Mark Cerkvenik

Chicago, Illinois

Eating the standard American diet, Mark Cerkvenik did not become deathly ill or morbidly obese. He just became overweight and unhealthy. He attained the weight of 232 pounds, about fifty pounds over his ideal weight. His serum cholesterol was in the 280 range. His blood pressure was 140/90. None of these numbers put him in catastrophic territory, in which he was necessarily facing imminent collapse of his health. But all of these health metrics were bad enough that it wouldn’t have been shocking if he had suffered a heart attack or other life-changing or life-threatening event. Mark was simply another average unhealthy middle-aged American, taking blood pressure medication while resisting pressure from his doctor to take cholesterol medication as well.

Mark worked in healthcare and was in charge of organizational development for a major medical center working to improve patient and staff satisfaction. It often occurred to him that the organization that he was working to improve had a supply side problem: heart patients and cancer patients were often dissatisfied with their care simply because the system was stressed by their overabundance. Too many sick patients create a beleaguered, overworked staff. Why was such an unnaturally high percentage of the population developing so many diseases? Why was his own health so poor?

He thought he was eating a pretty good diet. He didn’t eat red meat. He was a pescatarian who ate a little bit of dairy. His diet seemed demonstrably better than many of those around him. And yet, like so many others, he was carrying around too much weight, and he knew the statistics well enough to realize he was entering the danger zone for cardiovascular disease. After a death in the family and after witnessing the health crises of close friends, he resolved to do what he had gradually, over time, learned that he needed to do: he went on a 100% whole food, plant-based diet.

Mark gradually got down to his ideal weight, lowered his cholesterol from 280 to 180, and got to a healthy blood pressure that’s now usually around 115/70. Nothing was dramatic, nothing was overnight, but the trajectory was healthful and steady throughout.

 Today, Mark teaches whole food, plant-based cooking, runs an employee wellness program, does health coaching, and partners with a vegan travel company cooking delicious no-oil whole-food plant based meals for travelers. You can learn more about Mark at Let’s Eat Great Food or his check-out his vegan trips at Veg Jaunts and Journeys


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