Meet Bobby Andersen...a robust, macho and very likable long-haul trucker that's demonstrating how eating a 100% whole-food, plant-based diet doesn't have to be hard -- even on the road. Men like Anderson, who choose to eliminate meat/dairy/eggs from their diet, are also disproving the belief that men have to eat meat in order to maintain their masculinity. Because we live in a culture where men associate their masculinity with hunting and eating copious amounts of meat with their friends, men are unwilling to forgo eating meat due to the fear of losing their "manhood." Studies show that men avoid eating vegetables because they're perceived as being non-masculine. However, this strapping 45-year-old former Marine and Army veteran is proving that eating a diet of 100% whole plant foods not only supports optimal health, it provides plenty of muscle-building protein and nutrients that support a strong and dynamic physique.
Starting in 1993, Anderson began driving a semi-truck 11 hours a day, 5 or 6 days a week. His sedentary lifestyle and food choices negatively impacted his health and weight. Anderson's meals consisted of the typical trucker's fare -- pizza, hamburgers, French fries and fast junk food. Eating a large-sized pizza by himself was common. His weight rose steadily, up to 330 pounds along with his blood pressure. This resulted in his doctor prescribing blood pressure medications along with antidepressants. Dieting did result in some weight loss, although he didn't stay on them long and he gained the weight back quickly. Simple actions like staying awake on the job and walking around or getting up were painful and difficult. "The Department of Transportation was putting more and more restrictions on getting a health card" Anderson wrote for an article in Forks Over Knives. "It was getting more and more difficult to pass the health evaluation to continue doing my job."
In his article for Dr. John McDougall's "Star McDougallers," Anderson mentions that the lifespan of a trucker is short. "Everything is against us: we sit all day, we don’t exercise, and we eat bad food.” He mentions that several truckers die on the road each month which has launched a "Missing Trucker Alert" website and Facebook page that helps to locate truckers that have disappeared. “Nine times out of ten, though, they’re missing because they have died of health-related issues.”
Anderson's journey began about a year and a half ago when he was compelled to make drastic changes in his diet after watching Forks Over Knives on Netflix. He cleaned out his kitchen and tossed out everything he had been eating. However, because he didn't know what to replace it with, he lived off of salads for three months. "I didn’t read anything" Anderson says, "I just thought I could do it by watching the movie. Since I had never been a vegetable eater, I didn’t know what to eat. I lost a ton of weight, but I was always hungry. Soon I was cheating, and eventually I quit. I grew up in and around Chicago and grew up on pizza, Italian beef, and macaroni and cheese. I later ended up in Mississippi, where I am now, and was eating lots of barbecue, fried catfish, and the like."
About a year ago, Anderson decided to try once again. "I bought a kit from the Forks Over Knives website, which included the movie, The China Study, and the Forks Over Knives Cookbook. I learned a lot more, but I had no idea how I was going to follow the diet on the road as a truck driver. A friend of mine that I had introduced to the movie stepped up to help me. He had been doing great on the diet, and he told me to get The Starch Solution [written by John McDougall M.D.] and helped me figure out my meals. We also struck up a deal where I had to send him pictures of all my meals every day for a month—breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snack. Having an accountability partner really helped me. For thirty days, I took pictures of everything I ate and sent them to him."
After adopting Dr. McDougall's starch-based program, Anderson has lost 70 pounds and is still losing more. In as little as 3 months, his new diet eliminated the need for his daily blood pressure medication and after 5 months, he stopped taking his antidepressants. His total cholesterol is now 150, down from 212, and his blood pressure is 120/84, which he says wasn't possible even while he was on blood pressure medication. "The best and biggest thing about this lifestyle is how great I feel" Anderson says. "My energy levels skyrocketed, and I have started to exercise again. I bring my bike, weight bench, and weights on the road. Most days, I wake up early before my drive and walk or jog a few miles or do a 10 to 15 mile bike ride, depending on where I am." Drinking caffeinated coffee to stay awake isn't needed anymore, since he has so much more energy, he's kicked the coffee habit. Dr. McDougall's one-hour Starch-Solution video presentation can be viewed here and here.
Anderson's family didn't think that he would fully embrace his new way of eating as a permanent lifestyle change since he had tried so many other types of diets in the past. He says that “This is the first time that I’ve stayed with a diet longer than six months.” Investing in his health is much like investing for financial security. Anderson points out, “When you’re eating unhealthy foods, you’re creating debt in the form of illness, medications, and hospitalization. But the way I’m doing it I’m creating a savings account by strengthening my health for my later years, which will allow me to walk a little longer, take care of myself longer, and live longer.”
As part of Anderson's passion to help others regain their health, Anderson created a Facebook page and Instagram account where he takes photos of where he is on the road along with photos of what he has prepared for lunch and dinner. Without trying, Anderson's good-natured personality has captured the hearts of many. He's become an overnight social media celebrity where he's got over 30,000 fans encouraging and following him! When he's in his hometown of Rienzi, Mississippi, one day each week, he shops, packs, and prepares as much food as possible to take with him on the road. He says that it takes several hours, but "it's all worth it." His followers are able to see what ingredients he uses as well as which appliances make eating a plant-based diet easy, especially on the road. His truck cab holds a toaster oven, a small blender, a butane portable stove, microwave, ceramic-coated electric skillet, waffle maker, and an Instant Pot (pressure cooker). All of his food is prepared in the cab of his truck since truck stops usually only have fast junk food and vending machines. Anderson emphasizes, “If I can cook healthy in here, anyone can do this.” He enjoys making simple meals since "simple is what busy people want these days." Many times he says he just throws a bunch of stuff into his Instant Pot. "My favorite Instant Pot meal is a mix of jasmine rice, broccoli, garlic powder, onion powder, sweet peas, and corn. I also like making pressure cooker curries and vegetarian tacos with avocado, beans, and pico de gallo." He says that he's never hungry eating this way. Anderson even has his own promotional code (bobby123) on the Instant Pot website, so that customers can receive a discount. He encourages other truckers to eat a healthier diet and offers tips and options that they would appreciate. If you'd like to learn how to cook fast, delicious plant-based recipes using an Instant Pot, visit The Veggie Queen's website.
Anderson's becoming a popular figure and is high in demand. He's received countless calls to be interviewed. Watch The Today Show interview here. The Progressive insurance company has also contacted him, wanting him to contribute tips and recipes to other truckers for their "Trucker Health Awareness Month" on their website. His “Mac and No Cheese” and “Applesauce Pancakes,” include a video showing Andersen making the dishes in the cab of his truck. He plans on creating his own website so that he can help others. “I’m realizing how much I’m helping others. Sometimes it’s a little overwhelming, but I can’t stop; there are too many people out there that need help. I want to be like Dr. McDougall and help millions of people, because a plant-based diet makes everything right, and nobody gets hurt.”
Anderson lives in Mississippi, one of the unhealthiest states in the United States. Anderson comments, “Many people from Mississippi would rather die with a piece of bacon in their mouth than try a healthy diet.” Perhaps Anderson will be able to influence those in his home state to adopt a low-fat, oil-free, whole-food, plant-based diet as well. We applaud Bobby Anderson's convictions and are thrilled to see how his passion and efforts are helping others to lose weight, eliminate a need for medications, and prevent and reverse disease! Way to go Bobby!
Additional related information:
John McDougall MD Links
Preview the "Why We Do What We Do?" Trailer
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