Profile of Hope: Tony Hillery—how a film documentary inspired him to become a vegan

Editor September 25th, 2013

When Tony Hillery found out he had high blood pressure and cholesterol he wanted an alternative to medicine to improve and maintain his health. Hillery is the founder of Harlem Grown, an independent, non-profit organization that transforms abandoned community gardens and lots into vibrant urban farms in partnership with local public schools and the community. While he has spent the past two years teaching children about healthy lifestyles through Harlem Grown, in the Summer of 2012 Tony realized that his own health was not very good as he found out he had high blood pressure and high cholesterol.  Here Hillery discusses what inspired him to start a vegan [healthopedia] diet that would transform his health by lowering his high blood pressure and high cholesterol.


Q: What inspired you to become a vegan?

A: Around the time I was diagnosed with high blood pressure, I watched the documentary, Forks over Knives. This documentary is what first inspired me to want to make natural changes to my lifestyle rather than taking medicine. Because I had seen this film, I asked my doctor to give me three months to lower my blood pressure and cholesterol through diet, and she agreed. After that day, I went on a total vegan diet, which meant getting rid of meat and dairy.

Q: Can you explain the movie Forks over Knives?

A: The main message in the documentary, Forks over Knives is that most chronic diseases, like high blood pressure and high cholesterol, can actually be fixed or reduced if a person avoids eating animal-based or processed foods. This film talks about the choice we all have to change our diet rather than have an operation (like open heart bypass surgery a major procedure that is now very common in the US). One big thing is to help us lose weight and to help us improve our health. The film featured a couple of diabetics who got off insulin by changing their diet. It was pretty powerful.

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