I was pretty much born vegan…my dad wouldn’t let me eat meat when I was little and I was always the weird kid that had soy milk instead of regular milk. He made me drink fresh juices, made “soda” out of seltzer water and OJ and we had this weird Ezekiel bread. I HATED IT.
Fast forward to high school. My idea of being healthy was to go through the salad bar line every day instead of the regular lunch line. Start with some lettuce, add a few veggies, pile on the cheese, maybe some bacon or other processed meat product and cover the whole thing in ranch. After school my friends and I would get a bagel with cream cheese or Taco Bell as a snack. But I somehow managed to stay pretty skinny so I felt like I must have been somewhat healthy…had some good genes and an extremely active lifestyle to thank for that. I had no idea how bad that stuff was for me.
Jump to college…I avoided the freshman 15…by only gaining 10 lbs. I attribute me not getting bigger than I did due to the fact that I had to walk all over a very hilly campus and worked at a restaurant, so I was always on my feet…oh yeah, and I still had a 20-something metabolism. I tried to eat healthy, but my idea of healthy was anything labeled “low fat”…and on the weekends, I basically ate whatever was in front of me…tons of pizza, lots of beer, candy, french fries, chicken wings…anything that would fix my hangovers. I was lucky enough to never acquire a taste for any kind of soda but my neighbor was a rep for Red Bull…so that became part of my standard diet.
The summer after my junior year, I was living by the beach and frustrated that no matter what I tried to do, I could never really get off that extra college weight I had gained. I guess I had grown up some, because I called my dad and asked him if he had any suggestions and he recommended to stop eating meat and dairy. I didn’t eat a lot of red meat anyhow, as it didn’t sit well with me, but chicken wings were my favorite thing in the world. Finally one day I had them for dinner, came home, and got super sick, and that was a turning point for me.
Alright…let’s try this…
A week after giving up meat and dairy, I already felt like I had more energy. I was actually able to run occasionally and enjoy it. By the time I got back to school a few months later, I had lost that extra 10 lbs and I had to buy new jeans! Success!
But that wasn’t enough for me and there were a slew of diet pills on the market. Have more energy and eat less too? Yes please! So I began taking diet pills and would sometimes eat as little as Nutrigrain bar for dinner during the week to balance out all of the beer, vodka, and late night pizza and mac and cheese on the weekends (I couldn’t stay away from cheese). I actually became skinnier than I was when I left high school, which I was stoked about. I still tried to eat a good amount of fruits and vegetables, but processed foods were pretty standard in my diet, and no one had heard of superfoods, healthy smoothies or green juice at that time. I now realize…skinny does not equal healthy.
Lucky for me, I’m not an addictive person and the diet pills were banned, so I left them behind, but I stuck with my vegetarian lifestyle (still eating fish and dairy). Moving to southern California where everyone is healthy helped a lot. It allowed me to be outside and active year-round and working in a restaurant that actually had some healthy food helped my daily diet.
I’ve always enjoyed cooking and finding creative ways to make healthy food, but it wasn’t until I watched a handful of documentaries that I decided to really jump into the natural, organic, plant-based foods lifestyle with both feet. If you haven’t watched Food Inc, Forks over Knives, Food Matters, Hungry for Change and Vegucated, I highly recommend them. They are all on Netflix I believe.
Since then, I’ve also given up dairy (minus the occasional bite here and there) as I realized it was the sole cause of my “allergies” and an awful cough I had developed; I never knew how clear I could really breathe until now. Yes, I do miss cheese…but I feel 2,000 times better and have found creative ways to get flavor and texture without dairy. I still eat some bread and seafood/fish products when I go out, but at the house, it’s pretty much all vegan & gluten-free…which is much easier and more delicious than you would think.
In the last few years, I’ve become fascinated at the healing properties of different foods and how what we eat not only affects us physically, but mentally as well. I’ve become a health-information-junkie and read and do as much research as possible to know how different foods affect me and how to heal myself naturally. I am also currently enrolled in a Certified Nutritionist Certification Program. I love spreading any knowledge I can in hopes that it will help people take control of their health and realize that the quality of our life can be so much greater when we are fueled by nature and not chemicals. When I look back at what I used to put in my body, it disgusts me.
So that brings me to now. There aren’t a lot of things in the world that give me greater satisfaction than feeding someone a meal that they find delicious and knowing that I’m contributing to their health. I want to show you that “healthy” and “vegan” can also be delicious, and expose you to new flavors and superfoods that maybe you didn’t even know exitisted.