I have been a vegetarian since I was 13 years old. The reason was simple: My best friend tried it and I agreed to go along with it for one week. After the week I would try it for one month. The more I learnt about animal cruelty the easier was my decision to stay vegetarian. Later I still started to eat fish, but no other meat. I still drank milk, ate yoghurt and candy – hey it’s vegetarian. When I grew up in Germany I was sick a lot. I had asthma and needed to use an inhaler every time I would run or do any exercise outside or just get my heart beat going. Also, I had many allergies – starting from pollen to animals to food (most of fruits including apples, peaches, cherries, etc. but also to raw eggs which is in most dressings). I was probably sick once a month with a cold and asthma. I still liked to be active, but was limited in my lifestyle. My boyfriend had two dogs that I loved, but I was allergic and I would sneeze nonstop and get asthma everytime we went on walks. I ignored it as I loved them so much. The doctor gave me inhalers and antibiotics for my cold, and I accepted to live with it. When we traveled (which is one of my other passions besides animals) I was limited to what food I could eat. Exploring a different country and learning about the culture you really experience is by indulging in local cuisine. Unfortunately, I was never able to do this as I didn’t want to have my throat swell up if my allergies started. I never thought about that a different life would be possible for me, and just accepted to live this way with my allergies and asthma.
When I moved to the US in 2003 I was all by myself –without the meals and recipes that I knew in Germany all my life. I needed to learn about new foods and cooking. I started to watch TV shows about healthy eating and read a books like “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” by Michael Pollan or Dr. Neal Barnard’s Program for Reversing Diabetes that made me realize how bad dairy and sugar are for the body. I never thought about it before, as milk and yoghurt are two stables in a German diet. They are advertised as healthy foods. I also read studies about how sugar and milk are cancerous. The more I read the easier my decision was to try a dairy and sugar (less) diet. Fortunately, in the US back then were many alternative options like soy or almond milk already at that time. I learned new recipes and cooking with beans and grains and lots of fresh vegetables. I don’t know when, but my asthma got better. First I thought it was the weather in Florida, as it’s warm/humid and less irritating for my lungs –and it may have been a contributing factor, but slowly my entire immune system changed. I volunteerd at the SPCA in Orlando and I realized I was not allergic to the dogs anymore. I would sneeze once in a while but it was in no comparison that it triggers my asthma or throat swells up. I could run outside without having any asthma attacks. I would get less sick. I started to have more confidence in my body that it can revert back allergies. So one day, my (now) husband ate an apple – which I was highly allergic too. I asked him to give me a tiny piece (maybe as big as a crumb) and I put it on my tongue. I had my inhaler next to me and we were both nervous if I had to go to the hospital soon. Nothing happened. No itching. No change at all. Ok – I tried a small piece – same thing just put it on my tongue and when no change happened I swallowed it. We waited 15 minutes – still no change. I got so excited, we went to bigger pieces and finally I took a bite. This would cause my gums to itch and swell up immediately – but this time I didn’t feel any change. SUCCESS! I was in a happy shock – I hadn’t eaten an apple in over 10 years and it tasted so good. After that experience I tried other fruits and foods I was allergic too in the past – and I’m happy to say I’m free of any allergies and I don’t have asthma anymore. I don’t have an exact time frame of how long it took my body to heal itself and revert the disease, but I know 100% that it is due of changing my diet from eliminating all dairy and reducing sugar as well as eating mostly fresh and raw fruits and vegetables. In my experience, no doctor had told me to try to change my diet. They only focus on medicine instead of finding the cause of the disease. I can’t even put into words how happy and grateful I am that I’m free of these diseases and my body healed itself. This is also the main reason and motivation to stay with a dairy /sugar free mainly vegetarian diet. Unfortunately, it takes time for the body to reflect its effects of eating processed, fatty, sugary foods – it doesn’t happen overnight. Once you have a disease it’s very difficult – but not impossible to revert your body with a strong immune system again. One of my favorite quotes that speaks from my heart: “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”― Hippocrates