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MD Musings: What my patient taught me when she went vegan

Every day, I learn something new from my patients. Every day, they surprise and inspire me. I’ve decided to highlight some of their stories (with their permission of course! No HIPAA violations over here, sir!)

Before I enter the exam room, I always review the patient’s vital signs (blood pressure, heart rate, weight) and compare them to the vitals from the last few visits. So, the other day when I noticed the 15 lb weight loss in 6 weeks by my obese middle-aged patient, I skipped into the room and immediately asked “how did you do it?”. We’d been working on her weight loss for months without significant results. She smiled smugly, her eyes twinkling with satisfaction.

” I went on a vegan diet” . 

“Really? Are you finding it easy to maintain?” 

“Yup! Much easier than I thought once I put my mind to it!”

This is a patient who grew up in a culture where a meal wasn’t a meal unless it included a meat protein, and cheese=life. But she substituted these things with vegan-friendly products like tofu, and didn’t feel like she was missing out. And best of all, she noticed positive changes to her energy level, sleep quality and just overall felt better. All from changing the way she eats!

So here are some important reflections from this patient encounter that I’d like to share:

  • The most important part of embarking on healthy eating lifestyle is deciding you want to do it, and then taking action to achieve your goal
  • Healthy eating does not necessarily have to feel restrictive, or like you’re missing out on stuff you love.
  • You can find healthier substitutions for the things you enjoy , rather than eliminating it altogether 
  • Once you start reaping the benefits of a healthier diet, it will help fuel the desire to maintain it.

And now this lady has inspired me to challenge myself and institute “Vegan Days” into my diet. I’m not sure if I can personally maintain a pure vegan diet (because, bacon…sigh) but I do believe that even small changes matter , and that ultimately a plant-based diet has irrefutable benefits.

Do you want to join me on my “vegan days” journey? I’ll post any tasty recipes or foods that I discover and let you know how it makes me feel!