There's Ironman winner Dr. Ruth Heidrich who defeated breast cancer with a vegan diet -- over 30 years ago, and has gone on to write a number of terrific books about her journey -- like, Race for Life and Senior Fitness.
Physician extraordinaire Dr. Michael Klaper, who back in the early 1990s, was the only one writing books for vegan parents. His classic, Children, Pregnancy and the Vegan Diet has been out of print a LONG time, but some copies are selling for hundreds of dollars -- and worth every penny I might add, as I am grateful to that book for empowering me to raise my children vegan, when there was very little information available on the topic.
Dick Gregory, long time civil rights activist and a comedian, has been vegan over fifty years. In looking for information about him, I stumbled upon the Brown Vegan Blog -- so you can just hop on over there if you'd like to read about Mr. Gregory and see how he looks after being vegan for half a century. Pretty darn good I'd say.
Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn and Anne Crile Esselstyn have been responsible for inspiring 1000s of people to adopt a plant-based diet in order to prevent and reverse cardiovascular disease. Dr. Esselstyn is in his 80s now, and when he came through Kansas City last fall on a speaking tour, I was blown away by his vigor, and mental sharpness.
In 1944, Donald Watson, and a small group of "non-dairy vegetarians" become the very first people on the planet to self-identify as vegans. Watson was only 34 years old at the time he become one of the world's first vegans. He didn't know about B-12 either - but managed to live on another six decades as a vegan despite having been an extremely sickly child. Watson, an extraordinary person by all accounts and was hiking in the hills up until his last year.
T Colin Campbell PhD, the primary author of the largest epidemiological human nutrition study ever conducted, is another long term plants-only eater who remains quite functional and articulate after eight decades on this planet.
Fourth generation cattle rancher/feedlot operator Howard "Mad Cowboy" Lyman and his wife Willow Jean have been vegan for decades -- ever since Howard had a terrifying tumor on his spine removed. Doctors said he had a one-in-a-million chance of ever walking again, yet here they are in their 70s long term vegans, active in their local community, and Howard still travels around the country inspiring others with his, "No More Bull".
Helen and Scott Nearing the authors of many books, including, the seminal, Living the Good Life, lived completely self sufficiently, in a home they built from stone with their own hands while in their 60s and 80s. Scott died at the age of 100, While Helen 20 years younger lived on alone for another decade until a car accident ended her life prematurely. She was a lifelong vegetarian, he adopted the diet as a young man. Together they evolved to vegan in their later years. They were remarkable people. The home they built together is now a museum.
Judy and Michael Carman who are in their 70s have been vegan for over 20 years. They are such inspiring examples of living fully, healthfully and with intention. Judy is the author of several books, including Peace to all Beings and The Missing Peace. Although this picture is a bit old now -- (it's all I could find online) this is pretty much what they look like now too.
But my point in listing all these people, is not to suggest that being vegan will guarantee living to a ripe old age, but rather to show that it is possible to eat plant based and survive into the later years, and with an exceptionally great quality of life. It's not just how old they are, but rather how functional, physically and cognitively they are, at ages when that is not at all the norm in our culture.