A Vegetarian to Vegan to Gluten-Free Journey for Health, Compassion and Environment

Uploaded by LarryCook333 on 05.03.2011

Hi, I’m Whitney Lauritsen. I’m 28 years old, and I’ve been vegetarian for about
eight years now. I went vegetarian really out of curiosity. It was inspired by a friend
who was vegan. And it just felt so good to me on so many different levels. Intuitively,
I just knew that it was the right thing for me. It felt good for health reasons; it felt
good for kind of spiritual reasons, compassion, environmental. The more I learned about it,
the more excited I became about it, and it took over my life in all the greatest ways.
About six months after I went vegetarian, I decided to give veganism a try, which means
I stopped eating dairy products, so no milk, no cheese, et cetera, no eggs. I also hadn’t
been eating fish since I went vegetarian, and I also cut out other things out of my
lifestyle like animal-based clothing, like leather, silk, wool, et cetera. Any body products
– a lot of body products are tested on animals or use various animal ingredients.
I cut those out. And I just started looking at my whole lifestyle as a whole and just
starting to realize how much animal products are incorporated into our lives and really
trying to just get rid of it. The reason I did this was first, out of curiosity. But
then when I started reading about it and doing research, meeting other vegans and really
understanding that I realized again, just like vegetarianism, it just made sense on
kind of like an intuitive level. I felt like the compassion side of it and the environmental
side of it were even more impactful than just being vegetarian. About a year ago, I decided
to make another adjustment to my diet after doing some research and speaking with friends,
and this time, I decided to give up soy and gluten. You probably already know what soy
is, but gluten is a protein found in a lot of processed foods like breads and pastas.
And I decided to experiment with it because I just am always looking for ways to really
improve my health and simplify my diet and look my best, feel my best. And when I took
gluten and soy out of my diet, I instantly felt those benefits. With gluten, I quickly
lost kind of like excess weight and kind of like swelling reduced. I think I kind of had
almost a bloated look sometimes, and the gluten just like…once that was gone, the bloating
and swelling, the extra weight was gone. With soy, that really improved my digestion altogether.
I’d always kind of struggled with soy, but just kind of felt like it was part of the
vegan diet and didn’t really feel like it was worth giving up. I didn’t really know
what I would eat besides soy because there are so many different types of fake meats
out there or various products with soy in it – tofu, of course. But when I took that
out, every time I ate, I just felt great all the time instead of having indigestion or
bloating or gas or any of that. I’ve experienced so many health benefits since going vegetarian
that I can't even remember all of them off the top of my head. The first thing that comes
to mind is weight loss. When I went vegetarian, I just started shedding pounds simply from
giving up meat. When I went vegan, even more so. And then like I mentioned earlier, when
I went gluten-free, even more so. So I discovered that it really tied into the specific foods
that I was taking out of my body, plus the foods that I was putting into my body. And
likewise, because of how healthy I’ve been eating, I feel an increased vitality in general.
My energy levels went up. I rarely get sick. If I do, it’s just for a very brief period
of time. My skin, my hair, my nails – all of that just is flourishing and thriving.
Digestion as well, especially when I cut out soy out of my diet. Personally, it wasn’t
working for me. So I think what the biggest thing for me about going vegan is that it
inspired me to really start thinking about the food I was putting into my body, and because
of that, I really started to learn a lot about nutrition and how it interacts and make my
body healthy. Getting protein has never been a problem for me as a vegan. In fact, I’ve
been to a lot of different doctors and they’ve never told me that I have a protein deficiency.
And I’ve discovered that most Americans actually get more protein than they even need.
The vegan diet is full of protein because all plants contain protein. It varies depending
on what variety. Legumes typically have the most amount of protein, so whether it’s
beans or even things like peanuts, tofu – all of those different sources have huge
amounts of it. My favorite thing to do is to just go to the grocery store and just wander
around the bulk section, which is like grains and beans and nuts and all sorts of things
and just kind of pick out a bunch of things and then go home and make it. And I’ll go
into the produce section and do the same thing and just find all sorts of good-looking vegetables
and fruits and take this all home and find a recipe and put it together. I have new foods
all the time, all different types, whether it’s American food, ethnic food. Sometimes
I’m just creative; sometimes I use a cookbook. But I’m never bored, and I can eat out at
all sorts of restaurants. So even though I’m a vegan and I don’t eat gluten and I don’t
eat soy, there’s just like, endless amounts of food available for me. Whenever I go out
to a restaurant that serves meat, it’s not really a big deal. I look at the menu. A lot
of menus have vegetarian options; some even have vegan options listed right on there.
But even if they don’t, I can just look down and pick out different ingredients. And
if I’m communicating well with the server, I can ask them to ask the chef if they can
put together something for me. Sometimes I’ll just tell them to make whatever they want
and I’ll give them my specifications and really be clear about my diet. Other times,
I’ll ask if they can do something specific. Many menus, especially if they have a vegetarian
option, I can just take off like, cheese or something. If I’m taking out gluten, I’ll
just have a salad somewhere, sometimes soup if it’s a gluten-free soup. But most restaurants
have salads; most restaurants have some sort of vegetable dish. It’s such a common thing
to be vegetarian in this country, no matter where you are in the country or even in the
world, actually, that people understand it. They will understand what my diet is, and
they’re willing to accommodate. Ultimately, what I’ve discovered on this journey of
being a vegan is just how good it makes me feel on so many different levels. It’s made
my entire body feel good, and I feel good on a compassionate level for the animals.
I feel like I’m doing something really good for the planet. I feel like it brings me closer.
I have all these amazing conversations with people. The reasons for being vegan for me
just go on and on, and I can't imagine not being a vegan. In fact, I became so passionate
about it that I started a website called Eco Vegan Gal just over two years ago, and I started
realizing that I’m really passionate about educating people about how to be healthier
and how to be kinder to the planet. And I feel like being vegan and environmentally
friendly go hand in hand, so if you're an environmentalist, vegan is a great choice
because it really helps bring sustainability to a new level. If you're a vegetarian or
a vegan, you can start to understand how that affects the planet. And like I mentioned earlier,
just giving up meat or dairy for a day or a week really makes a big difference. In fact,
if you want to learn more about it, you can go visit my site, but I really just want to
encourage you to try it. Whether you're inspired by this video or other things on this YouTube
channel, it’s really not as hard as it seems and every little bit helps. So give it a try
even for a week. I would encourage you to try it for a month to really get the full
feeling of it, whether that’s vegetarian or vegan. Try a lot of different foods, talk
to different people, do research, read books. Really get yourself into it so you get a full
understanding and you're not just thinking about misconceptions and stories you’ve
heard because it’s a great thing, at least for me. I love being a vegan.