Tuesday, 03 March 2015 02:48

Viewer of the Month: Vince Lia

Vince is a rising star. Mark my words, he will become a vegan household name. I met Vince when he signed up for the Pick My Brain sessions and I was blown away by his enthusiasm and commitment to spreading the healthy vegan message. He has a fantastic website and has a budding YouTube career. Most importantly, he is one of the friendliest and most passionate vegans I have ever met. I'm so excited to introduce you to him today and learn more about his history along with you.

Hey everyone, my name is Vince Lia and first let me say that is an honor to be chosen as an Eco-Vegan Gal Viewer of the Month. I am the man behind the website Healthy Vegan Guy, which is centered around plant based recipes and provides information to educate and inspire others about the benefits of living a healthy vegan lifestyle.

Of course, my life wasn't always like this. Growing up in an Italian family, I was constantly surrounded by cheese, meats and desserts that I ate daily. That was until the day I first heard the words "ulcerative colitis" (UC) that changed my life forever. It was November of 2005 and I started experiencing abdominal pain that I just disregarded as something small that would pass, but it didn't go away. The breaking point came when the pain became so unbearable, I felt like I was going to pass out that I left work and drove myself directly to the doctor's office and then to the Emergency Room. After being discharged, they still did not know what was wrong with me. My first GI doctor had me trying various medications with no luck. It was not until I asked for a colonoscopy that my diagnosis was finally confirmed, but now what?

vince lia bell

I was told don't eat vegetables, don't eat this, don't eat that, that you become almost scared to eat anything. My condition and symptoms proceeded to get worse, my medications became stronger, and the effects that this condition can have on you physically is just as bad as the mental toll it takes. I couldn't leave the house without knowing exactly where I was going and the number of bathrooms I could stop at along the way. My life revolved around going to the bathroom and I gradually stopped participating in any physical activities because of this fear, such as playing basketball, running, hiking, etc. My body wasn't absorbing any nutrients and I proceeded to loose about 40-50 pounds. It was at this point that I knew I had to do something.

I started a few diets, some of which did improve my condition slightly, but it wasn't until I migrated to toward a plant based and vegan diet that I noticed substantial improvement. I started by having a fresh juice every morning from a local juice bar. I remember having this and waiting to see how my body was going to react, since I hadn't eaten any raw vegetables in years, and surprisingly, I made it through without any issues. In fact, I felt better. I then gradually introduced salad and vegetables back into my diet, and let me tell you, a salad never tasted so good after not having it for years!!

vince lia muscles

I gradually eliminated meat from my diet, then all other animal products until I became fully vegan, and that's when the fun started. I started spending more time in the kitchen cooking some delicious vegan meals. I was making food that tasted so good, I didn't even miss the food I once had as a child. Why miss that food when I could create something that tastes just as good, or maybe even better, in my unbiased opinion....haha. I was exposed to world that was not only about food, but an overall lifestyle that I naturally gravitated towards and quickly embraced. I wanted to share this information with others, which I why I decided to create the website. Although I do still take some medication, I have been able to reduce it and hope to become medication free soon. When looking back, you can say that having UC has been a blessing. I may have never embarked on this journey and met such an amazing group of people that share in this passion and live their life with a purpose.

Vince's favorite Eco-Vegan Gal video: "It is hard to pick a favorite Eco-Vegan Gal video, since there are so many to choose from, but a recent one stands out in my mind. It was a video Whitney did with Colleen Patrick-Goudreau and Michelle Cehn to discuss the response to Beyoncé's Vegan Meal Plan. It struck me because we all begin our vegan journeys for different reasons. Most of us consumed animal products at one time in our lives and we should support any progress and embrace it as a positive change, since we never know where someone is on their path. Progress over perfection....right Whitney?"

Right Vince, you know it! :-)

Follow Vince's journey:

Published in Viewer of the Month

Over 4.7 Billion plastic toothbrushes are produced every year worldwide, and once used they end up in landfills and oceans. This is pretty frightening considering that the average person replaces their toothbrush every 3 months. For years I thought I was doing my part by using brushes made from recycled plastic, then realized that it was ending up in the same place as all the other brushes. Bummer. Then I was introduced to the company Brush with Bamboo, who is aiming to be the most ecological toothbrush.

Published in Home
Thursday, 06 November 2014 13:20

Viewer of the Month: Abigail Cooper

I met Abby through my online course "The 4 Week Vegan YouTube Plan," where she instantly became a rockstar student. Her magnetic personality and contagious passion greatly benefit her ability to spread the word about plant-based living online. Meeting Abby in person took my adoration for her to a whole new level - she is destined for greatness and is jam packed full of love and fun. Here is the story behind this remarkable woman's vegan journey:

Hi, there!  I’m Abby and I am a sassy on-camera personality. I’m a vegan, health conscious, adventurous, shake-what-yo-Momma-gave-ya kind of gal. I host a show called “The So Abby Show” that is your one-stop-FUN-shop for all things wellness and adventure!

From the time that I was very little, I have always been a big animal lover.  I may be a firecracker, but I have a huge heart. I’ve always been extremely sensitive to animals’ thoughts and feelings. My parents had a dog – a Sheltie named Duffy  - and he was definitely instrumental in establishing my love for animals.  He and I had such a special bond. I actually learned to walk on him – I’d hang onto his fur and we’d walk together. I started walking at 9 months and am a petite gal so my mom said it was a pretty funny sight! I also would go to him every night before I went to bed and I would lie on him and sing a song to him.

When I was 11 it really hit me that a hamburger was a cow, so I announced to my parents that I wasn’t eating meat anymore. I am so grateful that I was able to have parents who totally accepted what I said to them and that I was able to still thrive on a plant-based diet even in a small town in the Midwest.  I’ve always had the support of my friends and family who have learned how to modify dishes and they always think of vegan options. I so appreciate that. However, I also think they know that one thing about me is that I’m going to do whatever the heck I want to do and feel is right to do no matter what anyone thinks anyway! Ha! See, there’s that sass!  ;)  But, I think that’s a trait that’s super important to remember when being vegan: stand up for what you believe in – no matter what.

Since I stopped eating meat at such a young age, I don’t know if I really even knew what vegan was. I knew I was a vegetarian and didn’t eat meat, and at that point in time, that was great.  But, as I matured, I learned about veganism and realized I never really ate much cheese, dairy, or other animal products anyway, so at one point I did make the clear statement and choice that I was specifically vegan. I was also very active in dance in sports and also started running at age 12, and then as I progressed with my fitness and nutrition, I really got into the field of health and wellness and began eating cleaner and cleaner.  It kept on going and I eventually ended up getting my PhD in Exercise Physiology.  I also learned how eating certain things affect my health and learned how to use holistic methods to help me with my health issues (including managing an autoimmune disease).  After a lot of education and seeing my own proof, I now only use holistic methods for any health ailments and on my body, in my home, etc. In addition to being vegan, about 5 years ago I learned that I would have to go gluten-free due to a diagnosed gluten intolerance.  It was a bit tough at first, but just like veganism, I don’t know any different now.

Abby Cooper vertical grey

I love veganizing and de-glutenizing my favorite dishes or those I grew up with. My friends and family love them, too!  I’m a big fan of spreading the vegan love and really enjoy bringing tasty vegan, gluten-free dishes to events.

For me, being vegan is not a “diet” or a “fad.” It’s who I am. I don’t know any different and I will always be vegan for the rest of my life. It’s part of my soul.

In my free time I love being active outdoors and on the water, photography, traveling (which includes hunting for cool vegan spots, obvi!) and playing with my two rescue cats who I would throw myself in front of a bus for.  :)

Abby Cooper vertical blue

Abby's favorite Eco-Vegan Gal video: "What?! You’re telling me I have to pick ONE video out of the plethora of amazeballs Eco-Vegan Gal videos?! Well, it’s extremely hard and I love a lot of them for different reasons. Overall, I love Whitney’s videos and her brand of Eco-Vegan Gal because everything she does is done with her heart, and her passion and compassion just pour out through the screen and on the page (and in person!). She is 100% real and relatable and is a beautiful soul on a mission. These are just a few of the many lovely traits of the extraordinary Whitney that I know and love. :)  So, I decided to go with one that is simple but serves such a great message – “How Your Vegan Lifestyle Can Influence People Who Initially Criticize It.”  This video serves as a great reminder that while we vegans would love everyone to be vegan, not everyone will agree. And, for those people who do go vegan, it takes time. I love educating people and am always open to having a conversation with people about veganism, but I realize that everyone is on his or her own journey. In addition, this video also reminds us that we need to stay true to ourselves – do what’s right for ourselves, stay authentic, and keep on truckin’. And if we do that, we get these unexpected surprises that bring so much joy.  I love stories like the one that this video highlighted: Whitney went vegetarian (and then vegan, obviously) on her own terms and for her own beliefs, stuck to it, compassionately educated her friend when needed or asked, and learned later (after a long time, to boot!), that she was an integral part of two peoples’ journey toward a plant-based lifestyle.  This serves as an example of so many things in one story: integrity, authenticity, compassion, and love. "

 

Follow Abby's journey:

Published in Viewer of the Month

Ladies, I want to let you in on a little secret: I actually don’t mind getting my period. I know, it sounds kinda crazy but let me explain why. My feelings around that time of the month shifted drastically in 2009 when I began using a menstrual cup instead of disposable tampons and pads. Though it took some getting used to, within a cycle or two of using a cup I practically forgot I was on my period! I say “practically” because I still have the usual day or two of cramps, bloating and mood shifts, but the flow part of the cycle became a breeze. And bonus: it’s really nice not having to buy and throw out tampons and pads every month, which saves money and the environment.

Published in Holistic Health Care

Product review by EvG team member Kelly O'Brien.

I am actually thrilled and giddy that I have been able to trial the brand new Kind Organics multivitamin for the past month and a half. The more I learned about how this multivitamin was created, the company who created it —Garden of Life—and the collaboration with Alicia Silverstone, the more I knew I was ingesting the most healthy, organic nutrition in a multivitamin for the very first time.

Published in Holistic Health Care

Have you been wanting to eat more organic, plant-based foods but feel convinced that it's too expensive? The good news is that you've been fooled - healthy, eco-vegan meals do not need to break the bank! I've been eating well on a budget for years and have spent the past year absorbing tons of tips and tricks to share with you. I'll be releasing an ebook entitled "Healthy, Organic Vegan on A Budget" and to give you a taste of what you'll learn from it I've launched a month-long video series

Published in Vegan 101
Saturday, 28 June 2014 14:06

Viewer of the Month: Jodi Hoberg

Jodi is a very sweet part of the Eco-Vegan Gal team - I love her kind, open spirit and it was so wonderful learning more about her journey in this feature. I think you'll be inspired by Jodi's story about how the vegan lifestyle helped her connect with her family and lose weight:

I’m 23, and currently reside in Menomonie, Wisconsin. I studied Technical Communication and recently graduated in May 2014—woohoo!

jodi horse riding

I grew up in a small town in Wisconsin with a couple horses, dogs, barn cats, and chickens. Horses are my greatest passion, and I’m fortunate to be able to work at a stable that caters to the dressage, eventing, and hunter/jumper crowds while I’m at school. I have two horses back home, Star, a ten-year-old Breeding Stock Paint, and Swayze, a four-year-old Paint/Arabian sporthorse. My family also has an eight-year-old European Crème Golden Retriever named Ryla who is very dear to me.

jodi horse riding 2

I, along with my mother, became vegan nearly four years ago due to the health benefits. My family has a history of health problems, and we wanted to prevent those same problems from happening to us. My mom discovered the vegan diet, and we began the process of eliminating animal products. At first, I began eating vegan because I agreed with my mom’s reasoning, but after doing some of the reading for myself, I started to eat vegan because I wanted to.

The book that fully converted me was The China Study by T. Colin Campbell. (A dense, but informative book.) Since reading The China Study, I’ve read numerous books on veganism and nutrition, in addition to the dozens of cookbooks my mother and I now own. The transformation that has occurred since I went vegan has been unreal—I went from a size 8 to a size 4 in a summer, and the positive shifts in my demeanor have increased drastically. After being vegan for nearly four years, I could never imagine eating the way I used to. 

jodi dog

Health has always been a part of my life, but until I went vegan, it had been on the backburner. Now, cooking is one of my favorite pastimes and all my friends know me as the organic-eating, vegan girl. (Which I find rather endearing while they consider it humorous.) A couple other tidbits of information about me: soccer is my favorite sport—I’ve played for sixteen years and love every opportunity to kick a ball around; I love to work out and be active; fashion is more of an addiction than a passion; and books—I love to read and could spend all day in Barnes & Noble.

Jodi's favorite Eco-Vegan Gal video: "My favorite Eco-Vegan Gal video is: “How Recognizing Your Personal Value and Power Contributes to a Better World”. I’ve always been drawn to inspirational quotes, videos, and people. Whitney is one of those inspirational people. This video nearly put me in tears because everything Whitney says in the video is true. Oftentimes, we forget how much power we truly have over our lives and the influence we have over the lives of others, and this clip reminds us of our power and influence.."

Follow Jodi's journey:

Published in Viewer of the Month
Monday, 02 June 2014 20:50

Viewer of the Month: Amanda Shea

Amanda plays a very active role on Eco-Vegan Gal, most notably via her wonderful product reviews. She and I have a lot of things in common, from living in Boston, MA to having a passion for the enviornment, animals, holistic living and organic, gluten-free food! Here's more about Amanda and her mission to take care of all species and the planet:

I went vegan in July 2012 after watching Food, Inc. and Earthlings, and doing my own research about the meat industry. I was a vegetarian for a couple of months and thought I would never go vegan. I was that person who said, “I could never give up cheese”, but learning about the dairy industry and chick culling broke my heart. Choosing a compassionate, cruelty free lifestyle is by far the best choice I have made in my life. The added environmental and health benefits are amazing! I was diagnosed with anemia during my adolescence and since going vegan it has been reversed. Removing gluten from my diet and losing twenty-five pounds has helped curve my PCOS symptoms. Overall, I feel healthier, lighter, and happier since going vegan.

amanda shea yoga

I am a graduate of the University of Massachusetts Boston with a BA in women’s studies and psychology. Since college I have been involved with social justice campaigns from women’s rights to LGBTQ rights. Going vegan encompasses my commitment towards ending oppression for all living beings. Being part of the EVG team has inspired me to co-launch The Envi Girls, a site dedicated to eco-vegan living. When I am not interning and working on The Envi Girls, I work for Vegan Cuts and an app. In my free time I enjoy trying out vegan & gluten-free recipes, writing, reading, practicing yoga, and volunteering.

amanda shea dress

Amanda's favorite Eco-Vegan Gal video: "Eco-Vegan Gal plays a role in my life as a vegan committed to eco-friendly living. I find Eco-Vegan Gal to be the most informative, well-rounded site out there for eco-veganism. Whitney’s passion and dedication captures my attention, and I know other viewers feel the same. My favorite EVG video is Feel: How Your Emotions Affect Your Health. I love this video because it speaks to how much our emotions affect our overall well being. I know since going vegan my emotional health has improved and I have become a more positive person. Positivity is an amazing emotion that greatly affects our health versus negativity, which brings our health and others around us down. Optimism and positivity keeps me healthy, happy and productive."

Follow Amanda's journey:

Published in Viewer of the Month
Monday, 28 April 2014 09:37

Viewer of the Month: Lily Trahan

Lily has been a dedicated member of the EvG Apprentice Program since spring 2013. I've had the lovely opportunity to spend time with her in Los Angeles and she is such a joy - I am blown away by her knowledge and dedication to the vegan movement. Reading her story was so enlightening - I loved hearing about her journey and her childhood and I hope you find it equally as inspirational:

My name is Lily, I'm 26 years old and I live in Los Angeles, CA with my two cats Daisy & Juniper. I'm the founder & author of www.greenlilies.com, a vegan/green lifestyle blog dedicated to inspiring everyday people to adapt a more natural way of living. I'm also graphic artist (www.lilytrahandesign.com) and I work full-time for peta2, the youth division of People for the Ethical Treatment for Animals as a social media strategist.

lily Trahan cat

I was raised in a household where my mother cooked everything from scratch, grew 90% of the produce we ate in our backyard & always relied on holistic alternatives for our health instead of conventional drugs. She also trained me to minimize waste, the use of electricity, etc. so many of my desires to reduce my carbon footprint stem from my upbringing. In high school I flirted with the idea of becoming a vegetarian (but was really a pescetarian) as I knew meat was not very healthy. Although when I first learned about the term "vegan" meant at the age of 15 I thought the concept was downright crazy and impossible.

It wasn't until about 4.5 years ago that I met a vegan for the first time in real life (I grew up in Colorado where I hardly knew any veggies at all.) We had a nice dialogue about her journey and all of the benefits so I decided to give it a go strictly for health reasons. I had nothing against animal rights activists but just never really felt or understood the empathy they had for other beings. "The Kind Diet" by Alicia Silverstone became my guide, but for some reason I still missed the memo on the way animals were raised. I did see many improvements in my health though! Suddenly so many things I just accepted over the years as "normal" such as skin problems, digestion issues, gas, insomnia, congestion, excess fatigue, headaches, etc. all diminished over time.

lily Trahan pig

From that point on I ate a mostly-plant based diet, until 2012 when I finally saw the truth about how animals are treated and finally understood that there's really no "humane" way of killing someone. It doesn't matter if they're a human or a cat, cow, rabbit, etc. we are all sentient beings, we all have same capacity to feel love & pain and we all have the desire to live in peace. I also had this sudden realization that if I'm in the position where I'm able choose what food I want to eat everyday, then I should choose the option that not only benefits myself but other living creatures as well. That was when I declared myself as an actual vegan and knew that I was no longer doing this for myself, but for the planet and for the billions of voiceless animals who have the right to be happy too.

Blogging and activism have been some of the most rewarding experiences of my life and I encourage everyone to join in on the fun. On another note- I hope to write my own Korean vegan cookbook very soon!

Lily's favorite Eco-Vegan Gal video: "Eco-Vegan Gal has been such an amazing resource for me and my lifestyle - I really recommend the website & Youtube channel to anyone who's seeking to adapt healthier habits the right way. I especially like Whitney's video "Learning How To Lose Weight & Love the Body In a Healthy Way" because it addresses how diets are very skewed in our society, particularly for women."

Follow Lily's journey:

Published in Viewer of the Month
Sunday, 01 September 2013 19:26

Viewer of the Month: Rachel Curit

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.

rachel curit Costa Rican Hot Chocolate- The Vegan Mishmash

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:

Published in Viewer of the Month
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