Why Blue Ridge Vegan?
I live in Crozet, Virginia, in the foothills of the Blue Ridge mountains. We moved to this area in 2007, and our first few years here were a time of significant transformation for me. I chose the name Blue Ridge Vegan to celebrate this beautiful place where my vegan journey began.
This is the long(er) version of my story… enjoy! (If you’d like to read the condensed version, click here).
Becoming a vegan was a process for me, like it is for most people. My journey into this way of life has been one of a-ha moments and beautiful discoveries about myself and what I believe. Also, it’s about what I uncovered as I sought to learn more. Throughout my adult life, I have been drawn to healthy foods. And I’ve been interested in the way food can heal the body and help us maintain optimal health.
In the early 2000’s, I read several books that indicated meat and dairy promoted inflammation in the body. It was shocking to learn that they were linked to several serious diseases. As a young Mom with twin sons, I was overwhelmed. I just could not conceive of how I would feed my family without meat and dairy products. In my mind, it couldn’t be done; so I simply didn’t try.
As time progressed, I continued to read (and read and read). When I finished the book Eating Animals, I decided then and there that I would never consume meat again. The knowledge I had obtained about the meat industry triggered a visceral emotional reaction within me. I no longer wanted to contribute to this industry and the harm and mistreatment of animals in any way. I became a vegetarian on the spot. Giving up meat wasn’t a challenge for me, but I held on for dear life to eggs and dairy (primarily cheese!).
Becoming Vegan for Good
A few years later, a friend of mine gently pointed out that the animals involved in the dairy and egg industries weren’t treated any better than animals that were slaughtered for meat. I wanted to try to convince her that consuming products from animals was not the same as eating the animals themselves. But her words gave me pause. I decided to dig deeper into the industry to understand this for myself. Sure enough, the research confirmed what she had stated. I made the decision to become a vegan in 2016.
As I worked my way through this transformation in my own life, I began to research and better understand how a vegan diet can reverse many forms of chronic disease. My husband, John, had wrestled for nearly 10 years with Type 2 diabetes. As time pressed on, his doctor prescribed more and more medication and he was miserable. The cost of his monthly prescriptions was weighing us down financially. And the number of pills he was taking each day was unheard of for his age.
In January of 2017, he was scheduled for a surgery that required him to be home and recovering for two weeks. I suggested to him that – during his recovery – I could cook and prepare ONLY healthy plant-based meals. He could choose the menu and I would do all of the shopping and food preparation. Thankfully, he agreed and committed to doing this for ONE WEEK. We worked in partnership with a local doctor to ensure that we were approaching this in a safe manner. Also we wanted to monitor his prescriptions as needed, considering such significant dietary changes.
After that initial week, John couldn’t believe how great he felt. He had renewed energy and lost several pounds. At his suggestion (which was a wonderful shock to say the least!), we continued on for a second week. After the second week, we agreed to continue for a full month. After that month, John was off all medications except one (Just ONE!) and had lost 25 pounds. The changes in his health and in his bloodwork were truly remarkable. At that point, he was fully on board and after six months, he had lost 50 pounds. He has maintained his weight loss to this day.
That’s my story – well, really, it’s OUR story. My personal experience was one thing. It was self-developed, internal and life-changing for me. But the experience I shared with my husband was a partnership. It required open communication, and navigating through difficult challenges and choices. We had to recognize that people choose to go vegan for different reasons. Each reason is valid and valuable and each journey is unique.
My Journey to Certified Vegan Health Coach
Ten months after my husband jumped on the plant-based bandwagon, my certification studies began. First, I completed the Certificate Program in Plant-based Nutrition with the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies. Shortly thereafter, I traveled to New York City to earn my VLCE (Vegan Lifestyle Coach and Educator) Certification from the Main Street Vegan Academy. This experience is what led me here – to my passion and desire to help anyone who desires to become a vegan for any reason.
If you’re interested in exploring a plant-based diet, you don’t need to do this alone. I would love to partner with you to share lessons learned and resources gained through my own personal experience.