Peña: The results make up for the struggles of sticking to a plant-based diet

My former student Elias Peña shares how he has partnered with his father to take control of their health destinies, some of the struggles along the way, and the results they now enjoy!


As I sit and watch my father planting broccoli and spinach into our garden, I cannot help but think about how far we have come as a family. It’s been more than four years now since my family and I began this plant-based journey.

It all started when I took Professor Hagenburger’s nutrition course at Cosumnes River College. I was skeptical at first about going green, but I had heard and read so much about the many benefits that I eventually caved in and decided to give it a try, not only for myself, but especially for my dad.

My father’s health was going downhill around 2014. He has been a diabetic for more than 15 years, and his doctor was pressuring him to get on insulin. His A1C level at the time was 11 percent, which reflected an average blood sugar over 300mg/dL — putting him at risk for heart attack, stroke, blindness, kidney failure and even amputations.

It was tough seeing my father struggle. I could not sit idly by and do nothing about this. I decided to gather a few recipes and get busy in the kitchen.

My father was the main cook of the household. We ate whatever he made, which was traditional Mexican and American food.

Although I knew that I needed to help my dad improve the nutrient content of the food he was eating, the best I could do at the time was use the microwave to heat up frozen Hot Pockets.

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