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 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.
About six years ago 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 it was a challenge and I had some social anxieties. 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 started consuming eggs again. I then became vegetarian for five years only adding eggs to my diet, I was still adding plant-based nut milks and not eating cheese, but I did have fish occasionally. I was more flexitarian for that time.
Two years ago 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 and that it’s only available from animal sources, so I started to take supplements. I also wasn’t eating enough of the proper foods, and enough food 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 future blood work from my last phisical resulted in normal levels of protein and iron, but I still didn’t feel great, not like I did when I was fully vegan. So I was at a crossroads. Now with talking to my doctor, and further research on reading scientific papers on plant-based diets I have found a proper balance.
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. I feel like 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 cleaning out my pantry of everything not plant-based and gave it all away. Starting out with a clean and whole foods kitchen I feel newly refreshed and excited for what’s to come.
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, and to practice self-care and live mindful. Currently I am working on my second cookbook that will tell my journey, and will be 100% plant-based vegan recipes.
I am truly grateful to be able to create, write, and share my love for cooking and nutrition with all of you. Learning more everyday about health, nutrition, and hearing other people’s stories on a plant-based nutrition path inspires me everyday. Seeing your comments here and reviews from my book makes me so humbled and appreciative of my small corner in the universe. I love to explore, and share new adventures, and I hope you can have fun with the recipes I have created and enjoy this time together to make beautiful food and memories at home.
– Julie Michele
This is the official site of Julie Michele Tuttle.