Ever since we started eating better, I wanted to be a vegetarian. I highly respected them and wished I could do the same. But I didn't know HOW. I just wasn't educated in it. I had no idea what was going on (and hadn't been for a long time!) in the world around me in relation to eating meat. I never thought that being a vegetarian was more than just not liking the taste of meat, or "trying to save the animals". I was raised to believe that there was nothing wrong with eating animals. I never knew how these same animals that I enjoyed eating, were crying out in desperate agony before they were routinely slaughtered, on a conveyor belt destined for MY own plate! Of course, I never pictured any of this when I first became a vegan. I sort of begged my mom for us to go to this live cooking class right outside our local Whole Foods. We went and it was so impressive--desserts sweetened only with dates, no added sugar! I always would admit that I've, "always had a problem with sugar"--in a sense that I LOVED it and it doesn't quite love me back. So, my mom and I, easily impressed with this "Chef AJ", bought her book! At the end of the session, though, she said a few things that were striking to us—she was a vegan, and didn't eat oil, and just minimal sugar and salt. She mentioned all oils being bad--even olive oil! Even olive oil?! We were stunned, but were willing to make any changes to our staggering diets. The cooking class was in October, and since March of that year, we'd been jumping around on a few different diet plans, even lacto-ovo vegetarianism was in the mix. We wanted to get healthy the right way, but hadn't a clue which "diet plan" it was. We read Chef AJ's book and watched a few nutritional documentaries: one called Eating, one called Food Matters, and eventually Forks Over Knives! All these videos blew us away! The week after we got Chef AJ's cookbook, we went through our cabinets and threw away ALL our oil, and any products that had any oil in it. Another thing Chef AJ mentioned in her book was that a doughnut was made up of sugar, salt, and oil. If we saw a product in our pantry that had those three ingredients together, we might have well been looking at a doughnut! Everything from our "healthy" Kashi breakfast cereal, to Italian salad dressing, to our favorite sandwich spread Miso Mayo, to dairy-free whipped cream, even to crackers! It was ridiculous what we were finding when we looked at everything thoroughly! We threw it ALL out, and felt so good! Needless to say, we needed to go grocery shopping! We started cooking vegan meals the following week, but we still had animal products when we went out, or were with others. We didn't exactly know how to take this big change, and weren't really ready to dive head first. A month later, by November/December, we finally starting declaring to others that we were vegans and have been a lot more comfortable in sharing with others. I've been so excited to meet other vegans and I've found a few so far. I've read Healthy at 100, The China Study, Diet for a New America, Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease, and Forks Over Knives (the book). I loved reading all these books and I've even emailed a couple doctors for their opinions of issues. I actually spoke to Dr. Esselstyn on my cell phone!!! I have been learning a lot, and am still interested in reading as many plant-based nutritional books and studies I can find! My journey in veganism has been gradual, but so rewarding! I love being able to share facts with others. My family are all vegan (the four of us) and still limit fat, sugar, salt, and oil. We've all lost weight being vegan, too! No more diets!! My cousin is reading Diet for a New America and is becoming a vegetarian. Being a vegan is so exciting! Not only are you helping your body, giving it natural food, but you're not harming animals, saving the environment, not costing the government billions of dollars on health insurance, and so much more! If anyone needs encouragement out there in being a vegan--whether you need new recipes (I love to cook and try new vegan recipes), health facts, or just some encouragement, I can help.
Excited to be vegan,