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Meet our Herbies of the Week: Erin & Mark!
I first heard about Erin and Mark's plant-based journey during "The Forks Over Knives Plan" giveaway.
Erin wrote on the HH blog:
"The movie changed my and my husband's life. We quit milk cold turkey, transitioned to a plant-based lifestyle, and told the people we care about the most to watch the movie. We have been going strong for 3 years and my acne cleared up, we lost weight, and feel the best we ever have. My husband's family has high blood pressure, and even though he has been a distance runner for a long time, his blood pressure was high. Since the FOK movie, his blood pressure is in normal range. It changed our lives forever and we are so, so thankful!"
As soon as I read Erin's comment I just had to share their story as part of our Herbie of the Week series.
I'll let Erin take it away!
HH: Hi Erin! Tell us how you and your husband, Mark, discovered a plant-based diet.
My husband’s brother told us about the movie "Fork Over Knives" in 2011. Little did we know that the FOK movie would change our lives. Before we watched the movie, we were eating meat about 3 to 4 times a week and we loved dairy products. We would eat cheese like it was going out of style! We also loved milk, yogurt, and ice cream.
The entire movie was a wake-up call for us due to Drs T. Colin Campbell and Caldwell B. Esselstyn Jr. The information they provided during the movie about heart disease, cancer rates, etc. was just eye opening and it was impossible to ignore. I remember after I watched the movie I kept waking up that night and thinking about it. The next day I was paying attention to what I was eating and what it was possibly doing to me. We used to have a huge Sunday brunch with breakfast burritos with A LOT of cheese or eggs with cheese and we shared an entire package of cinnamon rolls. We watched the movie on a weekend and the thought that this food we were eating was actually killing us was scary.
Our transition was slow, but we cut out meat first and the last to go was cheese and yogurt. During this time, my husband also read "The China Study", which helped complete our transition to a full plant-based diet.
HH: What about "The China Study" made you fully transition?
My husband would read excerpts from "The China Study" as he was reading through the book. Specifically, the information on the cancer rates and the correlation to casein/protein intake. At that point in time, I was still eating yogurt and some other milk products. After my husband read "The China Study", I stopped eating milk products and we were fully plant-based. I can honestly say that there are days that I miss cheese and ice cream, but my husband quit cold turkey and even realized that he is allergic to milk now that he has been off of it for such a long time. If there is even a little milk in a product or in the food at someone’s house, he notices and his nose is stuffy for a day!
HH: You listed some of the benefits you've experienced since going plant-based, do you mind elaborating on that?
Mark's blood pressure dropped into a low-normal range and his cholesterol is even better than mine, which was unheard of before. I, on the other hand, always struggled with acne since high school. I saw dermatologists for acne medications, which helped a little, but didn’t complete get rid of it. After going plant-based, my skin cleared up completely. My dermatologist said it looked like the medication was working well, but I told him the reason was that I changed my diet and went plant-based. He was shocked and I recommended he let his other patients know that cutting out milk will get rid of the acne. We also realized how healthy we are on the diet – we are sick less, we have more energy, lost weight (I went from a size 8/10 to a size 4) and just feel better than we did before.
HH: You said Mark is a distance runner. Has he noticed any changes in his recovery or running times after going plant-based?
He has definitely noticed a difference with his recovery. His recovery times have become faster and he honestly has fewer injuries and less inflammation than before. He used to get injured quite a bit and he would take a lot of ibuprofen. Now he is rarely injured and never takes ibuprofen. I also have osteoarthritis in my knees due to a ski injury/knee surgeries. Once we switched to a plant-based diet, my osteoarthritis has almost all but disappeared completely.
HH: Let's talk food! Were there any recipes that helped you transition?
Once we decided to switch to plant-based, we went to the book store to look for cookbooks that could help us transition. We knew we were going to need help, otherwise it was not going to stick. We loved cooking and needed help creating wonderful meals that would help us not miss meat and dairy. On one of the end stands we noticed a cookbook called The Happy Herbivore Cookbook. We made the chickpea tacos, soups, entrees, and the one recipe that saved me the most was the Quick Queso recipe. I loved my queso and chips when I was not plant-based and I really needed something to replace it. I definitely didn't miss cheese anymore!
HH: You said in your original comment that you now recommend FOK to your friends. Have any adopted a plant-based diet?
We have recommended that everyone, especially the people that we love and care about the most, to watch FOK. We think it is so important to understand what the food your eating is doing to you. We want those close to us to live long and healthy lives, which is why we recommend they watch the movie. We have had people try a plant-based diet, but not stick to it, which is hard for us to see. But, they are doing what they need to do. I did recommend to my cousin to watch the movie and she has started transitioning now.
HH: Any advice for others who are looking into or transitioning to a plant-based diet?
It takes time and perfection is not to be expected! Still, give it plenty of time so that you can truly start seeing the changes that will take place. Your whole life will change for the better - you will have more energy, your overall health will improve and you will be happy with your new plant-based lifestyle. Make sure you buy plenty of cookbooks with recipes that you are excited about as it will help with the transition.
Thank you so much Erin & Mark for sharing your story with us!