In November 2011, I made the decision to progress towards a plant-based diet and lifestyle. Since then, I have learnt so much about where our food comes from, and what it does to our bodies and the environment. Along the way, I have encountered many obstacles and challenges. I have also been asked lots of questions, most of them valid and a few off them more than a little odd. One of the aims of my blog is to chronicle my experiences as a plant-based traveller. So, hopefully these Plant-Based Pauses will provide a little more explanation and maybe answer some questions that my readers may still have.
‘The Western diet guarantees that a half-a-million people in the U.S. each year will have the front half of their body divided, their heart exposed, and then veins taken from their leg and sewed on their heart… some people would call that extreme.’ - Caldwell B. Esselstyn, Jr., MD
From the moment I was born until I reached my thirties, I was ill pretty much most of the time. Doctors would prescribe every new lotion and potion that came out on the market in a fruitless attempt to ‘cure’ my eczema and allergies. I spent many evenings in pain as my mum was made to administer these various creams, ointments and treatments to me. Most of them made me feel like my skin was on fire, and usually only made me even itchier, therefore defying the point of trying to combat the eczema in the first place. Eczema isn’t only skin deep, either, as most doctors falsely think. When your skin becomes so infected that it dries up, splits open and bleeds constantly, it provides a direct route to your bloodstream. The ‘treatments’ I was receiving alone would give me blood poisoning and cause me to be sick, especially the ones that contained steroids, let alone all the other baddies in the atmosphere that I was at the mercy of. A skin reaction may look just that on the surface, but trust me when I say it makes your whole body feel ill.
In this endless stream of doctors visits and prescriptions, nobody thought to look at my diet. Even back then, during the 1980s, it was commonly known that dairy in particular is bad for people with skin problems. It would have also solved the puzzle as to why I had difficulties breathing, even though I passed all my asthma tests with flying colours. In fact, the doctors were so convinced that I was asthmatic ‘because asthma and eczema go together’ (their words not mine) that one GP added the illness to my notes in the end. I still get asked questions about my non-existent asthma to this day. Whenever I questioned whether it would be more logical to look at the cause of my problems, rather than just treat the symptoms, I got the stock answer that ‘you can’t avoid the things you’re allergic to, so there’s no point trying’. Granted, I was born with my allergies and nothing that my mother could have done before my birth would have changed that. However, since educating myself about plant-based living over the past couple of years I have improved my health and life hugely with just a few easy changes to my diet.
These days, visits to the doctor are few and far between for me. Interestingly, now that I’ve worked out for myself that plant-based living is the healthy way to go, they seem happy to add it to my notes and congratulate themselves on improving my symptoms. I still have the occasional allergic reaction, but for the main part they are atmospheric, of which I have little control. Plus, when I do have a reaction, my general good health allows me to pinpoint what the cause is a lot easier and deal with it. Apart from the odd tube of steroid cream for bad contact reactions and antihistamines to control atmospheric reactions, I’m happy to say the potions and lotions are all gone.
It’s not just my allergies that have improved either. Since converting to a plant-based lifestyle, I can count on one hand the amount of times I’ve been sick. Even when there’s one of those really persistent bugs going round the office that everyone catches, I very rarely fall victim to it and if I do it only lasts a couple of days because my body recovers so much quicker.
Unless you’re lucky to have a doctor who is particularly good looking, and I don’t, I can’t see why people would want to visit their GP more than they have to. And if your doctor does happen to be Brad Pitt/Jessica Biel (delete as appropriate) in a white jacket, then you’ll just have to find some other way to spend time with them.