Two lifestyles, one defender

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Sarah Post
  • 90th Missile Wing Public Affairs

Way back in 2016, Lt. Col. Robert Shaw, 90th Security Forces Group deputy commander, was diagnosed with hyperthyroidism. Shortly after, he began researching natural ways to combat the diagnosis and his health problems, and he decided moving to a whole food plant-based lifestyle would be the most beneficial.

At the time, Shaw was stationed at Fort Bliss, in El Paso, Texas. One of the first stops on his journey to a plant-based lifestyle was El Paso’s Vegetarian Society, where he heard from Michael Greger, author of How Not to Die, about the benefits of a plant-based diet.

“His book was about how you can prevent or reverse most effects of sickness just by going on a plant-based diet,” said Shaw. “I started this lifestyle for my health, but as I continued researching, my why became more about ethics and the environment.”

Seven years later, Shaw is still living his plant-based lifestyle and now he can make a large variety of dishes. His diet is mostly raw based, meaning uncooked, so he eats fruits and juices for breakfast and salads or Mexican style burritos for lunch or dinner meals. Shaw eats cooked meals as well, like pasta and sauces, among others.

There are challenges that come with service in the Air Force and sticking to a plant-based lifestyle. 

Life in the military can be quite social with barbeques, potlucks or other events centered around eating food with units, family and friends. This is one of the challenging aspects of the two lifestyles mixing, according to Shaw, because people don’t know much about the lifestyle and there are not many options for different diets. 

“We are making steps in the right direction to be inclusive to diets,” said Shaw. “For instance, I have the ability to select a vegan option for ALS graduation dinners now.”

Shaw is beginning to host monthly potluck dinners in order to educate others on the lifestyle and socialize with those who already enjoy it. The potlucks will be every fourth Thursday of the month and will follow a schedule to eat and socialize, then learn about different aspects of being plant-based from speakers, videos or books. On the first potluck occasion, Shaw spoke about his journey to leading a whole food plant-based lifestyle

“This is a judgment free zone,” said Shaw. “Anybody is welcome to come and enjoy company and food.”

If you are interested in attending one of the plant-based potluck dinners, they will be held the fourth Thursday of each month at the chapel annex on F.E. Warren AFB. Follow Get Healthy F.E. Warren on Facebook for more information.