Happy Friday, everyone! Today we’re talking with the ever beautiful, Tonya, of @inspired_fit_vegan! We joke that we’re long-lost sisters and honestly after doing this interview, I’m starting to question whether or not we really are. This nature loving, kind-hearted, inspiring woman is incredibly talented and creative. Like all of the previous friends I’ve interviewed, Tonya can be found spreading love and light to all – her energy is contagious. As a quote addict, I find myself constantly referring to her page to jot down some words of wisdom. Tonya’s page is also filled with beautiful photos of nature adventures, her latest food creations, her cuddly furbabies and of course, her beautiful face. It’s been a pleasure connecting with this lovely human being and I know we’ll be friends for a long time.
INTERVIEW WITH TONYA…
Tell us a little bit about yourself!
I’m originally from a little town in Connecticut where I spent most of my life, but I recently moved to Buffalo, New York to sort out some big changes I’m making in my life right now. I live here with my boyfriend: Jeremy, two dogs: Draco and Penny and 3 cats: Gatsby, William, and Lilac. I spend most of my time making sterling silver and gemstone jewelry for my little Etsy shop, but a lot of the time you’ll find me in the kitchen testing out and creating new recipes. Cooking lights a fire in me like nothing else! Other than that I enjoy playing the piano, guitar, hiking somewhere beautiful, or just curling up with a nice book and my furbabies.
When did you go vegan? What was your “Aha” moment?
In 2011 my diet consisted mainly of cannolis, pizza, subway, steaks, gin, wine, chicken, candy, chips, chocolate, and cheese. My exercise consisted of a maybe weekend hike depending on the weather, and if I felt up to it. Over time my physical state started to affect my mental state. Taking a look at how I was feeling at the time-tired, depressed, and getting sick a lot, I decided it was truly time for a change. The big switch was when I started to take a look at what I was eating day-to-day, and realizing it was contributing to how I was feeling. My best friend has been vegan for many years and I really started to notice how amazing she felt and how great all of her food looked. So I started to ask her some questions about being vegan, and she was more than happy to share information with me. Each weekend I would go to her house and we’d cook an amazing vegan meal together – I was always so surprised at how amazing it tasted! So I started to incorporate that into my diet, subbing in vegan meals here and there. I watched a video on factory farming and it opened up my eyes, and sealed the deal for me. Being an animal lover I saw that eating meat truly conflicted with my inner morals, and from that day I went vegetarian. I started to look at my physical health next, and began walking together every day after work. Slowly I was seeing changes in my energy. In April of 2012, I watched the documentary “Forks Over Knives,” and it was just decided it’s time to go vegan. It was really a no brainer, and I have been ever since! I wish I had known everything I know now a long time ago.
What is the hardest part about being vegan?
Hmm the hardest part about being vegan? Well I’d say the hardest part is the lack of understanding from family members. I’ve felt so amazing since making my transition to a plant-based diet that I want to share it with everyone I know and love. Sometimes I feel like I don’t fit in, and I just want my family to understand how much I care about their health and well-being. I understand though that people just have to take their own time, and learn when they are ready. I guess I just don’t like the judgments that come from people. Like “why aren’t you eating a burger?!” Regardless of anyone’s choices, I always accept the fact that we are all different and that is okay.
What does natural health mean to you?
Natural health to me means living a life full of whole foods and products that come from the earth, instead of man-made chemical laden products. Health is a multi-faceted subject and I think natural health focuses on mind, body, and soul.
Tell us about your blog! (or shop)
I am currently working on a blog so I can share my vegan recipes with everyone, but I have an Etsy shop:
Blue Sky Eyed started out back in 2011 when I was busy running my other online shop The Lion and The Rose. I always had admired gemstones since I was a kid collecting different stones with my family in the woods, stones, shells and sea glass on the beach, and finding little treasures wherever our family traveled over the years. More recently I’d started to admire and become drawn to other people’s artisan gemstone necklaces. I just feel that the gemstones all have certain energies and goodness to them! I am a child of the outdoors, I love being in the woods, or at the beach, anywhere there is sunshine & blue skies, for it brings me such joy and hope! One day I thought I should do my own styled pieces, as I’ve always enjoyed making jewelry. So I started out making only gemstone, glass and sterling silver jewelry and gifting it to friends and family. It was very rewarding, and I found it so relaxing and peaceful that I decided it would be a fun way to use some of my spare time, conveying my love of nature through my crafts, and hoping that my pieces would be able to bring happiness to other people in the process!
You can find it here:
What is your favorite cruelty-free product and why?
My favorite cruelty-free product is coconut oil! I love that I can use it for so many things: moisturizer, in my smoothies, make-up remover, oil pulling, hair conditioner, and so many other uses. It’s right up there with vinegar, one of the other things I can’t live without!
Who or what inspires you?
Everyone that has crossed my path in life inspires me and teaches me something new! My parents definitely inspire me for sure as they are both strong, and loving, and I know no matter what I can always lean on them for support! My boyfriend Jeremy inspires me, and has taught me so much about embracing the present moment. Nature inspires me, and renews me. I love days where I can just sit outside in the sunshine, by the water and create-words in my journal, jewelry, or music. Also my furry friends inspire me-they teach me to have fun with life and never take anything too seriously.
A kitchen gadget you cannot live without?
That’s a tough one: There are three kitchen gadgets I don’t think I could live without-my Vitamix, Cuisinart food processor, and my Kitchen Aid mixer.
What is your favorite meal?
I have so many favorites, but a nice vegan baked mac and cheese takes it for me!
Three of your favorite cooking ingredients.
Olives, Chocolate, and Garlic
Favorite resources regarding a plant-based lifestyle?
My favorite resources are:
Forks Over Knives
Isa Does It by Isa Chandra
Vegan Brunch by Isa Chandra
Chloe’s Kitchen by Chloe Coscarelli
Chloe’s Desserts by Chloe Coscarelli
Chloe’s Vegan Italian by Chloe Coscarelli (She’s my absolute favorite and I’d love to work with her someday)!
Let Them Eat Vegan by Dreena Burton
Any tips or words of advice to anyone considering a plant-based lifestyle?
Take it slow, do your research and don’t worry about being perfect. When I started out I was vegetarian and I wasn’t absolutely perfect. That’s okay-the most important thing is that you know why you want to make changes, and that you are always true to yourself in the process. Invest in some of the cookbooks I listed above and you’ll never look back! Network with others that will help support you in your journey, as sometimes friends and family aren’t always the most encouraging.
Gosh I love quotes-but one of my very favorites is:
“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson
Three words to describe you.
Passionate, Peaceful, and Loving
Where can we find you via social media? IG, FB, blog address, etc.
Thank you so much, Tonya! I’m looking forward to your future blog – I know it will be successful.
Thanks for stopping by!