight, terribly unfit, and facing a certain future of heart disease – a trending topic in my genealogy.

It was time for a change.  A line-in-the-sand, life altering kind of change.  Seizing the moment, I awoke the next day to formulate a plan and put it into action.

A plan I like to call The Experiment - a journey in nutrition, fitness and wellness that has drastically and forever altered the trajectory of my life.  A journey that over time has divorced me from everything I previously held true about food, age, fitness and health.  A journey that starts with an average overweight middle-aged guy and culminates with feats of athletic endurance I had no idea I was capable of.

It all began when I decided to adopt a 100 percent plant-based whole food diet.  A discipline that involved removing all animal products (and most processed foods) from my diet.  No chicken.  No fish.  No dairy.  Nada.

At the time, my expectations were limited and my goals modest – lose a little weight; maybe feel a little better.  That was it.  In fact, I secretly harbored hope that The Experiment would fail so I could resume my predilection for pizza and nachos - free of guilt and knowing I had tried everything.

But to my surprise, I was amazed at just how fantastic I felt after only 10 days on this regimen.  My energy skyrocketed, fueling a return to a modest exercise routine.  Gradually, I started to shed the pounds.  Slowly, the fitness returned.  And my energy levels continued to improve.  Then came the desire to pursue an athletic challenge.  Nothing was overnight, but a mere few years later I found myself almost 50 pounds lighter with a 10-minute lead and Day 1 stage victory in the 3-day double-ironman distance triathlon known as the Ultraman Hawaii World Championships.

How was this possible?  I am not overstating the case to say that everything I have accomplished as an endurance athlete over the last few years, including two Ultraman World Championships and EPIC5 – an endurance odyssey in which I completed 5 ironman distance triathlons on 5 separate Hawaiian Islands in under a week – begins and ends with my plant-based whole food diet.

But what about protein?  Aren’t you anemic?  How can you stand all that bland food?  You’re harming your body!

I field questions like these on a daily basis from all types of naysayers, including doctors, trainers and nutritionists.  But I have answered them all.  Contrary to conventional wisdom, I am fully fortified on a surprisingly delicious routine of very nutrient dense plant-based foods and recipes that have enhanced not just my overall health, but my athletic ability as well.  In the last four years, I’ve had nary a sniffle.  And at 44 years of age, I am the most vital and physically fit I have ever been in my life.  It’s not an inconvenience.  And its not an impediment – it’s my secret weapon.

We live in the most prosperous nation on Earth, and yet we have never been more unhealthy as a society.  Obesity, heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and a vast array of very preventable diseases plague us unnecessarily.  Rather than redress the underlying causes of these diseases, we place too much focus on the treatment of symptoms with pharmaceuticals, thus prolonging and exacerbating very solvable problems.  Just watch television for an hour, count how many ads you see for extraneous prescription medications, and you get the picture.

If we want to heal, truly heal, then we must keenly redirect the national health debate on one thing – preventive medicine.  Simply put, and backed by balanced scientific studies, a plant-based whole food diet has been shown to prevent and actually reverse heart disease (America’s #1 killer) and impede or even arrest the development of a litany of other maladies, including the growth of cancer cells.  And overall, it is the easiest, most cost effective (as well as environmentally conscious) means to vastly improve the health and environment of not just America, but the world at large.

I am not alone in this belief.  In fact, plant-based nutrition has now entered the zeitgeist as a legitimate mainstream phenomenon.  From successful professional athletes to high profile cultural influencers, more and more are opening up to the advantages of living “plantstrong.”  Even former President Bill Clinton recently joined the fray, a bold move that created a media frenzy and will, I hope, catalyze profound, long-term positive effects on our national health dialog.

We all know fad diets don’t work.  But greater lasting health always remains within one’s grasp, regardless of age or condition.  Everyone has the power to change.  It just takes a decision.

They say that the enemy of wisdom is contempt prior to investigation.  Don’t take my word for it; do your own research.  Still not convinced?  That’s fine; just do me one simple favor – eat more plants.

But if you decide you want to feel as good as I do, then join me – I dare you.

How to Connect with Rich

RICH ROLL WEBSITE & BLOG: http://www.richroll.com

TWITTER: http://twitter.com/richroll

In addition, Rich and his wife Julie Piatt recently released their first plant-based e-cookbook titled JAI SEED.  For more information and to purchase for simple download, visit:

http://www.jai-lifestyle.com/cookbook

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Filed under: Exercise • Healthy Eating • Human Factor • Nutrition • Obesity

soundoff (49 Responses)
  1. Tammy

    Though i havent totally cut out meat from my diet, i have switched to very lean meats and have substituted most of red meat intake with turkey. The biggest change ive made is no processed food and total whole grains in my diet and no refined sugars. That has had a huge impact along with alot of fruit and fresh vegetables. I eat some dairy occasionally but stay away from cheese milk etc. As heart disease is in my genes also and being diagnosed with high blood pressure controlled by meds, at 43 i knew i had to do something! The changes ive made along with moderate exercise have resulted in 40 lbs lost, stable bp without meds and a great sense of wellbeing. It wasnt as grueling as one would think either. Im italian and love everything to do with food and that says alot right there!!

    October 29, 2010 at 10:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Jamie H

    Thanks for providing inspiration to this overweight, 37 year old vegetarian....I will beat my nemesis-Cheese!

    October 29, 2010 at 10:30 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Michelle

      I gave up cheese for lent and was 8 pounds lighter at the end of six weeks and it was the only thing I changed!

      October 29, 2010 at 13:09 | Report abuse |
  3. Mizu

    How odd...22 pounds down in the last 45 days. I am feeling real good. But I get most of my calories from fat. The common thread is the massive reduction in processed foods. Breads, Grain, Sugar.
    Should tells us something that all of our succesful change in diet avoids those things.

    October 29, 2010 at 11:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. dt

    I think its great you are promoting health with this great advice. My take away is a little different though, and something I think we all need to reflect on. Notice how you mentioned you did all this AGAINST the advice of nutritionists and doctors? I think we give too much confidence and credibility to people with a certain title. You are easily in the top 1 percent of the population regarding fitness and nutrition, yet the doctors still disagree. Lets stop listening to salesmen called doctors, and start listening to the healthy people. Thats my opinion anyway.

    October 29, 2010 at 11:56 | Report abuse | Reply
    • matt

      Which healthy people? I'm the healthiest person I know. I'm lean and muscular and probably twice as strong as the guy who wrote this article, but I eat a ton of meat. I'm guessing you're not gonna be so willing to listen to me because I don't agree with you.

      Also for you vegan advocates, why do you seem to be so heavily advocating how harmful meat is and not talking about how beneficial vegetables are? The average American does eat a lot of meat but also very few vegetables. How do you know it's the meat being harmful and not just the vegetables being beneficial which is making you feel good? I eat more meat than the typical American but I also eat loads of vegetables and avoid processed carbs.

      October 30, 2010 at 20:25 | Report abuse |
  5. kenberthiaume

    Fascinating. I wish I could try some of those vegetable drinks. See if I'd like them. They probably taste like cat vomit though. Why don't vegies taste better if they are so healthy?

    No dairy at all? I love milk.

    If I could just knock off the sugars and cut down on the starches I'd be there, I think.

    October 29, 2010 at 12:10 | Report abuse | Reply
    • dt

      Ha ha. Yes if you cut down on the poison you'd be there. Veggies do taste good, just not as much so after being addicted to food designed to taste phenomenal.

      October 29, 2010 at 12:15 | Report abuse |
  6. Tim

    Hi, i am 25 150 pounds and run 3 miles almost every day and i eat meat all the time. I find that you are a stupid foolish person, the only reasion human can run like that is for persistence hunting. I am linking a short artical and a wikipedia link on the subject. Please understand that human are carnovors and that meat is good for you if you work out like your supposed to and are not a lazy tubby person.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Persistence_hunting

    "A while ago I watched a David Attenborough documentary that showed a bushman man running a Kudu to death. It was pretty amazing stuff – by persistently chasing the kudu through the heat of the day he was able to exhaust it to the point of collapse.

    I was very impressed (and sorry for the Kudu) but assumed that this was highly unusual.

    It turns out that in ancient history persistence hunting (as it is known) was actually very common. In fact some anthropologists believe humans hunted in this way before they had tools such as spears and bows.

    Our bodies are so well adapted to endurance running (especially in hot conditions where prey easily overheat) that these anthropologists believe persistence hunting was an evolutionary force in humans. It seems we are specifically evolved to be able to run a large antelope into heat exhaustion.

    Some examples (many more in the other articles):

    Running on two legs is slower in a sprint, but more efficient over long distances
    Humans have toes that are far shorter than all other primates. This has been shown to be a big advantage – but only when running over distance
    Hairless bodies and our all over sweating allows running in the heat. Antelope aren’t nearly as efficient at getting rid of heat – they must stop to pant
    Interesting stuff. Here is another short article on the subject."

    -http://alistairpott.com/2009/04/15/persistence-hunting-humans-running-antelope-to-death/

    October 29, 2010 at 12:22 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Ruth

      Let's see what you say after hit 40.

      October 29, 2010 at 13:36 | Report abuse |
    • vm

      There's a big difference, Tim, between competing in an ultra marathon and jogging three miles a day. According to their website, the Ultraman is

      a 3-day, 320-mile (515-kilometer) individual ultra-endurance event

      Stage I – 6.2-mile (10 km) ocean swim from Kailua Bay to Keauhou Bay, followed by a 90-mile (145 km) cross-country bike ride from Keauhou Bay around the southern tip of the island via Route 11 to finish at Namakani Paio Park in the Volcanoes National Park. Vertical climbs total 7,600 feet.

      Stage II – 171.4-mi (276 km) bike ride, from Volcanoes National Park (Route 11) to Keaau, then turning east with a counter-clockwise loop through Kalapana, Kapoho and Pahoa, then on through the City of Hilo. From Hilo, the route continues north along the Hamakua Coast (Route 19) to Waimea, and over the Kohala Mountains via Route 250 to finish at the Kohala Village Inn on Hawi Road, just above its junction with Route 270. Vertical climbs total 8,600 feet.

      Stage III – 52.4-mile (84 km) double-marathon run from Hawi to Kawaihae (Route 270), then on to Kailua-Kona (via Route 19) and finishing on the beach at the Old Airport State Park.

      October 29, 2010 at 14:32 | Report abuse |
    • Dan

      3 miles isn't even a warm up....

      November 1, 2010 at 00:57 | Report abuse |
  7. Josue Parker

    It's good to have a balanced diet and being overweight can not lose so radically since the sudden change can affect our health, and should remember that health care is important to better physical condition.

    J. Parker
    Findrxonline

    October 29, 2010 at 12:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. ChrisD

    Why is the author so keen to convert people to plant based diets? There are other healthy diets that recommend dairy and meats in moderation. Is he lonely and wants more veggie pals to take away his insecurity?

    October 29, 2010 at 12:43 | Report abuse | Reply
    • JaneUSC1114

      My point exactly! There is no harm in eating meat (in moderation) meat also contains nutients that plant lack. This dude is a total sellout.

      October 29, 2010 at 16:17 | Report abuse |
    • James

      Define "moderation". The typical American definition of moderation is nothing close to what moderation really is. I found that for me personally, eating meat in moderation was about as easy as someone using heroin in moderation. You're either on it, or you aren't. At 30 I was diagnosed with the early stages of heart disease, palpitations, fainting, HBP, high cholesterol, etc, etc. At 39 I have washboard abs and am also an endurance athlete. And I did it all without ever taking a single pill of any type. Plant power, baby!

      October 29, 2010 at 18:00 | Report abuse |
  9. Ruth

    Been a vegetarian for nine years and very happy with my decision. But I do eat eggs and some cheese (not much). Staying away from processed foods is great advice. Be careful with your nut and seed consumption too. That tends to be my downfall sometimes. Dried fruit needs to be moderated too.

    October 29, 2010 at 13:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Stacey

    Regardless of whether or not I agree with the author, the one thing that stands out the most is how well he wrote this article.

    October 29, 2010 at 14:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. JaneUSC1114

    Personally as a nutrition major i think Vegan diets are NOT for everyone. Dont' give in to the fad. If you go all out vegan diet you will lack IRON, VITAMIN B groups, CALCIUM, PROTEIN, VITAMINI D, OMEGA FATTY ACIDS. This "athlete" is a sellout. He was probably paid to write this article.

    October 29, 2010 at 16:16 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Ruth

      I'm sure you meant to say that you MIGHT lack all those things.

      Typical nutritionist.

      The fact is that a lot of people make the vegan diet work. Just bnecause a lot of people are too ignorant or lazy to make it work doesn't mean it's no good. And the standard American diet of junk food is much much worse for you than a vegan diet.

      October 29, 2010 at 16:44 | Report abuse |
    • vm

      What's with the scare quotes, Jane?

      October 29, 2010 at 17:30 | Report abuse |
    • Tim

      I agree with Jane. Vegan-ism is a fad, and a dangerous one at that.

      October 29, 2010 at 22:59 | Report abuse |
    • ab

      I have been a vegan for 7 months – I am 43. I have dropped my cholesterol by 30 points and 30 lbs in weight. right now I am still way to addicted to grains – once that addiction comes off – the remainder weight will come off. There is absolutely NO reason to consume dairy or animal meat to get the items you list in caps. One basic book that lays it all out" The China Study.

      October 30, 2010 at 02:00 | Report abuse |
    • Timmy

      JaneUSC I am a ground fighting infantry Marine. I have been vegetarian for a year and at a few months at a time a vegan.(damn pizza tasting so amazing) There is not one of those vitamins or minerals that I can not obtain by eating strictly uncooked raw fruits, vegetables and whole grains/legumes/psudo-grains. Not only has my energy spiked but my endurance, my strength and general overall well being. Coconut has plenty of medium fatty acids, flax seed, quinoa all have amino acids and fatty acids. Quinoa has 20 grams of protein in every 1/4 cup of grain. These grains are smaller then a grain of rice. I eat a full cup easy in a meal and I am getting so much more then an average person needs. Come on a nutrition major. Look at the nutritional value of a mango or banana. They have tons of protein and are packed with tons of other things. If you don't believe me then surely you believe Harvard http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/what-should-you-eat/pyramid/index.html here is a link to show you that they separate the meat and dairy from the food pyramid for a reason. It can be processed by the human but is not suggested and look at the serving size they suggest. I assume you attend USC but lets be honest Harvard are you going to argue with their scientist and professors.

      November 23, 2010 at 02:20 | Report abuse |
  12. Adam

    The message about eating healthy and being active is great and important, and hopefully we can convince more people that they have control over their quality of life.
    The message about veganism as the only way to reach that goal is not so useful. The author did an experiment on a population of one with many, many variables and no controls. You can only say that doing ALL those things will likely have these results, but you can't necessarily say which specific things did it, and you certainly can't say that other things won't have as good or better results.
    I think we all agree that avoiding processed foods is a healthy way to live. But as a strength athlete and as a researcher of nutrition in terms of athletic performance and weight management for over a decade, I'd have to say eating animals does more good than harm.

    October 29, 2010 at 19:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Elle

    This article arrived in the nick of time! i was losing my motivation to eat healthier& to get in shape enough to finish a 5k (notice how i didn't say run it). i've gone from 195 to 145 and am at a plateau. all i wanted was to clip my toenails without passing out! i'm going to re-try vegan-it worked before, but i got self-conscious with all the attention my weight loss brought-or that's the excuse i used. with just 5 pounds re-gained, i feel tired and out of it. thanks for this timely reminder.

    October 29, 2010 at 21:55 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Fernando

      12 hours is more than enough time.I would swtich it off now, and then turn it back on to reheat later.With slow cooking like that it really allows the meat to absorb all of the flavours you add.With chuck it will become more tender so it can just be pulled apart.Use leftovers for pulled beef sandwiches.

      September 14, 2012 at 02:02 | Report abuse |
  14. Tim

    My point was that his running is a evolutionary adaptation to hunt. Yes their is a difference between running 3 miles a day and running 50. My point was that i am in perfect health because i exercise not because i swear off all meat. Not eating meat is stupid and asinine. The reason humans get fat is not because we eat meat or cheese its because we have evolved to run off the fat during hunting, and when you don't and set on your ass your body stories all that energy. When i am 40 i will not be fat nor will i stop running or eating meat. Anyone who does is stupid and against nature and natural selection.

    October 29, 2010 at 22:41 | Report abuse | Reply
    • vm

      Exactly what is "stupid" here? According to the story, Rich Roll switched to a vegan diet, gradually gained more energy, and in the course of a couple of years was able to change from an "average overweight middle-aged guy" to being able to compete in ultra endurance events.

      If his vegan diet was nutritionally deficient, this surely wouldn't have been possible.

      Do you think he's doing long term damage for short term performance gains? That eating broccoli is like taking steroids?

      The persistence hunting link above says nothing about a particular diet. And from the description of the endurance events he competes in, it sounds like Roll would be a very good persistence hunter.

      Also, see http://sandwalk.blogspot.com/2009/04/evolution-of-long-distance-runner.html for a critique of the evolutionary explanation for this.

      October 30, 2010 at 08:51 | Report abuse |
  15. Hannah

    Natural selection lead us to having long intestines (carnivores have short intestines to digest the rotting flesh). But we do happen to have hands that are great for grabbing fruit from trees. It seems natural selection is against meat eating (in excess) if you look at the china study and many other reputable studies, so it seems hard to think it's against nature. Don't be threatened by new ideas, learn and research yourself instead of assuming.

    October 29, 2010 at 23:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. Hannah

    Also vegan diets, same as any diets, are healthy depending on what you eat! Vegetables are so nutrient dense. There is a plethora of foods, such a quinoa, aduki beans, collard greens. Quinoa and aduki beans are full of protein, iron and b vitimine, collard greens have tons of calcium. All of these are full of vitamins our body absorbs well. If you base you diet on meat, you get too much protein and NO nutrients. Meat only has protein, no vitamin A, B, C–none! And too much protein is bad, linked to cance. So a all based meat diet is quite dangerous, as is obvious by the state of our nations health.

    October 29, 2010 at 23:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Sandy

    Great story! Fat, sugar, and salt. Manufacturers market this crap and we buy it. Want to lose weight? Avoid the five white sins.....white bread, white potatoes, white rice, white dairy, white pasta. Simple.

    October 30, 2010 at 10:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. matt

    How do you guys know that it's the meat that makes people feel like crap and have health problems and not the lack of beneficial nutrients like those in vegetables? You guys seem to be so quick to blame meat while ignoring the fact that there is a huge subset of the population (recreational weight lifters and strength athletes) that eat a ton of meat and are very healthy. I think that it's not the meat which makes the American diet bad, it's the loads of processed carbs and sugar.

    October 30, 2010 at 20:27 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Hannah

      You are right but it's simple carbs, the complex ones are amazing (brown rice and quinoa are examples). But the number one killer in America is heart disease, which is caused by high cholesterol which meat and eggs are full of. It seems meat makes the list too.

      October 31, 2010 at 11:34 | Report abuse |
  19. matt

    @Hannah

    Dietary cholesterol has little effect on blood cholesterol, the belief that eggs and meat lead to high cholesterol is an outdated 1980s view of nutrition that is blatantly false. Look at this study, the group put on the high-fat high-protein diet not only lost more weight but had the largest improvements in cholesterol, blood pressure, and triglycerides.

    http://jama.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/full/297/9/969

    I'm not even a low-carb/atkins diet advocate but the belief that meat and eggs lead to heart disease is just wrong and has to go. The number one killer in America is heart disease because 66% of Americans are overweight/obese.

    October 31, 2010 at 19:24 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Hannah

      http://www.thechinastudy.com/praise.html

      The link is to the china study, an amazing prolonged study proving that a plant based diet leads to lower risk in all the big killers (including heart disease). The atkins diet funded all that research to market there program. A plant based diet is better for humans than a meat based as vegetarians live longer on average. I am a nutrition science major and plan to reseach myself and can't wait to learn more about human nutrition. But to me the plant argument beats the meat one. Oh and Bill Clinton is living proof of vegans excellent benefits - his hypertnsion has gone down sense going vegan. :)

      October 31, 2010 at 20:13 | Report abuse |
  20. Arron

    No one has pointed out that the meat the America is gorging on should not even be called meat. It is comprised of cheap subsudized gmo corn, drugs and in most cases manure. Eating this stuff is committing suicide, period. If you want to eat meat buy free range grass fed drug free and if you can't find it don't eat meat.

    To the guy arguing persistance hunting...do you think our ancestors ran down game every day? Do you think they had a sausage mcmuffin for breakfast, ham sandwich for lunch and a steak for dinner? Or do you think it is more likley they had lean wild game on occasion ( translate: moderation) but primairly fuled their bodies with the gathering part of the equation? How often would you eat meat if you had to run it down?

    To the lady that thinks Rich was paid to wright this article, who exactly paid him? The coliflower growers association? It amazing the things people will say when they feal threatened by the realization that their way might not be the correct way.

    October 31, 2010 at 21:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. Rob

    While your accomplishments are impressive, your statement that they are due first and foremost to your plant based diet is unsupported. I don't doubt that you FEEL as though it's true, and I'm glad that you've found a solution that worked for you, but the fact is that humans are biologically adapted in MANY specific ways to consume meat products. It's simply not necessary to eat only plant foods. Yes, of course fruits and vegetables are generally healthy foods. But for many people going without animal products is not going to be a long-term solution, and it doesn't NEED to be, either! There's absolutely nothing unhealthy about meat consumption. There IS something wrong with overconsumption of any type of food to the point where it negatively impacts your health. The answer is to find what works for you. In your case, one possible solution is your current plant based diet. However, I'd wager that it's not the ONLY solution that would work for you. In addition, it CERTAINLY isn't the only solution that will work for others. I'm very happy that you've found your path, but it demonstrates a certain level of ignorance to imply that what works for you is the best way for everyone. Meat is a natural and beneficial part of the human diet. As such, it can and should be used as a nutritional tool along with all other fundamentally healthy foods. Rational, effective nutrition for fat loss and long-term health: http://www.NutritionPerfected.com

    November 1, 2010 at 07:41 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Aleksandar

      I try to do this as often as possible. I was a viaateregn until I married a man allergic to all beans, nuts, eggs, tomatoes, mushrooms...and watermelon. (Who the heck is allergic to something that is 96% water?!?!?) I raise our own chicken and beef on a hillside that isn't suitable for growing, so that's how I alleviate my guilt. I figure that meat won't kill me but viaateregnism will kill him, so...

      September 14, 2012 at 03:16 | Report abuse |
  22. Steve

    There are many arguments for and against plant based diets. I, for one, do not adhere to the plant based doctrine. I like steak, chicken, turkey, as well as milk and cheese. Humans have eaten these animals for thousands of years. Why change the natural order of things? Many anthropologists/scientists believe that the way humans are today, with large brains, etc. is because we ate and eat meat. What Rich Roll did is simply amazing. The endurance needed for these events is almost unfathomable to most people, but it should be known that before Rich Roll was 50lbs overweight, he was actually a WORLD CLASS athlete (swimmer) at Stanford University. It's genetics. I think he gives his plant based did much less than he gives it credit for. The same thing would happen if he ate meat.

    November 3, 2010 at 11:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. AFG

    While a wonderfully inspiring story, I have issue with excluding any one type if food group. I do not subscribe to the "all or nothing" train of thought that seems to consume our dieting society. There is nothing wrong with meat or any other food group – if eaten in moderation. In addition, exercise is needed. If you sit on your ass all day – meat diet or not – you will be out if shape and likely get fat. Fact.

    November 4, 2010 at 11:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. Roy Cohen

    One succeeds first, as the result of a choice to do so - and supported by mental strength, not exclusive to any one path. That said, this is very inspiring. I have argued with myself for several years now whether to exclude meat from my diet. I'm not sure this will put me over the edge, but it has me thinking.

    November 4, 2010 at 12:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. Peter T

    Although I personally choose to eat 'Paleo', hats off to Rich for an incredible achievement. Whether you are Vegan, Vege, Paleo or one of the many derivatives the most important factor is not what you eat but rather what you are not eating. The longest living people on earth eat different types of food based on environmental and cultural factors, there is no magic bullet, but what they all have in common is they eat natural whole food and avoid processed junk. (God's food not man's food) Anyone who completes an Ultraman is truly that...an "Ultraman", and I don't care what they fuel on...it worked for him, may not for others, but this is a great story regardless of his dietary decisions. Very inspiring.

    November 4, 2010 at 15:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. InfinintyRunner

    Your accomplishments are amazing Rich. I find that the majority of meat-eaters are relatively under-informed about the vegan/vegetarian diet choice. I have never eaten a single bite of meat in my entire life, and neither has anyone in my entire extended family. We are all athletes, doctors, and engineers. The simple fact is that it is meat that is unnecessary.

    It is absolutely true that one can be healthy and eat meat or be an unhealthy vegetarian. But contrary to most of the misinformation doled out by anti-vegetarian folks, it is not difficult to get all the essential nutrients your body needs from a vegetarian diet. There are literally millions of people around the world whose cultures have been meatless for thousands of years, and they have struck a balance which enables their populations to thrive. American culture is inherently anti-vegetarian, anti-vegetable, and pro-meat, which can definitely make people surprisingly ignorant and make it difficult for others who want to pursue other pathways to get proper information.

    November 5, 2010 at 16:12 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Kris

      I should have posted my comment here in response to yours - but you can read it below. Thanks for your intelligent insight, Infinity!

      November 7, 2010 at 03:47 | Report abuse |
  27. Kris

    I just watched an AWESOME program about Rich on Supreme Master TV today. The man is so inspiring and has a peacefulness about him, and his family is beautiful.

    InfinityRunner, I, too, was brought up on a vegetarian diet since I was a child...and made the transition to being vegan a few years ago. I truly cannot remember the last time I was sick, iron counts are healthy and I'm a regular blood donor, calcium levels and B vitamins are normal too - and I don't take any supplements. My doctor laughed at the notion of protein deficiency. If you think about it - do you know of anyone who's died of a protein insufficiency? Never heard of it.

    Anyway, case in point, while humans can be omnivores, we thrive on plant-based diets. We have long intestines like herbivore animals, while carnivores have short intestines b/c meat is not supposed to sit in one's body for long periods of time, especially incubating in near 100 degrees of body heat. While you may argue that we are healthy eating meat b/c you have been socialized to enjoy the taste, it is hard to deny the fact that countries who consume the most meat are suffering the most in heart disease, cancers, and obesity.

    November 7, 2010 at 03:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. plantcentric

    Reblogged this on plantcentric.

    June 14, 2012 at 12:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. zennebula

    Any excuse to unneccesaraily harm animals will do, I guess.

    September 10, 2013 at 07:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. keukenblad graniet

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    November 16, 2014 at 01:47 | Report abuse | Reply

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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.