Tuesday, 12 March 2013

My Journey to Plant Based

Although I was a thin child, I felt ill most of my life. I caught viruses at least 6-8 times per year, had a very sensitive stomach and would get frequent heartburn. I maintained my weight through high school and started to eat a little better, not so much for health, more for appearance. About a year after school I started to put on a bit of weight, eating more fast food and going out for desserts, treating myself almost daily with the standard North American fare. Over this time I gained 25 pounds and and my Body Mass Index was 25. Accompanying the weight gain were daily stomach pains and extremely low energy levels.

I finally had enough and decided to cut out sugar and processed foods. I booked a trip to Mexico and was determined to loose weight. I ended up losing 20 pounds and felt a bit better overall, but I had a hard time resisting temptation when I got back. Even though I still ate better and never returned to my heaviest, I fluctuated up and down 10 or so pounds for a few years after and still suffered from low energy and viruses.

Since I was still looking for an energy boost, I began taking vitamins. It started with a multivitamin, but a few trips to the health food store, and the associates can have you convinced you need half of the products in there. Even though I took copious amounts of vitamins for years, I didn't feel much of an increase in energy.

On May 1, 2008 I decided to become a Pescetarian, which meant I would still eat fish, eggs and dairy (although I already switched to a plant based milk), but no other animal products. I felt a lot better removing such a large range of animal products from my life and enjoyed introducing new and exciting food to my diet.

After three years of a Pescetarian lifestyle I decided to give up fish and become a vegetarian, it was hard at first since I had always loved fish, but it was loosing it's luster. I discovered what I really liked about fish were the family memories associated with it. Giving up fish made me realize that I had emotional ties to it and was part of my problem with emotional eating. Just like I lost the craving for salmon, I soon lost the craving for eggs. During this transition, I gave up oil, another processed food. My energy levels really started to improve.

After a bit of searching for healthier desserts I could create for my Dad, I stumbled upon Happy Herbivore. I was amazed at how many desserts I found without butter, oil and overly processed flours. Then I discovered the rest of the website, delicious breakfasts, lunch and dinner recipes, informative blog posts, minimalism, herbies of the week and so many inspiring ideas and people. Happy Herbivore started my journey to becoming the energetic girl I am today. With the tools that Happy Herbivore gave me and after reading The China Study, by T. Colin Campbell, I decided to give up all dairy and become a plant based vegan. It was a little hard at first for me socially, but has been worth every awkward moment. I feel too wonderful to not learn how to overcome social situations. I've also realized that people are usually just curious and it was me that was feeling awkward about it. Now I'm proud to be plant strong!

Finishing the Grouse Grind hike in NorthVancouver, BC.
I now eat a diet high in raw vegetables and fruits, in addition to cooked grains, root vegetables, beans, a small amount of nuts and seeds, and I keep hydrated with lots of water. Eating a high amount of raw vegetables and fruits keeps my energy levels up and maintained. My energy levels are so important to me since I've struggled with them for many years. I no longer experience the afternoon slump (I used to fall asleep at my desk some days!) or barely have energy to get off the couch at night after a day of sitting at work. I sleep deeper than I ever could have imagined and feel rested in the morning. My body mass index is at a healthier 20.5.

Eating lunch at the top of Mt. Cheam, Chilliwack, BC.
I'm kind of a shy person, slowly coming out of my shell. Sharing my personal journey is a bit intimidating for me, but I think it's important. If no one shared their plant based journeys, I probably wouldn't be on mine. Inspiration can be infectious, like a boisterous laughter. I have been inspired by plant based people, I hope to provide inspiration to others, even if it's just one person.