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.
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.
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…
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!"
Follow Natalie's journey:
One of the most common themes in the questions I am asked is how to lose weight on the plant-based diet. I always try to address this topic carefully, as it's a sensitive subject. Having struggled with an eating disorder in my teens and twenties and body image issues most of my life, I understand how important one's mental state is to feeling good physically and emotionally. Changing my diet has had an ongoing impact on my life, including healthy weight loss and the ability to maintain it. Additionally, learning about how food impacts the body helped me feel more grounded and comfortable in my skin, and reduced unhealthy eating habits (like binging and purging).
I've also discovered that there is no such thing as a quick fix or a one-size-fits-all trick, and that keeping the body thriving inside and out is a perpetual process. That's why I love coming across weight loss advice that offers long-term, nutritious tips featuring food and healthy emotional guidance. Here are some of my latest favorites, starting with 10 delicious, body-friendly foods.
Lauren has been doing a stand-up job in the EvG Apprentice Program and thus I was eager to learn more about who she is and how she became part of the community. She has a touching story that many can relate to, no matter where they are on their journey to healthy, compassionate living.
My name is Lauren. I am 23 years old and currently live in Austin, TX, with my adorable bulldog/corgi mix, Lilly. I became vegan about 2 1/2 years ago for a few different reasons. Let me tell you a little about my journey:
I have always been interested in health and nutrition and doing the best thing for my body, and therefore have always enjoyed reading up on the most recent nutrition information. However, I also struggled with body image and bouts of binge eating for many years, so I was never completely satisfied with my health. I had played around with vegetarianism/veganism in the past, but I used to think animal products were a necessary part of our diet and vegans were just "too extreme".
Then, one day, I started reading Skinny Bitch out of pure curiosity. All of the information was so eye-opening! I specifically remember one part of the book with quotes from factory farm workers in which they mentioned how some of the pigs would come up and nuzzle the workers like puppies right before they had to slaughter them. As someone who loves her own puppy like a child, that really upset me, and I didn't want to have any part in promoting any practice that was so cruel.
After that, I went through a myriad of books on veganism and nutrition, from Alicia Silverstone's The Kind Life to Eat to Live by Joel Fuhrman and Engine 2 Diet by Rip Esselstyn (all of which I highly recommend to anyone), further realizing how important compassion and veganism is to our world. Plus, an added perk: I lost 20 pounds while fully enjoying my food and NOT dieting, and I was finally happy with my body, my health, and -- most importantly -- myself. And I have never looked back! I also spent last summer as a Communications Intern with Farm Sanctuary in upstate New York, and it was one of the best experiences of my life.
During my free time, you'll find me reading, writing/posting recipes on my blog Don't Forget the Sugar, walking my dog, going to the gym or doing yoga, and cooking and baking up a delicious storm of healthy vegan goodies. I love finding and coming up with healthy versions of normally un-healthy dishes and desserts, and my dream is to some day have my own food business.
Lauren's favorite Eco-Vegan Gal video: I've been a fan of Eco-Vegan Gal since I first went vegan, and I think Whitney is fantastic! I know I have used several of her recipes and health tips along my health journey, and I love how positive and fun she makes being eco-vegan look. The information on having a vegan dog was also very helpful for me. My favorite Eco-Vegan Gal video is the one where she makes her Easy, Eco Organic Peppermint Holiday Hot Chocolate. What a healthy spin to such a decadent holiday treat!:
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":