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Meet our Herbie of the Week: Mallory!
Vegetarian on and off since she was a teen, Mallory watched her grandfather's health transform after he adopted a plant-based diet. Inspired, it still took her several years to apply that knowledge to her own life. Once she adopted a plant-based diet for herself and no longer suffers from IBS or migraines, also, lost 28 lbs!
Read Mallory's story in her own words...
I was a vegetarian – on and off – through my teen and adolescent years after hearing a conversation about the poor health of meat in today's society. It was a first in my family. They were very worried I was going to become deficient in nutrients, especially protein.
In 2003, my grandfather had to have a stint put in his heart. He had to start taking medication for cholesterol and various other things, a total of 12 medications daily. His father and brother had both died of heart attacks, and we were all concerned. My father went looking for some hope.
He stumbled upon the CHIP program, which promotes a whole foods, vegan diet and active lifestyle. He became a certified instructor and convinced my grandfather to give it a try. My gram learned how to cook and bake vegan foods and all three – my gram, my grandfather, and my dad – all committed to a vegan diet. Both of my grandparents lost over 50 lbs. and my grandfather was able to stop taking all of his medications. My father also lost weight and saw health benefits. I was very intrigued by how much of an impact eating a more plant-based diet could have, and my grandfather’s health still amazes me to this day.
By this time, I was moving out on my own with my boyfriend (now husband) and while I was very impressed by what an impact a vegan diet could have, it seemed much too hard to practice. However, we did make small changes to our diet. We started buying non-dairy milk and switched to Earth Balance instead of butter. We also ate less packaged foods. For the next several years I bounced back and forth between being a vegetarian and eating meat. By now, my husband and I were married, and we had three children. My husband loved meat and swore he would never give it up. Our kids wanted to be like daddy and eat meat.
By 2012, I had given up. We were your typical North American family. We ate meat, dairy, sugar, salt, oil, and processed foods. I felt a strong conviction that we should not be eating those foods, but I knew my husband and I would have to make the change together in order for it to work.
That summer my husband and I watched Forks Over Knives. After watching it, he decided to give up meat! We began our journey toward a plant-based lifestyle. Meat was not a temptation for us, and we have never gone back to eating it. Dairy however was another matter. Cheese and ice cream were our constant downfall. Eating out, potlucks, special events... dairy was everywhere! I tried my best to avoid it but soon became discouraged. I was hoping that by becoming vegan the extra 30 lbs. I had been sporting since having kids would melt off. Instead over the next couple years, I gained an additional 20 lbs. I still didn't understand the difference between being vegan, and whole foods plant-based.
By 2014, we ate vegan at home, but when we were out for dinner or when eating with friends and family, we ate vegetarian. I felt like a fraud. I was 50 lbs. overweight with a BMI that put me in the obese category. I had watched Forks Over Knives, I had read books and articles, and I knew what I should be eating. I couldn't seem to make the leap to making it an actual, practical lifestyle for us.
Sometime, in early 2015, I started following Happy Herbivore on Facebook. I noticed the meal plans but I didn't think they would work for me. I love cooking and enjoy having creative freedom in the kitchen. My kids and husband can be picky eaters, and I figured I would end up not using them.
By the spring, I knew something had to change. I was suffering from migraines several times a month and had daily headaches. The medication for my migraines hurt my stomach. I had IBS symptoms frequently, and my entire abdomen hurt constantly. I was always tired, suffered from insomnia, and had no energy. The depression I have fought for most of my adult life was creeping in again, and I just did not love anything about myself. I wondered what my health would be like at 50 if I was already in this bad of shape physically at 28. What would my quality of life be late in life? I decided to pick a date at the end of our summer vacation and make the change once and for all.
Something within me started to change. In the past I've always felt I needed a buddy for weight loss or exercise. This time, I knew that only I had the power to change, and I needed to make this change for me. I spent the summer watching all the documentaries on Netflix supporting a plant-based diet. I also read and researched lots on whole food plant-based, oil-free diets. I remembered the meal plans and decided to sign up for them as my start date arrived.
August 17 arrived, and I jumped in. It was too hot to batch cook like I had planned the weekend before, but I remembered a post Lindsay had made about how there is no perfect time to start, so I started anyway. My sweet husband jumped on board to support me, and we made it a family challenge.
Over the last six months, I have experienced so many amazing changes! My IBS symptoms are gone, I have not had a headache in forever, I don't remember my last migraine and my stomach pain is completely gone! I lost 28 lbs. just from diet change alone (my husband has lost 13 lbs. as well). I have so much energy and feel so amazing that I started doing yoga in November at home and started attending classes in January. I have been able to achieve things I never could have imagined before, like a supported headstand.
Since switching to a whole foods plant-based diet we have been in many of our past, tempting situations. We have celebrated our anniversary, as well as my birthday, Christmas, and New Year's. We have also had several dinners with family and friends and potlucks. However, I have not been tempted to cheat, because I am always prepared ahead of time with a healthy option.
One of my favorite posts on the Happy Herbivore Facebook page was one Lindsay made about how food should not be the most important part of get-togethers. That was so freeing for me. One of the biggest reasons I failed before is because food was my comfort. If I was happy, sad, stressed, depressed, or just bored, food was there. It was there at every get-together and every event. Realizing and embracing that food is only a small part of life, that it is not the central part, was very eye-opening. I had a serious food addiction, which I don't think I fully understood until I switched my diet – cold tofu – and got all the sugar, oil, and salt out of my system.
Something within me has fundamentally changed, and I will never go back. I love myself for the first time in a long, long time. I still have more weight to lose, but I know I will lose it. I am no longer in the obese category and I don't hate getting dressed in the morning. I am setting a better example for my kids, and I don't feel like a fraud for having all this knowledge and not putting it to use. I feel powerful, happy, and confident! Best of all I know this change is sustainable because of all the new habits I'm forming with great resources like Meal Mentor, HH cookbooks, and all the men and women working so hard to get this message out there. My goal is to be a part of the change and to help spread the message.
Thank you so much Mallory for sharing your plant-based journey with us!
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