Brooklyn borough president talks transition to plant-based eating in new cookbook

Healthy at Last: A Plant-Based Approach to Preventing and Reversing Diabetes and Other Chronic Illnesses hits stores Oct. 13. (Photo courtesy of Eric Adams)

Call him Brooklyn’s commander-in-chef!

Borough President and mayoral hopeful Eric Adams is adding “health food guru” to his resume with the release of his plant-based cookbook.

“It’s really not a diet, it’s a lifestyle change,” Adams told Brooklyn Paper ahead of his book’s Oct. 13 release. “Going from how we were taught culturally within America to eat has impacted our health crisis. We are feeding our health crisis with self-inflicted wounds.” 

“Healthy at Last: A Plant-Based Approach to Preventing and Reversing Diabetes and Other Chronic Illnesses,” released today, details Adams’ health journey as he struggled with type 2 diabetes and how transitioning to a plant-based diet reversed his ailments despite his doctor’s prescribed life sentence. 

Borough President Eric Adams switched to a plant-based diet in 2016 after experiencing severe vision loss due to diabetes. (Photo by Tommy Thomas)

“Doctors talk about living with heart disease, living with chronic disease and I am talking about disease reversal,” Adams said. “People don’t have to have a lifetime of insulin, pills, going to dialysis. You can actually reverse your condition.”

Adams, who was a regular patron of fast-food restaurants, turned away from meat and switched to meals comprised completely of plants in 2016 after he woke up one day with severe vision loss and knew he needed to make a change. 

“A countless number of people every day get prescriptions filled thinking they are addressing their illness and they’re not,” Adams said. “All they are doing is covering up the symptoms.” 

After making the switch he noticed differences almost immediately, Adams recounted, and within three months he restored his vision while also losing 35 pounds, balancing his cholesterol and expelling his diabetes.

The former police officer was not the only member of the city’s Black community to suffer from chronic disease as a symptom of poor nutrition, poverty and unequal access to food — a central theme to his book and a growing statistic he hopes to help reverse by spreading awareness of a plant-based diet’s benefits.

“No matter where you live, what neighborhood, what accessibility you have to food, you can still live a healthy lifestyle free from chronic disease,” said Adams, who hopes to show readers eating healthy is attainable to anyone who eats — including families on a tight budget, and picky eaters — while dispelling beliefs of plant-based food’s perceived lack of flavor.

“We wanted to show eating healthy isn’t walking around with grass in your pocket all the time,” he said. “I wanted to show people how you can still satisfy your taste buds and do it in a very nutritionally sound way.”

Adams’ cookbook includes 50 plant-based recipes handcrafted by celebrities and well-known health experts, such as Paul McCartney and herbalist Queen Afua — and features some soul-food inspired dishes meant to reimagine a cuisine the borough president said is rooted in slavery.

“Soul food was the food introduced to slaves and the recipes were handed down from plantations and were used for survival,” Adams said. “We are now using them as some form of delicacy and taking pride in a food that is poisonous.”

This story first appeared on our sister publication brooklynpaper.com.