Part I: Simon Lester, Pascha Chocolate
Simon Lester is an Entrepreneurial CEO & strategist who focuses on consumer facing industries & investment opportunities. He founded PASCHA born from a desire to create the simplest, purest and most delicious chocolate, without any of the additives or ingredients that might trigger allergic reactions for those with food allergies or intolerances.
Part II: Jaimela Dulaney, MD, Plant-Based Wellness
Jaimela Dulaney was born in Morgantown, West Virginia. She went to West Virginia University for undergraduate and medical school. She then did her residency and cardiology fellowship at the University of Pittsburgh. She was on faculty at WVU before moving to Florida to begin private practice. Exercise is key to a healthy life. Dr. Dulaney leads by example enjoying marathon running and triathlon. She completed her first Ironman Florida in 2013 and does several marathons each year.
TRANSCRIPTION PART I:
Caryn Hartglass: Hello everybody, I’m Caryn Hartglass and you’re listening to It’s All About Food. Very good day to you and I’m so glad you’re here and listening. Thank you so much for joining me. We’re going to talk about some fun food things today and you know me, I love, I love talking about food and we’re going to be talking about some really good food today. The good news and the bad news but I think it’ll all end with some really good new, okay? So let’s get started. I want to bring on my first guest, Simon Lester. He’s an entrepreneurial CEO and strategist who focuses on consumer facing industries and investment opportunities. He founded PASCHA Organic Chocolate, born from a desire to create the simplest, purest and most delicious chocolate without any of the additives or ingredients that might trigger allergic reactions for those with food allergies or intolerances. Hello Simon.
Simon Lester: Hi. How are you?
Caryn Hartglass: Good, how are you?
Simon Lester: Pretty good, thank you.
Caryn Hartglass: And you’re ready to go? You’re back from the big food expo out west?
Simon Lester: Back from the big food expo out west. We’ve been talking solidly for the last 3 or 4 days so excuse me if my voice is a little tired but that’s the game.
Caryn Hartglass: Okay, no problem. So let’s just get up to date on why you founded PASCHA Chocolate because it’s an important story.
Simon Lester: Well my background was in chocolate years ago. The very first job I had coming out of university in England. It never really struck me at the time. I’ll never forget my first – I worked for a company called Cadbury which is a big British chocolate company that became a part of Kraft. I’ll never forget my first week in that company. We were sort of supposed to learn the ropes of the chocolate business so the first thing we did was we were sent to the milk processing facility and you go from there to the chocolate plant and you walk in and you see bags of nuts and you smell the milk. You just assume that that’s normal and then years later, you come back to thinking about chocolate. I discovered that I had various food allergies, in particular to certain nuts and to milk. One of my daughters had a very severe food allergy, she’s anaphylactic to shellfish. And it was the realization that struck us that it’s not a big exposure you need to cause a problem, it’s a tiny exposure. Sometimes it’s not even consuming it; it’s simply being near it or breathing something that you’re allergic to that causes the problem. Once we realized that, with my daughter in particular, the penny dropped in relation to chocolate. I thought back to my original Cadbury experience when any of these chocolate plants you walk in, they are full of these allergens, these things that actually, to some people, make the chocolate taste nice but for other people they’re poisonous. The whole problem with chocolate, in particular with chocolate, is that you can’t get rid of them within you’re production process. Once it’s there, it’s there. Once the nuts have been down the line you get little bits of residue that stays. And we just thought, somebody needed to make ultra clean, ultra pure chocolate that was safe for anybody who can’t have the milk and the nuts. And that’s what we tried to do.
Caryn Hartglass: Well I’m glad that you’re out there because the more I dig in and learn about chocolate, the scarier it gets and we’re going to touch on some of those scary things. But chocolate itself is a very simple thing coming from the cocoa plant. I’ve seen some of these fruits when I travelled to Costa Rica. The way I think we should be eating it is practically pure without all these other things added to it. What so many people don’t realize, when we don’t have allergies, if we read the label and if we read the statement that a food that has been processed on equipment that has been processed with other allergens, most of us don’t realize that if we do have a serious allergy, that means you can’t touch those foods.
Simon Lester: Correct. It’s a fundamental point. In fact, I think it was the Canadian government that did a study. They measured, I forget how many bars but a whole load of candy bars that had that statement on the back “may contain traces of” or “made in a facility that also processes”. And I said, well I wonder what sort of percentages of that bar is made up of these undisclosed allergens. And it’s actually extraordinary. It’s not nothing, it’s sort of half a percent of the bar or a third of a percent of the weight of the bar.
Caryn Hartglass: It’s significant.
Simon Lester: Very, very significant. I actually was talking with another chocolate maker a couple months ago. They make a product named that they call 99% cocoa in the ingredients and there’s nothing else in the ingredients to declare. So I said, what’s the ingredient? Well, we don’t know, it’s whatever else we picked up in the line from residual production. That’s the point. They couldn’t call it 100% because it’s not and you don’t know what else is in that.
Caryn Hartglass: Well I would like to see that Canadian study on the chocolates. You’re probably aware of a recent FDA study where they looked at, I believe, 100 chocolates and many of them claimed they were dairy free in a variety of different ways. Either they said they were completely free of dairy or they said they contained no trace of dairy and there were different levels but most of them, whether they said they had or didn’t have it, did have significant amount of dairy. For someone that is allergic, that’s terrible.
Simon Lester: Oh, absolutely. Back in my early chocolate days, back in England, our standard dark chocolate contains milk as a declared ingredient. Of course, nobody ever reads the back, or they didn’t in those days. But dark chocolate simply meant it was a darker form of milk chocolate. So all of those products have milk and stuff but then there are all the others that don’t even have it as an ingredient but do pick it up as a residual component from prior production down that same production line.
Caryn Hartglass: Now I’m a vegan and I look for foods that don’t contain animal products, and that includes milk. I’ve been purchasing dark chocolates for a long time that don’t list milk on the label and I made a concession recently that’s if a chocolate was processed on dairy equipment, I said that must be okay because that’s probably so insignificant. This will allow vegan chocolate companies, companies that are making non dairy chocolates that will allow them to build and grow because they have to originally lease some equipment. But I’m kind of horrified to discover that I have probably consumed a certain amount of dairy, unknowingly.
Simon Lester: Well you have, unfortunately. And it’s really – it’s endemic within the chocolate production process. If you’ve ever messed around with chocolate in your kitchen you would realize that many food products – you can clean your production line with water. You can sort of flush them down after a production run but chocolate and water don’t mix. So it’s hard to clean the line with water and you certainly don’t want to go clean it with chemicals so it’s a bit of a problem. So what do you do? Really, you just rinse away all bits of chocolate and that’s as much as you can do to clean it.
Caryn Hartglass: Okay, so tell me about PASCHA Chocolate. You must have – did you purchase all new equipment?
Simon Lester: Well we’ve done two things. Firstly, we went – having had this idea to get this business going and to create this pure chocolate, my first thought was well, there has to be somebody out there making it or able to make it. So I went all through the UK, Ireland, Europe and Switzerland. I went all through Canada, where we’re based, and I went all through the USA and I couldn’t find a single facility that was clean enough to make it. That was quite an eye opener when company after company said well, we don’t use this but we use that. Or we use and we’ll try to clean the line for you but it just didn’t work. So in the end, we went down to Latin America which it’s very interesting because firstly, it’s where many of the finer tasting cocoa beans come from. But secondly, within their diet, it’s just not so normal to consume milk. It’s not a dairy based culture that they have. They don’t systematically drink milk or cook with it like we do in North America. And that was interesting because it allow us to find 2 or 3 different companies were able to put together a production plant that was clean enough for us. It was a clean facility where they never touched these things. The problem then was that the chocolate just didn’t taste very good. It would clean but they didn’t know how to make great tasting product. That’s when I just got some of my old Cadbury buddies who were sort of kicking around in Toronto and we just basically re-engineered the recipe. In the early days, we just took that recipe and took it down to Ecuador and Peru and we got that made up for us in a clean facility which I’ve been down and checked out. Actually, it’s extraordinary the detail these guys and the attention that these guys pay to the cleanliness to the production systems. As an example, every person who comes into that factory to work on the production floor, they walk in and they have to completely change all their clothing into this fresh, clean production clothing so there’s no risk that somebody has a peanut butter sandwich stuck in the back pocket of their jeans or whatever else it may be that we would be troubled by. So terribly, terribly clean down there. So that’s what we did in the beginning but as we developed beyond that, we actually just purchased a whole load of brand new production equipment which we’re putting into a facility in the US. In fact, it arrived literally last week and it opens up in a couple weeks time. So that’s a very exciting development for us. It will be the cleanest chocolate production facility in America.
Caryn Hartglass: And probably in the world!
Simon Lester: Probably in the world, actually. It’s scary stuff to think about, managing and controlling but it will be ultra clean. We’re just fastidious, it’s the only way.
Caryn Hartglass: Well I’m very excited to find about you because I’ve been looking at so many different brands of chocolate. Other than allergens, and we may get back to that subject if we have some time, there are other issues that are coming out about chocolate. One of them is using child slaves to harvest cocoa.
Simon Lester: Yes.
Caryn Hartglass: Fortunately, well according to the Food Empowerment Project which lists chocolate and investigates where chocolates are sourced, you get an A grading where you get sourced from places that have child slave labor.
Simon Lester: Well that’s good to know. The real problem is that the chocolate world is much like the coffee world in that there are really kind of two standards of bean. Just like in coffee, you have got the Robusta or an Arabica or the beautiful aromatic coffee made with the Arabica beans and then the kind of the course general beans that are made for this Robusta coffee. And so in chocolate, you got this course dense beans that predominately come from West Africa, places like Ghana and the Ivory Coast. They produce a vast percentage of the world’s cocoa beans. I don’t know the number but it’s a very large percentage. Those are the areas that fall, for many reasons, are associated with this sort of child slave labor culture and it’s not to do with the big coffee companies. Maybe they hadn’t done as much as they could or should’ve done to oppose it but I think it is – it’s a much more complex problem than that, that’s somewhat systematic within the environment at which those beans are grown. So it’s unfortunately somewhat coincidental that most of the cocoa beans come from these regions where that child slave culture is allowed to exist. It doesn’t mean that a company like Hershey’s or Mars are causing that problem, they just inevitably have to use those beans. I’m sure they would much rather take beans that are processed in more favorable environments and that they are all making huge efforts to do that. Because we don’t source from those regions, we source from Latin America where it’s a different culture, it’s a different process and it’s much more family based. You see a lot of very small family plantations that are growing these cocoa beans. I laugh; you read some of these little chocolate companies that talk about the fact that they are buying directly from the farmers. I really don’t understand how they are doing that because most of these farmers are just tiny, 4 or 5 acres or so of cocoa trees that they are harvesting 2 or 3 times a year and that’s sort of how their eating out and eating. It’s the family together and the kids. It’s not slave labor at all, it’s just great that they have the opportunity to make that living and provide those beans into the market place. That’s how we work out there and we work through fair-trade. All our chocolate is fair-trade and we go down there and visit the plantation, some of the farmers and visit the local people. Who knows, you make a visit twice a year. Do you see everything? Probably not, but to the best of our knowledge, the practices there seem pretty good.
Caryn Hartglass: Well that’s good to hear. Now the other thing that’s been coming out about chocolate, and I don’t know if you know, with regards to your own chocolate, how it fairs, but there has been concern about cadmium and lead in chocolate.
Simon Lester: Well, there is concern and it’s a complex area. Cadmium and lead, more so cadmium and less so lead, are naturally occurring metals or they can be naturally occurring metals. They can also be non-naturally occurring metals. So you find the highest concentrations in areas where there is metal pollution from gas fumes or whatever else. But as naturally occurring metals, you find those ingredients or those metals everywhere. So potatoes or green leafy vegetables will contain these because they absorb them from the soil. The soil content plays a big part in determining the amount of that metal that might get into the plant. It’s not the only thing; there are far many practices. Do they use fertilizer? Do they not use fertilizer? What’s the micro-climate in terms of the way rainfall occurs and the way it leaches? Different metals and stuff through the soil. There are many, many factors. All we can do as chocolate makers, as we do, is measure the content of these metals, watch them, monitor them and make sure we design our products in a way that minimizes the likely occurrence. Even though we do that, the biggest factor is really about the amount of chocolate that people consume. As long as people are consuming what I might call a reasonable amount and there not sort of wolfing down bar after bar, they’re not going to put themselves in a position, with any chocolate that I’ve seen, where there is any danger of getting over the World Health limits, the European limits or the FDA limits. So it can become a motive but I don’t think it is for the vast majority of people eating a reasonable and sensible quantity, I don’t think that’s a real worry factor at this time.
Caryn Hartglass: Are you aware of the As You Sow recent study on chocolates? They’ve discovered so many different brands of chocolate that have levels that they consider, at least according to California’s – I’m looking for exactly the wording I have for it. Are you familiar with that organization and their recent study?
Simon Lester: I read a headline about it a month or two back but I have not seen the study, I must admit.
Caryn Hartglass: They said that 26 of the chocolate products contained lead or cadmium at levels in which one serving exceeds the California safe harbor level for reproductive harm. All they want is these companies to label their product but you said companies do test from time to time to see where they stand with these things or is that not routine?
Simon Lester: I can’t speak for other companies.
Caryn Hartglass: Sure.
Simon Lester: But it’s something that most chocolate people are aware of because we are using – much like potato farmers, is taking a potato out of the earth that would have absorbed whatever was in the earth, so a cocoa bean is growing in an environment where it will absorb nutrients and minerals from the soil. We have to watch these things carefully. It’s not an easy analysis that’s done every week but it’s more periodic. I was talking to one of the cocoa producers in Peru last year. They said they systematically test every batch. They got a measure that they are measuring against which I think is the World Health Organization level, I could be wrong about that but it’s a reasonable standard to take. If they got a batch of cocoa beans that are over that limit, they will abandon the batch. They won’t use those beans. That’s a great, responsible attitude. Is everybody doing that? No.
Caryn Hartglass: No.
Simon Lester: With the biggest producers in Peru and first, I was impressed that they were aware of it, that they were testing for it and analyzing every batch. That was great.
Caryn Hartglass: Now let’s get back to your delicious PASCHA Chocolate. Now one of the things that you don’t have is soy lecithin. You don’t have any soy in your chocolate because it is an allergen. I was recently reading about Hershey’s and how they’re not importing Cadbury made in Britain anymore and the Hershey’s version of Cadbury is different than the British form of Cadbury. The Hershey’s form uses more sugar and different emulsifiers and we often see soy lecithin as an emulsifier. I understand it helps shelf life and whatever. How did you do that?
Simon Lester: Well the shelf life is one thing. The real big thing you’re trying to do in chocolate is manage what we call the viscosity, which if you like, is the flow ability of the chocolate. You have got this chocolate mass that you have made and it’s warm, it’s molten and it’s flowing or flow-able. You need to pulse that and do things with it before it cools and hardens because once it’s cooled and hardened, you can’t get it in the bar or the shape of the bunny, the egg or whatever it is you’re trying to make. So we have to manage the viscosity or the flow ability and soy lecithin or any lecithin really is wonderful for doing that because just a tiny amount of that emulsifier enhances the ability of that product to flow. So as an industrial ingredient when you’re making chocolate on a very large scale, it becomes terribly important to use that because if you’re making tens or hundreds of tons in a batch and it doesn’t flow properly, you have got a huge problem and a huge mess. So it’s systematically used in large scale production. Now there’s a way of getting around it because you can simply increase the fat content, what we call the cocoa butter which is the fat part of the cocoa bean, you increase that content within the chocolate mixture. There’s roughly a 10 to 1 ratio between the emulsifier and cocoa butter so in other words, if you’re using 1% of an emulsifier, it’s like using 10% or having an additional 10% of cocoa butter in your product. Well guess what, the emulsifier, the soy lecithin, is way cheaper then 10% of cocoa butter. The increase of the fat content may not sound like the best thing to do for health but actually the cocoa butter fat content is primarily oleic acid, it’s a very healthy form of fat. This is noted in over 6 healthy fats within that. From a health perspective, that’s not a worry, it’s really from the cost perspective that the bigger companies don’t want to do that. Now when you’re at a smaller scale like we are, it’s much more important as you said to avoid the allergens but also when making a smaller batch and using a smaller amount. It’s less of an impact on us financially to do that and easier for us to take the higher stance now. If I was producing thousands of tons a week or in a day in a huge plant, I would understand a different argument but where we are as a company, it makes no sense to do anything different.
Caryn Hartglass: Well bigger is not always better.
Simon Lester: No it’s not. I think the whole world is beginning to realize that this whole huge industrialization wave over the last hundred years, it’s really causing problems.
Caryn Hartglass: Well I’m really starting to dislike the word “efficient” more and more.
Simon Lester: Absolutely.
Caryn Hartglass: The cost of efficiency is so overwhelmingly high, maybe not in terms of dollars but in terms of our health, the environment, the economy and people’s welfare.
Simon Lester: Absolutely. Think of the exponentially growing healthcare costs. If we all were able to take greater responsibility and control the health and if we could all actually trust the health and rely on a healthier set of ingredients from these large, huge food industries, then the nation’s health bill wouldn’t be nearly as bad. There’s a huge cost and it’s just a question for who bares it.
Caryn Hartglass: Well Simon, I am so glad that PASCHA allergen free, organic dark chocolate is here for us to enjoy. I’m glad you’re small although I would love everyone to be able to enjoy your chocolate so maybe more little PASCHA’s will pop up somewhere.
Simon Lester: Exactly, maybe we could get a little bit bigger and it will be just enough.
Caryn Hartglass: And I’m so glad you have a chocolate chip. I love making cookies and I have a niece who has celiac disease and every time I would look in the stores for a chocolate that I could be convinced didn’t have any wheat or any bit of it, it just didn’t exist. But you got it.
Simon Lester: And we do. We’re very happy with our products we just need to sort of get them out there and make them available to people and show them that small is beautiful and small is better.
Caryn Hartglass: Great, well thank you for joining me on It’s All About Food. I like to say that every food has a story and chocolate has a story and PASCHA Chocolate is a beautiful story. Thank you.
Simon Lester: Thank you so much.
Caryn Hartglass: Okay. That was Simon Lester and please visit www.paschachocolate.com, that’s P-A-S-C-H-A Chocolate. It’s well worth it, I’ve tried it. It’s delicious. It’s a little pricier but you’re not paying for child slavery, you’re not getting the allergens if you’re concerned about that and if you truly want a dairy free chocolate, this is it. This is the only one and if you know of any more at firstname.lastname@example.org. All right, let’s take a quick break and we’ll be back with a plant-based doctor.
Transcribe 4/20/2015 by Stefan Pavlović
TRANSCRIPTION PART II:
Caryn Hartglass: Okay everybody, I’m back. I’m Caryn Hartglass. And I think we got everything all taken care of, which is great. So we can move forward. I like moving forward.
Jaimela Dulaney: Hello!
Caryn Hartglass: Hello, Dr. Dulaney. How are you today?
Jaimela Dulaney: Good! How are you?
Caryn Hartglass: Good! I am glad we could connect.
Jaimela Dulaney: Yes, I wasn’t paying attention. I had the computer on, but I wasn’t accepting requests, so I’m sorry.
Caryn Hartglass: It’s funny that you just said that because I had on my list of notes I wanted to talk about paying attention, just briefly, and you brought it up so I’m going to do that right now. There are just so many things that we need to pay attention to, little signs, because if we don’t take care of something – and you could probably speak of this as a doctor – things can get worse. Just as an example, I had a problem with my toilet today and you could very easily say, ‘Oh, I’ll let it go,’ but things can really become problematic with leaks and you don’t want to let something like that go. You’ve got to take care of it when something happens. And I’ve also got some terrible news recently about a daughter of a friend of mine who had some stomach issues I guess and she didn’t want to see a doctor. A lot of people have issues about going to doctors. Many, many levels. And she ended up dying of peritonitis.
Jaimela Dulaney: Ah yes, peritonitis. Oh my. That’s terrible. They would’ve thought that yeah…
Caryn Hartglass: Something curable, but when you let it go, it kills you. Yeah, so we need to be mindful. We need to pay attention.
Jaimela Dulaney: Yes, that is why people oftentimes ignore their blood pressure, their cholesterol, because it doesn’t hurt. And so they just ignore it because it’s not causing a problem and when the problem arises it’s within the form of a stroke or heart attack. So yes, pay attention.
Caryn Hartglass: Pay attention, and a lot of us, I know a lot of my listeners were kind of wary of the current medical system because we don’t have that many plant based doctors out there, and we don’t have a lot of confidence in what they want to recommend. But what I like to say is that at the very minimum, if you have a problem, at least get tested. You can decide what you want to do about it afterwards, but at least find out what is the problem.
Jaimela Dulaney: Yes, and I think that you should have a dialogue, and if you can’t have a dialogue with a physician then that’s a reason to try to find another physician. Because you should be able to have a dialogue and an open discussion about treatment options, and certainly that one of the treatment option being nutrition.
Caryn Hartglass: Yes, so tell us your story – how you became a plant based doctor.
Jaimela Dulaney: I became a plant based doctor mainly for myself after reading A Diet for a New America by John Robbins. As soon as I read that then it kind of hit home about factory farming and then the medical condition. I thought, ‘Okay, I’m vegan. That’s just where it is. I’m an animal lover. It all makes sense to me.’ Then gradually everybody else said I was crazy in the family, and so gradually ‘Please eat a fish or please do this,’ and I would wax and wane a little bit. For some reason I happened on and I’m not even sure how I happened on Forks over – well, I know, I’m a runner and I listen to podcasts. One of the podcasts I listened to was a plant based runner. They were talking about some documentaries and I started watching. One thing led to another and I watched Forks over Knives, and I thought ‘Oh my god.’ Over time, we would tell people ‘Certainly, you need to be trim, you need to watch you cholesterol, watch your fat intake, maybe eat the Mediterranean diet.’ When I saw this, it’s like, okay, everybody has to be plant based. That’s when I started the whole nutrition thing as far as making my office more plant based and I became plant based. My mother was also sick at the time. We shared cooking responsibilities in the family – evening family dinners together – and she got lymphoma, my dad had dementia, I became the chief cook, so it’s like, we’re all plant based now, so that’s what happened. She gradually got better, and she got on board with the plant based thing, so the house remained, from that day on, 100% plant based. It’s worked well for us, and we’re trying to get as many people in the office now plant based.
Caryn Hartglass: Wow, and when did you read Diet for America by John Robbins?
Jaimela Dulaney: I would say in the probably either 1999-2000 range. It’s funny, there was a girl, I do heart catherizations and one of the cath lab technicians was vegan. I’m from West Virginia originally, I live in Florida now, and I did not know any vegans or even vegetarians growing up. I inquired her, and I don’t know if she led me to that book or not, but as soon as I read that book, of course I quizzed her. Coming from West Virginia, I thought, ‘How can anybody not eat meat or that’s just crazy.’ It’s funny how it evolved. Nothing seems more right to me than eating plant based now.
Caryn Hartglass: Yes, amen to that. Now in hindsight, if you were to go through medical school again and could recommend what should be taught, is there a place for nutrition somewhere in that curriculum?
Jaimela Dulaney: Oh, absolutely. The only nutrition that traditionally you learn in medical school was IV nutrition for critically-ill people that can’t chew food. But yeah, there should be. It should be how it relates to disease, it should be worked right in through pathology. I mean all that stuff should be part of the treatment. It would be an amazing asset.
Caryn Hartglass: Now, I would love if I could find a doctor that was plant based but the best that I could do is – in looking my network and at the description of the doctors available – I went with one that listed preventative medicine as one of the interests. Fortunately I found a doctor, she’s terrific. She’s not plant based, but she respects what I’m doing, and that makes it a lot more comfortable for dialogue. But there aren’t many of you out there. How do your patients respond? I’m sure most of them don’t know what you’re about, or do they?
Jaimela Dulaney: No, the majority don’t. Most people don’t come looking – there’s a few now that will come looking because I am plant based – but no, most people come sick looking for an answer. Either ‘it’s not your heart and you’re going to be okay,’ or ‘take this pill or we’ll do this, and you’ll be okay.’ But it really won’t affect the way they carry on their life. And there’s not much of an example out there, how as a physician, to approach that person. I’ve learned, learning by the seat of my pants, as far as people come in and I try to explain, “Well, this is what I believe. That your disease – you’re really in control of how this plays out, how your diabetes plays out, how your high blood pressure pays out, and how your coronary artery disease pay out. You may have already had a bypass, but that disease will continue to progress unless you do something to prevent it and/or reverse it, and this is what has been shown to reverse it.” Then I wait a little bit and see what kind of a response I get – the look of fear, the look of terror, the look of anger, the look of ‘oh my gosh, she’s crazy’ – and go from there as far as how I’m going to approach the next step. Sometimes it stops there. I give everybody references. I give everybody the Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease book here in the office and some plant based, low oil cookbooks that they’re willing to buy. I’ll give them the Youtube references on Dr. Esselstyn, Dr. McDougall, Dr. Bernard, to watch. Sometimes it ends with, ‘Watch these and if you have any interest, give me a call. We do some plant based nutrition courses in the office. I’d love to work with you, but I understand it’s your choice. The other option is to continue taking medicines or this is a viable option.’
Caryn Hartglass: I don’t understand what goes through every individual’s head when they’re faced with a health crisis. I know what went through my head when I was faced with a crisis, and I wanted to find out everything I could possibly do to survive and thrive. Based on what I researched, I figured out what I needed to do, and so far it’s working. I’m 8½ years out of an advanced ovarian cancer diagnosis and I’m fine. But there are other people who will get a diabetes diagnosis or they’ll have a mini stroke, and there are things that they can do to turn things around, and they’ve gotten a warning even. But for many people, either they don’t know what to do, or what you’re recommending just seems overwhelming.
Jaimela Dulaney: I think there’s so much dietary information out there now and not a lot of it is plant based. There are the Nutrisystem ads. There are the Weight Watchers ads. There are the diet clinic ads. There are the paleo ads. I think it’s so confusing and the most message – they don’t get many messages from their physician – and if they do get the medicine, when I see notes from other doctors, it usually says recommend diet with weight loss and exercise. So if you’re 65 years old and you’ve never exercised and you’ve been eating the same way that you’ve been eating all of your life, then people say, ‘push back from the table, try to cut back, portion control,’ that’s where it stops. Once they’re given especially diabetes, all diabetic medicine drives appetite, insulin especially. Once they’re given that medication, they become more hungry. So they go down that road even further, and it typically gets worse instead of better.
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah, that’s really sad.
Jaimela Dulaney: I also think that people talk to each other and they look around. It has become the norm to be on blood pressure medicine over 50 and cholesterol medicine. It’s on the TV; the people look amazingly healthy that are on the cholesterol medicine advertisements. Even the Viagra and Cialis, people look fine and happy, so what’s the problem?
Caryn Hartglass: And it’s a big problem. So you’re doing a great thing, and I was very excited to find out about you because there are not many plant based doctors out there. There are more and more. It probably feels good to you to know there’s others out there like you. I imagine you network with other doctors, go to conferences, perhaps. Do you have this conversation about being plant based? Did they listen? Did they raise their eyebrows? Sly smirks?
Jaimela Dulaney: Yes, certainly not much. When you go and eat at a conference, the food at medical conferences is terrible – it’s rich foods, donuts. There’s nothing worse than going to a conference and trying to find food. I guess one of the funniest conversations is the doctor’s lounge. The people gather and congregate, especially in the morning, before hospital/after hospital rounds. They have a little dining area, and they have a little buffet cart. It has eggs, bacon, sausage, and smoke salmon on Fridays, and there’s a little bowl of oatmeal there that’s all dried up. And of course they have a waffle machine and the sugary stuff for your coffee. And we’ve had the conversation. One, I tell the joke – there’s a cardiologist, an oncologist, and a general surgeon and I in the doctor’s lounge. I was eating my oatmeal and they were eating their egg and sausage. The general breast cancer surgeon asked me what I thought of the Atkin’s diet, and I just went off; I just went into my plant based diatribe. I’m sure once I started, it’s like ‘why did I even ask?’ But the oncologist left the room. The other cardiologist said, ‘Well, what would we do if everybody’s cured of heart disease?’ The general surgeon, I talked to him the longest, and he came up to me afterwards and he said, ‘When I got all the weight off from my Atkin’s diet, I might want to talk to you more about this.’
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah, if you don’t die before then.
Jaimela Dulaney: Yeah, and so he hasn’t anymore, and he’s still eating his eggs and sausage in the morning. So no, there’s not much inquiries about it. I know that I have patients that have seen an oncologist and even the response has been, ‘Well, I don’t know how you would eat like this. I don’t’ like broccoli.’
Caryn Hartglass: It’s like they’re 5 years old.
Jaimela Dulaney: Yes, I know, and the other one was, ‘You should eat as much protein as you can because the chemotherapy is going to make you sick. So eat all the high calorie foods you can so you don’t lose weight.’ That was the other dietary recommendation.
Caryn Hartglass: Yes, and I have to interject here and say that when I was on aggressive chemotherapy, I went to see one of my oncologists, and he asked me how I was doing, and I said, ‘I’m gaining weight.’ He said that is not a symptom of chemotherapy.
Jaimela Dulaney: On a plant based diet
Caryn Hartglass: On a plant based diet, I was gaining weight.
Jaimela Dulaney: Yes, I’ve fought with a nephrologist. People with advanced kidney disease sometimes tend to retain potassium, and potassium is really high in especially beans, and fruits, tomatoes, cucumbers. So those people – who are very ill and they lose protein because their kidneys just won’t hold on to it – so they tell them to try to eat protein, but you can’t eat potassium. So you have to stay away from all these good fruits and vegetables. And I actually went through on a weekend – if you look, there’s potassium in meat – and if you take away the meat and the animal products, you can actually make enough room that you can eat vegetables in a healthy diet. I tried to have that conversation with nephrologists, but I guess in their defense, it’s so hard to educate. It would take so much time to educate somebody on that.
Caryn Hartglass: Yup, and these people, they are smart, and I want to believe that they went into the medical business to help people. Then something went wrong – like it’s this human condition where we are deniers about so much, so much that’s obvious. These heart surgeons that operate on people with heart disease, they see the fat. They see it right there. They have to be making the connection.
Jaimela Dulaney: They also eat the steaks at the conference and believe so much in their ability to bypass lesions and them not come back that they feel invincible.
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah, it’s mind-boggling. Okay, let’s turn around here. Tell me some of the happy success stories that you’ve experienced in your practice.
Jaimela Dulaney: One of those success stories is actually a patient that her heart was affected by a particular type of cancer called amyloid. She came in in heart failure. She had been on experimental chemotherapy, and they basically said, ‘It’s getting to the end of the rope here. We’re looking for different experimental drugs.’ I said, ‘Have you ever tried a plant based diet?’ and she said, ‘You know, my daughter is plant based, and she suggested I try that.’ She said, ‘I don’t know if I want to do anymore chemotherapy,’ and I said, ‘You know what, why don’t you give it a try? Try a month. Be as strict as you possibly can. Eat as many greens as you can. See how you feel, and if you don’t feel well then you know you tried it.’ Two years later, she’s still doing quite well, and her oncologist fired her because she didn’t want to do the experimental chemotherapy. They told her that basically it was probably a residual of the other chemotherapy that cured her in the end. Another patient, too, had been bypassed – all the bypass grafts gone, chest pain, multiple caths – and finally we had the conversation. It’s like, ‘You know, try this,’ and he’s doing quite well. He added Tai Chi to his regimen, he’s been plant based for two years – no more caths, no more heart attacks – and he’s doing well. I don’t have a tremendous amount. My mother that had lymphoma, she did have chemotherapy, but she went through the chemotherapy completely plant based – never had an infection, tolerated it well. Now at 82, she’s playing golf three times a week, Zumba twice a week, and feels great and is making all kinds of Italian plant based recipes now. So I think those are success stories. It’s really hard to get people to believe that the food that they grew up on could be causing them to be ill.
Caryn Hartglass: Can we just diverge a minute and talk a little bit about healthcare in the United States and insurance and Obamacare and has it affected you and your practice at all? Do you have any opinions on where we’re going with that?
Jaimela Dulaney: I don’t know where we’re going. No, the little ray of light is that we’re promised that there will be more emphasis on well-care than sick-care – that physicians maybe will start having to be accountable for keeping people healthy as oppose to watching them stay ill. But I haven’t seen it yet. What we have seen is insurance telling us what we can and can’t do and what we can and can’t order. As far as diagnostic testing, the bills keep going up. Testing keeps increasing because to see and talk to a patient, you don’t get any reimbursement for, very little. It’s testing that gets the reimbursement, so a lot of practices, especially primary care practices can, only survive by doing procedures. So there’s five minute conversations with people, and then they’re testing, and they’re hoping they find something before it’s lethal. It drives me insane because if there was just a little more incentive to talk to people, things would be a lot better.
Caryn Hartglass: Okay, so you do a plant based podcast. Where can people find that?
Jaimela Dulaney: It’s on iTunes and Stitcher. It’s Jami Dulaney MD Plant Based Wellness Podcast. It’s on jaimeladulaneymd.podbean.com.
Caryn Hartglass: Okay, well I’m going to be posting the one where you interviewed me, which we did last week, and that was a lot of fun. So people who are in South West Florida can find you? Where are you located?
Jaimela Dulaney: Yes, I’m about 40-45 minutes south of Tampa and a little bit north of Fort Myers so kind of in this town called Port Charlotte, Florida, which is a mediocre little Florida town on the west coast. So it’s nice, you can get anywhere quick, but it’s a touristy area. Fishing – a lot of people come down here to fish, unfortunately – so there’s seafood and hush puppy restaurants all over the place.
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah, but West Florida, there are some really beautiful spots there.
Jaimela Dulaney: Oh, it’s gorgeous. It’s actually a very pretty area. I must say I listen to your debate. I watched the documentary of you and Cattlemen’s Association and I loved it, by the way.
Caryn Hartglass: Oh, thank you. Thank you for watching. The lone vegan preaching through the fire. We need to have more conversations like that, and we need to be talking to the cattle producers. Yup, a lot of talking. Anyway, thank you for joining me on It’s All About Food. I’m so glad you’re out there doing the work that you’re doing, Dr. Dulaney.
Jaimela Dulaney: Thank you very much for having me.
Caryn Hartglass: Okay, go forth and be well.
Jaimela Dulaney: Okay, thank you. Bye bye.
Caryn Hartglass: Alright, we have maybe a minute or two left, and I just wanted to remind you – I was talking before about my new blog, called What Vegans Eat. I think they’re really fun. They’re short. They’re sweet. They give you a lot of great ideas about what to eat, and they link to a lot of our recipes. Please check it out. Let me know what you think of it. The other thing I wanted to mention is we have an event coming up here in New York, and if you want to meet me, you can at my Happy B’Earthday review. It’s on Earth Day, my birthday. Would love to see you there. Find out more at responsibleeatingandliving.com. It’s on the homepage and it’s going to be a lot of fun. The Swingin’ Gourmets are going to be there, and there’ll be some fun food and drinks, and it’s a benefit for Responsible Eating and Living. Thank you for tuning in today, and we’ll be back next week with more food conversation. Remember, have a delicious week!
Transcribed by Jessica Tea, 4/9/2015