Happy Herbivore Blog

Herbies of the Week: Where Are They Now? Diana & Lucy, Darlene, Leah & Jeremy - A Year Later

Posted by: Lindsay S. Nixon |

Category: Herbies

I think my crowning achievement on this blog has been the Herbies of the Week series, which I look forward to every Monday!

This series started three years ago (back in 2011) and I'm always in awe, inspired, and touched, when I think about all the different people and their amazing stories, that have been shared here every week.

I've decided to start reaching out to our past Herbies of the Week to see where they are today, a year later.

What's new? Are they still rockin' and rollin'?

I hate to spoil the surprise, but the short answer: YES.

Former Herbies of the Week: Diana & Lucy (April 2013)

After her mother, Lucy, had a stroke, Diana and her mom went plant-based when they saw an episode of Dr. Oz. Within three months they lost 30lbs and went down in pant sizes. Lucy was also able to reduce her blood pressure medication and Diana no longer has rosacea. (Read Diana & Lucy's full story.)

Update: "I have to admit that taking these selfies aren't my thing but I'll admit, we do look good being plant-based for a little over three years now! Just last year my mom suffered another stroke because neither she nor I were ready to stop snacking in front of the TV, a ritual which most likely was the cause. The doctors at the hospital gave her several brain scans and told us the worst news ever: they could not do anything else because the blockage was in her cerebral cortex. I prayed hard that she'll recover, after all, she's plant based like myself. I suppose I was getting a bit cocky for being plant-based and that it will heal everything. That nothing would have my mom suffer another stroke, even though her doctor did tell us that after the first stroke, the percentage of her getting another stroke increases. We weren't totally plant-based, more like 95%. It was the hardest three-days spent in that emergency room. As each scan came out, we saw the blockage came quickly but had also left just as quickly. She spent three weeks total in the hospital. She was not a candidate for strenuous physical therapy workout for recovery. So, when she came home, I helped her do her exercise using what that hospital physical therapist suggested. In two more months after she came home, she was pretty much back to the physical state from her first stroke. She is still using her quad cane to walk and at times, she needs my help. Unfortunately, she lost a bit more vocabulary this time. From that time onwards, I kept herself and me strictly plant-based without snacking. Both she and I lost a bit more weight and we are both another pant-size down. Being my mom's caregiver takes a lot of work which is why I could never stop being plant-based not just because of our frightful experience, but also because of my own physical health. My eyesight improved a bit; my past injured knee though has its wave of arthritic pain will always subside; and my back pains also will never stay. So indeed, I am thankful both to God and to being plant-based, so much so that I spread the plant-based "gospel" for prevention and healing. I even brought one of my friends to Dr. Greger's seminar and she went plant-based immediately. There are already several, including one of my pastors and his wife, who have gone plant-based."- Diana & Lucy

Former Herbie of the Week: Darlene (April 2013)

Darlene suffered from chronic pain after injuring her back at work. Between impaired mobility and depression, she started to gain weight. Darlene tried to lose weight by calorie restriction, but that made her ill. Once she discovered Forks Over Knives, things began to change. Darlene went on to lose 65lbs, lowered her cholesterol, improved her osteoporosis, depression and is able to walk without her cane all thanks to a plant-based diet! (Read Darlene's full story.)

Update: "I continue to follow a plant-based diet and have lost an additional 10 pounds in the year and a half from being Herbie of the Week for a total of 105 pounds lost, 75 pounds since becoming plant-based. I continue to have no signs of depression (and during this time, I lost my mom). I may have possibly cured myself of glaucoma, as well. I was diagnosed with glaucoma in my left eye about three years prior to becoming plant-based. Although my father and my grandmother also had glaucoma, they weren't obese and didn't develop it until they were in their 70's. I was in my 40's and obese when I developed it. Since there are nutrients like lutein and anthocyanins that are beneficial to eye health, I wondered if becoming plant-based could reverse glaucoma. I did some research but all I could find was that it can help prevent glaucoma. I gave my ophthalmologist a copy of Forks Over Knives and discussed with him my theory. Since my glaucoma was very mild and only in one eye and with the consent of my ophthalmologist, I stopped taking my glaucoma drops. I have been monitored closely for over a year and my eye pressures remain normal and there has been no sign of disease progression. In fact, upon visual examination of my optic nerve, my ophthalmologist has noticed the early narrowing to be slightly less but isn't convinced yet that it is reversing. Fingers crossed. Since stopping my medication, nutritionfacts.org has posted a video of a research study that was able to halt the glaucoma by giving black currants (high in anthocyanins). Dr. Greger recommends everyone with glaucoma eat berries and other foods high in anthocyanins (purple or blue in color) every day which I have been doing since I stopped using glaucoma drops. My problems with my back continue but I continue to feel so much better in other respects because of eating a plant-based diet." - Darlene

Former Herbie of the Week: Leah (June 2013)

It took Leah a couple of years to find the plant-based diet, but when she did, she knew it was time to change her lifestyle. Once she educated herself, Leah made the switch and lost 75lbs! As an athlete, she was also able to recover more quickly. "Eating plant-based is so second nature now, I couldn't imagine turning back." (Read Leah's full story.)

Update: "In December I will be 3 years plant-based. I maintain by exercise regimen (running, boxing, strength training) and I can't tell you how good it feels to not be a slave to food! By being plant-based I don't have the cravings I used to and I recover quicker after workouts. My job keeps me very active and while other agents are having a difficult time climbing stairs, climbing hills/mountains, being on their feet all day, etc. I feel like I could go all day! Not carrying around all the extra weight makes a difference physically as well as mentally."- Leah

Former Herbie of the Week: Jeremy (August 2013)

Jeremy switched from paleo to plant-based when he was in a rut with his athleticism and immediately noticed a change! Within two weeks, his energy levels were up, he recovered faster from workouts, was more focused, and able to think more clearly. Jeremy also dropped 17 pounds of body fat and gained 9 pounds of muscle! (Read Jeremy's full story.)

Update: "Since being Herbie of the Week, I've really upped the adventure game. I spend my free time jetpacking, rock climbing, hanging out with adventurous friends and living life to the fullest every single day. I went camping and rock climbing last weekend and brought a bunch of plant strong foods to the rocks. My friends were amazed at how delicious the food was. I've taken a hiatus as a personal trainer to focus more on my own training and adventures, but I'm still helping friends become stronger in nutrition and fitness. I've undergone a bunch of positive changes in my personal life over the last year and I'm excited for this next chapter. I have great friends, an amazing life and I love living in Los Angeles where so many adventures are right at my fingertips."- Jeremy

Big hugs and thanks to all of our Herbies of the Week! We are so happy to see you're still chopping carrots and taking names a year later!

Your lives are a testament to the power of plants and an inspiration to us all!

Catch up on Andrea W, Margret, Kelsey, Ami, & Ruth H -- Where are they now?

Nacho Soup, Fall Ratatouille, Baked Caprese Pasta & More!

Posted by: Lindsay S. Nixon |

Category: MealPlan

Lots of flavorful and warming dishes are coming your way on this week's meal plan!

Nacho Soup (NEW!), Fall Ratatouille (NEW!), Mediterranean Stuffed Sweet Potatoes (NEW!), Roasted Chickpea & Potato Salad (NEW!, indi.), and Baked Caprese Pasta (NEW!, fam.) are not only all NEW!, but super delicious and easy to throw together!

Fall Ratatouille

Individual Highlights

  • Nacho Soup (NEW!)
  • Cinnamon Apple Sweet Potato (NEW!)
  • Slow Cooker Vegetable Stew
  • Roasted Chickpea & Potato Salad (NEW!)
  • Fall Ratatouille (NEW!)
  • Spicy Orange Broccoli & Noodles
  • Mediterranean Stuffed Sweet Potato (NEW!)

Get this meal plan now.

Baked Caprese Pasta

Family Highlights

  • Mediterranean Stuffed Sweet Potatoes (NEW!)
  • Tex Mex Sloppy Joes
  • Nacho Soup (NEW!)
  • Baked Caprese Pasta (NEW!)
  • Quinoa Curry Bowl
  • Cream of Broccoli Soup
  • Fall Ratatouille (NEW!)

Get this meal plan now.

Nacho Soup

Testimonials

"I packed on the pounds when I first went vegan and hit my heaviest. I started following the meal plans in January and I've lost 30 pounds!"- Libby W

"I love the meal plans. The recipes are so easy and make sense. No exotic hard to find ingredients." - Michelle S

Get the current meal plan now.

Herbies of the Week: The Dern Family

Posted by: Lindsay S. Nixon |

Category: Herbies

Meet our Herbies of the Week: The Dern Family!

After her mother suffered a heart attack at the age of 43, Jenna's parents made the decision to go plant-based after watching Dr. Sanjay Gupta's CNN special on plant-based diets.

It's been 3 years since making the switch and the Dern family is happier and healthier than ever! Jenna's parents both lost 20lbs while she lowered her own cholesterol and is at a "very low risk" for heart disease!

Continue reading for The Derns' plant-based journey!

My mother is a doctor. This has always been a fact that has provided me with great comfort, knowing that the choices my family made were in my best interest for my health and overall wellbeing. Nothing could have prepared me for the day when I learned that my mom had had a heart attack at 43 years old. I was only 13 at the time, and this news clouded the days that followed the event with sadness and fear. My family had always eaten healthy and exercised moderately. My parents were young and we had a happy, stress-free life. We had no idea at the time that my mom’s genetic predisposition to heart disease and the Standard American Diet that we were following would have such an impact on my mom’s health. Now, at 17, I know the simplest answer to health and wellbeing: plant-based foods.

The last vacation that my family spent together before becoming plant-based was in Hawaii, the summer after my mom’s heart attack. There, we feasted on gelato, Spam musubi, and Hawaiian barbecue food. Our vacation was amazing, the island that we stayed on was beautiful, and the food was tasty. However, my family looks back on this vacation with a twinge of bittersweet sadness—we had no idea at the time that the food we were eating was doing more harm than good to our bodies.

Only 2 weeks later, my parents watched Sanjay Gupta's "The Last Heart Attack" that focused on vegan diets. After learning about Bill Clinton’s remarkable health recovery after following a plant-based diet and delving into more documentaries, books, and research articles, my parents decided it was time to go vegan for the sake of my mother’s, and the rest of the family’s, health.

That day, we rid our fridge of all animal products. By doing so, we also emptied out tons of processed foods. We then stocked up on new foods that would be the staples of our diet: beans, rice, fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds. The diet was so simple that it was almost too good to be true. But this lifestyle change has been the most significant moment in my life so far. Going vegan has had a remarkable affect on my family’s life.

Neither my mom nor my dad had ever been overweight, but before long, both of my parents had happily lost about 20 pounds each. My own cholesterol was about 110 the last time that I had it checked, and my LDL to HDL ratio was 1.5, classifying me as at a “very low” risk for heart disease!

Eating clean, whole foods has also allowed my physical strength to increase tremendously: as a young teenager, I could hardly run a couple of miles without feeling sick, but the plant-based lifestyle has changed this all. Now, I look forward to a 3 mile run in the morning with my parents, and I never feel exhausted or nauseous anymore. This feat may be small to some, but I always look up to my mom, who just ran her first half-marathon this year, as a source of constant positivity and inspiration. My mom proves to me every day that through nutrition and awareness, I can truly put my health first and take every step necessary to live the longest, most comfortable life possible.

Perhaps the most remarkable change that has taken place after going vegan is in my own eating habits. I have been a picky eater since I was a toddler. My parents used to have to feed me instant breakfast drinks in order to be sure that I was getting enough protein and vitamins each day. As I got older, I always disliked eating meat but would have chicken nuggets any time I went out to eat because they were just one food on a list of about 5 food items (including mac and cheese, cheese pizza, and plain pasta) that I could tolerate. Since this lifestyle change, I have welcomed an array of new fruits and vegetables into my life. I am still expanding my palate, but in this past summer I have found a brand new love for spinach and arugula salad and avocados! These steps may be small, but it feels great to know that I am constantly allowing myself to take in even more vitamins and nutrients with each new food that I welcome to my diet.

As a senior in high school, my life is just about to start. When asked what they want to do for a profession, nearly all students claim that they want to help others. Since becoming plant-based, I have longed to help others more than ever before. When asked the dreaded “What-do-you-want-to-do-in-the-future” questions, I wholeheartedly hope that others know how sincere I am about wanting to help people. I see the shocking statistics and articles about my generation’s health, the affects of the body when consuming animal-products, and the inhumane conditions that animals must suffer through, and I know what I am supposed to do.

I know that I have the ability to be anything that I want to be--if I wanted, I could pursue a career in medicine, chemistry, or mathematics. For a long time, I wondered if I would still contribute to society if I didn’t pursue an “important” career. I know I could do anything, but I truly love being creative, taking photographs, and connecting with people—after becoming plant-based, I began to learn that I can be important, all while doing the things I love. This summer, I created a food blog, where I share my vegan recipes, reviews, and tips. I find so much joy in making recipes, trying new fruits and vegetables, and helping others embrace this lifestyle. Who’s to say that that isn’t important? If I can change one life by touting the benefits of a vegan diet (there are just so many!) then I would in a heartbeat! I know the power of plant-based foods: it turned me from a picky eater to an adventurous lover of all things green. If I can prevent someone else from developing a sickness caused by diet, I don't think I think I would break down in tears of joy.

I cannot emphasize enough how grateful I am that my family has made this switch in our lives. I have never felt more alive, passionate about health and wellbeing, or happy as I have in the past 3 years that my family has been figuring this whole lifestyle out. For a while, in the beginning, I thought I would one day revert back to my cheddar-cheese-eating days. Today, I can happily order a custom pizza, sans cheese. I can make an amazing mac and cheese using a cauliflower and nutritional yeast sauce. I can make homemade almond milk or almond spread to put over toast. The possibilities truly never opened up until I embraced this diet. I can doanything with the power of plant foods and positivity.

Thank you, Lindsay for your amazing books, constant Facebook presence that always brightens my day, and everlasting passion for plant-based eating!

Thank you Jenna for sharing your family's inspirational story!