This month I celebrate my fifth anniversary as a plant-based vegan. In this episode, I am going to share how I learned about this lifestyle. What life has been like for me during these five years, and I will share ten tips that you can incorporate into your journey.

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About Plant-Based DFW Podcast: Our podcast is recorded in Dallas, Texas, and features guests from all over the world. We focus on the main topic of LIFESTYLE MEDICINE. Our goal is to provide resources to help you take control of your health.

  • We address the importance of eating plant-based foods for health, immunity, and to prevent/reverse disease.
  • We talk about the importance of having a regular exercise routine.
  • We talk about stress management.
  • We talk about the importance of having healthy relationships.


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Welcome back. This is Maya and this is episode 110. This month I celebrate my fifth anniversary as a plant based vegan. In this episode I'm going to share how I learned about this lifestyle, what life has been like for me during these years and I will share 10 tips that you can incorporate into your journey.


Welcome to the Plant Based DFW Podcast weekly show with Dr. Riz and Maya, a show broadcasted from the Dallas Fort Worth area that focuses on lifestyle medicine. This is the use of evidence based lifestyle therapeutic approaches, such as a whole food plant based diet, regular physical exercise, adequate sleep, and stress management to treat, prevent, and oftentimes reverse lifestyle related chronic diseases that are all too prevalent. Every week They feature a guest who speaks on one of these lifestyle medicine pillars. This show is for you, the person who is seeking to improve your overall wellness and quality of life. So whether you are driving, walking, or relaxing at home, we hope this show will provide you one more tool for your wellness toolbox. Let's meet today's podcast guest.


A little about myself. I was born in Mexico City to an American born mother. When I was seven years old, we came to the United States to live with her American family. Growing up dad ate steak almost every night for dinner. Family gatherings were more like feasts when we would come together with extended family. There always seemed to be food in our home and we would host almost all of the dinners. It was not unusual to see dad preparing by taquitos made of cow or pig in the various parts. If you ever traveled to Mexico and seen food street vendors, you would have an idea oh how hard my dad worked to please his guests. 


When I was in high school, I developed an eating disorder mainly out of fear of being overweight. I began to notice that our family members who migrated here were battling weight issues. Anorexia was also how I managed to numb myself from deeply rooted issues. I did not have a healthy relationship with food nor with my family. My high school counselor offered me group support with a handful of peers who also had difficulties at home. She saved my life and inspired me to become a therapist. 


While in college I started my psychology courses which raised my awareness of how much inner healing I had to do. It would be another 10 years before I began to get the much needed therapy. Still, in college, I took a nutrition course to heal my relationship with food. Something happened in college that turned me away from continuing to eat red meat and pork. I cannot recall the details perhaps this came from my nutrition class. All I know is that I decided to stop consuming these animals.


Around 1997 my sister began working at a vitamin and supplement store, she was required to reference an enormous book titled Prescription for Nutrition Healing. I recall she gave me a copy of this book since she knew I had an interest in health and wellness. This book would cause me to become a hypochondriac, mainly because I would self diagnose regularly. But it also taught me about home remedies. The Prescription for Nutrition Healing was my first introduction to food as medicine. Unfortunately, I became more of a supplement junkie. 


I spent the following 20 years trying to figure out food. One can say that I was mainly a pescatarian who enjoyed fish, shrimp and the occasional sushi but I have always loved vegetables, soups, rice and noodle dishes. Some of my favorite foods came from Thai, Vietnamese and Japanese restaurants. For most of my life, I maintained an average weight.


By the year 2009 my health began to deteriorate. I had constant fatigue and my hands were cold. I started to put on weight. Fortunately, I was also listening to a favorite talk radio show of mine. Some would have called it a podcast. During one particular episode, the guest physician spoke about the association between mercury toxicity and hypothyroidism. After the biological dentist, I went to have my amalgam fillings removed, she ordered labs to check my mercury levels. To my surprise I had dangerously high levels of organic and inorganic mercury in my system. The mercury could have been the reason why I developed the thyroid issues. You can imagine how I must have failed to realize that I was now going to have to give up fish as well. 


By 2013 I had relocated to Dallas to be with my husband, my endocrinologist continue to treat me for thyroid and adrenal imbalances, but at one point he overmedicated me. Within six weeks I went from weighing around 120 pounds to close to 140 pounds. My legs began to swell, my face was round and full. It was as if I had lost my cheeks. I could no longer fit in my clothes. There are few photographs of me during this time. I was so uncomfortable in my skin. As life would have it 2013 would play an important role in my journey, we lived across a Whole Foods Market that I frequented. As an avid reader, I would often check out the books near the supplement section. The first book I ever purchased related to plant based nutrition was called the Starch Solution by Dr. John McDougall. He would later become my hero. Around that time, Rip Esselstyn was touring the country. As he promoted his book, My Beef With Meat. Riz, and I had the opportunity to hear him speak at the same Whole Foods.


I was beginning to attract the right people and the right resources to help me in my health journey. What gave me that final push to move away from unhealthy processed foods towards consuming living foods? By April 2016, YouTube had become a tremendous resource, and I had discovered a YouTuber named Freelee the Banana Girl. Freelee was a vegan activist who often made videos dissecting the diets of celebrities and other influencers. I became intrigued by her overall message, she said that one could be healthy and fit without harming animals. Then she would show herself consuming a big salad, a huge smoothie, or lots of fruit, and she looked great. Overnight, I stopped consuming anything animal-based. That year, I created my IG account calling myself Plant Based Maya, I attended my first Texas veggie fair which is an all veggie fair in Dallas and began a raw till four diet popular at the time, I consume raw foods every day till 4pm. And then I would eat a cooked meal.


I can say the rest is history and end my story here, but the story continues. The plant based diet restored my health and brought me back to my journey of self discovery and self care. This way of eating opened my eyes to the cruelty that animals unnecessarily endure. Documentaries have taught me that the production of animal based foods is the most significant contributor to climate change. My husband came on board with this way of living. We watch Plant Pure Nation a you're on by Nelson Campbell. In his movie Nelson shows that individuals can see significant improvements in their biometrics just within 10 days of consuming a whole food plant based diet. We learned about the support groups organized under Plant Pure Communities, which offered support and resources for individuals wanting to make a switch.


Finally, we learned about the Conway's in Oklahoma City who offered monthly educational workshops to their community. Dr. Jimmy Conway was in the film Eating You Alive and has his testimony to share. But how does one make a complete change overnight?  I stopped consuming animal based foods, but I was unsure about what I was supposed to eat. We turned to Purple Carrot which offered a subscription plan and delivered a box to our home every week. I found Nature's Plate, a local meal prepping company that provides meals to go. Little by little I learned what eating whole food plant based diet meant. By 2018 Dr. Riz and I were eager to share this message with his patients. We wanted people to understand that they control their health. We wanted to empower others to make the change. We created Plant Based DFW to host lectures and movies at our local library. And to meet like minded individuals, we became a pod under Plant Pure Communities and we began our podcast by the same name. 


It has been an incredible journey. We've attended summits a vegan cruise we've met Earthling Ed and That Vegan Couple. I've taken the eCornell plant based nutrition so certification course. I've taken the Rouxbe plant based culinary course, Dr. Riz became board certified in lifestyle medicine to educate patients that nutrition, exercise, sleep and stress management all play a role in our health. Today, our message continues to reach people through our podcasts. All of this work has given me a new sense of purpose, it has become the reason that I wake up every morning. 


Before I share 10 tips that you can apply to your journey. Let me update you on my health. A couple of years ago, I had my physician order labs to test for mercury that results in a show a single trace of mercury. My recent labs do not show any type of deficiency. I've never had blood pressure issues or signs of diabetes. And for that I am very thankful. I am free from my supplement addiction and only take B12 and vitamin D3. 


I did not become a therapist. Instead I became an educator. As a matter of fact, I still consider myself an educator as I continue to teach through our podcast and our YouTube channel. I consider myself a wellness coach and a patient advocate. My goal has been to use my voice for good by helping others and by collaborating with people who have a similar passion. The topics of mental health and racial disparities in health care have become very important to me and I would like to continue the conversations in our podcasts. 


So, here are 10 tips that you can apply on your journey.

  1. Watch these films if you haven't already done so, Plant Pure Nation, Cowspiracy, What The Health and the Game Changers.
  2. Read these books: How Not To Die, The Blue Zones second addition, the Starch Solution, and if you need science, read The China Study. If you struggle with cheese, read The Cheese Trap.
  3. If you can make a transition overnight, then do it if not find one or two plant based meals to add to your diet every week. Here are two websites with free recipes, Forks Over Knives, and the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. Just simply look for their recipes.
  4. Find a support group. Find a pod or a Facebook group. Many of our podcast guests have support groups and are very interactive with their followers. I like Plant Based Dads and Kim Murphy.
  5. Have self compassion. It took you years to learn how to live the way that you have been living. Be patient with yourself and do not try to make too many changes all at once. Just take the next step in the right direction.
  6. Do not fall for plant based processed foods. That's just another way to keep you sick.
  7. Be your own advocate. Do not be at the mercy of your physicians or a medical diagnosis. Take control of your health and do research.
  8. Find a plant based physician who can support you. So I'll include links in the show notes. But here are two websites and Dr. Laurie Marbas. has her telemedicine which is
  9. Expand your knowledge and take the eCornell plant based nutrition course or the Rouxbe course or any other course if you have to pay for it. The more you know, the more you're likely to stick with this way of life.
  10. How fun. Do not force this way of living on anyone, be patient with your loved ones.


So that's my story. I continue to be a podcaster I love it. It keeps me busy. It's my reason for getting up every day. It's the way that I can contribute to that Blue Zone Living as well. And I think all of our new listeners. Our website is Plant Based DFW send me a message and let me know what you think. And as always, thanks for listening. You've been listening to the Plant Based DFW Podcast show. If you like our content, please like share and leave a review. Our goal is to provide quality episodes to help support the community