Sunday my husband and I attended Vegfest – the Vegan Tastefest & Expo in Novi, Michigan. I don’t know about you, but I love going to vegan festivals. It is so much fun getting to hear inspirational vegans speak and getting to sample the latest products. I must say, VegMichigan really delivered this year! Not only did they have a great selection of vendors showcasing their goods, but their lineup of speakers was off the chart! We had a great time and I wanted to share a quick highlight reel with you guys.
There was plenty of vegan grub to sample from local restaurants, including a vegan food truck! We got to taste, smell, and touch lots of new products on the market. My favorite food find was Heidy Ho. After their appearance on Shark Tank, I have been dying to try their cashew based cheeses. They were absolutely delish and I am pleased to hear they will be in my local Whole Foods store very soon. As for personal care products, I sampled some new lotions, potions, and cleaning products which were great. I needed new toothpaste and was pleased to find a couple of options to try that rate well on the EWG’s Skin Deep Cosmetics Database. If you guys are not using this this resource, you should give it a try. I love being able to see a rating on the ingredients used in products I am putting on my body.
I also got the chance to meet Gene Baur, the President of FARM Sanctuary and author of Living the Farm Sanctuary Life. He recently appeared on Jon Stewart and I really loved his message and how he was discussing the benefits of veganism on mainstream television. If you have not seen this interview, check it out.
My favorite part was the presentation from Alicia Silverstone. She discussed her book, The Kind Diet, and spoke so passionately about her journey into veganism and how it has changed her life. This was especially meaningful because this book was my very first nutrition based book (there has been many, but you always remember your first – LOL).
I absolutely loved this book and it has truly changed my life. When I was diagnosed with breast cancer, I realized I needed to make drastic changes to my lifestyle in order to survive. This book was my beginner’s guide in starting me on my path to wellness. For me, the most resonating part was how she describes the different phases of transitioning to a better diet which she calls (Flirting, Going Vegan, and Becoming a Superhero). She spoke about this during her talk and I love how she really tried to emphasize that doing whatever you can to make better choices is better than doing nothing at all. I think that many people would love to eat healthier but have the common misconception that if you do not change everything all at once, what’s the point?
After reading her book, I was super motivated and inspired to begin my own journey towards a diet and lifestyle which are better for me and for the planet. Because I was battling an illness, I figured I needed to skip over the first two transition phases she described. Instead, what I needed was to “Become a Superhero” immediately. A Superhero is a vegan who also follows a macrobiotic diet which focuses on whole grains, beans, and veggies. Check out Alicia’s website here for more information on it
Like many people looking to make lifestyle and nutrition changes, I started on this path with grand intentions, but I was very naive in my expectations. My life was in a tailspin at that time: work problems, breast cancer diagnosis, insurance complications, hospital visits, tests, treatments, extra activities (to take the mind off the diagnosis)…so many parts of my current existence were already different than what I have ever known before. I quickly found out that it just was not that easy to completely overhaul my diet overnight. As much as I wanted to succeed and felt like my life depended on it, I found myself choosing to eat nothing because all of my go-to foods were big no-no’s. Let me remind you, I grew up NEVER eating vegetables. Beans made only an occasional appearance on my plate. I can honestly say that none of the food I put in my body was whole in any way. I lived off of nothing but soda and processed foods.
I learned very quickly why Alicia emphasized the transition period in her book. I doubt I am alone in finding that jumping right in to being a “Superhero” is too daunting, if not impossible. I could handle the vegan part, the whole grain part, and adding veggies in my diet (via juice only at first). What I could not deal with was the minimal use of many of my favorite foods, many of which have breast cancer fighting benefits:
- Nightshades (potatoes, peppers, and tomatoes)
- Fruit (limited to one piece per day)
- Herbs and Spices
- Sweeteners like maple syrup and agave
At this point, I am not a superhero like Alicia. Not yet anyway. I often battle with myself, thinking I should be eating more of this and less of that. I am so hard on myself because I know that what I put in my body directly affects my health and well-being. With this knowledge, I easily make the best choices 80-85% of the time. I consume a plant based diet including plenty of whole foods. Instead of eating frozen meals or fast food, I prepare most of the food I eat from scratch in my kitchen using whole ingredients.
After hearing Alicia speak on Sunday, I am reminded of where I began my journey and how far I have come. When I do make good choices, which is a majority of the time, I am making an impact. Expecting perfection 100% of the time is a recipe for failure. I have decided that I am going to celebrate my progress thus far and continue on my journey by chipping away at that final 15-20%. I too, will reach “Superhero” status one day – I know I will.
Please let me know if you know someone who is facing the same challenges. I love hearing stories about other men and women going through the similar metamorphosis of mind and body. I find it so inspiring to see or hear how others achieve their goals and dreams. I am so jacked-up after this Vegfest, seeing so many folks pushing the conventional boundaries by choosing to live healthier, friendlier, and more fulfilling lives.