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When I was a senior in high school, I read Diet for a Small Planet and became a vegetarian. Although I lived on a farm in rural Iowa, I decided that it was morally wrong to raise and kill animals for food and that a vegetarian diet was more environmentally sustainable.

It wasn’t an easy change; my dad was angry and my mother disapproved. I still had to do farm chores, but I resented having to contribute to the philosophy behind a farm.

When I became a medical student, I lived on beans, rice, whole-grain bread, eggs, cheese, pasta, potatoes, vegetables, and fruit. I believed that fat and protein were necessary for my high-energy lifestyle. My multiple sclerosis symptoms began during medical school, long before my diagnosis, but I ignored them.

After I had been diagnosed with MS and declined so much I had to get around in a wheelchair, I realized that I needed to take control of my health. I began reading the medical research and experimenting on myself. It was during this time I discovered Dr. Ashton Embry, who believes there may be a connection between MS and diet. Dr. Embry recommends a diet that includes meat and excludes grain and dairy.

After all of this time as a vegetarian, how could I reconcile eating animals?

I prayed and meditated on this idea. Humans had evolved eating plants, fungi, bacteria, and animals. Perhaps this was a way to get closer to nature.

It took me a couple of weeks to get up the courage to begin adding meat to my diet. I began slowly, putting meat into soup. I began to feel stronger, and eventually I transitioned to a Paleo diet without grain, legumes, or dairy. Food was the one thing I could actually control and I wanted to get my health back. I continued to read the scientific papers on nutritional needs and identified nutrients that were missing in my diet.

Eventually, I developed the Wahls diet, focusing on 9 cups of fruits and vegetables: 3 cups of leafy greens, 3 cups brightly colored fruits and vegetables, and 3 cups of sulfur-rich vegetables. My diet also includes sea vegetables and organ meats.

Today, I no longer rely on a cane or a wheelchair. I ride my bicycle five miles to work every day, do my rounds at the hospital, and feel better than I have in decades. I once was a vegetarian because of my conscience, but now, as a doctor, I can no longer in good conscience recommend it.


To read the full article, visit Mind Body Green. MindBodyGreen is on a mission to revitalize the way people eat, move, and live by beginning conversations about health. Through these conversations, MindBodyGreen hopes to give readers the tools and information to live better lives.


To learn more about Dr. Wahls, sign up for her email list, and order The Wahls Protocol today.

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