So why are you plant-based? It’s a question Djuan Means gets almost every day, and for good reason. One of his hashtags on Instagram used to be #MeatEater, and we’ll leave out the ounces of steak he used to showcase on a weekly basis. He was like most people and loved meat. Plain and simple.
I’m his wife, and I’ve had the itch to go plant-based/vegan for a very long time. I decided to make the switch after I established a good breastfeeding pattern with my daughter born in April 2017. My firm decision made Djuan pretty curious, so he started watching documentaries — the first being ‘What The Health,’ and reading tons of articles. If you haven’t watched ‘What The Health,’ I highly recommend it. When I made the switch, Djuan was in the middle of a physique competition prep. His protein intake was extremely high, and the good bulk of it came from animal products. He solidified in his mind that he was going plant-based, but couldn’t switch until after his competition on July 1.
Jump forward to July 3. Djuan decided to get a set of labs to see the impact the competition had on his numbers. He had a pre-competition set of numbers to compare to. The same day that he had the labs run he got a call from his doctor. She was concerned. His liver enzymes had almost tripled in just over 12 weeks.
Djuan explained his competition diet, and that he had moved to a completely plant-based lifestyle. She agreed to let him wait 12 weeks before she suggested any further testing. In the interim, she decided to run a search for a liver ultrasound she thought another doctor had previously ordered for Djuan. The search came up empty. In an odd timing situation, Djuan got a call from his doctor’s office about scheduling a liver ultrasound literally 5 minutes after his mother passed away due to liver failure. We were still in the ICU waiting room at the time. This set off 12 weeks of stress for Djuan as he worried about his own health, on top of the fact that he lost his mother. He’s a human and couldn’t help but think of his own mortality, given the fact that the doctor was concerned about his liver. Any time his mind went to that place, his body felt it. He regularly experienced burning and tingling in his arm as a result and just couldn’t fully get to a place of peace.
Fast forward 12 weeks. Djuan went in for follow up labs. When the email came through from his doctor, I had to take a moment to read it by myself before I shared the news with Djuan.
In true Djuan fashion, his immediate response was “Thank you, Jesus.” I truly felt the weight coming off of his shoulders. In that short amount of time, his liver enzymes are almost back to normal, triglycerides are great, A1C level dropped, which is important because Djuan has a family history of diabetes, kidney function is normal. Everything looks great.
This is his doctor’s note:
“Your mitochondrial antibody was negative (NORMAL) making liver autoimmune disease unlikely. Your ceruloplasmin was normal making copper overload disease unlikely. You have no signs of metastatic liver disease or cancer. Your iron levels were normal (incluing iron, tibc, ferritin). Your hepatitis B and C tests were negative. Your hemoglobin A1C (screening test for diabetes) was normal (<5.7%). This has improved from 5.5% to 5.2% over the past 6 months. Your cholesterol looks normal. Your protein, albumin are a tiny bit elevated. Your AST and ALT levels are elevated but not as much as the previous testing showed. Your creatine kinase level (muscle breakdown product) is high, but 835 is within the “normal” acceptable range for a black male, particularly one who exercises excessively.”
It’s not about aesthetics at all. Djuan knows how to achieve a great looking physique while eating all kinds of animal products. It’s about health, and what’s going inside his body. How can Djuan lead someone else to becoming their best self when he’s destroying his own body from the inside out?
Animal protein and saturated fat might not impact you in the way it impacts Djuan. Everyone’s body is different. But for Djuan to know it negatively impacts his liver function and to continue down the same path would fall in line with destructive behavior.
Djuan is not here to push anyone to become plant-based. It’s all about knowledge. He hopes his story inspires you to investigate what’s going on inside your own body. From there, he wants you to learn as much as you can and make a decision that works for you.
Continue to follow Djuan’s journey on Instagram — @byanymeansfitness.