A senior man (Dr. Robert Bacher) practices taiji in a lavender field

Living Proof: How a WFPB Diet Has Kept Me Healthy and Energetic Well Into My 60s

By Robert Bacher, DC,

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From a young age, I was drawn to anything involving natural health. In high school, I began training in martial arts several hours each day. That required strength, stamina, and concentration. I noticed that when I ate meat, I’d experience an initial burst of strength but would tire out quickly, so I decided to give up meat to see how I would feel. After making the switch, I felt like I had endless stamina!

Soon after cutting out meat, I noticed that when I ate anything that had dairy in it, I immediately became congested, with a runny nose and cough. So for a few months, I experimented with taking breaks from dairy and then trying it again. Every time I ate dairy, I experienced sinus problems. And when I stopped, within a day the symptoms were gone. So I decided to cut out all dairy, going fully vegan around age 16. (This was an interesting decision at the time, as my father owned and operated seven steak and seafood restaurants, and I grew up working in them!)

As an adult, I followed my interest in natural health and healing to a career as a chiropractor. My intention as a doctor was always to empower people, showing them how to care for their health naturally through diet, exercise, and positive thinking. I also began teaching taiji classes, which I really enjoyed. Eventually, I gave up my career as a chiropractor to become a full-time taiji teacher and health educator.

Staying WFPB and Free of Aches, Pains, and Chronic Disease

I’ve spent the past several decades traveling all over the world giving workshops and retreats on taiji and healthy living, and I always emphasize the importance of following a diet rich in whole plant foods.

What surprises me the most after following a WFPB diet for so many years is how resistant people can be to changing the way they eat, meanwhile spending time, energy, and money going to doctors to treat symptoms while not addressing the underlying causes. It just doesn't make a whole lot of sense!

I will turn 70 at the end of this year. I don’t know how 70 is “supposed” to feel, but I am positively thriving. I don’t have any health complaints, and I’m the exact same weight I was in high school. When I look around at most people in my age group, I see people taking pills every day and constantly running to doctors’ appointments. And many of my peers have died. Sometimes I feel like the odd man out: In social situations where everyone is comparing their diseases, aches, and pains, I politely excuse myself, go outside, and meditate or practice some taiji.

I’ve lived in a small remote village in Costa Rica for more than 20 years, and I enjoy snacking on all the delicious tropical fruits that grow here. For me, the best part of whole-food, plant-based (WFPB) eating is that I can eat lots and never worry about being overweight. Now if that doesn't inspire others, I don’t know what will!

I enjoy hosting retreats on taiji and natural health here in Costa Rica, and I am always learning more about health for my own knowledge and so that I can be of better service to others. Any time I have a conversation about eating, I recommend the Forks Over Knives documentary and website. I dream of opening a natural health center where people learn how to get healthy and stay healthy.

For me, eating this way was never a diet. It has always been a way of life, interwoven with my daily martial art training and love of nature.

Ready to get started? Check out Forks Meal Planner, FOK’s easy weekly meal-planning tool to keep you on a healthy plant-based path. To learn more about a whole-food, plant-based diet, visit our Plant-Based Primer.

Has a whole-food, plant-based diet impacted your life?

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