There are many reasons why a person might turn to whole food plant-based eating. In my case it came down to pure stubbornness. I just did not want to take a statin drug to decrease my increasing cholesterol blood level. At that time in my life I enjoyed good health with lots of energy to do everything I wanted to do. However, although I had been slim most of my life, I was gradually gaining weight. I could see the same weight increase happening to many people around me and it seemed that it must be a normal result of aging. I considered that my food choices were as healthy as possible and I tried to eat reasonable quantities of food and to limit sweets.
When I mentioned my dilemma of high cholesterol and the threat of a statin drug looming over me to my sister-in-law, she recommended that I read a book called “The China Study”(1). My sister-in-law is a person whose opinion I highly respect. She has been a life-long scientist and university professor in the field of Behavioral Neuroscience who has performed many of her own scientific experimental studies and definitely knows her way around biological science. What I learned from “The China Study” blew me away and began for me an increasingly passionate interest in human nutrition and health.
I decided to follow the advice in the book for one month to see what would happen. I really had no confidence that I would make it through a whole month without eating any meat (chicken was our delicious go-to protein around which the rest of the meal was planned and steak and roast beef were special occasion favourites) or cheese (how could I possibly go without cheese for a full month!). My husband, always up for a new adventure, agreed to make the same changes which definitely simplified the practical aspects of eating. We made a pact with ourselves to stick to the plan with the knowledge that we could go back to our old comfortable eating habits when the month was over.
In my experiment of two subjects (myself and my husband), the simple diet change of avoiding all food of animal origin had a plethora of benefits. Our cholesterol levels dropped, mine dropping precipitously so that I had no need to take a medication as a preventative. (My husband’s cholesterol was not a concern to begin with.) Our extra weight started to drop slowly and effortlessly and our energy levels blossomed. By the time six months had elapsed my cholesterol level had dropped by 50% and my weight had dropped back to the weight I had maintained throughout my late teens and twenties.
Of course an experiment with only two subjects means nothing in scientific terms but to us it had a liberating result. We were eating delicious food that was filling and satisfying. There was no need to count calories; on a whole food plant-based diet there are no restrictions in quantity of food. Every meal was a delicious adventure of vibrant colour and exquisite taste. We passed the one month mark and have never looked back.
Now, nine years later, we are even more committed to the plant-based lifestyle and growing within me is the feeling that more people need to understand the tremendous effect food choices have on our personal health. I continue to be shocked that these basic nutrition principles are not common knowledge. It is now time in my life journey to share my discoveries with anyone who can open their mind to listen and to learn. You just might be pleasantly surprised!
1 Campbell, T. Colin and Thomas M. Campbell, The China Study, January 2005, BenBella Books