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Mid-Hudson Vegetarian Society, Inc.
38 East Market Street, Rhinebeck, New York 12572 USA -  845-876-2626
Vegetarian - Vegan - Animal Rights - Health - Nutrition - Environment

The mission of the Mid-Hudson Vegetarian Society, Inc. is to promote the vegetarian ethic in the Mid-Hudson (New York) region, educate the community and aid anyone in the pursuit of a totally vegetarian (vegan) cruelty-free and healthful lifestyle.

Newsletters - Winter 2005 Issue

Do vegans get sick and die?
By Rae Schlecht

Sitting at my dining room table, phone in hand, still talking to the 911 operator, I could hear the sirens coming closer. An ambulance, police car, fire department truck and a couple of other cars, sirens blaring and flashing red lights, stopped at my door. Emergency personnel poured out of the vehicles and into my house.

We were in the process of painting the house so there were no curtains or blinds on the windows so I could see outside; my neighbors gawking in, wondering what was happening to me.

My two dogs and two cats running in and out. It was a three-ring circus. What was happening to me? I’m a vegan. I am invincible. Before I knew it, I was lying on a gurney and wheeled into the ambulance. My blood pressure was checked. It was sky high. They took an EKG.

Then it was off to the emergency room where I was put on a monitor. They took another EKG. Blood tests. They checked my blood pressure again. Still too high.

All this started when I was driving home from a hectic day of pressure-filled errands. My chest felt like someone put a board on it and then an elephant stood on the board.

I was gasping for breath. Even my back felt like it was caving in.

Later on I found out these were all the symptoms of a heart attack. But wait! How cold this be? I’m a vegan. My body is pure. I couldn’t possibly have clogged arteries. As it turned out I passed all the tests in the emergency room and all the subsequent tests, including a stress test and a thyroid test, with flying colors.

My breathing is still not good, but forty years of being a heavy smoker has done its damage. The lungs cannot be repaired as other parts of the body when you stop smoking, even though it has been 20 years since I stopped. But because I eat healthy vegan food including lots of veggies, whole grains, beans and fruit and I exercise, my immune system is in top shape and my cholesterol is low.

So! The answer to “Does a vegan get sick?” is yes, they do, but if they do get sick they will generally heal faster.

Of course there are certain things that can still affect your health. If you stay in the sun (as I did growing up) all day long, years later you will possibly develop skin cancer. If you smoke, you are going to have to suffer the consequences sooner or later. If you live with a lot of stress (and a lot of activists do have this) you may develop high blood pressure, which can lead to stroke and heart attacks. So we must start taking charge of our lives.

We must learn to unclutter our surroundings as well as unclutter our heads. Meditation is a great thing to do as well as yoga and Pranayama. Plenty of aerobic exercise also. There is nothing like a bike ride.

Now the answer to “Do vegans die?” is yes they do, but they live an average of 14 years longer than carnivores.

Yours for a long healthy life,



Rae, the founder of the Mid-Hudson Vegetarian Society, has since undergone further tests and her heart is fine. She does have emphysema and asthma that are likely the results of decades of smoking.

Return to Winter 2005 Issue

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