About/Why Vegan?

Hi, I’m Somer McCowan. I’m a vegan, Mormon blogger. My cookbook The Abundance Diet, will be released on June 2nd, 2015 and is currently available for pre-order on Amazon. Here’s my plant-based story.

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.

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297 comments

  1. Thanks for stopping by Guaya Gourmet, Somer! And, for sharing your story! Inspirational stories like this are full of hope and love. Looking forward to keeping in touch via the blogosphere!

  2. Somer – Wanted to say, seriously admire your bravery in sharing your story! I have struggled with UC for 17 years (as a vegan the whole time) and know how it can be to live the condition. Big, huge, loud applause to you – I will be a devoted reader of Vedged Out and look forward to seeing your vegan journey unfold! Congrats a million times over! 🙂

    1. Scary, but I really felt it was important and the right thing to do. So many are suffering needlessly. Since my story went viral on Forks Over Knives, I’ve heard from lots of others who have achieved remission through going plant based, which is SO validating! There really is something to it and I feel like I’m not the only one. Glad to have you as part of that support group, but yes we need to spread the message that stress relief and exercise also play a role in recovery. Love to you and thanks for the blog love too, you know I’ll be visiting you and yours! xoxo

  3. I have a multitude of health problems including inflammatory polyarthritis, fibromyalgia, Irritable bowel, bipolar disorder, sleep apnea, sebopsoriasis and breast cancer. I have thought that much of this is from diet, but not being very creative and time crunched, I havent had the motivation to change. Your blogsite has inspired me and I will be excited to try some of these!

    1. Lorene! I’ll swear diet can cure most anything. Have you seen Forks Over Knives? I have a free netflix code here:

      https://vedgedout.com/2012/09/22/watch-forks-over-knives-for-free/

      Eating plant based is an excellent way to reverse many diseases and is super simple once you get the hang of it, I think you would REALLY benefit from a huge diet overhaul. As you can see, I’m now a healthy weight, medication free and disease free. Please use my recipes, but here are some more resources that may help you:

      A free 10 day plant based eating program:
      http://www.drmcdougall.com/free.html

      Arthritis information:
      http://www.drmcdougall.com/med_hot_arthritis.html

      Breast Cancer Information:
      http://www.drmcdougall.com/med_hot_breastcancer.html

      Irritable Bowel Syndrome:
      http://www.drmcdougall.com/med_colitis.html

      I’m here as a support system if you ever need anything.

      Hugs- Somer

  4. Hey Somer. Thanks for liking my post. I must say your story is amazing! Your journey to wellness should be a blueprint for anyone who thinks it’s impossible to lose weight and get into better physical shape. I’m so happy that your colitis is in full remission and I’ll be praying that it never everrrrrr (in my best Chris Jericho voice) comes back again. As a person that has battled digestive issues over the years, I can totally see how a plant-based diet, along with regular exercise, could help prevent similar ailments. I applaud your success.

    1. Wow! Thanks Jeuron! It’s been 10 months and no flares in sight. I think I’ve found my Balm of Gilead, a plant based diet! How’s your health now mate?

      1. Well, it’s hard to say. I’m a naturally small person, but I have noticed an increase in body weight as of late. I tend to suffer from occasional irregularity, but nothing like I did when I was little. I actually had to go to major hospitals as a child and was on a strict regiment of laxatives up until my senior year in high school. I have been drinking more water over the last year than at any other period of my life. I was jogging around my neighborhood for a few weeks, but then I got kind of lazy and really haven’t been as dedicated as I should be. I could stand to be way more healthier than I currently am. Does all of this make sense to you?

        1. Totally makes sense! Watch Forks Over Knives. If you eat a plant based diet, any kind of bowel issues kind of just disappear. Kind of makes sense that what you put into your body helps what comes out 😉 Glad you have found some benefits from jogging and staying hydrated. I’m here for support!

  5. You have a great story and I am happy to see how changing your diet let you be in control of your life instead of leeting ulcerative colitis control it. Although I am not vegan (or even vegetarian) I do believe that diet can severly affect this disease and I am searching for my own eating rules to help control my symptoms.
    Also thanks for posting all the yummy recipes – I can’t wait to try some!

  6. Somer – congrats on your newer healthy lifestyle! I am considering changing my diet as well, just more gradually so I’ll stick with it! I’m first going to cut out all red meats. I have much more energy when I don’t eat red meat! And have you tried Arbonne? They have a whole line of certified-vegan, dairy-free, and gluten-free health & wellness products! They are amazing and have helped me lose 10 pounds!

    1. Cutting out red meat is a great start! I had to go cold turkey, because that’s the best way for me to make major changes, otherwise I give myself too much leeway 😉 Funny you mentioned Arbonne. I used to be a consultant, but I don’t think they had food products back then, mostly just makeup and skin care. It got too pricey for me even with the discount so I stopped using their products. I love getting my nutrition through whole foods, but I’m happy their products are working for you and they are probably really “clean” compared to other wellness products on the market. Congrats on your weight loss and keep it up!

  7. completely inspiring, somer. i have known a lot of vegans and vegetarians in my lifetime who have decided the diet meant simply omitting meat and animal by-products, not necessarily living a healthful way. you are an example of this diet works when it is done in the most advantageous way possible. even though i was forced into this lifestyle against my will at the age of 9, i’m still learning how to make it work for me, and especially in the health circumstances i find myself in. your story, and stories like it, totally remind me that food is not just nourishment; it can heal.

    1. Food is the ultimate nourishment. It took me a really long time to learn that and I’m still learning that if I don’t feed my body the very best fuel, it doesn’t run as well. Kinda like the Jetta Turbo Wagon I used to own, I had to put premium fuel in it, otherwise it would get all gunked up and not run well. We’re exactly the same!

  8. Awesome story. Good for you. It’s truly amazing how many people get off prescription meds and regain their lives and health when following a plant based diet. The cure for eating meat?: Watch, “Earthlings”. Once is all it takes. Cured. Instantly. It should be required viewing before you’re allowed to purchase meat.

    1. Thanks Vincent! My friend Kristy at Keepin’ it Kind also recommended Earthlings. I will see it I’m sure, though if it’s too gruesome I’ll probably have to turn it off. I don’t do well with gore :/ Don’t worry, I’m totally turned off the meat counter without it!

      1. I’m not sure how good of a friend Kristy is if you’re already a vegan and she recommended Earthlings. 😛

        If you’re already vegan, I honestly would NOT advise watching it. I wouldn’t let my wife watch it. I only advise it for non-vegans who are so completely brainwashed that they need a wakeup call to reality.

  9. Hi Somer, thanks for liking my post! Dou you read breton (the language I write in)?
    I decided to take a look over here; interesting. Great to read how you cured yourself of your illness by changing your diet!
    Although not a vegan (not even a vegetarian), I try to include several vegetarian and vegan meals i my menu every week. I will have a look at your blog to get some ideas for healthy and filling vegan meals!

    1. My google reader automatically translates languages so I didn’t even notice your posts were in breton. I liked the look of some of the recipes you posted. Thanks for coming over here to check me out and I hope to see you around too!

  10. I love your story and your blog! Forks over Knives made me a vegetarian…maybe one day I’ll make it to vegan. I’ll check your blog for recipes–your food pics look great!

  11. Thanks for visiting my blog. You story is so inspiring. I am a food conscious omnivore, who for the most part eat vegan (except for the eggs). I’ll be popping by for great food ideas. Yummy!

  12. Thanks for stopping by and checking out my blog! I’m loving yours so far! I’ll have to come back and check it out some more later on! And I’ve already started following you on Pinterest as well (I’m a total pinterest-a-holic!!)

  13. Wow! I also have an auto immune condition, Ankylosing Spondylitis. Every now and then I am tempted to try out a vegan diet and see if it has any effect on my condition. I know that I would meet huge resistance with my family… mostly my husband. I think my daughters might be keen on trying it out as long as the foods I make are as tasty as what they’re used to. Is it possible to do just on my own? I think it might be easier.

    Anyway, thanks for visiting my site, it has allowed me to discover yours!

    1. I’ll be the first to say that I think it would be difficult to do it on your own. I don’t want to discourage you because I know that others do it, I just know from personal experience it has been so much easier to have the support of my family, especially my husband. Can I tell you he was a meat eater through and through! I never thought he’d be on board. Then we watched the film together and I told him I really wanted to try it, just to see if it could help me. He’s seen all the pain and suffering I’ve experienced over the years and agreed to jump on board. He’s not 100% like I am and still eats what he wants sometimes when he eats out. But the crazy thing is how much his health has improved since he is eating mostly plant based as well.

      Girl, maybe you can share my story with your family, and sit down and watch Forks Over Knives together. It just makes sense if you have an open mind. You could have everyone try a 30 day challenge, just to see how your body responds. Maybe a short term commitment won’t seem so hard and at the end everyone will notice improvement and be more determined to stick to it?

      Here are some other resources for you:
      http://www.drmcdougall.com/free.html
      http://pcrm.org/kickstartHome/mealplan/index.cfm

      I’m also here to help! Let me know if there’s anything I can do. I’m passionate about this because it changed my life, it’s the whole reason I blog is to help others. xx -Somer

  14. Somer, your story is such an inspiration. I, too, didn’t fully pay attention to Forks Over Knives the first time I saw it. Yet, as I continue to struggle with fibromyalgia and face steroids to manage it, I’m finding healing through plant-based eating. My husband runs his first marathon tomorrow, my brother and his wife their first half marathons two weekends ago. It was 5 years ago I was the first of all of us getting ready to start racing with my first 5k when I was sidelined; my eye-on-the-prize is to also find full remission and run with all of them one day. Thank you, thank you for sharing your story to prove it is all possible.

    1. I love this! Leah, so incredible. Isn’t it amazing what we can do when we give our bodies the right fuel?!? Congrats to your husband, brother and sister-in-law! And as for you, I really hope you find full remission too. I believe that you can! xx

  15. Wow! What an amazing story. We are considering doing a 30 Day Vegan Challenge. I am on medication and I have gone up nearly two sizes and I feel so revolting and most of my clothes dont fit, so I need to do something to start feeling better phsyically and mentally. Im not sure how I would go without eggs, as I use them to substitute meat for protein. Thanks for stopping by my blog. Kat 🙂

    1. Wow, thanks. I have some resources for you! Read through this page about vegan diets, supplements and most especially PROTEIN:

      http://www.forksoverknives.com/nutrition-faq/

      That’s the first question most people ask is the protein one. I get plenty from greens, legumes and grains and don’t feel deficient in any way.

      This link not only includes a free 10 day eating plan, but really discusses the reasons why plant based is best for our health:

      http://www.drmcdougall.com/free.html

      I also really like the recipes in this 21 day vegan kickstart!:

      http://pcrm.org/kickstartHome/mealplan/index.cfm

      Best of luck, and I’m here to answer any questions you may have, though it may take me a few days to get back to you 😉

  16. Somer, thank you for sharing your story. Like you, I changed my diet due to health reasons over the past two years. I haven’t gone vegan, but have moved to a more natural and whole diet. It’s amazing how dietary changes can make a world of difference. My family and I feel so much better now. Thank you for visting my blog and liking my post at http://www.ourlittlefamilyadventure.wordpress.com. I look forward to following you.

  17. thanks Somer for stopping by… you are a great inspirer..and yes I truly agree to your health aspects, even my sister was overweighed and she too turned to be a vegan and it was an incredible change…

  18. Wow! That is wonderful, Somer!! I’m so happy that your health improved so much. My digestive problems were not quite so severe but I was diagnosed with IBS which doesn’t seem to be a problem at all since going wholly plant based. 🙂

  19. Somer, you have a fabulous story. Not that it started out great for you, but what a journey. You are really an inspiration…a great example of what a healthy plant-based diet can do. Glad you’re one of us vegan missionaries now 🙂

  20. been obssesivly showing this page to a bunch of people! working at hillside animal sanctuary it was amazing to hear all the people who changed there lifes by going plant based, and its always inspiring to hear of people doing something postive and showing great determination! Well done!

  21. Somer, I loved reading about your plant-based story and how you made the changes to improve your health and wellbeing. You are an inspiration for so many that may be living similar circumstances to what you were. Blessings for sharing this story of hope!

  22. Thanks for stopping by. I live your inspirational story & how you share your life change to a plant diet. I’ve always been a vegetarian & LOVE being one . I love animals toooo much to even dream of hurting them!!!!!. I even managed to reverse high cholesterol – yay. To life givin plants… Charu

  23. Are you sure that picture from 200 lbs is you?! I can’t believe the transformation! Great job and very inspiring story. I’m always fascinated by stories about how diet can end sickness and dependence on medication. Thank you for sharing!

  24. Wow! Amazing Story! Amazing Woman! SO inspirational for others who are afraid of taking the first step! Congrats!

  25. Hi Somer, thanks for sharing your story. It’s amazing. I am so glad I found your blog, your recipes look fabulous! thanks for liking my post ‘low carb coconut sorbet’ 🙂

  26. Hi Somer 🙂 Thank you very much for liking my post and stopping by since I could discover your blog. Your story is really impressive. I am nor vegan neither vegetarian although I am rather aware “eater”. I hope to find more information through your blog about alternative food I could suggest to my aunt that has allergy to plenty of different food, unfortunately to many veggies as well. Thank you and lot of health 🙂

  27. What an inspiring journey you’ve had! Every time I read a story such as yours about someone finding peace and health and happiness through a plant-based diet, it makes my heart flutter! So happy for you and all your successes! Also, can’t wait to try some of your recipes–they all look delish! And thanks for following food.body.bliss!!! I am truly honored 🙂
    ~Gina

  28. Hey Somer, thanks for checking out my blog. I’m very honored and humbled to read your story. Amazing. Keep on fighting the fight:)
    Julie PS I’ll be back-your blog looks very helpful and inspiring!

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