The year was 1998. I was 35 years old. My daughter, Erinn, was 8. I said that I was done with beef. I had heard and learned too much about the potential ill health effects in the beef industry (I had already given up pork and veal years earlier, for health and ethical reasons) and now felt we really didn’t needto eat beef products anymore. The only dairy we consumed was organic yogurt, butter and cheese (the hardest thing ever to give up!). We now had almond milk for our breakfasts in the house. I had read colon cancer was on the rise in North America, the beef industry would have loved us to eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner but I felt sluggish and ‘thick’ skinned every time I ate it and knew it was the best decision for the two of us to give it up. I did it primarily for health reasons. Beef was proven to be full of unhealthy saturated fats, steroids, hormones and antibiotics. We just didn’t need it.
I met my husband Ken for the first time in 1998 and then again in 2005. The second time was better time for us to be dating, but that’s a whole other story. He was in the crazy restaurant/bar business, totally sacrificing himself (and his business) by eating and drinking all the wrong things. Even when we dated, our weekends away were spent with bottles of red wine and lots of fresh artisan breads and yummy local cheeses (VT, NY, CA and QC). We always had the best time ever and imbibed a little too much and it was a beautiful journey getting to know each other, but I was more than certainly paying for it. My health and general well-being was being severely compromised.
My discipline kicked in after a year or so from these ‘indulgences’ and I’m so glad Ken decided to come along this ride with me to discover optimal health. He was doing great!!! Breakfast (yes, he actually got up early and started power walking with me in the morning) was blueberry smoothies, fresh ground raw almond butter on whole grain toast, (yay! No more JIF or hydrogenated spreads for him, no butter- just plain whole grain toast). Erinn was showing him how to use non-dairy products in his coffee; we used the Silk soy creamers. Almond milk and Rice milk were now staples in his life. No more butter for Ken. No more white sugars, white flours, processed juices, meats and ultimately cheeses (….that was VERY difficult last step and ended up being an on again, off again item).
I started making these nutritionally complete protein bars. They were amazing! Instead of baking the protein bars, I started making them RAW and adding Superfoods to them. What a concept!!! In 2007 I developed a raw protein bar 50g in weight, 9g protein, 4g fibre. We trademarked them and called them “DIRT Bars” as they were from Mother Earth and were wholesome plant-based nutrition. Everyone loved them. Ken was hooked and not to mention full of pride. Erinn was bringing them to her high school too and sharing them with her friends. The teenage crowd loved them! (This is now a concept I’m are bringing to the public very soon- watch for it!)
I brought vegetarian and vegan options to his restaurant- Tofu Scrambles, Brown Rice Bowls, Vegetarian curry (made with coconut milk). We created an herb garden on the roof of the restaurant, rain barrels were collecting the rain water to water all the gardens, and many environmental initiatives were done inside the restaurant that Ken headed up. We were on fire and made national TV!!
We embarked on this healthy path at the restaurant for selfish reasons; yes, we needed somewhere to eat. Yet, funny enough, the sales at the restaurant increased by 25% and the vegetarian/vegan options comprised 30% of the total annual sales. Our signature dessert dish was the Organic Spelt Carrot Cake made with Tofu Cream Cheese Frosting. It was Ken’s restaurant’s Number #1 selling dessert item.
Ken and I got married on Valentine’s Day 2008. The LOVE of my life……
Through so many joys and yet, some massive adverse conditions, we finally made it to the altar. Erinn walked me down the aisle (as the bagpipe was playing) and the three of us shared our vows together.
My health still needed improvement…..
In July 2008, I was diagnosed with 2 masses in my liver. Me!! Erinn was freaked out. Ken was freaked out. My family couldn’t understand it. I was the health nut always so virtuous with my food. Why me??!! Toxins in the environment? Toxic Food? Significant exposure to them and external stressors all can wreak havoc on our systems. We don’t even think about this. So here we were, off-searching North America for the best possible treatments and to really determine the reasons for this happening. Basically, I wasn’t going to stop until I got the answers I needed to achieve optimal health, and the hope for a reversal and to get these 2 masses and other cysts/fluid OUT of my liver. Things always happen for a reason….at that point is when I read one more book….
Enter: “The China Study“, by T. Colin Campbell. Yes, even though I was on a whole food, pretty much, plant-based diet with the occasional fish, I was still confused. I needed confirmation that I was indeed on the right track. The China Study cleared the path for me. At times, I was brought to my knees in tears from anger and how we have been conned into thinking that meat was necessary to survive, that milk “does a body good”, and yes, that you are born with the predetermined genes to get cancer or high cholesterol or even diabetes. What this book did for me was clarify my confusion. I hope this makes sense to you. I had this brilliant epiphany: “REALITY CHECK!!”…… “I AM WHAT I EAT!!!”
At that very moment, I understood the deceit that was behind our food choices and the food and drug industry and what (and who) created our Nutritional Food Guidelines and RDA (Recommended Daily Allowances) and how they came to be. On the one side of the coin, we have the Dairy industry, Meat industry, Monsanto, Mars Bars, Coca-Cola, Danone, Pepsi-Cola, Komen for the Cure, The Cancer Societies, FDA, Diabetic Association, Nutrition Guidelines, Health Canada, FDA, RDA, etc., and we were raised to believe them, trust them and not question them and then, on the other side of the coin, we have scientific research. This scientifically documented research comprised ACTUAL people being cured, I mean REALLY having their diseases reversed- not their symptoms being treated. It blew my mind with so much clarity. The other proof of what food did to people was how they responded to a casein-free diet, Raw Plant-based diets, no animal fat diets,….no processed foods or just simply, a whole food plant-based diet.
Why were these cures being ignored??
One reason, and one reason only…. there’s no money in it if there are ‘cures’.
I can’t stress enough the importance to take charge of your body, your nutrition source, your daily fitness activities and your need for detoxification. You will be rewarded in leaps and bounds.
I eat a mostly Raw Vegan diet which would be approximately 80% raw every day. Sometimes it’s 100%, other days 70%, yet, it is a journey for me to evolve and to find my optimal health. What a profound feeling to have this ‘power’ I call it, to change my life through my diet and nutritional choices.
In a nutshell, this is what I avoid: all animal products, all dairy products (butter, cheese, dairy ice cream, yogurt), eggs, white flour, white sugar, processed anything (that goes for orange juice in a container), pop (yucky), diet pop (even yuckier-have you ever read the label??), hhhhhmmmm. Have I forgot anything? Oh yeah,.. Hot Dogs!! This is for my little nephew I love so dearly…(Do you know how they’re made? From every cow and pig body part you could ever imagine and then some…. plus you can’t forget the addictive nitrites and excitotoxins). They are toxic, highly acidic, very addictive and will hurt you.
So, what do I eat?? PLANTS!
- Fresh Organic Green vegetables (2+ pounds per day)- for making Smoothies and Juices.
- ALL kinds of Organic vegetables for making salads, sauces, raw meals and more.
- Organic Fruit.
- Coconut Milk Ice Cream, Nut Milk Raw Ice Creams.
- Organic Grains like Quinoa (keen-wha) yum!
- Organic RAW nuts (eaten plain or made into raw cheeses and crackers).
- Raw Cacao and Superfoods like Maca and Gojis (in my freezer, I always have raw cacao treats made from buckwheat groats or coconut meat, dates and cashews and walnuts and pecans…this list is endless).
- Tempeh occasionally. Maybe once ever two weeks.
- Vegan ThaiFood, Viet Namese Food, Indian food and Ethiopian Food- So delicious!!
I have never felt better in my life. I sleep better, work better, digestion is very well-tuned, I have better skin, body tone, muscle tone, teeth, eyes, everything seems to work AWESOME and I have a clean bill of health!
- Knowing the poisons (antibiotics, condensed fats, casein, viruses, dead white blood cells, steroids, hormones, other drugs) that are in meats and dairy.
- Acknowledging the horrible treatment of Factory Farmed animals. Animals are my friends not my food. J I have pets and can’t make the choice to eat one and not the other.
- Feeling GREAT without cheese in my diet (and with that comes reducing cellulite, better digestion and elimination, clearer thinking and focus, healthier skin, eyes, etc.)
- Environmental Impact of not eating meat i.e. less water resources, reduced manure on the planet and pharmaceutical runoff in rivers and streams and oceans, etc.
- World Hunger is helped when I don’t eat meat or dairy. The resources (grain and corn) that feed the factory farm animals could be used to feed the starving over one billion people on this planet (1 in 6 people)
- Realizing that I don’t NEED animal products to survive and thrive and it’s actually quite the contrary.
This journey is so remarkable! It is total about-face from anything you have ever been conditioned to believe. Enjoy the journey and know it’s the journey that counts. Not the final destination. I promise to make it fun every step of the way.