Does a vegan diet affect your ability to heal?

Story highlights

  • Research seems to suggest that a plant-based diet hinders the body's ability to heal
  • One expert sees "enormous opportunities ... in surgery by manipulating diet"

On September 19, 2008, just before midnight, two pilots attempted to abort their takeoff from the Columbia Metropolitan Airport in South Carolina. The pilots, who thought that they had blown a tire, were unable to stop the plane on the remaining runway they had left.

Four people died in the resulting fiery crash, including both pilots. Only two people survived: celebrity disc jockey DJ AM and Blink-182 drummer Travis Barker.
Travis Barker, a vegan at the time, suffered second- and third-degree burns over his torso and lower body. He was taken to the Joseph M. Still Burn Center in Augusta, Georgia, where, he told the Guardian in an interview several weeks after the crash, he had to eat 6,000 calories a day in order to speed his recovery.
    "Obviously, they didn't have a vegan chef for me," Barker told the paper, "so I had to eat whatever. I ended up eating a lot of beef jerky." Giving up veganism, in this case, came with an added health benefit: Early in his hospital stay, his doctors reportedly had trouble getting his skin grafts to take, which Barker said in interviews was due to his low levels of protein; after a while on his new high-calorie diet, they had more success.