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Meet our Herbie of the Week, Lynnette (and her family!). I first heard from Lynnette back in 2012, not quite a year after beginning her plant-based journey. Since then, Lynnette has lost weight and enjoyed more energy and clearer skin, plus reduced allergy symptoms and fitness success. Her husband John is off ADHD medication, has reversed digestive issues, lost weight, and has increased athleticism. And their children have been enjoying plant-proud meals and have begun making their own changes.
Left: Lynnette in 2008; Right: Lynnette at the Seaway Run in June 2013. Wow!
HH: What inspired you to adopt a plant-based diet?
We have always eaten a lot of meat-free meals, although they were heavy on the dairy and eggs. In January 2011, I started an exercise and eating program that involved no meat or dairy, lots of vegetables and fruits, but also eggs and oils. I lost weight and felt much better with more energy so after the program, I continued to eat very little meat.
Then that summer (2011), I watched Forks Over Knives our local independent theater. My dad died of a heart attack 10 years ago, in his early 60’s, so FOK made a huge impression on me. After watching FOK, I prepared more whole grain, plant-based meals and experimented with cooking oil-free. I warned my husband and son that when the older kids left for college, I was going to “go for it”.
HH: Did your family watch FOK with you? Are they plant-based?
My husband and son watched FOK with me at home via Netflix. They were amazed at what they learned and both became more committed. My son Braden now understood why he was craving cheese, and this knowledge helped him to fight that.
My husband calls himself the "accidental herbivore." Since I do most of the grocery shopping and cooking, he ends up eating what I cook. Initially, he would declare a “NEED” for meat and get some when we ate out. The next day, he wouldn’t feel so good and would regret it. As he has lost more weight and started to feel healthier, he has become a die-hard advocate for our plant based diet. He still claims to be an accidental herbivore, but is very glad that he is one.
HH: Being a teenager, is it difficult for Braden to be plant-based in high school?
He takes lunch to school, or eats out at places like Subway. His sandwiches are usually PBJ, rather than the salami or turkey & cheese he used to eat. He also enjoys hummus. He eats plant-strong at home, even when cooking for himself. His girlfriend’s dad is a hunter, however, so when he has meat at their house, it is usually wild game.
HH: Has your family any positive benefits?
My husband and son both have ADD and have been taking high dosages of stimulants (Aderall) to control it and allow them to focus. After they shifted to HH/FOK style of eating, their body chemistry changed. The ADD meds started to react with them like a stimulant would with regular people. They were WIRED, jittery, unable to focus, and had a hard time sleeping. Now they are both totally off the stimulants and are taking Straterra, a different style ADD med instead. It is night and day.
My husband's heartburn and bloating is gone (he used to go through antacids like crazy). His hip doesn’t bother him anymore and the arthritis he was starting to get is long gone. John has also lost 40 pounds and is wearing a smaller pant size than when he was in college! Previously, it was a struggle for both of us to stay out of the "obese" BMI range and now we are both in the "healthy" range — not "overweight," but HEALTHY! I am also fitting back into clothes sizes from before I had children (20 years ago!).
As for my son, Braden has always had a lot of allergies, digestive issues and acid reflux in the past. Eliminating dairy and low-fat cooking has really helped him. Braden's digestive issues are much better.
Lynnette's husband John with Belle. Yes, they walked all the stairs!
HH: Did anything help your or your family transition easier?
Finding HH made this change SO much easier. Many of the recipes and spices are things we already enjoy. It has helped me with baking, and with being able to cook easy, affordable meals every day. I can actually have “real” food ready after work, and nice leftovers to take for lunch the next day. We have tried new things and really enjoy them.
HH: Has anyone else in your family adopted a plant-based diet?
My mom in Seattle is changing her diet also. I sent her FOK and The Happy Herbivore Cookbook for her 71st birthday. I recently commented about John’s arthritis to her. She was quiet for a minute and then responded that her arthritis has not bothered her since switching to a plant-based diet. Sometimes it takes a while to realize the things that aren’t bothering us anymore.
Also, thanks to Lindsay's pugs, our dogs are now getting “real” food for one of their meals. They LOVE it. They’ll dance around when they hear me chopping and are happy to go sit with a stalk of asparagus or a big carrot to chew on. Angelique came to us as a stray and has always had a bum hip and a limp. When she does stairs too fast, or runs around the yard too much, she will favor her leg and limp for days afterwards. Since changing their diet, she does not limp nor favor the leg at all. She runs up & down the stairs in excitement and races around the yard happily with np problems later.
HH: Any advice for families out there looking to make a change?
Make changes with dishes that the family already knows and loves. I made their favorite Taco Soup (similar to HH Tortilla soup), but left out the meat. Make pancakes for breakfast, but HH pancakes. Change the enchilada recipe to rice, beans, veggies instead of meat & cheese. Let them look through HH and pick out recipes they like. The beautiful pictures help a lot with this.
Over Christmas break, my daughter flagged several recipes for us to make that I hadn’t tried yet. I sent her back to school with a jar full of HH Black Bean Salsa Soup. She called me several weeks later and wanted the recipe for HH stir fry while at school
Pick “normal” meals such as pasta or Mexican or stir fry when they have friends over for dinner. HH Butter Bean Cookies have been devoured with meat eaters none the wiser.
Lynnette and John in June before Art Museum Gala, with Belle, in the backyard.
UPDATE (July 9):
Hubby and I just had our first year as empty nesters with all the kids off at college. Cooking for just the 2 of us has taken some adjustment, but HH recipes are the perfect size. And I have enjoyed the meal plans off and on also. I love the ease and simplicity. Cooking for just 2 sets of taste buds and preferences has been easier.
Hubby is completely off his ADHD medication and able to focus more on his own. His digestive issues are all gone. We haven't had any Tums or such in the house for a long time (and he used to eat them like candy). He is able to enjoy spicy foods again without upsetting his system. He has lost weight and is feeling so much better. It is hard to find pants with a small enough waist! Hubby teaches skiing and snowboarding in the winter. He has always been a very good skier, but was able to further refine his skiing and boarding this year. He was keeping up with the skiing instructors while on his board.
I've lost weight and gained a lot of energy. At 49, I am back at the same weight I was in high school & college!
My skin has always been good, but now it is so much clearer and I don't break out when I am sick. My allergies have been greatly reduced this summer also. I have the energy to do Pilates, walk, bike and kayak. I've kayaked for 1-2 hours without my arms being tired and am able to bike up hills that would have been a struggle before. I have been enjoying walking and will even jog now and then. Since I was little, I've always got a "stitch" in my side when I would run. That is gone. Amazing!!! I even signed up and did the 5-mile community walk this summer. I picked the 5-mile walk because the 5K run seemed too short. I was the first one back from the walk!
Our daughter is at home for the summer with her internship. She's never been a big meat eater, but has always LOVED cheese and ice cream. She is enjoying our herbivore lifestyle and has noticed her skin has cleared up. We've been making a lot of frozen fruit-almond milk sorbet to replace the ice cream. When we order our cheeseless pizza, she eats OURS and enjoys it while her boyfriend has a cheese pizza!! She told a fellow intern at work who was struggling with acne to try giving up dairy.
My mom is solid in the Herbie lifestyle out in Seattle as well. We have fun comparing recipes and successes. We have both made the transition to enjoying kale and swiss chard as favorites, not "garnish".
Sadly, one of our dogs passed away in December of congestive heart failure. A couple of months later her daughter started with the same problem. We took her to MSU (Michigan State University) Vet center instead of our vet. They were able to reverse her heart condition with medication and nutritional supplements. Daughter is doing well now, but has chicken and numerous supplements in her regime with the veggies, legumes & grains. We are currently weaning her off several medications, but she will need to remain on the supplements. We'll never know for sure about mom if is was kennel cough gone bad, a hereditary issue, or nutrition imbalance. But we've figured it out for daughter and for now she'll continue to get some chicken. [Editorial Note: So incredibly sorry to hear of your loss.]
I've been traveling to Shanghai for work a couple of times a year. It is nothing like what Lindsay does, but they are big trips for me. I am usually there 1-2 weeks. I am pleased to say that I've been able to make good food choices and have a wonderful experience amongst the work. The hotel buffet has fresh fruit also salad for breakfast. And I've been able to enjoy plant strong steamed dumplings on some days. Lunch is with work and we go to different Chinese restaurants. They always order some veggie options for me and there is rice too. Dinner out we go to various "expat" places and I've been able to find good choices thanks to an understanding co-worker.
We have a sailboat that has been out of the water a couple of years, but this year we have it in and at the marina again. So it is our first season being Herbie Sailors. It is wonderful not worrying about meat or dairy spoiling in the ice box. The grill works great for fresh veggies, fruit and burgers. And my new favorite tool for at the dock is my little 6-cup rice cooker. We can have oatmeal for breakfast with fresh fruit with minimal mess. An easy dinner is rice and add a can of beans and fruit or veggies at the end. Or I can put the steamer on top of the rice cooker and use fresh veggies.
Hubby does longer sailboat races across Lake Michigan as crew on other people's boats. The food is all done at once and is part of the package. There isn't an option to "do your own" and cooking & prep & weight is minimal. He is now tucking sandwich spreads like HH Mock Tuna and Eggless Salad and E2 Nottingham Spread into the cooler with the group lunchmeats. This way, he can have a plant-strong meal with no more fuss than everyone else's lunchmeat & cheese sandwiches.