A change of heart: How a health crisis led to a lifestyle change, new business for a Western New York couple

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WEST SENECA, N.Y. (WIVB) – A serious health scare caused two Western New Yorkers to make a big lifestyle change about three years ago.

Alex Miller began experiencing heartburn sensations which would turn into chest pain, even during a simple walk upstairs.

“It got to the point where I actually passed out from the pain,” Miller, who was 32 at the time, said.

After Miller checked himself into the emergency room, doctors found that one of his arteries was 99 percent blocked. Surgeons had to put a stent in.

“The surgeon who inserted the stent said ‘If you want to stay alive, you have to eat like a cow’,” Miller said. “In simple terms, ‘you have to go plant-based if you want to stay alive’.”

Miller and his now-fiance, Brittany Kruse, took the surgeon’s advice.

“We made the change overnight,” Kruse said.

The couple began documenting their plant-based journey online through a lifestyle website called “White Gloved Vegan”.

The website features plant-based recipes for every palate, including “pizza dip”, “egg-less McMuffin”, and “kale Doritos”.

PHOTO: @whiteglovedvegan Instagram

The White Glove Vegan social media also features plant-based products and dishes from various restaurants.

“We’ve helped a lot of people find new plant-based options,” Kruse said. “We’re not about being forceful- we just want people to be healthier.”

According to the New York State Department of Health, about 610,000 people die of heart disease in the United States every year–that’s 1 in every 4 deaths.

Since going plant-based, Miller and Kruse say they feel healthier.

“We both feel amazing,” Kruse said. “The mental clarity is amazing, we’ve both lost weight and stay pretty lean year-round.”

 Last January, the couple stepped it up by doing a month-long raw vegan challenge, meaning they didn’t eat any food cooked above 115 degrees.

They then traveled to New York City to collaborate with body paint artist Trina Merry on a photo shoot that represented their journey.

PHOTO: @whiteglovedvegan Instagram

They were both covered with white paint and depictions of cardiovascular systems, with Kruse’s representing “healthy” and Miller’s “unhealthy”. As the shoot went on, Kruse’s paint transferred to Miller.

Miller had a surprise for Kruse during the shoot.

“We were standing surrounded by so many people in New York City, and he turned around and he had ‘Will you marry me?’ on his back,” Kruse said. “I was completely shocked- he got down on one knee and proposed. I couldn’t have asked for a better proposal.”

Miller said he felt the photo shoot was the perfect time to propose.

“When I got the news that I had that blocked artery at such a young age, we were just dating at the time and she said “I’m going to be there for you, we’re going to try this new lifestyle and take this journey together”,” Miller said. “That representation of what we went through seemed like the perfect moment.”

The sweet moment was brought back to the spotlight recently when it was featured on ABC’s RightThisMinute.

Miller and Kruse are getting married in two weeks and will have a fully vegan wedding.

What are their tips for anyone looking to make a transition to a more plant-based lifestyle?

“I think starting small and making small changes is the best way to go about it,” Kruse said. “I’d say change your morning coffee creamer- there’s so many vegan creamers now, and just try and have one or two vegan meals per week and keep trying to increase that.

“When you go to the supermarket, stay on the outer walls where the fresher food is,” Miller added. “The more processed foods are toward the middle.”

White Gloved Vegan will release a cookbook at the end of 2021. The book will feature plant-based recipes from social media influencers from all over the world.

“The in-between is hard, going from a traditional American diet to being a plant-based or vegan-eating person,” Miller said. “[The book] will emphasize the baby steps of changing your lifestyle.”

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