One Member’s Journey from Ill Health to Enlightenment

My story isn’t much different than others who have transitioned to a whole foods plant-based diet. Typically, it starts out based on health and over time transitions to ethical reasons. So what exactly is my story….

Path to Enlightenment

I grew up in a southern-traditional household where food was fried and bacon grease was saved and used in almost every dish. You can always tell if vegetables were cooked southern, because after they cool off all the grease rises to the top and creates a thick layer.

I had a lot of stomach issues growing up, ulcers, reflux esophagitis, etc.

Ulcerative Colitis

At the time I attributed it to stress or other factors as it was never a thought in anyone’s mind that food could cause these issues.  However, as I got older I realized my diet was a contributing factor. So when I moved out on my own I eliminated fried foods completely and reduced the red meat I ate. I baked or grilled my food, but never fried it. I stopped using bacon grease as a seasoning and replaced it with spices and quit eating pork and replaced pork bacon with turkey bacon.

Turkey Bacon

It was amazing how quickly my stomach healed after making basic changes. At that time, I was still eating chicken, turkey, and fish mainly because I had always eaten meat. Every so often I would still eat some red meat, but tried to keep it to no more than once a month. It just seemed as if something I was supposed to do to get my protein. Besides, no one can live on lettuce right?

When I was in college we had to do a presentation on a topic that generated a lot of controversy. So the topic I picked was mad cow disease because I really wanted to understand what all the fuss was about.

The things I learned from that study were enough for me to eliminate that hamburger or steak I was still eating once a month.

After that, red meat was completely gone and around the same time I started venturing out to try more and more types of vegetables. Growing up I thought I hated spinach, brussel sprouts, carrots, etc. The reason I didn’t like it was mainly due to how it was prepared and cooked. Once I tried fresh spinach, there was no turning back for me. That quickly went from my most hated vegetable to my most favorite. Growing up we ate spinach from a can. Now I eat it fresh and either raw or slightly sautéed. As time went on I slowly discovered more and more vegetables I loved and as I brought on more vegetables I eliminated more meat.

Veggies

By my thirties I had transitioned to a more Pescatarian diet and rarely ate chicken, turkey, or dairy and my mind was open.The term ‘GMO’ came into the picture more frequently.

I spent a lot of time studying GMO’s (Genetically Modified Organisms) and realized that even though I thought I was eating a healthy diet, I was actually putting chemicals into my body. So I began reading every label on everything I bought. It wasn’t until my mid / late thirties that more and more all natural organic foods became more popular and therefore those companies began putting the Non-GMO label on their products to stand out. I started seeking out Non-GMO certified labels and organic certified labels on the food I purchased.

Around the same time, I joined a lot of online groups to educate myself about food and began watching various documentaries.

It was through this education I realized that the need for humans to eat meat was a myth and that eating whole foods like soy, tempeh, tofu, etc. was actually very good for you.

Though it didn’t happen overnight, I did quickly find myself eliminating what little bit of chicken and turkey from my diet I was eating and began cutting back on fish and dairy as well. Fast forward to today and I have transitioned completely to a whole foods plant based diet.

Burger N Sweet Potato

Some may say eating a whole foods plant-based diet is just too expensive. Well I disagree with that statement and here’s why.

If you buy your fruits and vegetables locally and eat what is available for the season, you will find that it is actually very inexpensive. Specifically since nothing has to be shipped in. In addition, the food is extremely fresh and full of flavor as it is harvested at the right time vs. early to prolong shelf life.

So how do you buy locally you may ask?

Well, there are several wonderful local farmers who sell their fruits and vegetables at various farmers markets around town. However, the key to buying local is to find a farmer who is certified organic and Non-GMO. Luckily for those who live in North Florida, we have a farmer, Francisco from KYV Farm, who is not only certified organic and Non-GMO, they also offer great pricing for their customers via CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). If you sign up for a CSA membership, you get great discounts on their fruits and vegetables and they deliver to conveniently located pick up locations. In addition, as a member you can participate in the various events KYV farms offers throughout the year and become a part of a real community who wants to eat healthy and learn all there is to know about nutrition and how what we put in our mouth does have a real impact on our health and life.

KyV Farm Logo

If you are struggling with letting go of your meat and dairy, then start small by implementing a meatless Monday in your family’s routine and buy more fruits and vegetables locally in replacement of the meats you remove from your plate.

It takes 21 days to form a new habit, so eliminate one type of meat from your diet each month and bring on new types of vegetables in replacement of the meat. Also, make it fun for the family by getting them involved in the selection of the vegetables and preparation of the food. If there is one thing I have learned over the years, there is more than one way to prepare my vegetables. So mix it up and have fun with the transition and benefits you will experience along the way.

April T

~ Member, April Turner, Commercial Finance

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