I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of 14. Suddenly, I went from being a carefree teenager to a patient who had to be concerned with every carbohydrate in a cracker. Not only was I dealing with the hormones and emotional adjustments of adolescence, but I was also learning to cope with and accept a disease that wanted a part of every minute of my day. I also had to deal with the illusion that other teenagers had nothing to worry about except how to fit in, and the fact that I was no longer part of that group of carefree kids. I was now the student who had a free pass from teachers to eat or drink during class. The girl who left fourth period ten minutes early to go to the nurse's office to test her glucose. The sick kid who had a doctor's appointment every two months and came late to school because of it.
As I was sitting in the hospital after a heart attack, my cardiologist walked in and said, "You have to stop eating meat." "Red meat?" I asked hopefully. "All meat," he replied firmly. It was disconcerting, to say the least, because meat has been in my life since I could feed myself. But my cardiologist explained, "If you don't want to end up back here again, you will start on an plant-based diet immediately." That day, I stopped eating meat. In fact, I asked the hospital food service to switch me to a vegetarian diet.
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