Dr. Wallace Sconiers Helps Others Discover Health
Dr. Wallace Sconiers has a firm handshake and energetic speech that makes you want to hear what he has to share. His youthful skin, lively eyes, and radiant health at age 61 are proof that getting older does not in any way need to equate with medical issues. I was fortunate to meet him when he came over to say hello to a group of us giving out veg literature for a meat-out event.
Vegan for almost 30 years and vegetarian for 41 years, Wallace embraces a whole foods diet. His plant-centered path started, surprisingly, on a Navy ammunition ship during the Viet Nam war. This is one of the most intriguing stories I have heard about how and where someone stepped up to a life-affirming diet.
In 1970 Wallace was a sailor trying to figure out why chronic burning gastric pain was making his life miserable. He had been to the doctor, who told him “There’s nothing wrong with you and you have to live with it.”
Unwilling to accept this answer, Wallace struck out on his own to get more information. He still is excited to relate the first clue
that changed his life. “There was a small library on the ship. I found a short paperback called something like Why Japanese Males Have the Highest Stomach Cancer Rates in the World. This made me think a high salt diet would erode the stomach lining, and I started experimenting with my own diet.”
When he got rid of all meat and most dairy, Wallace was gratified that a month later his chest discomfort disappeared. Next to go were butter and eggs. He found even his eyesight improved.
Wallace ingeniously figured out how to remain vegetarian on a ship that in no way accommodated such unusual eating choices. First, there was a cook who prided himself on “down home cooking,” often whipping up meals with foods like black-eyed peas and ham hocks, corn, and greens. Wallace would get a double serving of the peas with no ham hocks and eat lots of sides. If needed, he could easily trade his ration of meat and dairy for the vegetables and salads that his shipmates spurned. “When we traded, each one of us thought we were getting the better deal,” he chuckles.
Once out of the Navy, Wallace stuck to his plant-centered diet, transitioning to a totally vegan diet a bit before his first son was born. Wallace graduated college and began a career in counseling and criminal justice. His adaptability was tested again as the government cut back on criminal justice spending and he launched a second career in natural foods stores. He worked for Mrs. Gooch’s, a Southern California chain of seven natural foods stores, for ten years. During this time he enjoyed a series of promotions and obtained his doctorate in nutrition and homeopathy.
When Whole Foods bought Mrs. Gooch’s, Wallace elected to focus on setting up his own practice north of Los Angeles to help patients make healthier choices in food, smoking, exercise, and other lifestyle habits. His patients were burdened with diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and autoimmune conditions such as lupus and multiple sclerosis.
Wallace used his counseling training to hone in on motivation – what do people need to stay on track with new choices. He found John Wooden’s Pyramid of Success and the techniques of Dr. Mitchell Perry were helpful. “I needed to keep people focused on success. When they were ready to give up, I gave them quotes, I talked to them about what they were trying to achieve and how they needed to take personal responsibility,” he notes. Most were not ready to make the switch to a vegan diet, so he worked with them to make the healthiest food choices they could on the diet they preferred to follow. Often he had to advise them to give up cherished ethnic dishes.
Success led to word-of-mouth referrals. He found physicians referring patients to him when the person was having trouble
managing their illness or making lifestyle changes. He began to give community lectures, sometimes with doctors, and estimates he has presented to over 20,000 individuals.
Wallace’s own family has also benefited, His wife of 30 years elected to go vegetarian when they were dating because of how good she felt eating plant-based; she soon became vegan as well. His children, now 27, 25, and 18, grew up on an animal-free diet and have chosen to stay with it as adults. “None of them ever had an ear infection because they never ate dairy,” Wallace happily recalls. However, he is frustrated that others in his family continue to eat meat and dairy and continue to suffer a wide range of chronic diseases. He has had to come to terms with the fact that he can’t be responsible for their decisions.
Wallace continues to work seven days a week, moving back now to the natural foods store industry and looking to build a private practice in the San Diego area. “My wife and I always loved San Diego and Orange County. With the kids all out of the house now, we can make the move and are working on it.”
I’m looking forward to keeping in touch with Wallace as he channels his high energy and focus as a San Diego County neighbor. I’ve been on an animal-free diet for eleven years. Someday I hope to match his almost thirty years vegan, but by then he’ll still be way ahead of me, no doubt.
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Blog posting by Janice Stanger, Ph.D. Janice authored The Perfect Formula Diet, the smart person’s nutrition book built on sustainable food choices. Enjoy six kinds of whole foods for permanent, hunger-free weight loss and health.