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Dustin Rudolph: Gets Rid of Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Reduces Migraines, and Exposes the Dark Side of the Pharmaceutical Industry

Dustin RudolphDustin Rudolph is an unconventional pharmacist who’s trying to improve our health by getting us to stop taking pills – the very pills that are making us feel even more miserable. Read about his uncovering of how the pharmaceutical industry tries to trick us and keep us sick, and how a different type of medicine – one that’s free – is all we need to be healthy.

You share your journey of how you decided to pursue a career in pharmacy in a vulnerable way in your book, The Empty Medicine Cabinet: The Pharmacist’s Guide to the Hidden Danger of Drugs and the Healing Powers of Food. Your grandpa, with whom you shared many fond memories as a child growing up on his farm, passed away from heart disease and diabetes at the age of seventy-six.

That was in 1993, when you were a sophomore in high school. Prior to this, you already had dreams of becoming a pharmacist.

The dream started in the fourth grade, when you knew you wanted to be like Todd, your family pharmacist. He was always friendly, always smiling, always helpful.

And you wanted to be just like Todd, longing to wear that pristine white coat that pharmacists always wear. But that desire only intensified after your grandpa’s untimely death, because you wanted to help people just like him live longer, healthier lives.

Fast forward to 2002, when after six long years of schooling, you finally graduated with a Doctor of Pharmacy degree from North Dakota State University. As you heard your name being called at the commencement ceremony and walked across the stage to receive your diploma, how did it feel, knowing that your grandpa wasn’t there to see you fulfill you dream? Was it a bittersweet moment?

Yes, it was a bittersweet moment. My grandpa lived only about twenty miles from town, and we would visit him often in the summer, and also in the fall to help him harvest his two acres of potato crops.

He was proud of us grandkids. He always took time to teach us new things while visiting his farm, such as how to tend the chickens each morning, or how to keep his vegetable garden fresh and clear of weeds so he could get the greatest yield from it.

Grandpa even taught us kids about the Native American culture, and how their people valued the Earth and Mother Nature very deeply. The American Indians had left their mark on my grandfather’s land.

In fact, located just a 15- to 20-minute walk from his ranch house was a cave with hieroglyphics in it. It was the natives speaking in their own tongue.

Grandpa would also take us kids on hikes throughout his 80-acre property to search for arrowheads from the natives who once hunted his property with their bows and arrows. It was fascinating!

He was a special man. I wish he could’ve seen me walk across that stage.

Pharmacy school is hard work and requires an enormous amount of persistence and determination to make it through six long years. You must have a good work ethic, and a hunger for knowledge. I inherited this work ethic from my grandfather, and also my parents.

Grandpa was one of the hardest working men I ever knew. He would’ve been so proud to see me get my pharmacy degree.

Your grandpa ate what many people consider a healthy diet – a good helping of fresh, colorful vegetables, a minimal amount of processed food, along with meat and potatoes. On top of that, he never smoked a day in his life, rarely drank alcohol, and was extremely active throughout his life doing manual labor.

Yet despite all of this, he still wasn’t able to escape the consequences of two of the top killer diseases in America – heart disease and diabetes.

Even worse, he spent the last eight years of his life in a gradual state of declining health. He was dependent on numerous shots of insulin, a handful of medication to combat his heart disease, and he became physically unable to do what he always loved – working on his farm. When he passed away, his frail body and diminished frame was a shell of the strong, confident man that you grew up knowing.

What does this say about where many of us who eat a similar diet – or one that’s obviously even more unhealthy – are headed?

It says pretty clearly that we’re all headed towards chronic sickness and suffering with our current eating habits in America. Even the popularized notion of a “healthy” American diet (lean protein, low-fat dairy, and lots of fruits and veggies) is a recipe for disaster when it comes to our health.

It’s why my grandfather died from preventable chronic illnesses, and why millions of Americans die each year eating and living the same way he did.

The true path to optimal health involves adopting a whole foods, plant-based diet and lifestyle, with no animal or processed foods included in the diet. Meat, dairy, eggs, oil, and added salt and sugar are disabling our population.

This leads to an untold amount of preventable, premature deaths. The proof is in the science and medical journals for anyone who wishes to take a look.

The China Study is the book that spurred your transformation, and you think very highly of the book. You found out about the book through your podiatrist, Dr. Sal, who recommended it to you as you were reading about the national health care debate in 2009.

He said, “The only way we can get rid of this crisis is if we have a nation of healthy people.” Then he handed you a reading list of four books. When you asked him which was the most important of the four, without hesitation he said that you should read The China Study. He even mentioned that it should be mandatory reading for medical students before they graduate.

Do you know how he heard about the book?

Yes. He found out about The China Study through his massage therapist.

She had read the book and told Dr. Sal about it, figuring it would peak his interest. It did, and, lucky for me, he proceeded to share it with his patients going forward.

Every time I thank Dr. Sal for sharing this life-saving information with me, he says, “I really didn’t do anything. I just passed along information that someone else gave to me.” I still tell people all the time that I originally went to see him just to get my foot fixed, and he ended up saving my life!

The book resonated with you so deeply because it was heavily evidence-based. Being trained through your schooling to think with this mindset, you followed the references in the back of the book.

Can you talk about two of the references that had a major impact in convincing you of the benefits of a whole food, plant-based diet?

The two references that stood out to me are:

  1. The original experiment by the Indian researchers on animal protein turning on and off cancer, and
  2. Dr. Campbell’s follow-up experiment proving the same thing.

This concept was completely new to me, as it is to most Americans, and I found it fascinating. It really made me question, for the first time, my heavily animal-based diet – and the likely future state of health.

Here are the citations for the references I’m referring to:

  1. Madhavan TV, Goplan C. The effect of dietary protein on carcinogenesis of aflatoxin. Arch Path. 85(1968):133-137.
  2. Dunaif GE, Campbell TC. Relative contribution of dietary protein level and Aflatoxin B1 dose in generation of presumptive preneoplastic foci in rat liver. J Natl Cancer Inst. 78(1987):365-369.

Within a year of reading The China Study, you ate your last animal product. Could you talk about your progression to the whole food, plant-based lifestyle, which began when you adopted a vegetarian diet in 2009?

Which animal products were the easiest to give up? How long did it take? Why was cheese the hardest to let go? What helped you to make these changes last?

After reading The China Study, I went flexitarian for a few months. I gave up all meat except fish.

Meat was a lot easier to give up than I originally had thought. Eventually, I gave up fish after reading about the toxins (mercury, PCBs, dioxins) that they contained. I started experimenting with different plant-based milks right away as well, finally settling for my favorite – almond milk.

Cheese was the hardest to get rid of. I later learned why from reading Dr. Neal Barnard’s Program for Reversing Diabetes: The Scientifically Proven System for Reversing Diabetes without Drugs.

Dr. Barnard had mentioned how cheese contains casomorphins, substances that cause a mini-surge of dopamine in our brain’s pleasure center (much like cocaine causes a dopamine surge, but on a smaller scale). Once I found this out, I knew I had to quit “cold turkey” and give my body time to lose it’s craving for cheese.

This happened in the winter of 2010, exactly one year after I started transitioning to a whole foods, plant-based diet. I remember because I was visiting friends at their condo in South Florida.

We were watching the NFL playoffs, and they asked if I’d eat Domino’s Pizza if they ordered it. I told them that I only eat plain cheese pizza.

That was my last bite of animal food, and I’ve never looked back. I feel too good now – physically and mentally – to turn back the clock on what I used to eat!

You encourage someone who says they just can’t give up either the animal products (meat, dairy, eggs), or oil by asking them to just give it up for three to four weeks. Then to take another three to four weeks to develop new, healthier eating habits. This adds up to about eight weeks.

Did your own taste buds transform to appreciate and enjoy the natural flavors in whole plant foods? If so, how long did it take?

Definitely. I love the flavor of real food now.

It took my taste buds about a month after giving up an unhealthy food to adjust. It isn’t as bad as many people perceive it to be.

By adopting this whole food, plant-based diet, you were able to cure yourself from irritable bowel syndrome, as well as reduce the amount of migraines you get. How long did it take before you experienced these benefits?

I suffered from really bad episodes of irritable bowel syndrome while in college, long before I went plant-based. After college, it subsided a little, and I would only have a bout of it here and there. Fortunately, I’ve had no problems since going plant-based.

As for my headaches, I suffered from migraines ever since I was 10 years old, as well as tension headaches since my college years. The tension headaches only happen about once a year now.

My migraines went from three to four per month, down to one per month now. The reduction in headaches occurred over the first year after I went plant-based.

I haven’t taken it to the next level yet with trying an elimination diet for my migraines, but I have considered it. This would involve removing a handful of plant-based foods (bananas, citrus, tomatoes, etc.) known to trigger migraines, and then reintroducing one food item at a time to see which food is the trigger for my remaining migraines. A very tedious process indeed, but likely beneficial should I find the trigger food.

Dr. Barnard has a great article on how to carry out the elimination diet, which you can find here. He’s also written a book on the topic, which includes a hefty section of menus and recipes, titled, Foods That Fight Pain: Revolutionary New Strategies for Maximum Pain Relief.

Would you mind sharing the results from your latest blood test (Total/HDL/LDL cholesterol, triglycerides, and fasting glucose)? And your BMI? Also, so we can see the benefits, would you share the results from a blood test prior to embracing a plant-based diet?

Sure. As for my blood test results and BMI, I guess you could call me one of the “lucky ones” in America who was given good genetics when it comes to my metabolism. I’ve always been able to get away with eating stuff that most people would never be able to eat.

But it would’ve caught up with me eventually, and I’m glad I got ahead of things at a young age. My BMI is 19.6, and my blood test results are below.

The numbers from 2007 are from before starting a plant-based diet. The numbers from 2009 are from three months after adopting a mostly vegetarian diet. And the numbers from 2010 are from one year after adopting a whole foods, plant-based diet.

2007 2009 2010
Total Cholesterol 156 145 116
HDL 38 39 37
LDL 103 90 69
Triglycerides 74 80 50
Fasting Glucose 85 96 92

Some people encounter negative reactions or concerns from friends and family when they give up meat and dairy and adopt this plant-based lifestyle. The typical concerns include not getting enough protein and calcium.

Did you experience any of this? If so, what were they? How did you address their concerns?

I did experience this. I know my family and friends were genuinely concerned and only trying to look out for my best interests after I made the switch to my new diet, but the comments I received still hurt me at the time.

For instance, here are some of them:

  • I’ve been told that I look anorexic because I’ve lost about 10 pounds.
  • I’ve been told that I almost resemble a cancer patient because I’ve lost weight.
  • I’ve been told that I need to drink some protein shakes because I’m not getting enough, despite the fact that my protein level came back normal in my blood test (this was told to me by a dietitian by the way).
  • I’ve been told that I’m going to waste away if I keep doing what I’m doing.
  • I’ve been told that I won’t have enough in reserves if I get sick, despite the fact that living the new life that I live has been proven by science to reduce and almost eliminate the chances of becoming sick.
  • I’ve been told that my food choices are “extreme” and “drastic.” Apparently, failing to conform to America’s thirst for fast food, fatty steaks, and over-piled plates is a sign of radicalism, despite the fact that science proves those choices cause endless years of suffering with chronic diseases.

I also got the protein and calcium questions multiple times from those around me. But I knew my science.

I shared the evidence-based literature regarding these topics with anyone who inquired. And I tried my best to remember that I was in their shoes just months prior, not knowing any of this and learning it for the first time.

Luckily, once I pointed out the evidence, nobody ever doubted that what I was doing was healthy and in the best interest for my long-term health.

I love the approach you suggest for those of us who are new to this lifestyle. You recommend that we just keep the big picture in mind, and keep things simple.

By that, you mean to just eliminate the animal and processed foods, then eat as much whole plant foods as you want until you’re full. And when you’re hungry, eat again. Then you can make adjustments as you get better over time.

Do you have any other advice on how to get started towards this plant-based lifestyle?

Learn how to make banana ice cream! That will keep you hooked to this new way of eating. 🙂

On a more serious note, I would encourage those new to this lifestyle to get a routine down of meal planning and grocery shopping. This will make your life much easier, and you won’t be tempted by the drive-through because you’re stuck with nothing to eat at the last minute.

In your daily duties as a pharmacist, it’s not uncommon for you to see patients like the following: A fifty-three-year-old woman is currently taking Synthroid for thyroid disease, Prilosec for acid reflux, Prozac for depression, and a diuretic for high blood pressure. A few days later, after another doctor’s visit and a new diagnosis of diabetes, she’ll leave with even more medications – metformin, glyburide, and insulin for her diabetes, lisinopril to protect her kidneys since she’s now diabetic, and Ambien to counteract the insomnia caused by the Prozac.

Before you know it, she may have a list of medications that reaches the double digits, with monthly co-pays that strain her budget more and more. If that’s not unfortunate enough, instead of feeling better, she’ll probably feel worse.

At this point, do you see a sense of desperation in their eyes?

Absolutely. Patients fall into the “pill trap,” as I like to call it.

What I mean by this is that they go to their physician because they aren’t feeling well. Their doctor, with all good intentions, prescribes a pill to fix their problem. One thing leads to the next, and the next thing you know they’re on half a dozen or more pills, some counteracting the adverse effects of the medications they were put on in the first place.

In all my years of practicing pharmacy (13 and counting to be exact), what I can guarantee you is that the more pills somebody takes, the more miserable and sick they are – without fail. Patients get desperate and look for answers in all the wrong places.

They’ll go from doctor to doctor to try and alleviate their medical issues. Yet in most cases, all they need to do is fix their grocery list. And if they do this, they’ll skip the side effects and all the extra office copays that go along with the conventional medical path to better “health.”

Although the nature of your work as a pharmacist doesn’t allow you to talk to your patients about the food they eat and how it affects their health, you are able to mention some helpful resources such as The China Study, Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease, and Forks Over Knives.

Have any of your patients been open to reading these books or watching these videos? Have they changed their diet as a result? If so, could you tell us about the benefits they’ve experienced? What medication were they able to eliminate, and what diseases did they cure?

Working as a clinical hospital pharmacist, I get little to no interaction with patients. In hospital pharmacy, we work behind the scenes mostly as pharmacists, so much of my interactions with “patients” come outside of my regular pharmacy duties.

And it’s outside of pharmacy where I’ve been fortunate to help several people with my message of plant-based nutrition. In my book, I mention Vickie, a woman who was able to put her lupus into permanent remission after talking with me about the benefits of going plant-based and removing all animal foods from her diet.

I’ve also helped others lose weight, get off of blood pressure and cholesterol medications, and reverse their course with type 2 diabetes. Everyone says they see a surge in their energy levels as well.

It’s truly rewarding to help others regain their health – and their lives – after spending years looking for answers to their problems.

You’ve exposed the sneaky trick that pharmaceutical industry insiders use to show how drug data is reported by using relative risk as opposed to absolute risk. Can you explain the difference between the two, and also give an example of a drug company that reported drug data using relative risk numbers? What was the name of the drug they were promoting?

Yes! This is an important topic.

As a consumer of health, you need to know what the actual potential benefits of taking a medication are before you make a decision to take – or not take – any drug. For an explanation of the difference between relative and absolute risk, please read my article – 3 Questions to Always Ask Your Doctor (or Pharmacist).

For an example, pick any drug on any TV commercial, and you will hear the relative risk reduction in how well that medication works. Often, drug companies will say their drug reduces the medical condition they’re treating by 30%, 40%, 50%, or even higher. This is relative risk reduction.

If you were to see the truth, the absolute risk reduction on these same medications would likely be less than 10% – often even as low as 1% to 3%. Again, my article mentioned above includes a more thorough explanation.

You like to call disease charities such as the American Heart Association and the American Diabetes Association, “not-for-profit arms of the pharmaceutical industry.” Is that because the pharmaceutical companies donate millions of dollars to these charities, and because the diets these charities promote don’t actually cure the disease, causing the need to take medications sold by the pharmaceutical companies – medications that merely treat the symptoms and continue the disease?

Do you know the names of any of these companies, including the amounts they’ve donated, and the medications they produce?

You hit the nail on the head with this one. Not-for-profit organizations like the ones you mentioned get hundreds of thousands – or millions – of dollars each year from the pharmaceutical and medical device companies.

For example, in one of my talks I speak about how in 2009, the American Heart Association received over $25 million from the pharmaceutical, medical device, and insurance companies (you can read the report here). And during this same time period, $33 billion worth of lipid-lowering drugs were sold in the U.S.

These included Pfizer’s drug Lipitor, Novartis’s drug Lescol, and Merck’s drug Zocor, just to name a few. Obviously, these donations are not falling on deaf ears, because the AHA’s dietary advice still includes the foods that cause heart disease in the first place – chicken, turkey, fish, dairy, etc.

You’ve included fifty healthy, flavor-filled recipes in your book, including meals categorized by the following sections:

  • breakfast
  • smoothies and shakes
  • soups, salads, chili, and stew
  • burgers, wraps, and rolls
  • dressings, dips, and sauces
  • main entrees
  • desserts

Which is your favorite recipe from each section? What do you think makes it so appealing?

From the Breakfast section, my favorite is the Morning Almond Muesli Crunch (page 194). I’ve always been a cereal lover, and this hits the spot.

From the Smoothies and Shakes section, my favorite is the Chocolate Coconut Smoothie (page 196). I’m a sucker for anything chocolate.

From the Soups, Salads, Chili, and Stew section, my favorite is the Split Pea and Root Vegetable Soup (page 203). I love root vegetables, and the yucca root has a really great taste and texture.

From the Burgers, Wraps, and Rolls section, my favorite is the Whole Grain DLT Sandwich (page 206). It’s a better-for-you version of the conventional BLT sandwich.

From the Dressings, Dips, Sauces section, my favorite is the Lemon Garlic Hummus (page 211). This is awesome! On sandwiches, toasted (baked chips), or as a veggie dip.

From the Main Entrees section, my favorite is the Sweet and Sour Vegetable Stir-Fry (page 216). I love stir-fry. You can never get enough veggies in you.

From the Desserts section, my favorite is the Chocolate Banana Crème Pie (page 221). Two of my favorite tasting flavors – chocolate and banana!

For people who are new to this lifestyle, cooking can be a challenge at first. As a pharmacist with a busy career, how do you prepare your meals to ensure you always have healthy food around when you’re hungry? Do you cook in large batches so that you have enough food to last a few days? Or do you make time to cook everyday?

Yes, I am busy with everything I do. My current pharmacy job is a 7-on, 7-off position. I work two full weeks worth of hours (80 hours) in a 7-day period, so I don’t have time to cook everyday.

On my week off from my pharmacy job, I’ll spend time on two to three separate days cooking large batches of food for a few hours. I then refrigerate or freeze the leftovers and use these meals to complete my 2-week cycle of pharmacy/nutrition workweeks.

Eating out at restaurants isn’t nearly as healthy as preparing your own meals. How do you handle invitations from coworkers, friends, and family? Do you ever suggest restaurants? Just go with the flow and try to order the healthiest option possible? Or decline them altogether?

Great questions! I find myself not eating out nearly as much as before, because American dining isn’t set up to cater to individuals who want to eat a healthy, plant-based diet.

However, as the years have gone by, there are more and more places that have veg-friendly options. And there are some restaurants that completely cater to vegans and vegetarians.

I have a handful of cafes and restaurants in the Tampa Bay area that are on my favorites list. The Ohana Café is on the top of this list. They’re a Hawaiian-themed café that caters to healthy, veg-friendly eaters. Many regular restaurants are also now serving at least one or two items that are vegetarian, and they can be made vegan upon request.

When I’m in a situation where there are no vegetarian/vegan entrees on the menu, I can still usually find something to eat. For example, I recently went back to my hometown of Baker, Montana.

It’s in the middle of oil fields and farming/ranching country. Meat and fried potatoes are pretty much what everybody eats back there.

So needless to say, I was a bit concerned when we went out to eat at one of the only restaurants in my sparsely populated hometown. Fortunately, I was able to create a wonderful meal by picking side items.

I ordered a plain baked potato with salsa on the side for the topping, along with steamed mixed vegetables and long-grain wild rice. It tasted great, and I was able to enjoy the company of my family and friends.

If we choose to eat at a restaurant, you feel strongly that we shouldn’t be afraid to ask for what we want. This includes asking if the chef can prepare our food without oil (a processed food that is a harmful source of fat), and salt (most people consume more than the recommended amount of sodium per day). You feel as though the more customers make these kinds of requests, the more available healthy foods will become for everyone in the future.

Have you been successful in making this request? If so, how did you approach the wait staff? What did you say to them?

In the example above of me eating out in my hometown, I did ask the waitress to ask the kitchen staff to leave out any dairy (butter, sour cream, etc.) on my veggies and baked potato. I also made a request that my veggies just be steamed plain, without adding anything else.

Everything turned out great, and they were happy to accommodate these requests. Adding butter, oil, and other unhealthy ingredients actually adds extra steps to the cooking process, so I can’t imagine why anyone in the kitchen would have a hard time doing less work in cooking meals for those who don’t want these items.

In your book, you mention that when we have a medical discovery that can truly have a significant impact on society, we often aren’t aware of its significance immediately. In fact, it may take years before any positive effect is seen in the public. These discoveries may even be discounted, or completely rejected by society.

As an example, you cite the discovery of H. Pylori as the primary cause of gastric ulcers. When Drs. Barry Marshall and Robin Warren discovered this bacteria in patients with ulcers, and proposed curing the ulcers by treating the H. Pylori with antibiotics, both gastroenterologists and bacteriologists thought this idea was absurd, and were even insulted by this. Drug companies also rejected this idea, as they were raking in millions from anti-ulcer drugs.

It wasn’t until a decade later when the Center for Disease Control formally declared the link between H. Pylori and gastric disease. A few years after that, Drs. Marshall and Warren finally received their ultimate vindication – the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.

Lifestyle medicine – eating nutrient-rich plant foods, getting fresh air, clean water, exercise, sleep, and developing loving relationships – is another one of these breakthrough discoveries. In fact, you think that it’s all we need to be healthy.

Are you optimistic that more and more people will come to realize the benefits of this plant-based lifestyle, and embrace it in the future? How would you encourage those of us who already live this way to stay patient in the meantime?

I think we are seeing more and more people everyday embrace the power of lifestyle medicine and plant-based nutrition to prevent, halt, and reverse their chronic diseases. It’s a very motivating way to live, because once you start to feel better, you usually don’t want to go back to your old life of misery and sickness.

For those of us who would like to just flip a switch and have the whole world go plant-based, it can be frustrating to watch people suffer and die prematurely – especially when it’s unnecessary. I can’t tell you how many times I’d like to just wave a magic wand to change our current culture of eating and sickness.

Worthwhile progress takes time and patience though. We should all remind ourselves that we, too, were in a position of not knowing the facts of nutrition and health not so long ago.

We didn’t learn everything in a day, and neither do others. Patience, love, understanding, and support – these can do much more good for your friends and relatives trying to make this transition instead of getting frustrated with a “lack of progress” from your point of view.

I know we could achieve great things at a faster pace if money and profits weren’t the primary goal of our healthcare and political systems. But the only thing you and I can do about that is make sure we are leading by example, and spending our time and money on the services and approaches that truly produce health. Others will follow eventually, given enough time.

Your message of hope and healing isn’t about brainwashing or converting us into becoming vegetarians or vegans. Rather, it’s about empowering us to be the healthiest we can be, so that we can live a life free of disease for many years to come – perhaps long enough to see our own grandchildren accomplish their dreams.

Do you think there’s a way we can share this message with others in a caring, non-confrontational, and loving way?

Yes. This is exactly why I prefer using the words, “plant-based,” instead of “vegetarian” or “vegan,” when speaking to others – especially newbies – about this subject. Not that I have anything against vegans or vegetarians.

We all have good intentions living a plant-based lifestyle, whichever way you choose to label it. But I’ve found that using the words “plant-based” conveys a message of a health-centered diet a little bit better than the “v” words.

After all, potato chips, soda pop, and Oreo cookies are all vegan. But I don’t think anyone would consider these health foods.

In the same token, if you eat 90% or 95% plant-based, but once a week “cheat” by having a small piece of meat or other animal-based or processed food, I would venture to guess that you’re probably still going to be in great health overall. So it’s about understanding your choices and the health outcomes that come as a result of them.

You say that corporate and political greed are trying to keep this message of the benefits of plant-based nutrition from reaching the masses. Because of that, you believe that a grassroots movement is needed to carry this message of hope and health forward.

Do you have any ideas on how we can carry out this movement?

I mentioned previously that by living a plant-based lifestyle, we are spending our money on the services and approaches that actually produce health, which is contrary to how our current system is set up. Corporate America is set up to profit off of chronically sick people.

The only way to change this is to have a huge grassroots effort by the American public to change how they live and eat, thereby changing where they put their hard-earned money to use. I guarantee you that if 300 million Americans started living a plant-based lifestyle, using conventional medical care only for accidents and rare diseases, then our healthcare system and corporate America would change how they do business really quickly. I hope I live to see the day that this happens.

One of your goals is to empower pharmacists to help patients treat chronic illnesses through a whole foods, plant-based diet. You want to bring in more pharmacists and other medical professionals to give patients the message of healthy food choices they need to hear.

Are you taking steps to make this happen? Do you have projects and programs in the works to accomplish these goals?

Yes. I try doing this everyday by leading by example. Colleagues and medical professionals of mine notice and believe me. I see positive changes – some big, some little – in many of them over time.

Currently, I’ve been doing more public speaking since my book came out to promote this message of side-effect-free living through plant-based nutrition. I’ve met and connected with a lot of wonderful medical professionals this way, and many are interested in learning more about lifestyle medicine and plant-based nutrition.

Since embracing this healthy way of eating, you’ve cured your irritable bowel syndrome, as well as reduced the amount of migraines you get.

You’ve also completed your certification in Plant-Based Nutrition through the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies, written a helpful book, and started a website with the goal of providing high-quality, evidence-based health information to improve the lives of patients, and the knowledge of medical professionals. You devote much of your time outside of your career as a pharmacist promoting lifestyle medicine as the way to health and hope to see lives changed, just like yours did.

Do you feel like your transformation has given you a new sense of identity, mission, and purpose?

Yes. It is my purpose for living.

Many people go through life wondering why they’re here in this world. I know why I’m here, and I feel so lucky to have found my passion in life.

It’s funny, because in the annual review for my pharmacist job, I have to list my future goals and the target date for making them happen. This year, like in years past, I put my future goal to be continuing to educate the public and fellow healthcare professionals on the benefits of lifestyle medicine and plant-based nutrition.

However, on my expected target date, I put “until I’m deceased.” My boss got a kick out of that. She loves the fact that I’m so passionate about healthy living.

What’s next for you in your plant-based journey? Do you have any exciting projects in the works?

For the past several months I’ve been working really hard on completing a rebuild of my website, blog, and book’s website. I’m going to combine all three of them into one, update them, and make my new website easier to navigate and find information on.

It’ll also be mobile friendly, which is a big deal nowadays since everyone is using his or her phone to find information. I hope to be one of the go-to websites for anyone looking for high-quality information on lifestyle, nutrition, and health that is well referenced.

Finally, what advice would you give to someone who’s trying to lose weight and keep it off, or find support and accountability to stick to a plant-based diet and make it work for them?

Find people to support you. This is huge.

Many people fail because they try to do it alone. There are meetup groups out there, veggie events and festivals to attend and meet people, online communities to join, and much more to help you through your transition to a plant-based lifestyle.

You can do it! Don’t beat yourself up because you fall off course here and there.

Just keep going, and find someone to be your accountability partner to help you when you do fall down. Living a disease-free, medication-free life is well worth it in the end.

You won’t regret it!

Resources mentioned:

The Empty Medicine Cabinet: The Pharmacist’s Guide to the Hidden Danger of Drugs and the Healing Powers of Food by Dr. Dustin Rudolph

The China Study by Dr. T. Colin Campbell

Dr. Neal Barnard’s Program for Reversing Diabetes: The Scientifically Proven System for Reversing Diabetes without Drugs

Foods That Fight Pain: Revolutionary New Strategies for Maximum Pain Relief by Dr. Neal Barnard

Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease: The Revolutionary, Scientifically Proven, Nutrition-Based Cure by Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn

Forks Over Knives

Ohana Cafe

To learn more about Dustin or get in touch with him, visit www.PlantBasedPharmacist.com.

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