A Vegan Diet Helped Treat My Autoimmune Disease, Says Nour Danno

|Updated Dec 30, 2020

Nour Danno is a celebrity in her home country of Lebanon. Danno was a news anchor, writer, and reporter on LBCI middle eastern channel based in Lebanon. But that is not what she wants to be known for. The petite brunette beauty is teaching and making speeches now about how a plant-based or vegan diet helped her treat her autoimmune disease. And now that she has a nutrition degree from Notre Dame, she is inspiring others to go vegan for their health.

You might recognize Nour Danno as the brunette beauty who was one of the finalists in PETA's Sexiest Vegan Next Door contest. Or you could know her from the Miss Lebanon contest, where she was runner up in 2015. But now Danno is using her brains and beauty to spread the word about the power of eating plant-based since switching to a vegan diet helped her cope with symptoms of Hashimoto's Disease a common auto-immune disease.

Danno, who is both a dietitian and sports nutritionist, didn't know she had an autoimmune disease until the symptoms made her feel tired all the time, and her hands and feet were cold. and she finally put it all together that something was wrong. She worried about the potential of the disease to rob her of her healthy, active, and fit lifestyle.

After dealing with health issues, and getting inspiration from vegan basketball star, John Sally, who is a close friend of her husband's, Nour decided to eat vegan and change her life completely. She started a TV series called Vegan with Nour where she educated others about the vegan lifestyle, shares recipes, cooking classes, and demonstrates cruelty-free beauty.

Nour opens up about dealing with these health issues and how a plant-based diet helped treat her Hashimoto's disease, and now she is educating others.

The Lebanese beauty moved to Michigan, studied nutrition and physical education at Notre Dame University and worked as an on-air TV reporter. Here, Danno shares her tips on how to eat more plant-based and be healthy, along with her workouts.

I chatted with Nour Danno via Zoom call to find out exactly what she's up to now and ask her questions about her vegan journey to inspire us and others.

ND: We started with a YouTube channel, but we are a TV channel you can watch on your phone. You will find vegan recipes, beauty tips, cooking classes with Chef Izzy and Joel Khan, well-being, and lifestyle. I want people to know that veganism can change your life forever.

Q: How long have you been vegan?

ND: Four years.

Q: What made you go vegan? 

ND: I've always been a big fan of healthy food. Growing up, I barely ate meat, but I ate eggs and dairy. I completely made the switch to veganism four years ago. I watched the vegan health documentary, What the Health, and learned about the correlation between cheese and breast cancer, and decided to give up dairy. My husband's friend John Sally inspired me to go vegan, he's been vegan for a while and is a professional basketball player.

ND: I had Hashimoto's Disease, an autoimmune disease that attacks the thyroid glands which results in hyperthyroidism and can cause excess weight gain, fatigue, cold hands, and feet. When I completely cut out dairy, I had more energy, my acne cleared, and my metabolism was faster.

Q: Does your Lebanese heritage influence your dishes?

ND: I eat middle eastern food because it's rich, filling, healthy, and doesn't require much work to make. I make a lot of Turkish recipes.

Q: What do you eat for breakfast?

ND: I normally eat breakfast on the go. I will have a bowl of oatmeal, celery, juice, and a green smoothie. I also enjoy chickpeas with avocado, lemon, cucumbers, and tomatoes. I soak my chickpeas overnight because it's healthier and I don't eat canned foods.

Q: What do you add to your smoothie?

ND: I try to forget about the taste, instead I think about the health benefits. I like to juice celery and kale and add it to a smoothie with broccoli, strawberries, and pineapple for sweetener.

Q: What do you do for exercise? 

ND: I exercise 5 times a week. I encourage women to do cardio like squats, lunges, and jumping exercises. If you don't have time to exercise, 30 minutes is all you need. Just keep moving.

Q: What's your favorite vegan restaurant? 

ND: I live in Michigan, there are not many vegan options but my favorite restaurant is VEGGININIS PARADISE CAFE in Detroit. They serve African style food. In my home country of Lebanon, there are many options and 70% of the food is vegan. I moved to Michigan in August 2010 to be with my husband who I met on Instagram.

Q: What advice do you have for people who are trying to eat vegan?

ND: Start slowly, and ask yourself why you want to go vegan, have a reason. Try to follow meatless Monday, eliminate dairy throughout the week, and on the weekends try your best to be plant-based. I tell my clients, family members, and others to slowly incorporate vegan protein into their diets such as adding lentils to your tacos instead of meat. Be sure to add seasonings to your meals because that's where you get the flavor we all enjoy.

Q: What do you tell a cheese lover?

ND: We're all addicted to dairy cheese because of the chemical casein which is found in cheese, make your own cheese at home, like I do, and try dairy alternatives.

Q: What's your daily mantra?

ND: Be kind to every kind, even if it's a rat or a cow. Be kind to every living being, that includes trees, anything in nature. It's also important to be humble.