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    • 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!


    • 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.

    • So, I've been eating a WFPB diet for 3 months now (I cut out the fish as well). I found a vegan doc a couple of months ago, and he had me wait until I was on plan for three months before I had blood work done. All my numbers were high (scary high) before I started eating this way, but my recent results all came back within the normal ranges. I've lost 30lbs so far (yay), and I walk anywhere from 4 to 7 miles for excersise 6 days a week. It's such a relief to not worry about my BP and cholesterol anymore. More importantly, it's really amazing not to feel like shit all the time too!
      My husband is on board too and has lost 25 lbs and has no more joint pain. I also have 2 amazing coworkers who have joined me in eating WFPB; I'm extremely lucky to have such great support.
      I don't 'cheat' because I don't feel deprived of anything, and I don't ever want to go back to feeling as bad as I did before. It's one of the best decisions of my life.

    • Congratulations, Kat!!! ❤️❤️❤️ In a world of marketing, disinformation and high emotions, the one thing that gives me hope is the facts are so clearly on the side of whole foods, plant-based diets.

      From everyday people like you and I, and their family physicians, the stories are almost always the same but are so shocking they sound made up: blood pressure normalizes in a week, cholesterol in two, and Type II diabetes and your meds are gone in a month. The risk of heart attack drops to near zero. By 3 months in, like you, the results are shocking and more powerful than any drug combo.

      Where it goes wrong in the cases I'm familiar with is when the refined foods remain in the diet — sugar, oils, white flour. Those can be hard for people to cut out, I understand. I think your decision to not cheat is wise because your taste buds adapt in time and, like smoking, it's easy to regress because Oreos and Doritos are seriously delicious.

      After a few years of starting, 13 years ago, I despaired because so many people were so emotional about it. Vegans are superior, they judge. You don't enjoy life. I've heard of people who had health problems when they went vegan. It's extreme.

      But now with the flood of facts coming out and millions of experiences like yours, I have great hope again. Just take your B12. We live in such a sterile world now, we don't get the bacteria from feces contamination that we always did that produce B12.

    • Thanks, Baldy. That was a great article! It's nice to see the general public getting educated on what's actually good for them.
      We also don't use sugar, oil or salt. It was very challenging at first, but I'm enjoying learning new techniques that are healthy and taste great. Not every dish I make is a hit, but most are edible 😁 I made a plant based cheese yesterday that i'm very giddy about!
      I try to be a good ambassador of this way of eating. I answer questions when asked, but I try hard to not give unsolicited advice or comments on what people are eating. I don't want to be 'that person'😁.

    • @XtreemLee Wow. What an amazing reflection on your life! Thanks for sharing. Sorry I am so late to the conversation.

      I just read a fascinating article in The New Yorker about the extreme challenges of getting off psychiatric meds and how it messes with emotions (and lots of other things). Reading the account of your experience makes me want to post a link here.

    • So, I resurrected this thread because I’m curious about the “rules” of plant-based whole foods. How is PBWF different than “vegetarian,” “vegan,” etc.?

      BTW, I am *awful* at food prep and cooking. Seems the longer I spend preparing food, the less I enjoy eating it when it’s finally ready. After reading so many PBWF comments here on Cake, I decided to try a box from HungryRoot this week. (I have happily lived on boxed-ingredient meals for many months for many reasons.) The food came today, and — *no recipes!?!* The instructions say to mix-and-match to your own taste! Hmmm... This is different...!

      I guess I better find copies of Forks over Knives and Thug...

    • Would you mind sharing what the food items were that you received? There was a cooking show on Minnesota Public Radio where people would call in with a few ingredients they had on hand and the host would have to come up with an amazing dish on the fly. I’m aware of your aversion to mise en place (food prep) and I’d be up for the challenge of coming up with a meal that provides an outsized return on your time. Tonight I made barbecue chicken; grilled string beans, baby red peppers 🌶 and yellow squash; and curried roasted sweet potatoes.

    • Impressive!

      (Can’t wait to see how much poundage you’ve lost on Monday. Heh. 😈)

      Left to right, top to bottom:

      Garlicky herb chickpea duo

      Black bean brownie batter (cooked some up tonight—pretty yummy)

      Plantain linguini

      Kale pesto

      Thai peanut sauce

      Super blend salad - brussel sprouts, cabbage, kohlrabi, broccoli, carrots, kale (I think this will be tastier as a sauté w sauce...)

      Braised lemongrass tofu nuggets

      Shaved brussel sprouts

      Cauliflower rice

      Hot smoked roasted salmon

    • The most important thing is to have good product: wilted tomatoes are best tossed in the trash.  Looking at your list and the photo, it looks like you have some great ingredients.

      I usually try to start my meal plan with one ingredient in mind and then I add other stuff that will work with it.  Usually I start with a protein in mind, but an interesting vegetable works as well. You mentioned the super food salad and a sautée so let’s start with that and play around with it.  

      I’m thinking sautéeing the mix with fresh sliced garlic and a dried herb might work well.  I’m feeling rustic so I’m thinking rosemary or thyme. If we pre-cook some quartered red potatoes in the microwave for five minutes, we can add them to the sauté to avoid another pot or roasting pan to clean.  I like to sauté with extra light olive oil since its flavorless and has a high burn temperature, but canola oil is another good option. Typically, I will cook chopped up vegetables on medium, add a couple tablespoons of water (4 tablespoons equals a ¼ cup) and then cover for twenty five minutes.   Or you can cook on medium high, but you need to keep more of an eye on it and stir more frequently, say every five minutes until the Brussel Sprouts have some browning on them.

      A very cool piece of cooking equipment I own is a fairly large circular grill pan [1],  It adds grill marks and excess liquid stays below the veg, creating a grill/steam effect.

      So we have red potatoes and sautéed vegetables in a simple sauce of garlic, olive oil and rosemary.  Now we just need a protein. I looked up your Hot Smoked Roasted Salmon on their website and it is fully cooked [2].  When the vegetables and potatoes are done, turn it down to medium low, remove the cover and add another two tablespoons of water if it isn’t steaming when you remove the lid—this rarely happens.  Place the salmon on top of the mixture (don’t let it touch the pan), cover again and give it five minutes to warm up.


      Next, let’s use the Thai Peanut Sauce.  I would add it to the cauliflower rice and serve it with the lemongrass tofu: their website has great cooking instructions so I won’t recreate them [3].  We need an Asian veg mix to accompany it. Sautee a can of baby corn, a can of mushrooms, a half a bag of shredded carrots, and a sprinkle of ground ginger: cooking in Peanut oil is a plus.


      Next, the shaved Brussel Sprouts.  I would sauté with fresh sliced garlic.  Make the plantain linguine and toss with the Kale Pesto.  


      Finally, the chickpea salad.  It’s ready to eat and has both your protein and vegetables.  I would add some avocado to it. If you ate it without any carbs, you would have a nice vegan meal.

      [1] My grill pan is a 12-inch Calphalon non-stick.

      [2] Food description of the salmon

      [3] Cooking instructions for Cauliflower rice

    • I am awestruck, @apm.

      Will take your suggestions to heart.

      Thank you for all the creativity and instruction. 🙏🏼

      (I am getting used to a new induction cooktop—it is taking me awhile to adjust to the differences...)

    • Next, let’s use the Thai Peanut Sauce.  I would add it to the cauliflower rice and serve it with the lemongrass tofu: their website has great cooking instructions so I won’t recreate them [3].  We need an Asian veg mix to accompany it. Sautee a can of baby corn, a can of mushrooms, a half a bag of shredded carrots, and a sprinkle of ground ginger: cooking in Peanut oil is a plus.

      Just fixed this for lunch. Two thumbs up! Thanks @apm!

    • Wow, what an article from The New Yorker that was! I didn't have time for an article that long, but I read it anyway. I even renewed my lapsing subscription after.

      I have very deep confidence in evidence that shows our most common health conditions — heart disease, type II diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity — are simply about diet. The only diet that has shown complete remission and prevention of heart disease and type II diabetes is a whole foods, plant-based diet. I know...those sound like over-the-top claims but I think the data shows them to be true beyond a reasonable doubt.

      However, the New Yorker article was about depression and psychiatric drugs. The studies I've seen seem to indicate that a whole plant foods diet combined with exercise is as effective as Prozac for depression. It makes intuitive sense that physical health would influence mental health.

      One sentence that caught my attention in the New Yorker article:

      Although leading medical journals asserted that barbiturate addiction was rare, within a few years it was evident that people withdrawing from barbiturates could become more anxious than they were before they began taking the drugs.

      I wonder how much that may be true with some other medications people are on for high blood pressure, cholesterol, high blood sugar, etc. 🤔

    • How is PBWF different than “vegetarian,” “vegan,” etc.?

      First, I admire you for taking the plunge and trying it! It was very foreign to me when I started. I had my doubts about cooking (I don't like to spend a lot of time in the kitchen) and I had spent my life eating comfort foods like macaroni & cheese. They were easy to prepare and my children loved them.

      To answer your question, vegan only means it doesn't come from an animal. It doesn't mean it's healthy. Cotton candy is vegan. Vegetarian usually means no meat or fish but could include dairy and eggs.

      Plant-based whole foods (PBWF) means part of the plant hasn't been removed (usually the fiber) and no partial plant material has been added (usually sugar). It makes it very simple. Virtually all plant-based whole foods are very healthy.

      Dr. Greger is my favorite doctor and he does a good job of explaining it all quickly:

    • I have wondered the same thing, @Chris. I stood by and supported my eldest son when he decided to get off Adderall after taking it for more than fifteen years (prescribed for ADD). The withdrawal was hellish; it took nearly *a year.* He literally holed up in a small room and could barely get out of bed for months. It was awful. He thinks of it as “the lost year.”

      I felt terrible because as his parent, I had followed the advice of doctors who explained ADD was just like having bad eyesight—you give the kid Adderall so he can function, just like you would get your kid a pair of prescription glasses if he was near-or far-sighted. Oy. “It’s just a chemical imbalance.” Grrr.

    • So adding sauces (sour cream, ranch dressing, butter, etc.) is OK—just make sure the focus is on the healthy (whole) vegetables/fruits? Or is it a bad idea to add those flavors/sauces?

    • Unfortunately, the arithmetic is not good. We like to think a Ceasar salad, for example, is healthy because lettuce. If you actually calculate all the calories from the toppings, however, the lettuce ends up being like 50 calories out of 470. The rest is refined fat with sugar and salt and flavoring. Yummy but hard on health.

      Unfortunately, we're wired for potency and refined foods give us potency much higher than nature gives by combining sugar, fat and salt. Dressings are notorious for it.

      I buy the dressings from Forks Over Knives and take a bottle when we go out to dinner at Sweet Tomatoes:

    • Ugh, I'm so sorry. I'm sure I would have been diagnosed with ADD as a kid and probably now too, but I think of it as my personality. I hyperfocus on things that interest me and can't focus on what bores me. We had two sons like that and they run SmugMug and Flickr today.

    • So adding sauces (sour cream, ranch dressing, butter, etc.) is OK—just make sure the focus is on the healthy (whole) vegetables/fruits? Or is it a bad idea to add those flavors/sauces?

      Some people will tell you that you can replace sour cream with non-fat yogurt but that’s just bullshit, IMHO. If I’m having a baked potato it’s going to have sour cream AND butter on it. Since doing that on a frequent basis would kill me, I instead roast sweet potatoes/red potatoes/baby creamer potatoes in olive oil, garlic and dried herbs. I don’t miss the sour cream or butter because it would be superfluous to those dishes.

      I am not a vegetarian but I do eat at least a couple vegetarian meals a week. I don’t eat ground beef, so to make spaghetti with “fake” meatballs is enjoyable comfort food, especially if you add some red wine to the tomato sauce and serve it all with a side of Texas Toast or garlic bread. Morningstar is a consistently good vegetarian brand—we buy their fake bacon to make BLTs—but there’s plenty of other alternatives to try.

      I am also an ex-ranch-o-holic. Think ranch dressing drenching a small bowl of greens. Now, I eat a large bowl of salad (peppery Arugula, baby spinach, green onion, tomatoes, fresh mushrooms, or some variation), a shake or two of Parmesan cheese from the “green can” and a splash of Italian Dressing (the non-creamy version). The flavor is amazing and adding ranch would kill it.

      The above is probably not the gold standard of healthy eating, but I like eating strategies that I can stick with over the “eliminate everything tasty because it will kill you” approach.