‘Coming a Veg’ is a monthly series which highlights vegetarian and vegan “coming of age” stories. Last year, Holly turned her health and life around when she embraced a plant based diet. Her story will resonate with all of you and I encourage you to enjoy the recipes, meal plans and anecdotes on her blog, My Plant-Based Family.
It is amazing what can change in 1 year. This time last year I was sick; I also weighed in a little over 150 pounds. I ate the Standard American Diet (SAD) of fast and over- processed food, I was basically a junk food junkie.
In 2011 I suffered from 7 UTIs, a few kidney infections, and chronic bladder spasms. I had experienced the infections on and off for years but I had finally come to my breaking point. I was in pain a lot of the time and uncomfortable the rest of the time. I didn’t want to leave the house because I never knew when the spasms would start, if I had my babies with me I’d have to run them into whatever restroom I could find. I didn’t want to leave the house so I felt very isolated.
After many doctor’s appointments, invasive horrifyingly embarrassing testing, possible interstitial cystitis diagnosis, and a treatment plan that wasn’t guaranteed to work I was desperate. I sent an email out to my closest friends explaining my symptoms and asking if they knew anyone who could help.
I had a few responses but one changed my life forever. My friend Aletia told me her mom, Eileen could help me. I kept a food diary and sent her my complete medical history and forwarded it to Eileen. On October 5th, 2011 I first heard the phrase Whole Food, Plant-Based Diet. On our first phone call Eileen spent about an hour telling me what I needed to know to get started and directing me to other resources. One of those was “Forks Over Knives” which I watched a few days later. My husband said he would support my dietary changes but he wasn’t interested in changing his diet, then he watched it himself. I walked in as he was finishing the movie; he pointed at it and said, “we are doing this.” She also directed me toward some products to help resolve the chronic infections and improve my digestion. She believed that I would be symptom free my Christmas.
As I followed this new path I noticed changes right away. Aches and pains that had become an everyday occurrence were gone. I felt more clarity, kind of like the Claritn commercials. Also, weight was almost falling off. I lost 16 pounds in the first 6 weeks. Most of that was in the first two weeks. Even after I stopped losing pounds my shape was definitely improving.
I had some bladder flare up’s during the first few months and some infections that just didn’t want to clear up. I got discouraged on more than a few occasions but Eileen was there to encourage me. I was a believer in the plant-based diet. By Christmas I was symptom free and I had lost another 3.5 pounds bringing the total to 19.5 pounds.
I’ve been completely symptom free all year! WOOHOO! I’ve also lost a few more pounds this year. I started in a size 14 and now I’m in a size 4!!! My husband has lost over 40 pounds since beginning a plant-based diet.
My children are also plant-based eaters. My 19 month old son loves his fruit, veggies, and legumes. My 3 ½ year old took a few months to transition but he is now fully plant-based, leaves (spinach), apples, and bananas are some of his favorite foods. Our teenager daughter recently moved to live with us. She is excited to eat a healthy diet and is still transitioning but doing great.
I was so excited about the changes I was seeing that I decided to start blogging at My Plant-Based Family in January of 2012. I’ve begun hosting Food Demo’s where I demonstrate and introduce people to plant-based food, focusing on making healthy food easy and affordable. You can also follow My Plant-Based Family on Facebook.
I’ve also become much more compassionate toward animals since I stopped eating them. Growing up in Oklahoma and Texas played a big role in shaping my views toward animals. I grew up around farmers and cattle owners. None of these people were a part of the large corporate monsters that mistreat their animals. I assumed all animals were raised like this, grazing in pastures, mommas and babies together. I really didn’t know any better.
When we first started eating plant-based we would have meat occasionally. I remember sitting in a restaurant staring at a steak wondering what kind of life that animal lived. That is when I knew I was really changing.
I’m thankful for this journey. I feel like I have learned and changed so much over the last year. I’m looking forward to continuing this adventure and hopefully help others change their lives too.
The first Monday of every month I feature a new ‘Coming a Veg’ story and would I love to include yours! If you are feeling shy, your story can be posted under a creative screen name, anonymous or at least pass this request along to any other groups or individuals who may be interested. Find more information at this link or send submissions to my email: Pennsyltucky Veggie.