I get asked a lot of questions about my Vegan journey ... and it truly was a journey not an overnight decision for me.
It all began 10 years ago when I studied Yoga and Meditation at an Ashram for a month in Hawaii, where there were ONLY vegan and vegetarian options. I was raised on meat and potatoes (I’m from Idaho!) so this was very different for me. But to my own surprise...I freaking LOVED the food. I found it flavorful and prepared so well that I even opted for vegan options most of the time and when I got home I stayed vegetarian until my first pregnancy over a year later..
Over the next 5 years I switched from vegetarian back to eating meat so many times I lost track. I watched all the movies like Cowspiracy and What the Health and began to educate myself more and more. A few years ago I made the switch to veganism but due to a 7 week adventure show I was going on, Survivor, I stopped and began eating meat to acclimatize my body to prep for the show. I knew when faced with the decision to eat fish and meat on the show, I wouldn’t have the resolve to say no.
When I returned home last fall, I started to re-educate myself and I watched the most powerful documentary to date, Dominion. By November 2017, I was vegetarian once again. But after watching that show I decided to do more and more research so I would be SO convicted this time, I wouldn’t waiver. I started following incredible vegan athletes and humans on Instagram like:
@richroll @torre.washington @domzthompson @fitveganchef @jonny_juicer @jamesaspey @badassvegan @carlytaylor269 @karyncalabrese @fullyrawkristina @knead_to_cook @nimai_delgado @veganbodegacat
and got incredible recipes from:
@minimalistbaker @katefruitflowers @frommybowl @bosh.tv
I learned and learned. Dairy was easy to give up once I educated myself on the industry and the last thing to go was eggs I bought weekly from the farmer down the road.
I guess what REALLY changed me. Rewired my brain. Convicted me to my bones ... Was my own personal trauma. Being rendered powerless and voiceless changed me to the core. I developed situational mental illnesses such as anxiety, panic attacks that landed me in the ER and depression where I had NEVER experienced anything like this in my entire life. In those dark hours I would watch vegan videos and cry. Cry for the animals who were being tortured and ripped apart from their families. Cry for their abuse. I felt a massive level of empathy being voiceless and the feeling of being out of control while being pinned down and abused. I know this is not pleasant to read .. But it’s the reality of what I felt. Instead of numbing my own personal trauma through alcohol or some other unhealthy outlet...I threw myself into learning about food, veganism and healing. And I knew...I need to get myself healthy again. Mentally and physically healthy. I had two small children relying on their Mom and while I hid my illness from them the best I could, it still haunts me to this day the numbness I would feel for days on end. Healing was my only option.
I kept learning not only of the dark side of the food industry but I learned about the POSITIVE benefits on how to heal our emotional and mental state with food. I had already been juicing and making smoothies for over a decade but I took it to the next level because I was desperate to feel normal again.
I had read about Celery Juice from the Medical Medium and began drinking 12-16oz straight on an empty stomach first thing in the AM. One of the greatest benefits of straight Celery Juice is increased gut health. And some crazy number like 80% of our serotonin is produced in our gut. I figured if I could heal the place that my body literally MADE the “feel good chemical” I needed balanced out … I would do anything. Even if for the first week I had to gag down straight celery juice. To my own surprise, I not only acquired a taste for celery juice but within 7-10 days my anxiety let up. And within 14 days my entire mental state had changed. I was more clear. I was less anxious and panic ridden. I had SO much more energy to the point I cut out coffee. It doesn’t mean I didn’t sometimes feel anxious, I simply would go days without feeling it. After almost 6 months I can say I have only had one panic attack and my anxiety is controlled. My depression is gone. I feel like me.
I also began drinking 32oz of green juice every single day that I could. I would make nutrient dense smoothies. I learned more about how to eat whole grains, cook delicious beans, and finally after 36 years of life ... you guys!!!! ... I can make kick ass tofu! Like for reals, my steak and meat eating Dad even liked it!
I found vegan substitutes for all my favorite foods so I never ever feel deprived. I learned to google menus at restaurants because almost EVERYwhere has something written up on vegan options. I learned what to order when I was out, what questions to ask on my food and realized that people don’t actually give a damn if you ask them to check for vegan options or if something is vegan. If you are kind, people WANT to help you. It’s not uncomfortable. It’s NO different than someone asking for allergy purposes. It’s ok to speak up and order what you want in a kind way when you are out to eat.
I’m still learning. I follow all those accounts above to keep on my toes. To educate myself. To find new yummy recipes. This has become my lifestyle as much as brushing my teeth. And it feels SO right. I love being an advocate for animals. For doing my own small little part for the environment. For eating for my health and longevity. To help inspire others that there is a way. It took me a long time. I’m still a newbie in my head so sometimes I feel like I can’t speak out. But honestly, my personal conviction is just as strong as others. And that’s what matters.
So that’s my story. I love animals. It hurts me to think of their suffering. I’m not judging anyone. I actually don’t care about what people around me and my friends and family do. If people want to talk about it, I will. I love everyone just the same. I’m not weird to eat out with. I still eat, I just ask questions. I still eat burgers, pizza, chocolate and tacos. I just do it in a way that makes my body but most importantly my heart feel good. I’m me. You’re you. It was a journey for me. Maybe you’re somewhere along your journey. I honor that. I’m here for questions. I’ve learned a lot along the way.
And bottom line...I truly feel Veganism saved me of some sort. I was in the darkest abyss after my own personal trauma. It gave me a healthy outlet to heal my body instead of harming it. My compassion grew. My sensitivity grew. It sparked a rebirth in my bones. It healed me or was at least a massive factor. Those nights spent crying for the animals I found myself crying for my own pain. I released a lot of my own despair. That’s when the empathy grew. And I knew, for ME, it was time to do better. Not that I’m ANYthing better than anyone. Just better for MY life and myself. Food healed me from the inside out. And the connection with the animals and earth helped heal my spirit. I chose to never, under my control, to have another spirit hurt like I had been hurt. It was a personal choice. It still is. One that has changed my life and will continue to. I’m happy in my journey. Everything has brought me to where I am today. And I will forever feel honored and compelled to be a voice to the voiceless. Whether that is an animal or human.