Victor is one of those people who gives me a warm fuzzy feeling inside, which is remarkable given that he's a total tough guy on the outside. I'll never forget when we first communicated online - he won a giveaway I ran and his response started with "OMG YESSSSSSS!!!! I've never won anything EVER" and ended with "Thank you, thank you, thank you!" I loved his enthusiasm and passion. About a year later he reached out to offer her personal training services and we've been in touch off and on ever since. Victor is a fantastic role model for vegan men. Ladies, try to contain yourself when you read what an amazing husband and doggy dad he is!
Hey Fellow EvGers! My name is Victor. I moved to Los Angeles (A.K.A. “Vegan Heaven”) about 12 years ago from the Boston area. I have a wonderful wife, son and two cute dogs, and all of us are vegan (yup, our dogs are, too!). I am also a certified personal trainer, wannabe blogger, as well as a student at UCLA, pursuing a degree in psychology.
I would say my vegan journey probably began in my early youthful days, as I have always had a passion for social justice and compassion. I’ve seen firsthand, as well as voraciously read about, the plight of the poor, minorities and women, so standing up for the voiceless and oppressed has always been important to me.
I met my wife, a long-time vegetarian, about eight years ago, and whenever I ate a burger, she would say, “Moooooo.” While I know she was being funny, I also knew that it hurt her to see someone eating her favorite animal. So knowing that I might be with her forever, I decided to look into this vegetarian thing. I began reading “Fast Food Nation,” and was quickly appalled at the treatment of the animals, migrant workers, and the general behavior of the meat, dairy, and fast food corporations. My wife was also reading, “Skinny Bitch” at the same time, so about a day after I decided to go vegetarian, we began planning how to go vegan.
While I went vegan for the animals and the environment, I could’t believe how much my health had changed. As someone who suffered from IBS for 10 years at that point, my condition basically vanished upon going vegan. I also lost nearly 70 pounds simply by changing to a vegan diet, and a basic exercise routine! So these days, I enjoy sharing the benefits of a vegan diet to the world, as well as proving that you can be just as strong and healthy eating plants!
About two years ago, I went to Chef Chloe Coscarelli’s book signing in Santa Monica, and my wife said, “Hey, there’s Eco-Vegan Gal!” I said, “You’ve never told me about her!” Apparently my wife had been following her forever but held out on me. So that night, I went to ecovegangal.com and was blown away! I am totally one of those people with about a thousand different passions and always wondering which one I should “pick,” so I was astounded that someone could combine journalism, physical health, mental health, veganism, hygiene, the environment, how to be your best self, business skills, and about a million other topics under one umbrella.
Not only does Whitney cover all of these categories, she does so in multiple formats (i.e. the regular Eco-Vegan Gal channel, “Live Q and A,” “Uncensored,” and so on) across multiple platforms (her webpage, YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, etc.). So I would say I follow Eco-Vegan Gal because she seems to have a video or article about all things vegan and general day-to-day life issues, and also because her various sites help me improve my ability to have an impact on the world, as well as as better my own personal and family life.
Victor's favorite Eco-Vegan Gal video: "My hands down, favorite Eco-Vegan Gal video is, “Education and Power Can Change The World,” because it captures what Whitney is all about: The importance of “Inspiring, educating, and empowering” others, as well as ourselves. I get fired up every time I watch this, and I hope you do, too!" "
Follow Victor's journey:
Book review written by EvG team member Courtney Rasbach:
Paleo and vegan together! Whoever heard of such a thing? Well, I certainly had not until Paleo Vegan by Ellen Jaffe Jones made its way into my home. Within the pages of her enlightening book, Ellen does a wonderful job at describing precisely what the terms Paleo and vegan mean, explaining the differences and similarities and showing that when combined they can make a strong, satisfying, health-beneficial diet for both the athlete and non-athlete alike.
Review by EvG team member Candance Ryan:
As a yoga instructor, I’m always on the lookout for books that promote a healthy lifestyle through diet and exercise. It’s a rare gem if you can find a book that offers fitness as well as healthy recipes all in one. It's often the case that I fan out three or four books on the living room floor and try to extract information from each one to create a well rounded approach to a healthy lifestyle. That's why I eagerly awaited the arrival of Power Vegan - Plant-Fueled Nutrition for Maximum Health and Fitness by Rea Frey. This book promised to help the reader see the word “diet” and health in different light…it seemed that my dream may come true…
Rachel is another stellar member of the EvG Apprentice Program. Many can relate to her story of trying out the plant-based diet at a young age and returning to it after time and education - here's her story of how she went vegan and why:
My name is Rachel and I’m a 21 year old college student from Maine. I’m about to finish up my last semester at the University of Maine with a degree in English and Spanish. I went vegan in March of 2012 and I haven’t looked back since.
I originally went vegan in high school, but didn’t stick with it. However, I always knew somewhere in the back of my head that I’d eventually eliminate animal products completely. In my sophomore year of college, I began reading vegan blogs, like Bonzai Aphrodite, and listening to Colleen Patrick-Goudreaus’s podcast, Vegetarian Food for Thought. I specifically remember one day sitting in my dorm room listening to Colleen talk about the horrors chickens experience in factory farms and slaughter houses. I knew I had to be vegan.
Since then I’ve devoured books, visited vegan websites so often that I type them into the URL bar without thinking, and improved my culinary skills dramatically. I love finding more delicious, healthy vegan recipes. My favorites include lentil soup, chana masala, vegetable spring rolls, pumpkin curry, and black beans and rice topped with kale and sweet potato…just to name a few. My approach to health is pretty basic: a scrumptious whole foods, plant-based diet and enjoyable exercise, like Zumba. Health is definitely a process and I’m constantly learning.
When I’m not giving tours on campus or pumping out eight page essays, I love cooking and baking, writing posts for my blog, The Vegan Mishmash, catching up with the blogs I follow, spending time with my friends, traveling, and watching shows like How I Met Your Mother and Friends reruns.
Rachel's favorite Eco-Vegan Gal video: If I had to pick just one, I’d say Eco-friendly Underwire-free Bras from Faeries Dance. This video was the first I ever came across and was my introduction to Eco-Vegan Gal. Since then, I’ve been hooked on Whitney’s videos and other content. Health, both mine and the planet's, has always interested me. Her videos and articles inspire me to be a healthier, more eco-conscious vegan.:
Follow Rachel's journey:
I met Kylie when she applied to the EvG Apprenticeship Program - I was instantly impressed with her online presence and can-do attitude, but her sweet personality really touched my heart. She is incredibly passionate about veganism and I love her story about making the transition, as well as her husband's journey to plant-based living. Bonus: the photo of her with Buttercup from Gentle Barn is just so darn cute!
My name is Kylie. I am 34 years old living in Los Angeles with my husband and two rescue dogs, Henry & Willow. I started my vegan transformation just over two years ago. I had a couple of extremely inspiring friends who were vegan and I admired them immensely for a couple years before I realized it was silly to just look up to them when I could join them! I gave myself a challenge: go completely vegan for one week and see how it went. By day 3 I felt noticeably better, lighter in body and mind. At this point the term vegan to me was strictly dietary. I didn't think about all the animal by-products that were in the beauty products I was using and the clothing I was wearing. In that first week I also started reading and researching. I read The Kind Diet and that was a great starting point to open my eyes into what it truly means to be vegan. As I sat there with tears pouring down my face, soaking the pages of the book I knew that I could never go back to the way I was living. I could no longer ignore what was really going on in the world.
Being vegan is a constantly evolving journey. Everyday I learn something new and try my best to make ethical and eco conscious decisions. Luckily, there is a huge vegan community in Los Angeles and online. I have met so many amazing people who share my way of thinking and I get excited when my omnivorous friends tell me they are going vegan. It took my husband a full year of me being vegan before he made the switch (and I didn't even have to beg him, he did it all on his own!). Now the two of us love discovering new vegan places to eat around L.A. and it's great to have a partner in crime ;-)
In my spare time I like to blog about my experiences as a vegan and make things for my online shop Fabulously Fierce. I love unique home decor,
so my main focus is on that, but I do make some embroidered clothing as well. Having a creative outlet keeps me sane (most days)!
Kelly's favorite Eco-Vegan Gal video: Eco-Vegan Gal has been such a great source of information for me as well. Her positivity and knowledge are so inspiring. Whenever I have a question about certain products or what I can do to make smart choices for the environment or just need a little mental boost, I know I can find it in one of her videos! Since I'm not the best at taking care of myself and tend to lose motivation to exercise, I especially love her video "How to Reach Exercise Goals and Make Them a Priority Every Day":
I first "met" Laeticia while looking for writers to contribute to Greenwala's food channel, where she eventually became a regular contributer of wonderful articles. Some time later she reached out to me when I was looking for a place to stay in Baltimore during Expo East, and I ended up crashing on her cozy coach and finally meeting her in person. I realized then that I had only scratched the surface of how amazing Laeticia was - we instantly sparked a friendship and found so much in common while I was in town. Her commitment to health, veganism, writing, business and family really impressed me, as did her generosity; clearly, she deserved to be a featured viewer!
I'm thrilled to introduce you to all that Laeticia Butler is - her story is one that many will relate to and feel inspired by. It's best shared in her own words:
In 2008 when my son was just one month old, I began having health issues. I couldn’t turn my head to the left, my index finger was swollen like a sausage, and I had to use my hands to lift my left leg to get in and out of bed. Taking care of my son was a constant challenge. The mere graze across my finger caused agonizing pain and I went nearly a year without using it at all.
I had gone to countless doctors without results. Having a professional in the medical community call you a “mystery” is usually not something you want to hear. With all of my test results coming in normal, the best they could come up with was Rheumatoid Arthritis. After surgery to remove inflammation from my finger, the pain had spread into my foot. I could no longer wear closed shoes and was at the end of my pain threshold. I had agreed to start taking medication for arthritis which was to include a self-administered injection once a week for the rest of my life.
I was within two weeks of beginning this new medicated life that I saw Alicia Silverstone appear on Oprah speaking about her vegan lifestyle and her book “The Kind Diet”. A few days later, I read a post on Dr. Mercola’s Facebook page addressing the severe side effects caused my arthritis medications. I responded with concerns stating that I was to begin treatments and was contacted by many people all of whom shared the same advice, “change your diet”. Immediately, I went to the store and purchased Silverstone’s book and read it cover to cover in a few short hours. When I closed the book, I said out loud, “that’s it, I am going vegan”.
I decided to make it official by doing what anyone would do, I announced my new lifestyle on Facebook. Immediately friends started asking me to keep a blog so they could track my progress to see if my newfound diet would really have an impact on my life. I of course accepted. As someone that has always enjoyed writing, this task was one that I was eager to take on.
It was then that I was introduced to Eco Vegan Gal. One woman that was a follower of Dr. Mercola contacted me and told me that she had healed her arthritis naturally and that I should follow Eco Vegan Gal. And so I did….
Not only did I transition to a compassionate diet, I began to incorporate more exercise into my life and it was at a vegan meet up dinner that I was approached with the challenge to run a 5K in the effort to raise money for animals that were cared for at a local animal sanctuary. At this point, I was about seven months into my vegan life. Within three months, my foot pain had reversed and healed completely. My neck healed, my leg healed and I became able to live a life that I had thought was going to be nothing but limited.
Although I was healing gradually, I stilled endured pain and the training was no easy task. My knee was sometimes painful and my hands still on the swollen side. But I was determined to make a change. I had come this far and wasn’t about to give up. After running in grooling weather and working hard to reach my goal, I completed my first 5K in the spring of 2010 and realized quickly that I was hooked. If I could achieve this, what more could I do?
I went on to compete in my first half marathon the winter of 2011 and I am now training for my first full marathon to be completed in November of 2012. It hasn’t been easy, and to be honest, I am nowhere near where I want or need to be. My health still isn’t 100% and I am working on figuring out the kinks of what needs to be corrected, but boy have I come a long way.
Through my constant research, I discovered my complete ignorance to animal cruelty and suffering along with the negative effects that an animal based diet has on our world and our health. I have worked hard to teach my son why we don’t eat animals and I strive to spread the word to anyone that will listen.
Eco Vegan Gal was not only an amazing source of knowledge concerning all things vegan; she was very inspirational in my writing and presented me with my first writing gig which had taken me down a path that I never expected. I had no idea that people were actually listening to what I had to say or that anyone was even reading my posts.
Gradually I was approached by others looking to improve their lives. So many people have contacted me and said that I have been motivational in their decision to start running or eating healthier. Others have asked for fitness advice or solutions to altering their diet even if just for one day a week. My desire to help others evolve has grown magnificently, and for that I make sure to thank the universe often that I was given the gift of illness. Without it, my life would have never changed. I never would have grown as a person or been able to help others. I wouldn’t have begun a writing career which has flourished or met so many amazing people.
Sometimes the things we think are the worst in our lives turn out to be the most amazing gifts we could have received. I am still in the midst of my great journey and welcome anyone that would like to join me for the ride.
Check out my favorite Eco Vegan Gal video for some motivation to make change!
Business Site: Cloud 9 Raw Chocolate
Click here to read about past Featured Viewers - a fantastic group of people, each with their own inspiring stories.
It might seem strange to do an article on gaining weight when most people are concerned with losing it, but I've received several questions from women and men who are struggling to keep weight on the plant-based diet. I don't have any experience with this personally (aside from writing this article for veg men), so I turned to my friend Junghwa Chung Detlefsen (whose name you may recognize from some videos) for advice because she has dealt with and overcome this challenge. She wrote up a great piece entitled, "Gaining My Health Back to Life The Vegan Way":