Deadline Detroit | Dr. Joel Kahn: The benefits of a vegan diet, even for just a week or a month, are real and dramatic

Twice a month, health columns are written by a practicing cardiologist, clinical professor at Wayne State University School of Medicine and founder of the Kahn Center for Cardiac Longevity on Bingham Farms. He is an author and has appeared on national television, including “Dr. Oz” and “The Doctors Show.”

By Joel Kahn

More and more people are opting for plant-based meals. Steakhouses have vegan options. Airports offer kale salads. Grocers are devoting more shelf space to new meatless products.

I have seen dramatic health improvements when patients adopt a vegan diet. Some people jump into the pool and others dip their toes in for quite a while before getting in.

What if everyone skipped all animal products and ate only plant-based flours for just one day? Although it can be difficult to measure the health impact of just one day of plant-based food consumption, just one week of a vegan diet can lead to big changes in the way you look and feel.

Additionally, the environmental impact would include reduced water, fuel and land use, fewer crops for livestock, fewer antibiotics needed for animals, reduced soil erosion, animal excrement and ammonia emissions.

Cider-glazed tempeh with spelled berries and roasted root vegetables (Photo: A green planet | Recipe)

Another method of evaluating entry into a vegan diet is to use a vegan calculator which measures the impact of adopting a vegan diet for a month. After one month, one individual has reduced his projected environmental impact by averting the death of 33 animals, the use of 33,000 gallons of water for the production of animal feed, the destruction of 900 square feet of forest, the creation an additional 600 pounds of carbon dioxide and feeding 1,200 pounds of grain to animals that could have helped starving people around the world.

Of course, the daily impact of a vegan diet could be estimated by dividing these staggering numbers by 30.

movements like Meatless Monday that promote one day a week to avoid animal products have grown rapidly. Founded in 2003, in association with the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, the organization has grown to 44 countries and is expanding. Your decision to go a day without eggs, dairy products and meat of all kinds is a positive step forward for your health, an awareness of the suffering of farm animals and a relief for our world suffering from the burden of feeding more than 7 billion people.

The staggering impact of just one day on a healthy vegan diet can inspire you to fully embrace the diet I followed for 45 years and taught heart patients for over 30 years. You will never regret it, even if you only do it for one day.

Carrot salad, bagel chips and cream cheese dressing (Photo: A green planet | Recipe)