Never thought I’d be saying this, but….. I’m officially vegan!!! I am feeling overwhelmed with so many different emotions; Excited, scared, sad and angry. It has definitely been quite the journey for me so I thought I would share my story with the hopes that it can help anyone out there wanting to grow in their own personal health journey. I know everyone is at different points and wherever you are at, I think it’s wonderful. This is just my story and I want to share it from my heart with no judgement towards anyone else.
After my first son was born in 2011, I learned about the food industry, GMOs and the junk that was in our food as well as in the many products we were using at home. So I immediately switched us over to a natural organic lifestyle. I wanted to raise my baby in the healthiest way possible and to me that meant living in a more natural way. I became passionate about our health and wellness and so I went back to school to become certified as an Integrative Nutrition Coach. It was there that I learned about 100 different dietary theories with so many different gurus saying their diet was the best. I had to really dig deep and decide what I felt was best for my family. So we decided to ditch most processed foods and stick with a whole foods based diet which included lots of fresh organic fruits and vegetables. We continued to eat animal products, but I was against factory farmed meats and began only eating organic, grass fed types of meats at home. I watched so many documentaries about food including forks over knives and cowspiracy (you can watch both on Netflix). After watching those films we began to reduce the amount of meat we were eating because I wanted to do better for the planet. First we eliminated all meat except a small portion at dinner. We did that for awhile and then we began to do meatless Mondays and continued to decrease from there over time. I grew passionate about our health and wanted to help people, so with my new certification I began to coach others through a whole foods detox elimination diet where we removed all of the top allergens to help them figure out what whole foods they felt best eating. I felt pretty good about where I was at health wise. I felt great and I loved helping people. My kids were at a plant based school, I felt like we were trying our best to live a more eco-friendly sustainable lifestyle and felt like we were living a good, balanced life.
So what changed!? We came to Hawaii and were surrounded by more plant based/vegan people then we have ever been around. We were connecting with God more and with nature. I began to watch more documentaries about the damage being done to our planet and I was becoming softened to the idea of possibly becoming vegan. But I wasn’t ready. I didn’t want to have that label and be judged by that label. I was battling with the idea of having to give up these animal foods that I had grown up eating and building traditions and memories around. What about Thanksgiving and the turkey!? I kept thinking thoughts like, “It’s just too hard to be vegan.” I didn’t want to deal with the inconveniences of carefully selecting something at a restaurant and being limited. I also completely thought that label was only for extreme people. Those people who were “crazy” about animals and stood out in front of slaughter houses. But the more I was around others who were also living a vegan lifestyle, like my friend Ellen Fisher and her family, it became more and more normal and natural to continue toward this path. About 5 months ago I had given up eggs after just feeling gross after I ate them, but would still have it in the occasional banana bread and cheese on my pizza when we ate out. We got to a point where we were only eating meat, maybe once a month. Throughout this time I had naturally lost 15lbs just by making these small changes! woo hoo! About a month ago Ellen shared this 1000 eyes video and it made me cry and really question things. I asked her to send me more info on the “humane” killing of animals, and the more I read and watched, the more my mind was racing and I didn’t like what I was seeing. We decided to eliminate all animal foods from our home, but still hadn’t made the connection to seafood and would eat that on occasion when we ate out. I felt completely fine with this and felt great about this lifestyle and still wasn’t sure about going full vegan.
So when did I “officially” become vegan and give myself that label? My friend Ellen Fisher and James + Carly (shown above) hosted a screening of a documentary called Dominion here on the island. Dominion is a feature-length documentary presenting an uncompromising, damning exploration of the various ways animals are used and abused by humans, particularly in the meat, dairy, egg, clothing and entertainment industries. After watching the film, I immediately decided I would go Vegan. WOW! The documentary completely changed my life and my eyes were wide open to what is going on in our world with regards to the animals. The documentary went through each animal (including dogs), to show us how our food got from farm to plate. After watching this I was completely disgusted and angry with the animal abuse shown in the footage. There is no way God created these beautiful beings to be tortured and treated so unfairly. I just felt like there is NO WAY I could NOT be vegan. I could no longer contribute to buying these animal foods after knowing what I know now. I was nervous about it and scared to just let it all go and commit to the label, but I felt like it was what I needed to do. I became vegan not because I don’t like the taste of meat, dairy ice cream, or other animal foods. I didn’t do it because I thought it was the best diet out there (although now I am being convinced otherwise). I did it for the animals, for our planet and for the future of our children. I did it because I realized more and more that it aligned with my philosophy and values. I did it to bring awareness to what is going on in our world right now with regards to the inhumane treatment of animals and the affects it is having on our planet. If we continue in the direction we are going in, we can have fishless oceans by 2048, depleted rainforests (due to animal agriculture) and our planet will suffer. The rainforest are considered the “lungs” of our planet and play a critical role in cleaning the air we breathe. If the rainforests and our planet are being destroyed what will happen to our beautiful earth? What will be left for our children? And our children’s children? These are tough questions I asked myself. And when I realized that the decisions I make regarding my food and purchases can help change this problem, I couldn’t turn a blind eye and say no thank you. And that is why my friends I decided to go Vegan!
I am so thankful for all of Ellen’s help during this transition. Her husband Andrew has also been super supportive and helpful. They have been vegan for many years and have been raising 3 healthy vegan kids since conception. What better way to start this journey with them by our side rooting for us, encouraging us and helping us along the way. They have some amazing Ebooks with delicious recipes that have been super helpful for me and a great YouTube Channel as well. I am also so thankful for James + Carly coming to the island to share this documentary with us. It was so wonderful to be able to share stories and thoughts over dinners together. They are such kind-hearted people who are passionate about what they do, they even went so far as to buy our family some of their favorite vegan food for us to try before they left. They are amazing humans, who also happen to have a YouTube Channel sharing their passion for veganism with everyone.
I know everyone is at different points in their health journey, and that we are all just doing the best we can. I encourage you to take a look at what you can do to help this cause. Even by eliminating some animal products and swapping it out for a plant based version can help. It can be as simple as switching cows milk for a plant based milk such as Coconut, Rice or Almond milk. You can also begin slowly adding in more plant based recipes to your diet! You may just surprise yourself and find that you actually enjoy a vegan lifestyle and feel amazing knowing that you can make a difference just by choosing not to support this type of industry. You can also reap some of the health benefits from living a plant based lifestyle. I love this video of these centarians showing us how healthy they are living on a plant based diet. You can get all the nutrients and everything you need eating a whole foods plant based diet. Some of you may feel overwhelmed and just not sure where to start? Please take it one day at a time and realize that while some people may decide to do this overnight, some people may take more time to change. Applaud your efforts and know that I am here rooting for you all the way. Below you will find all the links to the documentaries that have been instrumental in helping me make this switch as well as some resources that can help you as well! Please reach out to me with any questions you may have about this topic. Love you all and super excited to share more of our personal journey with you. Check out my recipe section for plant based vegan recipes.
If this was helpful in anyway please share with your family and friends. And I’d love to hear what you think in the comments section below or over at my Instagram page @naturalwellnest Big HUGS to you all!!
Documentaries + Videos:
Earthlings (Watch it for free)
Dominion (Find a screening near you)
Forks over Knives (Netflix)
What the Health (Netflix)
Plastic Ocean (Netflix)
You will never look at your life the same way again by Earthling Ed
Centarians give advice on how to live to 100 years old
Humane Slaughter? (Website + Videos)
Epic Vegan Food + Epic Raw Food Ebook by Ellen + Andrew Fisher
Beginners Guide to Veganism: A FREE Ebook by Danielle Marie @alohamauivegan
Living the Farm Sanctuary Life by Gene Baur
Medical Medium Life Changing Foods by Anthony William
The Vegan Mexican by Yadira + Abe Cuevas
YouTube Channels (Of some of my friends + mamas in the pics above):
James and Carly
It’s All Ways Beautiful
The Aaron Family
Photo #1 + 3 by Ellen Fisher
Photo #2 by Amanda Esparza