Celebrate Men’s Health Month: Q & A with Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams

June 11th, 2018

Celebrate Men’s Health Month with Meatless Monday and Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams. As President of the fourth largest city in the U.S., Mr. Adams introduced Meatless Monday to the Brooklyn Public School System.

Mr. Adams has served his community as a New York police officer, a state senator, and a coalition builder. In the early spring of 2016, he was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes. Realizing what he was eating could possibly be playing a significant role in his illness, he made the rapid transformation to a plant-based diet, which changed his life.

Mr. Adams sat down with Meatless Monday to discuss his very personal journey to a plant-based diet and his commitment to educate Brooklynites and the world about the connection between diet and health.

Photo Credit: Erica Sherman/Brooklyn BP’s Office

Please tell us about your involvement introducing Meatless Monday to the Brooklyn Public School System.

After my personal and family bout with diabetes, it forced me to take a deeper look into the power of food. I asked myself, “How do we deal with our health issues as adults and how do we prevent some of these same health issues in our communities? What can we do to start turning around this ocean liner of poor health?” I realized one of the places I could fix it was in the classroom with our children.

How did Meatless Monday come into play in your thinking?

I had been looking, doing research, and talking to other great people who have been in this movement long before me. Meatless Monday kept coming up. I realized it was very smart and simple – just taking one day out of the week to not eat meat. I said, “This is great! No use in trying to re-invent the wheel. Let’s give support to the wheel that’s already in motion.”

As a community organizer, how do you think taking care of ourselves is also taking care of our community?

I think there’s an individual approach to this and then there’s a holistic approach. I tell people all the time, we have two mothers who gave birth to us, our human mother and mother earth. We have been abusive children for a long time! It’s time to make a change by eating healthy and cutting back on over-consumption of meat to help the environment. It can bring us together and create a better world for all of us.

Have you experienced a change in your energy levels since you changed your diet?

It’s really obvious to many people how my energy levels have changed since I moved away from a meat-based diet.

You see, I was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes. I also had a lot of other symptoms. I had a small ulcer. I lost sight in my left eye for the most part and I was losing sight in my right eye. My cholesterol was in the 200s and my blood pressure was high. The doctors told me I would have to be on drugs for the rest of my life. When I embraced a plant-based diet, my eyesight cleared up in three weeks. Then, in three months, I was at a pre-diabetes level. My cholesterol went down and my blood pressure normalized. It was a real reversal.

In your article in Everyday Health you say, “I was ignoring the symptoms, like many men do, until I really had to confront them.” Can you speak to this and offer advice in support of Men’s Health Month in June?

If I could give advice to men it would be, by the time you have a symptom, you’re at the advanced level. Instead of waiting for the advanced level, go to that once-a-year checkup with your doctor. It will tell you what direction you are heading in so you can make some necessary adjustments. Not everyone has to go 100% plant-based, but you do need to look at foods that are contributing to your health problems.

What advice do you have for your constituents who are starting to think about decreasing meat in their diets, but are busy and don’t think they can do it?

I think the most important thing is to acknowledge the challenge. It’s not that people are being lazy, it’s not that people don’t care about themselves, or their health, or the environment. My advice is to take one day at a time. Take small steps, like cutting meat out of your diet for one day. Try some of the meat substitutes. Gradually educate yourself and get others on board!

Do you find it hard to eat a plant-based diet?

Food must be good for you, it must look good to you, and it must taste good. Because of the internet and so many great cooks, a vegan would find it challenging to go hungry. Now, there are great food and recipe choices along with information about sauces and spices. The opportunity for eating good, plant-based food is endless.

I have witnessed my mom follow my plant-based lifestyle, get off insulin, and start to reverse her health conditions. I think that’s something every son and daughter would love to see. This showed me that every disease did not lie in my mother’s DNA, it lay in my mother’s dinners. I was able to move away from those dinners and the recipes that were handed down from generation to generation, recipes that also handed down diseases from generation to generation.

My mom and I are now cooking new, vegetarian recipes that are going to give life for generations and generations to come. We have only just begun!


Are you inspired to have your local leaders, community, school, or organization get involved with Meatless Monday? We can help and we’d love to hear from you! Contact us.