Inspirational Vegan Stories

     Every month in the Alaska Vegetarian Society Newsletter we feature a person's story of how they became vegan.  Eating a plant-based diet  changes people's lives in often dramatic ways.  The stories are amazing, inspiring, insightful, informative, and sometimes even humorous.  Enjoy!

   Click on the person's name to read their story.

(NOTE:  Many of the people in the stories below have taken the Food for Life Nutrition & Cooking Classes.  To get more information go to

Steve & Marsha Foy (July 2012)
Our Own China Study
     We were both born in the U.S. to first and second generation Chinese families, where we ate the traditional Chinese diet and Chinese was spoken at home.
       We were looking toward retirement and we wanted to enjoy it, but we were concerned that our health was heading in the wrong direction.

Kathy Hansen (June 2012)
From Challenge to Gift: The Story of a Former Sugar Addict
     What started out as a challenge by a coworker turned into a family adventure, and the amazing results of it all are like a gift.
      I wanted to put my efforts into something that would be permanent, not just some crazy, temporary, unhealthy whim...

       We decided we would do this as a family, with our daughters.

Cloudy Rockwell (May 2012)
100 Pounds Lighter, Feeling 30 Years Younger
     I was 80 to 100 pounds overweight for at least 30 years. Now, after losing 102 pounds in the past two years, Iím still kind of surprised when I look in the mirror. Is that really me?
     My life is so different now! This new me feels like Iím thirty years younger. But let me tell you what it was like before.

Amye Wallace (April 2012)
Good for the Animals, Good for Me and Good for My Kids
     Iím the mother of two girls, Edison, who is almost five and Isana, who is almost three. Itís really important to me that they learn to eat and enjoy healthful foods now so their lives will be easier later. And itís working! They both love hummus, cheesy sauce, and beans. Fortunately, they are attending a private preschool that also supports them in eating a healthful lunch.
I havenít been eating this way myself for too long. About four or five years ago I watched Fast Food Nation. That movie was very powerful and disturbing, and after that, I eliminated meat from my diet.

Cheryl Sennett (March 2012)
WooHoo!  I'm Losing Weight and Feeling Great!
      Iíve lost 18 pounds as of this morning, and thatís just in the past 5 weeks.  Being vegan is the best thing anyone could do for weight loss and health!
    Yes, as you can see, Iím excited!  I love waking up every morning and feeling thinner. I can feel my stomach becoming flatter, and the scale just keeps confirming what Iím feeling.
    But this is not really just about weight loss. What Iím really excited about is knowing that Iím also getting healthier.  Iím taking the Healthy Weight Loss Class offered by Delisa and have been eating far more vegetables and fruits, so Iím actually better nourished while losing weight than I was before I started.

Father Fred Bugarin (February 2012)
Becoming Vegan Deepened My Consciousness
      I grew up in the Philippines and moved to Alaska in 1963 when I was 14 years old. I was ordained a priest in 1975 in Anchorage. I am currently serving at St. Anthonyís Catholic Church in Anchorage, having completed 6 years in Kodiak and 9 years as a missionary in Southern Philippines.
    I care deeply about issues of peace and justice, so what Iíve learned about the production of food from animal sources affected me profoundly.  I take a holistic approach to spirituality which includes care of the earth and all life forms.  How could I support practices that cause so much suffering, waste and indiscriminate destruction of both plant and animal species? But Iím getting ahead of myself . . . Let me start from the beginning. 

Note: There is no Newsletter or Vegan Story for January 2012.

Donna Pearson (December 2011)
A Family Affair
      Donna's journey began with a scare.  Her daughter had been hospitalized with severe diabetes. She went to a Food for Life Diabetes class with her daughter, just to provide support for her. They decided to try the plant-based diet when they realized the food could be quite good.    To her surprise her arthritis pain got better and energy increased so much she felt like a "young chick again!"

     "I've been on diets before and always looked forward to being able to go back to "normal" eating after the weight loss; and, of course, in short order, the weight came back on and then some. This is the first time I can say that I want to eat this way for the rest of my life - it's my new "normal."

Jeff Arndt & Mary Barrett (November 2011)
A Vegan Diet is Part of Our Intentional Lifestyle
Jeff: I'm now 58 and the vegan diet helps me maintain my abilities and do the things that allow me to be who I am, without the typical losses of aging.   I run 30 - 50 miles each week, and when training for races I run 70 - 100 miles per week.

Mary:  Jeff and I were both mostly vegetarian our entire adult lives, so we had that in common when we first met. I'd had breast cancer in 2004, so learning about the connection between animal protein, including dairy protein, and cancer was a motivator for me to give up dairy.  I feel confident that I'm doing the right thing to prevent a recurrence of cancer.

Bruce & Becky Roberts (October 2011)
Our Vegan Story
       Bruce has diabetes and was actually told previously by a dietitian that a vegan diet would be the best choice, but she said it in such a way that he got the message, ‚ÄúGood luck with that! You don‚Äôt stand a chance.‚ÄĚ It was obvious that she wasn‚Äôt a vegan herself and couldn‚Äôt imagine anyone being able to eat that way. So even though she knew it was the best, she didn‚Äôt actually recommend it.
"But you know what? This has been so easy! I really love the food. We learned in our very first Food for Life class that the food was delicious, so I don’t miss my old diet at all. Of course, it helps a lot that Becky is a good cook!

Julie & Tom Pickard (September 2011)
We're In This Together
"I didn’t find anything that really worked until we started eating a low-fat vegan diet."
    "I was impressed with how so many common health problems could actually be reversed by a plant-based diet and there was evidence to back it."

June Cordasci (August 2011)
How We Became Vegan
"This may sound crazy, but getting cancer was actually a good thing.  It was truly a defining moment in our lives--a wake-up call! It gave Paul and me the opportunity to change our lives for the better!"

Betty McLaughin (July 2011)
Veganism Is a Lifesyle Whose Time Has Come
"I wish I'd known years ago what I know now about healthy eating.  I would have done things a lot differently!"

Mark Gartell (June 2011)
It Was Time to Take as Good Care of Myself as My Car
"My total cholesterol dropped from 355 to 144!"  In just 5 weeks, "Everything was GREAT!"

Cable Starlings & Terri Wooten (May 2011)
We Just Wanted to Do Something Fun Together    Cable and Terri took a Food for Life Nutrition & Cooking Class just because some friends said it was fun.  They had no idea how much it was going to change their lives!

Ryan Erwin & Mavis Kurtz (April 2011)
Our Metamorphosis    Ryan and Mavis both work in healthcare related fields and they have seen enough sick people to know that they didn't want to follow in their footsteps.  After taking the first Food for Life class, they decided not to go halfway and started eating a completely plant-based diet.  They love the vegan lifestyle and can't image ever going back!

Denise Wilkins (March 2011)
I'm a Survivor!    After being diagnosed with colon cancer...she had 22 inches of her colon removed and endured 5 months of chemo therapy.  Now, after taking a Food for Life Nutrition and Cooking Class she feels so much more knowledgeable and is more proactive in her health care.   "I have a lot to live for.  And now that I know how to help myself be healthy, I have real hope.  I am a survivor!"

Maggie Fitzgerald (February 2011)
How I Turned My Life Around  Itís been almost 2 years since I began eating a plant-based diet and it has changed my life so much!  I knew extra weight would lead to all sorts of health problems down the road.... I didnít want that to be my story.

Diane Rodriguez (December 2010)
Compassion, Confidence and Hope  Diane tried for many years to diet weight off, but kept gaining weight and had given up hope of ever loosing weight.  After taking the Food for Life classes and learning to cook she lost 70 pounds, is off her diabetes and cholesterol medications and her severe psoriasis is almost gone!  Now, she has gained the confidence to follow a diet based on compassion.  She has discovered that she can take charge of her health and has renewed hope that she can achieve a normal weight.

Anna Luby (November 2010)
I Got Hope Today   Anna was diagnosed with diabetes in November of 2009, after taking a Diabetes Food for Life Nutrition & Cooking Class in March of 2010 she began eating a healthy vegan diet.   By October 2010, she lost 55 pounds and  reversed her diabetes!   She now knows that she has a choice and can choose health.

Val Musial (October 2010)
Finally Free of Pain   Val's doctor scared the bejesus out of her when he told her that she was "pre-diabetic".   Diabetes runs in her family and she knew she didn't want any part of it!  After reading the book, Dr. Neal Barnard's Program for Reversing Diabetes and taking the Food for Life Nutrition & Cooking Class Val stopped the diabetes in its tracks and got another wonderful surprise.

Doug Osvath (September 2010)
I Love the Simplicity of It!    Doug loves to cook and was thinking about taking a cooking class.  He was glad that he found the Food for Life Nutrition & Cooking Class so he learned how to cook healthy food.  One of the things he learned in class is that eating this type of diet is very simple.

Rabah Chettfour (August 2010)
If You're On the Wrong Bus, Get Off!    Rabah and his wife Jeanette are the owners of Aladdin's Restaurant in Anchorage.  After 20 years of living with type 2 diabetes, Rabah and his whole family decided to take-on the 3 week vegan challenge described in Dr. Neal Barnard's Program for Reversing Diabetes book.  Rabah noticed a dramatic change in his energy level almost immediately and the whole family collectively has lost 135 pounds in just 4 1/2 months!  He knows that he is on the right bus and has no intention of getting off.

Karlie Philpott (July 2010)
Now I'm a Better Mom    When Karlie's husband, Garth, found out he was borderline diabetic, they knew they had to do something.  Diabetes runs in his family and  he didn't want to go down that road!  After taking the Diabetes Food for Life class, Karlie cleaned out her pantry and replaced all of the convenience and junk foods with health plant-based items.  She started to feel better within a short time, her children's moods leveled out and her husband is doing great.  Now Karlie is going to start working on converting her siblings and parents!

Tiffany McGovern (June 2010)
This Isn't a Diet --It's Our New Way of Life    "There are certain days that stick in your mind.  That was the day I went vegan.  I was 28 years old but felt bad most of the time."  Tiffany had high blood pressure, had headaches everyday, had trouble sleeping and had tried every crazy diet, but her wake-up call came when reach 256 pounds!  When she became vegan she felt better almost immediately.  Within a few weeks her blood pressure went to normal, she started sleeping at night without medication, she wasn't tired all of the time and lost 20 pounds in 7 weeks.

Faith White (May 2010)
Compassion in the Kitchen    Faith tells us after she read Skinny Bitch and watched the movie Food, Inc. she was done, done, done with meat!  Her's was a journey of compassion, an opening of her heart to the cruelty that was on her plate when she ate animal products.  After taking a Food for Life Cooking Class Faith and her husband Matt also began see the health benefits of eating a plant-based diet.

Joy Santos (April 2010)
Finally Released from My Food Prison    Joy tells an inspirational story of how she was released from her prison of years and years of food addiction by making the simple choice to eat a low fat, whole foods, plant-based diet!

Regina Montgomery (March 2010)
How a Vegan Diet Changed My Future  "I struggled with pain throughout my body for over a year."  After reading Eat to Live and The China Study, Regina started eating a plant-based diet and lost 18 pounds, the pain has mostly stopped and her energy increased dramatically.

Barb Morris (February 2010)
My Journey of Empowerment  "I am in charge of my own wellness team because I realize I'm responsible for my own health."  "I love eating a plant-based diet.  Food tastes better to me now that my taste buds aren't dulled by high fat and processed foods."

Jeannie Schwaab (January 2010)
Jeannie was very concerned about her high cholesterol.  A short time after Jeannie took the Cancer Project Food for Life Nutrition and Cooking Classes and began eating a mostly plant-based diet her cholesterol dropped 51 points!  She was delighted!

Patty Cates (December 2009)
"Instead of focusing on weight, I now just focus on eating a healthy diet and my weight just takes care of itself!" 
"I feel so good about myself now, and also feel a greater reverence for my food.  And I feel sad for others who are suffering with health problems who havenít yet learned what they could do to help themselves."

Lubo Mahlev (November 2009)
"I had always wanted to be a vegetarian, so this seemed like a good time to take the leap.  The next step in my journey to becoming vegan was attending the Food for Life Nutrition and Cooking Classes, where I learned how to cook healthy food that really tasted great, and how to make and buy substitutes for dairy products."
"I actually enjoy my food more now that I am vegan.  It is tastier, and I feel better about myself and my own, small contribution to a better world."  

Kandis Gilman (October 2009)
Kandis began eating a plant-based diet after her respiratory problems got better when she cut out dairy products.  "I suffered from severe asthma for over 10 years and no longer carry an inhaler; I used to have extreme highs and lows in mood (which I think was caused by dairy and refined sugars) which I no longer experience."  I believe food is our medicine and the key to good physical, emotional, spiritual and mental health."  "I realized that choosing a plant-based diet was a path to higher consciousness."

Pat & Don Meyers (September 2009)
Pat and Don Meyers began their journey to eating a vegan diet when Pat developed cancer and a friend kept insisting on having her attend the Food for Life Nutrition and Cooking Class.  They got the missing pieces of they needed to begin cooking health and delicious food.  Remarkably, once they adopted the plant-based diet, this way of healthy eating began to spread.  First to Don's 84 year old mother in the Midwest, then friends in Colorado and even Israel!

Naomi Feaster (September 2009)
Naomi is eleven years old and stopped eating meat two years ago. 
"First, I want to be healthy but mostly I love animals and I donít want them to be killed and I really donít want them in my body. Plus, I know that not eating animals keeps our planet healthy too."
"One thing I really donít miss about my old diet is dead animal parts. Yuk!"