The Eco-Vegan Gal Book Club is doing things a little differently for the next month+. I'm partnering with author Colleen Patrick-Goudreau, one of my favorite vegans of all time, to feature her book The 30-Day Vegan Challenge. She'll be joining Club members live on March 1st to discuss the book and she's offering 2 lucky people copies of the ebook!

Natalie is a true go getter, which is a quality I absolutely adore in people. When I first met her I was surprised by her youth because she presents herself so maturely and professionally online. Her vegan website is beautifully designed and she has a fantastic YouTube channel. Online entrepreneurs, bloggers and vegans around the world will be inspired by her health story and journey. 

Hi everyone, I am Natalie Thomas—writer, photographer, and imagination behind FeastingonFruit.com. As if that doesn’t keep me busy enough, I am also a student at the University of Florida working towards my marketing degree and hoping to graduate in 2015. I am a used-to-be horsey girl of 9 years who parted with her equine partner before heading to college. Perhaps I’ll return to that life one day, although I’m still not sure how I feel about the ethics of it. In the past couple of years I have fallen in love with yoga for the movement, the flexibility, the peace, and the fun of going upside down. In addition to baking and creating recipes, I also love graphic design and am starting to love photography too. In other words, I’m an artsy girl with way too many ideas and not enough time to create them all.

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I grew up in a healthy-ish home. My mom tried really hard to feed us healthy and has always and will always believe that homemade is superior to anything in a box. Salty snacks were scarce in my house, but the sweets were abundant. I had quite the sweet tooth, and lots of homemade baked goods around to satisfy it. Some of my best childhood memories are of baking with my mom and sister. We decorated cakes and cookies and even plastic plates if there was nothing better to frost. Despite that, I was a pretty healthy kid.

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High school hit and I started to think more about food and health. To decrease my junk food intake, my sister and I adopted the concept of “junk food days” twice a week and no junk food on the other 5 days. Looking back it was a bad idea for a few reasons. Those “junk food days” became sickening full of candy and chocolate and ice cream, and way too much of it all. But I also think it was the start of a not-so-good relationship with food. Foods became good and bad, foods became a focal point, food became something to restrict. I’ll get back to this later…

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A recurring theme of my story is trying to imitate my older sister. I love her beyond measure, but I really had trouble being my own person around her. When I was a freshman in high school, she decided to become a vegetarian. I’m not sure if she did it for health or ethics, but without much thought I followed suit. The same thing happened a few years later when she decided to become vegan. That was about 4 years ago, and I’ve been vegan ever since. Also during the crazy mixed-up time we call high school, I began to take the food restriction thing too far. It turned into an eating disorder with food restriction and over-exercise, and a whole host of other physical and emotional challenges that make it completely not worth any skinny body. I am just now starting to really work on repairing my relationship with food and my body. In addition to recipes, I have started to share my thoughts about recovery on my blog as I find the words and courage to do so.

Health is still a work in progress for me, but I’d love for you to come on over to FeastingonFruit.com and share the journey.

Natalie's favorite Eco-Vegan Gal video: "I wanted to simply post a link to Whitney’s entire YouTube channel, because every single video is full of information, inspiration, and/or yummy food. But to narrow it down, I really love the Q&As because of their wonderful length and personal feel. This Q&A with Kathy Patalsky was beyond incredible: I love both Whitney and Kathy, and I love them even more together!"

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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.

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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.

victor rivera family

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!

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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:

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