Karen Sommers, Chair of Michiana VegFest

“Why I’m Vegan”

Periodically over the past 15 years I had made the decision to become a vegetarian, much to my family’s dismay. However, I was not successful each and every time.

Fast forward to 2014 when I was offered the opportunity to work with Ornish Lifestyle Medicine and direct their Intensive Cardiac Rehab program, first at Beacon Health and the last two years for Goshen Heart and Vascular Center. I jumped at the chance to commit to a whole-foods low-fat plant-based diet. Finally, I had the resources to learn exactly how to make that change and create new dietary habits.

My family has been riddled with heart disease. My father had open heart surgery in his early 50’s. My grandfather died in his early 60’s with Cardiomyopathy. I was diagnosed with high blood pressure and have had two bouts of pericarditis, which is inflammation around the sac that encompasses the heart. Thus, my interest in changing my dietary and lifestyle habits. I’ve always lived an active lifestyle but I obviously needed more.

Since transitioning to a whole-foods low-fat plant-based diet I have thrived. All of my cholesterol numbers have improved and my long distance hiking and biking have improved. I have not had pericarditis since I changed the way I eat.

Three years ago I decided to go Vegan. I don’t need nor want to harm animals in any way. I also am quite concerned with our environment and know that each of us can positively impact the environment by the choices we make.