Celebration of Life: Remembering Eden

 

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Sometimes, someone crosses your path and changes everything around you. The way you view yourself, how you see the world, your attitude and priorities. Eden was that someone for me and I know for a fact that she impacted anyone and everyone she encountered. ❤

When Eden’s husband, Colin, emailed me to break the news of her passing, I did not expect to react the way that I did. I literally dropped to the floor and cried. It felt almost irrational considering my friendship with Eden never got the chance to go beyond emails and Instagram, but I think that goes to show just who she was – a remarkable, young woman. A true gift to this Earth.

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With Willow by my side while I was sobbing, I chose to welcome the tears and pain rather than wiping it all away. I shared with Willow what happened, briefly touching on her battle with cancer and we spent the next hour or two talking about Eden’s life – who she was and all that she did. Together, we watched the videos on Feed Life and I showed her some photos. Her response was, “Mom, she’s pretty.” More than you know, sweetheart. More than you’ll ever know.

A few days after the news, I felt the need to write about what Eden meant to me and remind myself about all that she taught me. I originally intended on keeping my thoughts private, but as I was pouring the words out on paper, I realized that the world needs to know who this beautiful human being was.

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I had the honor of interviewing Eden for my blog last year and through that interview, my admiration grew leaps and bounds. It also sparked a beautiful friendship. They say that not all superheroes wear capes and this is a prime example. She was the most selfless person I knew as her life was spent helping others – inspiring, teaching and impacting. Eden developed programs in Sri Lanka to help children and families and also co-founded Feed Life with her husband, Colin, where they provided the tools to live a healthy, vibrant, plant-based life. Everything I learned from Eden was not by way of preaching, but rather indirectly through example. I thank the universe every single day for connecting me with such an amazing human being and I wanted to write this post to celebrate her life.

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When I first got word of Eden’s passing, I immediately felt guilt and anger. Not towards her, of course, but at myself for all the things I didn’t do or say – and for such a beautiful life being cut short. I remember being so impressed and amazed at all of her accomplishments, along with the list of projects and goals she had. It’s as if she was unstoppable – no limit to what could be done. Through Eden’s life and actions, she taught me rather than comparing yourself with others, to focus on what your gift to the world is. Your purpose. What makes your heart sing. To follow your passions and dreams.

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Eden also opened my eyes to finding the beauty in everything. It’s easy to dwell in the darkness, to get stuck in the negative mindset. Train your eye to find the light in all things. During all of my conversations with Eden, she never let on to just how bad things were. I knew she had cancer and I knew she had her struggles, but her words were always positive. Whether in her Instagram posts or our exchange of emails, I was always left feeling inspired and more often than not, she shifted my perspective or realigned my spirit. Eden was such a source of peace and encouragement – whenever I think of her, I am filled with joy and honored to have known her.

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I thought I knew all about gratitude, but Eden changed the meaning of the word for me. Thanks to Eden, I acknowledge all that I’m grateful for each and every day. It’s the little things in life, small gifts from the Earth that I give thanks to and feel incredibly blessed. I have gotten in the habit of writing down or saying aloud, what I am grateful for each night before bed – which has also helped me be more present and mindful in life; refocused my priorities, along with who and what really matters.

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LOVE. A four letter word with BIG meaning. Eden helped me with self-love and the importance of not only filling yourself with love, but also spreading it to others. Words are a powerful thing and choosing to express yourself in a positive light, to shine on others strengths is a beautiful gift. In one of our emails we discussed one of my struggles and how I let others actions (whether directed at me or someone else) bring me down. She taught me to continue sending out good energy & love no matter what – to be a light to the world. Love is an essential part of life. And as I’ve learned from reading one of Eden’s favorite book (A Return to Love by Marianne Williamson):

“The way of the miracle-worker is to see all human behavior as one of two things: either love, or a call for love.”

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I know that I didn’t get the chance to tell Eden just how much she meant to me and all the ways she impacted my life, but I’d like to think that on some level, she already knew. She will be deeply missed by many and I know that because of her, lives have been changed for the better. I will forever carry Eden in my heart and one day, I will journey my way to Sedona, put my bare feet on the ground, feel the magic all around and know that she will be there with me in spirit.

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A huge thank you to Colin for helping me with the photos – her beauty and spirit shine through each one. If you’re not already following Feed Life, I encourage you to visit the website and learn more about their mission – Colin plans to continue the work they started together and I would love for him to get all the support he deserves.

My interview with Eden (August 8, 2014): Interview with Eden Elizabeth

Below is the slide show from her Celebration of Life service:

Love and light ❤

 

 

FRIDAY FEATURE: Interview with AlisaMarie of @alisamariefitness

Happy Friday, everyone!! Today we’re getting to know AlisaMarie of @alisamariefitness – a hardworking, strong, inspiring mama of two. I honestly think of her as a warrior – someone who has fought hard to get where she is today – she is truly admirable. She has two Instagram pages, one that shares her fitness journey & vegan food and the other one is filled with beautiful photography (including adorable pics of her family). So, be sure to check them both out!

INTERVIEW WITH ALISAMARIE:

FRIDAY FEATURE: Interview with AlisaMarie of @alisamariefitness

Tell us a little bit about yourself!

I am the mother of two boys. I like yoga, working out, taking photos and getting tattooed. 

When did you go vegan? What was your “Aha” moment?

My first “aha” moment to go vegetarian came after watching Food Inc. Levi was almost the age that we were going to start introducing solid foods and I really wanted to be educated on what we fed him. I don’t know why but it just hit me. It was the first time I ever really stopped to think about meat and what I was eating. I had just eaten McDonald’s right before watching it. And that was the last meal including meat that I ever ate (5.5 years ago).

Going vegan took more time. I went vegan about 6-8 months after going vegetarian and then ate some dairy and eggs when I got pregnant with my second son (everyone convinced me I needed it) but soon after I realized it was making me MORE sick. And I watched Forks Over Knives and learned about how addictive dairy is and the fact that I was so addicted and felt like I “NEEDED” it freaked me out. I remember sitting in bed thinking about it and I hated that feeling. So I made the decision to cut it out for good.

What is the hardest part about being vegan?

At first the hardest thing for me was cutting out cheese. Especially since cheese alternatives just don’t taste the same. I had to quit trying to replace cheese. I didn’t eat ANY vegan cheeses for a while and then when I tried some again (Daiya) I didn’t look at it like a cheese replacement, just as a yummy addition to my food. That helped.

Honestly, nothing else is that hard about it. Going gluten-free (in addition to being vegan) was MUCH harder.

What does natural health mean to you?

Natural health, to me, is to be observant about the health of your body and mind and to avoid medical interventions as much as possible. I believe there is a time and place for western medicine. But first, I will do everything I can do go the natural route first. I want to fuel my body (and mind) with whole foods and positivity (which includes no dead animals).

Tell us about your blog!

I have had a few different blogs over the years. But I’m not currently keeping up on it. However, I do have my favorite recipes over at www.alisamariefitness.com

What is your favorite cruelty-free product (cleaning, beauty, etc.) and why?

Manic Panic hair dye 🙂 Because we love dying our hair fun colors and Manic Panic is easy and 100% vegan.

Who or what inspires you?

My kids inspire me to be the best I can. I felt guilt for living the life I did before going vegan and being more natural minded. But I had to remember “when you know better, you do better”. So now that is what inspires me. I think its important for us to be educated and act on that.

A kitchen gadget you cannot live without?

Hands down, Vitamix. We use it at least 3x a day.

What is your favorite meal?

This is tough. Right now I’m really loving avocado wraps with the Wrawp (raw wraps) and smoothie bowls.

Some of our family’s favorites are Cashew Mac and Cheese, Quinoa Chili (my FIRST vegan recipe that I came up with) and the greatest GF/V Waffles EVER (from Babycakes)

Three of your favorite cooking ingredients.

I like Raw Coconut Aminos, nutrition yeast and garlic for extra flavor in my cooking. Pretty much every cooked meal I eat includes one of those. But I have been trying to eat more raw so in that case, I LOVE using dates in my raw desserts.

Favorite resources regarding a plant-based lifestyle?

Documentaries: Food Inc, Forks Over Knives, Meet Your Meat, Vegucated, Fat sick & Nearly Dead.

Books: Skinny Bitch.

Cookbooks: BabyCakes, Vegan Cookies Invade your Cookie Jar (not gluten-free), Oh She Glows

Any tips or words of advice to anyone considering a plant-based lifestyle?

You CAN do it. I know its easy to believe “oh I could NEVER give up meat or dairy”. I know because I used to say it. I used to mock vegans. Do your research. It’s important to know what you are eating (and especially what you’re feeding your children).

There are vegan alternatives to almost everything and they are healthier and animals werent harmed in the process. There are tons of books and blogs out there so you have support.

Favorite quote.

“To continue to climb mountains, one must continually descend back into the valleys.”

“Be brave with your life”.

“The things you are passionate about are not random. They are your calling.”

Three words to describe you.

Passionate, straightforward, complicated 😉

I asked Levi and he said “great, cute, good”

Where can we find you via social media? IG, FB, blog address, etc.

@alisamariefitness

@alisaonanadventure

FRIDAY FEATURE: Interview with Corey of @consciousnonblonde

Happy Friday, everyone! Today we’re getting to know the lovely, Corey, of @consciousnonblonde – mother of two, a huge source of positive energy, and creator of drool-worthy recipes. Her comments always brighten my day as they’re usually humorous and always uplifting. I imagine Corey is a phenomenal listener because each one of her comments is very detailed, proof that she’s paying attention and actually reading your captions, no matter how long they might be – it’s as if you’re sitting and chatting with her face to face. While Corey doesn’t have a blog (yet), she does share recipes right there in her posts, whether in the caption or within a comment. Her photos are beautiful, colorful and creative – so if you’re not already following her, please go check out her IG @consciousnonblonde.
FRIDAY FEATURE: Interview with Corey of @consciousnonblonde
INTERVIEW WITH COREY:
Tell us a little bit about yourself!
I live in Atlanta. I like to be outdoors, travel, read, cook, plant. 
FRIDAY FEATURE: Interview with Corey of @consciousnonblonde
FRIDAY FEATURE: Interview with Corey of @consciousnonblonde
When did you go vegan? What was your “aha” moment?
I started into going vegan slowly first cutting meat, then eggs. I haven’t had any animal milk products in years though because my daughter is severely allergic to cows milk. My aha moment was 7 years in the making. 
What is the hardest part about being vegan?
Hardest part about being vegan is that people around you feel that they need to make the change to go vegan as well. I don’t want anyone in my family or circle of friends to think that their convictions should be the same as mine. And that it’s ok if I eat off the veggie plate at the party. I’m not going to starve  😉
FRIDAY FEATURE: Interview with Corey of @consciousnonblonde
What is your favorite cruelty-free product? And why?
My favorite cruelty free product is Tate’s miracle conditioner. Has been for years. It really is a miracle product. 
Who or what inspires you?
My children inspire me. They are constantly challenging the world around them and asking questions. Seeking their own path. I wish I had the same courage and inspiration when I was their age. 
FRIDAY FEATURE: Interview with Corey of @consciousnonblonde
A kitchen gadget you cannot live without?
I really dig a Mason jar, handheld blender and spiralizer 
FRIDAY FEATURE: Interview with Corey of @consciousnonblonde
What is your favorite meal?
Vegan rolls, miso, vegan tempura veggies, seaweed salad and green tea. 
Three of your favorite cooking ingredients.
maple syrup, coconut oil and gf oats
Favorite resources regarding a plant-based lifestyle.
I read the China Study 9 years ago and that sparked a big change. Also, hanging out at farmers markets and getting to know the growers.
FRIDAY FEATURE: Interview with Corey of @consciousnonblonde
Favorite quote
“The most precious jewels you’ll ever have around your neck are the arms of your children.”
Three words to describe you.
 compassion, wit, grit
Any tips or words of advice to anyone considering a plant-based lifestyle?
Any change no matter how big or small in moving towards a plant-based lifestyle is significant. It all matters. Even if you add one smoothie a day. Vegan culture comes from a place of love and acceptance and everyone should know that.
FRIDAY FEATURE: Interview with Corey of @consciousnonblonde
FRIDAY FEATURE: Interview with Corey of @consciousnonblonde
Where can we find you via social media? 
Find me on Instagram @consciousnonblonde
Still thinking and debating with myself about sharing it all with everyone on a blog.

FRIDAY FEATURE: Interview with Brittany of @lentil_

Happy Friday, everyone! Today we’re talking with Brittany (of @lentil_) and if I could describe her in three words I would have to say: strong-willed, determined and honest. She’s not afraid to tell it like it is and won’t sugarcoat things…which at times can be intimidating, but also incredibly admirable. Coming from someone who lacks a bit of confidence, I look at Brittany and see strength and courage. She holds animal rights close to her heart and will shout it from the rooftops all the reasons why you should ditch dairy and meat. I learned about Brittany from a mutual Instagram friend and was immediately drawn to her natural beauty – You can tell that she takes care of herself inside and out.

INTERVIEW WITH BRITTANY:

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Tell us a little bit about yourself!

I always find introductions the most challenging part of blog interviews …. My name is Brittany. I currently reside in the Blue Mountains in New South Wales, Australia. I wouldn’t really say that I have any hobbies but I do gravitate towards what I call “introvert activities” such as: reading, watching movies and TV shows. My interests include health/fitness and animal rights issues, documentaries, self-improvement and holistic health.

When did you go vegan? What was your “Aha” moment?

I went vegan in September 2013. I watched a video on www.meat.org about factory farming and animal abuse and I decided right then and there that I would go vegan. I had previously dabbled in a plant-based diet so I was aware of what life would be like without meat and dairy. I was on the path to vegetarianism when I watched the video online but that didn’t seem like enough, I needed to cut everything that supported and funded animal cruelty out of my lifestyle. I began researching more and more about how I could live a sustainable, ethical and healthy lifestyle. To this day I am still learning and adjusting my lifestyle to be more natural and compassionate. It is a beautiful journey and not a day goes by that I am not thankful to have learnt the truth and found a lifestyle that I adore.

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What is the hardest part about being vegan?

This is a very loaded question. Some of the hardest parts about being vegan are dealing with criticism, negativity and unsupportive people. I am very lucky that my family and most of my non vegan friends support and respect my decision to be vegan. But I have also received my fair share of ignorant attacks from non vegans. I also struggle with the sensitivity that comes with the vegan lifestyle. Some days it feels like everything hurts and everything is offensive and those are the days that I want to whisk myself and my loved ones away to live on a completely vegan planet. I find it very hard to share a meal with people who are eating meat. It is hard not to take things personally because, for ethical vegans, the passion and motivation for being vegan becomes so close to your heart that animal cruelty begins to not only hurt animals, but it hurts you too.

What does natural health mean to you?

Natural health to me is living as closely to nature as you possibly can. Taking advantage of the myriad of powerful fruits, vegetables, herbs and plants that we have been blessed with. As I mentioned before I am very into holistic health so I always try to resort to natural and self-healing remedies for any physical or mental ailments that I encounter.

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What is your favorite cruelty-free product (cleaning, beauty, etc.) and why?

We have a line of beauty care products in Australia called Sukin. All the products are free from parabens, synthetic fragrances, SLS, SLES and animal derivatives. Sukin has everything from hand lotion to shampoo to fake tan. I’ve been using their products for a few years and I absolutely love them. I also love the Hurraw lip balms. They have amazing flavours and they are raw vegan so the ingredients are very natural and healing. My favourite is the coconut flavor.

Who or what inspires you?

I get most of my inspiration from my vegan friends and from the raw vegans that I follow online. Sharing connections with other vegans has become really important to me. You already have a strong common bond and it’s such a beautiful thing. The raw vegans that I find are the most inspirational are Kristina Carrillo-Bucaram (fullyrawkristina), Ellen Fisher (ellenfisher or Mango Island Mamma on youtube) and Yovana Mendoza (rawvana). I also like to inspire myself. I reflect on how far I have come in my life and I work towards becoming a better version of myself.

A kitchen gadget you cannot live without?

There are 2 kitchen gadgets that I can’t live without: my juicer and my Vitamix. I absolutely love juices and smoothies! They come in handy for quick, lazy meals and meals on the go.

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What is your favorite meal?

Oh my gosh, you are really asking me what my favourite meal is? I cannot possibly answer that! I love so many different dishes. If I had to narrow it down I would probably say it would be a mono meal of fruit, most probably watermelon. I say fruit because if I had to pick 1 meal to live off for the rest of my life I know I could definitely live off fruit. I do love cooked meals as well. Mac n Cheese is definitely a favourite and so are tofu and vegetable stir fries/curries.

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Three of your favorite cooking ingredients.

3 of my favourite cooking ingredients are broccoli, nutritional yeast and dill. I could eat broccoli with anything.  I love a few different herbs but dill is my favourite. It has a beautiful, clean, fresh taste and it works well with a lot of different ingredients.

Favorite resources regarding a plant-based lifestyle?

My favourite vegan resources are The Skinny Bitch book, Earthlings, Cowspiracy and Forks Over Knives.

Favorite quote.

“Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.”

  • Anais Nin

Three words to describe you.

The 3 words that I think describe me best are: quirky, pensive and empathetic.

Where can we find you via social media? IG, FB, blog address, etc.?

Instagram: lentil_

Facebook: Brittany Allen

Twitter: lentil__

Thank you, Brittany!! It was fun learning more about you!

Thanks for stopping by!

FRIDAY FEATURE: Interview with Laura of @vegan.healing.chef

Happy Friday, everyone! I apologize for the delay in posting these Friday Feature interviews – I fell behind during the day-to-day chaos of life (personal matters and projects), but we’re back in full swing. Today, we’re chatting with Laura of @vegan.healing.chef. Her Instagram page is filled with beautiful vibrant photos of her food creations and she usually shares the recipes right there in the post. Laura is multi-talented and has a heart filled with compassion when it comes to people, animals and the earth. I won’t ramble on anymore…let’s hear from Laura herself!

Interview with Laura…

FRIDAY FEATURE: Interview with Laura of @vegan.healing.chef

Tell us a little bit about yourself!

Originally, I am from Tempe, Arizona. I am a daughter of three, the middle child, so it’s a given that I am the most extreme when it comes to anything in my family. I am very much a free spirit. I love to travel, draw and paint, read and learn new things, experiment and create new recipes, listen to music, practice yoga, watch movies, and hang out with my friends and family. I truly enjoy helping people discover their health; enjoy food abundance, and educate them about healing cuisine. Also, I am very passionate about yoga. It has saved my life in many ways. It made me see who I am, and it has healed my body. I am a lover of the outdoors; walking, running, hiking, camping, spending time at the beach, swimming in the ocean, picnicking, bike riding, and gardening. I love animals and I have great deal of respect for their place on this Earth. Oh yea, and I love to cook!

FRIDAY FEATURE: Interview with Laura of @vegan.healing.chef

FRIDAY FEATURE: Interview with Laura of @vegan.healing.chef

When did you go vegan? What was your “Aha” moment?

My “aha” moment was back in early 2013. A good friend of mine had invited me to her birthday party. She wanted me to meet a group of her friends that were very much into health and wellbeing. I had been working on a vegan cookie recipe, and I knew she loved them, so I baked a huge batch and went to the party. The woman who was hosting the party happened to be the Director of UCSD’s Center for Integrative Medicine. Long story short, we got to talking, she loved my cookies, and I loved her meal so she invited me to attend the Natural Healing and Cooking Program that was starting the following week. Thankfully, I helped run the classes by volunteering which turned into my training to teach the program! With no previous chef experience or teaching a cooking program, I successfully taught the program, created a holiday series, and trained new volunteers and instructors. During my training, I ate the cuisine that was prepared; macrobiotic, vegan and gluten-free, and it healed my mind and body within six weeks! Prior to this program, I had been searching for a higher level of health. I had been a vegetarian since the age of fourteen, but fell off the path a couple of times. I thought I had lived a healthy lifestyle, but deep down I knew there was something more. There was something better. The program is based on George Oshawa Macrobiotics and the China Study. I had never eaten a full-blown plant-based and gluten-free diet over a period of time. The plus side to the cooking program was all the leftovers. Every week, I was gifted with at least a week’s worth of food that truly set me up for success and consistency. After the end of the sixth week, out of the eight week program, I knew, I could never go back. My health problems that I had been treating for many years had healed.

FRIDAY FEATURE: Interview with Laura of @vegan.healing.chef

FRIDAY FEATURE: Interview with Laura of @vegan.healing.chef

What is the hardest part about being vegan?

Based on my experience, I think it’s the psychological. Your mind ‘thinks’ it’s missing out or is being deprived of meat and animal products, but in reality, our bodies never miss it. If you are having “deprivation” cravings, you’re just not eating enough, and you’re not consuming an abundance of healthy vegan food. Daily, we are bombarded with excessive meat and dairy advertisements. Plus, animal products are found in so many food items. Our family and friends are not vegan. Many restaurants are not vegan, or the cooks do not have experience to prepare delicious vegan meals. Most simply, one does not know or understand how to live and thrive in a vegan lifestyle. Education is key. Support is very important as well. For myself, Instagram has helped me tremendously with experimentation, support, and different realms of veganism. I am so inspired. On the plus side, veganism is gaining popularity, and with social media, cooking programs, and culinary schools cheering us on, it is so easily accessible that the information is at our fingertips.

FRIDAY FEATURE: Interview with Laura of @vegan.healing.chef

What does natural health mean to you?

Health means that one can thrive in life without any hindrance of illness within the mind, body, and soul.

FRIDAY FEATURE: Interview with Laura of @vegan.healing.chef

What is your favorite cruelty-free product (cleaning, beauty, etc.) and why?

Call me a weirdo, but I go for anything all natural. I love essential oils, fresh herbs, sea salts, baking soda, white and apple cider vinegar, coconut oil, and coconut sugar. You can easily clean anything without harming yourself, loved ones, and nature. The possibilities are endless with basic elements from the Earth. This past holiday season, I created a body scrub, sold it to friends, and they loved it!

Who or what inspires you?

This is a tough one. Anyone with heart, soul, truth, and wisdom. There are too many. To name a few, Einstein, Gary Yourofsky, Freelee the Banana Girl, Durian Rider, George Oshawa, Max Gerson, Neal Barnard M.D., Jennifer Cornbleet, Alicia Silverstone, Ellen Fisher, Amy from Fragrant Vanilla Cake, Angela from Oh She Glows, Ricki Heller, Amanda Bradley, Eduardo Longoria, Lauray MacElhern, Ella Woodward, Gordon Saxe M.D., Jean Richarson, Rachel Hosler, and all the beautiful vegans I follow on Instagram!!

A kitchen gadget you cannot live without?

Number one is my tea kettle. My food processor and blender score second. But my pure basic essentials would be my chef’s knife, paring knife, and bamboo cutting boards.

FRIDAY FEATURE: Interview with Laura of @vegan.healing.chef

FRIDAY FEATURE: Interview with Laura of @vegan.healing.chef

FRIDAY FEATURE: Interview with Laura of @vegan.healing.chef

What is your favorite meal?

Hands-down, brunch, because you can eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner dishes all at the same time!

Three of your favorite cooking ingredients.

In this moment, I would say, Oshawa Ume Plum Vinegar, Oshawa Tamari, Japanese Mirin, and Ginger.

Favorite resources regarding a plant-based lifestyle?

Macrobiotic Guidebook for Living, The Kind Diet, Skinny Bitch, Rawvolution, The China Study, 801010, Wheat Belly,

Vegucated, OMG GMOs, Origins, Earthlings, Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead, The Gerson Effect, Forks Over Knives, Super Size Me, Food Inc., Black Fish, The Cove.

Any tips or words of advice to anyone considering a plant-based lifestyle?

Perseverance is key. Seek others that model what you desire. Stay open, be humble, don’t be afraid to ask questions and for support. Change is always uncomfortable, but the long-term results are limitless, bountiful, and inspiring.

FRIDAY FEATURE: Interview with Laura of @vegan.healing.chef

Favorite quote.

“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” Hippocrates

FRIDAY FEATURE: Interview with Laura of @vegan.healing.chef

Three words to describe you.

I had to ask this question for a school project. One of them said, “Amazing, hard-working, courageous.”

Where can we find you via social media? IG, FB, blog address, etc.

Facebook: Vegan Healing Chef

Instagram: @vegan.healing.chef

FRIDAY FEATURE: Interview with Laura of @vegan.healing.chef

Thank you, Laura for sharing with us!!!

Thanks for stopping by!

FRIDAY FEATURE: Interview with Tonya of @inspired_fit_vegan

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.

FRIDAY FEATURE: Interview with Tonya of @inspired_fit_vegan

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.

FRIDAY FEATURE: Interview with Tonya of @inspired_fit_vegan

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:

FRIDAY FEATURE: Interview with Tonya of @inspired_fit_vegan

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:

https://www.etsy.com/shop/BlueSkyEyed

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!

FRIDAY FEATURE: Interview with Tonya of @inspired_fit_vegan

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.

FRIDAY FEATURE: Interview with Tonya of @inspired_fit_vegan

FRIDAY FEATURE: Interview with Tonya of @inspired_fit_vegan

FRIDAY FEATURE: Interview with Tonya of @inspired_fit_vegan

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.

FRIDAY FEATURE: Interview with Tonya of @inspired_fit_vegan

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

FRIDAY FEATURE: Interview with Tonya of @inspired_fit_vegan

Favorite resources regarding a plant-based lifestyle?

My favorite resources are:

Documentaries:

Forks Over Knives

Food Inc.

Earthlings

Books:

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.

Favorite quote.

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

FRIDAY FEATURE: Interview with Tonya of @inspired_fit_vegan

Where can we find you via social media? IG, FB, blog address, etc.

Instagram: http://instagram.com/inspired_fit_vegan/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BlueSkyEyed

FRIDAY FEATURE: Interview with Tonya of @inspired_fit_vegan

 Thank you so much, Tonya! I’m looking forward to your future blog – I know it will be successful.

Thanks for stopping by!

FRIDAY FEATURE: Interview with Laura of @rawtil4veganista

Happy Friday, everyone! Today we’re talking with the beautiful Laura of @rawtil4veganista! Words cannot even begin to describe how inspiring she is. Laura completely turned her health around and has dropped 110 pounds since changing her diet and lifestyle. She radiates good energy and her face absolutely glows with happiness – you can especially see it in her “after” photos on Instagram. I admire people who take their health and well-being into their own hands and realize that they can make a difference.

FRIDAY FEATURE: Interview with Laura of @rawtil4veganista

Interview with Laura…

Tell us a little bit about yourself!

I grew up in Northern California but I have been living in Austin, Texas for last four 1/2 years. I have a lot of hobbies! I figure why limit myself right?! I enjoy yoga, running, dancing, gardening, cooking, creating, music, sewing, singing.. The list goes on and on!

FRIDAY FEATURE: Interview with Laura of @rawtil4veganista

FRIDAY FEATURE: Interview with Laura of @rawtil4veganista

When did you go vegan? What was your “Aha” moment?

I went vegan 7 months ago. I had been vegetarian for a while before then. Originally I had been on an ultimate quest for health when I became a vegan. After educating myself further those first few weeks, I began to feel a deep connection to veganism and all living things. I was sexually abused as a child for over 11 years and once my eyes had been opened to the rape and torture happening every second to innocent animals around the globe, for centuries mind you, it changed me. It connected me to each living creature from that moment on. I’ve been an ethical vegan ever since.

What is the hardest part about being vegan?

The hardest part about being vegan is not having enough vegan friends!

What does natural health mean to you?

Natural health to me means to rely on gifts from nature: plants, herbs, fruits, crystals etc to flourish and thrive and gain health in positive ways.

What is your favorite cruelty-free product and why?

My favorite cruelty free product is my homemade deodorant! It’s so easy to make and I love making it for my family!

Who or what inspires you?

Honestly, there are so many people on Instagram who inspire me on a daily basis! I couldn’t name them all! All of my vegan Momma’s you know who you are! I find inspiration in empowering others. It’s inspiring to me to see so many others out there who receive joy in making others happy.

FRIDAY FEATURE: Interview with Laura of @rawtil4veganista

A kitchen gadget you cannot live without?

A kitchen gadget I cannot live without is my vitamix or food processor!

FRIDAY FEATURE: Interview with Laura of @rawtil4veganista

What is your favorite meal?

My favorite meal would have to be my homemade macaroni and cheese filled romaine tacos! Or pizza, because let’s face it, pizza will always be there when people disappoint.

Three of your favorite cooking ingredients.

Three of my favorite cooking ingredients are coconut sugar, nutritional yeast and maple syrup.

Favorite resources regarding a plant-based lifestyle?

80/10/10

Any tips or words of advice to anyone considering a plant-based lifestyle?

Be kind to yourself during this process! Loving yourself and others along the way and finding a community of beautiful plant-based foodie friends online will totally help!

Favorite quote.

“What lies behind us and what lies beneath us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us” Ralph Waldo Emerson

Three words to describe you.

Loving, determined, brave

FRIDAY FEATURE: Interview with Laura of @rawtil4veganista

Where can we find you via social media? IG, FB, blog address, etc.

IG @rawtil4veganista

Blog coming soon!
Thank you, Laura, for sharing a little bit about yourself!
Thanks for stopping by!