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! 😊
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.