When Angela Hardin began suffering from health issues, her husband, Dion, jumped in to help. In the process, they both found healing with a whole-food, plant-based diet and lifestyle.
Our plant-based starter kits are a great way to begin this new healthy lifestyle because they include a book, a set of DVD lectures from Dr. Neal Barnard, and a folder full of helpful literature from the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine.
By: Angela Hardin
For as long as I can remember, I always had stomach issues. When we ate out, I would get sick before I even left the restaurant. I blamed it on the “rich” food that I ate.
My stomach trouble had always caused headaches. The combination of the two made me tired. It was a vicious cycle that I thought was normal.
Gall bladder surgery scare
In 2015, my stomach issues got really bad, and the doctor sent me for a gallbladder test. As I was finishing the test, the tech told me I might want to have a seat in the lobby because they would want to talk to me.
As I was sitting in the waiting room, the tech came back and said, “You are going to need gall bladder surgery. Your doctor will be calling you on Monday to schedule it.”
I have always been afraid of surgery. I am scared of being put to sleep and the side effects it can cause. I felt like there must be a better way to get my stomach and health under control.
Reaching out for help
I work in marketing and had worked with an amazing film crew for years. Recently, they had been hired to do a plant-based diet documentary, and the team decided to try a whole-food, plant-based diet (WFPB) themselves, so they could see if it really worked.
At work, they had already been educating me on how food can heal. From listening to them and hearing story after story of people healing themselves by changing how they ate, I was interested but not really willing to make a change…that is until I was scared of the prospect of surgery.
During a phone call, I ask them, “Are you telling me that if I eat vegan, my stomach issues will stop, and I won’t need surgery?” They told me yes and to give them 10 days, and I would see a difference in my health.
Going whole-food, plant-based
I called my husband, and he agreed to do it with me for 30 days. We went plant-based all at once. We cut out meat, dairy, oil (I didn’t cook with it but I did eat vegan meats), caffeine, and sugar at once. If it had a mother, we didn’t eat it.
We ate 100% vegan for 10 days straight. On the eleventh day, I woke up with no headache, no stomach pain, no aches in my body…and I was wide awake. I woke my husband up and told him I should have been eating this way my whole life.
I was sold! No surgery was needed for me. This was my new plant-based lifestyle. It was not a diet. It was my new lifestyle.
My friends with the film crew even decided to use me and my husband in the plant-based documentary they were making called, Eating You Alive.
Regaining my health with a plant-based diet
Over time, I was able to come off of all my medication including sleeping pills. Now, I sleep great and am usually in bed by 9 pm.
I came off arthritis medicine that I was put on in my 30s. My arthritis is gone. I was on ADHD medicine which I am completely off of now. It took me several years to come off the ADHD medicine, but I can now say that I have been off all prescription medication since 2018.
I lost 100 pounds and gained a whole new outlook on life. Five to six days a week I work out and even run half marathons. I am a new person!
This is the way I should have been eating all along. Not because it is the healthiest but because it is what my body needs.
Getting the whole family on board
My husband started out saying he was going to do this for 30 days, just to show me support and to get me started. He kept renewing his 30-day commitment for 6 months, and then he finally gave in and said, “I am vegan and will never eat regular cheese again.” Here we are 5 years later!
It was so helpful to have my husband with me on this journey. We kept each other strong when we were confused about what or how much to eat. My husband loves to cook and took on the challenge of making our favorite meals vegan. He was my lifeline!
At the time we changed our lifestyle, our children were teenagers. We did not force the change on them. We still cooked regular food for them. They slowly started eating more and more of our food until a year later they went mostly vegan.
Making plant-based lifestyle changes
I came off all of my prescription medication. My stomach issues were gone. I had so much energy I started waking up at 5 am, wide awake and ready to start my day.
Everything about me is now different. I want peace. All the time. I don’t yell anymore. I was a yeller! Just ask my kids. I don’t raise my voice anymore.
I don’t want to fight. I used to love to fight. I want peace. I want good energy. I want to talk about things. I want to understand how someone feels. I want them to leave me feeling loved and understood. I am getting sappy in my old age!
I used to want everything to be my way, but not now. Now I want to accept everyone for who they are, love them in that place, and stand beside them.
I love to work out. It makes me feel strong. I am so thankful to have a body that works, and I want to thank it every day by moving it. I am so amazed by what my body can do.
I love myself now. I am still working on truly loving myself more. I am learning the more unconditionally I love myself the more love I have to give to others.
I have a great relationship with food. I view it so differently these days. Now, food is my fuel. It still has to taste good, but I want food that is going to be good for my body. I don’t want to feel so full my stomach hurts or I get sleepy. I love dessert but now my favorite dessert is dates stuffed with raw almond butter and dark chocolate.
Top lessons learned
I am worth it! I was worth getting healthy. My life was worth living as a healthy person. My family deserved the best version of me. I didn’t want to be sick and lying down all the time. I want to be up and full of life and going vegan has done that for me. I just want to be the best version of myself that I can be.
Plant-based lessons worth sharing
You are worth it. Don’t think about what you can’t eat, think about all the things you can eat. Enjoy the journey.
Don’t try to go all fancy vegan and make complicated food. Stick to the basics. Eat rice, beans, and veggies. Follow sites like The Vegan 8 that has recipes that require 8 ingredients or less. Follow High Carb Hannah which has simple, low-fat whole foods anyone can make.
Don’t be afraid to bring your own food. Always have a snack with you! I used to keep a Larabar in my purse for emergencies.
This is a lifestyle. Take it easy on yourself.
Focus on the health benefits of food. Don’t be scared to try new things. Stay the course. You are worth it!
More WFPB diet success stories
- Breaking Down Barriers & Living WFPB Healthy
- Learning to Find Happiness in Things Other Than Food
- WFPB Diet Weight Loss: Esther’s Story
Want more amazing encouragement? Check out these other Whole Food Plant-Based Diet (WFPB) Success Stories.