As I write this, I am not 100% vegan, but about five out of seven days a week I focus on eating either vegan or vegetarian. Why? Because I’ve never been a big meat eater, I’m allergic to dairy and I don’t believe that the best source of protein is animal-based.
It’s also because I have endometriosis, which used to make me very sick. However, ever since I greatly reduced my animal protein consumption, including the reduction of refined sugar, refined carbs and gluten consumption, I’ve been able to control and even reverse the effects of endometriosis on my body and health.
Then six months ago after my husband got a blood test report back saying his cholesterol was very high, things really changed. What was his doctor’s only suggestion? Consider medication and you know what? I was outraged.
My husband on the other hand was worried and thought the only way of dealing with this was to go on medication. Then I became even more outraged. I told him he needs to research the connection between food and reducing cholesterol naturally.
And that’s exactly what he did and we increased our meatless days from two to five days a week. And you know what happened? In less than six months his cholesterol numbers dropped by 50 points, WITHOUT medication.
Finally, a couple of nights ago I watched the documentary Cowspiracy. Talk about an eye-opening experience. That’s when I said to myself, enough is enough!
When it All Began
It was 1985 and I just turned twelve. I told my parents I was going to be a vegetarian, because I can’t stomach eating meat knowing how the animals are treated. That continued for five years. It went so far that one summer I didn’t even want to wear leather and stopped wearing shoes altogether. You can imagine what I put my parents through.
After those five years, my attitude changed. I thought a burger or piece of salmon every now and again wouldn’t be harmful. So a couple of times a month I would have a burger and some fish.
Cut to 2007 when my infertility struggle began. When I was diagnosed with my first cyst, I did a bunch of research and in 2008 I cut out meat and poultry completely. In September of that year, my cyst went away.
Then a friend suggested I try acupuncture for infertility. I started seeing this doctor that told me I should eat more animal protein. When you’re desperate to get pregnant, you will do anything. I started eating more meat and poultry again for about three months, that didn’t work. Went vegetarian for three months, then vegan for three months, nothing worked, but you know what came back? Not one, but two cysts.
The Process of Elimination
When I saw those two cysts during an ultrasound, I could not believe my eyes. Two years later, still not pregnant and having to deal with cysts again. 2009 was one of the toughest years for me. Constant pain and bloating from the endometriosis, still struggling to get pregnant and having to deal with many of my friends getting pregnant.
You can read more of my infertility story I wrote last year called, The Face of Infertility.
Then in late 2011 after doing even more research on endometriosis and food, I decided I needed to cut out several categories of food. I cut out red meat, dairy, sugar, carbohydrates, gluten, and wheat by 85-90%. My days consisted of fruit for breakfast with gluten-free granola and almond milk, a big salad for lunch and either organic chicken or turkey or fish with steamed vegetables for dinner. I also did some form of exercise everyday.
Not only did I feel amazing, I lost weight, not that I needed to, it just happened. And I didn’t have poultry or fish every night, but most nights I did.
I kept on that path for two years and decided to take a break from trying to get pregnant. In August of 2013, I decided to get all my tests done in preparation to start trying again. Now remember, I had these two cysts that measured 2.5cm each. When I was getting my ultrasound done at this time, I assumed they would still be there. You know what? The cysts went from two, measuring 2.5cm each, down to one, measuring less than 1cm. How was that possible?
Even my doctor at the time asked me how was that possible. It’s diet! It’s lifestyle! It’s exercise! It’s not rocket science.
The Power of Food
It’s been five years since I reduced my intake of gluten, refined carbs, refined sugar, wheat, red meat, poultry, fish/seafood, dairy and eggs. I’ve never felt better.
In July of 2014, even though I was able to control my endometriosis and dramatically reduce my cysts, I still had a laparoscopy done. I’m glad I did, because according to my doctor, “It was a mess inside.”
The most recent ultrasound I had in September 2015, I had a clean bill of health. No cysts! It has been eight years of non-stop issues with cysts and finally I was clean.
Food is powerful. I don’t think we give food enough consideration when dealing with health issues. If I can naturally reduce my cysts and if my husband can reduce his cholesterol by 50 points, that means we need to look towards food to take control of our health.
Doctors are so quick to prescribe medication. It’s rare that you will meet a doctor that will ever consider your diet and lifestyle.
The world of organic, vegan, vegetarian and limited meat consumption is not new. If you were to study all the different cultures around the world and what they eat, it’s really only modern, Western cultures that consume a lot of meat.
What is new is all the information, studies, books and documentaries coming out that are shining a light on the alarming health, environmental, moral and food production issues we’re dealing with today.
It’s Time to Get Educated
Below are the books and films I’ve read or seen and I encourage you to do the same:
Super Size Me – Morgan Spurlock personally explores eating a diet solely consuming McDonald’s for one month and the consequences it has on his health.
Food, Inc. – Robert Kenner exposes America’s industrialized food system and its effect on our environment, health, economy and workers’ rights.
King Corn – Ian Cheney and Curt Ellis learn the truth about America’s most subsidized crop, corn, which raises troubling questions about how we eat and how we farm.
Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead – Joe Cross is 100-pounds overweight and suffering from a debilitating auto-immune disease. This movie chronicles his journey across the U.S., with a juicer and generator in hand, as he only consumes fresh fruit and vegetable juice for 60-days.
Forks Over Knives – This movie examines how most, if not all, degenerative diseases can be controlled and even reversed by rejecting an animal-based and processed foods diet.
Sugar Coated – This movie explores both the politics and health issues surrounding the sugar industry.
The Omnivore’s Dilemma – Written by journalist, activist, and professor of journalism at the University of California, Berkeley, Michael Pollan. This book examines three areas of food production and consumption, the industrialized food chain, the “organic” food chain and the hunter/gatherer/gardener food chain. What he discovers is nothing short of eye-opening, a must-read.
Fed Up – Katie Couric, Laurie David (Oscar winning producer of AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH) and director Stephanie Soechtig shine an alarming light on the damaging and misguided advice the food industry has been telling us for the last 30 years.
Cowspiracy – This film not only unveils, but basically concludes that, “Animal agriculture is the leading cause of deforestation, water consumption and pollution, is responsible for more greenhouse gases than the transportation industry, and is a primary driver of rainforest destruction, species extinction, habitat loss, topsoil erosion, ocean “dead zones,” and virtually every other environmental ill. Yet it goes on, almost entirely unchallenged.”
Going Vegan Will Save the World
All of those movies and books come to one conclusion, it’s time to radically change what we eat, how we eat and how our food is produced. People don’t need to be suffering with obesity, type 2 diabetes or any of the auto-immune diseases that are plaguing us today.
The NY Times just posted an article last week titled, “A Few More Vegetables and a Little Less Meat May Reduce Diabetes Risk.” Not the most compelling of articles or studies cited, however it further confirms the desperate need for people to eat more vegan.
What I mean by eating more vegan is, ‘Meatless Mondays’ are not going to cut it. We need to do ‘Meatless Mondays through Fridays’ or at least ‘Meatless Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays’.
And I am well aware of the fact that depending upon the journey that some fruit, vegetables, nuts, etc., are taking are not helping the environment. This is when the local farm-to-table movement becomes more important.
I am being a bit tongue-in-cheek when I say, “Going Vegan Will Save the World,” because it’s not as simple as that. But we can start to make fundamental change by eating more of a plant-based diet.
And as the NY Times article cites, it’s eating the healthful choices of plant-based foods, not the unhealthful ones.
Healthful plant-based foods includes fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds, grains and legumes. Unhealthful plant-based foods are refined carbohydrates like muffins, sugary foods like cookies and soft drinks and starchy vegetables like potatoes and French fries.
Change Starts With You
There is much more I would like to write about in reference to the movie Cowspiracy, but I really encourage you to take the time to watch it. If we really care about this planet, our health and the welfare of animals, we will want to make change.
When you think you’re saving money by buying that family-size meat lasagna that you microwave or dinner from the dollar menu at McDonald’s, you’re paying for it elsewhere. Buying organic and eating a plant-based diet is cheaper in many respects.
As much as I am saddened, frustrated and angry by the current state of our health and the health of the planet, I believe change is coming. What I hope is being able to witness that change during my lifetime.
Have you seen any of those food documentaries or read any of those books?
If you have, which ones are your favorite?
Are you vegan or vegetarian? For how long and what changes have you experienced?
Would you be willing to try eating more vegan?
If you’re considering a raw, vegan diet, read Embarking On A Raw Vegan Lifestyle – Positive Health Wellness
Why a plant-based diet matters, read Why Doctors Need to Talk About Plant-Based Diets – One Green Planet