A man who went vegan after suffering a heart attack lost 60 pounds and became healthier than ever.

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A man who went vegan after suffering a heart attack lost 60 pounds and became healthier than ever.

"I switched my diet to save my life, but there has been the added bonus of helping the environment and helping the animals, so it’s allowed me to walk a little softer."

A man named Doug Schmidt has been chronicling his journey towards a vegan lifestyle after suffering a heart attack at the age of 49. After following the American Heart Association's guideline to cut back on meats and eat more eggs, he was sent back to hospital shortly thereafter for having difficulty breathing. Afterwards, he and his wife switched to an all-vegan diet that brought his cholesterol risk to zero. From the Beet .

"My total cholesterol dropped down to under 150. My blood sugars all dropped in line. I lost 60 pounds, I went from 225 to 165 pounds. Once the weight started dropping off, as I consistently ate clean plant-based foods, the better my numbers got.

"I had a great doctor, who would take blood work every 3 months and he could tell if I was staying on track with my diet. My doctor would know if I hadn’t lost weight, he’d know if my cholesterol was still high. And as soon as I started eating properly, all those numbers came down and came in line. So it really was miraculous, once that started happening. With those health benefits, that was sort of all the encouragement I needed to keep going."

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The Beet: What were your biggest challenges you found when switching your diet?

DS: "I was a baker in a previous life. I used to be a bakery trainer for a major supermarket chain, Wegmans, before I became a teacher. So I can bake anything, from Croissants to Danish to Cakes, and I also have a sweet tooth. So that was sort of hard. I asked myself "how do you make a dessert without all that added sugar, without all the added fat or the eggs, or the dairy"? Especially because the cornerstone of most pastry is eggs, as well as butter, and dairy. So it was tough to make that change.

"Probably the hardest thing to give up was the cheese. The meat wasn't too hard, but you know, the cheese, which we used to put on everything. And then we had to figure out ways to get away from that taste addiction."

The Beet: What advice do you give someone just starting their plant-based journey?

DS: " I always tell people it is going to be hard, because you're giving up a lifetime of eating habits, so take it a bit at a time if that's the kind of person you are. Or you can just go all in. You know the first thing we tell people is that dairy is probably the most addictive and is what most people struggle with.

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