Brian Ellis

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My plant-based journey started when I was 19 years old, in an intro to nutrition class at Oakland University. During one of our classes, our professor showed slaughter house footage. I left class as a vegetarian that very day and never looked back. 

After further personal research, I transitioned to a plant-based vegan lifestyle for mostly ethical reasons. I didn’t expect or even consider the idea that this change would have any health benefits. I already had considered myself to be healthy and in good shape. After about a month, I noticed that my energy levels had increased. I no longer felt the need for coffee in the mornings, or even pre-workout before the gym. My headaches that I would get at least 2-3 times a week are down to once or twice a month. This was huge for me. 

I’ve become obsessed with researching the benefits of a plant-based diet. I am now 24 years old, and in October I will have been living a plant-based vegan lifestyle for 2 years. So far, I have only gotten stronger and in better shape. It is my goal to one day start my own blog and share the information I have learned with as many people as possible. 

Andy Larson

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In 2012 I was 290 pounds (I'm 5 foot 8), in poor health and unhappy. I was an out of control food addict consuming lots of ice cream and fast food and other junk foods. My wife learned about green smoothies and started making them for us. Next she insisted I watch the movie, “Fat Sick and Nearly Dead”, which greatly influenced and motivated me. I then started on Weight Watchers and did that for about a year and a half. I realized that rather than trying to eat food in moderation I should start eliminating it entirely. I started with sugar and steadily began eliminating other foods that were standing in the way of me achieving a healthy body weight. At some point early on in my journey I saw a PBS special with Dr. Joel Fuhrman that really resonated with me so I began following him on Youtube and eventually read his book Eat to Live. I also followed many of the other plant-based doctors and dieticians. Everything I did was gradual. Towards the end I did some juice fasting to lose the reminder of my weight and also end the last of my food addictions. It took me 5 years to completely transform and lose 130 pounds. I maintain my weight loss and good health by eating a whole food plant-based diet with no oil or added sugar, and I eat a low amount of salt. I also quit eating dairy and more than 90% of my calories come from plant foods. I prepare all my own meals at home and stopped eating at restaurants. I eat no candy, fast food or anything like that. I believe in abstinence rather than moderation so I don't eat cake even on my birthday. I eat well everyday. If one were to label my eating style they could call me a Nutritarian with a bit of McDougall thrown in because I love potatoes. I reversed sleep apnea, depression, GERD, hemorrhoids and fall allergies among other things. I was becoming insulin resistant at the time but never given the diagnosis of type 2 diabetes but I was heading down that road towards metabolic syndrome. They were always  wanting to do blood tests at the doctor because of my alarming weight gain. My numbers for cholesterol, blood sugar, and blood pressure are all excellent now. I take zero prescription medications and am in the best health of my life and I am very close to the size I was in high school. I am passionate about nutrition and am active on social media telling my story and spreading the message that people can overcome disease and live longer and happier lives simply by eating healthy.  

Moses Benavides

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I was extremely overweight (see photo) and knew I wanted to make changes. I began with 'common dietary advice' which was not WFPB. I lost some weight, but then I went through a 'dark time' including heavy drinking- starving myself and drinking instead...nutrient-depleted, etc., loss of love, legal troubles as a result, (Rich Roll was a huge inspiration for some of these relatable concepts) and I thankfully came out on the other side finding Plant-Based documentaries and literature. (My friend Dixie was a huge driving force in this, thank you Dixie!)

Since going WFPB (now fully for > two years), I have morphed my body from an unhealthy 265 lbs to a current 163 chiseled and HEALTHY!


Cindy Appel

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I have suffered from lipedema and lymphedema from the time of being a child. A doctor working with my mom at a hospital saw a photo of my twin sister and I  and stated that given the fact that my sister and I were so different in size, we would have made a great study in metabolism.

Of course what the doctor didn’t understand was that in reality was that I had more issues with the veins in my body allowing lymphatic fluids to not evacuate my body properly and so parts of me were swelling up.

I always had one leg that was larger than the other, and I was from infancy larger than my sister.

Always known as the “fat one”, I just hated it. There is always a tendency to compare twins so that made the comments more frequent and with no regard that I was standing right there. It was one heck of a way to grow up. Back then no one knew anything about lipedema or lymphedema. I was accused of not trying to control my weight by multiple doctors over the year.

Whole Food Plant Based eating that is focused on low fat, low glycemic index foods with no added oils or sugar has benefited everything. I look better now than I did when I was 29!


Charlie "Rocket" Jabaley

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I was 305 pounds and diagnosed with a brain tumor in 2017. Something told me in my gut to watch a documentary, so I watched Forks Over Knives. I flipped the switch and became plant-based and I lost 130 lbs. I have completed an Ironman, I have biked across America, and have completed 5 marathons. I’M ALIVE because I eat living foods. You are what you eat. Is what you’re eating dead or alive?


Joyce Hale

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I spent most of my life battling illness, literally from the day I was born with measles and 103 degree fever.  I encountered odd illnesses that doctors could not explain throughout my childhood, teens, and early twenties.  The severity of the symptoms and infections only increased over the years until I found myself falling to the ground when I tried to walk in my late twenties.  Several trips to the ER and examinations with specialists finally provided the a-ha moment of a diagnosis that had eluded all the previous doctors.  I had Lupus.  


I spent the next decade seeing doctor after doctor and trying various medications, only to have the Lupus continue to progress and take over every aspect of my life.  I was hospitalized numerous times annually, spending time in the cardiac wing, infectious disease ward, and becoming way too familiar with the hospital staff due to the frequency of my admissions.  


I developed neuropathy, which required additional medication.  My kidneys and respiratory system declined.  The bone structure in one side of my jaw disintegrated, requiring reconstruction and therapy to regain the ability to speak and eat properly again.  I eventually incurred daily multiple seizures that made functioning in my day-to-day life near impossible.  My colleagues were overwhelmingly aware of the worsening of my disease.  So they monitored my symptoms and any changes carefully for my safety, especially for days when I had too many seizures to comprehend what was happening or how bad I was.  


Six years ago it was discovered that the other side of my jaw was following the same path.  I was told it too would require reconstruction most likely within a year.  Recovery would not be as successful as the first surgery as both sides would have muscle and nerve loss with titanium plates holding everything together.  Therefore I would lose function with respect to speaking and eating solid food.  By that point I was receiving monthly infusions of a biologic drug designed to kill off parts of my immune system and cells.  However I continued to move deeper into the disease process and depression.  Additional medications were introduced but only backfired making me and my condition worse, causing new symptoms and adding even more medications.  It was a vicious cycle without relief.


By early 2013 I was told I would need to increase my medications further, file for disability, and stop driving.  Instead I was introduced to a whole food plant based diet and found hope.  My coworkers noticed a difference within the first week of me experimenting with this nutritional approach as it caused my seizures to drastically decrease.  During the second and third weeks I was able to slightly lower the dosages of my medications (instead of the increases which had been suggested just weeks earlier).  At one month I went for my next infusion, but it caused an immediate and severe set-back.  My baseline had improved so significantly, that destroying parts of my immune system was not necessary anymore.  So another one was not administered after April 2013.


I successfully avoiding the second surgery.  I took my last dose of neuropathy and seizure medication October 2017 and the last of the other Lupus medications March 2018.  I have maintained my 100% Lupus medication free status since then and only continue to become stronger and healthier as the days/weeks/months pass.  In August 2018 I was able to gently ease into a high intensity interval training program.  By November 2018 I was entered into a rowing challenge and was the first female at my fitness center to finish.  


Only five to six years ago I was being prepared for an increasing downward spiral, with my family and friends preparing for the same.  Now I am not only still alive, I thrive.  I have the honor and privilege to be able to help others begin their wellness journeys.  I can offer hope where I had none.  I have been given the opportunity for a miraculous second chance at life and to continually pay it forward.


-Joyce Hale-

#reFocus  #reFuel  #reVive  #reJoyce

Jeff Tritten

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In 2011, I took over a small restaurant in my town and shortly after, we turned it into a BBQ joint.  Over the course of 5 years, I gained almost 150lbs, at one point weighing in at 348 lbs. I also developed severe joint pain and was taking 21 (4,200mg) ibuprofen daily. I had horrible sleep apnea, was pre-diabetic, had high cholesterol, and high blood pressure.

In 2016, I also developed severe edema.  My hands, feet and legs were always swollen.  I saw my doctor many times and the answer was always to throw more pills at me.  I was prescribed an anti-inflammatory, a pain killer, and a muscle relaxer. They seemed to help a little, but never fixed the issues and the edema persisted.  I even had a deep vein thrombosis scan and a couple of EKG’s. No one ever asked about my diet!

In September 2016, I began having severe gastrointestinal pain. On October 3rd, I was hospitalized for it.  They ran many tests, gave me NO answers, did not address my diet, and prescribed MORE medications. Upon release from the hospital, I had a conversation with my 68 year old extremely healthy, mostly plant based mom.  Her words to me were “Don’t fill those prescriptions, FOOD IS MEDICINE! Do the research!”. So I did!

I was unable to work at the time, and I am an avid research junkie, so I poured through the internet and medical journals, looking for an anti-inflammatory diet. Beginning Oct. 5th, 2016 I stopped eating beef, pork, and chicken, and limited my dairy consumption to less than half of what I was eating, and stopped drinking soda.  I included turmeric in my diet and started hydrating with lemon and lime in my water. I also limited my refined carbohydrate intake.

In a little over 2 weeks, my edema was gone and my blood pressure stabilized into the normal range.  In 100 days, I lost 80lbs!!

In February 2017, I watched the documentary ‘Forks Over Knives’ and immediately stopped consuming cheese due to the Casein, Casomorphins, and IGF-1 in dairy.  Within 3 weeks of ditching dairy, my lifelong struggle of daily anxiety magically disappeared. As I continued to research, I then gave up eggs and fish realizing that I had no need for this protein source in my diet, nor did I need the additional cholesterol.

I have now been plant based for 1 year. All of my blood work is very good, and I have lost almost 150lbs!  Going Plant Based saved my life, and has changed SO many lives!

Karen Hauserman


"I love to create healthy food dishes, share my amazing story and educate others on how this lifestyle will change their lives forever."

Formally and professionally, Karen is a board-certified pedorthist and orthotic fitter. Additionally, she has a degree in orthotics and prosthetics, four years training in rehabilitation and a bachelor and masters degree in healthcare administration. She own's and operates a mobile patient-care business, and provide her bracing products to physicians, therapists and orthotic/prosthetic clinicians. She transitioned her business to 100% vegan, which is unheard of in her industry!

For most of my life, I was either overweight or obese. I was an outcast in school and was teased because of my weight. I never had a boyfriend as a teenager and didn’t get invited to my prom. While my friends meant well, I was tired of hearing “but you have such a pretty face.” I desperately wanted to lose weight and keep it off. I tried every diet imaginable and usually did lose weight, but I would soon gain it all back, plus some more. Then, in my early 20s, I lost 50 pounds. I was so excited, and soon afterwards met the man who would become my husband. I got pregnant right away and then gained the 50 pounds back, plus about 100 more. I was devastated, but figured since I had a husband and a new baby, it didn’t matter what I looked like. That’s when I really let myself go.

After three beautiful children and some years of living this way, I was morbidly obese and (nearly) 200 pounds overweight. That number seemed to climb every day. I was miserable, but no matter what diet I tried (and I’ve tried them all), I ended up failing. I just couldn’t lose enough and keep it off.

Refused Gastric Bypass Surgery

When my youngest was only a few months old, I decided to get gastric bypass surgery. I was prepped and on the table (only five minutes from going under the knife), when my surgeon cancelled the surgery. My surgeon said it was because I was smoker and was too high-risk. Even though I had cut down to three cigarettes per day and had passed the pre-tests, including the lung exam and chest x-ray, he refused.

I was horribly disappointed and felt hopeless after this experience. I turned to food even more and started smoking a lot again. I didn’t know it then, but what I thought was stubbornness and insensitivity on my surgeon’s part was actually a huge favor. He saved my life. For the next decade, I tortured myself and my body with the standard American diet. I didn’t care for myself, my looks, or my health.

Instead of focusing on my weight and health, I put all my energy into improving my career. I was bored with working in the mortgage industry and pushing a pencil all day. I wanted more out of life. I wanted to work in healthcare and make a real difference in the lives of others. I enrolled in college and started a new chapter in my life.

Fast forward several years, and I was close to graduating with my MBA. I had already earned my BAS in healthcare management, an AAS in orthotics and prosthetics, and a board certification in pedorthics. I felt like I was on the right path to success. However, I was still miserable with some parts of my life: I was in a failed marriage and weighed over 400 pounds. I couldn’t walk across the room without being out of breath. My knees and joints ached non-stop.

On Black Friday in 2010, I was closing the Starbucks in Atlanta with Oscar, my friend and shift manager. I got up to use the restroom before making the 27-mile drive home, when I felt a sharp, shooting pain in my left arm. It shot quickly up to my shoulder and neck, traveled down my back, and radiated into my abdomen. Within seconds, I was doubled over in pain and on the floor. Oscar wanted to call 911, but I wouldn’t let him. I insisted I was OK and about 10 minutes later, got up to go home. Hunched over in pain in my van, I knew I was having a heart attack. I drove home, took a couple aspirin, and went right to bed without saying a word to anyone.

I woke up the next morning and went through the typical routine of making coffee. That’s when it hit me—I was alive! I felt like God must have reached out to me in my sleep, and I vowed that I was going to lose weight and get healthy starting on January 1. I was sick and tired of being sick and tired. A visit to the doctor confirmed what I already knew—I had suffered a minor heart attack, was morbidly obese, had high blood pressure and prediabetes, and was a ticking time bomb for a heart attack and stroke.

The First Day of the Rest of My Life

On Jan. 1, 2011, I woke up and began the first day of the rest of my life. I joined Planet Fitness, hired a personal trainer, and started strength training. Along with working out, I started to change my eating habits. I had absolutely no clue what I was doing at first, but I diligently researched to figure it out. I started with Weight Watchers and keeping a food journal. Then I started reading food labels, eliminated most processed foods, and focused on whole foods instead. I experimented with green smoothies. I started to lose weight steadily.

By the end of 2011, I had lost over 80 pounds. I felt great and looked even better. In 2012, after watching Forks Over Knives, I decided to go meat-free. I went pescatarian and then gradually went vegetarian and then whole-food vegan. This is when I lost the most weight in the shortest amount of time.

By 2013, I had lost 260 pounds! I did it all on my own, without surgery or drugs, and even without a support system. I also reversed my high blood pressure and heart disease, stopped my prediabetes in its tracks, eliminated my constant joint pain, and even improved my eyesight. I felt simply amazing, and had more energy than my kids who were in their teens and early 20s! I was, for the first time in over 25 years, able to shop off the rack. I wore jeans for the first time since I was a teenager. Oh what a feeling! But what really blew my mind was stepping my entire body into one leg of my old elastic-waist knit pants. Yes, that’s right…one leg! I cried and cried! They were happy tears. I was healthy and thin, and for the first time in my entire life, I felt beautiful.

Along with keeping all that weight off for over three years, I have lost another eight pounds and successfully quit smoking. I am now a whole-food, plant-based, organic health nut. And even though I do have some loose skin, you couldn’t pay me enough to go back to my old self. I’m healthy, happy, and love the new me! At 49 years young, I feel like I’ve reversed the aging process.

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Shannon Farrell


Shannon Farrell--before and after a plant based diet. Before I took 26 medications, did not walk much, and weighed 85 pounds more than I do now. After, I work full time, take very little medications, ran a half marathon, and teach others how to live life really, really well following a plant based diet. Join me @pbnsg!



I lead 16 small groups across the state of Michigan to living life beautifully while following a plant based diet! Yes, you can do it and meet some amazing friends along the way!

Jim Balla "Thank you: Starch Solution and Dr. John McDougall."


Thank you: Starch Solution and Dr. John McDougall. You not only saved my life with your YouTube videos, you gave me the tools I needed to implement a healthful, fit, and active new life. The first 140 lbs. came off in 9 months, and then the weight loss slowed to 5 lbs. per month. I lost a total of 164 lbs. half my body weight in 13 months. I have been maintaining that weight for the last 7 months. I had so much energy after 6 months I started walking the dog. I still walk 4 miles a day. I reversed my Diabetes in 2 weeks and my cholesterol went from 340 on meds to 134 with no meds in 3 months. High Blood Pressure for 20 years on meds was 160/90, now 112/68 with no meds. Arthritis is now completely gone as well as many more health complaints. I was off 8 of the 9 medications within the first 3 months. I still take thyroid meds but the dose was cut in half. This was the easiest thing I ever did. I will never be overweight and unhealthy again. Thanks again Dr. John McDougall.

My Story: Cheryl Nagengast

I had been suffering from IBS for 30+ years. Then Colitis/Ulcerative Colitis for the last 15 years. I was morbidly obese, with a BMI of 43. In August through December, 2013, I had 3 separate hospital admissions for 5-7 days each for bowel abscess. I was very sick with chronic colon infections, eventually resulting in surgery to remove part of my colon. My CRP (C-Reactive Protein) was elevated, indicating severe systemic inflammation.

Lying in that hospital bed, thinking that I might not survive, I made a promise to God and myself that if I survived, I would take responsibility for all my medical conditions: high blood pressure, pre diabetes (HgbA1C was 6.3), Coronary Heart Disease, gastric ulcers, GERD, to name a few. I was determined that only I could make these changes—I was 58 years old at the time.

I was fortunate to get referred to Dr. Dangovian for my heart and blood pressure problems. He helped me think about the direction I should take. I started reading all I could about anti-inflammatory diets. Initially, in August of 2013, I stopped eating Gluten. A lab test in early 2014 showed Celiac Disease. In December 2013, I stopped eating red meat and fowl. As my gastrointestinal system improved, I felt more energy than I’ve had since I was in my 20’s (40 years ago!) The chronic fatigue improved, and, most importantly, my Colitis went into remission. In January 2016, after an exacerbation of my Colitis, I went full on Vegan, giving up dairy and fish. The Colitis lasted only a couple weeks before it was, and is to this day, in full remission. Since early 2016, I have been educating myself about plant-based nutrition with the assistance of Kelly, Paul Chatlin, and Shannon Farrell. Today I am 90% whole food plant based, maybe 10% processed Vegan.

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Something else has happened in the years since I started this new lifestyle. As my energy increased and my health improved, I started to get involved in activities I loved as a youth. I joined 2 swim teams: a senior swim team and a Masters swim team. We compete about every 2 months. I qualified for Nationals in 2015, and it was a great experience, with some of my personal best times. I started a weekly cycling group in the summer of 2014, and now cycle at least 50 miles a week, and I try to do 2 triathlons every year. In between my competitions and teams—I’m in the gym. I do some type of workout every day.

From January 2014 to March 2015, I lost 120lbs. Today I am off all my prescription medications. I’ve maintained my weight without counting calories or worrying about portion control. My last Echo stress test, my METS score was 14---4 yrs ago it was 7! In 2013, I had a 70% occluded left carotid artery that a vascular surgeon was following. Last ultrasound, the occlusion was < 50%! This new life style is nothing short of a miracle! I’m living a life I never thought possible. Four years ago, I never thought I would still be alive---today I feel as though I have another 3 or 4 decades!!!

I am so fortunate to have found this support group to help me continue on this path to improve my health.

Sandy Graham

I want to share my brief story about how I became a plant-based lifestyle (vegan). I have no health issues and have never taken any prescriptions of any kind, except antibiotics and a few temporary medications. I have been passionately taking care of my health and eating health foods for about 35 years.

When I was 25 years old in 1979, my co-worker friend took me out to lunch at the health food store in Charlotte, NC. I was stunned to see an open face veggie sandwich topped with alfalfa sprouts.  It was delicious. I was curious and explored new food products around the health foods. I couldn’t afford to buy expensive healthy foods. However, I saw all kinds of health and nutrition books on the shelves. I noticed a book "Are You Confused" by Paavo Airola, Ph.D., N.D. Yes that was me and bought it! I learned a lot of new information from his book and was fascinated by it. I got rid of unhealthy foods in fridge and pantry. I tried many new recipes.

I joined a health food co-op club and volunteered ten hours a month.  I received a 20% discount which helped as I was a low income, single mother. Most food co-op members were vegetarian so I decided to become vegetarian for four years, until my second ex-husband complained of intestinal spasms from legumes causing gas.  In 1984, moved to Chattanooga, TN where I grew up. I went to a Seventh-day Adventist doctor that did blood tests. My cholesterol was 204. He told me I needed to cut down and stop eating so much cheese. However, I gave up being a vegetarian and started eating a semi-vegetarian diet including only white meats, eggs, cow's milk and soymilk on and off for years and of course heavy plant-based foods for 27 years. I haven’t eaten any red meats since 1979.

I was passionate about health and nutrition education so I attended Madonna University and studied dietetics.  I received a Bachelor of Science degree and completed a dietetic internship program at the Hurley Medical Center in Flint. In 2009, my friend who was pesco-vegetarian told me about a documentary film “Earthlings”. I watched it with closed captions. It hit me hard and I was so disgusted. I stopped watching it after 45 minutes of the one and a half hour film. I quit eating white meats and eggs immediately but I was cheese lover. It was hard to stop cheese but I cut it down slowly over nine months.

During that time, I was searching the Internet for vegan information. I tried new recipes and also I saw information on Facebook. I found a book entitled "Becoming Vegan" by Brenda Davis, RD. I picked her book because she is a registered dietitian. She helped me understand how to eat a balanced plant-based diet before I became 100% vegan on April 15, 2010. Then I learned more about the impact of this way of eating on the environment and animal rights. I created and founded a new group on Facebook called "ASL (American Sign Language) Vegan-Vegetarian Unity" in October 2010. I have almost 2000 members from America and a few from other countries. I approve members to join who know sign language for Deaf, Hard of Hearing and Hearing people.  I also made a big project video "ASL/Deaf Proud and Happy to be a Vegan" with English subtitles. It is 29 minutes about nutrition, environment (that was me when I was vacation in Cayman Brac Island last year) and animal rights. 

Happy whole food plant-based lifestyle..... Go Vegan! 😊

Sandy Graham

Sandria (Sandy) Graham holds a bachelor degree in dietetics from Madonna University, a plant-based nutrition certificate from eCornell and is a Nutrition & Health Program Instructor at Michigan State University Extension. She has been passionate about eating healthy foods for her entire adult life.  She is a tireless advocate for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing and has created ways for the community to access this information with both a Facebook group and a video on YouTube. The first PBNSG meeting Sandy attended was March 9, 2016 featuring Dr. Esselstyn.  She found out about the group around Dec 2015, but it took until March to get the "interpreter thing" in place.  She has started an American Sign Language PBNSG small group and was recently named the PBNSG Deaf Community Liaison.

Kathy de Plaza

I have had a very good education in nutrition and muscle health due to my profession as an herbalist, massage therapist and non-physician naturopath.  At one time during my education, I tried a vegetarian diet in an attempt to have a healthier lifestyle and because I had guilt over how our world treats its farm animals.  However, I did not last long because I lacked energy and felt that I would have to include grass-fed farm animals raised organically.  As the years flew by, I noticed a steady rise in my blood pressure as I started past fifty years of age.  I also started gaining unwanted weight.  

Before fifty years old I could get any extra weight off just by stopping an ice cream and chocolate habit.  But, after fifty, that was no longer the case.  Doctors also started warning me that I better start on meds for my high blood pressure as it was getting into the dangerous zone.  I absolutely detest taking any kind of drugs—over the counter or prescribed.  So, I started googling about high blood pressure and found my way to the video on Netflix “Forks Over Knives”.  I smirked about this as I considered it most likely to just be another new fad, but was desperate to bring my BP down without drugs.  So, I thought, it can’t hurt to try it for a month just to see if I loose my energy again like I did on that vegetarian diet so many years ago.  Well, viewing Forks Over Knives was last year, and I am still eating WFPB!  I absolutely love it….I can eat all it want of the most flavorable food known to God and have all the energy a 69 year old could hope for!  My BP went quickly down to normal in only one week.  And, I lost 30 lbs without even thinking about it.  My clothes just started to fall off of me.

Thanks to all those who help support this movement.  God bless them one and all.

Here is my new body at 69 years young:                                                                              


Kathy de Plaza, West Grove, Pennsylvania

Kevin Rubin

HI, my name is Kevin Rubin, I own a small business in Toledo Oh. My wife recently changed jobs to a large corporation, who for health insurance reasons, paid to have us get blood tests done and send them to our family physician. So, i went through the ordeal and 1 week later I received a call from him. 

I have been heavy for a majority of the last 15 years. I was successful on the Atkins diet for a time, but after researching it more, stopped it, based concerns of health vs weight loss. So, i went to my regular habits of Hot Wings and Beer for sports, pizza and cheeseburgers during the week, etc.

So, back to the call, my DR called and told me to come in and see him, meanwhile, he sent 2 prescriptions to the pharmacy for me, and i was to start them immediately  So i did, i soon figured out that they were for diabetics. Now, my mother has diabetes, but i never thought I'd get it. So, i went to see my Dr. He came in, sat down and said "I'm going to run 2 scenarios by you, and i want you to choose which path you're most comfortable with, and then i'll give you my opinion."

"Path #1" He said, pointing to his counter with 5 medication bottles and a blood test kit "would be to do what everyone else is prescribing and doing, and that is to attempt to manage your condition with medication and blood tests." I said "What condition?" He said "Kevin you're diabetic." Crap! I cant believe it, after all my hard work of eating whatever i wanted and not exercising, this happens? How is that fair? I said "Ok...whats Path #2?"

"Path #2" He said. "You simply stay on the 2 prescriptions i gave you and meanwhile watch a video on Netflix called Forks Over Knifes. If you agree with the video, then call me and I have a book for you to read next>" 

So i watched it with my wife and called him back and he said to read "The Engine 2 Diet by Rip". So i read it and agreed to go down path #2. 

Lets fast forward 3 1/2 months to Monday, Feb. 23rd 2015.  I went in to see my Dr. I was down 26 lbs. I was in communication with my Dr. and saw him every 30 days until this visit. He had me do blood work. These numbers I'm about to share with you are mind staggering. They are accurate and I have the printed reports to prove it.

My numbers were as follows:
A1C (Blood sugar level)              12.7% down to 5.6%
Cholesterol:                                 653 down to 245
Triglycerides:                               10,000 down to 481

Now, Cholesterol and Triglycerides are still very high, but no where near as septic as they were. You saw the numbers right. Trig. 10,000. I was a heart attack waiting to happen, but never knew it.

My Dr. said he'd never seen such a dramatic drop in A1C is 24 years of practicing medecine. He's actually whiting my info out and using the report to show his partners, who call him the mad scientist for prescribing Plant Strong vs. medication. 

My Dr. really got to me when he said the following: "Kevin, do you know what it's like to go into work every day and fail? well, that's what medicine is. I'm helping people manage their disease, but im not curing anyone. Pharmaceutical companies are getting rich, people are staying sick. Kevin, by doing what you did, you are no longer in the diabetes danger zone, and as you continue, to lose weight, your other numbers will continue to come down. You've effectively reversed Diabetes in 14 weeks." 

To be safe I'm still taking half dose of diabetes medicine for a bit. But essentially, I'm out of the danger zone with blood sugar. And my Cholesterol and Triglycerides are the lowest they've been in years and still dropping.

You know, you read stuff, listen to people who give success stories, and say, wow, thats gotta be 1 in 1000, but in just 14 weeks, Plant Based life style reversed my diabetes and probably saved my life. It gets easier, people just need to stick to it. I'm a believer now.

Thanks for listening, I hope someone finds this inspirational.

Vicki Brett-Gach

Creating healthy food is my specialty and I love sharing the importance of a plant-based lifestyle. But I wasn’t always vegan, and I understand very well the challenges a new vegan can face. And that’s why I became a Certified Vegan Lifestyle Coach and Educator. Now I work with clients around the country, helping them establish new healthy, happy, energizing habits, one delicious meal at a time. 

I was around 12 years old when my mom learned that she was diabetic. Along the way, she struggled with high blood pressure, angina, painful neuropathy, and congestive heart failure. Before we lost her, she suffered two heart attacks and a massive stroke. This is the backdrop for my story, because I believed (because she did) that chronic illnesses were a normal, unavoidable part of aging. We thought my mom was a bit of a health nut; after all, she bought skim milk, low-fat cuts of meat, and she used margarine - not butter. I had never heard the word vegan.

Years later, after the birth of my own two kids, I flirted with the South Beach Diet to lose 10 stubborn post-baby pounds. But instinctively I knew that something was wrong with any eating plan that allows fat-free Cool Whip and sugar-free Jell-O, but does not approve of fresh fruit. That diet may have been effective, but I knew even then that it was not healthy. 

Over the next few years I developed an intense interest in the best nutrition for good health. That led me to The China Study, and later to as many books as I could find by Dr. John McDougall, Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, and Dr. Neal Barnard. I could barely read these fast enough. I was fascinated by plant-based nutrition, and my eyes were opened. This stuff was jaw-dropping and empowering. 

I gave up most animal products easily, but dairy was a hurdle. Processed oils took me even longer. If only I had known all the strategies I use now! I did it in stages, but finally my transition was complete. I was fully immersed in plant-based eating. In the process, I lost that same 10 pounds (this time effortlessly). I had more energy than ever. My blood pressure fell to 110/70. My cholesterol dropped 40 points. 

I had always loved to cook, but now that I was vegan, I was having more fun than ever. Creating recipes became my new passion. When I was offered an opportunity to write a vegan food column for The Ann Arbor News to share ideas about healthy food, I jumped in with both feet, and that inspired my Ann Arbor Vegan Kitchen blog. Soon after, I was conducting cooking demonstrations, and teaching heart-healthy plant-based cooking classes at Washtenaw Community College. 

I was so excited about the power of healthy food, that I wanted to shout from the rooftop, and that ignited my commitment to further training. I became a Certified Vegan Lifestyle Coach and Educator through Main Street Vegan Academy, and a Certified Personal Chef through Wellness Forum Health. I completed training in Nutrition for a Healthy Heart and earned a Certificate in Plant-Based Nutrition through the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies. I also became Forks Over Knives Plant-Based Certified through Rouxbe Cooking School, and recently graduated from the Starch Solution Certification program through Dr. McDougall’s Health and Medical Center.

My recipes have been featured in The McDougall Newsletter and the Center for Nutrition Studies Newsletter, and included in Vegan Magazine, Honest Cooking, and The Vegan Friends Cookbook, a collaborative collection of original recipes from vegan chefs around the world. 

In an amazing twist of fate, I had the good fortune of meeting Dr. Joel Kahn in New York City in 2014. He had flown in to teach a class on our last morning of training at Main Street Vegan Academy. When Dr. Kahn learned that I was from Michigan, he told me about Paul Chatlin, and the work he had begun with his new Plant Based Nutrition Support Group. I could hardly wait to talk with Paul, and was immediately impressed when we spoke. I continue to be thrilled by the incredible, far-reaching work Paul does every single day to improve the lives of others, and I am proud and truly honored to serve as one of the chefs on the Plant Based Nutrition Support Group ( team. 

Vicki Brett-Gach
Certified Vegan Lifestyle Coach and Educator / Certified Personal Chef

Ann Arbor Vegan Kitchen, LLC
Website and Blog

Sharon Matthews

Sharon has been living a plant based lifestyle for 32 years; starting back in 1983 when she began her health care administrative career. Her interactions with hospital patients as a health care administrator and the loss of her parents at an early age sparked a curiosity regarding what causes sickness and disease. This put her on a path to live a nutrition rich plant based lifestyle and study the positive effects it has on health and well being.

Adam Sud

A little over 3 years ago I weighed 300lbs, I was a type II diabetic, a drug addict, fast food addict, and suffering from severe depression. My addiction started in high school. Adderal made me feel superhuman. It was also a way for me to control my weight. I have always had issues with self-image and self confidence. It also allowed me to be able to stay up for days at a time without loss of concentration or energy and I loved that feeling. But after college the drug had destroyed my metabolism and I started to gain weight. The heavier I got the more I started to isolate.

After a while I just stopped caring and became addicted to fast food. By this time, my life revolved solely around when was I getting more adderal, getting more adderal, and eating fast food, while the entire time being severely depressed and angry at everyone and everything else. My relationships with my family were strained and I never socialized with my friends. I was barely working and running out of money. I knew that I was heading towards the day when I would be living on the street. I finally picked up the phone and called my father for help. Two weeks later I checked into rehab.

My first day in rehab I was diagnosed as a type 2 diabetic. After rehab I moved to California into a sober-living house. I took it upon myself to reverse my type II diabetes by implementing a plant based nutrition plan into my recovery program of medication and therapy. What I didn't realize was that plant based nutrition would become the backbone of my entire recovery. Within 6 months I reversed my type 2 diabetes and today I am over 3 ½ years sober and weigh 165lbs. Amazingly, my waist size has gone from 47" to 31". I realized that plant based nutrition has an amazing power in regards to addiction recovery.

I became a certified holistic lifestyle coach and developed a program using nutrition as a tool for addiction recovery and relapse prevention. I now run groups at sober-living houses and Intensive Out-Patient Therapy centers in LA. I recently had the honor of speaking at Rip Esselstyn's Engine 2 plant based health immersion in Arizona and have been invited back as a speaker for 2016. I have also had the honor of being a guest on the Rich Roll podcast, Running To Mental Health podcast, The food Heals Podcast, Break The Stigma Podcast, soon to be a guest on Lean Green DAD podcast, and have been featured on Forks Over Knives. People always ask me about what Ive lost and I enjoy telling them about the 130lbs, the diseases (type2 diabetes, high blood pressure, depression), and the 7 medications.

But what I enjoy more than all of that is what I have gained. Early morning runs on the lake with my dad, a real relationship with my Dad and the rest of my family, my self worth and self-confidence, my purpose in life, the ability to help others, most importantly, my twin brother Bobby. He has moved in to my place in LA to started his own plant strong journey. In 2 months he has lost 40lbs, been taken off of his type 2 meds in a week, and dropped his blood pressure from 140/100 to 120/80 in 3 weeks. Today, I can honestly say that I am the happiest I have ever been and the healthiest I have ever been in my life. Plant based nutrition didn't just save my life, it gave me the ability to create an entirely new one. It's one that I look forward to living every single day.