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:
Guest post by Emily Heikes:
Even if you don't plan to switch to a raw vegan diet anytime soon, Raw Food Power is a great resource on incorporating more healing foods into your diet. Former stuntwoman turned naturopath, Annelie Whitfield has created flavorful recipes and remedies based on her experience healing herself.
Guest post from EvG team member Kylie:
It’s no secret that I have a major sweet tooth. When I decided to become vegan I really missed a lot of those classic candy bars I would indulge in occasionally, especially Reese’s Peanut Butter cups. There was something about those overly sugary little cups of joy that had me craving them every few months or so. It’s probably a good thing they aren’t vegan because let’s be honest here, they really aren’t good for (or your waistline). Enter Buddha Cups - Raw Organic Dark Chocolate Almond Butter Cups. Lovingly made in Brooklyn, NY these chocolates are dairy free, gluten free, soy free, vegan, fair trade and free of refined sugar. Sounds pretty awesome right?!
The word "diet" has a bad connotation these days: it conjures up themes of deprivation, malnutrition and low success rates. Many diets are started because of social pressure from friends, family and the media, and when that's the driving force there's a higher chance of failing since there's less emphasis on a healthy structure. I experienced this first hand as a teenager - I thought I was chubby so I tried all sorts of fad diets and none of them worked long term. It wasn't until I educated myself on nutrition and payed attention to the signs my body was telling me about food sensitivities that I got to a healthy weight and stayed there.
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!:
In February I was approached about applying for a program Ford Motor Company was launching called the Fiesta Movement. They were offering a fuel-efficicent car with all expenses paid (gas, insurance, various travel costs) in exchange for authentic video content and social media posts about the experience. After considering the opportunity and what it would mean for Eco-Vegan Gal, I realized it could help me generate more fun, fresh and inspirational content, so I sent in an audition video. While waiting for the outcome I became more and more excited about it, imagining all the adventures I could capture and share with you, which was quite nerve racking as I found out over 5,000 people had applied! Fortunately, I found out in May that I was accepted amongst a group of incredible YouTubers, and I was exstatic!
It's almost officially summer time and you know what that means - veggie burgers on the grill, yahoo! Sure, you probably eat plant-based patties year round like me, but there's something about the way they taste on a warm summer day... And I'm sure I'm not alone in having tried my fair share of vegan burgers over the years - sadly it's hard to find one that really satisfies. I've had dry burgers, burgers that fall apart, burgers that lack flavor... you know what I'm talkin' about! And to make things a bit more challenging, when I started avoiding gluten, soy and corn my options were pretty pathedic. That is, until I discovered Hilary's Eat Well, a company that makes delicious, convenient and low-allergen burgers that are gluten-free, dairy-free, corn-free, egg-free, soy-free, yeast-free, and nut-free! The woman-owned biz offers 3 pattie flavors and new bites that are great for kids.
Do you ever feel like your body is a little off? Maybe your stomach is upset, you're getting sick more often than usual, or something is off with your reproductive organs… Sounds like your internal bacteria friends have gotten out of hand! There are lots of factors that can lead to unruly bacteria - common culprits are stress, medication, process foods, illness and travel. Basically, when you don't treat your body right it revolts and sends you signals that somethings gotta change. In addition to cutting back on the things that harm you, it's also helpful to introduce probiotic culture into your diet. For this very reason I recently tried out Ultimate Flora's line of high potency probiotics and am impressed with the quality and results.
Guest post by Kylie Bennett
Lifelong vegan Makini Howell left the bustling streets of New York City in 2005 to open up Plum Bistro in Seattle, WA. Her vision for Plum was to have a place where vegans and omnivores could come together in one community and leave feeling completely satisfied. Out of this restaurant came the cookbook Plum, full of inventive vegan dishes that are bursting flavor and fun to make.
Yesterday I reflected on the days before cell phones and wondered how I did without the GPS in my iPhone. Or the instant access to my email. And Facebook. Remember when you could only use those things on the computer? And how about when you needed a seperate device to take photos and videos - heck, there were years when the only camera I had was disposable! I sound a bit like an old lady right now... Of course now that most people have high tech mobile phones life seems so much easier and faster - it takes seconds to communicate with others from around the world. Sure, there are many times when these devices distract us from staying present and participating in the real, live world, but overall you can make quite an impact on your life and that of others.