A Vacation that Changed our Lives

In March of 2019, my husband and I were in Guanacaste, Costa Rica at our favorite little resort that we’ve been going to for 20 years. At dinner one night, our waiter and friend, Victor told us about a group that was at the resort during our stay. We watched as they sat together and had their very own buffet.

Curious to know if what they had to eat was better than what we had, we inquired about their menu. Victor explained to us that they were a group of vegan doctors. We made the usual jokes like “don’t let them see our food they’ll want it…” but we were curious about the group. We watched them at meal time, ran into them around the resort, spoke politely and shared pool time.

One day they had a lecture by the pool that we couldn’t help but overhear. When it concluded I engaged one of the doctors in conversation and asked some questions. She politely answered my questions by referring me to a book by Dr. Michael Gregor called, How Not To Die. She explained it had a funny title, but would answer all my questions. From that point on, whenever I asked something she said, “just read the book, just read the book, just read the book.” I was so curious, so I downloaded it from Amazon right there poolside and voraciously devoured it.

By the time we arrived at our next destination at the Orono Volcano, I told my husband I had decided to follow this path, and he was welcome to join me, or I would continue preparing his meals separately. As he sat in the restaurant at the lodge chopping away at his steak, he agreed to give it a try.

We came home from our vacation to a fully stocked freezer of chicken breast, beef roast, eggs and a variety of cheeses and yogurts, and of course full fat dairy milk. I had explained to him on the plane ride home that we had a fully stocked freezer and refrigerator and that we would just finish what we had and not buy any more animal products. But, when we arrived at home, I realized it was an “all in” type of decision. I got out a grocery bag, unloaded the freezer and told him to take it to the trash. He protested and asked if we should give it away. I said, “why would we want to kill our neighbors?”

We cleaned out our fridge and stocked it with fresh fruits, vegetables, non-dairy milks and we’ve never looked back. My husband lost 30 pounds without even trying. He didn’t even know he was losing weight until his clothes started falling off him.

We developed an insatiable appetite for more information about this diet. We found books like Dr. Esselstyn‘s Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease, books by Dr. Bernard and Dr. McDougall and we went through every page. We were driven.

We have been able to convert several of our friends and I feel I have one special friend who’s life I saved. He had had a massive heart attack and bypass and woke up to a cardiologist saying, “I can’t believe you’re still here.” He was diabetic when I turned him on to my new lifestyle. He dropped 50 pounds immediately and got off all diabetes medication. His cardiologist was agog and very pleased.

The only downside we’ve experienced is that we have alienated several family members and are not invited to join in any reindeer games anymore. We’ve tuned down our rhetoric a bit after having learned the hard way, but it’s difficult to have loved ones going down the wrong path and not being able to help them.

– Susan P. Johnson

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