The story with my own personal nutrition goes back a few years. Growing up I ate meat, dairy, and packaged foods. My Mother cooked the best she could for our family and I loved helping her in the kitchen. I mostly remember a lot of hamburger helper, spaghetti, taco salad, and convenience pre-packaged foods, and ready-made frozen dinners. Right before my 30th birthday I quit smoking and realized everything started tasting better and my body started to heal. I became more curious about the food I ate and where it came from. I started reading numerous articles on nutrition, checking out book after book from the library, and started watching food documentaries. I learned about how our food is produced, how it affects our planet, how it affects our bodies, the unethical treatment of our animals just for food, the science today on plant-based foods, and I made a decision to adopt a more plant-based vegan diet.
In 2012, I was on a vegan diet for about eight months. In the beginning it was a little challenging learning how to read nutrition labels, discovering a new way to cook, and eating out was difficult for me. At that time I had some social anxieties and it was hard for me to talk to people, and be comfortable in social gatherings . I had a hard time telling friends and family, and felt judged every time I went out to a restaurant. So I started cooking more at home, I read many vegan cookbooks to learn new methods on how to cook, what to keep in my pantry, and slowly I began to fall in love with food. I became more comfortable with my choices and new way of life. I also started to exercise regularly for the first time in my life. Then abruptly in 2013 Mother passed away and I had a moment of life’s too short and broke down and sadly everything changes and my vegan diet wavered. I started consuming eggs again and was vegetarian for the next five years. I only added eggs to my diet and was otherwise dairy-free with nut milks and non-dairy cheeses and butters.
In 2016, I received my blood work results from a routine physical and my protein levels were very low, and the results scared me. I was also anemic at the time and would bruise easily all over, and my body was way off-balance. I was really stressed with work, and just had a bad work life balance, and clearly not eating well enough to support what my body really needed. I had trouble meeting my nutritional needs and was deficient in protein, iron, and some other vitamins and minerals like vitamin D and B 12 (very important to take for vegans). Before I knew about taking B 12, my hands would go numb a lot and read an article about how important it is to our bodies, so I started to take supplements. I also wasn’t eating enough of the proper foods, and enough calories in general. I researched more on what to do and I decided to add a little meat back into my diet. I still struggled with this and had a really hard time morally doing so but I lacked the proper knowledge I needed at the time to heal my body.
In 2018, I had another physical and blood work taken that resulted in normal levels of protein and iron. I was happy to see better results, but my problem was that I still didn’t feel great. My body didn’t feel right, I still felt guilty, and I didn’t feel as good as I did when I was fully vegan. So I was at a crossroads. In September I decided to go back to being vegan again. I talked to my doctor about my concerns, and with further personal research on reading scientific papers on veganism and plant-based diets, and more into nutrition, I have found a proper balance. I made a plan going forward to make sure I have the right balance of foods, what supplements I need for my body, and making sure I eat enough of the right foods. Now I’m only taking vitamins D and B 12, the remaining vitamins I can get from plant based foods. I have a clear conscience once again, and I’m hopeful in my next round of testing my results will still be normal.
I am now on a new journey back to living and being vegan again and plan on being this way for life. My work life balance is a lot better and I finally feel like I’m where I needed to be. It took me a long time to come back to this moment, and I’m very happy I’m here. Seeing all the data and re-watching some food documentaries has solidified this decision for me, ethically, humanely, and for my own health reasons to go back on a vegan lifestyle. I’m newly inspired and I want to share all my new findings, and recipes with all of you. Everyone’s reasons for going plant-based may be different, though we can all help our planet and our health by making small changes everyday. Even a simple thing like trying one plant-based meal a week can make a difference. I began by purging my pantry of everything not plant-based and gave it all away. Starting out with a clean and whole foods kitchen, I felt newly refreshed and excited for what’s to come. It’s important to go at your own pace and see what works for you.
In 2016 I graduated from Johnson and Wales University in Denver with a degree in Culinary Arts and now I’m looking into studying nutrition as well. I want to help others learn the importance of nutrition from every age, to live more balanced so we can all heal from the inside out, to practice self-care, and live mindful.
In 2017 I published my first cookbook and in 2018 I published a vegan journal self- help book for new vegans. https://noshwithchefjulie.com/books/
I am truly grateful to be able to create, write, and share my love for food and well being with all of you. Learning more everyday about health, wellness, and hearing other people’s stories on a plant-based path inspires me everyday. Seeing your comments here and reviews from my books makes me so humbled and appreciative of my small corner in the universe.
– Julie Michele