On December 3, 2011, Marc and I watched the documentary Forks over Knives and it changed our lives. My dad had given us the dvd months before, but I felt reluctant to watch it because I knew it would have a huge impact on me and I did not feel quite ready to change. Finally, we took the plunge and from that point on we abruptly adopted a plant based diet. We gave up animal products cold turkey (tee hee), and it improved our lives more than we ever expected.
When I met my husband in 1989 we were both seniors at The University of Michigan. I was a petite, studious vegetarian and he was a muscle bound, assertive football player who ate meat at practically every meal- and lots of it. Here is the first picture ever taken of us together at our favorite bar Rick’s.
Three years later we were married and started a family.
Somewhere along the way I gradually began to eat meat again. I hate to write this, but the reason I started to eat meat again was that it was so convenient. Along the way, I made reasonably healthy choices about food. Marc, unfortunately, did not, and as time went on his body paid the price. In 2005 he started taking Metformin for diabetes and Simvastatin for high cholesterol. In 2011 he had to start injecting himself with insulin twice a day, which he despised. His mom passed away from complications related to diabetes and his brother had recently undergone a kidney and pancreas transplant as well as an amputation because of it. Marc was determined to reverse his diabetes. Forks over Knives gave us hope, so we followed its recommendations immediately, and it worked. Marc is no longer diabetic. He no longer has high cholesterol. He takes no medications and his glucose levels are normal.
I, too, have experienced positive changes since adopting a plant-based diet. I quickly lost ten pounds without feeling hungry. I was thrilled to fit into my skinny jeans that were folded up and shoved in the back of my closet! I also found relief from monthly, debilitating headaches. I used to experience headaches that affected my cognitive abilities and prevented me from driving. One day I was in so much pain my mind was foggy, and when I went to our cupboard to get medicine I mistakenly took my dog’s pill for his under-active thyroid! I felt foolish calling the veterinarian to find out how it would affect me. I also called a poison control center, and, thankfully, I did not experience any serious side affects from taking the wrong meds. Since starting my plant-based diet I have not had any more severe headaches. The monthly routine of having a day or two in which I had to put my life on hold came to an end.
Another noticeable change involves my skin. I have more color in my complexion. My skin is more resilient as well. From my teenage years through my early forties, every winter my hands would chap and even crack due to the cold Michigan temperatures. This past winter was the harshest I can remember, and my hands did not even feel dry. Also, for the first time in my life strangers have complimented me on my complexion. A waitress at a Mexican restaurant asked me if I was vegan when I ordered a bean burrito with no cheese. When I told her that I was, she said that she noticed I glowed even before I ordered. This blew me away because when I look in the mirror I see plenty of imperfections, and I truly appreciated the compliment. Also, I used to have a mole on my chest that showed up in my thirties. In November of 2012, my doctor told me to have it removed and tested for skin cancer. Before I made an appointment to have a biopsy, it abruptly disappeared near the end of November 2012. The mole is completely gone and has not come back. For over fifteen years, while eating animal products, the mole grew and changed color and shape. Within a year of being vegan, it disappeared. I searched high and low to find pictures to document this change, but that proved difficult because I have always felt self-conscious about the mole and tried to cover it. Here is a picture in which I am wearing a bathing suit, so you can see it:
Here is a picture showing that the mole is gone (check out the little photo bomber in the corner):
I began asking others and researching this subject to discover if disappearing moles is a factor in adopting a vegan diet. I found that people who eat a raw food diet have experienced suspicious moles vanishing. I guess that makes sense, because while I do not eat an exclusively raw food diet, I do eat a lot of raw foods daily.
Another improvement I’ve noticed since becoming vegan is that my hair is thicker. I did not tell my hair dresser about how I adopted a plant based diet because I wanted to see if she noticed any difference in my hair with an unbiased attitude. After I had eaten a plant based diet for about a year, she commented, “I swear your hair gets thicker and thicker every time you come in.” Now if only the grey would stop growing in!
By far the best improvement I have experienced in adopting a plant based diet is a sense of control over my own destiny. I feel that I am greatly cutting my chances of developing heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. In terms of my husband’s health, I also feel empowered. Before he (as he likes to say) kicked diabetes in the balls, I braced myself for diabetic health issues such as transplants, heart disease, amputations, blindness, and kidney failure. When we realized that he had such control over his diabetes, we were elated. We became thrilled about the years to come. The main reason we started Chickpea and Bean is to share this knowledge–to share our story, ideas, experiences, and recipes. We want to give other people the choice and idea to try a plant based diet in case it could help them and their families too. In researching the benefits of this type of diet, I have discovered that it has helped people conquer high blood pressure, cancer, heart disease, psoriasis, ms, arthritis, and other health problems. If you would like to learn more, click on the Links We Like tab above that offers links to reputable sites discussing the benefits of a plant based diet.
Marc and I made this life change in order to improve our health, but other aspects of our lives have changed for the better as well. I feel more at peace knowing I take a stand every day to improve the environment and prevent cruelty to animals. When you live in a positive manner and make good decisions, the rewards grow and grow. I do not judge people who eat meat and dairy. In fact, some of the individuals I love and respect the most do so. I just want to spread the word about the benefits of a plant based diet and offer help if people want to give it a try. It is a simple, brilliant solution to serious problems.
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