Last month, The Beet shared the inspiring story of Josh LaJauine who lost over 200 pounds on a plant-based diet that nearly saved his life.

The former hunter from Lousianna weighed 420 pounds and experienced detrimental injuries and shortness of breath from his diet before he found the strength to go vegan at the age of 32. After experiencing this incredible transformation, Josh ran his way onto the cover of Runner's World Magazine and participates in at least two ultra-marathons a year. He decided he wanted to spread the miracle of a plant-based lifestyle to his loved ones, and together his entire family who grew up hunting deer, fishing for crawfish, and drinking beer was able to lose a total of 1,000 pounds by going vegan.

Josh's weight loss example helped change his family's traditions in favor of healthier ones. On the phone, Josh said, "Instead of meeting my family for beers by the Bayou, we all hop in the car to go help runners in races pace themselves on the sidelines." He also mentioned that he recently bought kayaks so they can go out on the Bayou together, instead of just sipping brews from the sidelines.

The vegan LaJauine family includes Josh's mother Ramonda, grandmother, father, wife, mother-in-law, and brother Dustin who played football with Josh growing up and didn't make the weight cut one season because he was overweight. Josh told The Beet that Dustin lost a total of 200 pounds when he went completely plant-based, and he convinced his 63-year-old mother-in-law to run her first half marathon.

Chuck Carroll, host of Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, video chatted with Josh, Dustin, and Ramona to discuss their vegan weight loss journey. At first, Ramona was not so sure she wanted to try the diet and told Caroll, "I wasn't on board at all, I thought he had lost his mind. But by example and perseverance, he made me want to try the whole food plant-based diet. It took me about three months and once I got on board I saw benefits within six weeks. I was able to get off my blood pressure medicine and I started losing weight. I have scoliosis so I have a lot of trouble with arthritis. [The vegan diet] minimized a lot of my issues with arthritis and I just felt a lot better. I felt like getting up to exercise and I had a lot more energy."

Josh told The Beet that his family dynamic is happier and it's nice to share a vegan lifestyle together. We chatted with Josh a few days after the Fourth of July, and he mentioned the family celebrated by eating veggie dogs, vegan tofu 'fish' sticks, and his mother's famous vegan gumbo recipe, that you can find below.

Ramona's Homemade Vegan Gumbo Soup Recipe:

Ingredients

  • 1 large Guidry's Seasoning
  • AKA-The Trinity
  • 1 1/2 cups oat flour
  • 1 tsp cayenne (optional)
  • 1 tbsp granulated garlic
  • 1 tbsp granulated onion
  • 1 tbsp liquid smoke
  • 1/2 tsp poultry seasoning
  • 1/2 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1 family-size slice okra (26oz)
  • 1 can original Rotel tomatoes (add another can if you want it spicy)
  • 2- 32 oz box vegetable broth (I use Kitchen Basic)
  • 6 cups of water
  • Salt (I use Himalaya salt
  • Black pepper

Instructions

  1. In a large pot make dry roux 1 1/2 cups oat flour, cook over med-high heat stirring constantly (this can burn quickly--be patient).
  2. When it is a little darker than the color of peanut butter, add trinity...stir...
  3. Add 2 boxes of veggie broth...stir...add 6 cups of water* Note: this will thicken quickly*
  4. Add cayenne pepper, granulater garlic, granulated onion, poultry seasoning, liquid smoke, nutritional yeast, and Rotel.
  5. Let simmer about 30 to 45 minutes. stir ad needed. season to taste with salt and pepper.
  6. Serve over rice

"When I look back at the old me, I feel sorry, I feel bad we didn't get this together sooner.  And I love you because that fat guy contributed more to my memory bank than any memory in my life," said Josh LaJauine.