Me and my little family.
I’m just your average 20-something striving to live a happy, healthy, and meaningful life.
I have always been an animal-lover of sorts, but like many other people I didn’t put two and two together and think “Wow, if I really love animals why do I allow myself to have so many dead ones on my plate?” Thinking back now, I know if I had seen a dead cow, chicken, or pig laying in the middle of a field my heart would ache for it’s loss of life but growing up everyone (including myself) is so accustomed to seeing those same animals packaged or cooked, right in front of them. Finally, in high school, I got smart. I became a vegetarian for the first time at age 15. It started with a group of my friends. The six of us had a competition to see if we could be vegetarian for one month… Out of the six of us, two of us made it the one month and beyond and for me it was a piece of cake and I lasted until the end of the year when I decided to do the Body for Life diet (for the second time) with my mom for three months. I thought it would be too hard to eat equal portions of protein and carbs, like what BFL has you do, so I stopped being vegetarian. (I wasn’t as informed as I am now.) I stuck to Body for Life for the three months I planned on and when it was done a thought clicked in my head again and I thought “Hey… I can be vegetarian again!” So I was. Still, it wasn’t the smoothest transition…. I remember soon after becoming a vegetarian again my family went out to eat and I ordered a burger. After taking one bite, I remembered I was supposed to be vegetarian again. Honestly, I don’t remember if I finished it or not but I wouldn’t be surprised if I did. After that mistake I was vegetarian at all times… while I was home in Iowa. The exception I gave myself was when I was on family trips to Texas or Florida and this was because Des Moines, IA didn’t have some of my favorite foods at the time. My exceptions while out of town were Fuddruckers, Chick-Fil-A, and Schlotzskys. Eventually Des Moines got a Fuddruckers and a Chick-Fil-A and with each opening I knew it wasn’t going to be as special when I saw these places out of town now and it would be hard to justify eating them, in my head. After each opening, I gave myself the last go ahead to indulge one last time. So Chick-Fil-A opened and I had my last real chicken nuggets of all time. Again, Fuddruckers opened in West Des Moines and I made it a social event with friends to eat my last Fuddruckers meat burger. (Later they started making veggie burgers.) Eventually, I couldn’t justify to myself to be vegetarian but still eat an Original sandwich from Schlotzskys every now and then so I dropped that too. And voila… I was officially a vegetarian.
About three years after being vegetarian the last time (with my special exclusions) and about two years after no meat at all, I had veganism in the back of my head for awhile and again, some friends and I challenged ourselves to a week of being vegan. They lived two hours away and I’m not even entirely sure they ever started the challenge…but I did. I’m not sure if I even finished it myself but I know for sure it didn’t stick if I did. My roommate and I were in the habit of making brownies every week and I had an all you can eat cafeteria everyday that had cookies and an ice cream machine. (You’ll soon realize I have the biggest sweet tooth known to man.) About eight months later (June of 2008) my now husband and I started dating, me a vegetarian and him an omnivore, and we decided on yet another challenge… I would be vegan for a week if he was vegetarian for a week. We both passed with flying colors and he, being a very healthy person anyway, decided to stick to being vegetarian! We went on seven months of us both being vegetarian and occasionally he would mention eating fish and eggs again but he stuck with it. Finally, we decided to take the next step together and as the clock struck midnight on January 1st, 2009 we were officially vegan. (Him for health reasons and me for animal cruelty reason.) I remember looking at the clock before midnight and enjoying my last bit of cheese, in pizza roll form. In all truthfulness, it wasn’t the easiest transition. We went on a trip to Chicago a few weeks later with some friends and the first morning we were at the continental breakfast at the hotel and we literally saw nothing we could eat and couldn’t believe it. We had a quick conversation about just starting to be vegan after the trip instead and got in line at the omelette station… and then we saw it… the other side of the room where there was toast and peanut butter and fruit! PHEW! That’s the only time in the last four and a half years we’ve even questioned stopping though. For me, it was so much easier to have someone to do it with. I had never known or talked to anyone who was vegan or even done research about it so we were kind of going in blindly and in Iowa there weren’t too many options at the time so it was nice to have each other. I don’t know if I could have done it without having someone else I was with all the time being vegan too. Before you know it, though, after a little bit of label reading at the grocery store you figure out what your staples are and it’s not as bad as everyone thinks it is. Nowadays there are so many choices at your nearest grocery store, at restaurants, and even online whether it be certain products to order or the billions of recipes to search through.
Like I mentioned, I initially became vegetarian and then vegan for the compassion towards animals but at some point along the way all the reasons for going vegetarian or vegan (animals, health, and environment) all kind of blend together on accident. It’s made me open my eyes to it all and I can now say I’m vegan for all the above reasons. It feels good to do good for others and for myself.
When I was vegetarian I was what you could call a “junk food vegetarian” because I would each sweets and macaroni and cheese and french fries and pizza all the time but at the same time, I grew up with a “health freak” mom as we would call her growing up. We never had cookies or soda in our house and the cereal we picked out had to be under 10g of sugar. At the time I hated living that way but now I’m extremely grateful to have a mom like that. (She’s actually vegan herself now.) I stopped eating hot dogs after realizing what they really were in fourth grade and when everyone was all about McDonalds and Burger King in middle school and beyond, I stayed away. I’ve always had health in the back of my head and would go on and off diets and working out but until the last few years I haven’t really paid attention to what was going into my body.
These days my on and off again way of eating is eating raw. In my perfect world I would be 100% raw, all of the time. About a year ago I went raw for 30 days, doing an online raw challenge and recently I’ve been trying to get back into it more and more and hopefully I’ll take that step next.
As far as working out goes, that has also been off and on throughout my life and has become a lot more important to me in the last few years. I love yoga and have been trying to turn myself into a runner. I’ve done one marathon and I have three or four more in my near future, if everything goes according to plan.
I tell this [very long] journey of mine to show you that it can be a slow process to get to where you want to be. It doesn’t have to be cold turkey. Do what works for you and if you need some help along the way I would love nothing more than to help in any way that I can!