Hog farmer switches to vegan diet after battling cancer | Clare Howard | 08/17/10

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Lunch was Greek cabbage salad sprinkled with pumpkin seeds, Ezekiel sprouted wraps, walnuts, raw almonds and a glass of hot purified water.

The setting for lunch was a renovated iron-front building with a sign out front: "Best of Health, Nutrition & Fitness." Location was Forrest, Ill., a small farming community 60 miles east of Peoria surrounded by corn and soybean fields stretching to the horizons.

Diner Fred Leman, a 53-year-old central Illinois hog farmer who used to eat meat at nearly every meal and sugary snacks in between, now considers this lunch among his favorites.   

The transformation of Leman's diet came after a cancer diagnosis last year, treatment at a cancer clinic in Mexico and new insights into the connection between diet and disease.

The change in diet was facilitated by Leman's wife, Brenda, a licensed practical nurse who was enrolled in a one-year, long-distance program at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition in New York City when her husband was diagnosed with cancer.  

She was hearing lectures from leaders in the field of integrative nutrition including Dr. Andrew Weil, Dr. Walter Willett, Dr. Neal Barnard, Sally Fallon, Dr. Mark Hyman, Dr. Deepak Chopra and John Douillard among others. She was delving into scientific connections between processed foods, sugary foods and disease.

The Lemans both recognize that diet alone was not going to tip the scale for Fred Leman. He had 10 radiation treatments and a number of other procedures.

"We knew we needed radiation. You're not going to get ahead of this with just diet," Brenda Leman said. "We know this (diet) is not a cure-all, but it gives us some choices."

Fred Leman said within 10 days of starting the new diet, his craving for candy, cookies and ice cream was gone.

"My blood sugar levels used to be going crazy," he said. "My tastes have changed so much. I feel liberated because I don't crave those sugars and sweets anymore."

Read the whole story here.


9 Comments | Leave a comment


The Leman's story highlights yet another example of limited consciousness when changing over to a vegan diet as last resort for illnesses. Sadly, Fred Leman regrettably spent many years putting aside any concerns for his sentient pig victims who were no less intelligent,loyal,and loving than a 5-year old child and who suffered great misery and pain at the hands of their torturers, whether on small or large factory farms. Any consideration for the cruelty and unwanted deaths perpetrated onto these pigs(the term humane slaughter being an oxymoron), is simply not mentioned, as though it did not actually happen or, if it did, is irrelevant. As a nurse, had Mrs. Leman also learned that normalizing our habit of animal consumption is a pseudo notion for which there is no scientific evidence? Furthermore, I cannot perceive spending my days with farm animals and never come to view their essential lives in a moral and compassionate light.
More important, I continue to be miffed by articles such as these, written with a cavalier attitude for showcasing one’s motivation of a vegan diet changeover in newsletters like VegSource which conveniently omit the subject animals involved-the “absent referent.”
The end result can only confuse and add greater doubt in the minds of those who are seriously considering changing over to a plant based diet as a moral and ethical stand against the justification for using animals to satisfy our outdated and deadly habits.


"sentient pig victims who were no less intelligent,loyal,and loving than a 5-year old child and who suffered great misery and pain at the hands of their torturers"

The above quote from your comment is exactly the reason why so many mainstream folks are turned off immediately at the mention of a vegan diet. They perceive ALL vegans as extremists trying to morally shame them. It is certainly making it difficult for those of us who simply would like to spread the word about the well documented scientific research on the health benefits of a plant based diet.


Gregory: Who exactly is "they?" And from where do you perceive the source of "mainstream" influence? I suggest you pay closer attention to Jayleigh's question?
Anti slavery sentiments, women's suffrage, the civil rights movement all were a group of individuals considered "extremists." If "spreading the word" has become a hardship for you, it is because the cards are stacked against those who make different choices by simple observations. Consider the fake current promotion: "Happy Meat", a claim that animals are raised and killed humanely(oxymoron). This campaign has been so successful that people are eating more animals than ever. The producers of cruelty could not be happier to read comments like yours as you attempt to kill the messenger. Unfortunately human animals have a long history of acquired taste for animal flesh.


I wasn't replying to anything said or asked by Jayleigh.

In answer to your question, "Who is "they"?", it is everyone I encounter on a daily basis. People have given me a such a negative reaction when I say I have changed my diet, that I have decided to be "in the closet" about it most of the time. My primary point is that vegans who pull the moral high ground, preach, and shame other folks is causing people to not even be willing to consider the health benefits of a vegan diet as they are so repulsed by people like you getting in their face all the time.

I'm sure I could have been much more successful getting people to see the logic and good science of the "China Study" if it hadn't been for people's bad experiences with people such as yourself. (By the way I am a flexitarian, and on occasion go hunting.)


Figures! "Flexitarian" No surprise here. Good Luck


I was expecting at the end of this story to read that the Lehmans had changed their method of obtaining a livelihood. They do not seem to make the connection between their eating a vegan diet and producing hogs for others to consume. I guess it is OK for them to choose a healthy diet, yet they persist in producing hogs for others to eat. How can one convince others to change to a plant-based diet when they continue to produce hogs. DO AS I SAY AND NOT AS I DO.



The reply I received was not the reply to my question. My question was, "Did the farmer stop being a pig farmer after he chose a vegan diet." Surely, it is only half the story when the farmer becomes vegan for HIS health, but continues to farm pigs, regardless of the health or suffering of the animals or the health of the consumers.


Jayleigh: Looks like no answer from the author of this article can be interpreted as a "no" to your question.


The author has likely not seen this page...write the author at the site this was taken from.

Yes, let's hope he will one day soon stop raising pigs for slaughter. Meanwhile, this first big step...going wonderful.

Wish his wife would read more books & understand the benefit of a full vegan diet herself, since she is coaching others.

Getting off processed foods & sugary foods (easy to
get addicted to both) is a terrific commitment.

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