The Plant Rx

Your resource for a plant-based diet

Personal Stories & Testimonials

People choose to adopt a plant-based diet for a number of different reasons.  Some, like myself (See “About Us”), do so for health and wellness purposes.  Others do it for environmental reasons, ethical concerns, etc.  Regardless of the reasoning behind the initial decision to do so, one common theme tends to unify the group – the are glad they have done so and they continue to do so!

This section was created to share the different stories behind why real people decide to transition to a plant-based diet and to show how their lives have changed as a result of that decision. If you have a unique story you would like to share, please contact us, we would love to hear it and you may end up being our success story of the week! (theplantrx@gmail.com)

Come back and visit often as we are always adding more success stories!

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Steve Pavlina‘s website / blog:  I really enjoy Steve’s blog.  The focus of his website and blog is not plant-based diets or veganism rather it is a variety of fascinating topics (here are links to his topics) such as: BalanceBusinessCareer & WorkConsciousness & AwarenessCourage & FearEntrepreneurshipMotivationPassionPeople SkillsDevelopmentRelationshipsSelf-DisciplineTravelWealth & Money, among others! I suggest you check it. He also has a great book too.  You won’t be sorry.

Source: http://www.stevepavlina.com – “Personal Development for Smart People

(Original URL: http://www.stevepavlina.com/blog/2006/09/why-vegan/)

“Why go vegan? Many people have asked me why I eat a vegan diet, so I’m long overdue for a post on this topic.  But before I dive into it, let me first say I’m not interested in trying to convert you to veganism.  While many vegans are conversion-happy, for me this is a personal lifestyle choice, not a religion.  In any event I’ve noticed that people tend to go vegan when they’re ready for it, not because they’re beaten over the head with statistics and health knowledge.  As the saying goes, “A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still.”  So take this article as an insider’s report on my path to a vegan diet rather than conversion rhetoric.

Going Vegetarian

After eating animal products for most of my life, during the early 90s, I started reading health books as part of my novice-level interest in personal growth.  My initial changes including adopting a low-fat diet and exercising regularly.  I switched from low-fat to skim milk, favored leaner meats, and reduced high-fat products like cheese and butter.  I also reduced my sugar intake, switching from regular sodas to diet sodas.  I took up running as my primary exercise and would run about 25 minutes per day, sometimes longer.  Overall I’d say I was in fairly good health — no major health problems or serious illnesses.  I never smoked in my life, and I shunned alcohol too except on rare occasions.

Eventually I got curious about the vegetarian diet after reading about it in a nutrition textbook.  I read that vegetarians supposedly live longer, need less sleep, and have lower risks of many major illnesses like cancer and heart disease.  That sounded attractive, but I really didn’t want to be a vegetarian for the rest of my life.  I figured that was a bit too extreme and probably unnecessary.  I had a vegetarian friend during my late teens — a skinny Indian guy — and I found it funny that he could never eat pepperoni pizza.  But he did seem fairly healthy and intelligent.  He would regularly whoop me when we played poker together.

In June 1993, my curiosity got the better of me, and I decided to try going lacto-ovo vegetarian for 30 days just to see what it was like (no animal flesh but dairy and eggs OK).  At least then I’d know, and I could be done with it.  I’d been through enough habit changes to know that a new mindset always looks different from the outside looking in than from the inside looking out.  So I wanted an insider’s perspective on the diet.  Otherwise, I’d risk going my whole life without knowing what it was really like.  I was 22 years old, so I figured I might as well have this experience now.  I fully expected to return to my previous way of eating after the 30 days.

I was surprised at how easy it was to go vegetarian.  I thought it would take a lot of discipline, but it really didn’t.  I just made obvious substitutions:  cheese or veggie pizza instead of pepperoni, pasta dishes, rice dishes, stir fry veggies, etc.  If I did this today, it would be even easier due to all the vegetarian products now on the market that weren’t available back then.  I acquired one vegetarian cookbook (which I still have) that helped me with a few recipes, but mostly I found that cutting out flesh was painless.

I didn’t have any withdrawal symptoms or detox effects (no headaches or back pain or anything like that).  I wasn’t overweight when I began this experiment, so I don’t recall losing much weight, but I did notice an increase in my overall energy level, and I felt more energetic during my morning runs.  I also noticed I could concentrate better, especially during meditation or while doing programming work.  These increases weren’t huge, but they were noticeable.

At the end of the 30 days, I had adapted well to the habit, and I found it so easy that I couldn’t think of a compelling reason to switch back.  After putting off my return to carnivorous life for several months, I eventually concluded, “Well, I guess I’m a vegetarian.”  I gradually lost my appetite for animal flesh, so those old foods no longer appealed to me.  I had no sense of deprivation because I was eating what I felt naturally drawn to eat.  It took no discipline to stay vegetarian, since I was simply eating what naturally appealed to me.  Over time the thought of eating animals became repulsive to me, not from a moral standpoint but from a gustatory one — I no longer wanted to put dead flesh into my mouth.

When I met Erin in 1994, she wasn’t a vegetarian.  In fact, her diet was pretty poor, consisting of large quantities of fast food.  But eventually she decided to try going vegetarian for 30 days too — without even telling me – and her experience was similar to mine.  After 30 days she simply didn’t want to go back.

Going Vegan

During my vegetarian days, I occasionally considered eliminating all animal products and going 100% vegan.  From what I’d read up to that point, I was convinced that the vegan diet would be healthier for me than a lacto-ovo vegetarian diet.  I also went to Tony Robbins’ firewalk seminar in 1996 and learned about the Fit for Lifediet, a book I later read.  Tony is the most energetic person I’ve ever seen, and he was pitching a mostly vegan diet.  I became curious about how a vegan diet would affect my energy level.

Erin and I were learning Tae Kwon Do at this time, and I was becoming interested in distance running, so the high-energy promise of the vegan diet appealed to me.  I’d already seen an energy boost after going vegetarian, so it wasn’t hard for me to fathom that going vegan would be even better.

As you can see, what motivated me to try veganism wasn’t animal rights or environmental issues — it was simply the possibility of enjoying more energy and vitality.  I wish I’d been the kind of person who’d have genuinely listened to those other arguments for veganism, but I have to be honest and admit that I wasn’t.  My curiosity was driven entirely by self-interest.

In January 1997, Erin and I both decided to try going vegan for 30 days to see what it was like.  Both of us were convinced, however, that the diet would be too hard and too fanatical to sustain in the long run.  We kept thinking about all the delicious foods we’d have to give up — the hardest ones for me were cheese pizza and veggie-cheese omelettes.  But we figured we could manage it for 30 days.  At least we’d know what it was like, and if the diet beat us down, we’d be comfortable concluding that it wasn’t for us.

Going vegan was very different than going vegetarian.  During the first 7 days, Erin and I lost 7 pounds each!  We were eating abundant calories and drinking plenty of water, so where did that weight come from?  Seriously, it went down the toilet.  A lifetime of accumulated dairy clog came washing out of our intestines.  Wow!  We had heard about detox, but 7 pounds in 7 days was beyond our expectations.  After the first week things settled down, and we lost a few more pounds over the remaining 23 days.

After the first week, my energy had increased massively.  This was a much bigger increase than when I went vegetarian.  I’d say that for the total increase in energy I experienced from animal eater to vegan, the change from vegetarian to vegan was about 80% of it.  This energy boost was most pronounced during Tae Kwon Do classes — I suddenly had a lot more energy during sparring — my endurance was much, much higher.  I also noticed it was easier for me to run longer distances without getting tired, and my breathing felt smoother and more effortless.  Exercising became easier, and I started enjoyed that runner’s high feeling much more often.

After doing 3-5 mile runs for several years, I gradually increased to 5-10 mile runs.  Running felt so good that I often didn’t want to stop, so it felt right to just keep going.  Within a year I was doing 14-mile runs down the Santa Monica beach, and in 2000 I ran the L.A. Marathon.

Despite the increase in physical vitality, the #1 benefit I experienced was a marked improvement in my mental clarity.  It felt like I was coming out of a long-term fog of brain — if you saw the movie Awakenings, it was similar to that, except that my starting point was the state we call “normal.”  I thought, “Wow… so this is what clear-headedness is supposed to feel like.”  Imagine the feeling of having totally clear sinuses after eating super-spicy food… but applied to your brain.

I noticed a significant improvement in my ability to do computer game programming, which was my career at the time.  I could solve challenging problems more easily.  The problems were just as hard, but my ability to tackle them had increased significantly.

Interestingly, Erin’s experience was different than mine.  I don’t recall her having as much of a boost in mental clarity or physical endurance as I did.  But she enjoyed a significant boost in her psychic sense.  I didn’t notice it at the time (because I wasn’t looking for it), but I also experienced an improvement in my intuitive clarity after going vegan.

Once again when the 30 days were up, Erin and I found it easy to keep going, and the benefits were so obvious that we’d never want to give them up.  By day 30 animal products had lost much of their appeal anyway, so we just kept eating the way that seemed most natural.  Again, it didn’t take any discipline to maintain the diet.  And to make the initial switch we used curiosity instead of discipline.  As you can see I really love the 30-day trial.

I get a lot of compliments on my depth of thought on certain subjects, and as odd as it may seem, I have to credit much of that to my diet.  The mental benefits are probably the #1 reason I decided to stay vegan.  I just can’t go back to the fog-of-brain I used to regard as normal.  People who eat animals often regard my diet as being deprived (outside looking in), while ironically I regard their lifestyle as being far more deprived (inside looking out).

While some people would regard my diet as severely restrictive, it feels nothing of the sort to me.  I’ve been eating this way for almost 10 years now, so to me it’s normal.  In some ways it’s a little odd eating out with people who still eat animals, since they tend to be a bit fanatical in their bloodlust for flesh… as if they’re vampires or something.  It doesn’t bother me when people eat animals in front of me — they’re free to eat whatever they want.  I do notice, however, that people often feel uncomfortable eating animals in front of vegans.  And I imagine the animals aren’t too comfortable with it.  :)

Post-Vegan

It was only after going vegan that I openly exposed myself to other arguments for veganism.  One of the best books I read was Diet for a New America.  I was amazed at just how destructive the habit of eating animal products is — to our bodies, to our environment, and to our politics.  If you’re the kind of person who loves data and stats, that’s the book for you, although the figures are somewhat dated by now.  At first I tried using these stats to see if I could convince other people to try veganism or at least vegetarianism.  None so righteous as the newly converted, right?  I ended up convincing a few people who tried it and got good results, but mostly it opened my eyes as to just how stubborn people were, even in the face of overwhelming data.  Of course, I was one of them for many years, so experiencing this situation from the opposite side was perhaps a karmic lesson for me.  I think it helped me become more open-minded and to recognize my own emotional resistance whenever I was refusing to acknowledge the truth.

As time went on, I started putting more thought into the ethics of veganism.  I wasn’t remotely motivated to go vegan because of ethical or environmental concerns, but after being vegan for a while, those aspects began touching me.  I watched videos of factory farming, and I was saddened by the animal cruelty, especially when I realized this is what most people contribute to every single day.  You can find such videos on Peta’s web site if you care to look.  I felt relieved that my decision would have a small but positive effect in reducing animal suffering and environmental damage.  I liked that every meal I ate was one that didn’t cause animals to suffer and die.  My wife and I started donating money to pro-vegan nonprofit organizations.

Gradually I began feeling more compassionate, not just towards animals but towards people as well.  I was never a particularly sensitive guy (sarcasm was more my style), but I became more sensitive to the pain and suffering of others.  I started to care about people and animals in a way I’d never experienced before, and to be honest I initially resisted this change.  This awareness shift grew stronger over time, as if something in my spirit had become unblocked.  If you’re into chakras, you could say that going vegan opened my heart chakra.  This feeling of compassion towards others continues to expand, and it guides much of my work today.

I think a compassion-minded lifestyle is a matter of degree rather than essence because no matter where you are, you can always improve.  I am still making improvements — it’s a never-ending process.  Just this summer I fully switched over to leather-free shoes and belts.  I accept the position that if you already own animal items like shoes, the animal has already paid the price, so you should honor its life by using them or giving them away to someone instead of throwing them away.  It can be rather challenging to avoid all use of animal items, since they’re so prevalent in modern society.  Even the glue used in the veggie crates can be animal-derived.  And what about squashing ants that raid your kitchen?  Everyone is at a different place on the compassion line, so it’s best to look within and decide what place feels right to you.  When you start judging others, it’s a sign that you feel your own position on the line could stand some improvement.

I was surprised that animal products lost all their appeal to me.  Today the thought of putting animal products in my mouth utterly disgusts me.  If I merely imagine taking a bite of steak, it induces a wave of nausea.  It’s like someone saying, “Hey, Steve!  Want a bite of this plague-ridden, pus-filled rat covered with vomit sauce?”  Not exactly mouth-watering.  A bowl of sawdust would be more appetizing.  So there’s no deprivation because I’m only eating what seems normal and edible to me.

I’ve genuinely never felt deprived as a vegan… just the opposite because my dietary variety increased.  As a meat-eater I’d eat the same foods over and over, but after going vegan I tried all kinds of new recipes.  I ate fruits and veggies I never ate before and found new foods I liked.  Today there are so many vegan products on the market that you’ll find quality substitutes for everything.  You can get vegan burgers, ice cream, cheese, sour cream, cream cheese, milk, butter, ground “beef,” deli slices (bologna, ham, turkey, etc), donuts, and so on.  I’ve even had vegan “duck.”  In 1997, many of these vegan foods tasted awful.  The dairy substitutes were especially bad — many of them tasted like liquid tofu.  But today the recipes have been perfected to such a degree that the taste is usually wonderful.

VegFamily

In the late 90s, Erin launched VegFamily.com to connect with other vegans.  Eventually it became one of the top vegan web sites — I’d say it’s the #1 site for supporting vegan parents and families.  The purpose of the site is to support vegans, not to convert people to veganism.  While the community is friendly towards people considering going vegan, the discussion forums are kept free of people who want to debate the merits of the vegan diet — there are plenty of other sites for that.  An interesting feature of the site is an enormous list of Why Vegan Stories where visitors explain their reasons for going vegan; there’s quite a bit of variety in why people make the transition.

One of the cool things about running VegFamily is that Erin and I received tons of vegan product samples in the mail for possible review on the site.  We also went to the Natural Products Expo as members of the press to try out the latest creations.  (Word of warning – never mix wheat grass juice, organic coffee, and vegan chocolate in an empty stomach!)  In the early years, many of the samples we’d get were pretty bad.  I’ve eaten more than my share of hockey pucks marketed as vegan energy bars.  But some of the stuff was incredible.  Rose City Chocolatesmakes some of the best fancy vegan chocolates I’ve tried.  And Allison’s Gourmethas delicious vegan cookies and brownies (my favorite is the chocolate mint cookie).

After a few years of this, we noticed a lot more people jumping into the vegan products market.  Erin eventually hired a product review editor to write up those reviews.  I do miss the free samples.  Now I get lots of personal development products in the mail, but the books, CDs, and DVDs just don’t taste as good as vegan brownies.

Last year Erin decided to create a compilation of VegFamily visitors’ best vegan recipes, with an emphasis on family-friendly recipes that both kids and adults will enjoy.  She received hundreds of submissions and then had her visitors test them, and the best ones became the Vegan Family Favorites cookbook.  We own dozens of vegan cookbooks, but what I like about this one (aside from the fact that Erin compiled it) is that the recipes all come from real families as opposed to a gourmet chef, so I can often find recipes that use on-hand ingredients rather than having to pre-plan for something unusual.  I even submitted some recipes of my own.  :)

Further Experiments

At various times I tried other subsets of the vegan diet.  I read a couple books on macrobiotics, including Dirk Benedict’s experiences in his book Confessions of a Kamikaze Cowboy, and it sounded interesting, so I gave it a 30-day trial.  On this diet I ate lots of brown rice, barley, soup, seaweed, and cooked veggies.  Honestly I didn’t detect any notable changes.  It seemed no better or worse than the way I was already eating, so in this case my 30-day trial ended on day 31.  However, I liked many macrobiotic foods, so brown rice and miso soup became staples in my diet after the trial.

Another time I tried an all raw diet.  The first attempt I only lasted 3 days before giving up.  But I learned more about this diet and discovered that eating nothing but salad and fruit wasn’t the best way to go.  I gave it another shot with a smarter approach that included lots of raw nuts and made it to day 30.  This was a hard diet for me to transition to though.  In the first couple weeks, I experienced strong cravings for cooked foods, especially bread.  But the cravings eventually subsided, and I felt absolutely incredible.  I’ve never felt so physically and emotionally energetic in my life as when I was on this diet.  I know it’s a big improvement over eating cooked vegan food.  However, I ultimately found this diet too time consuming.  I had to eat a lot more food to consume adequate calories, and it took me considerable time to do all the chopping, slicing, and juicing to make something more interesting than fruit and salad.  I concluded that going raw was more than a dietary change; it would require a major lifestyle adjustment, and I wasn’t ready for that kind of commitment.

Years later I gave the raw food diet another trial, this time for 45 days, and came to the same conclusion.  I had outstanding energy and vitality, but it was too much work for me.  I was sometimes spending two hours a day preparing food.  And I also felt hungry often.

After being raw for 30+ days, cooked food tasted noticeably lifeless to me.  Raw foods are living foods, so everything you eat is alive — nothing canned or processed.  Once you get used to that, in some ways it’s hard to go back.  I knew that returning to cooked and processed foods was a step in the wrong direction healthwise, but it was a lot more practical at the time.

What’s Next?

I’m committed to lifelong dietary improvement, so I’m always looking out for the next step.  I know that going raw would be a great step for me, since I’ve already given it two trials and enjoyed great results aside from all the prep time.  One problem I had is that my first two raw (un)cookbooks were both gourmet books with complex recipes, but I’ve since gotten a copy of Raw Food Made Easy, which has much simpler recipes… the kind that use 5 ingredients instead of 15.  This book has helped me tremendously, making going raw a lot more practical.

On September 4 I kicked off another 30-day raw trial, but I decided to make this one a bit more challenging.  For the next 30 days, I’m eating only raw veggies, nuts, seeds, cold-pressed oils, and low-sugar fruits like lemons, limes, avocados, tomatoes, and coconut.  I’m also cutting out the sweeter veggies like carrots and beets, so this is a very low-sugar diet.  Of course, most of the time I’m combining these to make interesting dishes.

Now if you happen to be one of those uninformed souls who feels compelled to ask, “Where do you get your protein?” (yes, it is a dumb question), then you should read The Great Protein Myth to unload some of that media conditioning and learn that even veggies are abundant in protein.  Broccoli, for instance, gets about 50% of its calories from protein.  Of course, there are certain marketers who’d prefer you not know that.  :)

Anyway… I’m just finishing up day 6 on this diet and doing OK with it.  I’ve had some major swings in my moods and energy levels this week, which I also experienced during my first week of each of my raw food trials.  I remember that I felt lousy the first week of those trials and then fantastic afterwards, so I’m hoping week 2 follows the same pattern this time.

One reason I’m doing a stricter trial this time (giving up bananas is really hard), is that if I make it to day 30 and decide not to continue, I can downgrade to a less restrictive all raw diet by adding back all the sweet fruits and veggies.  So this tougher trial may provide a way to make raw foodism a permanent pattern for me.  I’d love to head in that direction, since I really want that long-term vitality boost I’ve experienced twice before — it’s easily worth the effort.  I just need to find a way to make this practical enough to stick

As you can see, my dietary improvements are motivated largely by self-interest:  more energy, more mental clarity, more vitality, more endurance.  If a diet sounds worthwhile to you, give it a 30-day trial to experience the results for yourself.  Then you can decide whether to abandon it, adopt it, or integrate it.  I have no idea whether my path will work for you, so ultimately you’ll have to carve your own path through this maze of ideas.”

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by: Ty-K Berry    6’2″  170lbs  66 yrs old

OK, my story began about 15 months ago. On Feb 5th, 2009–I began my journey which would result in my becoming vegan in less than 8-months after being carnivorous my entire 64+ year life. Why? Anyone might ask! First, I hated being over 200 lbs, so, on my own, I developed a plan to rid myself of 30+ lbs in about 3 months time. I lost 26 lbs the first 2 months.

After that I simply maintained my weight-loss (as I still do) by limiting calories & fat plus exercising via walking/jogging at least 4-miles per session and at least 4 days a week. That continued until Sept 22nd, 2009…the day I decided to go vegan. 

Here’s my reason why. Each day I walked UP the steep 2-mile mountain & jogged down it I passed by a cow pasture on my left and a horse pasture on my right. And each time I passed these animals I talked to them. Well, for some reason, on that day (Sept 22nd), it hit me that I loved these animals & felt guilty about consuming them–ergo I made the internal decision THAT VERY DAY that I was never gonna eat animals again.

I had no thoughts that day, that changing my eating habits would be self-beneficial. You see, I HAD Type II Diabetes and High Cholesterol, for which I took pills twice daily to control. Did you catch my word, “had?” In early November (just before my 65th birthday), I had blood-work done. When the nurse called me to say that the doctor said I could quit taking all medications, can you imagine how elated I was? Talk about an early birthday present! Wow!

So, eating a whole food plant-based diet is somewhat of a miracle for me–even at my age. No pills. No diabetes. No high cholesterol. No high blood pressure. Three days ago I had a hernia operation–no nausea pills/no pain pills, and, I walked my 4-mile course today, without pain. Can’t jog again yet, but I’m out walking & maintaining my weight & loving my vegan diet.

The day I decided (Sept 22, 2009) was a turning point I’ve NOT regretted. It surprised me that it helped ME by helping THEM (the animals). I didn’t even think about the effect on Diabetes, High Cholesterol, High Blood Pressure, etc., until AFTER THE FACT. But, that being the case, how could I turn back?
It takes a period of time (as all we VEGANS know), to lose the desire for certain foods….sorta like quitting smoking & drinking alcohol, which I also did close to 22-years ago. So, if stopping that was the best two things I ever did for me; becoming VEGAN is the 3rd best thing I’ve ever done for me.  That’s my story! Cool?”

Note: TK served 20 years in the US Air Force (retired) and then over 22 years in Federal Civil Service (retired). And, YES, that is VERY cool, TK!


My name is Anastasia I. D. Brown, also known as The Veganbetic.  Here’s my story: In 2007, I was diagnosed with Type II diabetes three days after my forty-fifth birthday.  I like to say the warranty ran out. Of course, I knew a little about the disease because I have high blood pressure and hereditary high cholesterol, and for years I’d heard my doctors say that I was heading for trouble because of my lifestyle. I didn’t listen, natch.  I’ve never liked being told what to do.  Who does?

So, all of a sudden (or so it seemed to me), I had this disease, and—hey, presto!—playtime was over. I was a champion eater in my past.  One pound of pasta…I could eat that for dinner with no difficulty.  A pint of Ben and Jerry’s for dessert was easy. And I loved eating like that.  I absolutely adored it. And it was now kaput.

The first thing I learned about managing diabetes is that doing so is a discipline. Anyone here like discipline? Anyone? Bueller? Naaah, didn’t think so. The second thing I learned about diabetes is that the road to managing diabetes through discipline is the same as the road to hell: it’s paved with good intentions. So I bought the books, joined the websites, got my little medical tag to wear around my neck.  But soon I’d backslide, get rebellious, neglect to take my meds, and would fling myself back into the food orgy.  Then the guilt would smack me in the head, I’d resolve to take better care of myself, and for a few months, I’d be the model diabetic patient.  But then the cycle would start up again.

Here’s the funny thing:  I am a Zen Buddhist.  No, that’s not intrinsically funny—wait; yeah, it is.  Anyway, my particular Zen Buddhist gig consists of pretty much one thing.  It’s called shikantaza, and basically what it means is to Just.  Freakin’.  Sit. And it’s boring.  Unless you do shikantaza, you have no idea just how horrifically boring it really is.  And it’s uncomfortable, you itch, you have to go to the can, your nose runs, and it just all around sucks at times.  Shikantaza makes doing your taxes look entertaining (I was going to write that it makes going to the Department of Motor Vehicles look entertaining, but then I remembered that visiting the DMV is actually a total scream). But if I could sit for a half hour a day and sometimes longer as part of a discipline which really seems to have no point at all whatsoever (that’s right!  No point, kids!), then why the hell couldn’t I take better care of myself as part of a discipline that has some defined goals—things like heading off lovely little issues such as neuropathy, limb amputation, renal failure, and more?

That’s when I realized that diabetes management is not just a discipline, just as shikantaza is not just a discipline.  It’s a practice.  What’s more, it’s a practice that takes practice.  You have to—as RuPaul says—work it, beeotch.

**** So, for the last three and a half years, I’ve been practicing.  And I’ve been getting better at this diabetes thing. About a year ago, I got me some H1N1 and was very sick.  I hadn’t been taking particularly good care of myself at the time, and swine flu made my Type II go to the outer limits.  Diabetics, prepare to faint: my HbA1c was 14.

Yes.  14!

After two months’ recovery (and because I was too sick to eat everything I could get my hands on), my HbA1c dropped to 12.  My poor doctor was almost in hysterics.  I promised him I’d take care of myself. It was about this time that I hied me to my local Borders and bought a book called Dr. Neal Barnard’s Program For Reversing Diabetes.  Dr. Barnard advocates a vegan diet in this program.  I read the book and was inspired.  And to inspire a wiseass cynic like me takes a lot. I had toyed with vegetarianism and veganism in my past, switching between both from time to time, but always returning to an omnivorous diet.  I had also been a natural foods chef for a number of years, so I was always preparing food for people who didn’t eat meat or any kind of animal products.  To me, going permanently vegan would also take discipline and be a discipline…but, first, it would be a practice that took practice.

I started by adding more plant-based foods to my diet.  Due to a commitment to the ocean environment, I had already given up fish about two years before.  Poultry was next to go; that was easy, because I never really liked chicken or other fowl.  Giving up pork, lamb, and other meats was also—to mix a metaphor and show off my mordant but corny diabetes wit—a piece of cake.  Kicking red meat to the curb was a bit more difficult; I always loved a slab of rare steak.  The hardest part was giving up dairy.  That was the last to go, and the one that caused the most wailing and gnashing of teeth.  But damn if I didn’t do it.

In one year of “vegan practice”, my HbA1c has gone from that horrific 14 to a 5.4. Allopathic medicine may scoff at this and call it unfounded and unscientific, but I know what I know.  I am the diabetes patient here.  Therefore, I can say with no reservations that living a vegan lifestyle helps my diabetes management.  And I want to share this with other diabetics, with pre-diabetics, with everyone.

Visit Anastasia’s Facebook page:  The Veganbetic!

Hi, my name is Alicia and in 2008, when I hit my high weight of 299 lbs, my dad Rick, who I never knew, died from diabetes.  He lost both legs, went blind, and finally died of kidney failure. He was 47. Due to my weight my mom always worried about me getting diabetes which runs on both sides of the family. Then when she found out about Rick she was even more concerned, and suddenly so was I.

My cholesterol was high, my sugar was hovering right around ‘dangerously close to becoming diabetic’ and then I quickly dropped about 40 lbs since fear is an absolutely fabulous motivator, but motivation is fleeting. In July of 2009 I went veggie. I wasn’t eating very healthy stuff, boxed veggie burgers and too much pasta anddeep-fried veggies. Turns out it’s just as easy to be a fat vegetarian as a fat meat-eater. I spent most of 2010 regaining 28 of the 40 lbs I had lost.

In October of 2010 I realized that although I’ve been in therapy most of my life and I’ve definitely suffered from disordered eating at both ends of the spectrum I had never once discussed food issues in therapy. I realized I was an emotional eater, my health was suffering, I was 30 years old and as much as I wanted to bury that thought of Rick dying so young, it kept popping up that I needed to do something.

Things happened pretty quickly after that. I got sick of the guilt and shame that came with binging at the Chinese buffet on all manner of deep-fried and overly sweet saucy veggie foods. I decided to discuss my disordered eating in therapy. I started back on plan on October 19th. I set a weight loss goal of 32 lbs lost in the first 4 months. By November I was eating a 99% whole foods diet and had stumbled on a blog about the deception of the terms ‘cage free eggs’ and the dairy industry’s part in raising veal.  So in November I went vegan.  Although my main motivating factor in eating a vegan diet is health, it was these few points that drove me from veggie to vegan.

It’s been amazing since I love to cook and it’s forced me to become seriously adventurous in the kitchen. Let’s be honest, no one wants to live on salad and rice packets or veggie burgers forever. I try not to eat things that come in a box with weird ingredients that I can’t pronounce. I love sweet potato spinach curry and I have come up with an amazing alfredo recipe as well (recipe is on my blog).

I’m having a good time learning to cook things in new ways.  People that I cook for are always so shocked that vegan food is delicious, this boggles my mind. I read my grocery list off to my mom once and she said “But what can you make out of that stuff?” “That stuff” she was referring to was mainly veggies, whole grains and beans. Really, this is what it has come to? As a society we have no clue what to do with real food?  Sadness.  Anyhow, I’m having a great time and eating amazing food that tastes great without making me feel miserable and guilty and worst of all, unhealthy.

I reached my first 4 month goal 3.5 weeks early, so I readjusted it from a 32 lb loss to a 37 lb loss. I then proceeded to reach that goal 5 days early. I have now lost a total of 49 lbs. (between 2010 – Feb 2011).  My sugar has gone from I think 124 or 125 to 111, It still needs to come down some, I get tested again in August. My A1c was 5.5 which is right on target, my cholesterol came down, I can’t wait for my next set of labs.  This is me, just trying not to die in pieces, and it seems I’m doing an okay job.  You can read more about my vegan weight loss journey at:http://www.beyondwillpower.blogspot.com

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Ian tells his story:

Ian Before: 235lbs / 262 cholesterol / 145:110 blood pressure

Ian Before: 235lbs / 262 cholesterol / 145:110 blood pressure

Two years ago I could not have imagined my life today.  At the ripe old age of 40, I was diagnosed with heart disease, four major blockages that if left alone would end my life quickly.

On March 23, 2011 I had Quadruple Bypass Surgery.  I had my chest sawed open.  It was singularly the most influential event in my life and in hindsight I would not change a thing.

The first week out of the hospital my wife, Alicia, started us on a plant-based diet.  By December, I had lost 37 pounds and my cholesterol dropped 109 points.  Since then I have learned that eating a plant-based diet and avoiding oil can drastically improve your health.  My last carotid artery sonogram showed substantial reduction in plaque; essentially reversing 40 years of buildup in a very short period of time.  Not to mention the 20-25% weight loss.

The lightning bolt moments are as rare as a strike of electricity to the head.  They either kill you or offer you the opportunity to walk away; a second chance.  It is precisely these moments that need to be deconstructed because they happen in an instant.  These moments exist a lifetime as either regret or epiphanies.

The lightning bolt moments are as rare as a strike of electricity to the head.  They either kill you or offer you the opportunity to walk away; a second chance.  It is precisely these moments that need to be deconstructed because they happen in an instant.  These moments exist a lifetime as either regret or epiphanies.

Ian after undergoing quadruple bypass surgery at 40 only years old.

Ian after undergoing quadruple bypass surgery at 40 only years old.

The reality is; we have no way of knowing how we will exit this world.  For some of us, we will lead long

Ian in December 2011 after adopting a plant-based diet.   198 lbs / 153 Cholesterol / 105:75 blood pressure

Ian in December 2011 after adopting a plant-based diet. 198 lbs / 153 Cholesterol / 105:75 blood pressure

full lives and gently succumb in our sleep at a ripe old age.  For others it will be a tragic exit, leaving loved ones to question how this could have happened.

However, the majority of us will face the challenge of fighting for our years and it comes down to a simple question.  Do you want to spend your last years in a gradual state of decline; mentally and physically?  Or do you want to challenge the odds and finish up on your feet? Your physical body has very simple needs.  It is a fact of biology.  Run your body on the core ingredients it needs, run it clean.  Don’t let your mind dictate what the body wants.  A foundation built on this simple approach will drastically move the odds of avoiding disease in your favor.

I had no plan and it ended in a hospital.  I do not want to go back to that hospital.  I share my experiences for the simple reason; I wish someone had told me sooner.  It took a life-threatening situation to become the person I am today and I like this new and improved Ian.

Ian Welch: In 2011, at the age of 40, Ian underwent quadruple bypass surgery. Ian completely transformed his life, adopting a plant-based approach to wellness. Ian is currently writing his book; “Heart Disease Saved My Life: Harness the Power of a Chronic Disease Diagnosis.” His goal is to provide others with a plan of action when faced with difficult circumstances. Ian lives in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida with his wife. He is an avid long distance runner & Bikram Yoga practitioner.  He maintains a blog at www.WholeFed.org

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Marc’s Story:

Marc's success after only 3 months!

Marc’s success after only 3 months!

The Cardiologist came into the waiting room exhausted with his head buried in a cup of coffee. I could tell his performance in the operating room was laborious. He explained to me and my family that my Dad had a couple of close calls during the 5-hour quadruple bypass surgery, but that he was in a cardiac intensive care room with all indicators pointing to a successful recovery. Then the surgeon did something peculiar: he pointed to me and said “I know just by looking at you that I will see you on the operating table before you are 40”.

I was 31 when my Dad, a retired physician, had bypass surgery. He had just turned 60 years old. While heart disease runs in our family, the conditions that brought us to the hospital for my Dad’s mega-heart alteration seemed too severe and too early to be written off as mere genetics. And the Cardiologist’s caution to me was offensive, which was just what I needed. At that point I was the father of a 7 month-old son, an active member of my community, the founding director of a successful leadership development organization for diverse and disengaged young adults in Indianapolis and I was very sick. I had so much to lose, but my health was taking it all away. Being young, morbidly obese, pre-diabetic and pre-hypertensive were all working against me: I was finally scared.

Over the next few years I set out to learn more about myself and about health. I read books and journals, had conversations with experts in health and behavior modification, searched my soul and experimented with different approaches to living. Having been overweight most of my life, I was very familiar with diet fads and ‘dieting’. I knew I didn’t want another top secret for losing weight or the next “10 steps for slimming my waistline”. I was looking for a new way of living. With the work of Dr. Dean Ornish, the Esselstyns, the China Study and others dancing around in my head, I went to bed one evening in February 2011 with grave physical and emotional pain caused by my food and lifestyle and I promised myself that the next day I would try a vegan diet. I stuck with it. Within days I felt better. I had more energy and less pain. I started losing weight and it felt good.

After a month or two of eating a vegan diet, I found ways around its healthy attributes. Oreo cookies, French fries, mad amounts of bread all became staples of my vegan menu. My weight crept up to a new high for me, 305 pounds, and my blood pressure and triglycerides were through the roof…again! I learned the hard way about the giant difference between a vegan diet and a plant-based diet. In December 2012, I changed everything. I started eating a plant-based diet consisting of mostly vegetables, legumes, fruits and very little refined and processed carbohydrates. I started routinely going to a gym, the Chase Legacy Center in Indianapolis, which is a nonprofit organization that is run by encouraging and supportive members of my community – everyone should have a fitness community like this. I started the transformation.

With only three months of sticking to a plant-based diet and regular exercise, I have lost over 50 pounds, regularly have a normal blood pressure and have gone from a size 50 waist to a size 38 waist. The best part: I am not dieting! Rather, I have introduced new foods, recipes and flavors to my diet. Diet is no longer a verb, it is a noun – a thing. By eating a plant-based diet, I am not restricting myself but I am focusing on the assets that foods bring to me. I build my culinary life around those assets. This, coupled with a supportive community at my gym, family and neighborhood, has launched a life-long chapter of wellness and whole living. While the Cardiologist did save my Dad’s life through invasive and extreme surgery, I know now that he was wrong: I will not be on his operating table by the time I am 40 or anytime soon, for that matter.

5 Responses to “Personal Stories & Testimonials”

  1. […] in Los Angeles, The Plant Rx explains the plant-based diet, offers evidence and testimonials to help novice vegans to the seasoned veteran. Packed full of information, you can read about how a […]

  2. nikkiportnoff said

    Anastasia,

    Just wanted to say that YOU ARE AWESOME! That is such an inspiring story with a sense of humor (hard to come by). Thanks for sharing! There was so much more to my story but I was limited on space, lol.

    • Anastasia "The Veganbetic" Brown said

      Nikki, thank you so much—and you’re most welcome! I’d absolutely love to hear more of your own story. Each person’s path is a true treasure, you know? Lotsa love to you! 😀

  3. […] continued to click through the site. I found a testimonial from Steve Pavlina. You can read that here. What struck me was just how relatable his story was. He made points about gaining a great amount of […]

  4. […] Personal Stories & Testimonials […]

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