Today is my 4th Veganniversary. I like to use these milestones in my life as a time to reflect...
Four years ago I stumbled upon the documentary Racing Extinction on Discovery. I was already a vegetarian, but after only watching for the first 5-10 minutes, I knew I needed to do more. When the movie was over, I was changed. Prior to watching, I couldn't imagine giving up my beloved cheese, but after watching, it was easy. The film is beautifully done and shares practical ways anyone can make an impact. For me, becoming vegan just made sense.
When I made the jump (it wasn't really a transition), I had been relying heavily on eggs and dairy in my diet so educating myself was crucial. At first I thought I could just keep eating like I had as a vegetarian but without the eggs and dairy. It wasn't that easy. Looking back, I was hungry all the time in those first months! I even lost a few pounds. I likely wasn't getting enough protein at the time. I wasn't eating much (if any) tofu, soy products and was afraid of mock meats. I enjoyed beans and legumes but they really challenged my digestion so I would eat them but then back way off. I discovered early on that raw veggies were also a challenge for me, given that it was winter, it wasn't a big deal, but did make eating out and the reliance on salads a challenge. The reality was I had a stomachache a lot for that first year. When you start eating that much fiber and increase beans and veggies significantly, this can happen. In addition, I wasn't supplementing and I ended up with a painful crack on the side of my mouth, likely due to low B12 and my first bloodwork after becoming vegan showed a vitamin D deficiency - in all fairness I hadn't been checked for that previously so I'm not sure how long it had been an issue.
Needless to say, there were a lot of reasons to quit.
But that never occurred to me. Knowledge is power and as I have mentioned before, I was committed. So I started doing my research. Thankfully there is so much information online. Watching documentaries and videos on YouTube, listening to podcasts and reading articles and blogs all made a big difference. I learned how to prepare tofu, that soy wasn't the devil, that mock meats can be really tasty, which supplements I needed to take, how to pay attention to what I'm eating and plan for the week. I studied Ayurveda which helped me understand how and what to eat for optimal digestion. I studied recipes and watched a lot of videos with vegans talking about and preparing food. Through this my challenges were normalized and my knowledge and understanding grew.
As a result, I feel strong and healthy. As a vegan, I have run 5 half marathons and my first 2 marathons in addition to a handful of other races including a 200 mile relay. Excited to share what I have learned, I began teaching cooking classes, started this website and began writing a plant based cook book. Through all of this, I work hard to stay humble, compassionate and non-judgmental maintaining the belief that eating less meat and more plants makes a difference. I hope to inspire others to taste and know how good plant based food is, to make it accessible and delicious. Overall I strive to practice ahimsa which means do no harm (in words, thoughts, actions) - to myself, to others, to animals, to the planet.
I feel excited and motivated by the changes I see in myself and in those around me and I'm inspired to know that I am making a difference. I firmly believe that every choice we make matters. When we choose to eat plants over meat we not only save animals lives, we also make an impact on the environment by contributing to fewer trees being cut down, less water and grain being consumed and reduced CO2 emissions. It doesn't require becoming 100% vegan. Just start by making small changes in your life like eating one meat free meal per day or per week. You can make a difference one meal at a time.
I am an animal loving-Vegan runner, I practice and teach Kundalini Yoga and I love to cook and eat flavorful plant-based food.