So normally I really despise Valentine’s Day. Mostly because it reminds me that the day following this “celebrated holiday of love” is the day that my mom passed away at age 47 of a heart attack.

Ironic if you think about it actually. She died because her heart was weak and blocked and restricting blood flow – she died the day after we were inundated with heart shaped everything (that looks nothing like the real heart mind you) AND even more ironic because February is Heart Attack Awareness month – the leading killer of women in America.

So needless to say, I don’t “love” the holiday of love quite as much as most. Vans has always understood this and honored this part about me.

This year however, I learned that Dr. Michael Greger, author of the book How Not to Die and founder of was speaking at Kaiser in Sacramento … FOR FREE. You had to reserve tickets in advance, which I did … for both Vans and I.

I later told Vans what I did and he was open minded albeit a bit sarcastic (when isn’t he) about going to hear Dr. Greger talk.

The Book
The Book

I am currently reading his book How Not to Die and have been to a few talks given by Plant-Based doctors before. Vans however has not. I don’t think he was sure what to expect. I know he thought we’d be the youngest couple there (we weren’t) and that it would not be a large crowd (it was more or less).

Dr. Greger
Dr. Greger

This talk was very inspiring and very eye opening. Since I am reading his book and have followed him and his research for a while, most of what he shared was not “news” to me but it was to Vans and even more amazing was the way in which Dr. Greger presented the information.

He is full of humor and sarcasm but yet full of knowledge, science based knowledge that is presented so matter of fact you can’t help but go, “He is so right!”

Talking about Heart Disease
Talking about Heart Disease

He is also great at explaining what and why certain industries are not sharing a lot of this information with the public. He drew the connection from smoking in the early 1940’s and 50’s to eating meat in modern day.

There was a time (not too long ago sadly) where DOCTORS prescribed smoking to patients and/or smoked themselves because they didn’t know any better. They were not taught in medical school that smoking was bad and studies (when they were finally conducted) were hidden from them. Not to mention the fact that the smoking industry paid pretty darn well on the side … fast forward, and the same is happening with the meat and dairy industry.

In Dr. Greger’s talk, he discussed the top 15 causes of death in America and how most can easily be prevented  and/or reversed by choosing a plant-based diet alone.

Needless to say, all of this was right up my ally. I love this stuff. I thought for a minute that I would turn to Vans in the middle of the talk to see him bored or uninterested but I have to say, it had the opposite affect on him. He was listening. Intently.

Vans has always known I am very passionate about nutrition and specifically a plant-based diet but I think now, he understands even more so. I don’t just pull all the things I share with him out of the blue … I research. I read. I study it and love it. I want my family to live it and see the rewards that I see from eating this way.

So for the first time in 22 years, I have truly loved Valentine’s Day. On Valentine’s Day I honored my body by sweating, I honored my brain by filling it with plant-based knowledge and I honored my LOVES, Vans and my girls, by sharing this experience with them.

So as I write this, the day that my mom passed 22 years ago to the day, I am smiling. Of course I miss her terribly but I know she would be proud that I am using her passing, as a motivator to instill healthy habits within my own family and my own life. Would I love to have her here with me and meet my girls, of course. But I know, deep down, that she IS here and she IS with me. Smiling just as much as I am.

Thank you Dr. Greger for all the work that you do.
Thank you Dr. Greger for all the work that you do.

Happy Trails (Happy Heart),


PS: If you want to hear the same talk that we heard, click HERE – All of the proceeds from Dr. Greger’s books go charity as well as any money he makes from any speaking engagements! Pretty cool Doc. Pretty cool.


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7 thoughts on “HOW NOT TO DIE – ON VALETINE’S DAY”

  1. So jealous you got to see him speak! What a lovely write up and how awesome that Vans seemed to enjoy and learn about what drives your plant based passion. I’m so sorry about the loss of your mom 🙁 I lost my dad 20 years ago also to a heart attack-no warning signs – he was a runner and seemed so healthy. I have been vegan for 30 years and always wondered if he would still be here if he had eaten a vegan diet. Your family is so lucky to have you doing all that you can to keep them healthy and surrounded by love ❤️

    1. I am sorry to hear about your dad. I often wonder that about my mom. I always say, if I knew then what I know now … would she still be here? The answer is only if SHE wanted to make those changes. One thing I have learned through this journey, is that I cannot force anyone. My dad had a heart attack and now has stents but doesn’t follow a 100% plant-based way of life. When he visits ME though, he does. 🙂 All we can do is live by example right? Thanks for you kind comment and thank you for reading.

  2. Inspiring story. I’m glad you know that your mom is always with you and you seem to be at peace with that now. Love is a powerful and beautiful thing. Unfortunately heart disease and stroke run in my family. My Dad passed of a heart attack the Sat. after Thanksgiving in Nov 2003. It took awhile to really enjoy that holiday and Christmas after his passing but I’m in a good place now. I have other relatives who had heart issues including my oldest brother. It just so happens that exactly 2 weeks ago my older brother (only 55) had a heart attack. Thankfully, he’s on the mend & in good spirits. Although I don’t think he should have gone back to work last week especially after a 4 hour surgery where he had to have the balloon procedure & a stent put in. Funny thing is that he hasn’t eaten red meat in years nor does he smoke but he is a Type A personality & has been under stress. He also has AFib & high blood pressure. Now he knows to take time to go in for regular doctor visits. I’ve been giving him ideas of better eating options and stress relief things to do like go back to painting. He needs to take time for himself. I’m also due for my heart check up. I have a small leak in my mitral valve. Hereditary. Yes, I have my appointment (with a new cardio doc) soon. I love life too much not to want to live for a long time especially so Matt can listen to my yammering. HAHA!!! Stay strong; stay healthy. 🙂

    1. I am sorry to hear about your dad and your brother. 55 is too young I agree. Glad that you are getting a new Cardio Doctor. You and your brother should Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease by Dr. Esselstyn. It isn’t just meat (aka the cholesterol in it) that is bad for the heart. OIL is way worse. Oil in chips and other processed packages and even by itself can clog and hinder the heart’s arteries. The best choice for a healthy heart is an OIL FREE diet … then eliminate other things such as meat, dairy and nuts (people with heart conditions he advises not to even have nuts due to the high oil and fat content). There is also the Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease cookbook that has tons of heart healthy recipes. Stress is a big factor too, you are so right. Glad he has you to help him. 🙂

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