Q1. How long have you been living a Plant Based lifestyle and how did it all begin?
My plant based journey began almost a year ago! I have been a vegetarian for over a decade, but switched over to a whole food, plant based lifestyle in June of 2014 and haven’t looked back since. I originally explored this option when discussing my surprise-visit adult acne with my oldest sister, Skye (founder and director of VegOut Health Boutique). I had recently gone off birth control (which I had been on for over 13 years) and my skin went from healthy and glowing to a raging mess! I couldn’t seem to get it to calm down and go back to normal, and I wasn’t interested in exploring medical options. My sister then introduced me to the idea that dairy could be a contributing factor, and that I should try cutting out cheese and ranch dressing! She also shared many informative articles and websites that discussed the benefits and how-to’s for living a plant based lifestyle. I then read the China Study and it completely changed my perspective on diet and overall health and well being. It was like the golden ticket to education that I had been missing for years! I then went on to explore other authors and educators, from the Esselstyn family to Lindsay Nixon (Happy Herbivore author), and that was it! I was hooked. My husband joined me on this journey and we removed all dairy from our vegetarian lifestyle. What a difference it made! By going with a whole foods, plant based lifestyle, I was able to reverse my cystic adult acne in 2 months, lose 10 lbs (my husband lost 25 lbs), and eat as much whole, plant based meals as I desired while maintaining healthy weight and fresh skin! My husband and I also became pregnant a few months after we switched to a plant based lifestyle (we had been trying to conceive for almost a year) which was a welcome miracle! We are now embarking on a whole foods, plant based pregnancy, and we are all healthy and happy and EXTREMELY grateful for this life-changing dietary journey! Plant based has been such a gift to us!
Q2. Were there any challenges in transitioning to Plant Based living & what did you do to overcome them?
Yes, there were many challenges to transitioning to a plant based lifestyle, but the biggest challenge was facing criticism or concern from others. It was very easy learning to prepare whole, fresh, plant based meals (thank you to the awesome resources that are available from physicians, foodies, culinary artists, my sisters you name it!) but the trickiest part involved sharing information with others who were concerned with my overall health. I am still asked “where do you get your protein from?” and “where do you get your calcium from”? But I enjoy that people take the time to even ask the question, and if they are interested in hearing my response, that is even better! I know it can seem like a drastic change to move to a plant based lifestyle, but it has not only improved my overall health, it has also taught me the secret to life: everything that you EVER need for your health from food consumption is available in fresh and non-processed fruits, vegetables, legumes, beans, whole grains, and the occasional handful of seeds or nuts. That is it! We can get everything we need from these simple, whole food groups. And what a gift to eat so simply: animals that are subjected to horrible lives and treatment as part of the Standard American Diet are no longer a part of my diet (thank goodness)! I am living a kinder lifestyle all round, and that feels AMAZING!
Q3. How do you feel today & what are the most significant areas of change for you?
I feel INCREDIBLE! I can eat as much as I want, as often as I want! I originally lost 10 lbs and am now gaining weight in a healthy fashion during my pregnancy with our first baby. (This little one will be plant-powered all the way!) I have glowing skin and the ability put together fresh, creative, whole plant based meals in minutes each time my hubby and I eat, or whenever our friends come over. (Our friends and family LOVE our creative recipes that we share with them!) I love knowing that I am putting only the best fuel into my body, and that my body rewards me with unlimited energy (I never burn out like I used to!), great skin and hair, and the ability to repair itself quickly. (The common cold isn’t a common occurrence for me and my husband anymore.) The benefits go on and on. The part that I feel best about is knowing that every day, I am participating in kind food choices that do not contribute to the mass cruelty that goes on each and every day to deliver cuts of beef, pork, chicken, turkey, and dairy to the average consumer. I love knowing that I am doing my part to “vote” with my food choices and purchase only the finest whole food to fuel my family. That is kindness in action!
Q4. Can you tell us what your diet is like right now and are there any goals you are aiming for?
My diet is mostly whole food and entirely plant based. I do have oil occasionally when we go out (i.e.: I LOVE french fries and potato chips – those are loaded with unhealthy processed fats and oil!) but for the most part, my husband and I live off fresh fruit and kale smoothies, large breakfasts (such as vegan French toast topped with lots of fresh fruit), large lunches (salads, sandwiches, wraps), and large dinners (home made vegan pasta or mac n cheese, beans and rice and veggies, you name it.) We also love home made ice cream (frozen bananas blended with a bit of fresh vanilla and cacao – it is amazing!) I am aiming to remove potato chips from my snack habits… they are my go-to and I need to replace them with more veggies and home-made hummus dip!
Q5. Is there anything in particular at VegOut that you feel helps you to achieve your goals?
YES! My sister Skye and VegOut gave me the tools learn about how to eat plant based (it took some tweaking to my existing vegetarian diet!) and Skye and Rich (her husband) also shared their own favourite cooking and lifestyle tips and tricks with me and my husband whenever we visited the store. I purchased my favourite cook books from VegOut (Lindsay Nixon’s Happy Herbivore collection of recipes – her recipes are AMAZING and so, so easy to whip up!) and I also purchased my prize kitchen possession: our Blendtec Blender. We use it every day for smoothies, ice cream, dips, pasta sauces, you name it! VegOut also introduced me to Health Fest, a yearly plant based conference held in Marshall, Texas. I participated in the event this year with VegOut and was able to meet T. Colin Campbell, author of the China Study, in PERSON! It was a life changing conference where I gained even more insight into the benefits and simplicity of a plant based lifestyle. Skye and VegOut have been instrumental in my plant based journey, and they continue to be there to offer support and share fun recipes and hilarious stories (such as how we all eat when travelling to random locatio
Q6. What is the one insight or learning that you could share that might make someone else's journey to Plant Based living easier?
The one thing I would share is that a plant based lifestyle is SIMPLE and LIFE CHANGING. It can reverse and prevent heart disease, severe acne, blocked arteries, type 2 diabetes, obesity or just those few extra pounds you are looking to shed, and the list goes on. By simply changing what you ingest every day, you can change your overall health, not just your weight. And if you stick with it, the benefits are life-long. I always remind myself that my plant based journey has inspired me in three areas: 1) Compassion for all living things (I don’t consume animals that are part of the unfortunate meat and dairy-production practices that are present in this day and age), 2) Environment (by eating plant based, I do not participate in one of the leading pollution generators, which is the meat and dairy industry), and 3) Health (but living plant based, I am giving my body the ultimate fuel for it to operate at its best. What a gift! And it is so simple! Just eat fresh and non-processed fruits, vegetables, legumes, beans, whole grains, and the occasional handful of seeds or nuts. Voila – amazing health and wellbeing are right around the c