Plant-based at Vega

By Vega on October 25, 2017 , categorized in Inspiration, Plant-based Nutrition

With Vegetarian Awareness Month wrapping up, celebrating World Vegan Day on November 1st, and our every-day commitment to plant-based nutrition, there doesn’t seem like a better time to talk to a few of our employees (whom we affectionately call Vegatopians) about why they chose to be plant-based.

Tambra Riddle_Vega_Vegan

Tambra Riddle, Vega Account Manager

Why are you plant-based?

I have a lot of reasons! If I were to list them in order:

1) The reason I became vegetarian when I was 15 is because I have a huge aversion to meat. I stay plant-based because, in my opinion:
2) It feels healthy for me
3) It’s good for the planet
4) It makes me feel good
5) It makes me feel younger
6) It saves me money
7) For the animals

This Thanksgiving will be 23 years of being plant-based. The first two years were really rocky. You can’t expect everything of yourself overnight. You can’t wake up and be vegan. It’s like waking up and all of a sudden knowing a new language. I had to start by learning how to stock my pantry. I had to get my base recipe library started.

What’s the easiest part?

For me the easiest part of being plant-based is cooking at home. It didn’t seem easy at first. But like anything, the more you do it, the easier it gets. It’s like riding a bike. At first you have training wheels and it seems intimidating, but once you learn, you never forget. You have to fortify you knowledge gradually.  You have to learn to stock your pantry with staples, and build a good basic library of 20 recipes or so of go-to meals: 10 dinners, 5 lunches and 5 breakfasts to set yourself up for success.

What’s the hardest part?

Social dining is still the hardest part. All of me wants to go somewhere and not have food come between me and the event. It’s uncomfortable to me. I like to go somewhere and blend in, rather than constantly making requests. It’s become loads easier since the 90’s, but it can still be hard. I want to talk about everything else except about what I eat. You end up recycling the same conversation with everyone no matter where you go.

So to shift the conversation to the rest of my life, I often tell people that I work for Vega, a plant-based line of nutrition products, and we have this website with a jackpot of recipes, just go check it out. I also have a lot of people come up to me and tell me they were vegetarian for 6 months and then they “failed.” I hate this because that’s no reason to be upset at yourself. Educate yourself—learn about good fats, plant-based proteins and carbohydrates. Consider eating plant-based just 1 to 2 days a week, or even 1 to 2 meals a week, and it’s very possible that it will turn into 3 to 4 days a week and you won’t even notice. Give yourself time, and you’ll feel more confident and less deprived.

Trinity Gleckler_Vega_Vegan

Trinity Gleckler, Vega Associate Regional Sales Manager 

Why are you plant-based?

I had been a vegetarian for 12 years, and when I started working at Vega 4 years ago, I decided to go full vegan.  Reading Brendan Brazier’s Thrive Fitness, and realizing how it could positively affect my roller derby performance was the final motivation I needed. I dropped 20 pounds within the first 6 months, and started feeling even more amazing. I think that veganism has many layers of awareness. So while I started for my athletic performance, as I’ve learned more, I’ve gained a higher level of awareness for how food has a connection with people, health and the world. I stay vegan because it makes me feel healthier, for animal rights and the environment. It’s not just about me—what I eat has a direct effect on the world.

What’s the easiest part?

Once you are plant-based for a while, it all seems pretty easy. You get into a flow and rhythm of what you want to eat, what you’re craving, and how to make quick good-for-you vegan meals. Now that I’ve been vegan for almost 5 years, the flow of my meal routine and food prep means I don’t have to stress very often.

What’s the hardest part?

When I started, it was definitely eliminating cheese. Come to find out, I could totally do it. I’ve found that once you get past the craving, whether it’s cheese, coffee, or sweets, once you get over the hump, your body is so resilient and it adapts to the situation that it is in.

paige-image

Paige Snyder, Vega Education Specialist 

Why are you plant-based?

I started off being plant-based for animal rights reasons. When I was 10 my older sister came home with a PETA magazine, we were paging through and realizing what goes on in animal agriculture.  I pretty much became a vegetarian instantly, and stayed that way for 10 years. When my best friend started having kids, she raised them vegan. As I watched them grow up strong, smart and athletic, they washed away my ideas that being vegan was unhealthy, expensive, or hard. If a young mother with not a large income could raise two healthy plant-based kids on a budget, as a college student, so could I. And I ended up really loving it.

I’ve been fully plant-based for 11 years and have transitioned through all the phases—from junk food vegan to eating almost entirely unprocessed whole foods. Being plant-based helps me to live my best life, in my best health in my view.

What’s the easiest part?

Honestly, finding all the new kinds of food out there. I was raised on fast food and lots of packaged food at home. This is no fault of my parents—both of them worked very hard for our family. So for me, the easiest part was getting to try new foods. I didn’t taste Indian food until I was 21 years old. I never would have considered trying Ethiopian food, kale, dandelion, or goji berries, which are now some of my favorites. It was so easy to bring in new and healthy foods when I wasn’t eating all the beige foods (burger, fries and nuggets).

What’s the hardest part?

Answering all the rude questions that I’ve gotten over the last 20 years of my life. My way of eating has sparked a self-reflection/defense for some people causing them to react poorly instead of having a conversation with me or with themselves. It’s not that I don’t like having a conversation—I welcome questions. And sometimes when people ask, they legitimately don’t know, I’m happy to help in those situations.

Most of the time I try to use humor to diffuse the situation, if someone is asking in a rude way.

Nina Nicholls_Vega_Vegan

Nina Nicholls, Vega Team Lead, Customer Collaboration

Why are you plant-based?

I started being vegan at 16 for animal rights reasons, and since then I’ve never looked back! Now that I also know how plant-based eating is also good for the environment, and my health, it’s a no-brainer.

What’s the easiest part?

Honestly, staying vegan isn’t hard for me, because it’s not something I’m doing just for me. I fail at “diets” or workout plans after a week, because if I’m just doing something for myself, I won’t do it. Because I know that my food choices directly affect animals, it’s easy for me to stay vegan.

What’s the hardest part?

I was so young when I started and while my Mom was supportive, she was also quite frustrated because she didn’t know what to cook for me. I had to figure out how to eat in ways that would give me nutrition, instead of just soy chicken nuggets so I began researching vegan nutrition. I later started to work at a raw food restaurant, where I learned a lot about nutrition and the benefits of healthy plant-based eating.

I grew up in a super small town where there weren’t a lot of options, and I couldn’t just go eat at any restaurants. I quickly learned to eat before going out to dinner, events or weddings. You always have to be prepared. It’s easy to slip up if you’re hungry and there are no options. Be prepared, and bring food with you.

todd-image

Todd Al, Trade Marketing Specialist

Why are you plant-based?

I originally started investigating plant-based for sport performance. At the time I was marathon training and I wanted a way to clean up my diet. I was trying to figure out a way for my body to run smoother, and plant-based is where I ended up, back in 2008. I noticed I felt lighter. I applied that to achieve my first half marathon under 1:29, and now for triathlon (Ironman) training.

People always ask me why I’m plant-based. Although I started for performance reasons, over time I noticed I started to absorb other reasons as well. I’m proud of the fact that I’m treating my body well. I’m proud of the fact that I’m treating the planet well. There are so many trickle down benefits to going plant-based.

And it impacts not only your life, but the lives of the people that you love. I’ve found that my own story of going plant-based has helped friends and family that were interested in exploring that path further. It’s become more accessible to everyone because I can act as that support person, answering question, and cooking inspiring meal with them. You can make it more approachable for all the people in your life.

What’s the easiest part?

I think one of the greatest parts for me is that I saw so many benefits from switching right from the start. I not only started feeling better in my body, but I also started appreciating the benefits that I was passing on to the world, in the form of the diet which in my view is better for the environment, as well as some of the ethical advantages.

What’s the hardest part?

For me the hardest part was learning how to cook properly with a plant-based diet. I was used to cooking meat as the focus, and at first it can be hard to get that same full feeling from plants. You have to give your body time to adjust.

At first, it helped to start with meat replacements, like tofu and tempeh to in place of the meat in meals that I was already used to cooking. Over time I recognized that in the most amazing meat dishes, the flavor actually comes from the vegetables—like mirepoix (a roughly chopped vegetable cut) for soup stocks, or herbs and spices in most sauces. Over time you find that making vegetables the feature, and elevating the vegetable flavor without having it have to resemble meat in any form, is much more satisfying.

What inspired you to start eating more plants? Post a picture on Instagram and tag us  @Vega_Team

The opinions expressed are those of the persons named in this article and reflect their testimonials.

This article was originally published in November 2016 and has been updated. 

Tagged with
vega vegan Vegan awareness month vegatopian Vegetarian Awareness Month

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