Coming from a vegetarian family, Annil Nagpal followed the same dietary practices as most people in India do. His children also continued to apply the same food traditions.
But in 2007 he was diagnosed with diabetes.
“I can’t pinpoint one reason for that. It could have been my wrong lifestyle, wrong food habits like lots of sweets and fried food. Even hypertension could have contributed to it.” he says.
He was an obese individual who had not thought about how his food habits could be contributing to his ill health. “It was part of our normal routine to consume milk and milk products in a vegetarian diet. There was nothing unusual about it.”
He was also told it was completely normal, as normal as a cough and cold, to have diabetes and “every second person has it”. Coping with diabetes was very difficult for him, he was struggling with his health.
“But to my utter shock, my minimal dose medications of 2mg had to be increased to 2000mg in the span of a decade. My sugar levels were under control with high dosages of medications, but the medicines were affecting my internal organs.”
“I was under a lot of stress due to these monthly doctor visits. It was a struggle to go for the appointment because I was always wondering whether they would increase my medications at the visit.”
He was under medication for diabetes, high blood pressure and even cholesterol. The doctors told him he needed statins to thin his blood.
Apart from all this, he was also told he is developing kidney stones and needed medication for this.
This was unacceptable to him and this was his turning point.
“I did not take the medication for the kidney stone and I decided to focus on my health with lifestyle changes.”
He attended various health seminars to understand what could be causing his ill health.
“In one of the seminars I learned that if I give up dairy products it could help reduce my sugar levels. I gave up dairy overnight. I didn’t stand to lose anything, because I was already vegetarian, so there was no harm in trying.”
This is when Mr. Nagpal came across veganism.
When he gave up dairy products, within the first month, his doctor reduced his diabetes medication from 1000mg to 500mg on a trial basis. He was informed that in the next visit it could go back up if his sugar levels increased. He was also asked not to take any medications for kidney stones since his parameters had improved.
As part of the dietary change, he increased his consumption of fruits, vegetables and eliminated fried food completely from his diet.
In the next visit, the doctor was able to subsequently reduce his diabetes medications further. Within four to five months the doctor advised him to taper his medications to zero since stopping it abruptly was not recommended.
After almost a decade of being on medications, on January 1st, 2017, Mr. Nagpal was medicine-free.
He changed his salt consumption and used pink salt instead of table salt, he joined a yoga class and was able to achieve reduced cholesterol by changing his eating habits to healthier ways.
Mr. Nagpal adds, “we don’t have the enzymes to digest animal products. Cow’s milk is meant for the calf. As humans, we differ in biology and developmental milestones from calves. Dairy products are highly acidic and cause more problems like PCOD, early puberty in females and even feeds cancer”.
Mr. Nagpal was able to reverse all his diseases in a span of five months with dietary and lifestyle changes.
His daily regimen that he continues to upgrade includes practices like intermittent fasting, vegetable juices, lots of fruits, and salads. Now Mr. Nagpal only has cooked meals occasionally and prefers to eat natural foods on most days.
With a determination to improve his health, Mr. Nagpal was able to elicit a phenomenal change for himself.
“Subsequently I met lots of youngsters who made me aware of the cruelty in the dairy industry and also taught me that veganism was great for the environment,” he quips.
“The way we take care of our cars with periodic visits to the garage, we tend to not do with our own bodies.”
On being asked about any instances he remembers fondly, he says, “I was invited for a talk at a club to share my journey to health. The club members only knew of two diets- non-vegetarian and vegetarian. I thought it would be a challenge for me to convince them about veganism.”
But after the talk was over he was invited to join the members for dinner. He politely refused because he thought the dinner would not be vegan. To his surprise, he was told that since he was the guest speaker, the entire dinner was fully vegan.
“They told me that they were very inspired by what I did and would be trying to change their habits gradually. In fact, a professor from a neighbouring country who was a non-vegetarian turned vegan because of health reasons.”
People tend to think eating vegan food is expensive. Mr. Nagpal has been able to maintain his healthy diet with simple home-cooked food. He also regularly does water and juice fasts which he has been able to manage very well in spite of having to do field work as part of his occupation dealing in Properties.
Mr. Nagpal doesn’t have any cravings for any of the foods he used to eat before. He says, “even when we go out the restaurants are so aware now of Vegan food. My family always ensures they call the restaurants before making a booking for Vegan food and the chefs go out of their way to make it seem like vegan food can be interesting too”.
“I feel young and energetic.”
He goes for periodic health checks to monitor his health. When he went for a check-up to test the age of his internal organs, his physical age was 57; whereas his internal organ health showed that to be of a 42-year-old. The doctors said they do not see these results often. Even his HbA1C parameters have been steadily improving.
Apart from the diseases that plagued him, Mr. Nagpal also overcame his obesity. “My entire wardrobe had to be changed. I went from size XL to XS because I lost 24kgs.”
“It was a rebirth for me, my life changed completely by going vegan.”
He adds, “When I was sick, no one asked me how was my health. But when I reversed all my diseases, everyone started asking me if I was keeping well.” He believes it is normal human tendency that people are curious to know how he is doing now.
He also had recurrent allergies since childhood for which he had to take medications. But ever since he went vegan these allergies have almost disappeared.
“This has to be a lifelong change. We cannot temporarily go vegan, the moment we go back to our old lifestyle, our diseases will come back too. That is how it is for me. I will be vegan till I die.”
“Anyone who is compassionate will see it differently.”
On being asked if he had a message for people who are on the fence he says, “The fruits of your own labour are sweeter. Even if I tell someone to do something, only when they do it for themselves, they will be able to reap the benefits of their hard work.”
“My dream is that everybody is made aware of the benefits of leading a vegan lifestyle and the slaughter industry ceases to exist.”