Early in 2012 I started reaching out to vegan friends on twitter to ask them to share their testimonials. My hope was that by getting vegans to share their stories we could educate and inspire others and give people first hand accounts to replace perceptions or stereotypes. I’m incredibly grateful to those that have participated. Their stories speak for themselves! If you enjoy the series please let us know!
Imagine a woman hobbled by arthritis. She leans heavily on her cane, struggling to walk 50 feet without stopping to rest. As she lowers herself to a sunny bench, her joints creak and pop. She sweeps her greying hair away from her face and sighs. She has just come from the doctor, who told her that the changes in her health lately are the first signs of menopause. Her husband calls out to her from the parking lot, but she doesn’t turn – her hearing is starting to go. He’s also noticed her memory is not what it once was. She is so very tired.
That was an accurate snapshot of me at age 26. Yes, twenty-six.
It wasn’t always that bad – with physical therapy and careful energy management, I was able to put the cane away about 360 days out of every 365. But the pain and fatigue caused by fibromyalgia and psoriatic arthritis were always with me – some days unbearably so. The anemia that resulted from my supposed peri-menopause made me weak at times, but I struggled through my work days and let the tiredness overwhelm my time at home. I underwent hours of mentally and emotionally grueling neuropsychological testing and found ways to work around the holes in my memory. I took a sign language class and started to learn lipreading skills, with future hearing decline in mind. I adjusted to the life I was told I would have.
Now imagine the same woman waking up in the morning… feeling great. She’s bursting with energy and her health seems to improve every day. This healing has given her a new vitality – she hikes, swims, kayaks, gardens, practices yoga, and works out at the gym. Her mind is sharper than it has ever been and she’s taking on new projects left and right. Years after being told she was entering menopause, her cycle is like clockwork. Years after she was told she could need a hearing aid, her hearing has returned to normal. (Her hair is still grey underneath the dye, but that’s genetic.)
That is an accurate picture of me today, at 39. The difference? I went vegan.
The funny thing is, when I considered changing my diet, my health had nothing to do with it. It never even entered my mind. I only knew I didn’t want any living creature to die on my behalf. When I had that realization, I went vegetarian. A few months later, I learned that animals have to die to produce eggs and milk (particularly male chicks and calves, which are useless to the egg and dairy farmers), so I took the extra step and became vegan.
That was nearly three years ago. The change in my health is nothing short of miraculous. Today, at 39, I have more pain-free days than I’ve had at any time in the last 30 years, since the day I was diagnosed with arthritis at age 9. I have more fatigue-free days than at any time in the last 25 years, since I was first diagnosed with the chronic fatigue associated with fibromyalgia at age 14. The chronic anemia I’d suffered from since age 19 has been cured. (Ironically, the anemia was the reason I’d started eating meat – under doctor’s orders – in the first place. I was a vegetarian throughout my teens.)
All of these things – arthritis, fibromyalgia, anemia, and even the type of hearing impairment I turned out to have – are connected to inflammation. It is well-documented in nutritional science that meat and dairy contribute to inflammation. Yet, from age 9 until today, not once did a doctor suggest that I try a meatless or dairy-free diet. I had to stumble upon my miracle by accident. So I’m suggesting it to you: if you have any health conditions related to inflammation, try a vegan diet for 30 days and see what it does for you!
Is it easy? Not at first. Any major change in diet requires time to adapt. Giving up cheese was especially hard for me – I never thought I could. But once I felt what happened to my body when I slipped up, once the pain and fatigue came back, I learned I didn’t want to do that to myself anymore. And over time, it becomes more than easy – it becomes a real joy to eat vegan, knowing you’re putting only healthy things into your body, and only positive energy into the world.
And you don’t have to do it alone. There are dozens of vegan starter kits on the Internet, and plenty of people and organizations ready to mentor you through the transition. Reach out – take this step for your health. You won’t be sorry!
You can follow Kasey on twitter @veggiemightee and her blog here.
To submit your own vegan testimonial please read this post.
You can also read the interview Kasey did with me about this project for This Dish is Veg.