I had always been a “heathy” guy. I went to the gym most days. Ate what I thought was a somewhat healthy diet. Even have a masters degree in a health related field. That changed a bit when I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes at the age of 30. I had learned a lot about Diabetes through my schooling and work experience, but nothing can prepare you for living with this disease each and everyday. I met with a dietician who told me my diet should be very low on carbohydrates and high on protein and veggies. Fruit was a food group that was supposed to be kept to a minimum as well. So, I followed that, I ate a lot of chicken and red meat, with some veggies for my meals. I would also eat a lot of cheese as this is a low carb food. This all culminated with my wife and I following the keto diet. I remember sitting there and eating cheese and sausage for dinner and thinking what the hell were we doing, this can not possibly be good for us.
Back up a few years, I had the pleasure of meeting Joel and Jill and really formed a strong bond with Joel (I am sure most of you can say the same, not a hard guy to get along with). Joel and I worked together and had many conversations regarding diet and this wfpb lifestyle he was following. Now, I dont know how many times I told him it was impossible that I convert, but it has to be in the thousands. Joel is a persistent guy, he brought me wfpb items here and there for lunch just so I could give them a try. They were always great, but still did not sway my opinion on converting. Afterall, I am from Wisconsin and our diet always begins with meat, cheese, butter, and whatever else we can find in the fridge.
As I indicated above, I have been a Diabetic for 9 years now. My Hemoglobin A1C has always been under “decent” control, but I really wanted it to be better. I was also in a statin as my cholesterol levels were borderline and being a diabetic, my doctor thought it would be a good idea to be on one. I also was about 40lbs overweight according to the BMI scale. At this point I knew I had to start doing something different, but cutting out meat and cheese was the furthest thing from my mind. I thought maybe I would just exercise more, cut down on snacking, and eat more fruits and veggies. Then I received a call from Joel that he and Jill were going to be conducting their diabetes specific class through Rooted Green Wellness. I thought I would go to support Joel and Jill as I have had multiple nutrition visits in the past and I “knew” what I should be eating. By the time I left the class that night, my mind was blown. It felt like everything I was led to believe about diet previously in my life was a lie. I could not believe all of the studies that were referenced that show that it is not the carbs that are pushing my A1C up, but it was all the meat and dairy that were doing the damage. So at that point, I made the decision that I was going to cut out all animal products and use myself as a guinea pig to see if this would actually work. My plan was to start on January 1, 2020 and I started slowly trying some recipes in November and December of 2019 to prep myself for a complete lifestyle change. I also completed my A1C and cholesterol tests and checked my weight at the end of December.
I am not going to say it was an easy transition, but I would also say it is not nearly as hard as your mind might tell you it is. I think if you have a solid support system and encouragement, it is a very manageable change. Once I started, there was no looking back. The food was so good, my energy was through the roof, and I just felt good about this positive change I had made. Around mid-March, I had to complete a biometric screening for work. At this point I was down roughly 15lbs of the 20lbs total I have lost. As part of the screening, they completed a cholesterol screening. They drew my blood and the nurse had a weird look on her face. She indicated that there was an error with my blood draw and would need another sample. I told her this was not a problem and asked how often this happens. She said it was very, very rare that there is an error with their machine. Second draw came back, and same thing happened. So she called the lead nurse over and told her what had happened. Nurse asked me if I was on any special diet. I said no, but I have been vegan for a few months. She indicated that because of my diet, my cholesterol was probably too low to measure, which was the cause of the error! This was amazing to me. After only 3 months, my cholesterol had changed so much that it was not able to be read on their machine. I called my primary care physician that day and he indicated that I should discontinue my statin. This was an incredible win for me! My A1C levels also dropped a full point. This might not sound like much, but in the diabetes world an A1C drop of 1 point is huge and shows a very positive change in management of the disease.
I cant say enough about how great it has been to make the change to a vegan diet. My health has been impacted significantly and my energy levels have been great. I am incredibly grateful to Rooted Green Wellness for triggering this thought change in my brain and making it something that was actually doable