In 2016, Karen Moore suffered a devastating health crisis when she had an infection that became septic. She spent 9 days in the hospital before being outfitted with an infusion pump giving her a constant stream of antibiotics.
Even after the infection had been dealt with, Moore said, the after-effects of sepsis still remained. She found herself tired, in pain, and having issues with her blood sugar. Moore realized she needed to make a drastic change.
It started with removing pork from her diet in April 2017, as she began to transition to a diet that was healthier and less processed. By June, she had stopped eating all meat and dairy and was eating a fully plant-based diet. She still remembers the exact day – June 14, 2017.
“It was one of the best decisions I’ve made in my life,” Moore said.
Within months, Moore began to notice a huge change. She felt better, with more energy, and her feet began to stop swelling. She was able to more effectively manage her diabetes by paying attention to her diet and her blood sugar levels have gone back to normal.
“I started journaling,” she said, “chronicling what I was eating and paying attention to what effect it had on my body.”
Through paying close attention to what her body was telling her, Moore was able to figure out what worked for her to improve her health.
During her time transition to a plant-based diet, Moore discovered her passion for cooking. She said that she remembered previously being annoyed by friends and family posting photos of their food on social media before she started doing it herself.
“If I had to put up with your pictures of mac & cheese and roasted turkey, you can deal with my vegan dishes,” Moore said, laughing.
To pay her health success forward, Moore started a wellness group called P.H.A.T. Girlz Thrive. Named for the 2006 body-positive romantic comedy starring Mo’Nique, Moore said the P.H.A.T. in the group’s name stands for “Pretty, Healthy, and Transformed.”
Moore had previously received her certificate to become a life coach, but wasn’t sure yet what to do with it when she started the group.
P.H.A.T. Girlz Thrive, which is open to vegans and nonvegans alike, encourages a healthy attitude toward food and a focus on improving health, rather than losing weight.
“I used to be so worried about numbers on a scale rather than my health,” Moore said. “Now I’m working out not to get to a number, but to enhance everything I’ve done to improve my health.”
The group offers a space for women to voice their challenges and successes, along with sharing recipes and cooking tips. The group, which now includes 101 women, also has a monthly “Chat N’ Chew” wellness call where members share their experiences.
“There aren’t enough words to express what this community of like-minded women have done for me and my family,” said member Yolanda Mitchell. “The health of myself and my family has increased significantly. The wealth of knowledge and focus on overall health has made me more conscious and not so much focused on losing weight but how my body feels.”
Moore has since been granted a full scholarship to Integrative Nutrition‘s Health Coach training program, which she had wanted to enroll in previously, but hadn’t been able to because of her medical bills. She started the program in March, as well as getting involved as a mentor in PETA’s Vegan Mentor program, where she helps others make the switch to a plant-based diet.
Moore had previously worked as a wedding planner, but she said “nothing compares” to the feeling of helping the women in P.H.A.T. Girlz Thrive. Going forward, she hopes to offer webinars along with individual coaching.
“It’s inspiring to hear stories like this,” said One Green Planet co-founder Preeta Sinha. “Plant-based diets have repeatedly been shown to successfully transform people’s health, fitness and overall wellbeing”.
Moore also said that she’s a “work in progress” herself, and constantly experiments with new foods in the kitchen.
When we spoke with her, Moore was getting ready to try making meatballs with zucchini and mushrooms. You can try your own with this recipe for Swedish Mushroom Meatballs.
She said she’s focused on cutting out processed foods, focusing on whole foods instead – jackfruit is a staple, she said, but she tries to avoid soy. She also makes her own seitan with spelt flour rather than wheat gluten. Here’s a guide to making gluten-free seitan.
“Just because you’re vegan doesn’t mean you’re healthy,” explained Moore. She added that it felt great to cook her own healthy foods, after growing up on a diet filled with Southern comfort foods.
“There’s this feeling of satisfaction,” she said. “Like, ‘I made this!'”
Lead Image Source: Karen Moore