From Meathead to Plant-Based Diet: The Marc Ramirez Story

Article written and reviewed by Tara Kemp
Published February 7, 2018

Marc Ramirez is not your typical vegan. You'd never expect him to be eating a low fat plant based whole food diet.

He was raised in Texas “meat country” with 8 brothers and sisters, and spent the majority of his early life playing football, where a high-protein, meat-based diet is not only the status quo, it’s practically a requirement.

However, his health journey lead him to a radical shift to embody a whole new way of living, and he feels better than ever.

Type 2 Diabetes: Bad Genes or Poor Lifestyle?

Throughout his childhood, Marc’s mother struggled to live with type 2 diabetes. As a child, he watched as his mother’s health progressively declined, requiring larger doses of insulin over time and an eventual kidney transplant.

Of his eight brothers and sisters, only one sister avoided developing type 2 diabetes. In 2002, Marc himself was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, the same year that both his mother and brother passed away from diabetes complications.

This came as devastating and frightening news, but it was not a surprise. Marc grew increasingly concerned that dying from the complications of type 2 diabetes was in his fate, simply due to “bad genes” in his family.

When he looked ahead at his future, Marc expected to experience the same struggles as his mother and siblings – a lifetime of “managing” diabetes and its resulting complications, increased risk for cardiovascular disease, organ transplants, and limb amputations.

But diabetes was not his only concern. He also struggled with with erectile dysfunction, psoriasis, heartburn, insomnia, and obesity.

Enter a Low Fat Plant Based Whole Food Diet

In December 2011, Marc and his wife were gifted the documentary Forks Over Knives from his in-laws.

In the documentary, he learned about a physician named Dr. Neal Barnard, who had years of experience helping patients reverse prediabetes and type 2 diabetes using a low fat plant based whole food diet. 

Marc and his wife also learned that the results of Dr. Barnard’s ground-breaking research were published in the scientific literature.

Immediately, Marc purchased Dr. Barnard’s book, Dr. Neal Barnard's Program for Reversing Diabetes: The Scientifically Proven System for Reversing Diabetes without Drugs, and read it cover to cover.

Both the documentary and the book taught him how to reverse type 2 diabetes, which was a concept that took him by surprise. 

What he learned was both eye-opening and exciting: type 2 diabetes is caused primarily by the accumulation of intramyocellular lipid (fat inside of muscle cells). By eliminating animal products and reducing your overall fat intake, you can reverse the disease process.

Putting a Low Fat Plant Based, Whole Food Diet to the Test

Armed with this new knowledge, Marc set out with the intention of trying to reverse type 2 diabetes entirely. He started eating a low fat plant based whole food diet and never looked back.

After only one month, Marc experienced incredible results, as shown in the table below:


December 2011

January 2012

A1c (%)



Total cholesterol (mg/dL)

164 (with medication)

104 (no medication)

LDL (mg/dL)



HDL (mg/dL)






After two months, he eliminated insulin altogether as well as four oral medications, as shown in the table below:


December 2011

February 2012

Lantus Insulin

20 Units twice daily



1,000 mg twice daily



20 mg once daily



100 mg once daily



20 mg once daily


By the third month, Marc had lost a total of 50 pounds, and he was flabbergasted. His results far exceeded his expectations, given that he reversed more than a decade of chronic disease in only a few months.

Marc was especially excited to find that he no longer experienced erectile dysfunction. He realized that his “manly” meat-heavy diet was actually the cause of sexual dysfunction. 

He now feels that masculinity comes from taking care of his health and eating a low fat plant based whole food diet, so that he is able to support and provide for his family.

In addition, his daily heartburn, psoriasis, and insomnia completely disappeared within this same 3 month period.

Six years later, Marc has maintained more than 50 pounds of weight loss, is medication-free, and does not count calories or limit his portion sizes. At the age of 50, he is in the best shape of his life, both metabolically and physically.

Sharing the Health – Passing on the Information to Others

Today, Marc has become an expert in how to adopt and sustainably execute a low fat plant based whole food diet to maximize diabetes health.

He and his wife Kim, have both become certified Food For Life Instructors through the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. Together, they host nutrition and cooking classes to help teach others this life-changing information and give them the tools to put it into practice.

They also manage Chickpea and Bean a website dedicated to delicious recipes and resources to support a low fat plant based whole food diet.

Marc Joins the Mastering Diabetes Team

We are pleased to announce that Marc is now the newest member of the Mastering Diabetes team, and is a coach for our upcoming Spanish Language Program.

We are very excited to have him on the team.

If you are part of the Mastering Diabetes Program, you will have the opportunity to work directly with Marc and learn from his experience and knowledge.

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About the author 

Tara Kemp

Tara Kemp is the Director of Nutrition Education at Mastering Diabetes. She has been active in the field of health and nutrition for many years, including working with Forks Over Knives, Engine 2, and Dr. Neal Barnard and the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. Tara has a bachelor's degree in Education from Bucknell University, a Certificate in Plant-Based Nutrition from eCornell, and is a Certified Food For Life Instructor through the Physicians Committee.