Getting diagnosed with a condition and having to start taking medications always seemed so random to me. Like it could happen to anyone at any time, regardless of lifestyle. While I always believed that regular exercise and a healthy diet helps, I also believed that getting diabetes, heart disease, or cancer has more to do with genetics and how lucky or unlucky you are. We’ve all heard of someone that is what we think of as the picture of health who suddenly drops dead of a heart attack.
My grandmother ate what most would consider a healthy diet and swam several times a week from when she was a child until she was 92 years old. She never had to take a single medication, until she had a “mild” heart attack at the age of 88. After that she was suddenly on a whole host of medications for her blood pressure, cholesterol, blood viscosity, and electrolytes, and she was kept on all those medications for the rest of her life.
So I thought that all I could do was exercise, eat “healthy”, and hope that I would be lucky enough to never get diagnosed with any kind of disease. Beyond that, I had absolutely no idea how I could prevent myself from getting sick and having to take any other medications.
Until I read “The China Study” by T. Colin Campbell, PhD. He presented very compelling evidence that animal-based foods make us sick and whole plant-based foods protect us from diseases and keep us healthy.
And here’s why I believed him: T. Colin Campbell has published over 300 peer-reviewed scientific journal articles on his own findings on the link between animal protein and cancer, essentially that animal protein is an on/off switch for cancer, yet there is no correlation between plant protein and cancer. He also received 27 consecutive years of grant funding from the National Institutes of Health, a highly competitive task among top researchers.
Why is that important to me? I’ve written and reviewed both peer-reviewed scientific journal articles and grant proposals, so given my background, I knew of the rigorous scrutiny his work underwent in order to get published and funded, and that spoke to me of the scientific integrity of his work. And while that process may not be perfect, it is the best system we have for maintaining scientific integrity.
I was a meat- and dairy-eater through and through for my entire life. Yogurt and/or eggs with cheese for breakfast; a deli-meat or tuna sandwich smothered in mayonnaise and cheese for lunch; cheese for snacks, and a steak, cheeseburger, chicken breast, meat & cheese burrito, or piece of fish for dinner, always with a side salad and veggie. I thought I was eating healthy and had no intention of ever giving up any of those foods.
Then something very strange happened. While I was reading “The China Study”, I began to make foods that I knew I liked that didn’t have any meat. For example, fusilli pasta with broccoli, garlic, and parmesan cheese, only I left off the cheese. Or a bean and rice burrito with veggies, and again, I left off the cheese. Or a marinara sauce with mushrooms, eggplant, onions, garlic, and lentils over whole-grain pasta, no cheese. Or a marinara sauce with roasted butternut squash over whole grain pasta or rice, again, no cheese.
What was so strange about that? The fact that I didn’t fully realize what I was doing until I got to the end of the book and came to the challenge to go 28 days completely plant-based to see how I would feel. I thought “Ha! I could never do that! I eat meat and dairy all the time. That is never going to happen!”.
When I started to think about how much meat I eat, it made me think back to the last time I ate any meat, which I thought was maybe a day or two prior. I was shocked when I realized that I hadn’t eaten any meat or dairy for two whole weeks! And I felt FANTASTIC!!! Maybe that explained why I had so much more energy, felt lighter, saw my skin begin to firm up, slept better, and felt some looseness in my clothes.
I decided to keep this experiment going, but my only commitment was a meal at a time. I made a game out of coming up with something to eat for my next meal that had no meat, dairy, or eggs in it, and had fun with it. It was only an experiment, so I could just keep doing it until I got bored or wanted something animal-based that I couldn’t resist. For me, that was an In-N-Out Double Double Cheeseburger.
The funny thing is, I never got bored with the plant-based foods I was eating, and while the idea of that In-N-Out Double Double Cheeseburger always sounded good to me, anytime I decided to go get one, it stopped sounding good by the time I arrived at the In-N-Out restaurant, so I never stopped to get one. I always ended up eating something at home instead. I did eat some grilled salmon once about three months later. It didn’t taste that great and I didn’t feel that great after eating it.
The trade-off from giving up animal-based foods was so worth it to me. I continued to lose weight and feel better and better! I finally lost those last 10 pounds that never seem to want to budge, and I lost fat from places where I was never able to lose fat before such as my hips.
So now I know how to prevent myself from ever having to take medications, and it’s very likely that I will never need any of the medications I used to help design (or any others). I love this lifestyle so much and find it so easy that I have no doubt that I truly am keeping myself as healthy as possible.
You can too! It’s not as hard as you think. Try it for 28 days – what have you got to lose?