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Samuel L Jackson becomes vegan and loses 40 pounds on plant-based diet

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Actor Samuel L. Jackson was ready for a change. And in the tradition of "when the student is ready, the teacher appears," he became a vegan after spending time with Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, a plant-based diet expert and surgeon. Now he's lost more than 40 pounds and is sharing his story, reported Mother Nature Network on Thursday.

Samuel's inspiration began when he read Dr. Esselstyn’s book, followed by a visit to the surgeon's home and "a desire to live forever." The book that kick-started his journey: "Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease: The Revolutionary, Scientifically Proven, Nutrition-Based Cure" (click for details). It's the same book that appealed to former President Bill Clinton when he followed a plant-based diet, although Clinton subsequently abandoned that plan.

Dr. Esselstyn is a celebrity himself. He stars in the documentary "Forks Over Knives," and has consequently become a superstar in the plant-based diet world. The surgeon is a firm believer in food as medicine.

"They say risk factors are diabetes, high blood pressure, smoking and maybe too much saturated fat. But when you really come down to it, food trumps them all," said Dr. Esselstyn in an interview with the Chicago Tribune. Samuel is like a walking advertisement for that philosophy, noting that in addition to his weight loss, he feels significantly more energetic.

"I feel great. I have a lot more energy than I used to have," said the actor in a recent interview with Ecorazzi. "I sleep better. I like the way I look in my clothes better. I don’t cramp as much. I exercise better. I think my circulation has gotten better."

Other celebrities known to follow the lessons of "Forks Over Knives" include Kristen Bell. She declared: “Forks Over Knives outlines an extremely compelling approach to the prevention of heart disease and cancer.” Agreeing with her: Film director James Cameron.

“I watched that film Forks Over Knives. I went into the kitchen, I took everything out of the kitchen that was not a plant," said Cameron. Now he's eating "only plants.”

However, not all experts are singing the phrases of the diet prescribed in "Forks Over Knives: The Plant-Based Way to Health." Although former President Clinton at one point followed a plant-based diet, his current physician, Dr. Mark Hyman, disagrees with the approach. Dr. Hyman began working with the former president after his headline-making quadruple bypass surgery.

"It’s hard being a vegan to eat enough good, quality protein and not have too much starch," contends Dr. Hyman, according to the New York Times. As for the weight loss experienced by Samuel Jackson? "I know a lot of fat vegans," added the physician, author of "The Blood Sugar Solution 10-Day Detox Diet: Activate Your Body's Natural Ability to Burn Fat and Lose Weight Fast."

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