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Welcome to This Awful/Awesome Life! My name is Frances Joyce. I am the publisher and editor of this magazine. We'll be exploring different topics each month to inform, entertain and inspire you. Meet new authors, sharpen your brain and pick up a few tips on life, love, entertaining and business. Enjoy and please share!

Joe and Linda Cahill: One Year of the Vegan Lifestyle and Counting...

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For Joe and Linda Cahill the decision to lead a Vegan lifestyle was unexpected and a long time coming.

Joe is a retired firefighter for the city of Pittsburgh. Linda is an independent sales consultant with The Pampered Chef. She prepares amazing meals for her Pampered Chef parties, and after his retirement, Joe did most of the cooking at home.

According to Linda, “Our daughter Caitlin and her husband Jordan have been Vegans for about seven years now. Every family get together we had to prepare essentially two meals. They always brought an assortment of Vegan dishes which Joe and I enjoyed sampling, but we thought there’s no way we are ever giving up meat and cheese.”

Being empty nesters, Joe and Linda often ate out. “We’d meet friends, or Joe and I would go out instead of cooking for two. We didn’t realize how much fat, sugar and salt we were putting in our bodies. Joe developed Type2 Diabetes and high blood pressure. Both our cholesterol levels were up and we were tired. Joe had to test his blood sugar levels before meals.”

Caitlin often discussed the health benefits of a Vegan lifestyle. She was worried about her father’s health and concerned about her mother’s diet as well. She recommended they watch two documentaries advocating plant based diets, What the Health (a Netflix documentary) and Forks over Knives (an American advocacy film and documentary).

“Joe was getting tired of testing his blood sugar levels and taking medications for diabetes and high blood pressure. We decided to check out the documentaries. After we finished watching, Joe turned to me and said, ‘That’s it! I’m doing this. Are you with me?’”

Linda began to form a plan of how to use up the food in the fridge and pantry. How long would it take? Perhaps they could incorporate a few Vegan meals in their diet while using up theirs groceries. She was surprised by Joe’s response.

“No,” he said, “Now, we have to do this now, and we have to be all in. We can give this food to our son. I don’t want to spend the rest of my life sticking my finger and choking down pills.”

Caitlin and Jordan took Joe and Linda shopping and showed them which stores to go to and what to buy. They also came over and helped prepare meals.

“I was pleasantly surprised,” said Linda. “I didn’t really miss any of the foods we eliminated from our diets because there are smart swaps for them. Joe and I also joined Purple Carrot Meal Delivery service to make our transition easier.  For the $72 three meal plan, every Monday we receive the recipes and fresh ingredients to prepare three plant based meals for two. The directions are easy. We’ve never had a meal duplicated, so we are eating a variety of healthy foods and trying new recipes every week. The portions are always generous. Sometimes we get three to four servings from a recipe. Everything is clearly labeled and you can go to the website and get recipes, with step by step instructions, lists of cooking tools plus anything else you might need such as olive oil, salt and pepper.”

“Everything we eat is fresh,” added Joe. “We enjoy a fresh salad every day, and we don’t have to count calories. Within two weeks of changing our diet, my A1C levels were normal and I was off my diabetes and high blood pressure medications. Before my A1C was at 13 and I’d be lucky if my blood sugar was under 200. Now, My A1c is at 5.5, and I’m consistently between 84 and 111for my blood sugar. I’m at a healthy weight again and I have more energy.”

According to Linda, “When we started on this journey I was drinking diet Pepsi and Crystal lite. My daughter told me to make every other drink water. It was such an easy thing to do and now I’m off sodas and Crystal Lite.”

Linda and Joe have been able to lower their LDL cholesterol and raise their HDL. Joe has a friend in Colorado who also made the switch to a Vegan lifestyle.

“My friend has had heart issues and doesn’t even use oils. I shared my experience with one of his friends. She is now off all meds, her glucose is normal and her A1C is down and within normal limits.

I recommend you eat all vegetables raw, and I also recommend this book, 7 Steps to Health and the Big Diabetes Lie by Max Sidorov.”

For the most part, Joe and Linda have made a seamless transition to the vegan lifestyle. They did not swap a couple of foods, Kerry Gold butter which they use sparingly and honey/bee pollen – a controversial food for vegans because technically it’s made by bees for bees and not humans. A few months into their journey, Linda went out to lunch with her friend Maria and had a craving for meat.

“I regretted my decision almost immediately,” she laughed. ‘The food went right through me and I just felt awful. While we were on vacation in Florida, Joe and I decided to try some grouper and had the same results. Once you start eating healthy, your body doesn’t want to go back.”

Now instead of eating out, they prefer to stay home and cook together.

“Working together in the kitchen was a little bumpy at first – but, it has brought us closer and now we work well together. Before, Joe did most of the work, and I was the Sous chef. Now it’s more equal.”

Linda and Joe will be sharing more information about their Vegan lifestyle in upcoming issues of This Awful Awesome Life.

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