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Last week we met Sara, who followed the advice of a friend and lost 96 lbs after going plant-based. This week we meet Angie, who not only lowered her cholesterol, but also lost 70 lbs after switching to a plant-based diet.
HH: How did you first learn about a plant-based (vegan) diet?
I didn’t necessarily start this journey to be healthier, but as I’ve gotten further into this way of eating it has become more important to me to do this the right way so that I can be the healthiest I can be. My plant-based diet actually got started with a Facebook status update that was anti-hunting that one of my friends commented on, which led to an argument.
After going back and forth for a while, he asked if I ate meat, which I did, and he said it was the same thing as hunting. It got me thinking, and I realized that eating meat was the same as hunting. How could I despise hunting so much and continue to eat meat? Something just clicked with me and the answer was that I couldn’t. That night I spoke to my husband about my feelings and the argument on facebook. As an animal lover too, he and I decided to stop eating meat the very next day, March 13, 2010.
HH: What about dairy and eggs? Did you give those up too?
As I found out more about the conditions of dairy cows and egg laying chickens those things were removed from my diet as well.
HH: What was the transition like for you?
When my husband and I first started eating this way, we didn’t know exactly what to eat so the first couple weeks ended up being a lot of pasta dishes and Boca burgers. But luckily my husband is a great cook and started learning to cook more items and trying new recipes we found on the internet. I did lots of research on the internet and stumbled upon the Happy Herbivore website and started trying a few of the recipes, and they were delicious! We love the African Kale and Yam Soup, the Hippie Loaf, the lasagna and many others.
HH: You said initially your motivation for diet change wasn't about health, but now it is, care to elaborate?
I knew my cholesterol was fairly high and that I was significantly overweight and I wanted to change both of those things. Also my Dad has Type 2 Diabetes and high blood pressure and my Mom has high cholesterol and I didn’t want to go down the same road as them and so many others in my family having to deal with health problems.
I started eating whole foods. Lots of fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains and I stopped eating the processed junky foods, even if they were vegan. I didn’t want to be a French fries and Coca-Cola vegan. I wanted to get healthy, finally. As I started eating better, I started feeling better so I started exercising. I started walking on my lunch break at work, and using the stationary bike we had that I had never really used.
HH: Did you experience any health benefits?
I started losing weight and over about 18 months I lost 70 pounds. I’ve been maintaining my weight for about 5 months now and I still enjoy what I eat and for once in my life I’m not dying to “get off this diet and eat normally again”. The way I eat now isn’t a diet; this is just how I live my life now.
I also had a physical exam recently -- I haven't had one in a couple years and my Dr. almost didn't recognize me. When she looked at my blood work, she said "wow you have vegan cholesterol!" I told her I’m vegan now and she said basically no one but vegans have numbers that good. I've taken my cholesterol from 196 two years ago to 139 and my HDL is 60 and LDL is 66. My blood pressure is 113/68 and all my vitamins, electrolyte levels, etc. were perfect. My calcium levels actually have gone up since eating vegan! She couldn’t believe the change and she said to keep up the good work.
This appointment was such a different experience than my last check-up at which I was told I was obese (ouch!) and had borderline high cholesterol. And I just generally felt pretty crappy most of the time. I am now at my ideal weight, in the healthy range of the BMI charts and feel great!
HH: Any other positive changes or benefits?
My husband and I have recently taken up hiking, and I love being able to get out and enjoy the beautiful Rocky Mountains now and not be too tired to get out and do anything. I used to mainly spend my evenings and weekends just watching TV or maybe going to the movies, now I get out and do things that are fun and active. I enjoy hiking, I like going to museums and seeing all the different things this area has to offer. I feel like I’m actually living my life now.
HH: Any tips for those considering changing their diet?
My advice is to just try to add a few more plant-based dishes into your current diet and see how you like it. No one has to completely change their diet overnight. Just do the best you can and always keep trying to improve yourself and your diet. None of us are perfect; we just have to do the best we can.
HH: Any additional comments?
Always keep moving forward and if you stumble don’t give up. Just pick yourself up and start again at the very next meal. If you would have told me two years ago that I would be eating a plant-based diet I would have thought you were crazy. I basically ate some type of meat and potatoes every day for lunch and dinner, along with fast food at least three times a week. I barely ate any vegetables; I would even pick the lettuce of my burgers! I was one of the pickiest eaters and if I was able to change anyone can. You just have to believe that you and your health are worth taking care of, because they are! It is totally worth the effort to feel so much better.
Thank you so much Angie for sharing!
Updatefrom Angie:"Wow I’m overwhelmed at the responses! Thank you all so much for all the kind compliments and to all you just starting on your journey to better health, I wish you the all the best! I know that if you just keep going you can never fail. My motto is progress, not perfection. And thanks so much to you, Lindsay, for all your wonderful recipes, this supportive environment you’ve created and for allowing me a place to share my story. You have inspired and helped me in more ways than you know and I am very grateful!"