MY VEGAN STORY
My feelings of hesitation and weariness towards animal products are all too familiar.
Ever since I was little, I remember struggling with this internal conflict… especially towards meat.
Family dinners and gatherings always included meat, always. Meat was the “main staple” and we didn’t have any vegetarians in the family. My brother and I drank cow’s milk with dinner every night while growing up, because milk has “calcium” and that is what you are supposed to drink in order to grow big and strong, right? Well, that is what most parents are led to believe. Although cow’s milk is meant for baby cows like breast milk is meant for infants. Weird to say (or write, rather)… but when you think about it, the concept just makes sense.
The word “vegan” never came up until one of my elective classes during college at Purdue University. Animal Ethics. I chose this class not realizing the sadness it would entail, and the emotions it would stir up. My professor was 100% vegan in every aspect of his life. From cruelty-free toothpaste to clothing to cleaning products, and obviously food. He looked exactly like Einstein, crazy hair and all! He shared stories about his visits to the slaughterhouse and how the system works…
His stories made my bones quiver and still do to this day.
Much of my time spent in that class was with my hands covering my eyes, trying to spare my brain from any more torturous images and malicious videos. I thought about removing myself from the class but the only alternative was Ancient Greek Mythology… ehh no thanks! Even though my professor was wacky, I couldn’t help but admire him. I had never met anyone like him before, let alone a vegan. His pure love and respect for the animals, for his health, for nature and for our planet opened my eyes.
When I reminisce about my courses at Purdue, his class sticks out in my mind. My heart carved out a spot for him and the perspectives he taught me. From that point on, I dabbled with vegetarianism, but I wasn’t in tune with my body like I am now. I wasn’t fully connecting the dots… yet.
Fast forward to about two years ago…
A Saturday night at home with a glass of wine and Netflix. My boyfriend (at the time) had gone to the gym so I found myself scrolling through documentaries (why not movies?!! ha) I came across Vegucated. This documentary stood out because I remember seeing it all over Twitter. I started following vegan Twitter accounts a few days prior (subconsciously, I think?). How ironic, the stars had aligned! Just kidding… but really… I read the description and knew if I watched this, I’d be crying the rest of the night. For some reason I was okay with that!! We all need a good cry every now and again. It was one of those days where I felt relaxed and open for anything, plus I was intrigued to know what the vegan hype was about. Boy, was I in for it…
Throughout the documentary, concepts started to click in my mind as if I was buckling my seatbelt. I was in the process of connecting to the plant based lifestyle. My mind was in horror, shock and became overwhelmed with anger, but I was connecting on a higher level. I felt nauseous but I knew it was necessary; there was no way of getting around these feelings. As much as I didn’t want to think about it, this was real. I could see the animals suffering from anxiety, fear, and immense pain. They knew what was coming and could sense it. How could they not? I watched absolutely unnecessary, heartless acts being performed and it brought up real human emotion that stems from instincts. Raw emotion, real happenings and video footage led me to this daunting crossroads in my life..
I realize most documentaries show the worst of the worst and not all slaughterhouses run the same but I still saw what I saw… it still happened to those animals and happens everyday… I’m unable to remove the images from my mind.
Feeling those feelings opened a new door to an unknown world. Those same familiar feelings from years before, but with a higher level of understanding and compassion. After the documentary ended, I sat there for a while.
Stunned. Numb. Confused.
Then came the sobbing. Then the thinking about what our world has come to. Then feeling disgusted with society. Disgusted with myself as well, that I had been so ignorant and oblivious to what was happening behind slaughter house walls but mainly behind big corporations. That the big name meat and dairy brands are powerful, full of lies and are absolute experts with their marketing and labeling. That for the most part, there are no happy cows or free-range chickens (unless you have a chicken coupe in your backyard). That cage-free doesn’t mean what we think it means. That we don’t know any better because we are swarmed daily with happy dairy ads, commercials and marketing schemes. That factory farming is very much existent, not to mention all the hormones and antibiotics that they pump into the animals to keep them from getting sick and to speed up the growth process, which is all too common, and is also powered by the big name brands connected to the government. That our food has become so processed and nutrient-lacking, we think we are eating healthy from the labels and what society says (got milk?), when we are actually missing the point completely, and it’s not our fault. That we don’t need animal products to thrive. Animal protein consumption is causing disease left and right due to the acid forming properties in the body. That plant based eating can resolve numerous ailments in millions of people.
That my life would never be the same. My seatbelt was buckled. This time, I was ready.
Since that night I have not eaten any animal products whatsoever. Especially after those images and videos which are now burned into my brain… I wanted nothing to do with meat or cheese or milk or any of it. I made the connection to a plant based lifestyle, to what my body needs in order to thrive and to all animals.
This realization was pretty empowering. My boyfriend had no idea what he was coming home to! He walked in the door to me sobbing, mascara running down my face with a wine bottle almost empty.. (!!) my world had turned upside down for a brief moment. He figured it was just a phase.
This was no phase, this was a major life change.
Plus, it led me to a turning point in my life. My job satisfaction had been stagnant at zero since graduating and landing my first real corporate job. I had been wanting to start a blog for years but never knew what I would write about. This was it!! I had found my niche!! It was one of those magical moments I’d always wanted to experience. One where you know in your heart you are on the right path, you are exactly where you need to be. I feel grateful everyday for that Saturday night in.
Since then, I’ve watched numerous other documentaries, read books, articles and immersed myself in learning everything about plant based nutrition. I’ve become a nutrition junkie, wellness addict, health guru and plant based advocate.
Living vegan is unfamiliar for many people, which is why I created The Glowing Fridge – to shed light on this heated yet growing topic, to spread awareness and inspiration, to create deliciously vibrant recipes and offer encouragement. Going vegan doesn’t have to be scary or difficult. It’s back to the basics. It’s simple. It’s delicious. It’s real. It’s not processed. It’s whole foods from nature and ultimately, what you make it out to be.
Now I know what some of you are thinking. You don’t want to picture the process of how your food gets to your plate – it’s easier not to, I know.
Most people would shake their heads and say they don’t want to see it or hear about it, they just want to enjoy their cheeseburgers and milkshakes and be oblivious like everyone else. That used to be me until I took a risk that was out of the ordinary, uncomfortable and far from the norm. It’s easy to eat at a classic restaurant or pass through the drive-thru and make traditional family recipes… but it’s also easy to whip up a delicious, nourishing vegan meal in 5 minutes.
People don’t see it that way though. Humans stick to what they know and don’t want to go through extra trouble if they don’t have to because they’re lazy and tired! They’ve given up. That is no way to live life though, we deserve way more than that. We have one shot. One life. One body. Being vegan is not as hard as society makes it out to be. Vegan is new and unfamiliar, that’s all – just like anything else. It’s not about deprivation, dieting or counting calories, it’s about adding in foods your body will love and will recognize as actual food that it can use . Real, living, colorful, whole foods found in nature.
Food is fuel. Food is energy. Food is nourishment.
This lifestyle has impacted my life in so many ways! After feeling so healthy and alive, I could never go back to animal products. The biggest benefit for me was the feeling that my clothes fit better than ever as well as clear, glowing skin with a healthy tone that I’ve never had before. My skin is no longer dull, it’s smooth and improving everyday. I don’t have to wear as much makeup as I used to. Energy has been another major plus. Because I am feeding my cells food that it can utilize as fuel, my body functions better than ever – especially my digestion. After I drink my favorite smoothie, I swear I can feel the vitamins buzzing through my veins. I can feel the energy from the food. More energy means more exercise too. Strong is the new sexy!
I want everyone to experience these positive changes. My mindset is more positive (I mean not all the time, lets be real, I still PMS) but there is a new spiritual light inside me. I believe that’s because I am no longer consuming foods that are filled with anxiety, fear and pain. Following my intuition is my driving force, and my intuition is crystal clear. For the most part, I feel well and energized every single day. Who knew our bodies could feel this good?!
They are meant to feel like this, I swear.
I could go on and on but if you are looking for a healthy change or you want to lose weight FOR GOOD, this is the way to go You can live an amazing, fulfilling and satisfying life. Your body is powerful and will reward you if you feed it an abundance of plant based foods, its as simple as that. Fruits, Vegetables, Leafy Greens, Whole Grains, Nuts, Seeds, Legumes and yes, even dark chocolate for all my fellow chocolate addicts 🙂
Whether you want to take baby steps and incorporate more vegetables into your daily life or go full throttle like I did, that is up to you. There is no “right” way to transition. You could start by incorporating non-dairy milk, more fresh vegetables, fresh fruit and grains like oats and quinoa into your diet while slowly eliminating the animal products. Allow your body to adjust. You have to find what works for you. It’s a journey and a learning process.
Top 6 Tips for Transitioning to a Vegan Diet:
1) Try new recipes:
I have hundreds of delicious recipes for you! Buy a few new vegan cookbooks. Remember to stick with real, whole foods and stay away from processed out of the box meals and frozen dinners. Just because it’s vegan doesn’t automatically mean it’s good for you. Oreo’s are vegan, but not plant based. Click here for my Vegan Grocery List Guide.
2) What about Protein? And Vitamins?
The popular question – where do you get your protein? There’s plenty of options. Get more than enough plant protein from foods like quinoa, tempeh, organic tofu, lentils, black beans, chickpeas, hemp seeds, almonds, pumpkin seeds, kale, spinach, broccoli, peas, oats, potatoes, sunflower seeds, edamame, etc. The list goes on! I use the Cronometer app to measure all my nutrient levels to make sure I get enough of every nutrient we need on a daily basis. I take E3Live for my B12 plus some.
3) Start slowly, not all at once:
Eat the rainbow. Every fruit and vegetable offers different vitamins and nutrients for your body, hence all the different colors. Try them all at least once. Incorporate more veggies/fruits/nuts instead of eliminating meat and fish all at once. Do replace dairy milk right away with almond milk, soy milk, coconut milk, hemp milk, cashew milk or hazelnut milk. That’s an easy + delish swap. Try my 5-Day Body Balance Cleanse as a perfect way to transition to this lifestyle.
4) Self-educate with books, articles and documentaries:
My favorite documentaries are: Forks Over Knives, Earthlings, Vegucated and Food Inc. – all on Netflix. Do research! Find out why you personally want to incorporate more plant foods. You are likely to stick with this healthier lifestyle if you have a driving force. Be prepared to answer questions from others who may be concerned. Don’t let them manipulate or confuse you. This is your life, your decision! Start with my Vegan Starter Guide to living a plant based life.
5) Ask a friend or loved one to try the vegan lifestyle with you:
Motivate each other. Offer support. Leave notes to one another or send an encouraging text. Learn with each other.
6) Allow your body the time it needs to detox and reset before fully reaping the benefits:
The detox process can take several weeks, months, even years. So be kind, patient and nurture your precious body. Eventually you will feel all the benefits from this lifestyle. You may feel kinda crappy sometimes, that is your body trying to flush out years of built-up toxins and chemicals from animal products. It’s truly a good thing!
Small changes in your life can make a difference you will feel good about. I promise, it can be so rewarding with new perspectives on life. Stepping out of your comfort zone is liberating and opens new doors. I can’t tell you how much positivity this lifestyle has brought me. I wake up eager to work on this blog everyday and connect with all of you. Becoming vegan has taken my health to the next level and was hands down the best decision I have ever made.
As mentioned above, I created a complete starter guide to living plant based (a downloadable PDF file that is viewable on any device) including how to transition and why, the basics, what to expect, what to eat, healthy digestion, meal guides, shopping lists, how to maintain this lifestyle long-term, dealing with friends/family and more! To learn more about my Vegan Starter Guide, click here! I also created a supplemental 5-Day Body Balance Cleanse to help you transition or just get back on track with healthy eating.
So if you have any questions please leave me a comment, or send me an email. My email is [email protected]. I would love to hear your thoughts and personal stories. Your health is all you have at the end of the day. Take control of it and make those first steps to improve it today!
I’ll leave you with a few pics of my best little buddy, Taz, who stole my heart from the minute I saw him and makes me laugh every single day.