Name: Vashron "Shawn" Chapple
Current city: Phoenix, AZ
Occupation: Wellness Program Manager
What inspired you to switch to a plant-based diet?
I have Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and have been living with it for almost 14 years now. The years before my change, I was struggling with the condition, and my health and well-being started to take a turn for the worse. In early November 2011, I had my annual physical and the results were depressing. My weight had ballooned up to 295, I developed hypertension, high cholesterol (Total 255, LDL 183) and my glucose was 105; physically, I felt horrible. Collectively, these events served as my wake up call. I had to make some changes. Here I was, already living with a chronic condition, multiple sclerosis (MS), and now other issues began to surface due to my obesity and unhealthy lifestyle.
What's one piece of advice you would offer to someone interested in transitioning to a plant-based diet?
Take it one day at a time; it’s a paradigm shift. The majority of us have been eating meat all our lives, some can drop it cold turkey, for others it’ll be a process. I like to tell people that everyone’s journey is different, one size doesn’t fit all. Take it one day at a time. Also join some plant-based groups that share knowledge and provide support. I went 100% plant-based for health reasons, which later helped me embrace the cruelty free side of it. Look and understand both sides. Do it for the animals, but also take care of self as well.
Did you notice any changes (mentally or physically) when you switched to plant-based?
Yes quite a few. After a year and a half, I lost 115 lbs. My total cholesterol dropped to 147, the LDL dropped to 96 (and at future screenings it was undetectable), glucose dropped to 86. Due to my lifestyle changes there were significant improvements in my MS. While I still battle with constant issues with the disease, I’m able to deal with them easier and even seem to recover much quicker since being on a plant-based diet.
Are you a member of any vegan-related organization?
The American College of Lifestyle Medicine. We’re an organization of health professionals with a mission promoting healthy lifestyle with the focus on plant-based eating as medicine. I’m looking to join other local groups as well.
What do you do to stay physically active?
I’m into obstacle race training, centered on preparing individuals for the sport of obstacle racing and general fitness. I train at Phoenix Evolution Fitness in Chandler Arizona. I’ve done quite a few races from Terrain Racing, Tough Mudder, Spartan Race and a host of others. I’m currently training for a rematch with the World’s Toughest Mudder, which is a 24 hour extreme obstacle race scheduled in November in Las Vegas. Outside of obstacle race training, I like to row and cycle and do circuits. I’ve been having issues with my condition over the last year and a recent tear in my MCL, so all my training has been tapered down.
Is there a book or film you'd recommend people check out in regards to veganism?
I think everyone should watch Forks Over Knives. It’s a good documentary for people interested in the plant-based approached. Also, Earthlings is a great documentary showing why we embrace the cruelty-free approach. My favorite book is “How Not to Die” by Dr. Michael Greger. This book basically provides evidence showing how we can prevent early death from a variety of conditions by following 100% plant-based approach. I’d also recommend his website: nutritionfacts.org. He did all the work for us and compiled all the evidence. No need for us to provide faulty information when we have facts at our disposal.
Favorite restaurant: This is a tough question. There are many locally here in AZ and across the country that fit the bill. The question is, what is that one restaurant that I think about all the time? That one I must have when I’m near. I have to go with Veggie House by Chef Ken in Las Vegas.
And now that I've visited The Herbivorous Butcher, I have a new favorite place. All I have to say is...those ribs (and everything else too).
Favorite place to buy groceries: I shop at Sprouts, Target, Whole Foods, Trader Joes, Frys, farmer’s markets and a few others. I don’t limit myself to one store as I can find plant-based gems everywhere. I’ve even scored some pretty good stuff at the 99 cents store!
Tell us one thing on your bucket list: I’m originally from the south (Georgia) and I love experimenting with food and creating weird concoctions focusing on flavor and not “pretty.” So I want to write a simple recipe book using my quirky approach to food with a little southern flair.