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."

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