Jeff, once a fat BBQ restaurant owner sold his restaurant, went vegan, and lost over 145 pounds.
Jeff had been in the restaurant business up to age 27. So, in 2011 when Jeff couldn’t find a job in his field of Information Technology (IT) he took over a small restaurant in his town and shortly after turned it into a BBQ joint.
“I was offered a position with a small restaurant so that is how I got back into this business. Then I heard about a small restaurant that was struggling in my community so I offered to take it over and bail them out. Everyone that I talked to in my community suggested that I open in the evenings for BBQ, so I did,” Jeff said.
He said being a restaurant owner was grueling, hard work – and very greasy.
“It is a chore to haul hundreds of pounds of meat every day back and forth to the outdoor smoker,” Jeff said.
Over the course of 5 years, he gained almost 150 pounds (68kg). He weighed a whopping total of 348 pounds (158kg). He also developed severe joint pain and was taking 21 (4,200mg) ibuprofen daily.
But that wasn’t all - Jeff had horrible sleep apnea, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and was eventually pre-diabetic.
“In 2016, I developed severe edema. My hands, feet and legs were always swollen. I saw my doctor many times and the answer was always to throw pills at me. I was prescribed an anti-inflammatory, a pain killer, and a muscle relaxer. They seemed to help a little, but never fixed the issues and the edema persisted. I even had a deep vein thrombosis scan and a couple of EKG’s,” Jeff said.
Unfortunately, the doctors never mentioned one thing about diet to Jeff.
“In September 2016, I began having severe gastrointestinal pain. On October 3rd, 2016 I was hospitalized for it. They ran many tests, gave me NO answers, did not address my diet, and prescribed MORE medications,” Jeff said.
Upon release from the hospital, Jeff had a conversation with his 68 year old extremely healthy, mostly plant-based mom.
Her words to Jeff were “Don’t fill those prescriptions, FOOD IS MEDICINE! Do the research!”
So sure enough, that’s what he did. Being an avid research junkie he searched through the internet and medical journals for an anti-inflammatory diet.
“Beginning Oct 5th, 2016, I stopped eating beef, pork, and chicken, and limited my dairy consumption to less than half of what I was eating, and stopped drinking soda. I included turmeric into my diet and started hydrating with lemon and lime in my water. I also limited my refined carbohydrate intake,” Jeff said.
In a little over 2 weeks, his edema was gone and his blood pressure stabilized into the normal range. In 100 days, he lost 80 pounds (36kg).
On Jan 1st, 2017 Jeff signed his restaurant over to his partner for a number of different reasons, but mainly to take care of his health and because he just could not do it anymore.
“In February 2017, I watched the documentary ‘Forks Over Knives’ and immediately stopped consuming cheese due to the Casein, Casomorphins, and IGF-1 in dairy,” Jeff said.
(More info on that in Jeff’s post “Giving Up Cheese & Going Vegan“)
“Within 3 weeks of ditching dairy, my lifelong struggle of daily anxiety magically disappeared. As I continued to research, I then gave up eggs and fish realizing that I had no need for this protein source in my diet, nor did I need the additional cholesterol,” Jeff said.
A few months later in March Jeff went vegan.
“Ironically, my restaurant partner had a fire at the end of April and the place burned down! I did not care about the income any longer, my health was more important," Jeff said.
He said if he realized that animals are sentient beings while owning the restaurant he would have shut it down and walked away.
“No amount of money is worth killing other innocent beings,” Jeff said.
Jeff has slowly regained his health and continues to see the great effects of a vegan diet. He was so inspired, he developed a line of vegan food that he sells locally at farmers markets and a couple of organic stores.
“I also got a grant from the county that I live in to be able to do plant based cooking demos at the farmers market. The grant was part of a 'healthy community initiative' that I spearheaded, so I also get to do nutrition education at the farmers market, and senior center,” Jeff said.
Jeff said a lot of things changed when he switched to a vegan diet.
“I have made a lot of new friends that are very positive. My #RightTribe I like to call it. I have always been a compassionate and empathetic person, but I think my level of both have gone through the roof. I can't ever imagine harming an innocent animal ever again. I am so much stronger physically and have a TON of energy. I have so much more mental clarity than I have had in my entire life,” Jeff said.
Being vegan has not been a struggle for Jeff, at all.
“I LOVE being vegan. I love how food tastes and has come alive. I am a chef and have really enjoyed trying and creating new recipes. I am vegan for life, for the animals, for the better of other humans and the planet, and for my health,” Jeff said.
His only challenge of becoming vegan was not doing it sooner.
“I wish I would have known sooner what I know now. The challenge was misconceptions and conditioning that I grew up with. For example, we need meat for protein (we don't) and we need dairy for calcium (not true),” Jeff said.
Jeff wants to educate people on all of the myths and misconceptions about veganism, including the biggest one: protein.
“Vegans are not protein deficient! There are 41g of protein in 1 cup of beans. Elephants and gorillas eat PLANTS and aren't protein deficient. NEVER worry about protein!,” Jeff said. “Also, there is more calcium in broccoli and greens than there is in milk. Eating those instead of dairy products give you fiber, all sorts of micro-nutrients, and does not contain saturated fat, casein, casomorphins, IGF-1 and cholesterol!”
Based on Jeff’s experiences, he said anyone can go vegan and they won’t regret it.
“It is best for your health and for everyone else on this planet, and you NEVER have to worry about becoming protein deficient!” Jeff said.
"If a fat BBQ guy can go vegan, anyone can go vegan!" Jeff
For Jeff’s future plans, he is thinking about building a vegan taco trailer and traveling the country with it. For now, he is very busy running a Plant-Based Nutrition Support Group and with his vegan snack line and infused vinegars (which will be available online later this year).
To follow Jeff and his journey, as well as learning yummy plant-based recipes, head over to Jeff’s social media.
Jeff featured in Veganuary