Living a Plant-Based Lifestyle

I’ve been getting lots of questions from friends, family, and viewers, asking about my diet. Some are looking for a short description, simply out of curiosity, whereas others are considering the change and want to know why I eat the way I eat. For those of you that are looking for that simple answer, I have found that my reasoning is always changing. It is far better eating to live as opposed to living to eat.

Veganism can be defined and practiced in many ways. However, the true definition of a vegan is someone that does not use, wear, or eat any animal by-product. I do my best not to wear or use any animal by-product, besides honey (yes, I am aware that it is bee ‘barf’). Using honey in a sustainable way, and purchasing it locally, can actually benefit the bee population. I use honey in face masks and sometimes as a replacement for sugar. Smart beekeepers only take the excess from the honeycomb, and leave what is necessary for the bees to survive. Beeswax would be wasted if we didn’t gather it for items such as candles, eco-friendly packaging (like this honeybee wrap), lip balms, etc. The best we can do for our pollinators is buy locally sustainable honey, plant more plants, as well as significantly reduce our carbon footprint, the amount of fuel we use, and the amount of waste we produce.

Whenever I discover something and become interested in it, I take on that thing with full force and get really into it. That’s how veganism was for me! I went full fledge vegan for about a month, but then decided to incorporate fish and sometimes chicken and eggs. I’ve also begun to avoid processed sugars at all costs. Most of what I eat is gluten free and vegan, yet because I eat fish, chicken, and eggs every now and then, I cannot classify myself as a traditional vegan.

I recently found a book, called ‘Seagan Eating’, that is similar to my diet. It was published in 2016, so it’s fairly new. The book mentions that the authors define themselves as ‘vegans’, but eat fish occasionally. They will only eat certain types of fish. Fish that is wild and fresh caught, cold water, flourishing in numbers, etc., is what they recommend for consumption, not the rare fish that help our ecosystem thrive. Again, I rarely do eat fish. At most twice a week, but generally only twice a month. I’ll have a small amount of fish or chicken on my salad, chicken or salmon burgers, fish in my sushi, an omelette every now and then, but I definitely do not eat meat like the average American. I also make sure that the meat I eat is from a sustainable place and that the animals were treated with respect. I love our local farms! I always recommend that everyone support them.

There are specific nutrients that are found in chicken, eggs, and fish that I absolutely believe are necessary for a healthy life. For example, choline, lutein, and zeaxanthin in eggs, tryptophan, magnesium, and B5 in chicken, and the omega-3 fatty acids in fish, I’ve found that adopting this sort of Mediterranean diet has made me feel cleaner than ever before. I do not have to use supplements at all and am very happy with this change.

I have a feeling that the reason why there are so many long-living, healthy vegans is because they are much more health conscious than the average person and eat whole foods as opposed to foods that have no benefit to our being, i.e. anything with processed sugars. There are many unhealthy vegans and I am interested to see whether they still develop disease or not, based on the way they treat their gut.

Reasons why I made the lifestyle change:

Animal Welfare

This reason never changes. It was my initial reason to go vegan and I’ll continue to fight for animal’s rights. I will do my best to inform others of the harm they are contributing to whenever they purchase meat from industrial farms. I know there are many that don’t believe it will make a difference. Whether I am making a difference or not, I know I am not contributing to it and there are many, many others that do not contribute to it either.

I used to tell myself that I didn’t want to know the truth about industrial farming, because I didn’t want some movie to keep me from stopping by Chick-fil-A for a box of crispy nuggets. Luckily, I was exposed to the horror during an Ethics in Literature class that I took one summer. If you do eat meat and no longer want to contribute to the inhumane harm of animals in industrial farms, at least purchase your meat locally. It will not only help your neighbors, but it will also improve your health significantly. You can also avoid fast food restaurants as much as possible. Feel free to ask your waitress/waiter where your dish is coming from-you have the right to know!

Check out an article about veganism and our environment by clicking here.

Also, check out my list of ways that you can help our environment by clicking here.

I also have a playlist of videos for ‘why to go vegan’ on my YouTube channel. Feel free to check them out. I am not full fledge vegan, but these videos could expose you to the reasons why it is better to eat less meat. My YouTube is linked in the sidebar and in my social links.

I thought this was an interesting comparison:

My Health

It’s wild to see how many surgeons, doctors, scientists, environmentalists, and healthcare professionals, etc. are going vegan. I have met doctors who have agreed that veganism is a great way to go, yet they’ll shove an entire pepperoni pizza down their throats, no problem. I made the change after watching several documentaries and reading countless research articles/books. Click here for a page that lists my favorite documentaries.

It is easy to be an unhealthy vegan. Many people get caught up in the pre-packaged food that is loaded with sugar, cancer causing agents, preservatives, flavoring (MSG can be very present in this label), and is probably worse than the non-vegan alternatives. Focus on the foods that don’t make you crave more food or leave you hungrier than you were before you ate them. Eat whole, nutritious, food from the ground. Eat things that you can grow in your backyard! It is the best way to connect with the earth.

Check out my ultimate guide to a healthier and happier lifestyle by clicking here.

My Spirituality

My sister and I were talking on our run the other day about how we’ve found a lot more peace and love with nature after cutting animals out of our diet. The time my sister began to make her transition was the same time that her spirituality and beliefs began to shift.

The very first thing that made me decide to eat more plant-based was the idea that I did not want to eat anything that I could not kill. I knew I could not kill the horses in my backyard, nor the cows, nor the pigs. However, I had been fishing plenty of times (catch and release, minus the times I ate the fish that was caught). I knew that I had to end my bad habits. Once I did so, I began incorporating way more greens into my diet than ever before. I could feel my body transitioning with the way I was eating. It was around this time that I became more interested in meditation.

Struggles I have encountered along the way:

Acceptance

Going into veganism, I heard about how many people received rejection from friends and family. I honestly believed that my family would not find it abnormal and accept it. That was not the case at all. It began with my siblings finding it very odd. I had to eat with them every night and to this day, I’m not sure that I know of a night where they have not commented on my eating habits. One of my sisters was extremely confused as to how I would be able to help animals live healthy lives by eating the way I eat and got very upset at the beginning. She later made the transition, but she still eats eggs and fish from time to time.

I have also had a few of my cousins and uncles pick fun at the lifestyle as well. Don’t get me wrong, there were some pretty great jokes, but it sure does get old after a while. I found that the most support came from my boyfriend’s family, as well as a few of my girlfriends that were very excited for me. Eating food is a very social activity across the world, and if you don’t eat like everyone else, it becomes difficult to socialize with others in that way. If you are considering this change, be prepared. One way to ease into it is to eat completely vegan when you are by yourself and eat however you like when you’re out with friends and family. I’ve made vegan dishes for friends and family to help them understand that vegan/gluten free food does not have to be bland and gross. It’s some of the freshest and best tasting food I’ve ever had.

“This is Just a Trend”

There is a huge belief that veganism is a trend, a fad, and a phase. I know this has just recently become more popular with young adults and on social media, but there are many people that have been following this lifestyle for decades! It has existed in ancient India and Greece and is a part of several different religious belief systems, such as Buddhism. Before becoming a vegetarian, I didn’t realize how many other vegetarians were out there. There are doctors, scientists, nutritionists, body builders, etc., that are getting very involved in the vegan lifestyle, because they are aware of its benefits.

So…what DO I eat?

I eat a primarily plant-based diet, as well as sustainably caught cold water fish, chicken, and eggs once every few weeks. I have decided to keep fish, chicken, and eggs in my diet from time to time, because I am still on the look out for convincing research that some animal product is not a necessity. I have also been doing my best to find organic produce as much as possible. I eat Himalayan salt and sea salt. I try to eat completely raw until 4 in the afternoon for proper digestion, however, I do eat a lot of oatmeal for breakfast during the colder months. I eat ripe, spotty bananas often (unripe can cause bloating, gas, and abdominal pain). I do not believe in dairy, nor do I believe in cow, pig, etc. for consumption either. I think that if anyone were to eat meat, it should only be chicken or fish. Forks Over Knives has been a great resource of information for learning about the plant-based lifestyle. I have been checking out a few paleo research articles and it has left me undecided as to whether or not I will cut fish, chicken, and eggs out completely.

In the summer, I try to only eat melons first thing in the morning because they are the fastest digesting food out there. If you eat a slow digesting food before eating a fast digesting food, the fast digesting food catches up and can’t digest properly, resulting in fermentation and bloating!

I also don’t eat gluten and like to limit most grains during the warmer months. During a recent blood test, I discovered that I’m highly sensitive to gluten and dairy products. It was causing me to have a leaky gut. Leaky gut can lead to problematic changes in mood, energy levels, hormone levels, and can cause many diseases! Chances are, you could have something similar. I never would have guessed that I had this problem, because I had not noticed any symptoms whenever I ate gluten or dairy. I didn’t truly notice the symptoms until I gave it up for a few months, tried it again, and decided it made me feel uneasy, bloated, and tired.

I thought I should also mention that I have recently cut out all refined sugar from my diet and I feel absolutely incredible! Maybe I’ll write out a post that reflects on my experience. I use stevia, coconut crystals, honey, and maple syrup instead. I have noticed my cravings for sweets subside substantially! This may seem absurd, and I understand it can be hard to stay open minded when it comes to sugar, but recent studies have shown that sugar that is hidden in everyday foods is more addictive than cocaine. It takes control of your brain signals and can directly affect the way you crave food for long periods of time, so definitely try to keep that in mind!

Check out this blog; it’s one of my favorites. She discusses her philosophy, her story, and why she eats the way she eats. All of the information she shares has been approved by her supervising doctors. We eat very similar diets and experience very similar results. Her blog has helped guide me to the point that I am at right now. Thanks, Andy!

How am I alive?

It turns out that it is possible to survive on a plant-based diet with small amounts of chicken, fish, and eggs every now and then. It has been a lot easier to transition into this way of eating than any other ‘diet’ I have ever tried. When I hear the words, “I want to go on a diet,” it doesn’t sound permanent to me. With a plant-based lifestyle, my healthy eating habits have stuck with me. I have less cravings, more energy, and get better sleep. With most of my meals, I take into account the nutrients I will receive and how it will benefit me/the planet or not benefit me/the planet. I completely understand that not everyone wants to do this, and that’s okay! I just really enjoy eating things that will make me feel good. I like knowing that my skin, hair, mood, energy, my body, will all feel incredible after a meal and in the long run.

I recommend getting these checked during your next blood test:

MMA
holoTC
Serum B12
Vitamin D
Zinc
Taurine
K2
A
Fatty acids
Iron
Calcium

I have been doing this for over a year now (which is not a lot of experience when compared to other vegans, but I have done my fair share of researching), and I wanted to offer my tips and advice to people that are interested in giving this a try! Below is a quick guideline that will help you get started:

PROTEIN?

A common misconception is that vegans don’t get enough protein. I get this very famous question a bunch! While our bodies do need protein for muscles, bones, and many hormones, the truth is, we don’t need as much protein as we are told. In fact, too much protein can cause weight gain and even fuel your cancer cells. The only people that need a little more protein in their diet are pregnant women and individuals going through high intensity training for competitions.

Some points to consider:

  • Americans eat three to five times more protein than they need for optimal health
  • If you eat more protein than required, your body will convert most of those calories to sugar and then fat
  • Consuming too much protein can overwork your kidneys due to the excess nitrogen byproduct

Click here for an informing article about the protein misconception by Forks Over Knives.

PROTEIN SOURCES

  1. Hemp Seeds/Hemp Hearts: 11 grams/3 tbsp, contains all 20 amino acids, loaded with omega-3’s.
  2. Chia Seeds: 4 grams/3 tbsp, 14% protein, high in omega-3’s, antioxidants.
  3. Spirulina: 6 grams/10 grams, contains all essential amino acids and 18 of the 20. (avoid if allergic to seafood or iodine)
  4. Sprouts: “The quality of the protein and the fiber content of beans, nuts, seeds, and grains improve when sprouted; sunflower sprouts provide some of the highest quality protein you can eat, along with abundant iron and chlorophyll; kamut, hemp, quinoa, and bean sprouts are also good sources”.
  5. Lentils: 18 grams/1 cup, excellent source of fiber.
  6. Quinoa: 7-9 grams/.5 cups, all essential amino acids.
  7. Black Beans: 7.6 grams/.5 cups, potassium, folate, fiber, vitamin b6.
  8. Chickpeas: 6 grams/.5 cups, great fiber.
  9. Almonds: 5.9 grams/22 almonds, riboflavin, vitamin E, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc.
  10. Bee pollen: 40% protein.

Also…

I use a chocolate protein powder by Sunwarrior. It’s my favorite out of everything I’ve tried!

I also use maca powder and flax seeds in my smoothies as much as I can, but not every day.

Seeds and nuts contain on average 4-8 grams of protein per quarter cup

Cooked beans average about 7-8 grams per half cup

Cooked grains average 5-7 grams per cup

Most vegetables contain about 1-2 grams of protein per ounce

Vitamin B12?

I do take vitamin B12 every now and then. I will take it maybe 3 times a week. Before my blood test, I had been eating the way I am eating now for about 8 months. My results came back with great B12 levels. However, because I eat meat much less than I used to, I decided to add some B12 supplements into my diet. I’ll only take it every now and then, maybe once or twice a week. You can find them at your local health food store or on Amazon.

I do know of many people that eat animal products and still need B12 supplements, so check with a responsible doctor that won’t try to oversell, but actually knows about B12. Be careful, very few doctors know about good nutrition. A friend of mine has a roommate that eats pounds of beef before she goes to bed so that she can get B12. Chances are, she has an absorption problem and doesn’t know it. Vitamin B12 is one of the most recently discovered vitamins. Click here for an informing article to help you better understand B12, where it comes from, and how much you need.

The thing is, there are tribes that consume meat products just once a month and their vitamin B12 levels are phenomenal! Researchers found that because they ate less protein, they were able to better absorb the vitamin. This research makes me feel that I may not need vitamin B12, but I’ve been taking it just to be on the safe side. The tribes got their B12 from the soil that their plants were in, and our food just doesn’t have that sort of nutrient density anymore.

Besides B12, I don’t really supplement anything else. However, during the winter, I will supplement vitamin D with vitamin D drops on the days that I am not outside. I have not found that I truly need any other vitamins or minerals with the way I eat. My blood test results came back great, and I am absorbing everything normally!

Molasses

I wanted to let you all know about molasses too! I try to add this to smoothies or eat an entire spoonful in the morning before a smoothie filled with vitamin C. Molasses is packed with iron, potassium, calcium, copper and vitamin B6. It’s also great for softening the stool. Vitamin C assists in the absorption of minerals, so molasses is best paired with mineral-rich foods, like a fruit smoothie! Molasses can also help with hair growth and repair your skin. Definitely give it a try!


I hope this post helps you all understand the way I eat and why I choose to do it! There are so many great reasons to go more vegan/plant-based. I have a friend that is looking for some vegan food to cook for men, so I will create a separate post for that one! Let me know if you have any other questions or suggestions 🙂

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