Meet our Herbie of the Week, Claudia. She discovered she had high cholesterol in her 20s- while studying for her Masters in Nutrition! After dieting for years without seeing any change in her cholesterol, she turned to a plant-based lifestyle.
Q: Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I bought the HH meal plan once and ordered both The Happy Herbivore Cookbookand Everyday Happy Herbivore. They are a lifesaver, for me. I really was clueless about living the vegan lifestyle.
Q: You mentioned that you had high cholesterol, did you have any other medical issues?
I am 56 with no medical issues, but have had high cholesterol since my 20's. I discovered this ( believe it or not) while working on my Masters in Human Nutrition and Dietetics! I have always eaten the suggested healthy diet with lean chicken, fish and minimal beef and fruits and vegetables.
I knew that the American Dietetic Association did not have their recommendations right for many people like me.Q: What made you decide to go to a plant-based diet (vegan)?
I started really getting concerned about my cholesterol which always stayed stuck at 300 even though I tried all sorts of diet manipulation without any changes. By my current age, my father had already suffered 2 heart attacks and his father was dead of a massive heart attack at 42.My mother died of a heart attack at 72 but suffered with Angina for years. Her siblings also had heart disease.I followed Bill Clinton's bypass surgery and found out about his doctor, Caldwell Esselstyn and knew that I was also playing with genetic fire. I then read The China Study, Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease, Forks Over Knives,and watched ( to my horror ) Food, Inc. ( pink slime ).I never really had any issues with eating animals until I saw how they were abused by the industry. I also realized how much genetic engineering is taking place on corn and wheat.Besides high cholesterol I have had chronic constipation since my 20's. I thought it was also just bad genes ( my mother was hooked on chocolate X-lax bars). I stopped eating wheat flour and have got much healthier.
Q: Have you noticed any benefits since switching to a plant-based diet?
I've been a fat free vegan since Thanksgiving of 2011. I won't say it's easy but it is possible. My cholesterol dropped from 300 to 215, and will have it retested soon. My goal is to take it below 150 and statistically that is considered heart attack-proof. My blood pressure is now lower than its ever been. The constipation is gone! As long as I stay away from wheat flour ( I do eat Ezekiel bread) and get 5-10 servings of fruit or vegetables every day, I feel great! I have shared this life change with my brother and he has become a vegan and dropped 35 pounds and his blood chemistry is perfect now. I want to have a long, healthy life and enjoy my 2 small grand-daughters. Some people think being a vegan is extreme, but isn't it more extreme to have a surgeon go into your chest, and rip out the arteries in your legs and put them in your heart! Without controlling cholesterol and your risk factors, those leg arteries and veins will clog up too. Now, that is extreme! So if I have to eat beautiful fresh fruit, vegetables, beans and grains and avoid surgery, that is OK. I am at peace, knowing I am doing the right thing for me. I do not try to push this on others. Although I see way too much obesity and autoimmune diseases in friends much younger than me.
My husband is not vegan so this adds to my challenge. For this reason I often make small vegan servings I find in the HH books. Life is full of choices. I chose the Fat Free Vegan living over statins, heart disease and supporting a food industry that abuses animals. I don't want any part of that. It's great fun finding local farmers and farmer markets!
Q: You said that your husband is is not vegan, is he supportive of you and your food choices?
My husband is very supportive, but it would be easier if we both were vegans. He has no appetite for tofu hot dogs or just about anything else I make.We cook side by side but don't intermingle plates!
Q:What type of diet manipulations have you tried in the past? Before being vegan I tried weight watchers and successfully lost weight but it did not bring down my cholesterol, the Paleo diet, I fasted 18 hours each day, Low carb, low fat, etc. I've tried them all without conquering the cholesterol problem. Thank you for encouraging the fat free Vegan lifestyle. I feel great!