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    • I'll start.

      THE SWITCH

      My dad's dad died of a heart attack and my dad had high cholesterol despite being an ironman triathlete and eating a "heart healthy" diet. He couldn't tolerate statins, so he started looking into alternatives and found the potential for diet modification to prevent heart disease compelling.
      I read the research and thought it was surprisingly strong and consistent despite the confusion that seemed to surround what a "healthy" diet was among my college professors of nutrition. I also pondered the teachings of my church which have been recommending limiting meat (to times of winter or famine) and eating "every herb in the season thereof, and every fruit in the season thereof" since 1833.

      My husband and I took the plunge and committed to a plant-based diet for 6 weeks. This was back in 2006.

      THE LONG HAUL

      We've stuck with this way of eating (~90% plant-based) for over a decade now, through pregnancies, different jobs, marathons, cross-country moves, and more. Why? My top two reasons are probably:

      - I feel better. I have more energy throughout the day and experience drastically less post-meal sluggishness.

      - I feel empowered. So many people are confronting cancer, heart-disease, obesity, diabetes; I'm convinced that eating more plants and fewer animal products is something I can do to avoid some of these problems.

      An unexpected bonus is how much more I enjoy food now! Changing my diet forced me to pay attention to what I was eating and seek out the yummiest plant-based food I could find. My kids have come along for the ride, which I feel good about considering the toxic food culture they're surrounded by.

    • 12 years ago when I experimented with a plant-based diet free of refined foods like donuts, I was sad. It meant giving up my favorite foods like prime rib.

      But I had lost two friends to heart attacks when they were 38 and another to stroke at 43, leaving behind their young children and spouses. Heart disease runs deep in my family, at least to those who have immigrated to the U.S. where I live, and a whole-foods, plant-based diet is the only dietary protocol shown to reverse heart disease. So I tried the big sacrifice and hoped I had the self-discipline.

      The first big surprise was that it only took a few months for my taste buds to change. Now I don't even like the thought of prime rib, can't imagine why I ever did like it. That seems unbelievable because I swore I would always miss it.

      The second big surprise is it only takes 2 weeks for cholesterol to drop like it does on statins and for blood pressure to normalize without meds, and 30 days to reverse Type II diabetes. WHAT?! How did I not know this?

      Now that it's trendy in places like San Francisco, New York, and Europe—especially among millennials—it's much easier to find food I love more than anything that I thought I loved before. More celebs and star athletes are doing it and looking amazing, so the label of extremist is fading.

      Now more teams from the NFL to pro cycling have moved away from refined foods and have gone highly plant-based if not 100%.

    • Brian Strong

      Why did YOU switch to a plant-based diet

      Intense pain, hospital visits, IV drip of pain meds, and a mis-diagnosis.

      I've always struggled with stomach pains, but about 10 years ago they started to become more frequent and more intense. At first, I'd have maybe 1 or 2 bad episodes per year. It would be painful but tolerable and after a night of rest it would be gone the next morning. Then I started to get them 4 or 5 times a year, but it would super painful. It would feel like a knife was constantly stabbing me in the gut. It was so bad that I went to the urgent care at least twice; one visit ended with me getting a shot of Fentanyl to ease the pain and a referral to see a gastrointestinal specialist. It's not over. One time the pain was so intense that I asked my wife to drive me to the ER in the middle of the night. The doctor asked me what my pain level was from a scale of "1 to 10". I asked what a "10" meant and he responded with "the worst pain you've ever felt." My immediate response was "this is a 10." Minutes later I was hooked up to an IV getting some sort of synthetic morphine. I'm still in pain. An hour went by. I'm still in pain. At some point they do an ultra-sound on my stomach and intestines. Another hour of pain goes by and the doctor switches my IV to actual morphine. I'm still in pain and I hated the feeling it gave me. After some amount of time that I cannot remember, the doctor switches my IV to essentially Ibuprofen. The pain goes away within 30 minutes! The doctor is happy to see that I'm feeling better and says that according to the ultra-sound I probably need to get my gallbladder removed. 😳This was the catalyst for me. I couldn't do this anymore and I didn't want an organ removed from my body.

      Back to the referral to the gastrointestinal specialist: I did end up going after one of those urgent care visits. After a basic blood lab, the only advice he could give me without doing more extensive testing was to start a food journal and consider a vegetarian diet. Of course I didn't do either of those, and you now know where that led me. 🤒

      It was time to buckle up and just start eating plant-based. It's been 5 years and guess what?

      what keeps you eating this way

      No pain. No hospital visits. All my organs. More energy. No bloated stomach feelings. No struggle with weight fluctuations. No muscle loss (yup I get plenty of protein).

    • After some amount of time that I cannot remember, the doctor switches my IV to essentially Ibuprofen. The pain goes away within 30 minutes!

      Side note: My theory for this was that my eating habits would periodically put my microbiome into significant stress, which would cause a terrible episode of intestinal inflammation after eating. The super IV Ibuprofen worked simply due to its anti-inflammatory nature.

    • I am thoroughly intrigued now. And puzzled about how a novice would get started, most important where would there be any non commercially biased information & advice on that. And what do those who travel do to find such food all the time, assuming one does not simply take a break and eats McDonalds during trips.

    • Chris MacAskill

      Side note: My theory for this was that my eating habits would periodically put my microbiome into significant stress, which would cause a terrible episode of intestinal inflammation after eating.

      I don't know what your inflammation was from, but Crohn's disease wouldn't surprise me. It's a hard diagnosis to make. I know two young, otherwise healthy 20-somethings who had Crohn's and the pain you describe, and both of them had to have much of their colons removed.

      But encouraging research results are rolling in like this short summary from the National Institute of Health:

      My translation to English:

      1. "Westernized diets tend to cause dysbiosis in gut microflora" ==> sounds like they share the same theory as you.

      2. In Japan these researchers control Crohn's with a vegetarian diet where they allow fish once a week and meat once every two weeks. The recurrence rate of their patients is 0% the first year and 8% the second. No explanation why some patients have flare-ups the second year but I wonder if they get more lax with their diets.

      3. I haven't heard of any other treatment protocol with this level of effectiveness.

    • Exciting, Dracula! My favorite site for recipes and how to do it is Forks Over Knives:

      My personal physician at Sutter Health went plant-based perhaps 6 years ago. I'd like to take some credit for inspiring him but who knows. He looks transformed from the man I knew before.

      Anyway, he teaches plant-based nutrition at the clinic as part of their prevention series here in Mountain View, CA, and it seems to be very popular. We have a huge clinic and I see his smiling face in flyers for the class as he cooks up meals in his apron. Not used to that. 😁

    • I've always known my diet sucked bad, even though I managed to eat a vegetable or two a day. I was always run down, retained water, and generally felt crappy. I watched FOK one day on a whim about 4 weeks ago and it's changed my life. What an eye-opener! I now eat whole food plant based almost exclusively - I have a piece of fish once a week. I feel so much better, and never get the 'ugh, I can't believe I ate all that' feeling anymore even though I always eat until I'm full. I sure don't miss feeling my heart pounding after a salt-heavy meal. The most challenging part is knowing what/how to cook. I have several new cook books, my favorite is from Thug Kitchen (mostly because I like to swear :) ), and I've learned a lot, but there's so much more out there. I just started reading The China Study, I think this will help solidify my decision to change.

    • I can't tell you how happy this makes me, Kat. It's funny about The China Study book, some people LOVE it because of the charts, data & science but for some people their eyes glaze. It's amazing that it was above #200 on Amazon for more than a decade, still sells well, despite having an unknown publisher and an author that didn't go on book signing tours. And it's pretty scientific.

      But that's the thing, there are so many impressive studies across fields of nutrition, health, athletic performance, longevity, weight loss, and branches of medicine—cardiology, cancer, Crohn's disease, immune response, allergies—and they all come to the same conclusion about the very same diet. That just isn't true for keto, Atkins, paleo and all the others.

      It's hard to go wrong with the recipes from Forks Over Knives. I had never heard of Thug Kitchen but they're hilarious and my mouth is now watering reading their recipes.

    • Thug Kitchen has a permanent spot in my kitchen! Best cooking book ever.

      One of my favorite recipes is the broccoli and chickpea burritos. So good!

    • So, it's been about 6 weeks since I started eating a plant based diet and I'm amazed at how I feel. I thought I would feel better, but I didn't know I would feel THIS good. I get tired, but not exhausted. I get a little down, but my mood has been so much happier - this is BIG! being sad/angry has been a way of life for 12 years now. I'm losing weight (yay!), my heart rate is around 60 bpm's, and my blood pressure is much lower (no more weird head rushes when I get up). I don't feel tempted by all the foods I should avoid, but cooking is still something I'm working on. Side note... rice paper wraps don't replace wonton wrappers in the air fryer - huge fail 😂
      My husband is completely compliant with me so I think this will stick. I just need to decide if I give the meat in our freezer away, or cook it for my pups 😊

    • About five years ago I wanted to lose weight again, like many times before. The photo attached shows me at my fattest. I weighed myself around this time and the scale said 311 pounds, that was a serious low point in my life. I wouldn't step on a scale for another year after that, I know I gained more but couldn't face it. The photo shows me smiling but I was dying, emotionally, physically and mentally.

      Previous to this I went on a tour with two of my brothers and thier wives. My wife and I were riding f650's (bmw badged aprilias), and I had such a seriuos case of "extreme irritability" that I ended up riding away from my brothers without any comment or goodbye. My wife followed me and after that we ended up talking about my behavior. I simply couldn't control myself.

      After the tour incident I ended up seeing a psychiatrist. He diagnosed me bi-polar 2 / depressive. I had all the syptoms, extreme irritability, suicidal ideation, deep dives into a depressive pit where I had zero hope. So I went on a seven year path of emotional and physical destruction. Side effects of the four ssri's I was on included weight gain, sexual side effects that made sex rather difficult if not impossible. I also got on a statin and a testosterone patch, all lifetime scripts I felt like i had zero control.

      I had an opportunity to move with my company to Idaho and jumped at it. I also knew my marraige of 17 years was over, one of the side effects was similar to what Suzy Favor Hamilton experienced, and my interest in having a wife wasn't there. Shortly after moving out she filed for divorced and I gave her the house and paid off her car leaving her in the best position possible but for her keeping the house wasnt an option. She sold and moved from Wisconsin to Ohio and took up with her sister.

      So I was single and playing the field but my death was continuing. So back to the first paragraph and wanting to lose weight. I ended up watching "Sick, Fat and Nearly Dead" and it struck a chord with me. I bought a juicer and started a sixty day juice fast, I lost 70 pounds. I went back to the standard american diet (w/extra cheesecake) and gained it all back in six months, well not all I think I hit 294 pounds.

      That experience told me I could not only exist on a vegitable and fruit diet, but thrive. There was a thread on advrider called "Bill Clinton says stop eating meat, dairy for the good of the country" and it became known as "the vegan thread". I first argued and insisted that the meat and dairy I was raising was different because it wasn't factory farmed. During my struggles I was working "B" shift (6pm to 6am-three or four days a week), I had about an hours worth of work and spent the other 11 doing research. I had been turned onto John Bergman videos which are full of theory and conjecture with some facts thrown in to make it seem reasonable. But all that was failing me, then I watched the one hour twenty minute presentation that Dr. Michael Greger does. After that I knew what I had to do.

      I was in the quality field and decided to "eliminate the variables", those variables were anything I suspected wasn't food. Meat, dairy, eggs and at first beans and grains. I had combined two diets and was buying into the paleo bs about beans. So I cleaned out the kitchen, all plastic, teflon, non-organics and processed food boxed up and given away. I ate veggies (all kinds) fruits (all kinds) and seasonings. I was cooking all that in vegan approved coconut oil and lots of it. I did lose weight alot and fast. I was dropping two to five pounds a week and blew past previuos "plateaus" till I weighed 185. I was afraid I wouldnt be able to stop the weight loss and wasn't willing to change my diet. In addition to the diet change I decided that taking all these scripts wasnt sustainable (even though I had squirrelled away over a years supply of everything I was taking).

      The weight loss and going off the antidepressants was unfucking real. No one should ever quit those things cold turkey, no one should ever try to quit those things without a doctors help. No one should do that without family and friends to fall back on. Due to my experience my family had distanced themselves. Two of my four brothers are involved in a very conservative xtian religion that believes in "shunning", my oldest brother was extremely abusive to me as we grew up, and my brother just older than me was going through his own divorce and the loss of his home due to the housing failure. The one friend I had out here wasn't more than a booty call and no discussions could go that deep. That year was a living hell, I could link posts I made on advrider that showed my insanity but I still hold some shame for how angry and hate filled I was at the time.

      So as I got heathier, got beans and grains back into my diet. Reunited with my ex-wife and remarried her, and moved her out to idaho with me. During all that I was experiencing the withdrawal from the ssri's which created panic attacks and anziety that hit 11 on the one to ten scale. I had 22 years of being clean and sober, but decided to see if pot would help, it did. It worked so well I was smoking an ounce a month. As I was woeing my wife back I was afraid to tell her about it, as I've always told her if I ever use again leave me as fast as you can. I lied about the amount I was using, once she came out here she was disapointed in how about every two hours I smoked a bowl. I basically kept myself high all day, first thing in the am till bedtime.

      Then I lost my job... and I had to quit to get hired elsewhere, fuck me... The only thing I had (pot), I had to walk away from, and with some struggles I did. I finally had some semblence of sanity back, I jumped a couple jobs and finally settled into one. During all that I got out of an apartment and lucked out and bought a rural home with a couple acres. That made it possible to bring my wife (and my three gsd's i left her with) out here.

      So jump to today, no more scripts, nada nothing, an occasional pain killer but that happens maybe once or twice a year. I had taken about $12,000 worth of saved scripts put them in a burn pile and roasted the shit. I have slips (fucking donuts) but they are getting rarer and rarer as I have lost the taste for them. Like what Chris said about prime rib, my wife and i went to fish fry about a month ago. Being from wisconsin you have a fish fry every friday night because everywhere they have them and they are wonderful. It was an all you can eat deal and I didn't finish the first serving and felt disgusted. About a year ago we added the NO kicker to the WFPB diet, so eating that deep fried shit wasn't ticking the boxes it used to tick. I loved prime rib, I loved fried chicken, I loved ribs, now I love fruits and vegitables. Now when eating an apple I can taste the difference between the top of the apple and the bottom. When eating beets, I can taste the difference in individual beets.

      During all of this something else happened. I'm not sure if its part of the PTSD I have from being an alcohic or the abuse I suffered as a child, or the hell I went through getting off the ssri's or reintroducing all the toxins stored in the fat I burned, but my empathy went from zero to eleven. I noiticed it during the weight loss, I had to keep paper towels by my couch while I watched television, because my eyes would water. Again being in quality I started trying to understand why my eyes would water at times. I noticed during emotional scenes or commercials my eyes would water. As time went by the watering turned into crying as empathy was coming back and I was feeling emotions again. I don't know ed zachary how ssri's work (either does science), but they seem to change how I processed emotions. Getting off them brought emotions back and back hard or amybe soft. Now it doesn't take much to make me cry, show me a dead baby on a beach or the murder of two brothers who are developmentally disabled and I'll cry. I suspect that's more normal than abnormal though, but I spent eight years not feeling much at all...

      In wisconsin I was a republican, and even voted for scott walker three times (two elections and a recall). Now I'm a lefty (hardcore lefty...), maybe its the shit I went through, maybe its being discarded by corporate america, maybe I've finally figured shit out.

      To quote the Jerry "what a long strange trip its been"...

      (why the fuck will my macbook pro not underline a misspelled word unless i click on it? I have to click the word then click off, then it underlines it, so if I don't know i misspelled I get no underline...) Excuse the misspellings please...

    • Oh my God, Lee!!! What a transformation! I interacted with you a lot in that ADV thread and I knew a little about your struggles, but not in this level of detail. Thanks so much for being open.

      The crazy thing is your story is not so unusual in the lives of our family. My son-in-law is a family physician and sees all day every day the struggles Americans have with weight and health, 75% or more of which is resolvable by lifestyle, mainly diet. You now know how powerful it is and how simple it turns out to be (eat whole plants, not refined or animal foods), but most people have been raised to think it's extreme or you can't get enough protein or whatever.

      Some of our best friends in life are people who had heart disease, type II diabetes, Crohn's Disease, IBS—all of them so easily curable through diet. It doesn't even take a ton of research. If you have Type II diabetes, just eat this way for 30 days and see how it goes away and your blood pressure and cholesterol normalize too. It sounds way too good to be true, like so much hype, but as you've seen, it is true.

      My son-in-law reports that only 2% of his patients do it, but the ones who do are transformed and never go back. Congratulations to you for being one of the 2%. Who knew a side effect would be less depression and better mood, self-esteem, and the ability to empathize because now you feel better about your own self.

    • You and I know impossible it is to tell someone who is ill, that wellness is just fruits and vegetables (and legumes) away. I don’t have any bipolar 2 or depressive symptoms anymore, my cholesterol is under 150, and testosterone isn’t an issue, so any doctor will agree absence of symptoms means absence of disease.

      By the way it was you that posted that Gregor link that ultimately tipped the scales. Thank you my friend!

      Lee

    • The funny thing is my personal physician, Douglas Souvengier at Palo Alto Medical Clinic, originally told me when I couldn't get my cholesterol down that "you can't outrun your genes." He had a weight problem but when I went vegan 13 years ago he worried about my health and feared I would get nutritional deficiencies, even though it transformed me.

      About 6 years ago, he went whole plant foods, it transformed him and he lost tons of weight, and now on Wednesday evenings he teaches it at the clinic.

    • Funny, I was just trying to remember where I'd heard about Forks Over Knives when this conversation popped up again. I've been eating a veg + dairy diet (with very occasional tastes of fish) for many years now. I know, I know, that's not vegan. But it works well for me.

      I tried my first recipe from Forks Over Knives last week, split pea and cauliflower soup. It was wonderful. I intend to continue exploring the recipes there.

      I suspect it was @Chris who sent me to the site at some point... but whoever it was, thanks!

    • With every new and scary climate change report, I wonder why there isn't a bigger move to plant-based eating.

      As a vegan for 12 years who used to love cheeseburgers but doesn't miss them at all, I wonder what causes some people to adopt it so enthusiastically and others to be so upset about the idea.

      I think it's easier than it was 12 years ago because of the vegan options at restaurants and all the good recipe books that are published now. People don't look at us like we're strange anymore in most big cities.

    You've been invited!