by Brooke Goldner, M.D.
My journey to becoming vegan began long before I ever became a doctor— even before I entered adulthood. I remember being three years old and collecting bugs in a jar because I was determined to make sure nobody stepped on them. It was stressful for me to watch my peers jump on anthills or pour salt on slugs, and I was determined to protect them. Unfortunately, I was unaware of the bugs’ need for food and freedom, and they died. I can still feel the sadness that touched my little heart back then, but it reflects my lifelong desire to protect the innocent and help the vulnerable as much as possible.
In spite of my sensitive sensibilities, I was unconsciously inducted into the world of eating meat and dairy as most others are, with the encouragement of my pediatrician, who ordered my mom to hide meat in my fruits and vegetables because I refused to eat it as a baby.
Eventually I did grow to love the taste of cheese, burgers, and steaks, and ate those foods with gusto until my 12th birthday, when the president of the Vegetarian Society of Long Island moved next door to my house and came over for a visit. After an eye-opening discussion about factory farming, he left a copy of John Robbins’ book, Diet for a New America at our home. Not sure where he pulled that book from, I guess he kept a copy of it in his pocket at all times.
My family became vegetarian one by one, as the book changed hands from my father, to my mother, to myself. This was back in the 1980s, and we rarely met anyone who understood what a vegetarian was, much less a vegan. So, my family became “ethical vegetarians,” a term I put in quotation marks now, since I have come to believe the dairy and egg industries to be the cruelest of all. Our diets had a lot of processed foods, cheese and eggs, as well as fruits and salads. In spite of my love for fruits and vegetables, my diet was full of canned foods, macaroni and cheese, chips, cookies and ice cream. We were unaware of how much inflammation these toxic food products cause; and, I was told I could eat as much junk food as I wanted since I was always slim as a child.
At 16 years old, I grew gravely ill. I developed debilitating arthritis that moved through my body making it hard to walk or even hold a pencil. I developed a bright red rash across my nose and cheeks. I also began having horrific migraines that would keep me in bed for days, only moving when I had to lean over the trash can to vomit from the pain. The doctors diagnosed me with Systemic Lupus Nephritis, commonly called “Lupus.” Lupus is an autoimmune disease where the body can no longer differentiate between body parts that belong to us, and attacking organisms like bacteria and viruses. The confused immune cells start to attack organs like the kidneys, the heart or the brain, causing massive amounts of pain and suffering, and ultimately leads to an early death.
Even worse than the physical symptoms I was suffering from, an emergent kidney biopsy showed I was in stage IV kidney failure. My immune system was destroying my kidneys. My doctor told us with a pained expression that, at worst, I had six months to live, and at best, six months until I was on dialysis, using the traditional medication regiments of the time. He recommended an experimental treatment, using chemotherapy in addition to medications like high-dose steroids. They wanted to try using the toxic side effect of chemotherapy, the suppression of the immune system, as a way to stop my overactive immune system from killing me.
We agreed to the plan, desperate to save my life, and I was given Cytoxan chemotherapy every month for two whole years. Nowadays, Cytoxan is used for Lupus, but usually for only a few treatments, over the course of a week or two. I have never met anyone else who has taken it for two years straight like I did over 20 years ago. Back then, chemotherapy for Lupus was still in the research stage. There was no reference for how much I would need to get my disease into remission; so, we did it for two years. So, in many ways, I became a human guinea pig.
Chemotherapy is one of the most excruciating medical treatments I have ever experienced. The chemicals are literally toxins designed to kill cells, and I received them directly into my blood through an IV in my arm. Side effects are constant nausea, vomiting, dizziness, and weakness that lasts for four weeks after each treatment. I couldn’t eat—nothing would stay down. If I ever began to feel like myself again, it would only last for a few days, and then back on to the next treatment and four weeks of non-stop vomiting and nausea hell. I lived that way for two whole years.
During those years, I would hear my mom crying behind her closed bedroom door at night, and I can never erase the sight of my grandmother on her knees on the kitchen floor begging God to take her life and spare mine.
Whenever I had the strength to do something, I would read my textbooks and learn as much as I could. Learning science was a wonderful distraction that allowed me to cope with my illness and plan for my future. I intellectualized my disease as a fascinating malfunction that could possibly be repaired by the right scientists one day. I decided I would be a scientist myself, so I could help others like myself live longer. Because of the way I immersed myself in my textbooks, I still graduated in the top 10 of my high school class and got a scholarship to my dream college, Carnegie Mellon University.
While the chemotherapy was a brutal experience, it did put me in remission and stopped Lupus’ assault, saving my kidneys and my life. When I say the treatments put me in remission, I mean my condition was stable: my organs were functioning and I was not getting worse. Unfortunately, it did not last. When I was in medical school I suffered a transient ischemic attack, known as a mini-stroke, while working in the family practice clinic. When I recovered, I was told that I had a new autoantibody that was creating blood clots throughout my body. I was told that I needed to inject myself in the stomach with blood thinners for the rest of my life to prevent a major stroke. I was also told I could never have kids, that pregnancy would be a death sentence.
I lived 12 years with Lupus casting a shadow over my life, my dreams, and my future, but I fought hard to make whatever life I was meant to live matter. I wanted to make a difference. I wanted to help people with whatever time I had left.
That was when I met the man who saved my life and captured my heart, Thomas Tadlock. Falling in love with him led to an avalanche of joy in my life. He not only loved and married a sick woman who could not have his children, whom he would have to take care of before I died too young—he ultimately had the key that saved my life and helped me heal. His hyper-nourishing nutrition plan that was creating super-fast metabolisms and hot bodies for MTV celebrities he was training, combined with my animal-free diet, accidentally was the right combination of nutrients and exercise that ultimately healed my body of Lupus. I never believed in fate until meeting my husband, but truly if it weren’t for him, I would still be sick, childless, and probably handicapped from arthritis or organ failure.
The miracle of my healing led us to devote our lives to understanding the science behind the interactions of different foods on our microbiology, and led us to develop the 6 Easy Steps to Healing with Super-market Foods. We realized that there are certain foods like meat, dairy, processed foods and some oils that can cause chronic inflammation that triggers disease. There are other foods like raw greens, vegetables and omega-3 fatty acids that give your body the nutrients it needs to heal disease – even Lupus. Thanks to these principles, not only have I been completely disease-free for 10 years (woo-hoo!), I was able to have two healthy sons, and have blood tests that rival the healthiest athlete out there. I don’t even have the “genetically” high cholesterol that I had since my 20s. We know that every 10 years our body has completely regenerated all of its cells, meaning that literally, the body I currently have has never been sick.
This is what I fervently want for everybody out there: to learn how to heal and get the vibrant health and energy they deserve, so they can give the gifts they were born to give.
I retired from my beloved position as medical director of the youth treatment center at a nonprofit so I could dedicate my time to teaching doctors, patients, parents and everyone else who will listen, how easy it is to get healthy and stay that way. I have been blessed to receive so much love and validation from the media, documentaries, and large audiences of people from around the world who are listening, learning and getting healthy. Most recently I spoke at the International Plant-Based Nutrition Healthcare Conference to an audience of over 500 healthcare professionals and taught them the six steps that are in my book, Goodbye Lupus. The standing ovation, countless emails, and phone calls from the doctors who were there brought me to tears. They were finally able to achieve the amazing results for their patients that I have with mine. I got a call the other day from a doctor who was so frustrated that a patient with severe autoimmune disease wasn’t getting better. She had sent her patient to the Mayo Clinic and UCLA and the patient was still sick and in pain four years later. But, after only four weeks on my nutrition protocol, her patient was pain-free for the first time in four years. She and her patient cried grateful tears together.
This brings me to an important point: doctors don’t try to keep this information from you. If they don’t know it, they can’t teach it to you.
Doctors are always the first people to excitedly run to the back of the room to talk to me when they see my seminars, because they are inspired to learn more so they can help their patients more. Don’t give up on your doctor.
After speaking on stages and social media for many years, I constantly receive the same question, “Do you have a book?” People wanted to bring the information I taught home with them so they could share it with their family and friends. I finally completed my book, Goodbye Lupus, in October 2015 when my husband and I were celebrating 10 years of marriage and 10 years of me being completely healthy and Lupus-free. I was astonished to find the book became a number-one best-seller on Amazon.com when it was only available for pre-order! It wasn’t even published yet! I realized that people need this information.
The book covers my story, and very simply explains the “6 Easy Steps to Healing with Supermarket Foods” in a way that is very easy to follow. My readers have told me they are empowered by the book, because they know what to do next. They don’t feel overwhelmed with all the information they typically read in other books.
I want healing to be easy and straightforward. I want everyone to know that they can do it.
I include my email address in the book and on my website so everyone out there who needs me can reach me directly. I personally answer every email, Facebook message and phone call. I want to listen, and I want to help whenever I can. I know the suffering and fear that illness brings, and I know the joy that healing provides. I want that for everyone.
As a response to requests for more recipes and guidance in getting healthy, I created other books and videos you can find on Amazon.com and VeganMedicalDoctor.com, such as Green Smoothie Recipes to Kick-Start Your Health & Healing and my “Super Healthy Meals for Your Family” DVD.
When I am not speaking and teaching, I keep busy seeing clients who want personal guidance for one-on-one sessions using Skype. Currently I am in the process of publishing a recipe book full of raw recipes to go with the healing program in Goodbye Lupus, with an amazing chef named Liz Selva, who knows how to make healing delicious. I am also in the process of having Goodbye Lupus translated to Spanish and I am creating an audio book version for folks who have requested those.
My husband and I want to reach as many people as possible with our message of healing and compassion.
Thomas became vegan five years ago and is a huge activist for the vegan lifestyle, for the animals and the planet. He doesn’t want anyone to ever see someone they love suffer, or worse, lose the love of their life to a disease that could have been prevented with the right foods. We know that what is best for our bodies is best for the animals and the earth, and we are fighting for them with all the love and positivity we have. When we share the stage together, the response from the audience is even greater, often leading to hours of hugs and tears when we step off the stage. People who arrived at our seminar anti-vegan (dragged by a significant other), have left committed to getting on the path to being vegan, often with tears of gratitude from opening their heart and finally feeling safe to learn and change. My son Solomon, who just turned seven, started a YouTube channel at age four to teach people about being vegan, which has helped families get their kids on board with healthy eating and love for animal friends. My heart is so full seeing the love and compassion in my boys, and I look forward to seeing them grow and contribute to this most important way of living.
You have the power to have an impact on your life and the lives around you.
Eat a vibrant whole foods plant-based vegan diet. Eating this way not only makes your body as strong and healthy as possible, it puts you at peace with the animals and the earth, and has a positive impact on the health and the lives of others you come in contact with. You make a difference. Start today. I hope you do it.
Love, the Vegan Medical Doctor.
Dr. Brooke Goldner, and family: husband Thomas Tadlock, and sons Alex and Solomon.
"We know that what is best for our bodies is best for the animals and the earth, and we are fighting for them with all the love and positivity we have."
Brooke Goldner, M.D. is the creator of the Hyper-nourishing Healing Protocol for Lupus Recovery and is the founder of www.VeganMedicalDoctor.com. She has been featured in multiple documentaries like Whitewashed and Eating You Alive, has been interviewed by Natural News Radio, Health Conspiracy Radio, Wellness Radio, was a speaker for Lupus LA, the Health Healing & Happiness event in Las Vegas and The International Plant-Based Nutrition Healthcare Conference.
She has been featured on the cover of Vegan Health & Fitness Magazine, twice, is the author of Goodbye Lupus, Green Smoothie Recipes to Kick-Start Your Health and Healing, and star of Goodbye Lupus and Super Healthy Meals for Your Family DVDs. She is a graduate of the Temple University School of Medicine, was Chief Resident at UCLA-Harbor Residency in Psychiatry, and holds a certificate in Plant-Based Nutrition from Cornell University.