In Minnesota we eat meat; beef and pork and chicken and sausage and veal and bacon. In Oklahoma we eat meat; beef and pork and chicken and sausage and veal and bacon and brisket (notice the difference). To say I’m a meat and potatoes man would be an understatement.

Could I be wrong? Dunno. Used to smoke three packs a day and that was wrong. Used to drink “Everclear” as a North Dakota college student; that usually ended badly. And I have a vegan friend who has me thinking; pretty sure I can’t go that route but there is some powerful evidence that tells me the future may be much different than the past; that being vegan in some form or another, is going to be cool…maybe not in Minnesota or Oklahoma first, but pretty cool.

1. A diet based on vegetables is just as capable of meeting human protein requirements as meat. They also provide the fats, vitamins and minerals overall wellness requires. And taste has improved tremendously. Try eating potatoes made out of cauliflower and you see the trend.

2. Many middle aged and older experience kidney stones and gallstones. These stones are made up of oxalate, uric acid and calcium. Comes from a high animal protein diet. Eat vegan? No gallstones and no kidney stones. And they do hurt.

3. Veggies keep you thin – A vegan diet helps combat obesity, a major problem in the population of Oklahoma, in all age groups. Vegans have the lowest body mass index and are less prone to obesity than others. The low body fat of vegans is absolute proof I’m not one. For sure.

4. Research indicates that a low-fat/vegan diet may help protect against cancers that can be linked to insulin resistance such as prostate, colon and breast cancer. It’s because of the high concentration of non-essential amino acid, etc, etc, etc. If we are serious about preventing cancer, diet must come to the forefront of the conversation.

5. Veganism promotes a longer, healthier life. With all the health positives vegetables provide and the diseases they can help prevent, it should be no surprise that vegetarians have a higher chance to live longer; studies say that being vegan for 20 years will increase a person’s life span by 3.6 years and that it can increase life expectancy by over 7 years for men, and over 4 years for women.

So, there is that. I know it is far too late for me and for you, if you are reading this, and as I am contemplating the 20 ounce Porterhouse I’m having tonight, followed by the bacon and cheese omelet for tomorrow. But I remember smoking, and unlearning that that so my kids wouldn’t smoke and stopping excessive drinking so my kids wouldn’t be so inclined to do so. Now I’m not suggesting we all run out and eat turnips and collard greens all day, but perhaps ensuring our kids and grandkids know the positive aspects of a vegan diet, which I don’t eat, will help them make an informed and healthy decision for themselves on what they will put into their bodies. That’s likely at a minimum, good parenting.

Lee Baxter is a former Fort Sill commanding general.

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