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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?

3.5 years ago

Why?

Flashback before becoming vegan I was 35 pounds heavier. I didn’t have any known health conditions at the time but wanted to give myself potentially the chance to live a longer and healthier life and prevent potential diseases that are associated with diet.
My husband and I both went vegan at the same time. At that time my husband felt the drive to go vegan after learning more about factory farming practices and maltreatment of the animals. As time has gone on we’ve become much more educated in this area and have grown a deeper appreciation for not only animals but also preserving the environment. Simply by not consuming animal products, we have become much more green!
I was almost sold on becoming vegan shortly after seeing The China Study. First, things first I had to read the research for myself. I’m always a skeptic when it comes to seeing things in movies. “The China Study” by T. Colin Campbell, “Eat to Live” by Joel Furhman, and “Food Politics” by Marion Nestle. These were authors that have helped shape my foundation as a plant-based foodie. It’s also helped equipped me with the tools in order to share the cold, hard facts with those around me.
Book by book, the research kept indicating a plant-based diet was and can reverse effects of diseases, such as heart disease and even help diabetics ditch their medications. Part of me felt like if I could prove to those around me that this way of life makes sense, then I must live it myself because I wanted to be the proof in the pudding. To this day, I am more fit than a fiddle. I not only have lower than normal blood pressure, and extremely low LDL cholesterol that continues to amaze my doctors — along with no longer having brittle nails and chronic split ends in my hair.

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

My younger sister actually went vegan a bit before we did. We really should give her credit because she’s the one who introduced us to the film, Vegucated. This was my husband and I, our first time learning about a plant-based diet.

For me the proof was in the science, as for my husband, he felt the drive to go vegan after learning more about factory farming practices and maltreatment of the animals (we both went vegan at the same time). As time has gone on we’ve become much more educated in this area and have grown a deeper appreciation for not only animals but also preserving the environment. We’ve learned being vegan is much more green!

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

I cannot say that anyone has completely gone vegan, however we’ve seen a shift in their thinking. Many of them have incorporated more plant-based meals in their diet and have even gone vegetarian and/or vegan for a time period.

What was the biggest challenge you experienced when transitioning?

We had to learn how to become more creative with food items. We felt that we didn’t have a lot of tools in our tool box to think outside the box at first. We decided to subscribe to Purple Carrot to get meal ideas. This was one of the best things we did because it gave us exposure to new grains, spices, and produce we’ve never eaten before. To this day we use a lot of the concepts into our everyday cooking.

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

We can honestly say we are 100% vegan here all the time and feel it’s rewarding. Our biggest struggle is living in the Central Valley where vegan options are starting to appear more frequently at eateries. We often have to modify our food around the Valley when eating out with friends and family. When we travel to larger cities such as the Bay Area we are often flooded with an array of options.

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

Even though I loved cheese I was lactose intolerant, it’s been such a gift to ditch it and never look back.

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

With healthy eating and regular exercise on a plant-based diet I’ve ditched 35 pounds of excessive weight. I have lower than normal blood pressure and LDL cholesterol. At one point, I struggled with low levels of B-12 but now take an oral supplement. This has helped maintain my B-12 levels.

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

Yes, you think going plant-based you’re practically invincible! That’s still not the case…even upon having items in my diet fortified with b-12 I still need to take an oral supplement. I later found out I am genetically pre-dispositioned to having lower than normal abilities to metabolize b-12. It runs in the family unfortunately, it’d seem. It also doesn’t prevent from all diseases. It’s reality and it’s good to know but just knowing I am feeding my body what it needs it keeps my immune system strong! I hardly ever suffer from the common flu or cold.

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

Morning: Vegan protein powder shake with a piece of fruit, scoop of spirulina, handful of spinach, and little bit of stevia for sweetness.
Snack: Celery with hummus or fruit with a handful of nuts
Lunch: Giant bowl of sautéed green or a giant salad with avocado of course!

Share your favorite vegan/plant-based recipe.

Portebello Mushroom sandwiches! Anything that takes and uses the mushrooms as bread and then you stuff and fill it!

Do you take any supplements?

Yes, B-12 and vitamin D (since it’s a common vitamin deficiency in the United States no matter if you eat meat or not) plus a probiotic to keep the gut healthy.

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

If it’s in the budget subscribe to a meal delivery service such as Purple Carrot or Green Chef, for a few months to get new ideas and resources. Most importantly connect with those that are willing and eager to share their plant-based tricks whether that’s online or locally with those around you. The resources are endless.

Lastly, just have fun! Make it an adventure and ask a lot of questions.

Victoria, 31, was born in Glendale, California but considers Fresno, California her home. She loves running and will race her first marathon in December — the California International Marathon. She has a passion for nutrition and how it affects the body and enjoys helping others reach their health goals through mentorship. 

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