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Admit the Truth, Change for the Better

So school has begun and things are starting to get very busy. I'm taking a small credit load but the course work is already piling up! Today I experienced something that has really shaped my outlook going forward, and I thought I would share it with you.

I haven't slept much this week because of homework and late nights so I went to bed very early last night. When I woke up at 6 this morning, I had a couple of hours before my workout so I started surfing the web for healthy food ideas. Working for myself and shopping on a budget requires a little creativity, and I've been considering cutting more meat out of my diet.

This is when I fell down the rabbit hole of veganism. As the years have gone by, I went from being completely against the notion of veganism to being a big supporter, but never actually a vegan. The closest I got was when I lived in Boston but that was mostly due to being forced to not eat meat. I say forced like there was someone there telling me not to but it was a personal decision: I couldn't stomach the meat they were cooking us at my dorm. Everything tasted like frozen chicken and it drove me nuts. In an effort to avoid the bland meat and undercooked eggs I stopped eating it and stuck to veggies, fruits, bread, and cheese, so really, I was more of a vegetarian.

These were the worst months of my life. I was alone in a far away city, constantly in bed without energy, my skin turned translucent, I lost 15lbs, my nose bled all the time, and I fainted for the first time in my life. This was the turning point in my diet that drove me to eat paleo, and I've been very happy with that choice (especially when I actually stick to it). Since then, I have just assumed that I must have meat (specifically red meat) in my diet because I grew up eating it all the time and it's how my body is designed.

Paleo helped me cut dairy, grains, gluten, and legumes out of my diet. I also followed the 2/3s rule: meals should be 2/3rds veggies and 1/3rd meat. My health has come completely back and I feel amazing when I stick to this rule. But lately, I've been thinking of altering it further by cutting more meat out of my diet. As years have gone by, I've made the decision to go cruelty free and this led me to discover the horrors of the food industry. It's always made me feel incredibly hypocritical that I should buy cruelty free products but eat food from the slaughterhouse.

Then this morning happened. I was introduced to "Bite Size Vegan" today, a youtube channel run by vegan superstar, Emily Barwick. Not only did I fall in love with her passion and her energy (and rock-hard abs) but I also was touched by the research and information she shared about the truths of the food industry. It disgusted me, brought me to tears, and solidified my resolve. I want a vegan lifestyle.

This will come with many challenges. For one, my family is already trying to work around my paleo diet, and I just made it much more difficult. Secondly, I'm not sure what my body can tolerate based on my history. So here's a couple of things I've decided to do differently:

1. Cut eggs. Cut bacon. Cut processed meat entirely. I don't need it, I hate the industry, and it isn't good for me to eat that and claim it's "healthier" than grains. Cut the bullsh*t.

2. Replace with protein rich vegetables and fruits. Start taking my vitamins. Relish in my avocados and almonds, try new things like artichokes. Eat as many brussel sprouts as I want (yes I love them!)

3. Extend the 1/3 rule. 2/3s of my meals will be veggies, 1/3 can have meat. That one meal will be 2/3s vegetables (or fruit/potato,alernative) and 1/3 grass fed, free range meat. It's not perfect, but it's the best I can do. I'm not ready to cut it completely until I know what it will do to my body.

4. Cook in bulk for the week. Make healthy breakfast bars, make plates of spaghetti squash, have my hemp protein smoothie ready to go. I need things to grab-and-go with my busy schedule, and if I take the time to prep, I won't even have to think. I'll just want it.

We will see how this goes, I'm very optimistic about this, and I have a feeling my first grocery list will actually save me a lot of money. I want to do right by our world and by our animals. I'm not perfect, I'll make mistakes, but I'm going to give it the best try I possibly can. I want to fight for those who don't have a voice and live authentically, at peace with this beautiful world I call home.

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