Sad news yesterday that the muscular hulk-like character we all remember from The Green Mile, Michael Clarke Duncan, died at the age of 54 from a heart attack. It’s especially shocking because just earlier this year he appeared in a PETA video saying that he was “a lot healthier” because he was a vegetarian.
News about Duncan’s death arrived yesterday morning from Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, where he was being treated for a heart attack. According to a statement from his fiancee, the 6’4″ actor “suffered a myocardial infarction on July 13 and never fully recovered.”
“Big Mike” is certainly not someone who looked like a heart attack waiting to happen. Especially after he appeared in a PETA video this spring saying how much better he felt since becoming a vegetarian three years earlier.
I cleared out my refrigerator, about $5,000 worth of meat…I’m a lot healthier than I was when I was eating meat.
Ironically enough, PETA said that Duncan used to be “plagued by illnesses” before changing his diet:
Since going vegetarian, “Big Mike” has shed 35 pounds from his 6-foot-5 frame—and is a lot healthier. Michael keeps his trimmer, fitter body strong by getting much of his vitamins and nutrients from plants. Instead of packing on protein from an artery-clogging steak, he eats fruits, vegetables, and legumes such as beans, peanuts, and tofu, just like vegetarian athletes Ricky Williams, Mac Danzig, and Daniel Bryan, just to name a few. Going vegetarian keeps Michael at a lesser risk of our nation’s biggest killers, including cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and strokes.
Not that all vegetarians or vegans are risk-free from heart disease by any means, but there is research that tells us a plant-based diet is healthier for your heart. The American Heart Association says that vegetarian diets are typically lower in total fat, saturated fat and cholesterol, and thus healthier for our bodies:
Many studies have shown that vegetarians seem to have a lower risk of obesity, coronary heart disease (which causes heart attack), high blood pressure, diabetes mellitus and some forms of cancer.
A study from Loma Linda University also showed that vegetarians experience a 36% lower prevalence of metabolic syndrome–a precursor to heart disease, diabetes and stroke.
But just because you consume a vegetarian diet doesn’t mean you are necessarily healthier. There are plenty of unhealthy vegetarians who eat too much processed food and too much sugar, for example. Not that Duncan seemed to fall into this category though.
The bottom line: Eat as healthy as possible, but don’t assume that an animal-free diet means you are risk-free from heart disease.
R.I.P. Michael Clarke Duncan.