Happy Herbivore Blog

Plant-Based Doctors List (Vegan-Friendly Doctors)

Posted by: Lindsay S. Nixon |

I'm always getting questions about plant-based doctors. Do I know of any? Where can you find one?

That's why I recently turned to HH's Facebook page to ask Herbies if they knew of any doctors that are plant-based or are supportive of the plant-based diet so I could compile a list -- and boy did they deliver!

The list includes general practitioners Ob/Gyns, pediatricians, naturopathic doctors, surgeons and much, much more!

And for my international (outside of the US) Herbies, there are listings for you too!

Click here to access the Plant-Based Doctors List!

If I missed your doctor, please email support[at]happyherbivore[dot]com and we'll happily add him or her to the list. (If you are a doctor and would like to be included, email the same address).

Three cheers for veggie-minded docs!

Herbie of the Week: Amy B (She's Lost Over 100lbs Following a Plant-Based Diet!)

Posted by: Lindsay S. Nixon |

Category: Herbies

Meet our Herbie of the Week: Amy B!

Like many Herbies of the Week, Amy struggled with her weight for most of her life. After suffering three miscarriages (which was followed by depression) and then stress from being a first-time parent, Amy realized her weight was out of control and her vegetarian diet wasn't as healthy as she thought.

Just before her 40th birthday, Amy decided to make a change. She committed herself to a healthier lifestyle by going plant-based and the transformation is incredible!

In less than a year, Amy has lost more than 100 LBS and lowered her blood pressure and cholesterol. On top of that, she's also running 5 and 10Ks!

Continue reading for Amy's truly inspirational story in her own words!

I was raised a vegetarian and was always aware of the cons of eating animal meat. Eating vegetarian was never an issue for me. As I went out on my own, I did start eating some poultry and fish, but went back and forth between vegetarian and omnivore. I have also struggled with my weight most of my life. I would yo yo on diet fads that never seemed to last.

I was at one of my best (healthy) weights when I met my husband, but it was due to poor nutritional eating and near starvation. So, not surprisingly, once we married I started putting on some weight. Then the unthinkable happened; we decided to start a family but I had 3 miscarriages in a year and a half. My depression set in and my eating went out of control. I was eating fast food at least 4-5 times a week, and the home cooking I did was all "comfort foods". My husband and I decided to try fertility treatment, which brought on its own set of stress and uncertainty (and more unhealthy eating). Within 12 months of seeing the fertility specialist, we were blessed with a beautiful baby girl. All of my fears and stress over having a family fell away and were replaced by the fears and stress of being a first time parent.

By the time my daughter was a year old, I realized my health and weight were out of control. I was borderline requiring blood pressure meds (since I had gestational hypertension), I was completely sedentary as a stay-at-home mom, and my bad cholesterol was starting to creep up. I decided it was time to revisit being a vegetarian, thinking this would help in my health and weight issues. Well, two years went by and I was at my heaviest weight and the doctor was having me monitor my blood pressure at home on a daily basis to evaluate my need for medication, also I was given a script for a knee brace as I had developed arthritis and bone spurs in my knee due to my weight.

In this scariest, and lowest point is when it occurred to me that this vegetarian lifestyle is not as healthy as I assumed it was. Coincidentally, at this time while I was shopping at Whole Foods, I saw the Engine 2 Diet book. I loved the summary and decided to give it a read. Every single word spoke to me. Eliminate animal products, eliminate oil, and eat the source of the food, not the manufactured product. He (Rip Esseltyn) referenced other resources like The China Study and Forks Over Knives, so I researched them, as well. I was horrified at the mass production and industrialization of food. It made me question not only what I was putting in my body but what I was allowing my child to eat. My husband and I discussed it and made the decision to convert to plant-based vegan.

It started slow, just a vegan meal here and there and then trying vegan for a day. This went on for about 6 months. Before I knew it, my 40th birthday was looming. I was quite aware that turning 40 was more mental than physical, but I also knew (from friends and family) that if not resolved, health issues can go out of control after that magic 40 number. I knew just "playing around" with being a vegan was not going to accomplish the health goals I needed. I was turning 40 and it was crunch time. I made a conscious decision to go completely plant based vegan.

This decision meant I had to find recipes that can be versatile enough to eat every day, every week, and would be acceptable to my omnivore husband and (at the time) my 3 year old picky eater. Sounds like a huge request, and it felt like it was, as well. I couldn't find recipes that the whole family could agree on. So, I went to the book store with the mission to find a vegan cookbook with family friendly recipes. On the shelf at eye level and turned face out was Everyday Happy Herbivore. I started looking at the recipes and realized that this was the help I needed. Real food, no oils, vegan, and a fantastic bridge for omnivores. Foods that I knew we loved (Cheater Pad Thai, Tofu Ricotta, Tofu Scramble, and Rustic Chili are just a few of our favorites). I honestly think if I hadn't found Lindsay's books, I may have decided going vegan just wouldn't have worked as I refuse to cook three meals every night.

So last October (2013), the month of my 40th birthday, we committed to a new, healthy lifestyle. I joined a gym and started slowly, a few days a week. However, I noticed eating healthier and cleaner gave me more energy and I quickly started adding aerobics classes to my routine. I was not feeling hungry or deprived. My biggest struggle in going vegan was giving up dairy products ("but I love my cheese, yogurt, cottage cheese!"). Astonishingly, after a month of no dairy, I no longer craved it! Amazing! And during this time I discovered I had a mild case of lactose intolerance that I had never realized. I just assumed everyone had these gastric problems when eating.

I've been vegan for 10 months now, and thanks to clean eating and lots of exercise, I have lost 100 lbs, lowered my blood pressure from 130/90 to 110/76, and lowered my bad cholesterol while raising my good. I have recently started jogging and am signing up for 5k runs every chance I get. My next fitness goal is to run a 10k next year. I get so many compliments not only on weight loss, but also my skin/complexion and my age (no one ever believes me when I say I'm 40). I still have more weight to lose and many new fitness goals to achieve but I want to celebrate every milestone in this healthy journey. And I wanted Lindsay to know how much her recipes, books, and communities have helped me become the best vegan I can be.

This isn't a perfect journey and I've made poor vegan choices along the way (deep fried tofu, vegan whoopie pies, animal crackers, to name a few), but I never let it derail me and I picked right back up on plant based choices at my next meal. And the bonus to this is my husband (who's never had a weight issue but does have cholesterol issues) has lowered his cholesterol and lost a few pounds, and my now 4 year old daughter loves "mommy foods". She eats hummus right along with me, along with steamed broccoli, black olives, carrots and pita chips! She is beginning to understand why fast food is not a good source of food and she loves to help me in our garden, picking tomatoes, peppers, carrots, and herbs. I can't imagine ever returning to our previous lifestyle.

Thank you so much Amy for sharing your story! Your are such an inspiration!

UPDATE Sept. 2014

I am actually 105 lbs down now. And have officially signed up for four 5ks and my very first 10k from now through November. And my goal is to run a half marathon next year. Also, my husband (who now eats vegan by default, since I am the cook in the family) has just been taken off his statins due to dropping his cholesterol over 20 points in the past 6 months.

Educating Your Community on a Plant-Based Diet (Guest Post by Aurora!)

Posted by: Lindsay S. Nixon |

Category: Guest

A big question I get via email is how one can spread the Herbie love. Specifically, how can they talk to others about living the plant-based lifestyle and without being preachy or overbearing.

I talk a lot about outreach (and how to tailor your message so your hearer hears it) in my new book, The Happy Herbivore Guide to Plant-Based Living, but today Aurora is sharing HER experience with outreach in her community.

Remember: You can lead a horse to water, but you can't force him to drink. However, leading by example is dynamite. If you lower your head to drink the water, then start moaning over how refreshingly delicious it is, the horse may very well get curious and give it a try!

My husband and I began our plant-based journey about 3 years ago. It was bumpy in the beginning and like most people venturing down this path, we learn as go. At first we had the basics down, no meat and no dairy. Then we read more and we removed oil, coffee and juicing.

Once we were officially plant-based, we saw improvements everywhere. Not just weight loss, which for me happened at a rate of about 7-9lbs a month; but post workout recovery is almost completely painless as well as menstruation. Old aches and pains are gone. Seborrheic Dermatitis is virtually non existent with zero oil. Our energy levels far surpass a kid who eats SAD (Standard American Diet), and the list goes on and on.

After seeing results, reading books/blogs by Dr. Esselstyn, Neal Barnard, Dr. Campbell, Dr. McDougall, Rip Esselstyn, Jeff Novick, and Lindsay Nixon, taking the Cornell Plant-based certification course and attending plant-based conferences, it was hard to keep quiet and watch others around me suffer from aches and pains that were completely avoidable.

It’s not a losing battle to reach out to an individual or family member who is struggling with problems due to a SAD diet, it’s just frustrating. I see many people (whom I have spent countless hours talking to and coaching) give up because they fail to educate themselves or they fall into the temptation of fast food’s quick and easy marketing strategies. Sometimes I have found that it was the doctors themselves who were the ones to turn people off from eating only plants. Of all the reasons to turn away, those in the medical field can be the hardest to influence because of their training. I can only imagine the turmoil going on in their heads as they try to wrap their minds around this idea of eating only plants and eliminating meat, dairy and oil.

I did not have the time to help each individual who was interested in trying a plant-based diet, but I certainly wanted to figure out how to reach more in one sitting. So I thought, “I’m going to start with my small town, Roanoke, TX.” To do this, I began hosting cooking classes. I invited a handful of folks to gather around my kitchen as I demonstrated 5-7 recipes while educating them on why I am using certain products and sharing my plant-based knowledge. Between dishes, I have everyone point their attention to the TV while I show snippets of Forks Over Knives. This is great because it gives me time to clean up a little and prepare for the next round of cooking. These demos are done as often as I can do them. I have had nurses, doctor’s wives and nutritionists attend them.

In addition to reaching out to individuals, I also like to invite those in the medical field over for plant-based dinners. For these events, I usually make a small feast of about 4-7 dishes; just enough for everyone to have a sampling. And like the cooking classes, I’m educating as I am introducing each dish. Talking to professionals in the field really keeps me on my toes because they tend to understand more about how the body operates than the average person; so I have studied beforehand. I review my Cornell course notes from my plant-based certification course as well as reread parts of Dr. Esselstyn’s and Dr. Campbell’s books.

It’s not hard to reach out to your community and community professionals. Most folks will not turn down a good meal and almost everyone loves to watch cooking shows, so demos and dinners are perfect. The most important message for anyone to hear is to be consistent. By this, I mean you must always believe in what you preach. If you want others to feel your passion, you have to be a good role model and example.

Over the summer, I was returning a borrowed pool toy to a neighbor. Her husband Mark answered the door, took the toy and said, “Oh and by the way, I’m thinking of doing 30 days of a plant-based diet to see if it will help me feel better. I might be coming by to get some good recipes.” Of course this is a great surprise; but what’s more exciting is that I have never spoken directly to him about changing his diet. I live a plant-based life. When we have potlucks, I bring a plant-based dish. When someone asks me how I get my skin to look so clear and smooth, I tell them it’s my diet. When asked what’s my weight loss secret, I blame the diet. When parents watch me play hard all day with their children and ask me why I still have so much energy all while seeing their kids passed out on the couch, I answer, “I eat plants.”

My lifestyle is my plant-based testimony. It affords me the opportunity to tell others about this way of living without putting them into the offensive by offering unwanted advice. With so many diets out there, folks tend to hear the word “diet” and think “temporary.” They say, “I’m doing the Paleo Diet this month,” or “I’m on the Whole 30 to figure out my allergies.” Often people assume a Plant-Based Diet is like those, it’s just temporary, but that’s not true. It’s a way to live life without self-inflicted pain like heart disease, menstrual pain, arthritis, etc. caused by eating SAD.

I have been asked if it costs a lot to host the demos and dinners. For the demos, I actually charge $5-$8 a person depending on the menu. I only make 1-2 servings per dish and everyone samples. All the leftovers go into the fridge for our family to eat later. So in a sense, I am being paid to make a few meals ahead of time. A great example would be when I made Happy Herbivore Light & Lean Drop Biscuits and Olive Gravy. I made 5 biscuits but tore apart 1-2 biscuits and put a dollop of gravy on top. This was a sampling. If you’re making lots of dishes, you don't want everyone to eat too much because they will be sampling so much during the demo. The remaining biscuits and gravy went into the fridge for us to munch on later.

As for the medical professional dinner, that does cost you, but so does any dinner party you are hosting. The good news is, it’s going to cost less because it’s all plants. Plants in general cost much less than meat and dairy. At a recent dinner the guests brought me a hostess gift. Where a traditional bottle of wine would have been the perfect gift, I was greeted with a basket full of colorful veggies (pictured above). The cost of those veggies alone was probably half the cost of the meal they were eating. It was probably the best hostess gift I have ever received.

If you are interested in learning how to host your own demos and medical professional dinners, please leave a comment below and I will be happy to answer any questions you may have.