Today I’m talking to Abby about her health and being vegan!
1. Tell me a little bit about your health before you went plant based…
Before I became vegan I was constantly unhealthy. I had fluid on my ear drums for 9+ months and my doctor could not figure out why. My ears ached, I was on a series of different anti-biotics to try to rid myself of the “infection” that was causing the fluid on my ears. I was also overweight and constantly struggled to maintain a healthy weight when I would finally lose a few pounds. My sleep was poor. I was prescribed anti-depressants. I had seasonal allergies and constant headaches. I also had reflux issues and my stomach always hurt.
2. What was your motivation for going vegan?
I was motivated to go vegan after reading Skinny Bitch. I was mortified by learning the disgusting details about slaughter house practices and all the health ailments that eating meat, eggs and dairy could do to a person. In the beginning it was more out of a stance of wanting to be healthy. It has evolved since then into a lifestyle of compassion
3. How long did it take you to become fully comfortable with a plant based diet?
I was comfortable from the beginning. I love to cook and learn new recipes so I was excited to take on the challenge. I immediately went out looking for websites, great cookbooks and resources to help me in my journey. I also started reading The China Study shortly thereafter which also helped me to see the many benefits of sticking to a plant based diet.
4. What were your biggest challenges?
My biggest challenges were all of the questions I faced from family and friends. I wanted to know the answers to the big debates about soy products, how much protein a body actually needs and how I was going to get my B vitamins and iron into my diet. I read a lot of books for the first 9 months to be a walking knowledge of vegan health. I have a son who was 2 at the time so, you can imagine, people felt entitled to tell me how unhealthy he was going to be and that he would eventually get rickets and other diseases. Of course, they are wrong but it was difficult to deal with these issues from a loving standpoint.
5. Was there any thing you learned about eating dairy/eggs/meat that surprised you in regards to their effects on health?
I had struggled with my weight for so long and had tried multiple diets including Weight Watchers, LA Weight Loss and counting calories. I had not ever been able to keep the weight off for more than 5 or 6 months at a time. The constant cycle of always dieting was very wearing. I ate eggs, chicken and dairy as a part of a “healthy diet”, or so I thought. Once I learned how harmful these products are on health, it made sense that I had never really been able to lose the weight for good. I felt outraged because it felt as though I had been lied to.
6. What do you consider to be a healthy vegan diet?
A healthy vegan diet is very colorful and delicious. It includes lots of leafy greens, healthy sources of protein like legumes, nuts, seeds and whole grains. A part of my healthy vegan diet also includes smoothies (green smoothies, fruit smoothies, etc) and a daily multi-vitamin. I am also a new fan of Kombucha and try to incorporate that often in lieu of a multi-vitamin. Another important part of my diet is keeping things interesting and flavorful… lots of fresh herbs, spices and seasonings play an integral role in how I prepare food.
7. What positive message would you like to leave people with in regards to the vegan lifestyle, in particular to changing the way they eat?
I have never felt better. ALL of my ailments went away and I finally for once felt like I had a clear mind. A plant based diet has changed my life positively in a way I am forever grateful for. I started out trying to go a week at a time, then it became a month at a time. Now, 19 months later, I know this is a lifestyle that I will never give up. It’s wonderful!
8. What is your health like now?
I am in wonderful health, am able to maintain a healthy body weight and feel amazing. My depression went away almost immediately along with the fluid on my ear drums. I sleep better and feel more refreshed in the morning. I don’t have the constant stomach aches like I used to and am more in-tune with what’s going on with my body. I just recently had blood work done and my tests came back as stellar. I was above average in all vitamins and minerals in my body. My doctor told me, “Whatever you are doing now is OBVIOUSLY working. Stick with it.” This after she had scolded me for being vegan. I guess that’s a semi-apology for pre-judging…
9. What resources were most helpful for you? (books/movies/magazines/blogs/people)
Nava Atlas’s Vegetarian Family Cookbook has been wonderful along with Skinny Bitch in the Kitch and How it all Vegan. In addition, The Vegan Lunch Box cookbook was great in coming up with ideas for my 3 year old son. I also really enjoyed Becoming Vegan and Raising Vegan Children in a Non-Vegan World. . The vegan community on twitter is amazing and so helpful. I finally feel like I have access to people who get me!
10. Has switching to a plant based diet been easier or harder than you expected?
It has been far easier to switch to a plant based diet than I ever expected. The variety of delicious foods in the store has been increasing every single month. I love to read so anytime I had a question or dilemma, I could always find a book or blog that could point me in the proper direction to find an answer.
11. Anything else you would like to add about your health, living vegan, or the changes you have experienced?
I wish I had known how great I could feel ten years ago. I would have gone vegan then! My body is amazing when its treated properly and now I can benefit from it the rest of my life. I am so excited to pass on a lifestyle compassion, health and vitality to my son.