My vegan journey was a slow transition. While I have never eaten pork, crabs lobster and the likes, it has been about 30 yrs since I’ve eaten beef. Chicken was my on and off protein for a while. Fish like salmon, cod or sea bass were the last to be eliminated. I was a single Mom to my son who is now 27 yrs old and at the age of 24, I was diagnosed with severe endometriosis and fibroids, after having my first of many surgeries. I was told at age 25 I would need a hysterectomy. I refused but remained in complete denial about my disease. I had another surgery to remove the fibroids, then a couple yrs later returned. My Mom suggested trying some natural herbs and juicing, but I wasn’t very interested in natural healing. After years of suffering physically and depression, and miscarriages, I was told by a gynecologist that I would never get pregnant with all my medical problems. By this time, the fibroids had returned a third time, my Fallopian tubes were blocked and my endometriosis pain and symptoms were out of control. I was 32. My last hope was IVF and even the specialist told me with my history I would have a less than 5% success rate. I never take no for an answer so I did my own research and every time veganism came up as a way to improve fibroids and endometriosis.
I began the IVF cycle combined with Chinese herbs and stopped dairy and meat. I ate fish sometimes. Six months later, I was pregnant after one extended IVF cycle. Everyone was shocked. I was a pescatarian for a couple years, then after adding the raw juicing and cutting out the meats, I decided to go full vegan by age 36 so my oldest daughter had been introduced to chicken and certain fish. Her Dad is from the south so he is a carnivore at heart. It can be challenging being vegan and your spouse is not, as well as teaching your child about veganism too. I got stronger and healthier over time and for my second daughter, even though I couldn’t get pregnant naturally due to my blocked Fallopian tubes, I only needed a mini cycle of IVF meds. My pregnancy with Danya as a vegan was amazing and even though I had anatomical challenges, my fibroids have ‘shrunk’ and my adhesions were minimal. I also did acupuncture and lots of raw juicing too. I breastfed her for two years and soon after was diagnosed with low thyroid after, which by then became unhappy in my relationship which in turn spiraled into depression, binge eating, weight gain and yes, I started eating chicken and fish again. My son was in college, I was working three jobs, constantly exhausted from my thyroid and life, trying to be present for my two girls. I gained 60 lbs in less than a year.
Danya was 5 yrs the first time she tasted meat and I remember feeling like the worst Mother ever because she was used to seeing her Dad eat meat but when she saw me eating it, then she wanted to try it. I started to be sick more often, have more pain, adhesions, and my fibroids starting growing again. I knew I had to do something when my son came home from college one summer and told me he wanted his Mom back and the girls needed me. So after wallowing a bit, accepting my unhappiness, I knew the only way was to stop eating meat.
I started a work out routine and juicing more regularly than before. It took me about 16 months to lose 85lbs, some good personal counseling, go from three jobs to two to one job with overtime to find myself again. My mind was right and my body was right. Life was improving every day and age 42 just when I decided I was gonna leave my marriage, I found out I was pregnant – NATURALLY! Even my doctor didn’t believe it when I went to her to say my periods were ‘weird’, she told me that I’m pre-menopausal lol. Another healthy vegan pregnancy, with Danielle but she was delivered 10 wks early at just over 3 lbs due to my body and cervix not being able to hold her. I’m sure the night shifts working in the Emergency Room didn’t help either. Well again, there’s nothing like the vegan breastmilk to strengthen her and today she is my ultimate miracle baby with no physical deficits, just a mild speech delay which she’s almost caught up to other kids her age. Her cognition and comprehension are on point though. Before my ex and I finally parted ways, there were a couple months where I had fish and occasional chicken, since he remained a meat eater so if the girls were with him they would eat it. When my baby was one I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and was told that with my endometriosis and fibroids, I am prone to autoimmune diseases like Lupus. Since then I’ve been 100% meat free, 95% gluten-free, 60% raw, regular juicer and healing every day from the inside out. Its been about two years and I’ve removed negative things and people from my life.
I’ve been a pediatric nurse for 25 yrs and have worked in every specialty, mostly oncology, transplant, Gastroenterology, and the Emergency Department. I’ve always been so amazed by these strong parents who go through the long days and nights with their sick child. This was the main inspiration for starting a 501c3 nonprofit charity called What About Us Inc. where we help parents with basic supplies and daily needs like toiletries, gas cards, water, etc. I am in the process of launching a new project called “Bags of Love” where I will hand out tote bags filled with vegan snacks, a drink or protein shake, and basic essentials for daily hygiene. We try to make enough for 40 to 50 families per month. We distribute these to various community charities. A lot of our families come from far because Children’s Hospital Los Angeles is so specialized. Its always been self-funded so far with the families we have helped, so sadly we have had to turn people away due to lack of resources but we are currently applying for a grant hoping to get extra funds. We are always in need of volunteers and donations or fundraising ideas. We have also sponsored families around the holidays where we try and get as much on their wish list as possible. We are currently rebuilding our Web site and will launch our Instagram page soon. I’ve learned over the years of seeing some kids survive the worse diseases while others don’t make it and no matter how bad my life may seem, I always remember that it could be worse. I love my job as a pediatric nurse and could educate my patients and families more on the power of a vegan diet, but I’ve been told it’s not in my job description. Another big reason I pray and work hard is that we really want to get a grant so I can educate families through our charity organization about the power of a vegan life and all the health benefits that come with it including, fighting diseases.
My girls say, I’m, their hero but I always want to be genuine with them and teach them that heroes are not perfect. I wanted my girls to be vegan so their foundation in life is solid. The best houses need the strongest foundations. Besides the health benefits, I think its extremely important to be respectful of other creatures. We have watched videos together of how animals are slaughtered for human consumption and its heartbreaking. I was always told that the free-range animals have a good life and only when they are old they are used for meat. WHAT?? I just read that again and don’t even know how I believed that theory. I just think as humans, we do what we want to do and would find any way to justify our actions. I used to drink alcohol a LOT in my 20s and now I don’t. Another choice. Maya Angelou said it best – when you know better you do better. I’m trying every day to teach my children by being an example to them. I also am humble enough to learn from them and that’s an even bigger lesson for me. When they came to me and asked if they could have their own Instagram page, I was very hesitant but when they explained in detail what they wanted to share with others, I was most impressed and support them in every way I can. Their mission is to teach other kids of all ages, as well as adults that it’s actually fun growing up vegan. They have amazing energy, memories as sharp as elephants and the most loving joyful spirits. They have told me that kids will only believe it if they see it, so this is one of the main reasons they want to do the IG page. Kids and teens don’t want to be preached to. They want to see if your words add up to your actions, so if you say you’re strong, then show me leg lifts or push-ups etc (my oldest daughter’s analogy). They also believe that if other parents see how fit and healthy they are, then maybe they won’t be so worried about letting their kids try vegan or for the entire family going vegan.
At work, I’m one of the oldest nurses so the entire night shift looks up to me. This is an honor and also a challenge for me. They are always curious about what I eat, or what’s in my green juice or why do I drink raw ginger and apple cider vinegar and always have essential oils, instead of coffee like most night shift workers do. I could never survive my grueling schedule of working all night saving lives, sleeping 2-3 hrs during the day and driving my girls where they need to get to each one of their activities, cook us fresh food and go back to work all night again. I try not to work more than two nights in a row since my job as a pediatric nurse needs focus and rapid response if needed. I’ve even challenged my co-workers to juice parties at work instead of pizza parties and everyone said they didn’t feel as tired as they would between 3 am to 5 am. A vegan body is strong and a vegan mind is stronger. I’ve maintained my weight loss for almost six years now and although every day is not a sunny day, I sure have learned how to get through those rainy days a whole lot better with some good essential oils, raw juice, some deep breaths, and a good vegan meal. Now I’m finally free to be the Queen of my vegan empire and I know with certainty that meat changes not only your body but your mindset.