As we at MamaSezz well know, changing to a plant-based diet can change your life in ways you never expected. In this series, we talk with some of the world’s most soulful, dedicated (and often funny) individuals. We get to hear their stories of suffering, transformation, and service — and we learn how food is an essential part of their journey.
This week, we talked with Dr. Yamileth, who challenged herself to go plant-based for 30 days. The results were so impactful (including a stop to her chronic constipation!), that she decided to stick with the diet and spread the word. She even gave a TED X talk about her experience. Dr. Yami sticks with her diet in order to set herself up for the best chance at health and longevity.
What prompted your interest in a plant-based diet?
Before I adopted a plant-based diet, I had already spent a couple of decades of my life on the diet rollercoaster, vacillating between eating tons of low fat dairy and chicken breast to binging on highly processed food. I thought the key to a healthy diet was “lean protein” and portion control. But I never felt that it was sustainable.
I had started getting into long-distance running and was learning about barefoot running. I was reading the book Born to Run about the Tarahumara people when I felt inspired to try a plant-based diet. Honestly I didn’t really know anything about plant-based diets or veganism and didn’t know anybody who ate in that way. I didn’t have any expectations, but I was incredibly curious and wanted to know what it would feel like physically and practically. I decided that I would try it for 30 days and I started the very next day after I made the decision.
Once I decided to make the change, I transitioned overnight. I decided to try it for 30 days and chose a very simple approach. Whole wheat toast with peanut butter for breakfast and rice and beans for lunch and dinner. As the days passed I read everything I could about a plant-based diet. I read a book called Diet for a New America and watched documentaries like Forks Over Knives, Earthlings, and The Cove.
After my 30 day experiment I knew there was no going back. For the next month I delved into the medical literature to determine if it would be safe to also transition my children and what I found really surprised me! I discovered that not only was it safe for children to eat a plant-based diet, they could thrive on this way of eating.
It was then that I transitioned the entire household to a plant-based diet and a vegan way of living. It has now been 10 years since I started my experiment and I have to say that its gone very well and I sure have learned a lot since I started my journey!
How were you able to stick with such a dramatic diet change?
It really wasn’t difficult for me. I am Panamanian and love rice and beans. I also have never been a fanatic of meat or cheese. The hardest thing for me to give up at the beginning was milk and ice cream, but thankfully we live in a great time in history as there are over 20 different commercially available plant milks and there are so many amazing plant-based ice creams that there is zero deprivation. I missed egg for a long time, but now when I have a hankering for that scrambled egg consistency I grab some Just Egg and make an amazing veggie scramble.
Being plant-based actually opened up my culinary repertoire and dramatically INCREASED the variety of foods that I eat. It is a lifestyle of abundance, not deprivation.
What is your life like now?
I didn’t have any defined expectations when I transitioned to a plant-based diet, but I was very pleasantly surprised that my chronic constipation was cured after just 3 days!
I also had more energy and felt more clear-headed and calm. But what is most important to me is that I have more control over my wellbeing and longevity than ever before. I am so passionate about plant-based nutrition that it is a core part of my career.
What are you most proud of?
There are many things I am proud of: of course my two sons who are now 11 and 16 years old and are the greatest boys in the world, my marriage of twenty years, but also I am proud of my private pediatric practice and the service I have been able to provide to the families and the community I love.
If you could meet and have lunch with one person (alive or dead) who would it be?
I would have a dinner party with Charles Darwin, Einstein, Elon Musk, Oprah, Jesus, Gandhi, The Buddha, Mother Theresa, and all of The Avengers ;) I would serve an elaborate and amazingly delicious plant-based spread that would be appreciated by all.
Check out her TED X video, you won't be sorry:
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