A Day in the Life of a Vegan: Meet Bob

I’m happy to introduce you to Bob Shinn — just another normal guy going vegan! It’s happening everyday.  Bob recognized the benefits of a plant-based diet after watching the movie, Forks Over Knives. Like so many others after seeing this film, he switched to a vegan diet and noticed the benefits right away. Read on to see how his life has transpired.

Name: Bob Shinn

Age: 53

Where do you live? Colorado Springs, CO

How long have you been vegan? 10 months

Wake up: Between 6:00 and 6:30am

Breakfast:  I’ve never been a big breakfast person, so I start the day with a banana, peach or apple.

Morning activities/work: I usually get to the office around 8:30am. I’m the chief technology officer and a co-founder of an Internet company. Mornings are spent reviewing our progress from the day before and coordinating/prioritizing all software development and IT activities for the day.

Lunch: I eat a light lunch that is usually a homemade soup followed by another serving of fruit. My favorite lunch is a bowl of vegan chili followed by some mixed berries. Immediately after eating lunch, I walk my first four mile loop of the day. My walk takes me into the foothills of the Rocky Mountains so I get to enjoy some beautiful scenery and I usually spot some wildlife along the way.

Afternoon activities/work: Most days my afternoon is filled with emails and calls to customers but if I’m lucky and if things are going smoothly, I can get in a few hours of writing software. This probably qualifies me as a nerd, but designing and coding software is my bliss. I think it’s the creation aspect that appeals most to me. It’s probably akin to what a writer or artist feels when they are in the act of creation. Time ceases to exist when I’m in that mode.

Dinner: My wife Cathy and I have dinner together every evening. She is not (yet) a vegan but she always prepares a vegan dinner for us. She is an accomplished home chef so the dinners she creates are amazing. Sometimes they are based on recipes she has found online and then made her own, and other times she just combines whatever she has handy into a great meal. The variety of meals really keeps it interesting for me. Tonight we had one of my favorites – spaghetti squash with marinara sauce and a side of baked butternut squash and sweet potatoes.

Activities: Right after dinner, we go on another 4 mile walk around our neighborhood. We have a great trail system that cuts through nearby Cottonwood Park so we get to enjoy seeing all the activities going on at the park and the views of Pikes Peak. After the walk it’s time to wind down for the day and catch a TV show or watch a movie.

Lights out:  Around 11:00pm. Prior to my lifestyle change, I had trouble sleeping so there would be times I was up most of the night. Since I’ve been on a plant-based diet, I have had no problem sleeping seven or so hours a night.

Favorite Cause: Since I’ve been walking quite a lot lately, I found a group to sponsor my twice daily walks. Charity Miles has an iPhone application that records my walks and then donates money to Feeding America and my local food bank based on the distance I cover. At my current level, the donation amounts to 21 meals per day.

Favorite animal or vegan book? Eat To Liveby Dr. Joel Fuhrman. This book is very informative and introduced me to some nutritional concepts that I have successfully used over the last few months to accelerate my progress towards reclaiming my health.

Favorite animal or vegan movie? There are many great movies that helped me to reach the conclusion that I needed to be living a vegan lifestyle. “Food, Inc.”, “Supersize Me” and “Earthlings” opened my eyes to how food is produced in our society and were enough to convince me to never eat fast food again and to distrust heavily processed food. But my favorite vegan movie has to be Forks over Knives— This movie introduced me to the research of Doctors Esselstyn and Campbell regarding the health issues caused by obtaining your dietary protein from animal sources. Since I had been experiencing many of the health issues that they detailed in the movie, I saw their recommendations as a road map back to health. Up until then, I wasn’t sure that such a path even existed.

What’s the best part of being vegan? For me it’s the health benefits. When I made the commitment to this lifestyle, it was due to some health problems that I was experiencing. Like many people, I had a very unhealthy relationship with food. I was eating fattening, low-nutrition foods for most meals. I would eat at restaurants for every weekday lunch and at least 3 dinners a week. Over many years I had gained so much weight that I became severely obese and my health had greatly declined. I was battling hypertension and high cholesterol and, despite taking a variety of medications, I was continually getting sicker. I got the shock of my life when my physician ordered a routine EKG and I discovered that my heart was producing irregular patterns. I was referred to a cardiologist who ran me through a battery of tests that showed that I also had plaque buildup in my arteries that would only be expected in someone 80 years old. I was told that I had bad genes and though I didn’t smoke and rarely drank, I would probably only live 10 more years as long as I stayed on all the medications. I didn’t accept the prognosis and I began looking for a way to gain some control over my conditions. I found hope in the promise of a path back to wellness through a vegan lifestyle.

What do you want people to know about living vegan? Living vegan is really easy once you commit to it. The promise of increased health is real. I’m living it right now. If I can do this, anyone can.

I recently had my first annual checkup with my cardiologist since the lifestyle change and he is thrilled with the results I’ve achieved. In just 10 months I’ve lost 88 pounds. I no longer need any of the medications I had been on. I no longer feel sick every day and I have more energy than I have had in twenty years.  All my labs are in the normal ranges for the first time since I got sick and my LDL (bad cholesterol) is so low that my arteries are releasing the plaque buildup that was threatening an early death. Sometime over the next year I hope to have completely removed the blockages just by this lifestyle change.

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