Last year I met a lovely woman at the Dungu Book Vegan Meet Up. As soon as I sat next to her and we introduced ourselves, I could feel her positive energy, and her need to be successful in her journey to living a healthy and prosperous lifestyle. Alicia is a woman with many experiences and stories to share. And her plant-based journey, including food slip-ups, and personal health issues are very honest and motivational. There are some instances when we are inspired by the positive actions of others, and there are the rare occasions when the ill health, poor nutritional lifestyle of a family member encourages you to take the necessary steps to improve your own lifestyle, so you are not dealt the same decline in your health and Alicia took those very steps!
I have remained meat free since April 2016. I wasn’t really a massive meat eater, but as I am a West Indian, a lot of the dishes that I am used to are meat based and I enjoyed eating jerk chicken and curry goat. Whenever my dad would cook these dishes (especially the jerk chicken) I would often tuck in quite happily. My dad is an awesome cook!
I mainly was a seafood girl, so that was my greatest hurdle. Seabass, salmon, squid, mackerel, prawns…these were the options that I would happily eat over and over again; at home and when I went out to eat. My main vices were seafood (especially calamari and salt fish), chocolate cake, Ferrero Rocher, Guylian (special occasions/when I fancied it, as I’m not a sweet tooth) eggs and thick creamy yoghurt.
I would say that my previous diet was ‘well balanced’ and nutritious. I don’t have a great sweet tooth and I like to lead a healthy lifestyle, so thejunk food was on random ‘fat days’. My body responds well to clean foods, so even though I was not a vegan, I did eat a lot of fruit and veg and did not consume too much dairy, salt and sugar. I always have enjoyed colour on my plate. My body cannot take too much of the bad stuff. It made me sleepy, bloated and spotty. The joke was, that if I decided to eat take away that included dairy, I was not going anywhere the next day. It would be a lazy loose clothing day, where I could be neara toilet. That was the consequences of the ‘Fat Friday’ which would happen perhaps once or twice a month. My body and milkshake, cheeseor general ‘beige’ processed junk (not food) were not best friends.
My skin was the first trigger. I was breaking out left, right and centre like nobody’s business! I went from smooth, glowing skin, to dull, spotty combination/greasy skin. This was due to work and life stress in 2015 and even though I looked after myself with my nutrition, my skin was the major indicator that something was not right.The doctor confirmed that it was stress and a hormonal shift, now that I am in to my thirties. This is very common for women in their early thirties, but I did not want to accept that the stress and hormones were the only reasons to why I was developing this unhealthy looking skin.
I admit that it was the aesthetics that made me rethink my diet. I am not a vain person but I guess because I have always had such fabulous smooth skin, I wanted to go back to having that healthy smooth skin and not this dreadful acne, which was quite painful and embarrassing. I did feel very self-conscious. Through my own research I found out about how hormones are pumped in to milk and also how through the consumption of dairy, mucus is created in our bodies, thus promoting sickness of the body. If I was already naturally ‘hormonal’, why would I want to put extra hormones in my body that contributed to my breakouts and stress levels?
Milk wasn’t my best friend anyway, so…goodbye milk! That was my first elimination and it wasn’t hard. People often said (still say) to me “what about cheese? Don’t you love cheese? You are mad to cut it out! Where will you get your calcium?”Am I the only person on Earth that does not crave cheese? I liked cheese, but I wasn’t crazy about it. I always knew that there was more calcium in leafy greens anyway, so I would always respond with “we don’t need milk for calcium!” Isn’t it crazy how the masses believe that milk is the only source, or the most important source of calcium? Milk is so bad for us! Don’t get me started on the milk production business and treatment of the dairy cows. I was horrified with the whole process. What more reason could I give myself? I did not realise that we consume the fear that the animal feels. As meat eaters we consume the fear, which is called cortisol. This is the hormone that is released in the animal’s body before slaughter. If we are feeling stressed out, perhaps we could look at other sources that contribute to the stress…meat!
As meat eaters we are eating stress! Obviously I was aware that animals are slaughtered before arriving at the supermarkets and then on to our plates, but as I researched further in to how to cure my body, I developed a new understanding to the meat and dairy industry. I felt bad for those poor animals. Why eat them? No more meat for Alicia. I don’t even miss it!
Spring/Summer 2016 I was a Pescatarian. I had heard all the extra information about the dangers of consuming too much red meat and fat. I thought that a diet that consisted of plants and seafood would be the perfect diet for me. When I say diet, I mean a dietary change. I have never been on, or will ever be on a diet! I am a fitness enthusiast and believe in a healthy, sustainable diet not a quick fix diet. A relative was very, very sick and studies had proven that this condition that my relative had, was a digestive issue that is worsened by processed foods that cannot digest sufficiently creating holes in the gut wall, thus creating a very potentially life threatening outcome. This condition is linked to obesity and is very common in the US and has begun to increase here in the UK. This was a very scary time for my family, because our loved one almost lost her life all because of food. What also was shocking to me was the fact that my loved one actually ate quite well. She enjoys healthy eating and does not over eat. This condition developed over time without any noticeable symptoms. She went to hospital with a tummy ache and ended up staying in hospital for over a month after her life saving surgery. Listen to your body! If you are having tummy cramps regularly, seek medical advice and cut out the ‘beige’ food. I thought that by becoming a Pescatarian was the best option to have a healthy balanced diet. I did not want to end up with this condition. Also, I wanted to be the poster girl for my family to change their eating habits. I am that family member who is crazy about fitness, but I wanted to use my body as an example of what real food can do. People can sometimes respond better when they can physically see a change rather than through words.
There is that famous quote by Mahatma Gandhi: “Be the change that you wish to see in the world”
I was a happy “Pesci” (my nickname for Pescatarian). I felt lighter, my skin started to clear up and I still enjoyed eating my Caribbean dishes. During the seven weeks on holiday in Antigua last summer, I did not feel the need or was tempted to eat meat. I was a very happy “Pesci”… until I watched the documentary film “Earthlings”. As mentioned before, squid was my vice with a capital “V” and after watching ‘Earthlings’ I felt bad for all animals. The squid looked so beautiful in the sea, minding its own business, floating so gracefully. I did not consider how my favourite food was once a peaceful sea creature. No more squid. No more seafood for Alicia. I have been on a vegan diet since September/October and on those days where I slipped earlier on in my transition; I really felt the effects of it. I remember eating fish at a friend’s birthday meal and on the same night, I experienced awful tummy cramps. That was a sign that my body had adapted to my plant based diet. I also have slipped up with eating chocolate, cake and macaroni cheese and yet again my body reacted so badly, I did not want to experience it again. Even with just a bite of these foods that are not conducive to my diet, my body rejects it. The moments of weakness are very, very rare but it is a reminder to stick to this healthier way of eating. As I am still quite new to the vegan eating, it is a process. I don’t beat myself up about slipping…instead my body does the beating. All jokes aside, I have learnt that if I slip, I should not be hard on myself. Instead, I should remember the many reasons why I am choosing this lifestyle and the old way of eating does not serve me. I have inspired lots of people around me, because as mentioned before, they can see a change in me. I have lost fat, sculpted my body, and my skin has a dewier look. Although I still have outbreaks in this early stage due to my body adjusting, but rather than being ashamed of my skin, I am proud that my body is so in tune, that it is getting rid of the “badness”.
I am more positive, less stressed and have cleared my mind. A lot of people that are on a vegan diet have said the same thing. Karma free food has resulted in a more balanced mind, body and soul. I feel fantastic! Do you know that I have become more creative and feel more aligned with my purpose? Food is the energy and with all this powered by the sun, high vibration foods that I am eating; I have attracted like-minded positive people in to my life. These positive people have supported my journey and I am supporting theirs. It feels fantastic to be part of a community that are mindful, positive, and creative. They inspire me every day. I have a new family of plant based eaters. The first thing I noticed was how the whites of my eyes began to look so bright. I could actually see colours more vividly and also my sense of smell increased. It sounds crazy, but the smell of fat and grease was so heightened, it was off putting. Trips to the gym were quite difficult in the early stages, because I could actually smell the fat and grease in the air. I carried out further research and discovered that we are basically what we eat and the smells that I could smell at the gym, was the food odours perspiring through peoples pores as they worked hard and sweated all ofthe toxins out. Gross! I’m pleased to say that I no longer have super strengthened “smelling of bad odour” abilities.
I have faced many challenges and I have got used to people finding me ‘weird’ or ‘crazy’ for doing it. At first I was easily offended when people questioned me, as if I am doing something very wrong. Some people didn’t just question, they literally attacked me verbally and was very insensitive. The negative responses that I received, I was not prepared for. Yet again, I had to remember why I started this and that diffused the negativity. My loved ones question/questioned me, but that was from a place of love. Vegan is a word new to a lot of my loved ones and with the lack of understanding; they were mainly concerned about my health. I had to reassure them that my health will actually improve and that I had done my research to know that I will get all of my nutrients and…protein!
“How will you get your protein?” The main question asked by people. Why is this question so popular?
Thank you Alicia x