Jeanne Blad, Co-Chair of Michiana VegFest: “Why I’m Vegan”

Why become a vegan?  Like many of us, I grew up with a typical American diet, meat, eggs, poultry, fish, and vegetables.  When I married, our family continued that way of eating.

My doctor started talking about my high cholesterol when I was in my early 40’s.  I had a family history of early heart attacks and stroke.  The doctor prescribed medicine to lower my cholesterol, and started watching my blood pressure.  I changed meds a few times due to mild side effects.  My doctor and I had discussed diet as a way to help control cholesterol, but diet and medicines weren’t lowering my numbers enough.  Over the years, stress from major life events added acid reflux to my list of ‘concerns’ and that required another prescription.  I was in my mid-forty’s and thought of myself as a ‘relatively’ healthy person.  The idea of taking daily medicines even though I didn’t have a ‘real’ disease was not something I liked.

About this time the concepts of plant-based diets and an environmentally friendly lifestyle were becoming more popular.  When friends transitioned from vegetarian to vegan, I decided to find out if there was enough evidence to convince me that a vegan diet was healthier.  I found articles from various sources concerning plant-based eating; and, of course, talked with my vegan friends.  A friend, who was associated with the Ornish program for heart health, shared some of their materials with me.  The more I learned, the more I understood the real benefits of a plant-based diet.  Many studies demonstrated that plant-based, low-fat diets can improve cholesterol numbers and overall health.  So I started the transition and began incorporating plant-based meals into my diet. I enjoyed trying new ways to prepare familiar favorites as well as discovering new-to-me vegetables.  The change in my diet has made a significant difference for me.  When an acquaintance asked what had made me decide to become vegan, my response was:  “Do you mean aside from having lower cholesterol numbers, no more acid reflux, more energy and generally feeling better?  Why wouldn’t I want to be vegan?”