Heart Health and a Vegan Diet

vegendietEarlier this week, Rose shared how she finds it hard to maintain momentum with achieving her goals with the demands of family life weighing on her.

Today Cyndi tells us how hereditary health factors and her own extensive research led her to dramatically change her diet in order to protect her heart. To support heart month, Cyndi even encouraged the ‘Change the World Wednesday’ gang to take part by using up fruits and veggies that might otherwise have been wasted in delicious soups and smoothies…

High Cholesterol, Diabetes, High Blood Pressure … these conditions are associated with Heart Disease … and they are hereditary in my family.  As a child, I didn’t think much about it.  Sure, I knew that, unlike other families, we didn’t eat butter or have a salt shaker on the table … and when we visited my grandparents, they had sugar-free candies for us.  But I really didn’t get the connection between our diet and our health.

Meat and health

As I grew older, doctors would suggest that I eat less meat because of my family’s history.  The idea that what I ate affected my health (or more importantly what I didn’t eat) was fascinating … so I began to research the subject.  What I found changed my life!

I began by searching the Internet for information on specific health issues … not just heart related issues but things like cancer and dementia as well.  In almost every case, the advice was the same … eat more plant-based foods and less animal foods.  I didn’t really understand the whys and wherefores but one thing was becoming clear … increasing the amount of plant-based foods in our diet improves health.

Plant-based diet

Still, I had been raised eating meat.  And frankly, I didn’t think that I could give it up forever.  My husband was interested in trying a vegan diet and convinced me to give it a go for 30 days.  Well, a person can do anything for 30 days, right?  It wasn’t unthinkable so I agreed.

And I never looked back!

Vegan diet

I can honestly say that I have never missed meat … or any animal products, for that matter.  I’ve experimented with a wide range of foods and explored recipes from all over the world.  Along the way, my health improved … cholesterol and blood pressure numbers went down and I remain diabetes-free.  Even my allergies have improved!  I’m not a doctor or a nutritionist … and I don’t have facts to back up my theory … but I believe that switching to a vegan diet has been a key factor to my health.  And truly, speaking as a person who isn’t creative in the kitchen, it hasn’t been hard … in fact, it’s been delightful.

I’d like to share one of the few recipes which I actually created myself.  I hope you’ll give it … and meatless meals … a try!

Tuscan Soup (Vegan)


  • 1-2 Tablespoons Oil (canola, olive, etc.)
  • 1/2 Medium onion, chopped (or 2 Tablespoons Onion Flakes)
  • 2 Teaspoons granulated garlic
  • 1 Clove garlic, minced
  • 2 Carrots, chopped
  • 2 Cans tomatoes (approximately 15 ounce cans)
  • 1-2 Teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • 1-2 Teaspoons Nutritional Yeast
  • 1 Cup dried, white beans (sorted and washed)
  • 1 Cup mushrooms (more or less to taste and any variety)
  • 1 Cup pasta (any small variety like elbow, orecchiette, Rotini, small shells, etc.)
  • Salt & Pepper to taste


  • Put the oil, onion, granulated garlic, minced garlic and 1 carrot into a heavy soup pot and saute’ for 5 minutes.
  • Add 1 can of tomatoes, the Italian seasoning, Nutritional Yeast and cook, covered, for another 5-10 minutes.
  • Using a submersion blender (or carefully using a jar type blender), liquefy all the ingredients.
  • Add 1 can of tomatoes, the white beans, carrots, mushrooms and water to cover (1-2 tomato cans full).  Cover and cook for approximately 2 hours.
  • Add pasta, salt & pepper to taste, and cook, covered, for about 10 minutes (or according to the pasta package instructions).

Serve with crusty, whole-grain bread for a delicious meal.

Cyndi (aka Small Footprints) lives in the beautiful mountains of western North Carolina. She is the author of Reduce Footprints, a blog about the easy ways to reduce our footprint on the earth, and host of weekly Eco-challenges called Change The World Wednesdays.

We’re grateful to Philips who have sent us an Avance juicer so we can improve our diets and ensure we meet the guideline requirement for five portions of fruit and vegetables per day!



  1. Jennifer @noteasy2begreen on February 8, 2012 at 4:23 pm

    The recipe sounds lovely, and I have everything for it in my kitchen right now! Maybe I’ll give it a try this week. I’ve been vegetarian for over four years now, and since I’m mildly lactose intolerant, don’t eat a lot of dairy anyway. I do find that I’ve lost a little too much weight on a vegetarian diet, but I guess that’s a mild complaint for the many other benefits of eating mostly plants.

  2. Mrs Green on February 9, 2012 at 7:48 am

    Thank you so much Cyndi. I knew you were vegan but to share in the story of *why* has really given me understanding and a lot of respect for your choices. I find it wonderful to meet people who adopt a prevention rather than cure approach to life as so many of us make unhealthy choices and simply expect the medical profession to pick up the pieces. The soup sounds awesome and I can’t wait to try it out on my family 🙂

  3. Small Footprints on February 10, 2012 at 4:35 pm

    Thank you, Mrs. Green … it was lovely to be a guest and to be part of heart month on Little Green Blog. 🙂