Alona Pulde, MD, and Matthew Lederman, MD, were both trained in traditional Western medicine. But once they learned about the benefits of whole food, plant-based diets—and saw the improvements in their own health—they decided to shift the focus of their practices.
Drs. Pulde and Lederman (who are married and based in Los Angeles) founded the Exsalus Health & Wellness Center in 2007 to help empower patients with the tools and knowledge about going vegan. But you might know them from their appearance in the groundbreaking Forks Over Knives documentary.
And now, as the authors of The Forks Over Knives Plan: How to Transition to the Life-Saving, Whole-Food, Plant-Based Diet, they’re helping people put those ideas into practice. With the book—and a peek in their fridge—check out their recommendations for easy, healthy plant-based meals and learn why having 10 containers of hummus on hand is actually super helpful.
What inspired you to start eating—and championing—a whole foods, plant-based diet? Dr. Pulde: For me, it was my second year of medical school. My dad passed away at 55 from a heart attack. I wasn’t able to piece together what had happened. He was eating a Mediterranean diet, on a cholesterol-lowering drug, he was active, and appeared healthy. I was really ready to give up medicine at that point.
I realized the advice I had been given in medical school, the advice doctors had given my dad, wasn’t focused on plant-based living. And what was actually making people better was plant-based living.
Dr. Lederman: I was eating a low-carb South Beach diet, when I switched to a vegan diet. I ate rice and beans for a week—and I felt fantastic. I was able to get off some medications. I thought, this is pretty impressive, and I decided this is the way I have to treat patients.
Wow, what inspiring stories. What are some staples you always have in your fridge now? Dr. Lederman: We do a lot of frozen vegetables so they don’t go bad. We have a freezer full of frozen broccoli, collard greens, mushrooms, kale, and whole-grain pizza crusts.
Dr. Pulde: We also keep containers of grain—rice or millet—and use that as a base for a lot of our dishes. We’ll stir fry peppers, onion, garlic, put it on a bed of rice. Or rice with avocado and slice an apple in there, and add mustard.
That sounds delicious! Do you make the grains in advance? Dr. Pulde: Yes, we try to do it on Saturday or Sunday evening, so it’s available for the week.
What are some of your go-to meals? Dr. Pulde: Pizza is a quick dish we often make for dinner. Or we’ll make a broccoli and mushroom stir-fry. We use water to sauté the veggies and put them on bed of rice with a sauce or dip…
Speaking of dip. I see a lot of hummus. What do you use it for? Dr. Pulde: Hummus is one of our base foods. We use it in pita sandwiches. We use it to make pizza. We’ll do hummus, pizza dough, and vegetables. In salads, we use it as a dressing. We use it practically in most of our dishes. We even will bake potatoes and instead of butter or sour cream we’ll use hummus.
Hummus in everything! Okay, what about lunch? It’s so hard to come up with new, creative ideas. Dr. Pulde: We focus on leftovers. If we make pasta for dinner, we’ll have that. In the evening we might have it with tomatoes, and in the afternoon with hummus.
Dr. Lederman: If we’re in rush, we’ll throw potatoes in the microwave, or use lentil dip with them. We also make little quick casseroles. You mix rice with avocado, kale, and apples. If we have leftover soup, we’ll mix that with a grain.
So, I take it your kids practice a whole foods, plant-based diet, too? Dr. Pulde: Our kids eat whatever we eat. The reason why we eat this way, is because the science shows that these are the most health-promoting foods out there. I want to be around for my girls. And I want to be the healthiest I can be. —Molly Gallagher
For more information, visit www.transitiontohealth.com and check out The Forks Over Knives Plan: How to Transition to the Life-Saving, Whole-Food, Plant-Based Diet