Merrilee's Story

While not incredibly unique, my start in life in life was somewhat different given that I was raised on soymilk. My parents also tried to keep me from eating the flesh of dead animals, even to the degree of describing it to me as such when I was just able to talk and sitting in a high chair at the Thanksgiving dinner table. The dialogue went something like “I unt dat” pointing to the turkey decked out with cranberry relish. My mother: “no, you don’t want that!” Me: “I UNT dat!” Mother: “you don’t want that! That’s an old dead dirty bird!” Me: ”I unt dat durry bird!” And so began my desire for animal flesh! For whatever reason, my sister never cared for the taste, while I was dubbed ‘the little carniv.”

At the age of ten I attempted a solo venture into vegetarianism which only lasted a few months, all of our family members were meat and dairy eaters.While staying at a friends house one day, I decided that it wasn’t cool to drink soymilk (this was in the 70s) so started drinking cows’ milk. Now, looking back, it really is nonsensical that I was drinking soymilk but still eating cheese, butter, whipped cream, etc. Although I attempted vegetarianism from time to time, I NEVER gave up cheese. I really and truly am a recovering cheese addict!

I did stop drinking milk for about ten months upon the birth of my oldest son, since it seemed to cause him severe gastrointestinal issues after nursing, but once he was weaned I was right back at it! Fast forward a few more years into my late 40s and what I notice is that when I eat or drink any kind of dairy my skin breaks out and I have intestinal issues and joint discomfort! Back off on the dairy and all those things go away!

When we found out my maternal grandmother had advanced stage colon cancer, my mom, a registered nurse, spent a couple of months with my grandmother as she went through a very non-traditional treatment at her choosing which was a whole food plant based diet (mostly raw) and juicing. Although she passed away, my mother saw a positive impact the treatment was making and was determined to learn more. Once she arrived back home she began to do more research and made the decision to stop preparing meat at home.

At that time, there was not much said about the dairy, other than those with asthma should stay away from it, which I had, but didn’t eliminate the dairy. Why? Because I was addicted, especially to cheese, even though over the last few years I experienced negative side effects from eating it, I just couldn’t stay away. I wasn’t experiencing any major health issues, not struggling with a major weight issue and most people who knew me wouldn’t have thought I was overweight. So I don’t have a miracle story to tell.

Yes, I have experienced lower blood pressure, a few pound of weight loss, clearing of my skin and no joint aches, but nothing that I would define as being very inspirational. What I would tell you, is that my choice to live a WFPB lifestyle was born of a desire to support my friends and co-workers because I knew that it would be easier and they would find greater success if we made this journey together.

Thankfully, I have reaped the benefits, not only of better health for myself but the joy that comes from being able to support the success of others! So here is my plea, even if you don’t think you have any health issues that would benefit from making this lifestyle change, I would be willing to bet that there is someone close to you who does, and what more selfless gift could you give them than your support by willingly taking the journey with them? You might be surprised to find that when it is all said and done you were the true beneficiary after all...