September of 2016, I found myself in a dilemma. My doctor had ordered an ultrasound to follow up on some health issue I had at the time. Test showed gallstones in my gallbladder which is not the reason why I had the ultrasound done in the first place. My doctor wanted to follow up and had asked me to have a MRI done to make sure it’s not blocking the bile duct which, he said, can lead to serious complications and that I might have to have my gallbladder removed. MRI was going to cost me a significant amount of money even with insurance. I wanted to know how serious gallstones were and whether I could find an natural way to get rid of them.
I have two brothers who are doctors, one is an anesthesiologist and the other, an oncologist. They both said it was a good idea to go forward with my doctor’s recommendation and to have the MRI done. If it was serious, I would probably have to have my gallbladder removed. They both reassured me that lots of people get their gallbladders taken out and that it’s a common procedure.
I didn’t buy it. I didn’t like the idea of having one of my body parts taken out. Every one of our body parts is there for a reason and I was determined to keep it that way. I started doing some internet research to see what other experts had to say and to find a natural way to get rid of the gallstones. Although, I grew up seeing my mother deal with numerous medical issues through most of her life after we moved here from Korea in 1976, I knew nothing about medicine or proper nutrition.
The reason why my mother suffered from so many health ailments was because she worked so hard for so many years trying to raise 5 young children in a foreign country where she didn’t even speak the language. I remember it like it was yesterday. We all worked and worked 365 days a year, 15 – 20 hours a day with no holidays or vacations for many years. Hard physical labor took a toll on my mother’s body and she dealt with it using over the counter medications to get through the daily pain she was suffering from (we had a garment factory where we used to sew garments in the thousands). If I had known what I know now, I think I could’ve helped her. I thought doctors knew everything and that modern medicine was the solution to all our medical problems.
In 2016, I was stuck in a dilemma trying to decide whether I should listen to my doctor and do this medical procedure which I didn’t feel comfortable with. Well, I found a lot of information on the internet and decided to do a liver cleansing which helped me get rid of the gallstones naturally. More on that later.
While doing some research on gallstones, I stumbled upon a book called “How Not to Die” by Michael Greger, M.D. from Nutritionfacts.org. This book literally changed my life. I had no idea that what we eat can have such a profound effect on our health and our bodies. Of course! It all started making sense and as soon as I changed my diet to whole food plant-based, my energy level went through the roof. I didn’t have that afternoon sluggishness or hunger anymore. After a long day at work, I would usually go home feeling tired and hungry but all that disappeared. At the same time, I was losing weight and even my eyesight got better!
I’ve been a thin person most of my life and I always took pride in myself for staying thin. I always thought if I eat to a moderation and exercised, I would be healthy. I didn’t have any problems with weight so I was shocked when I started gaining weight for no apparent reason and I was still running a marathon a week! Who knows what was going on but as soon as I got on the whole food, plant-based diet, within weeks, I dropped about 5 – 10 pounds. (I didn’t weigh myself because I didn’t have a scale and I was also afraid). How do I know I lost weight? I have these old shorts that I bought about 20 years ago. Over the years, whenever I put those on, I could always tell if I had gain weight or not because of the way they fit. I still have them.
Sure enough, these shorts were tight when I put them on before I went WFPB but within few weeks, they were loose, and I wasn’t even trying to lose weight. It just melted away. My cholesterol level also fell 40 points in less than 4 weeks, going from 177 to 137. It was an amazing discovery. I started looking more and more into nutrition and how it’s related to our health and well-being. I wonder why I didn’t know about this before. It seems so obvious and a common sense.
Fast forward a year and a half. I took an online course through eCornell University and had earned a certificate in Diet and Nutrition. I know way more about what a healthy diet can do for our bodies but I have discovered something even more. Cruelty to other animals. Even after claiming myself vegan for almost two years, I was still eating small amounts of seafood about once a week. Didn’t think twice about the animals I was eating. I was never into eating red meat and disliked them as long as I could remember but boy, did I love seafood! I was so accustomed to eating these all my life that I didn’t think twice about eating shrimp and fish as well as other seafood along with lots of dairy such as cheese and eggs (I used to love cheese). Then, it dawned on me. These are living beings just like me with feelings and that they have the right to live a healthy and happy life. It became something more than just about me and my health. Then, I started learning about animal farming and the impact it has on our environment. Going plant- based became more than just about my health. It was about the health of our planet.
I’ve been on a 100% Vegan diet for about 6 months now but still can’t call myself 100% Vegan since I still have leather shoes, clothes and furniture that I bought before going Vegan. It never dawned on me and I was not able to make that connection until now. I feel guilty and ashamed. I never thought about where animal products were coming from and how they were getting to our plates and stores. I still need to work on those areas and hope to soon call myself 100% Vegan.
I have to say, it’s not easy becoming Vegan. Even though Veganism is becoming more popular than ever, it’s still not widely accepted. When I go to restaurants, I still have a hard time finding vegan dishes. When I talk about being vegan, some people look at me like I'm from another planet. I even get that from my own family sometimes!
Regardless, I know this is the right choice for me. There is no doubt in my mind that this is the best choice for our health and for the health of our planet. I’m determined to work toward changing the way we treat other animals that have the same right as any one of us to live and enjoy life. We can still thrive and enjoy a healthy life without killing and sacrificing innocent animals purely for our enjoyment and taste buds.