Whitney Lauritsen

Whitney Lauritsen

Saturday, 29 November 2014 15:50

Viewer of the Month: Victor Rivera

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:

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.

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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.  :)

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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:

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.

For as long as I can remember my favorite soup has been split pea. Perhaps this is because it reminds me of my father, who also loves it and makes it regularly. Who could blame him? Split pea soup is thick, creamy and flavorful with a great salt balance. There's no need to follow the traditional recipe of adding chicken broth and ham - this soup is just as delicious when made entirely with plant-based ingredients.

The following recipe is a twist on the standard split pea soup: sweet potato and smoked paprika are added for a sweet, smoky flavor. If you're as much as a fun as the traditional recipe as I am, you're sure to love this variation. As mentioned in the video, you're encouraged to modify the recipe with whatever you have on hand (such as extra vegetables and unused spices).

And PS: this soup costs about $1.50 a serving even with entirely organic ingredients! If you want more tips on eating well on the cheap check out my ebook "Healthy, Organic Vegan on a Budget."

Tuesday, 30 September 2014 15:20

Viewer of the Month: Stephanie Williams

Stephanie is a fellow YouTuber who I recently got to know well through her participation in my web course The 4 Week Vegan YouTube Plan. She has been a rockstar student and her videos are getting better by the day! I've been a fan of her work for a while now due to her autenthic and inspiring content - I especially love following her fitness and raw food journey. Her story about why she became a vegan and how it has impacted her life is heartwarming and it's amazing what she has accomplished in 3.5 years.

Hey Guys! My name is Stephanie and my YouTube channel is called Vegan, What?. I was born and raised in Cali, ventured out to the East Coast for a few years, and made my way back to the West Side (It was too cold over there lol). I love to make yummy vegan recipes, fitness videos, and share information on how to have fun being vegan. Through my channel I hope to entertain and inspire others to live a Fan-Vegan-Tastic life!

Stephanie VeganWhat wall

I began my vegan journey in April of 2011 and it's been an amazing transformation. I was tired of how my body felt and I knew I needed a change. I wanted to be more compassionate and kind to my body but I didn’t know how or where to start. But, I did remember hearing about Alicia Silverstone’s book The Kind Diet. I went online and did a little research and decided that I needed to check this book out. When I received the book in the mail I was excited and nervous at the same time. I wanted to see what new and delicious food I would be trying but I didn’t want to hear about how terrible I was for eating meat. So, I proceeded with caution. “I’m just going to be a flirt,” I said, which in her book means to just try and incorporate some vegan changes into your life from time to time. No commitment. That’s exactly what I wanted: no commitment! As I continued reading the book I realized that by eating meat and dairy, I wasn’t just affecting my health, but I was also contributing to the pain and suffering of animals and their children. I continued to research by searching the web and watching documentaries and I was finally faced with the question “Am I going to make a change or not?”

Stephanie VeganWhat hat

So, I decided to take the plunge and go vegan. Wow, it’s been such an amazing experience and the benefits are endless! I lost weight and became about 99% asthma free (I only use my inhaler when I’m sick which is so rare these days). It was like my body had been waiting for me to make this change. I’ve met some wonderful people and animals, ate some delicious vegan food that I never would have had the chance to try, and feel completely as peace with at least one of my life choices.

Stephanie's favorite Eco-Vegan Gal video: "hmm…there are so many, but I guess if I have to choose then it would be The Kind Diet – Artichoke Dip: cooking with Eco-Vegan Gal. I believe Alicia Silverstone posted this video on her website and that’s how I found Eco Vegan Gal. You really inspired me to start my own channel and start producing content. "

Follow Stephanie's journey:

Saturday, 30 August 2014 20:59

Viewer of the Month: Cobi Kim

I can honestly say that Cobi Kim is one of the best people I know. Her passion, compassion and talent is outstanding and I learn from her on a daily basis. Cobi and I met through YouTube, which led us to recording a few videos together, establishing a great friendship and launching an online course about creating a rockstar YouTube channel. If you have yet to discover her vegan recipe videos (aka Veggietorials) your mind is about to be blown and your mouth on the verge of watering. With no further ado, let me turn it over to Cobi to tell you more about herself:

Aloha friends! I’m Cobi Kim, the woman behind Veggietorials, a vegan lifestyle channel with a focus on fabulous food, cruelty-free products and travel. I make snappy, short-form videos and hope to provide a comfortable entry point for people to learn, discover and explore how delicious and beautiful a compassionate lifestyle can be. I’m originally from Hawaii but currently reside in the Pacific Northwest with Winston the Pug.

cobi kim veggietorials

Health journey: I was a vegetarian for many years but it was not until I worked as a Cooking Instructor for the Cancer Project that I fully realized the incredible healing power of eating a whole-foods, plant-based diet. That shift on my plate enabled me to see all the benefits of living a life devoid of animal products. My goal is to give people simple inspiration, veganize familiar dishes and make eating healthy accessible to all. 

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Cobi's favorite Eco-Vegan Gal video: "With a catalog of over 550 EvG videos, asking me to pick just one favorite is tough! Extreme Healthy Vegan Cheapskates is a video I’ve shared over and over when people say that eating vegan and healthy on a budget is impossible. I love that Whitney used such a fun approach to provide a fantastic resource for meal inspiration."

 

Follow Cobi's journey:

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

A few days ago I was nominated to do the Ice Bucket Challenge to raise awareness for ALS, and I really hesitated to participate. I talked it over with a few people in person, then turned to social media to get the Eco-Vegan Gal community's opinion, which was really all over the place. It is evident that there is a lot of confusion and frustration around this topic, so I started doing research to learn more. Over the course of several hours pouring over websites on ALS, a book on animal testing, and several sources on water waste, I put together a video to address my findings and feelings. Since vegan chef Jason Wrobel was also nominated to do the challenge and hesitated for similar reasons, he joined me on camera to spread the message on the importance of educating ourselves before supporting a cause and joining a social trend.

People mean well when they donate to health charities, but many are unaware that they may inadvertently be supporting cruel and unnecessary animal experiments. With growing awareness of the dangers of reliance on data from animal tests, the public should be able to make an informed choice as to how their generous donations are really being spent. ~ Helen Marston, chief executive of Humane Research Australia.

Thursday, 31 July 2014 20:27

Viewer of the Month: Candace Ryan

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 meI love to cook, one of my favorite challenges is to make a non-vegan recipe vegan.

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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

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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.."

 

Follow Candace's journey:

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!

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