On Episode 68 of Be Well With Steph, The Podcast I am sitting with my friend Tina! One of my longest-standing friends, we’ve worked together, shared some great times, drifted apart as our lives developed, and reconnected a few years ago. Now she's helping out at Wellness in the Village, too!
Tina made the switch to being completely plant-based about 2 months ago, and I wanted to share with you her story, how she got here, and some of the changes she's experienced.
Tell me a little about yourself and your life right now:
I’ll start off with I’m a small business owner, I own a small book store. We’re online only right now but be on the lookout for the storefront soon.. I’m a project manager I work in higher education and IT. I’m a new mom to a 12-year old boy, which is fun! And I’m a new vegan, YAY!
Share a little bit about why you decided to adopt a vegan diet:
Well, the reason I started experimenting with vegan diets is because my doctor said I had high cholesterol. And then, in May, I woke up, and genuinely thought I was having a heart attack. It scared me, I went to the hospital, and it was not a heart attack - it was costochondritis which is the inflammation of the cartilage in your ribcage. And that scared me.
And THEN I watched “Cowspiracy” and I was shook. I’ve watched all of the other documentaries, but this one struck me in my soul. And I think it was the whole, learning about the animals and how they’re treated. And it wasn’t anything I didn’t already know, but the way it was presented was mind-blowing to me.
Have you experienced any struggles in the last 2 months?
Yes - I would say my biggest struggle is with people not accepting me as a vegan. My family, and friends, taking it very personally. Or someone that I don’t know at all, like - at a conference in D.C. - I was at a catered dinner, and they gave me a green pepper, stuffed with lentils, and a side of hot tomatoes.
I think the biggest challenge that I face so far is that suddenly everyone is a nutritionist? As soon as I tell someone that I’m a vegan they’re like “but what about your protein?!” and I’m like… “umm… beans? Tempeh? Tofu?” like there’s so many options out there!
Has it gotten easier? Oh yeah. Well, it hasn’t been a huuuge shift for me. There’s so many great substitutions out there - if I’m ever craving like a chicken-finger wrap I can just use vegan chicken and daiya cheese.
I think people will say things like, well, fake chicken nugget isn’t healthy food. But no ones sitting here claiming that it is a healthy food. We’re saying that it helps to satisfy cravings by giving your body something that it’s craving, we’re saying that it does contain some nutrients, it still does have protein, and just like we wouldn’t recommend that someone eats a regular chicken finger wrap every day… we don’t sit around eating vegan chicken finger wraps every day either!
Yes I agree and I just think it’s funny because people didn’t think twice when I was eating meat and I’d be eating a burger or eating chicken fingers, it’s like that’s totally fine. But the second it’s fake meat, it’s an issue. And I think it’s just a perception issue.
Have you noticed any improvement?
I’ve lost weight - about 12 pounds since March. I’m less bloated. My digestion is sooo much better.
When you say your digestion issues improved - did you notice that at first it got worse?
OH YES. Definitely. For the first few weeks!
I think we need to talk about that more, because so many people will say that when they go vegan their digestive issues improve but they forget to say that there was a period of time where it actually got worse! Your body needs time to adjust to the cruciferous vegetables and the fiber that you’re consuming. I’ll have clients say their body doesn’t like beans - and maybe that’s true - but sometimes it’s just that your body is not used to it!
Yes. Starting off with smaller increments and building up is key! The first few times I dabbled into veganism I went head on and just jumped right in. But the difference is this time, I had the education and the knowledge that I didn’t have previously.
Any other differences you’ve noticed?
I’m getting my blood tested tomorrow so I’ll have to report back but I’m fully confident that my cholesterol has gone down because I haven’t consumed any meat or dairy in two months. So I would be very surprised if it didn’t.
I definitely have more energy! I still get tired, but it’s a different kind of tired now.
I’m also more aware of where things come from - I’ve switched over to all vegan makeup and skincare. I’ve just become more aware about how my personal actions affect the world at large. I have a lot more empathy for the animals.