Dr. Neal Barnard wants Sacramentans to try a vegetable or two, maybe in some delicious Jamaican stir-fry or even a chipotle burger, hold the meat and cheese.
It's all part of his 21-day plan to kickstart Americans into adopting eating habits that will lower blood pressure and cholesterol and knock out diabetes. And, oh yes, it will help you lose weight, too.
You can meet Barnard and get a copy of his book at a signing at 7 p.m. next Tuesday at the Artisan at Uptown. Careful, say two Sacramentans who have used Barnard's plan: If you try it, it just might work.
Rick Santos tried the Kickstart plan and says it wasn't difficult to transition to a plant-based diet.
"It was easier than I thought it would be because the diet is not a long-term commitment," said the Sacramento resident, who successfully completed the Kickstart in June and has lost about 20 pounds.
"The book is really helpful," he says. "It reminds you daily why you're doing what you're doing."
Barnard explains the particulars of the diet, the 21-day Kickstart, in his new book, "21-Day Weight Loss Kickstart: Boost Metabolism, Lower Cholesterol, and Dramatically Improve Your Health" (Grand Central Life & Style, $25.99, 368 pages).
The diet requires participants to cut out animal products such as meat and dairy, keep oils to a minimum, and stick to low-fat, plant-based meals for 21 days.
Barnard's book provides recipes and sample menus. A day on the diet might consist of indulgent foods such as blueberry pancakes, a portobello mushroom burger and fettuccine with grilled asparagus, peas and lemon.
The science behind the diet is basic: You are what you eat.
Animal and dairy products carry fats that get stored in our bodies. When enough fat accumulates, it can prevent the body from properly processing insulin, a hormone that regulates metabolism.
Plants and whole grains do not carry stored fat and therefore do not interfere with insulin.
"If you look around the world, the people who do the best are not the people who are following a low-carb or super-low-calorie diet," said Barnard. "What they have in common is diet staples from some kind of plant food lots of vegetables, fruits and grains."
The key to the diet is eating high-fiber, low-fat foods that satisfy your appetite and speed up your metabolism. You can eat as much food as you want, as long as you stay within the parameters of the diet.
Monique Wilber of Shingle Springs tried the Kickstart in April 2010. She was in a weight-loss rut and taking medication for diabetes at the time.
"Honestly, I don't find it hard to be a vegan," Wilber said.
Since going on the diet, Wilber has been able to discontinue her diabetes medication and no longer suffers from acid reflux and upset stomach.
Indeed, the diet has been clinically proven to lower blood pressure, decrease cholesterol levels and even improve diabetes. Before he retired in 2008, Sacramento physician Dr. Don Forrester recommended the diet to all his patients. He saw many of them fight off diabetes and cites the diet as a large contributing factor.
"It opens your eyes and makes you think about eating in different ways," he said.