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Veggie Girl’s Journey to Vegetarianism and Health

Posted 14 years, 12 months ago at 6:19 pm. Add a comment

Hello Everyone,

I am living the best life ever right now.  I began my journey to health when I was very young.  My mother and I would always talk about the importance of health and share each other’s dreams about being healthy and happy.  Counting calories and weighing our food was the beginning of my life as someone who loved food and nutrition.  I would find out what kind of nutrients were in the food and talk to my mother about what we thought to be the best choices for our daily intake.  Back then, I was eating cottage cheese, which we thought was a “better option” than ice cream.  I was eating chicken instead of beef, because I knew there was less fat content in it.  I would eat low calorie pudding, which was a “better choice” than  the more fattening kind.  “Better option” is said in a joking manner. The truth is that it was not really any healthier, in my opinion, than the other choices I was avoiding but it did lay the foundation of this wonderful and unbelieveable life I’m living now.  Counting calories and the concern with what goes in my body is my foundation!

I was at the beginning of my 9th grade year and 12 years old when I stopped eating beef and pork.  It was a very trying time for my parents. It was a different way of thinking for my them, because they always had to take me into consideration when preparing meals.  The support that I received from my parents was truly the reason I was successful.  If they were not on board with me.. I don’t know how I could have done it.  They were always considerate and very helpful with my meal planning. They always had me in mind:)  Thanks mom and dad! At the time I was living in San Diego, California, so you can imagine the availability of resources.  Needless to say, I dropped about 35 pounds by cutting meat from my diet.  I also ate very few dairy products.  Cheese and milk always bothered my digestive system.  Many people are affected differently but for me, my bowel movements were non-existent when I ingested milk.  But I ignored it. I didn’t cut it out completely.  When I was that young, I did not yet pay attention to my body. I finally realized that dairy food was not for me when I was pregnant with my son Christian.

For years I ate only chicken and turkey and the infamous veggie burgers.  I don’t like to say that this was bad because I think all of my experiences have led me to what who I am right now, and for that I am very grateful:).  People would always say, “oh so you don’t eat red meat or pork so you must be vegetarian.”  I would say, “no, I eat chicken.”  I do believe that all of those comments finally added up to the decision that I made to become Vegetarian in 1995 when I got Salmonella poisoning on a ski trip to Sugar Mountain in North Carolina.

North Carolina….what a beautiful time it was. I went skiing for the first time with my brother, Tim and his girlfriend and eventual wife, Melissa.  What great memories I have from this trip.  We listened to Santana and Bob Marley.  These bands always remind me of my brother.  I was with an old friend of mine that I was blessed to have come on this trip with me. On the way up on the lift, my friend Joe’s pole got stuck in the chair and bent, so he was unable to use it.
Neither of us had ever skied before. When we got to the top of the mountain, my brother kindly gave his pole to Joe.  The whole day Tim skied without his poles and he did so AWESOME!  I’ll never forget it.  We had dinner at the lodge; I remember the smell of the restaurant and how it felt and looked.  I don’t know why I remember it so vividly, maybe it was because of the terror and misery that came after. I am grateful for what did happen.  I ordered a chicken sandwich and ate it without noticing any difference in flavor.  I felt fine but….3 hours or so later I was so sick. I felt like I was still skiing in the car as we were driving back to our log cabin in Tennessee. When we returned to our cabin, I threw up and went the other way until morning. My body became so drained. We left our cabin in Tennessee to return home to Florida, but we stopped at the hospital in Georgia. They gave me a shot of Phenergen and an IV of fluids, which did help but later we found out I’m allergic to Phenergen.  I broke out in a rash all over my body.  It was terrible.  I was so scared, worn out, and I thought I was going to die.  I can remember praying whenever I was awake and didn’t have the energy to talk to anyone in the car.  We returned home on December 31, 1994.  That night I layed on my couch at home; I remember watching the countdown to the New Year at the Big Apple.  I was talking to Joe on the phone; he was at a party at his uncle’s house, whichwas where I wanted to be, but NO, I was too sick to be out on NEW YEARS EVE:(  What a way to start the year.  As I was talking to him on the phone, I thought to myself, “this is it, I’m going to do it!”  I told him, “as of this night I’m going Vegetarian, I’m not going to eat meat anymore!”  No more chicken, turkey, or fish! I remember the agony I felt and I never wanted to be there ever again.  Funny how you remember certain smells and memories of times when things affect your life.  I remember the first song I heard for the year was “Hold my Hand” by Hootie and the Blowfish.  Maybe I remember it because that is what I wanted. Someone to hold my hand while I lay there in misery but hopefullness to my NEW LIFE AS A VEGETARIAN.

Until I had my son Christian in October 1996, I was a lacto-ovo vegetarian.  I continued to eat dairy e en though I didn’t tolerate it well.  I developed a very terrible case of hemorrhoids when I was pregnant, because of the constipation that I had from eating dairy. I cut that out dairy as much as I could, because everyone I knew said, “YOU NEED YOUR PROTEIN”  and that was the only way I knew how to get it.  It was also easier that way.  When I began nursing Christian, he seemed to be very fussy and his bowel movements were foamy and bubbly looking.  His pediatrician said that he was most likely allergic to dairy.  So it was for my son that I cut out dairy. I was 20 years old and at that age I thought it was the “cool” thing to do, so I went Vegan,  the most extreme form of vegetarianism I knew of at the time.  I stayed vegan for about 1 1/2 years, and then started eating cheese again. The reason I believe I did stop being vegan was because of my lack of knowledge and support that I needed. I knew a few vegans but nobody close by.  At this time I was juicing and eating as much fresh food as possible, but it was difficult for me to fix food because of a new baby and lack of knowledge.  I read many books about strict vegetarianism.  My heroes at the time were the Phoenix family.  They were from Florida and they raised their family vegan.  The late River Phoenix was one of my all time fave actors and now Joaquin Phoenix is too.  I read what I could about raising vegan children.  In my opinion, it was more acceptable to be seen as a lacto-ovo vegetarian than strict vegan.  So I faultered.

I stayed lacto-ovo vegetarian until I was introduced to the book  Body for Life.  This book  focuses on eating 6 meals a day with a carbohydrate and protein and small amount of vegetables in each meal  (not always a vegetable though!)  I started writing everything down again because I had put weight on after my second son.  *NOTE* I have always struggled with my weight.  I started eating meat again at the end of 2003.  I went almost 8 years without chicken.  I’ll never forget putting that stuff into my body again.  I was a Taco Bell of all places in Tampa and had a bite of my husband’s chicken burrito.  I felt very emotional and lost.  I felt like I didn’t believe what I was doing but I was listening to everyone else.  All the media jargon and proclaimed “Health books”  about how you have to have meat to be healthy.   I began working out 6 days a week and thought that this was the answer to health, but everytime and I mean everytime I would eat chicken or turkey, I would think about the years of my journey to become healthy.  Eating chicken and turkey were never a part in my get healthy regime.  It was not my right to be eating this meat that was raised in factory farms and put through torture.  I felt like I was betraying myself most of all.  It was my emphasis on vanity and not health got me to where I was.  I kept seeing the benefits on the outside and didn’t realize what it could be doing on the inside.  I continued this lifestyle up until the move that would change my life forever…

In June 2007 I began my new job at Rutabagas Etc.  Natural Food Market.  Every time I would go into Rutabaga’s, I would get something from the deli.  It is organic, vegan and whole.  I always said how great it would be to work there and how I would especially love to work in the deli.  One day I was at the gym and the owner approached me and asked if I would want a job there in the deli.  At first I said I love the deli and the store but I don’t want to work.  I was a stay-at-home mom for so long and I was content.  Little did I know that I would love my job as much as I do now.  I kept the offer stored in my mind for a long time and one day I woke up and called him and asked if he still needed help.  He said he would call me back and not even an hour later he did.  He started me off with a few hours.  I worked only 3 days a week.  I learned everything in the store, but my passion was making the food.  From the very first week of working at Rutabagas I knew that it was the job for me:)  I loved meeting new people and working with Christian people.  My life began to change.  It was difficult to eat chicken once I started working there.I realized that this is my passion and I wanted to change my life and be healthy.

I learned how to cook and prepare so many delicious and healthy meals.  I had to try everything I cooked or prepared, so it was easy to transition.  It was exciting to go back to what I really wanted to be doing, eating the healthiest food possible.  I removed chicken and turkey from my diet.  It was difficult at first to leave out eggs.  Every morning I ate 1/2 cup oatmeal with 4 egg whites with blueberries on top.  It was my favorite meal.  I never imagined that I would tire of them,  but by Grace I did.  Pancakes are really a distant memory for me.  I ate mostly vegan but never declared it.  I really wanted to be vegan but didn’t want to fail again.  I heard of Timothy Brantley from my mother.  He was on Rachel Ray.  She always tells me when something about health is on. I didn’t watch Rachel Ray but I looked on her website.  I saw what Timothy Brantley talked about.  I got excited because he seemed to be into wholesome eating.  I decided to borrow his book The Cure, Heal Your Body, Save Your Life from the library.  I read it in 2 days.  All the medical problems he discussed in his book, I never want to have.  I decided I’m going to keep reading about this.  Carol Alt was in his book and she turned raw after talking to him.  So I read her book Eating in the Raw.  I thought about doing raw for about a week, then I tried recipes from Carol Alt’s book. I looked online to find recipes and any raw food websites I could.  I just “Googled” everything.  I love Google.  Something made me remember that my favorite yoga instructor Rainbeau Mars had sent a pamphlet about raw living foods with her yoga videos that I had received for Christmas the year before.  I found it stored away in my room.  I remember keeping it because I wanted to read it.  I read it and realized that she does what Dr. Timothy Brantley and Carol Alt do.  She eats raw living foods.  My life completely changed after I realized she was on the cover of David Wolfe’s Eating for Beauty.  I wanted to order it but decided to look him up on YouTube.  I watched all the videos I could.  He was so motivating; I wanted to start going raw that day!  But I knew I couldn’t do it blindly.  I decided to order The Sunfood Diet Success System, Alissa Cohen’s Living on Live Food and Victoria Boutenko’s 12 Steps to Raw Food and Green For Life.  For an early birthday present in August, I received all the books.   I read Alissa Cohen’s first. It only took 3 days for this and by the third day I committed myself to eating raw for 30 days.  I did it and I came out of it and knew this would be my lifestyle forever.  I love learning about it and teaching others.  I started doing classes with Sarah one year ago in June of 2008.  I know this is the food my Heavenly Father wants me to eat.  I want to be all that I am here for!  With raw food I have more energy, less mood swings, my menstrual cycle has become regular, which it has never been in my whole life!  I have the desire to make our world a better place for future generations.  I want everyone to know about how our food which is genetically altered, processed and chemical laden is not the best choice of food.  I know that not all have the desire like I do to eat this way and I also know that everybody is different.  But there is one thing I do know….I am living THE BEST LIFE EVER, RIGHT NOW!

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