Monday, April 8, 2013

Adrienne's Journey to a Plant-Based Lifestyle

I have been wanting to share the stories of some of my fellow vegan readers. We all know that becoming a vegan is a journey and it can take you for some unexpected twists and turns. Adrienne was one of the first to reach out to me when I was asked for others to share their personal stories. As a busy grad student who also is practicing Bikram yoga, she truly exudes the dedication that I see in many others who have decided to take this path. I've asked her about what brought her to this life, how she makes it all work, and what advice she would offer to others looking to make a change!

LRJ: Tell me a little bit about yourself!

Adrienne: I’m a 25 year old New York transplant now living a life powered by all things green! I grew up an omnivore in CT and went to Marist College in the Hudson Valley. After graduating college with a MS in Business, and tipping the scale at almost 200 lbs., I moved to Westchester, NY and took a job at IBM.

Soon after moving out of college and away from my parent's food choices, I realized I needed to make a drastic change in myself. I started transitioning to a more plant-based diet. I cut out all meat, although I was still eating shellfish and some dairy. I started running extensively and dropped 40 lbs. by the end of 2011. Now, as a vegan, I’ve lost an additional 10 lbs. (and still dropping!) since I’ve incorporated Bikram into my life.

Aside from my plant-life, I’m also a part-time grad student getting my MA in Marketing/Communications. I have my own blog, The Broke Vegan, and I have an omnivore “ball & chain” who good-heartedly tries all of my vegan cooking experiments.

LRJ: What made you decide to go plant-based?

Adrienne: In March 2012 I made two of the greatest decisions of my life: I got a roommate and made the jump to a fully vegan lifestyle. My non-traditional roommate is a 5 lb., black, white and brown bundle of fur, a 2 year old rabbit named Lady Bug (like royalty, not like the insect). As a prey animal, I couldn’t bear to think of anyone ever considering her as something to be featured next to sautéed asparagus. It occurred to me that every being has feelings, emotions and awareness. I started doing research about veganism, made up my mind, and never looked back.

Incidentally – Lady Bug is also a vegan!

LRJ: You're super busy working full-time, going to grad school part time and studying Birkam! How do you plan for your meals or have time to cook?!

Adrienne: I live and die by my spreadsheet. I am constantly on a timeline, and do a lot of prepping for my meals. Everyone loves the convenience of microwaveable meals – and there’s no reason why you can’t have that in a healthy, vegan, budget-conscious way.

I usually make a crock-pot full of lunch meals on a Sunday, and every night make my lunch for the next day. My new favorite cook-ahead are my Super Green Muffins – I make a dozen on a Sunday afternoon – volia! – all my breakfasts for the week (paired with a banana) and I’m off to my 6 a.m. yoga!

Dinner is anything I can throw into a sauté pan. Literally anything. No secrets – just healthy convenience!

LRJ: I tried Bikram a while back and loved it, but I didn't feel I had enough time to commit to it. I definitely felt challenged and motivated when I was in the studio, though! Tell me how the Bikram yoga come into play with your new lifestyle change.

Adrienne: Going to Bikram is a PITA (pain in the a**) and I’ll be the first to admit it. I have to take 3 outfits, 2 towels, 2 mats (one towel and one mat), a water bottle – honestly, I could use a small suitcase. Not only that, but the only time I can usually get to go is at 6 a.m. Yeah, 105 degrees at 6 a.m. Talk about a recipe for misery. I know why Bikram isn’t for everyone!

For me – even though it takes a lot of prep – it’s worth it. If you can’t tell, I’m a Type A personality, with a lot of stressors on my plate. Bikram gives me the 90 minutes where it’s just me and my mat. No cell phone, no distractions. I find myself so much more in control of my emotions, and my energy level is off the charts. You have to love yourself enough to go, and compassionate enough to let each session be whatever it is – and in that love, you find love and compassion for everything else. Sounds like hippie 101, but I swear it’s true!

LRJ: What has been the biggest health benefits or changes that you've noticed since going vegan in March 2012?

Adrienne: That’s an easy one – I haven’t been sick. If I’ve been sick, it’s for one or two days, and that’s it! Cutting out all the processed chemicals, dairy and meat has allowed my body to build up some incredible natural defenses. I used to be the queen of sinus infections (multiple times a year) and I think I’ve only had half of one since becoming vegan!

LRJ: Did you face any challenges in the beginning?

Adrienne: Of course, everyone makes mistakes. I’m not a Veg-magazine-thumping vegan, I’m not going to judge you for accidentally eating an egg in a piece of bread. I too had a fair share of mistakes as I was navigating the early waters. The biggest challenge was/is giving up seafood. I grew up on the coast of CT, and summers were filled with hush-puppies, fried and lobster boils. It’s very very hard to break old behavior patterns, especially when they’re so closely tied to memories.

LRJ: What advice would you give to others who are considering making a lifestyle change?

Adrienne: My number one suggestion: Watch this video by animal rights activist Gary Yourofsky titled, “The Best Speech You’ll Ever Hear”. He makes the most compelling, logical, fact-based argument for veganism I’ve ever heard. If you don’t at least consider living a plant-fueled lifestyle after that, I don’t know what to tell you.

LRJ: Have you shared your plant-based knowledge with anyone else in your life?

Adrienne: Yes – I’ve told everyone and anyone who will listen! I don’t mean that I go around handing out PETA brochures, but if nutrition and health is brought up – I’m happy to add my two cents. My boyfriend is incredibly supportive, and always makes sure to choose restaurants that have veg-friendly restaurants. I’m trying to convince my parents to become more plant-based; I actually got my dad to eat (and enjoy) a vegan meal at a local café – and he does like vegan cookies now. Although, who doesn’t like vegan cookies?!

Veganism, like any other decision directly affecting your health, is a very personal decision. People become a vegan for many different reasons, and, in my opinion – any steps towards a more compassionate lifestyle should be considered steps in the right direction. If you’re interested in veganism, do what anyone does: Google it!

Kelsey is a passionate vegan living in Houston, Texas, spreading the word about the benefits of eating a healthy, plant-based diet. She's also a minimalist enthusiast, a self-proclaimed financial guru of her household, and founder of The Little Red Journal.

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