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 Stacey Brobst, who was born with the rare syndome thrombocytopenia absent radius (TAR). She grew up eating your classic Standard American Diet but when digestion issues got the best of her, she made the switch to plants. Today, she's 45 years old, free from chronic stomach troubles, and training for a Century (a 100 mile bike ride!). Here's her story.
What prompted your interest in a plant-based diet?
As a kid our home had an abundance of Pepsi, SpaghettiOs, cookies, and your typical Tuna Pee Wiggle, but I also never turned down a meal at my grandparents house which mostly consisted of items they grew in their garden. You could say I was a food connoisseur of any food! Fast food to a cold cucumber sandwich, I was happy eating it all!
When I was about 15 I started taking amino acid pills to help gear up for my training in the preseason for field hockey. It was my sophomore year and I wanted to be the starting Varsity goalie – which I did succeed in doing! That year began a series of unfortunate events for my digestion. There’s another piece to the puzzle though; I was born with thrombocytopenia absent radius which is a very rare syndrome. I have low platelets and I’m missing my radius bone in both arms. When I was born my parents were told I couldn’t have any cow’s milk. So I could never have a glass of milk but I could tolerate dairy in some forms in foods up until that preseason.
Fast forward to being married, having two kids. I could barely digest anything. I was always sick and was on some strong medicine to help “slow things down."
I had to see a new doctor and he wouldn’t give me the same prescription until I had gone through a bunch of tests. The first one was a liquid diet for 48 hours and then I was to only eat chicken and potatoes for seven days then report back with my results. I felt great on the liquid diet, except for the extreme hunger, however the doctor didn’t believe me when I said I was sick after having the chicken and potatoes. I quickly found a new doctor after he accused me of lying and eating something other than chicken and potatoes because obviously chicken and potatoes wouldn’t make anyone sick!
I worked on changing my diet and eating green banana smoothies and I actually started gaining weight…maybe a bit too much. Thankfully, we had been invited to play boardgames with a family who had begun eating “vegan. I had no idea what that was! But I felt better every time we ate dinner with them.
My husband encouraged me to give it a try; I thought I’d last about 2 days but I figured why not? I started in July and when Thanksgiving came along I decided to try a small piece of turkey. Never again! 20 minutes after eating it I had extreme cramping and I felt so sick. Turns out there’s a small percentage of people with TAR syndrome that can’t digest any animal proteins…and I’m one of the lucky ones. You could say I was forced into this way of life but I’m so thankful for it!
I grew a compassion for God’s creations that had never existed before, I lost 40 pounds, my recovery time got better after my workouts, my blood work and platelets improved, my fatigue went away. and my very bad immune system started to work!
How were you able to stick with such a dramatic diet change? What is your life like now?
I had many family members who were concerned with this new way of eating. To help friends and family understand what I was doing I created an Instagram account to share my meal adventures. I love to eat and share how plant-based food can taste great and look beautiful!
It's been 10 years since I had that dreaded piece of turkey and this summer (at the age of 45) I’m training for a Century, as well as trying to complete 1000 miles on my bike…100 percent plant powered!
Have Your Own Plant-Based Transformation?!
Tell us all about it! We'd love to know how a plant-based diet changed your life and health. Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org to share your story.