“I wouldn’t go back for all the money in the world.”

Ari McLaughlinBy: Ari McLaughlin

I was overweight, had low energy, hated my appearance, and got sick a lot. One day, I decided I wanted to lose weight. I made a goal and started that day. From what I googled and read online, every single article was saying the answer was to cut calories, exercise a lot, eat lean meats with some salad, have eggs for breakfast, etc. (In other words, high fat, low carb SAD diet). So that’s what I did. At first it worked! I was losing weight rapidly. Everyone was stunned and said I looked great.

I went on with this for five months before I knew I couldn’t proceed any longer. I had become obsessed with every little thing I put in my mouth, ESPECIALLY anything that had carbs! I would not even eat a banana. My aim was 50g or less per day. I did my absolute best to hide the fact that I was miserable. I had so many mood swings it was ridiculous. I would google the calories in every little thing that entered my mouth. I even googled the calories/carbs in a tomato! That was it, brother. I knew where I was at and where it would go if I continued down that path.

On the 4th of July 2014, my friend’s cousin came to watch the fireworks with the whole neighborhood. We got talking, and she told me how she was a high carb, low fat vegan. My initial reaction was “How did she lose weight like this?” since all she ate was fruits, veggies, rice, potatoes, beans, etc., foods I thought were not weight-loss foods. She told me she had read Discovering the Word of Wisdom by Jane Birch, and I kinda flipped out. I was like “NO WAY! That’s my Mom’s, like, life-time best friend!” She was pretty envious that I knew her. 🙂

She sent me some articles from the book, and I instantly knew that I wanted to go vegan. I had ALWAYS preferred fruit and starches over meat, cheese, and milk. I even hated cheese and milk but just ate it because that’s what everyone else did. After that night, I looked more into veganism and discovered lots of people on social media who were THRIVING on a plant-based diet and losing weight effortlessly. I went vegan overnight (August 4, 2014).

It changed me spiritually, and I have felt SO connected with the gospel since changing my diet. I love exercise now and have the energy to actually get up and do things. I’m happy now. I have the energy to go out with my friends. I healed my health issues. Sickness is a rarity now. It’s just amazing.

I love the way I eat. I wouldn’t go back for all the money in the world. I’m thankful to my parents who buy the food I want to eat and don’t pressure me to eat the animals which I don’t want to put into my body.

I have come to find such a deep respect for myself, not only physically, but spiritually as well. I believe that a plant-based diet is the diet that God intended us to eat. And I am happy to oblige. It is the BEST decision I have ever made!

Ari McLaughlin is 18 years old. She lives in Rexburg, Idaho, but considers herself from Colorado where her family used to live. She loves hanging with friends, gymnastics, basketball, swimming, hiking, and anything outdoors! She hopes to start college next year at Brigham Young University.


  1. Ari is an amazing young woman! I’m a bit biased as she is the daughter of one of my all-time best friends. I’m proud of her for taking responsibility for her own health, doing the research, making changes, and then having the honesty to correct herself as needed. What an amazing young woman!! When I first learned about this diet, I thought only the old and sick would be interested, but I quickly discovered there are many young people looking for a better way. I’m glad Ari found one!

  2. I’m so happy that you discovered the way to true health at so young an age. Don’t give it up or be swayed that it isn’t healthy. Once you begin a family, doctors will tell you that pregnant woman and children ‘need’ milk and meat for proper health. True, those that don’t weigh less and grow slower. Dr.s McDougall, Campbell, and Esselstyn say slower growth allows children to enter adolescence later, which is healthier. Anyway, keep up your health and with current science in this area. Thanks for an inspirational story.

  3. It’s so great to see Ari’s story. It brings me great hope that the younger generation will make a big leap forward in bringing humanity to lead their healthy (normal) lifestyle as the Lord intended. I’m with you. I will never go back. I love eating whole plant foods. It’s the only thing I will call food. I get so tired of hearing people from my generation saying “I could never give up _________”. I love the positiveness of the interview that Jane published today. I ‘m not deprived at all. I love the tastes of the plant foods that I eat.

    • Thanks, Sue! For others, here is the link to the amazing interview I posted on Facebook today. I wrote:

      This audio interview made me weep for joy! Let me explain. Nearly every meal I eat fills me with happiness. The food is so good! People are afraid they will be sacrificing delicious food by eating a Word of Wisdom diet. Nothing could be further from the truth! The truth is that our Father has blessed us with AMAZING wholesome plant foods. This interview features Karen Page, one of the “most influential food writers of our time.” She goes into great detail as to how she discovered plant-based cuisine to be much TASTIER, more DELICIOUS, and more FLAVORFUL than meat-based cuisine.

      Doesn’t it just make sense that the food our Father has ordained for us is also food “to please the eye and to gladden the heart . . . for taste and for smell, to strengthen the body and to enliven the soul” (D&C 59:18-19)? Eating the Word of Wisdom way is good not only for our bodies, the animals, and the environment; it is also full of flavor and culinary delight. This is what made me weep for joy: that our Father loves us so much. But I’m also sad that so many are missing these amazing blessings because they are afraid, or because they are enslaved by food addiction, or bewitched by the “evils and designs … of conspiring men” (D&C 89:4). Let us put our trust in God and discover the blessings He wants to give us. Be sure to listen to the entire interview. What a gem!!!

      Plant Yourself podcast: Karen Page on the Secret Reason to Go Plant-Based: Flavor

  4. Ari, I’m Jane Birch’s Father. A little over three years ago she personally sat down with me and taught me very convincingly that eating “Whole Food Plant Based” is the way to eat. I’ve never ever since I was a small child have had the kind of health I’m enjoying right now. Like you I exercise very vigorously going the equivalence of four miles on a challenging to use exercise machine at the Murray, Utah Recreation Center for fifty three minutes at each of my three day a week exercise sessions. Like you, I believe that a plant-based diet is the diet that God intended us to eat! I was just turning eighty then and I’m now in my eighty fourth year and am never sick! No colds, headaches. stomach aches, etc. You name any sickness and I could honestly tell you I never have it now that I eat and exercise the way I do! Keep up the great way you are taking care of yourself so that when you are my age you can do something I never could have done, that is: telling others that you’ve been “healthy the way I am right now since I was eighteen!”

    Congratulations on wanting to attend B.Y.U. I earned my bachelor’s degree at that great university!

  5. So glad you chose health. Today I just had a long talk with my dad. With no other people around. Face to face. At 82 he had a stroke, at 83 he had a heart attack (in June) and he just informed me today he had an EKG last week and he might need a pacemaker. I have been talking to him til I’m blue in the face about his lack of nutrition and eating like he’s 20 years old. That being said mom (open heart surgery in April) comes home from shopping with two pound cakes, chocolate cake, some kind of custard cake and then feeds him liverwurst with mayonnaise on white bread.

    He walked me out to my car. He said he will think about our talk. I told him it breaks my heart how he eats and if he keeps eating the way he is things will not get better they will only get worse. I’m a graduate of Dr Campbell’s class and gave him and mom Dr Esselstyns book. I won’t stop trying and I won’t give up, it’s my Dad.

    • Bless you, Vicki, for loving your dad enough not to give up. He may not make all the changes you hope, but he’ll always know you love him enough to fight for him!

      Please consider sharing your own story on this site. I’d love to hear it. Please contact me!

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