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Thriving on a Vegan Diet

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Maya Henderson

Your source for all things yoga and wellness in Chicago.

I love October. As the month comes to a close, I'm finally finding the structure and balance in my workout and diet that colder temps bring. 

I'm doing the lululemon and CorePower yoga challenge, taking fun classes at H.E.R.O. Fitness and trying new studios all around town. Needless to say, I'm a very active person and I need a lot of energy to keep going. Most people are surprised to find out I don't eat meat or drink caffeine, but to me it just makes sense. See I'm a really active person and I need a lot of energy, so I don't eat foods that will slow me down. 
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I've been a vegetarian since I was 13, I haven't had coffee in at least four years and I've been dairy-free for quite awhile now. I also stay away from gluten and processed soy, including mock meats and seitan. I eat a high raw, all natural diet. I love veggies, pseudograins like quinoa and get my protein fix from superfood sources like hemp seeds. I love superfoods, and I'm not talking about blueberries or avocados (although I do love those, too), but highly nourishing foods such as goji berries, maca, hemp seeds, raw cacao and spirulina. I'm so happy with the way I eat. I have energy and I'm fueled for my workouts. Before I ate this way I was consumed with food and wondering what I'd eat next. Now food is my friend and I find that I eat less because I'm eating for nutrition instead of going on what I think sounds healthy or will fill me up.

I use to be an angry vegan who would get so frustrated with co-workers, friends and family. I still struggle with frustrations, because to me, eating a plant-based whole foods diet just makes so much sense. But I didn't always eat this way and along my journey I've found that our emotional ties to food often surpass our nutrition needs and listening to the body. I've found that surrounding myself with other conscious eaters keeps me sane and I also read blogs and magazines that cater to clean eating, raw diets and superfoods to stay up on what's going on in the healthy vegan world. 

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Last  year I read a great book called the Thrive Diet by Brendan Brazier. Brazier is a vegan triathlete who studied training programs from high school athletes to professional ironmen and found that while their training schedules were similar, athletes who consistently had better performances were the ones who recovered faster between training sessions. He then went on to try various diets and eating programs until he discovered superfoods and a clean vegan diet was the key to optimal performance. 

I could go on and on about how great this book is, but I decided to show it by getting a group of friends together to do the Thrive in 30 challenge. Sponsored by Vega, a company that makes vegan sports nutrition products, EFA oils, smoothie mixes and more, Thrive in 30 is a free challenge to get people on a plant-based diet. Over the course of 30 days, you receive video blogs from Brendan with nutrition tips and info on ways to rethink food, cut stress, reverse aging, lose weight and gain energy.

I'm so excited for this challenge that I asked my friends who agreed to participate to also share their experiences on Breath, Body & Balance. Stay tuned for their blogs, recipes and more over the next few weeks!

Sign up for the free Thrive in 30 challenge here.

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4 Comments

BVegan said:

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Hi Maya,
Thanks for being vegan and promoting the healthy lifestyle. I saw Brendan on this vegan station; maybe you'd enjoy it:
www.SupremeMasterTV.com/Be-Veg
Peace & love to all

Jen said:

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You know that I agree whole-heartedly with everything you've said here. I'm still reading the daily thrive tips (which are worth anyones time because they educate you about food choices,) but I really do feel a lot better not drinking coffee regularly. I'm not jittery in the morning at work, and since I've cut wheat out of my diet completely I no longer get the dreaded food comas or sickness from eating. I truely believe that the over consumption of soy in our diets & other things like wheat do eventually cause food intollerances to develop. Humans were not made to thrive off of wheat...that's how I see it. I also do agree about cutting out meat and replacing that with veggies & supergrains like quinoa. If I eat something with the smallest trace of meat in it I feel instantly gross. I recommend that everyone at least takes 10 mins out of their day to educate themselves on what is being put in your mouth. Poor food choices do cause shitty moods. Food is definitely linked with emotions.

Maya Henderson said:

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Hey Jen-
Thanks so much for sharing! I'm glad you're feeling better and thinking consciously about what you put in your body. It might sound silly to some, but it's amazing how making a simple choice as passing on the meat can make you feel!

Supriya Doshi said:

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I adore quinoa! If only I had discovered it earlier in life :) I've been a vegetarian my whole life, and while I'm not vegan, I don't eat eggs or much dairy. So I don't know firsthand the difference between the way your body feels with and without meat. But I can say that I feel a heck of a lot more energetic and alert when I'm eating better--a.k.a. less processed stuff, more veggies, fruits and whole grains.

It's ironic that we now view "food" as something that comes out of a box or can. Especially since the processed stuff with excess sodium and sugar ends up making us feel sluggish instead of what food is supposed to do--which is keep us moving and healthy.

Thanks for sharing your experiences with veganism and a healthy eating lifestyle! I may just have to take the challenge on with a few friends ... :)

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