I am so excited to share this post with you guys! I have been following Larice from Feeding Your Beauty for quite some time now and I love her blog. She postes such mouthwatering vegan recipes and they are all really easy to make. Larice is also an incredible sweet, kind, and supportive person. I hope you will enjoy the interview with her as much as I do.
- Tell us about yourself!
I’m the girl behind the blog Feeding Your Beauty, a space where I share healthy plant-based recipes and tips on looking and feeling your best. I was inspired to start a blog when I realized how much better I felt and looked following a healthy vegan diet. I’m a proud mom to an energetic two year old daughter, and married to my best friend. We live in a beautiful part of Michigan with our three crazy cats. I’m certified as a recreational therapist, and worked in a health care setting up until this past fall, when I decided to stay home full time with my daughter. I also have a degree in health sciences, in which I did coursework in psychology, nutrition, and disease prevention. I’ve worked as a health coach, and have developed wellness programs for large organizations. Helping people get healthy is, and always has been a huge passion of mine. I love learning about the positive effects of healthy eating, and creating nutritious recipes that also taste great!
- What is your approach to health and food?
I have a pretty laid-back approach to food. I don’t really define my diet beyond “plant-based/vegan.” I wouldn’t say I’m high/carb low fat, 80-10-10, grain-free, raw, raw until 4 or any of those labels, but I dabble in all of them. I think each one has their benefits, and I like to stay open-minded and informed about various eating styles. For me, and my family, it works best to combine a little bit of everything. I try to make sure vegetables make up a large portion of our diet, but we also eat a lot of fruits, some nuts, grains, and beans. I also try to avoid as much packaged/processed food as possible, but we don’t avoid it entirely. It can be very convenient at times! And there are plenty of healthy options out there. Some days we are gluten free, other days we might have some bread or pizza made with wheat. It’s all about finding the right balance, where you’ll feel your best, but also not be stressed about food. Food should be fun, and delicious!
- How long have you been vegan, and why did you go vegan?
I’ve been fully vegan for nearly three years now. My journey to a fully plant-based diet has been a long and winding road. Growing up, my mom was vegetarian, so I was familiar with the lifestyle, and the reasons behind choosing it. I had brief moments in childhood where I wanted to stop eating meat, but they wouldn’t last long. After all, I had a dad who ate meat, and that was a big influence as well. Even though I have always considered myself a big animal lover, I didn’t think I could give up eating meat, let alone dairy and eggs. I was able to keep mentally separating “farm animals” (cows, pigs, chickens) from “other animals,” meaning the animals that most people care about and fight to protect… dogs, cats, wild/endangered animals. It’s an ability I think we all develop starting from a young age, when we are taught about where our food comes from. I’m ashamed to admit that I used to tell myself things like, “turkeys aren’t cute, so I don’t feel so bad about eating them.” Most of the time, though, I just wouldn’t let myself think about it.
Then, about six years ago, three things happened. First, I read Alicia Silverstone’s book, “The Kind Diet.” This was huge for me. I was initially enticed by the book because she mentions clearing up her skin with diet. This was something I was always interested in, how food affects your complexion. I battled stubborn acne for a long time, basically all of my 20’s. It wasn’t always severe, yet it never went away, it was like a dark cloud that followed me around everywhere I went. I tried everything. I saw several dermatologists, I was on antiobiotics, I tried different kinds of birth control pills, and countless prescription and over-the-counter acne treatments. I had painful, cystic acne that would leave scars, and my skin was both oily and dry. I had very low self-esteem and a negative self-image because of my skin. Reading the book gave me hope that a healthy, unprocessed diet could help give me smooth, glowing skin. It also gave me something else to think about: the plight of animals in the food industry. This led me to buy only organic chicken and dairy, and I cut most other animal foods out. It sort of planted the seed in my mind. Soon after that I watched Food, Inc., which was another huge eye opener for me as far as just how horrendous conditions are in factory farms. Around this time, I also watched Forks Over Knives, which sort of just brought everything around full circle, dispelling all the myths surrounding the over-emphasized nutritional value of animal foods, and that they are really doing more harm to our health than most people realize. I couldn’t un-see the things I had seen, and decided to cut meat, dairy, and eggs for good.
Of course, it isn’t always easy completely changing your diet. Although I followed a vegan diet about 80-90%, I found myself being influenced by those around me. Soon after making this decision, I moved from Chicago back to Michigan to be closer to my now husband. I was working for a big company, with over 400 employees, yet I was the only vegetarian, let alone vegan. I still wanted to be vegan, I just wasn’t as motivated as I was at first, and I didn’t have a lot of social support. I was fortunate to have my sister-in-law with whom I could talk to about a plant-based diet, but she lived in another city and I didn’t know any vegans in my area.
The motivation came back after I had my daughter. It was that strong bond I felt with her while breastfeeding that finally made me kick dairy food and never look back. I made the connection. It felt so wrong to me to eat something that a mother cow produced solely to feed and nourish her baby cow. Cows feel that same bond, mom and baby cry for days after being separated. I wanted no part of it. Suddenly I was having all of these epiphanies. Animals have their own lives, their own purpose, separate from us. Even though I had started my journey to veganism years earlier, it wasn’t until later that I really started thinking about things like speciesism, and seeing the whole big picture. I was resolved to keep animal products off our plates and out of our house.
- How does eating a plant based diet makes you feel?
I have enjoyed so many perks since becoming fully plant-based and vegan. I don’t feel like I’m missing out on anything, flavor or nutrition-wise, and that is the honest-to-goodness truth! My skin finally cleared up soon after finally dropping dairy, refined sugar and flour. One thing I noticed, as a runner, is that I felt so much better during and after my work-outs. I ran my fastest 5K ever, just last year, even faster than when I was in high school. Also, I rarely get sick, despite my husband’s best efforts to bring germs back home from the office, and also despite working in a health care setting where colds and flus are always circulating. I used to suffer from headaches a lot, and afternoon sugar cravings, and now those are pretty much non-existent as well.
- How do you deal with the social aspect of being a vegan (eating out, family gatherings, friends etc.)?
I am so fortunate to have other vegetarians and vegans in my life. Both my mom and my aunt are vegetarian (now mostly vegan), so they already paved the way for “different” eating styles in my family. I’ve been really lucky not to have anyone in my life that is outwardly unsupportive of the way I eat. About a year ago, my husband told me out of the blue that he just couldn’t stomach eating meat anymore. He had never eaten much meat, but would occasionally buy and cook his own steak and bacon, and always ordered pepperoni on his pizza. We have watched some documentaries together, like Food, Inc. and Cowspiracy, and being a fellow animal lover I think they had a big impact on him. I’m not going to lie, I was pretty much overjoyed when he came to this decision on his own.
- What does a typical day of eating looks like for you (breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks etc.)?
A typical breakfast for me is a big smoothie and toast (usually with avocado or nut butter), sometimes oatmeal with fruit, or chia pudding, and every once in a while I’ll make pancakes or waffles. For lunch I usually make a big veggie bowl with roasted sweet potato, a pile of greens, cooked and raw veggies, maybe some leftover quinoa and/or beans and a quick homemade dressing like my maple tahini dressing. Many times I eat leftovers from the night before for lunch. I often make smoothies for my daughter and me for a snack, or fresh fruit, muffins, homemade granola bars, healthy raw or baked cookies, or hummus and veggies. Dinner is usually a soup, stew, stir fry, pizza, pasta, roasted veggies, etc. We have our favorites for dinner, and then I like to throw in a new recipe once or twice a week.
- What are your thoughts on exercise? How does your exercise regime look?
Running is my favorite way to exercise. I don’t even think of it as exercise, I just love to do it. I like to be outside, and explore my surroundings. I push my daughter in a jogging stroller and we run all over the neighborhood, usually stopping along the way to visit different parks and playgrounds. Our daily runs come to a screeching halt around December when it becomes too cold to take her out. During December – February, working out becomes a bit of a challenge for me. I am not the gym type, and have never enjoyed running on a treadmill. During the coldest and snowiest months, I try to do some kind of at-home exercise, like yoga, strength training or dance. I took ballet lessons throughout my childhood into my 20s, so I sometimes just go through the bar exercises I can remember holding onto the kitchen counter! Occasionally I pop in a yoga or workout DVD. More often than not my exercise is playing with my daughter. Pulling a kid around in a sled is probably the hardest cardiovascular exercise I’ve ever tried! She also loves a good dance party and playing “chase.”
- I know you have a very sweet and beautiful daughter. How do you deal with raising her as a vegan/raising her in a vegan home?
Deciding to raise our daughter mostly vegan was kind of a no-brainer for my husband and I. Especially once he decided not to eat meat. I say “mostly vegan” because I’m not militant about it. For example, sometimes my daughter wants to try my husband’s cheese pizza, and I don’t make a big deal out of it. 9 times out of 10 she doesn’t even touch it, other times she’ll have a couple of bites and decide she doesn’t like it. If we are at a family gathering and she is offered conventionally-made cookies, I don’t raise a stink. She has a cookie. I usually try to bring super yummy vegan treats and desserts with us, not only so my daughter has the choice, but also to show family members that you can have equally delicious sweets without any animal products. My goal along the way is to teach her to eat healthily, and the reasons mommy and daddy don’t eat animals. Food should be nourishing as well as fun and tasty, and I don’t want a lot of pressure or stress surrounding food choices. When she is a little bit older she can choose for herself whether or not to eat animal products. At home I will always be the main cook, and mama’s kitchen only serves 100% plant based dishes.
- I know you like to read a lot of books and articles about veganism, plant based diets etc. Do you have any book or articles recommendations that you found especially helpful and good?
As far as books go, I would have to recommend Alicia Silverstone’s, The Kind Diet, it’s the one that started it all for me and is especially great for newbies. “Voices of the Food Revolution” by John and Ocean Robbins, and “Whole” by T. Colin Campbell are must-reads as well. Reading these books makes you feel so excited about following a plant-based vegan lifestyle. Some of my favorite go-to cookbooks are Vegan with a Vengeance, The Oh She Glows Cookbook, and Healthy Happy Vegan Kitchen. Various blogs and websites were really helpful for me too. I was absolutely obsessed (still am!) with Chocolate Covered Katie, her blog really got me into the whole blogging world, and made me want to start my own. I also love Hummusapien, Detoxinista, No Meat Athlete (great info for vegan runners), and Happy Healthy Life. I also have found really inspiring websites like One Green Planet, and Finding Vegan, which have thousands of plant based recipes. Informational sites like Veganhealth.org, and the Vegetarian Resource Group are really helpful as well when researching all the health aspects of being vegan.
Going fully plant-based and following a vegan lifestyle are decisions I’m so happy I made, and I wouldn’t dream of going back. It’s such a delicious way to eat, and I’ve never felt better about my skin. I think more than just a way of eating or living, it is also a completely different perspective on our relationship with animals. If I can be healthy without anyone else having to suffer, I will always choose the compassionate route.
Love & happiness,