Dear Annie: I’m a 62-year-old woman. Twelve months ago, at my check up, my doctor recommended I eliminate animal products from my diet due to high cholesterol and high blood pressure.
It seemed like an insurmountable task, but my will to be healthy as I age is bigger than that!
Now a year has passed without any meat, dairy, cheese, fish or eggs. My cholesterol dropped 160 points, my blood pressure is normal. I’m off all medications. My energy is through the roof, and I just signed up for a marathon. I am elated!
I want to be a positive influence on my friends and family members who suffer the same ailments. I love them and want them healthy, too. But they absolutely don’t want to hear about it. They seem to think my diet is crazy. It’s almost like I have a disease.
So, I quietly continue to eat my beautiful and delicious plants, grains and fruits, and try to be a good example to my friends.
What can I do to positively impact my family’s health without coming off like an overbearing fanatic?
— Pass Me the Veggies
Dear Veggies: Speak softly and carry a big stick of celery.
Until your family is ready to hear it, the more you try to talk this up, the less they’ll listen. Rest assured that there’s no better advertisement for your new lifestyle than you: Your exuberant example will attract others to the diet far more than words ever could.
You might also try changing hearts by way of stomachs: Bring plant-based dishes to share at all family events, to show them that you’re not depriving yourself and that your new diet can be quite delicious. Thrive on.
Dear Annie: I have a somewhat odd question: Can people who pass away from a drug overdose donate their organs? I read an obituary in my local paper for someone who died of a drug overdose. The family was proud to announce that the deceased was donating MANY of his organs. Do doctors think these organs are safe to put into other people’s bodies, especially if the person was using for at least 10 years?
Dear Wondering: Your question is, sadly, very relevant: Overdose deaths increased by 9.6% between 2016 and 2017, according to the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control. A study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that “overdose-death donors accounted for 1.1% of donors in 2000 and 13.4% in 2017.” This same study found that receiving an organ from someone who had died of an overdose was not associated with worse health outcomes.
If a donor’s organs are considered to be at higher risk for HIV because the donor injected drugs (or had sex for money in order to buy drugs), doctors are required to disclose this information to would-be recipients. Doctors must also disclose if organs came from an older person and might not last as long.
I encourage anyone awaiting a transplant who is concerned about this issue to speak with their doctor for more information. And if you or someone you know is struggling with drug addiction, call the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration 24/7 hotline at (800) 662-4357.
Annie Lane, a graduate of New York Law School and New York University, writes this column for Creators Syndicate. Email questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.