Eric and the Plant-Based Diet Part I
In early September of 2013 I went to my doctor for a routine blood pressure check up. She told me that I had borderline high cholesterol, and if I didn’t cut back on the meat she would have to put me on medication. I said “sure doc, no problem”, and I left. Then I spent the next 3 months eating nothing but ground beef, sausage and piles and piles of cheese (there was probably other stuff in there too, but that’s not relevant to this story). Sure, I hated the idea of being on any more medication, specifically that medication (I had read a few things about it that I didn’t like), but meat is delicious. She had scheduled me to get more blood work in mid November so I just crossed my fingers and hoped my gluttonous behavior didn’t come back to bite my ass. Two days later I got a call from the nurse. “She wrote you a prescription for Lipitor and I already called it in to the pharmacy” she told me. “But…” I said “…I don’t want to be on Lipitor”. She told me that she was sorry and I decided I was going to become a vegan, maybe, probably, after Christmas (what’s the rush? I’m already on medication).
A year or so earlier my boss had watched a documentary called Forks Over Knives about plant-based diets (sneaky vegan phrasing). He decided to compromise and he just became a vegetarian, mostly, for a good deal of time. At work we all gave him a lot of crap for his refusal to eat that oh so delicious animal flesh, but it didn’t phase him because he was concerned about his cholesterol. His son and daughter-in-law were already full on vegan, but more for ethical reasons than health concerns, although, I’m sure that’s an added benefit. I thought the idea of not eating meat was absolutely ludicrous. God gave us the animals, right? Man was not meant to eat carrots, right? That’s what I was always taught anyway.
I made it through Christmas and told my wife that I was going Vegan on New Year’s Day. I didn’t really know much about veganism other than the abstaining from animals and their by-products part, but I was determined to do whatever it would take to get off of this awful medication. I don’t really know how she felt about it when I told her. She seemed mostly ok with the idea, but she was also used to all of the crazy new diets that I had tried over the years. I imagine that she thought that this was probably another fad that I would give up on after 3 months or maybe sooner. We had a week to prepare. We already had the essentials for survival. My bread was vegan so I could live off of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, but I also found a vegan protein powder, and we bought almond “milk”, quinoa, and a couple vegetables. On New Year’s morning we got up and watched Forks Over Knives first thing (I had never seen it before) to give ourselves the motivation that we would need to see this thing through. After that my wife told me that she would be a vegetarian, but veganism was a step too far, and she certainly wasn’t going to push it on the kids. I was mostly okay with that because this is about me and my cholesterol, but I knew it would be harder with that stuff in the house.
I went back to my doctor in the second week of January and declared that I no longer needed to take cholesterol medication because I was no longer eating anything with cholesterol. She told me that my cholesterol levels were better, but that was probably because of the medication and not because of my insane diet choices (she was concerned that veganism was going to make me a diabetic). She decided that I should stay on the medication a while longer. She was also concerned that I had gained weight although that wasn’t the case at all, this time. You see, there was a problem with the scale in the examination room that I normally used. The scale always said that I weighed quite a bit less than I knew that I actually weighed, but I didn’t want to argue and over the last couple of years it had become way too awkward for me to say anything. It just happened that on this day they decided to put me in an examination room where the scale actually worked for my enormous size. I explained all of this to her, which was rather embarrassing for me, but I had to defend myself. She was skeptical to say the least.
On January 1, 2014, when I started my plant-based diet, I was the heaviest that I have ever been in my life. I don’t know exactly how heavy I was because there were no scales in my house that could actually tell me, but I know I was pretty heavy. I couldn’t weigh myself until I got to the large shipping scale at work on the 6th. I was 425 lbs by that point. Based on how quickly I was losing weight during that first 3 months of my new diet I figure that I was at least 435 lbs. I got down to about 380 lbs, and then I just stopped losing weight. I don’t know if it’s because I discovered that Fritos, Oreos, and many items at Taco Bell are Vegan or if I just… hmmm, no, that’s probably it.
P.S. to be continued…