About/Why Vegan?

Hi, I’m Somer McCowan. I’m a vegan, Mormon blogger currently in the process of writing my first cookbook. Here’s my plant-based story.

Update: You can also view my testimonial on the Fork’s Over Knives website here and on ChooseVeg.com here

Seven years ago I was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis, an autoimmune disease that causes severe abdominal pain, thousands of tiny sores in the colon, and bloody watery stools.  My gastroenterologist also removed several pre-cancerous tubular adenomas at the time of my diagnosis. Sometimes I would have to go to the bathroom 30 times a day. At times I couldn’t leave the house and had a difficult time sleeping because I was so sick and had so much pain. I was 28 at the time. I was put on a super high dose of a prescription steroid and lots of other heavy-duty prescription drugs to control the disease. I went from a healthy weight of 125 to over 200 lbs in 9 months on the drugs. Not only did I gain the weight, but I also developed horrible acne. I grew facial hair. I felt crazy and was not a nice person to be around. I would cry when I looked in the mirror.

After I started feeling a bit better, I worked out 2 hours a day at the gym for a year and at the end of the year I ran a half marathon. Yes, I lost all the weight.

I have since had a colonoscopy every year, and have often had to go back on prednisone or other terrible drugs in order to get my colitis symptoms under control every time I’ve had a flare up. Each time my weight would balloon and I would feel miserable again and have to work hard to get it back off. It was like a terrible roller coaster and I couldn’t get off.

One weekend, my brother Abe was staying with me and we watched “Forks over Knives” I didn’t really pay attention to it at the time because I was watching kids, making dinner and generally a little uninterested. Fast Forward to January 2012, our family had just returned from Disneyland and a fast food nightmare vacation. I felt like crap, I was sluggish and I had no energy. At this point somewhere in my head I thought of the film “Forks over Knives” again. I decided to re-watch it, this time with my eyes wide open, and realized maybe I could heal myself by changing my diet. I talked with my spouse and we agreed to go on a whole-foods plant-based diet as a family.

The reason I differentiate this from a vegan diet is that many vegans are compassionate, but don’t eat healthily. I didn’t start this journey as an animal advocate, but I’ve since realized its impossible to switch from the standard American diet to a wholly plant based one and not feel remorse for living a life that harmed so many animals. I can tell you that I can’t walk near the meat department in a grocery store anymore and I’m horrified by the treatment of animals that are intended for consumption. So yes, I’m a vegan too by those standards.

I am completely off prescription drugs and my Ulcerative Colitis is in full remission. I’ve never felt better, and I know all of this is a direct result of my diet. I wish I would have known years ago that I could heal my own body with what I was putting into my mouth. It’s really amazing that the cure I was looking for was harnessed through plants.

Research shows that a plant based diet not only can help or reverse auto-immune diseases like mine, it also gives you protection against or helps with the treatment of cancer, high-blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes and many, many more ailments and diseases. I can dig that.

Read the Next Chapter: After the Injury, The Healing Series.

285 comments

  1. Thanks for your inspiring story. I was diagnosed with UC in 2009. I’ve been in and out of the hospital and also took more than my share of steroids and other cancer causing drugs. In September I committed to a plant based diet after reading Joel Furhman’s Eat to Live. Since then I’ve lost 18 lbs and 2 dress sizes. I feel amazing. I’m scheduled for a colonoscopy in January. I pray for a clean healthy colon. Love your web site!!!!!

  2. Hi Somer – your story is really inspiring. I want to become Vegan but don’t really know how to start. I want to do it for health reasons but also becasue of the love I feel for animals. Any advice you could give me would really be helpful.

  3. Lovely story! I agree with your comment about vegans that don’t eat healthily. It is important to have a balanced diet but once you start eating well it is nearly impossible to go back to old unhealthy habits especially with a plant-based diet :) Have a lovely Sunday !!

  4. My daughter has UC and has found the same thing–exercise and a change of diet and she is pretty much in remission. This, after her doctor told her that diet doesn’t play a factor. ??? It’s the gut! Hello!

    1. Two Gastro Drs I have seen both tell me, if it does not hurt it is OK to eat. What planet are they on?
      I understand they may not have Crohns or UC but they need to not be foolish with food.
      We have serious health issues here & I feel they only treat symptoms not the entire person with diet etc. Not to smart imo.

      1. I dont understand that either, though I have heard the same thing. I think its pretty well documented that food plays a huge role in our health. Most of the illnesses that we have can be helped and or even eliminated through diet and nutrition and proper care of the gut. I know that when I could pay attention to what I eat and do proper cleansing that I feel much better. There is a lot of science behind that as well!

    1. I’ll check out your pages! I’m currently drafting a post on IBD. I get dozens of emails each week from readers who want help. I’ll be sure to include your info in the post with a couple of other plant based doctors who specialize in the same area. Thank you!

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