So I went to my doctor for the first time today since the early 2000's to get my first ever blood test. I've always thought about getting one, but I just kept putting it off. I'm getting ready to move out of the U.S. and start spending some time visiting the tropics, so I figured that if I'm going to a blood test I better do it now.
I called the doctor's office that I used to go to when I was younger and scheduled an appointment with my old doctor, "Dr. Baultees". (Pronounced "Dr. Ball Tease") I remembered that he was quite overweight and that he was kind of old so I decided ahead of time that I wasn't going to say a word about my diet because he probably wouldn't understand it.
As soon as he saw me he said, "Jared, where on Earth have you been hiding all these years? Haven't you been sick???" I told him that I hadn't and he said, "Wow, you must be doing something right."
So as I said, I intended on not saying a word about my diet but as soon as we went into his office and we sat down he said to me, "Well Jared, after going this long without having to go to the doctor I've got to ask, "What's your secret?"
How could I turn down an opportunity like that? So I said, "Well, I'm a vegan and I...
As soon as I said the word "vegan" his eyes got huge and he stopped me and said, "What??? A vegan??? Why??? Don't you know how unhealthy that is???"
I asked him why he thought that it's unhealthy to be a vegan and he said, "Well for starters if you are on a strictly vegan diet you won't be able to get enough protein." I immediately started laughing and said, "Oh..... Come..... On!" (I said it playfully and wasn't in any way trying to insult him, I just couldn't believe that he said it.) I asked him if he was being serious or just kidding with me and he said that he was "Serious as a heart-attack"... (I imagine that he uses that phrase a lot and that it's because he worries about his heart.)
He then said that it was also highly unlikely that I could get enough iron in my diet (according to Cron-O-Meter I usually get 3 times the recommended amount) and he suggested that we test for anemia.
Then he said, "Wait here." and he left the room and came back a few minutes later with a business card to a nutrition center in the area and told me, "As soon as you get home I want you to call the number on this card and tell them that you want to start going to them for "Vegan Counceling" I said, "Vegan Counceling"??? What for?" He said that if I write down everything that I eat in a day and bring it to them they will tell me exactly how much protein, iron, calories, etc, are in the food that I eat. I told him that I aleady keep track of that stuff using "Cron-O-Meter" and websites like "Nutidiary" and "Fitday". His response to that was, "You can't just use computer programs for that. You need a real, living, and breathing human being who has a degree in nutrition."
He then asked me what was the last thing I ate and I was a bit nervous to tell him, but I did anyways... "A head of lettuce." He seemed pretty puzzled and I imagined that he believed that I had "ortherexia" by now. I told him that it was really good and he just shook his head in a confusesd manner. He then asked me what I ate for breakfast and I again felt pretty nervous to say it but did anyways... "12 bananas." He then looked at me with a terrified look on his face and said, "12 bananas??? Oh my God if I ate 12 bananas for breakfast I would be constipated for a week!" I again broke out into laughter even though he wasn't trying to be funny.
After some further questioning about my diet I went ahead and told him that I was a raw foodist as well. Oddly enough he didn't really seem that bothered by the "raw" thing and just kept going back to insisting that vegan diets are deficient in protein.
When he realized that I wasn't going to start getting "vegan counceling" he said, "Would you at least be willing to start eating red meat 3 times a week?" I said, "HA, NO!" (Again, I was completely shocked at what he was saying.) He then said, "O....K.... Then I'm going to recommend that you start supplementing your diet with things like cooked beans and bread for your protein, will you at least do that? I just smiled and shook my head "NO".
At that point I said, "Don't you think that it would make sense to at least wait until my test results come back before you start recommending all of these changes in my diet and telling me that I need to get counceiling over it?
What he said next kind of scared me...
He shook his head and said, "Well, we can't physically or legally force you to change your diet... At least not before we have blood test results that show that the diet is deficient and dangerous..."
What did he mean by that?????????????
I seriously doubt that he could legally have me commited to a hospital against my will where I would then be forced to eat certain kinds of food against my will because my doctor labled me as an "ortherexic" who's too afraid to even eat beans because they aren't "raw", but I got the feeling that I better not say anything else about my diet or it will only make things worse. (He was taking notes the whole time.)
I was actually having fun debating with him at first, but once he said that it was obvious that he was pretty upset with the way that I was refusing every single recommendation that he was giving me and that I was even laughing at his ideas, and I sensed that he now WANTED there to be something wrong with my test results and that he WANTED to do something to get back at me and make an example of me. (Even if I'm in perfect health I would expect something on the test to be "not average" if tests like these are based on the average person who is eating a S.A.D. diet.)
He spent the next 10 minutes or so talking more about how bad the vegan diet is and I could no longer find the words to debate with him. (I was too busy debating with myself whether I should still get the test or if I should ask where the bathrooms are and sneak out to my car and just drive home.)
I ended up deciding to stay and get the test and he walked me to the room where a nurse was going to take a sample of my blood and he told me to wait there for the nurse to show up. When the nurse finally came in she was holding a clipboard with information about me and the blood test that I was getting and she set it down close enough to me that I was able to lean over and get a quick look at it while she had her back to me and the first things I saw was...
NAME: Jared Six
LIST ANY DISEASES OR HEALTH CONDITIONS: Is a vegan.
So I guess that being a vegan is an illness now... When it was over I was happy to be out of there and away from that doctor. Not that I disliked him (bless his heart) but I haven't been that uncomfortable in long time. In his defense he may have just been repeating what he was taught about vegans in medical school 40 years ago and maybe my test results will change his mind, or maybe not...
As I was driving home I couldn't help but think that if I took even half of what the doctor was saying seriously I would now be saying, "Yeah, I was raw vegan for a while, but then I went to my doctor and found out that I was deficient in protein and that I had to start eating meat again or I was going to become anemic." I imagine that just about anyone who hasn't taken the time to educate themselves on the vegan diet and connect with other vegans out there would easily have given in to the scare tactics he was using on me.
I'm still in disbelief over this experience and I've got to ask if anyone here has ever had a similar experience.
That´s funny how you tell this story with the doctor :-). At the end, it becomes scary though..:-S
I have just started being a vegan so I haven´t had this kind of experience, but now it may me think that when I get my blood test in april, I won´t tell my doctor that I am doing this diet!
Let us know the results of the blood test!
Didn't meat to scare you...
I feel pretty confident that my blood test results will give this story a happy ending. And if the test results come back not so good I can always take his advice and start eating red meat 3 times a week.
Just kidding ;)
Yeah, you might not want to get too specific with your diet when getting the test. This was just my experience though and maybe everyone else here has a much more understanding doctor...
Oh yeah, congradulations on going vegan!
Swim coaches nutritionists??? LOL!! You probably didn't hear what mine tells us to eat!
Half of nutritionists I know don't even know what they're talking about let alone my swim coach!
LMAO.... i could not help but laugh at this. When i told some of my family and friends about my lifestyle change straight away they were all asking if i had lost the plot...... so to be healthy you have too lose your mind first haha then from that it was have i been getting out of the house.... is there something i'm not telling them..... it got to the point where i don't mention my diet anymore, i don't go to their places when its meal times etc as i don't want to face the ignorance they show. I joined this site as society is so ignorant and believes everything they see on t.v, or hear from the companies that profit from meat, medicine etc companies.... i don't lecture or judge them on their lifestyle so what gives them the right to do it too me?!?
So, he's old, overweight and considers veganism a disease. Yowza.
He actually sounds like a nice old fellow, with good intentions. But it KILLS me when 1) someone in the business of health is overweight and unhealthy and 2) when someone who is obese tells me that being vegan is unhealthy.
The good thing is, you're in excellent shape. I'm sure your bloodwork will come back and illustrate that you are a very healthy, fit individual. Maybe your results can change his mind! Wouldn't that be nice?
Thank you Josh :)
This is scary stuff, Jared. You're lucky that you are at least an adult and can't be taken advantage of as underaged vegans or aspiring vegans are, all of the time. I would know since I'm not legally independent yet.
I have been forced to visit obnoxious doctors and obese nutritionists a few times since going vegan and they are all just as misinformed/misinforming and it's truly scary how much everyone trusts in them and takes their word for anything. And yes, I've been told I have orthorexia for being vegan/aspiring lfrv. I feel like I'm being suffocated. And btw I was in a monitoring department/hospital a few days ago and they totally used my veganism against me as a reason why they think I have serious mental issues.. what the heck?! Luckily I got out of there without them forcing anything foreign down my throat.
"Dreamer", I feel bad for you having to go through that kind of nonsense. It makes my story seem pretty tame. Stories like these about overweight doctors telling healthy vegans that they are unhealthy, have mental problems, or that they need to be locked up and forced to eat are the kinds of stories that you will see in history books someday when veganism is much more common.
Ha... I sure hope so! :-)
obese nutritionists? now THAT is a scary thought...
Yup. She was almost out of breath from talking too.