A former marine has revealed how he has changed his life and physique after adopting a vegan diet.
Chris Horscroft suffered with crippling arthritis pain in his knee for more than a decade, he was taking up to 30 painkillers a day, and barely sleeping because of the pain - with no respite in sight.
It wasn't until he ditched meat and dairy that he managed to lose weight, reverse a number of immune conditions, and take his fitness to the next level.
The Starch Solution
Horscroft started his transformation when he discovered The Starch Solution, a diet plan developed by John A. McDougall, MD. The plan is a whole food, low-fat diet, based on starches.
"Once I found Dr. McDougall's starch solution, I started to piece together that it wasn't my knee that was the problem," Horscroft told Plant Based News.
"It was actually my gut microbiome, I damaged my gut. Then I started to heal, and that started to sort out all of my immune diseases, like hay fever, psoriasis and also my arthritis.
"Once I cut all the meat and dairy out, I started to notice an improvement in about three or four days. I started to be able to come off all these painkillers. I couldn't believe it.
"The swelling didn't go away straight away. The swelling took I'd say about three or four months before it started to go down, but yeah. I mean, straight away I noticed an improvement. I was really strict. I made sure I didn't deviate from what Dr. McDougall said. I made sure that 90 percent of my diet was rice and potatoes."
After about four months, Horscroft lost about 55lb (25kg). He said: "I lost a lot of weight. I know at the time I didn't really feel that I was carrying any excess weight. It's not until you look back and you realize. It was quite a rapid change for me."
In addition, he resolved a number of health conditions. "I have psoriasis on my elbows, in my scalp, and my groin," he said. "I used to suffer from hay fever for a good two months of the year. I'd want to rip my face off. It was horrendous.
"But as soon as I cut out all the meat and dairy, within that first two, three month period all these symptoms just completely went away. The hay fever, the psoriasis, my skin cleared up, everything cleared up. It was as if I was an 18 year old again. My body had gone back in time."
He added that when you struggle with chronic pain, you 'get used to suffering'.
"I'd had arthritis and I'd been in pain and discomfort for about 15, 20 years and you just learn to manage it," he said. "You just get on. You just get on with being in pain, but when you cut all this meat and dairy out and you start to clean up your diet, you really just think, you feel like Jesus Christ, how have I been living my life?
"It's just you don't realize the suffering that you've been going through until that suffering gets taken away. When I was at my worst it was horrendous. I was taking 30 plus aspirin a day. I was taking four aspirin every two to three hours."
The pain was so severe, Horscroft had to sleep with a hot water bottle strapped to his knee. Every couple of hours, he would have to bathe, as heat therapy helped with the pain
"The pain is horrific. I mean, this is part of the reason why I do my Instagram account Fully Vegan Chris is because I really don't want other people to go through what I went through because it is hell," he said.
"It really is horrific and just to take some drugs and pretend it's not going on, it's not the answer. You have to get to the root cause of it, but after I'd done the starch solution, within six months...I was out running again. It was as if nothing had happened. I had got my life back after 15, 20 years of suffering with this."
Education and discipline
When it comes to people who aren't sure about taking the plunge and switching to a plant-based diet, Horscroft says education is key. "You have got to continue to educate," he said.
He adds there is 'no shortcut or quick fix', and that being successful at anything requires educating yourself and being disciplined. "You have to ask yourself, 'am I willing to pay the price'," he said.
In addition to the major health benefits of a vegan diet, Horscroft says ditching animal products opened his mind to animal suffering - and how happy he is now he isn't consciously engaging in the animal agriculture system anymore.
"I started going vegan for health and I never really gave the compassionate side of it a thought, but now that I am vegan for health mainly first," he said.
"The secondary part of it now has taken over more for me - knowing that I'm not part of any animal suffering, it's just such a freeing experience. I don't want to walk around like I'm an angel or I've got halo above my head or anything like that, but I really do sleep so much better. I just think it's just a win/win."
Chris Horscroft told his story to Ben Raue, a plant-based personal trainer who offers online coaching. You can find Raue on Instagram @plantbasedben and find out more about his services here. He offers customizable vegan meal plans here