First up is Drea - a vegan who lives in South Florida and fills her life with simple everyday pleasures one day at a time. Here is her awesome food story.
- A few words about who you are, what you do, where you live and what you are passionate about.
Well, I’m Drea. A new 30 year old (hello thirties! welcome!) I blog for a living - and I just finished putting together a cookbook late last year which will be out late summer. Hooray, hardest thing I've ever done! I’m passionate about simple and colorful living. My family and I live a really nice life - and we do it, well, simply.
- When, why and how have you decided to become a vegan?
I became vegetarian around 14 or so - but it wasn't until almost 10 years later that I finally became vegan. With the “farming” industry being so damn shady, it didn't make sense for me to still consume milk and eggs and think it was okay. Sure, if you’re lucky you can pick up healthy eggs or milk at your local farm and this can be delicious and humane, but boxed eggs and milk at a grocery store is rarely okay.
Every time I went to eat milk or cheese I just thought about poor crusty udders. (I’m gross, sorry). I picked up a box cleanse one day and went forward - no dairy, eggs, fried stuff, gluten, etc. After two weeks, I felt AMAZING. I slowly added back in gluten (gluten forever) and eventually fried stuff too, cause hell, chips are delicious. But I realized that a sick congested feeling and stomach ache was a consequence of dairy and it just made sense for me to stay away from it forever - for a multitude of reasons. It stuck. Almost ten years later, it was still one of the best decisions that I've made.
- What is a vegan diet/lifestyle? What are the food-groups/products you avoid? How do you substitute them?
So simply put, vegans don’t consume anything that is made of an animal or comes from an animal. Meat, eggs, butter, ghee, cheese, you name it, we avoid it. One thing I've personally started consuming again was honey - but many vegans don’t. We’re currently in the process of getting chickens for our home, so eggs might be a sometimes option - but chances are they will mostly be saved for my husband. I mostly want chickens for the composting perks and pest control addition to our garden. And they’re cute.
Meat is easy. We’re not a meat and sides kind of family. We like big abundant one pot bowls of food, so it's easy to just skip the meat all together and add in another protein (like beans). We use olive oil to cook. Or sometimes earth balance “butter” for some items. We skip eggs. We skip cheese - or if I’m really craving something like pizza, we make a cashew cheese. It’s easy and so healthy - and really good too.
- How does being a vegan fit into your everyday life? Your family, your energy level, your well-being, shopping for food/cosmetics, going out for dinners, traveling?
Easily really. Once you retrain your brain to realize that not every meal needs cheese on it to be delicious, you’re good. It’s pretty easy to eat vegan at home (read: really easy). With the expectation of a cereal or dry pasta we don’t really buy processed foods - so buying vegetables, legumes, and grains is pretty straight forward and always vegan. Going out to dinner is pretty easy too. Most places have vegan options these days and it’s not too difficult to vegan-ize something by requesting no cheese or oil instead of butter.
Cosmetics are easy too, just look for the bunny or V logo and you’re good. You can see my favorite products, here. Traveling isn't so bad either - pack snacks for the plane and just do some minimal research before you head anywhere.
And health wise? I feel wonderful. My blood levels are through the roof, I’m rarely sick, and my mood is much improved since nixing out dairy.
- How do you plan your meals as a family and cook at home since your husband, Alex is not vegan? How does Marlowe feel about being a vegan?
It’s pretty easy. I mean, yes, Alex loves meat. That won't change, but it doesn't need to. We eat real food and it's delicious. At home we’re meat free and he has zero complaints. He still has cow's milk for his coffee or butter for his toast - things like that, but that's it. You can see my food section for more food we eat :) Marlowe thinks it's great! We’re very open with her about what she eats and what else she could eat, if she wanted. She’s perfectly fine being vegan - that being said, she’s excited for chickens and will probably be eating our eggs at home.
- What‘s your daily/weekly go-to meal plan? (Breakfast, snacks, lunch, dinner)? Food basics that you swear by?
For Marlowe we usually make mango oatmeal pudding for breakfast. Or cereal when we’re lazy. Alex and I opt for lattes, haha. For snacks, the kid averages out like, 10 million fruits a day. Lunch is our big meal. Alex works late afternoon/evenings, so we share a big lunch together. Pastas, rice bowls, summer rolls, pizza, whatever. For dinner, Marlowe and I usually have soup together. You can see more of Marlowe eats, here.
- You're very passionate about natural living, what are a few of your favourite natural products that you make yourself?
My favorite trick that I can’t live without is using coconut oil as moisturizer. My other favorite trick is applecider vinegar for conditioner. We make our own elderberry syrup too.
- Any tips on how to make a healthy transition to veganism?
My biggest advice is to remind yourself two things: do what you can, it doesn't have to be all or nothing and any step is a good step. I’d recommend slowly cutting out your vices. It’s hard in the beginning, but after about two weeks of fully detoxing, your body will feel better.
- And any other aspects of your vegan journey you’d like to share with us…
Not all vegans are PETA fanatics :) You can be a happy loving vegan that feels better cause less harm :) Vegans can (and should) eat french fries when craving.
Thank you, Drea for sharing your story! xo
P.S: One change...
P.P.S: Vegan before 6pm?
(Photos by Drea and Hannah Mayo)