I have to say, adopting a vegan, whole foods, plant-based diet was the best decision I've ever made. My life is focused on health and well being. I've read a crazy number of books and watched numerous documentaries. My Documentaries, Books, & Blogs page just keeps getting bigger! I'm always learning and moving forward. Every day is a fresh start. I've been very honest and accepting of what happens each day. By that I mean if I eat too much, have too much coffee, or don't do enough in my day, I accept it and move forward in a positive direction. I also don't restrict myself because if I do, I rebel. I instead choose health.
I've learned so many amazing things this last year. I thought I understood health before. Boy, was I in the dark!! I always preferred vegetarian food growing up, so the transition to vegan was pretty seamless. Not only did I prefer vegetarian food, but a few key moments really helped me realize that meat and dairy were not for me. I read Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer about six months before going vegan. That was definitely an eye-opening book. From there, I read Fast Food Nation, watched a ridiculous number of documentaries, and then continued to read anything and everything about health. I was moving toward a far more conscious, compassionate, and healthy lifestyle for some time. Although my reasons have always been an even balance between health and the treatment of animals, my main focus is now health and prevention.
I'll never forget what finally nudged me to eat a whole foods, plant-based diet. First it was a pain in my chest after walking up a very steep hill too fast, then it was consuming far too many Valentine's Day cookies in the office that left me feeling crazy with intense cravings for more sugar. Believe me, my day-to-day diet wasn't like that. I've always been very health-conscious, but the effects of the sugar just confirmed how poorly I treated my body that day.
In my opinion, optimal health does not include meat, fish, dairy, eggs, or GMOs, all of which are so heavily contaminated. Our drinking water and our oceans (even more so since the Fukushima disaster) are heavily contaminated as well. To me, health is organic, pure, and whole. Not only have I improved my diet in the last year, but I also quickly realized I was slathering my body with toxic potions! Just because a product is on the shelf at your local store, does not mean it's safe. I can't believe how many years I used a toxic, flammable (oh yes!) liquid foundation. I overhauled all my products. First, it was about using vegan products that were not tested on animals, then I realized not all vegan products are healthy and toxic-free (just how all vegan food isn't). I now use safe cosmetics, moisturizer, deodorant, shampoo, conditioner, soap, and nail polish. I also use a shower filter (I explain more here) and hope to install a reverse osmosis water filter in my kitchen soon. I also use much safer cleaning products and I've even made my own shower cleaner using baking soda and vinegar.
My journey to health often led me to Whole Foods. Although Whole Foods used to scare me (the unknown!), it's now one of my favorite stores. I love checking everything out and trying new things (both food and products). I'll just pick up a new vegetable, take it home, and look online to see what to do with it. I think I've tried pretty much everything now! Food should always be fun. I feel lucky to have places like Whole Foods, Oliver's Market, The Sunflower Center, Gaia's Garden, and many others in the area that help support me on my journey. More and more people are learning about the benefits of an organic, plant-based diet and avoiding GMOs, gluten, and processed foods.
Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram, and a number of vegan blogs have helped me tremendously when putting meals together. Not only are these social media websites helpful for meals, but I am positively reinforced every day with tips, tricks, stories, and quotes.
I've become a better person in the last year. I feel it and see it. I've learned more about myself and my health. I'm a much stronger person in life and in my relationships. This is probably because I feel more comfortable with who I am. I appreciate my calm, stress-free life. I embrace it.
So now what? I want to continue to educate myself, incorporate more raw foods into my diet, avoid gluten, exercise more, continue to find healthier alternatives for the products I use, check out more vegan restaurants in the Bay Area, and attend far more local raw/vegan/holistic events. I checked out Cafe Gratitude and a raw chocolate event in Berkeley last weekend. I loved loved loved both!! I definitely want to check out more restaurants and events in Berkeley. I also want to continue to eliminate any unnecessary clutter in my home. I recently scanned all my HOA (Homeowners Association) documents and saved them to a flash drive. I requested to have all future documents emailed (eco-friendly!) instead of mailed. I get SO many documents because I'm on the Board of Directors. I want to continue to enjoy each day for what it is and just strive to live healthier every day.