For the past four Health Tips we have been featuring my “Health Heroes” – men who not only overcame serious physical problems, but went on to live until nearly the century mark on a 100% plant-based diet.
Today I want to introduce you to a fifth gentleman and his wife, very special people Rhonda and I had the privilege of knowing personally. In fact, we enjoyed a number of meals at their home and they enjoyed many meals at our original Hallelujah Acres Café and Restaurant in Rogersville, Tennessee.
Introducing Russ and Edie Dalson: Vegetarians for 82 and 76 Years (and counting)
Russ Dalson was born on April 26, 1902 and lived in wonderful health until he passed away in March 2004 only weeks from his 99th birthday. Edie was born on January 28, 1910 and celebrated her 101st birthday in January 2011. To this day she is active, well, and still following a 100% plant-based diet.
Russ was intrigued by a 100% plant-based diet when he met with Paul Bragg in Los Angeles California at age 22. This was before Paul Bragg became well-known for his worldwide lecture tours in which he promoted a healthy diet and lifestyle. (Read our recent recent story on Paul Bragg.)
But Russ’ biggest reason to become a vegetarian was his own experience with ill health at the age of 15, while earning his way through high school on a farm in Wisconsin. After getting his knees wet while picking strawberries in the mud, he developed a serious case of inflammatory rheumatism from his knees to his hips. He had to remain in bed for weeks.
A doctor told him the problem was eating “too much pork,” and sent him home with instructions to not do anything until the swelling went away. “As I lay on that cot I made a vow to myself that I was not going to be worn out by the time I was 70, but sadly at the time didn’t know anything about anything.”
Then, at the age of 19 it happened again while working in California; Russ developed inflammatory rheumatism in his right knee. He went to an orthopedic doctor who told him to not eat any meat for a month, and no pork for six months. At that point in his life he made the decision to never eat meat again, but he wondered what he could eat.
His first feelings about vegetarianism were “I thought I was going to die because I didn’t have anything I could eat.” But he learned fast. Even in the 1920s there were several vegetarian restaurants in Los Angeles, which served an all-raw menu including vegetables, fruits, fresh juices, soups, pies, and wafers baked in the sun.
On a 100% plant-based diet, Russ not only overcame his physical problems but went on to work for the Los Angeles Bed and Spring Co., where he did his grocery shopping at the Farmer’s Market, and would bring a box of raw produce to work every day, eating “whatever raw fruits and vegetables” he purchased at the Farmer’s Market.
While working at the Bed and Spring Co., Russ weighed 145 pounds. He was responsible for moving 10,000 pounds of angle iron 100 feet and then had to roll out 10,000 pounds of coil. It was a job that would wear a pair of horse hide gloves “right off your hands” every two weeks. “If I could be a vegetarian and do this kind of work, I could do anything,” he said.
After meeting Russ in 1927, Edie became a vegetarian (they celebrated their 77th wedding anniversary just before Russ’ passing in 2004). But even before meeting Russ, Edie didn’t eat much meat because her mother was a Seventh-day Adventist.
Russ and Edie moved to Tennessee in 1984 and settled in Eidson, Tennessee a suburb of Rogersville, Tennessee. In 1992 they began frequenting the brand new Hallelujah Acres Restaurant and Health Food Store. They were thrilled to find a restaurant where they could find food to fit their diet. They soon became good friends to Rhonda and this editor.
When we knew them, Russ and Edie ate as much raw food as possible and used their Champion Juicer to make everything from carrot juice to an all-fruit frozen banana/strawberry “ice cream.” Another factor in their longevity was that they never smoked cigarettes or drank alcohol. Their long lives allowed them to enjoy their four children, 16 grandchildren, and 24 great-grandchildren.
In addition to being vegans since their teen years, Russ and Edie felt that their complete trust and faith in God allowed them to live such a long and happy life. When this editor last saw Russ in 2004, Russ gave these words of advice: “You can eat all the raw food you want and the more raw food you eat, the better off you will be.”
On the day of Russ’ passing, he and Edie had been shopping at Walmart; he was in perfect health. However, as he and Edie were preparing lunch, somehow he fell in the kitchen, struck his head, and went to be with Jesus. Edie is still, at the age of 101, active, healthy and well, and still eats a 100% plant-based diet.
Rhonda and this editor are thankful for the years we had the privilege of knowing and having great fellowship with these precious people. They had a wonderful influence on our lives and were a source of great encouragement in our efforts to help others improve health on a 100% plant-based diet, patterned after God’s original diet for mankind in Genesis 1:29. AMEN