I am 26 years old and have weighed a sprightly 100 pounds since 7th grade. I never gave much thought to what I ate, since candy, French fries and ice cream didn’t seem to affect me negatively, at least in the sense that they never added any pounds to my slight figure. And did I ever take advantage of my unbelievably good genes! As a missionary in France, my motto was, “Why buy one pastry when you can buy two?”
During my last year as an undergraduate, I was working with Jane Birch when she made her radical diet change. I was fairly skeptical of all she preached at first and told myself that, though great for her, it probably wasn’t for me. After all, eating a handful of carrot sticks and three different kinds of fruit every day meant I was pretty healthy myself . . . right?
A few months later over Christmas break, my husband and I watched the documentary Forks Over Knives and discussed Jane’s new lifestyle. Almost on a whim, we decided to try it out and be totally dedicated to a whole foods, plant-based lifestyle for the next three months. My husband was studying nutrition, with plans to go to medical school. He was also interested in losing some weight, being healthier in general, and finding relief from his migraine headaches. I remember eating a frozen pizza that day and wondering how I was going to make it for three months without cheese.
After we changed our diet, we immediately felt we had much more energy. It was invigorating to eat a meal and feel totally satisfied but not heavy or gross from ingesting a bunch of grease or meat. My husband’s headaches became less frequent. He lost weight. We felt great! For the first time in my life, I was truly more aware of what I was putting into my body and recognizing the effects food had on me. We knew we were eating much healthier, but we also couldn’t believe how delicious our meals were! Our food tasted better than it ever had. We even began evangelizing because it affected us so much.
I was afraid before we decided to do this that my husband would want to keep it going longer than three months. I wasn’t sure I could do it forever. Admittedly, two years later, we are not 100% whole food, plantbased—we do eat some fish and cheese occasionally, and my sweet tooth sometimes gets its way—but we follow the Word of Wisdom much more than we ever used to. We have thought significantly more about the do’s of the Word of Wisdom rather than focusing on the don’ts and calling it good. This decision has been one of the most life changing for us both, and the whole food, plant-based lifestyle is still very much a part of our lives.
Robyn Rowley, 26, lives in Silver Spring, Maryland. She earned a BS in Psychology and is currently putting her husband, Dallin, through medical school while working as a healthcare transcriptionist. Their first baby was born shortly after this story was written.