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No two vegans are the same.

We all came to veganism for different reasons, at different times in our lives, and in different ways. We don’t look the same, we don’t think the same, and we don’t even eat the same!

That Vegan Over There is a series published every Wednesday on SpiritedVegan.com that allows real-life vegans to tell their stories and give you a glimpse into their plant-based journey.

We hope to inspire you and show the world that veganism is not all salads and spirulina.

When did you go vegan?

I became a vegan on Easter Sunday 2017.

Why?

It just seemed like the right thing to do all around. A lot of my friends were leaning that way at the time or were vegan already and I knew I’d have the support.  I was also training for the most important marathon of my life and I thought it would help with weight loss and overall wellbeing.

Were you the first in your family to make that transition or were you influenced by someone else?

I was the first one in my family to become vegan, but at the same time my whole family got involved in juicing. So the transition was easy with all the fruits and vegetables in the house.

Has anyone else moved towards veganism or a plant-based diet because of you?

Yes, my best friend Kelly. She switched her whole family over to veganism. A husband, a teenage son and two young daughters and they all love it.

What was the biggest challenge you experienced when transitioning?

I think at first I was wondering what the heck am I going to be able to eat, but because of the network of vegan friends and websites, I have been able to really expand my culinary and dietary repertoire.

Is there any challenge you still struggle with today (relating to a plant-based diet or veganism)?

I don’t enjoy eating outside of my home. I feel that I don’t have full control over my diet and I’m not that person to stop and ask questions and make demands on dietary items. But I didn’t really enjoy eating out before, for the same reason. Although I wasn’t vegan, I still wanted control over my diet.

What did you find to be the easiest part of the transition?

I had been a vegetarian from 9th grade until I was 28 years old. So my diet was somewhat plant-based already; I hardly ate meat and I have been drinking almond milk for the last 14 years. I’m not really a cheese or ice cream person. So I would say the transition was fairly easy to me.

Tell me about any benefits and/or negatives that have resulted from your transition.

I experienced a positive mild weight loss, just enough to help with my marathon training. My G.I. tract is much happier these days with all the fruits and veggies I consume.

Did any of those pros/cons come as a surprise to you?

No, I was expecting to lose some weight with the change in my diet.

Describe a typical day’s meals, beverages, and snacks. (If you have children, describe what they eat as well.)

I have decaf coffee with soy milk, then for breakfast I’ll make a smoothie (coconut water, splash of orange juice, spinach, spirulina, frozen mixed fruit, a banana and 1/2 of an avocado). I usually drink this on my way to work in the car.

Lunch with vary, but I always pack my own food and have for many years. It’s usually grilled veggies or beans with rice, or a homemade salad, whatever I can find in the fridge topped with the other half of avocado from breakfast.

Dinner is tricker. I will sometimes make a vegan frozen meal, or make a vegan burrito with beans, rice and veggies, or sometimes it’s just chips and salsa.

I continuously drink water throughout the day, although still not enough, I’m sure.

Snacks are trail mix, veggie straws or a homemade juice.  

My kids eat their own diet. They are both teenagers and they do all their own grocery shopping. My oldest son would prefer to live off of pizza and chicken strips, my younger son will sometimes ask me to make him what I’m eating.  But because I never cooked meat in the house, their diet consists of very little meat.

Share your favorite vegan/plant-based recipe.

I don’t have a favorite but right now I’m obsessed with this one, because it’s super easy. http://www.abbeyskitchen.com/vegan-pesto-gluten-free-pasta-salad/

Do you take any supplements?

Yes, vegan iron and Vitamin B12.

What are 2 pieces of advice you’d give a new vegan?

It is way easier than you think and find some like-minded people to support you.  

Jennifer, 44, is a single mother of two teenage boys. She grew up in Santa Barbara, California but currently lives in Clovis, California and works in special education. She’s a Boston Marathon Qualifier and ultrarunner. She loves to travelling, reading, being outdoors, and the art of cinema.

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