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!"
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Candace deserves recognition as being the most zen member of the Eco-Vegan Gal team - her passion for yoga, meditation and natural healing is incredibly inspiring. It is also an important part of her animal rights activism, as this inner peace is crucial to staying calm during her research and social media outreach. Here is Candace's story of what brought her to veganism and the important work she does for and with others:
My name is Candace and I live in Flagstaff, Arizona, but was raised in California. I was vegetarian for 12 years and have been vegan for almost 4. My motivation to become vegetarian then vegan was and is for animals. Of course, a nice benefit of being vegan is that it's a much healthier lifestyle, though it is easy to eat an unhealthy vegan diet. I traveled to Switzerland, France and Italy and managed to eat vegan there, I'm very proud of that; it would have been easy to give in, but being vegan runs very deep within me. I love to cook, one of my favorite challenges is to make a non-vegan recipe vegan.
I'm pretty intense about animal rights, if you're my Facebook friend you are constantly reminded of my passion with my posts. I know it can be a downer, but we can not look the other way.
When I'm not working at the clinic that I manage, I teach yoga, meditation and sound baths, as well as offer reiki to cancer patients at the cancer center. I'm currently working on starting a nonprofit called The Peaceful Revolution Project, where I work with the under empowered using meditation and yogic teachings. I also have a Facebook page for fun, where I post food adventures, etc.
Candace's favorite Eco-Vegan Gal article: "One of my favorite posts on the Eco-Vegan Gal is "Is Palm Oil Vegan?". It's is a reminder that the vegan movement is a work in progress and we can't become complacent. Its easy to think you have reached the highest point of your journey as a vegan, but it's no only about eating healthy its also about conscience living, and making sacrifices.."
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Looking for a handbag that looks stylish without leather, is eco-friendly and works with your jam-packed lifestyle? I was in same boat a few months ago. Although I had a few great vegan purses I didn't have one that went with every outfit (casual and dressy) and could hold all of my belongings (wallet, phone, keys, iPad, water bottle, AND a few groceries). Until I received a beautiful bag from Canopy Verde. I'm now the proud owner of a beautiful purple and grey handbag made from organic cotton and faux leather, and it is so versatile that I use it every single day. Now you have an opportunity to buy one of your own at 15% off!
Product review by EvG team member Amanda Shea:
As a vegan committed to living a natural lifestyle, finding a great, non-toxic deodorant can be tricky. I have tried half a dozen over the years, struggling to find one that keeps up with my active lifestyle. Deodorants are unlike antiperspirants, which prevent you from sweating via harsh chemicals like parabens, aluminum, phthalates, and propylene glycol). These chemicals can also be found in deodorant, and I don’t know about you but I don’t want my body absorbing them! That's why I was thrilled at the results of the truly natural line from Schmidt’s.
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…
Product review by EvG team member Courtney Rasbach:
I am a very active lady. Yoga, weight lifting, biking, crossfit, equestrian horse riding, dancing with friends...the list goes on! Needless to say I need a deodorant that can keep up with me. I also want a deodorant that is not full of harsh chemicals or is made by a company that does animal testing. Well I think I have found it everyone…
I had an incredible time at the Y.O.G.A. for Youth: Gala Fundraiser, which "I AM THE DREAM" campaign benefitted at-risk children throughout the United States. It was my first time visiting the Marrakesh House, and it was wonderful. The event had a great turnout and was attended by some amazing people; there was such a strong, loving energy there. The night was topped off with some delicious food, samples from various vendors, and several inspiring performances.