The benefits of a plant-based diet are comprehensive and go beyond easing our impact on the environment and reducing animal suffering. Emerging evidence demonstrates that a vegan lifestyle could change your health for the better.

Dr. Baxter Montgomery has been saving lives for over 10 years as a cardiologist at the Montgomery Heart and Wellness Center in Houston, Texas. His medicine? Plants.

In a short documentary recently released by Mercy For Animals, above, Montgomery describes the condition of a patient who first came to see him at age 89.

“At that time she was taking about 22 medications, including 40 units of insulin twice a day. She had been on insulin for 40 years,” Dr. Montgomery said. Within a few days on a raw detox diet, she no longer needed her insulin. Now she’s off her other medications and rarely needs patient services from Dr. Montgomery.

According to the center’s website, Dr. Montgomery founded the institute after having seen scores of patients suffer from chronic heart disease. His mission was to “reverse and prevent life-threatening illnesses” with food-driven lifestyle intervention. The Montgomery Heart and Wellness Center is the only medical facility in the U.S. with an on-site plant-based restaurant that integrates with patient care.

The current medical model in the United States for treating heart disease is defensive, according to Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn from the Cleveland Clinic Foundation, rather than preventative. Interventions such as bypass surgery, angioplasty, stenting, or atherectomy are “accompanied by significant morbidity, mortality, and expense, provide only temporary benefit, and do nothing for patients at greatest risk for [heart attack].” These invasive operations are a temporary fix to symptoms and do nothing to address the underlying issue or prevent further heart disease.

Despite the clear health risks posed by animal products, government dietary recommendations continue to be swayed by Big Agriculture, often favoring lobbyists over the public interest. When creating the newest Dietary Guidelines for Americans, revised every five years and most recently released in 2016, the U.S. departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services failed to include an advisement to reduce red and processed meats, ignoring recommendations from the Dietary Guidelines advisory panel.

With industrial agriculture the leading driver of deforestation in the Amazon, and 10 billion animals being raised for slaughter in inhumane and unnatural conditions every year, the benefits of a plant-based diet keep adding up. Heart disease can be halted or even reversed with the adoption of a vegan diet. Dr. Montgomery also emphasizes the importance of fresh air and sunshine on a regular basis.

Finally, a plant-based diet does not have to be restrictive or boring. There are countless blogs and Youtube channels dedicated to showing thousands of recipes as well as tips, tricks, ideas and hacks to help you thrive without meat, eggs or dairy. One example is the website Forks Over Knives, with great recipe ideas and success stories from people who have adopted a plant-based way of life.