Dear Dr. McDougall,
My three siblings and I were all born within just six years of each other, perhaps that is why we have remained so close. Brought up in typical fashion for most families in the 1960’s and 1970’s, we were raised on meat, potatoes and discipline. We were taught to assist, love and respect each other as well. Living active lifestyles, none of us have had any serious health issues, or so we thought.
Donna (pictured second from left), having dedicated her life to the Health Care industry as a respiratory therapist and having lost both of our parents to cancer, was impressed by two movies: What the Health and Forks Over Knives. After watching these movies and conducting extensive research, she reached out to the rest of us and encouraged us to make changes to our diets. She knew we had been eating the standard American diet all our lives and were most likely set up for serious illnesses. Donna had wisely converted to a plant based, whole foods, predominantly vegan diet.
Coincidentally, our brother Richard, the oldest of us at age 60, had an episode of angina while doing a routine swim. My younger sister (pictured third from left), who was about to retire, was having arthritic pain when she played tennis. Years earlier at age 50, I had been told by my primary MD that I was pre-diabetic (pictured fourth from left). He prescribed me Metformin which I took once then discarded because it tasted horrible. I didn’t see him for another 6 years.
I was skeptical of Donna’s new findings and resisted her suggestions regularly. I had spent my life owning and operating restaurants and regularly enjoyed the unhealthiest foods you could imagine. My loyal customers and I enjoyed indulging in our fried chicken, BBQ ribs, prime rib, fried seafood and homemade pies and muffins. At age 55, I was able to retire early and sold my restaurant, which I knew had taken its toll on my health from both the food and the stress. I then decided to make my wellness my new job and top priority!
After just one year of a plant-based, whole foods diet and daily exercise, I had lost 50 pounds and had improved my cholesterol to below 140 and was no longer pre-diabetic. After the second year, I am the healthiest I have ever been in my life. My wife has also lost over 30 pounds. We eat a balanced, low-fat, plant based diet, exercise daily and are enjoying our new found healthy lives. We recently enjoyed a trip to Glacier National Park with sisters Donna, Debbie and spouses and hiked 40 rigorous miles over the course of 5 hikes in 6 days!
While our older brother did end up with two stents, he is determined to reverse his heart condition with a plant-based diet and is doing extremely well. We have all changed our diets and eliminated our symptoms: pre-diabetes, arthritic pain, and excess weight. We continue to learn how to be 100% plant-based for the rest of our lives and our goal is to stay healthy & upright (as they say) to the very end!
Mostly, I wanted to give a “shout out” to Dr. McDougall and his staff for the great work you do and the perseverance you have displayed throughout your career. I was so impressed by your journey, findings and taking the road less traveled with so much opposition. “It’s definitely the food!”
Healthy and Loving Life,