I was a vegetarian for a little over a year in high school, and by that I mean I ate potatoes and noodles and fruit. I ate some veggies, but sparingly. I hadn't yet fallen in love with hummus. I was not in a healthy place and it didn't stick.
In 2007 when I was at my heaviest, I started learning more about food and the impact of diet on more than just weight. The quest to lose weight morphed into a quest to be healthy, and I did a lot of reading and documentary watching in that time. I was heavily influenced by The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan, and I think everyone should read it.
After I learned about the factory farming and big Ag industries I started doing my best to make more informed choices. I stopped buying conventionally farmed meat and tried to buy as much organic as possible. I was living in Baltimore at the time, and it was easy to find access to local and sustainable sources of animal protein.
When I moved to NC it was more difficult to do this, and I was still educating myself about food and the industry that provides it. I watched the documentary Forks Over Knives in close proximity to reading Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer. The documentary convinced me that removing animal protein from my diet could greatly improve my health, and the book showed me how significant the environmental impact of eating animals can be.
I had a moment at work shortly after this where I was chewing the sausage in my Jimmy Dean sandwich and felt disgusted by it. That was February 3, 2012 and was the last time I ate meat. I spent the next few months stressing about getting enough protein by putting cheese on everything I ate. At the same time I was starting to read vegan/plant based blogs and literature and began mentally accepting the idea that I should cut out eggs and dairy as well.
I decided to make July 4th my first day fully plant based because it was 5 months after my vegetarian-versary and an easy day to remember. My last vegetarian meal was a few slices of the closest to NY style pizza I could find in NC. My first big vegan meal was this cherry tomato focaccia bread and some assorted salads that I made for a 4th of July hike.
My eating style has evolved since then. I started out relying heavily on vegan versions of traditional foods (fake meats, sandwiches, pasta, etc.). I struggled a lot at first with deciphering what ingredients were plant based, until I had the epiphany that I shouldn't be eating foods with unfamiliar ingredients in the first place!
I was greatly inspired by the Thrive series of books and online information from Brendan Brazier, and because of this I eat a pretty healthy whole foods plant based diet. You should know this if you follow my blog! Here are a few highlights of some amazing meals I've had in the last two years:
|Burger at Pure Food in NYC, still the best!|
|Rawco Taco Salad at Luna's Living Kitchen in Charlotte, NC|
|Smoothie bowls with granola, just about every weekend|
|Raw pasta with hummus or pesto, at least once a month|
|Roasted beet arepa at Tako Cheena in Orlando, FL.|
|Can't forget about dessert! Treats from Raphsodic Bakery in Orlando, FL|
One of the best things about this lifestyle for me is that I don't have to count calories and can eat until my hunger is satiated. It's gotten easier to eat plant based in the last year and I think many more restaurants and stores support eating this way. I can't say that I'll always eat this way, and I can't truthfully say I haven't eaten anything from an animal in the last two years. Some things may have slipped by. For now, it's still working, and I'll continue on my merry plant based way.