Have you ever heard someone say, "I'd rather enjoy my food and die early than eat healthfully and live long"?

People have exclaimed this phrase countless times to me when I explain to them what my diet is like. “Where is the decadence, the fat, the richness?” they proclaim when I tell them I don’t eat animal foods. “I don’t think I could live without a good steak every now and then,” I’ve heard on one too many social encounters. It seems as if a good chunk of the people I meet simply have no idea how much I love eating healthfully more than conventional food, not only because it keeps me feeling well in the present and will protect me from diseases later in life, but because it is one heck of a tasty diet. They just assume I am sacrificing enjoyment of life for a little better health, and it is not worth it.

I think people who have never given the nutritarian diet style a try might be skeptical about the taste of these foods and recipes and that is understandable. We like the foods we get used to eating. We are creatures of habit after all, and the foods we eat the most often become our comfort foods. It’s weird to me that people often believe that healthy foods are not as tasty as a bag of chips, a can of soda or even an oil heavy foie gras at a five star restaurant, for example. But I guess that is because other people get used to eating these types of foods early in their lives and I have never touched them. I’m sure that’s why people assume my diet of roasted butternut squash soups, lentil and mushroom veggie “meatloafs”, organic mesclun greens salads with pine nuts and roasted veggies, steamed edamame, and chocolate cherry smoothies (these are only a few examples of favorite foods I cook for myself) doesn’t taste very good. That’s the shame of it all- if only conventional eaters and the skeptics would give the nutritarian diet a chance to prove its deliciousness!

I’m not one to believe in sacrifice and I don’t think other people should have to either. I’ve met many people who use to eat the standard American diet (SAD) and now eat a nutritarian diet and love the variety of it, the taste of it, and the satisfaction of eating foods that promote wellness. My mom is actually one of these people. When my mom, whom was raised on a “conventional” diet, first met my dad’s sister in college (my mom and my aunt were actually good friends before she met my dad!), my mom said she felt sorry for my aunt, Gale (my dad’s younger sister) whom was raised on a healthy diet much like the one my dad advocates today. After only a few months of dating my dad when she was in her early twenties, she was converted to the nutritarian lifestyle and could no longer imagine eating the foods she previously ate regularly.  

Which brings me back to the title of this blog post and all of the implication it makes. Most people with poor eating habits don’t just “die early” but they will probably contend with illness, chronic pain, decreased brain function and reliance on expensive medications for many years before they say sayonara to this life. Taking care of oneself by making the right foods choices leads to feeling our most optimal in the present as well as protecting ourselves from future health problems. I don’t have to battle a constant cough, runny nose, colds that last for weeks, asthma, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, or any other chronic health malady that results from wanting to “enjoy my food and die early”. Some people might get away with eating poorly for decades and then succumb to ill health for only a few years, or maybe even a few months or weeks, before they die, but that is not the norm. Chronic weight problems face more Americans than ever before, as do cancer, heart disease, autoimmune disorders and other diet-related health conditions. 

Healthy foods become much more appealing when we understand the relationship between what we eat and how we feel now and into the future. What we have to work on is finding our favorite healthy foods and recipes, making the decision to commit to this way of life with the resolve that you can have it all- tasty food and great health. The misconception that healthy food is bland and tasteless needs to become a thing of the past and you can do it with education, commitment and experimentation with recipes that you enjoy. You really can have it all if you give this lifestyle a shot.  


The Eat To Live cookbook is coming out within the next few months (I’ve seen the recipes and tasted them) and I can testify that there are plenty of nutritious, mouth-watering recipes to come! In the mean time, there is a cornucopia of delicious recipes available on the Dr.Fuhrman.com member center like this one:


Golden Austrian Cauliflower Cream Soup

Serves: 4

Preparation Time: 30 minutes


1 head cauliflower, cut into pieces

3 carrots, coarsely chopped

1 cup coarsely chopped celery

2 leeks, coarsely chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 tablespoons Dr. Fuhrman's VegiZest (or other no-salt seasoning blend such as Mrs. Dash, adjusted to taste)

2 cups carrot juice

4 cups water

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1 cup raw cashews or 1/2 cup raw cashew butter

5 cups chopped kale leaves or baby spinach

1 tablespoon curry powder (optional)


Place all the ingredients except the cashews and kale in a pot. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes or until the vegetables are just tender. Steam the kale until tender. If you are using spinach there is no need to steam it; it will wilt in the hot soup. 
In a food processor or high-powered blender, blend two-thirds of the soup liquid and vegetables with the cashews until smooth and creamy. Return to the pot and stir in the steamed kale (or raw spinach).


Cheers to enjoying food AND living long, disease-free lives!


image credit: flickr by Marc_Smith

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Comments (23) Read through and enter the discussion with the form at the end
Theresa Anderson - July 20, 2012 1:29 AM

Talia..very well said. Thanks for writing, it's encouraging. We are all witness to the war on health that bad foods wage against our fellow citizens all around. It's time to wage war on sickness! Eat good foods!

TMR - July 20, 2012 3:21 AM

I would hope that you would have also said that the most important reason you do not eat animal foods is because they are products of great violence.

NevadaSmith - July 20, 2012 5:32 AM

I thought that the nutritarian diet never claimed to be low fat diet? This article makes it sound low fat to me.

KHT - July 20, 2012 5:34 AM

I have been eating nutritarian for over a year now and at 58 years old, I can't imagine why I thought a meat and potatoes diet was tasty. I have never eaten such delicious food! Dr. Fuhrman and all those who put together the recipes are amazing cooks. The herbs and spices are fun to work with and my vegetable garden has changed to one with less corn on the cob to lots of herbs and greens of all kinds.
I still get my treats: my favorite is the many flavors of ice cream made with frozen bananas. Today I am making Black Bean Brownies to freeze and have when i want a chocolate fix.

Amy F. - July 20, 2012 7:36 AM

Thank you so much for writing this!! I say it over and over: if I could impart one thing to people, it would how quickly our taste buds change when we change our diet! I used to be one of those people who said "I could never live without _____". But at the age of 40, 5 months ago I radically changed my SAD to a whole foods plant based diet that is 99% vegan (I eat a little seafood once in a blue moon) and within a couple of weeks it was hard to even *imagine* eating the things I used to love. I have lost 55 pounds, effortlessly. My husband, who also switched, has lost 62. We have so much energy and feel terrific. I now ENJOY an apple, or a salad, or veggie bean chili, etc, etc, every bit as much as I ever enjoyed a hamburger and fries and chocolate ice cream. In fact, I enjoy it more. Because it both tastes great AND I get to still feel good after eating it! Anyway, GREAT POST! Thank you. PS: My mother also switched to this diet, and her stage 4 ovarian cancer is in remission. Something her oncologist never even offered as a possibility. In fact the oncologist's BEST case scenario had her dead by now!

Jean Myers - July 20, 2012 9:23 AM

Yes, so many folks have said the exact same thing to me, including my mother! However, the reality is one does not die early - one dies after a long protracted battle with diseases like dementia, hypertension, arthritis, and side effects from numerous drugs :(

Thank you for a great post!

Greg - July 20, 2012 10:15 AM

And that doesn't even include how much healthier a person can look too....

Chris - July 20, 2012 11:39 AM

I wish I'd known earlier what I know now about the many healthful benefits of eating this way. Before her death, my mother could have avoided some needless suffering, and maybe prolonged her life, with better nutrition. It breaks my heart that her life could have been so much better in the end.

caroline israel - July 20, 2012 3:23 PM

I highly recommend this cauliflower soup. I make it without carrot juice, and it still comes out very tasty!

sheri - July 20, 2012 4:19 PM

what if a person is pre diabetic and not taking any medication.Do you recommend this same diet?

Stan Starsky - July 20, 2012 4:43 PM

Great points about having to contend with illness as a result of eating really poorly...I know I eat healthy not only for the long term benefits but I just feel better immediately after the meal and have more energy throughout the day.

Emily Boller - July 20, 2012 5:45 PM


If one carefully follows Eat to Live, both pre-diabetes and diabetes can be totally eradicated. And, the sooner the better, to prevent much unnecessary suffering and complications.

[ Eat to Live is so effective that even those with Type I (juvenile) diabetes can be helped significantly not only by stabilizing extreme high and low blood sugar fluctuations, but by cutting insulin requirements in 1/2. There's even a period of time, immediately after diagnosis, that Dr. Fuhrman has successfully helped those with Type I diabetes not require any insulin at all!]

Bottom line, I highly recommend you to go for it and be totally free from the nasty disease and its complications!

Sheron - July 20, 2012 6:00 PM

In answer to the title of your essay, yes. In fact, 14 years ago, my father-in-law, who was diagnosed with cancer said this to me when I suggested that he change to a vegan diet to improve his health. Sadly, he succumbed to the cancer. And, when I was first attempting to be a vegetarian 35 years ago, the doctor I asked about it told me the same thing. He said that it is a healthy diet and that I would live 20 years longer, but that he would rather eat meat. Since that time, I have enjoyed my vegan diet and lifestyle and would never go back to eating SAD. And, like you, I do enjoy my health and my healthy diet. Thank you for writing this; it is nice to know that others get the same responses that I do, when I tell them about a whole plants food diet and lifestyle.

Chef AJ - July 21, 2012 2:34 PM

When a person is undergoing chemotherapy for a cancer related to their dietary folly, I'm told no food tastes very good. No food tastes as good as health feels. Once you break free of your addictions to animal products and processed foods, healthy food tastes delicious!

Love & Kale,
Chef AJ

Hawar - July 22, 2012 6:13 PM

What I find interestig about being a nutritarian is my dislike for red meat I used to be a red meat lover. Now I can't even stand its smell. I made some nutritarian mango ice cream for my picky nieces whose parents eat unhealthy and they loved it! So did their parents! It's been over 8 months since the nieces had that ice cream and they still ask me about it. When are you going to make it for us again?

I said the same thing to their mother that by eating unhealthy it's not that you will necessarily die early but the problem is you will live in misery for a long time. I don't want to live in misery when I'm over 40. Also, I love love my foods!! What tastes better than dr.Fuhrman chocolate amoothie? How about all the delicious salad dressings recipes? I can pour those over my salads, eat as much as I want with pleasure and not worry about an upset stomach because I had some ingredients that require knowledge of chemistry to know what they are.

Ruth Matthews - July 23, 2012 2:04 PM

Yes! In fact, we were traveling the day I read this message. I looked up from my phone while sitting at the airport and saw an older man on oxygen who was extremely overweight and gasping for every breath. He looked just miserable. I have a feeling he did not have a life time of fruits and vegetables and that meat was his life. It was quite sad. Also on this trip to the Mohonk Mountain House - it was so much fun to see a man with an Eat to Live bag! We talked to him and it turned out that he lives in New Jersey and that Dr. Fuhrman is his Dr. It was so much fun talking with him. I walked away envious that he has Dr. Fuhrman for a Dr.! It is a small world for sure!

SVH - July 25, 2012 12:14 PM

I really enjoy your posts Talia. It's inspiring for me to see the perspective of someone who has grown up on healthy food and prefers it that way. I have a 2 year old and the pressures to feed him the SAD are immense. People think I'm depriving him by not giving him processed, sugary foods. Your posts and the comments from readers remind me that I'm doing the right thing and make me feel a little less crazy ;) Thank you!

Sheryl Rangel - July 25, 2012 1:08 PM

Great article! Very well said! It is beyond me why people enjoy being sick and miserable. I see obese people every day, painfully limping their way into the grocery store, or riding around on mobilized scooters because it is far too tiring and painful to walk, ALL BECAUSE they are eating all the WRONG FOODS. I look at them like,"Is all that greasy crappy food really worth it??" Is it worth living your life barely getting by each day? Is it worth having to take so many meds everyday, spending so much on doctor visits and prescriptions, and dealing with all the side effects of each drug that's keeping you barely alive? They are the perfect example of how I never want to live, that's why I went vegan. Fruits and vegetables is the way of life. Never felt and looked better in my life! By eating vegan, I don't just feel great now, I am guaranteeing myself a healthy future as well! Who wouldn't want that!? Highly encourage everyone to give it a try, you'll never go back!

pat c - July 26, 2012 7:00 AM

I really believe people don't get that our diet is related to our health. Even when a person is trying to lose weight they are told to eat the same SAD diet, but smaller amounts, or switch out to the 'low fat' version. People are being brainwashed by the food companies that eating some high sugar cereal or over prosessed bread has all the nutrients we need? Or milk and dairy products have all the calcium we need? It's all lies, and people are paying the price with their health, which then we get turned over to the drug companies to get well. What craziness is that? I'm so thankful for Dr. Fuhrman telling the real story. He speaks the truth, and I hope more and more people start to realize this.

carfree - July 26, 2012 2:53 PM

About a week ago I saw a man in a wheelchair with one leg amputated, in the line for the ice cream truck! I guess if you've lost one leg, you're already beyond help and might as well. (I probably would not want to extend my life either at that point.) My guess is that he just doesn't think it makes that much difference.

Stamatia - July 29, 2012 10:11 AM

SAD-Eater said, "I'd rather enjoy my food and die early than eat healthfully and live long."

Nutritarian said, "Why choose? Nutritarians have it all."

Steven - August 1, 2012 12:55 PM

Talia: I love that your articles are coming from a young persons perspective. Your articles are always, timely, accurate and meaningful to us all. Please keep up the inspirational work. I spread the word all the time. Every little bit helps. I frequently encounter resistance but forge on fighting the good fight.
Peace from Oakville, Ontario Canada.

Neil Butterfield - October 24, 2013 8:28 AM

I believe that anyone who is motivated enough, can make the change to healthy food. Make gradual changes and you are more likely to stick with your new eating regime.

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