Tell us a little bit about you?

Hi, my name is Donna Pehi. I live in Hamilton New Zealand. I’m 58 years old, a wife and mother of three wonderful grown-up children and grandmother to five gorgeous grandchildren. I manage a private cardiology clinic in our small city and have done it for the last 16 years. My husband and I live in the city and enjoy the outdoors our favorite pastimes are walking, biking and hiking.

What was your diagnosis and which health problems did you face?

In 2008 I was diagnosed with crippling Rheumatoid arthritis – I was at times bedridden, unable to dress and doing even the simplest tasks were at times unbearable. I managed to work only by being given very strong pain relief which was also very addictive.
After visiting a rheumatologist I was placed on Methotrexate and prednisone and high doses of Voltaren – the relief was almost immediate. I was told I would never be cured and the best I could hope for was remission. The medication kept the disease under control but I always felt the possible side effects were a huge price to pay and the efficacy of the drugs began to wear off – I had flare-ups and these became regular. As time passed I came to realize I couldn’t continue this way – there must be some alternative and began exploring other options.

How did you come to know about the plant-based diet?

While searching the internet and reading a lot of literature about nutrition I came across Dr. John McDougall. I began to research other plant-based doctors and websites and I was sold!!

What were the benefits of adopting a plant-based lifestyle for you?

The benefits were immediate – I could feel the levels of inflammation dropping in my body the flares became less frequent and I stopped my Methotrexate immediately. I lost weight, felt fitter and stronger than I felt in my thirties and forties.

What do you like the most about the plant-based diet?

Everything!! The way it makes me feel – I keep feeling better and better the longer I am on it. I have lost weight – feel fitter and stronger and never have to think about when and how much I eat. Being a woman and knowing the struggles women have with weight and emotional eating issues it is liberating to be able to eat so much wonderful food. The variety is endless and I never ever feel deprived. It has given me my life back!!

What would you say to people that are facing similar health problems as you have?

Give it a try – you have nothing to lose and you will be amazed at the difference it will make in your life.

Are there any web resources you would suggest, that helped you the most when transitioning to a plant-based lifestyle?

There are so many wonderful resources out there. Movies: Forks over knives, What the Health, The Game Changers. Books: The China Study, How not to die, The Starch Solution and many many more – along with websites. They are all inspirational and wonderful resources.

Anything you would like to add?

The plant-based lifestyle has changed my husband and my life. My husband has benefited from the change – he has lost weight, lowered his cholesterol and blood pressure and no longer has any aches and pains related to “old age”. We would never go back to the way we ate before. Take the step it is not as hard as you think and your body will LOVE you for it.


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