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  2. Apr 29, 2024

Dallas Family’s Plant-Based ‘Power Foods’ Transformation

Dallas Family’s Plant-Based ‘Power Foods’ Transformation

Sean Makhani recently shared his plant-based “power foods” health transformation with Neal Barnard, MD, who was in Dallas to discuss his new book, The Power Foods Diet.

In 2017, Sean weighed about 240 pounds, which was obese for him, and had borderline diabetes. His doctor told him he could give him medicine or that he could start working out, but his doctor didn’t say anything about diet.

“For 42 years, I was eating meat-heavy Pakistani meals, as well as the standard American diet, foods like steak and eggs, Denny's, and IHOP,” he says.

He began working out and lost some weight, but eventually gained it back during the pandemic. But after a gathering with friends, he began eating a vegan diet in February 2022 and transformed his health.

“At the get-together, there were foods like meat curries, and one of our friends said, ‘I don't eat meat anymore, because I’m following a vegan lifestyle,’ which was a shock, because our community is so meat-based,” recalls Sean, who says his friend recommended watching The Game Changers and What the Health, which features Dr. Barnard. “Watching them was a life-changer for me, and I haven’t looked back.” Sean also began watching videos by Chef AJ, Michael Greger, MD, and other plant-based experts.

A year after Sean began eating a vegan diet, his wife, who is a physician assistant, and his son and daughter also went vegan.

He says that initially gatherings with extended family and friends were challenging because everything is so meat heavy.

“My parents questioned where I would get my protein,” he adds. “But I showed that it’s possible, and they have come around and understood that we're completely plant-based now. Now when we visit my parents or in-laws, they'll make some type of veggie curry.”

Today, Sean weighs about 185 pounds, is no longer at risk for diabetes, and has cured his chronic heartburn and constipation. Last year, his new doctor looked at his results and said that he was doing great and to keep doing what he was doing. He’s also lifting more weight at the gym, getting more muscular, and continuing to lose fat.

“I've learned that it's not just working out; it's what you're eating afterwards,” he says. “I used to come home after working out and eat four eggs and cheese, but now I’ll come home and get my protein from healthful sources like oatmeal and beans, and I’ll also eat some raspberries or blueberries.”

Sean’s wife, Sumera, makes Indian-style vegan food. Instead of using meat, she uses tofu, mushrooms, and veggies. Some of the family’s favorite go-to meals include tofu curry, chickpea curry, baked potatoes with beans, and chickpea or whole-wheat pasta.

His 12-year-old son, Zayaan, began reading The Power Foods Diet immediately after Dr. Barnard’s Dallas visit and has started making recipes from the book, including French toast topped with fruit for a recent Sunday breakfast.

Power Foods photo collage

“He's a very strict vegan,” says Sean. “He reads all labels before we buy anything to make sure there are no animal ingredients and that it’s not too high in fat or added sugar.”

In addition to his family, Sean is also educating members of his community about his vegan diet through his Facebook page and his church’s WhatsApp group chat.

“I’ll make a salad with five or six veggies such as red cabbage, spinach, and kale; two or three types of beans, corn, and some fruits like blueberries and strawberries, pumpkin seeds, and I'll post it on Facebook,” he says. “People will see it and say that they tried it and didn’t realize how filling a salad could be.”

He also recommends making oil-free versions of traditional plant-based Pakistani foods, like potato and chickpea dal, and using tofu instead of meat in curries.

“I've recently known people in their 40s and 50s who have died from heart attacks and who have had colon cancer. I don't want my kids growing up worrying that mom or dad have heart issues or diabetes,” says Sean. “I want them to have a healthy life. I want their kids to have a healthy life. That's why I just keep encouraging.”

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