Welcome to Livin’ on the Veg! My name is Olivia. I believe that when we make consumer choices that take into account the health of our bodies and the well-being of animals and the planet, then we are acting in a way that is truly in alignment with our values. In my experience, not only is a vegan and green lifestyle the most ethical choice, but it’s more interesting, satisfying, and fun!
My vegan journey
8 years ago, I made the bold decision to become vegan in order to stop being complicit in the abuse and exploitation of factory farm animals, even though I had no one in my social network who was vegan and I knew little about the vegan lifestyle. This decision affected every area of my life, for the better.
At the time I had been struggling with my weight, in addition to having serious bouts of anxiety and depression. After a week of being vegan, my mood dramatically lifted and I felt euphoric for no apparent reason. Without any effort, I quickly lost several pounds and was down to my ideal weight in a matter of weeks.
The biggest surprise, however, was discovering that I enjoyed vegan food so much more than foods containing meat and dairy. As someone with a limited experience of vegan food, I had braced myself for the likelihood vegan food would be too boring and bland. It turned out that on a vegan diet I was able to appreciate food in a way I never had before. A whole new world of delicious and healthy food opened up to me, as I started embracing vegetables, whole grains, and legumes. Though I had never cooked prior to becoming vegan, I soon found myself cooking up a storm and making delicious meals that my meat-eating friends and family enjoyed. And because I was fortunate enough to live in New York City, I was able to discover many of the amazing vegan restaurants the city has to offer.
There were some challenges to being vegan initially – namely that I was a young professional with limited time and money. A lot of the vegan recipes I came across had long lists of ingredients, required various kinds of appliances and utensils I didn’t have, and left the kitchen a complete mess. Back then, I also knew little about nutrition, so in the beginning I ate a fair amount of processed, not necessarily healthy food, such as soy crisps and vegan ice cream. I experimented with both macrobiotic and raw diets, eventually settling on a diet that incorporates both raw and cooked whole foods. In my free time, I spent a lot of time reading about nutrition and have since acquired a lot of knowledge in this area. I also developed a repertoire of healthy and easy vegan dishes. These days, I still consider cooking to be more of a necessity than a hobby. I can be quite the picky eater, both in terms of nutritional quality and taste, so cooking’s something I need to do if I want to eat something fresh and delicious. Not having enough time to cook complicated meals is something many people can relate to, which is why I’m sharing my recipes here.
Avoiding sugar and gluten
As I started to learn more about nutrition, I tried a few different elimination diets. In this process, I realized that I had been physiologically addicted to sugar and gluten.
After cutting out gluten from my diet, my digestive process became smoother and I had a lot more energy. I also lost a few pounds and my face and stomach lost their bloated appearance, although I hadn’t realized prior to the cleanse that I was bloated in the first place. Many doctors and nutritionists maintain that gluten-sensitivities are just a fad; however, there are others that have observed through their practice that gluten-sensitivity is much more pervasive than studies suggest. For me, there was no going back after I experienced life minus gluten. It was merely a matter of observation for me to diagnose myself with a gluten allergy. My sense from talking to others who have tried a gluten-free diet is that while not everyone may have a gluten allergy, most people feel better when they go off of it. For this reason, all of my recipes are gluten-free in addition to being vegan.
With regards to sugar, I realized that my sugar-heavy diet had been causing my energy levels to be all over the place, and my hormones to be out of whack. After cutting out sugary foods, my painful cystic acne disappeared, and I lost even more weight. I also felt more emotionally stable and that my energy remained more or less consistent throughout the day. As a result, I mainly try to avoid sugary foods. This is why most of my recipes are savory rather than sweet.
Veganism and the environment
I have cared deeply about the environment since I was a young girl. Growing up in New York City, I always felt like something was missing and noticed that I was much happier when I was in nature. These days, I try to balance city living with making an effort to get outdoors during my free time.
Because of my passion for the outdoors and nature, it has always disturbed me how recklessly many companies and people exploit this planet we supposedly call home. After becoming vegan, I learned about how factory farming catastrophically impacts the environment, and that by being vegan I was taking the biggest step I could to minimize my ecological footprint.
However, being vegan isn’t enough. Collectively, our society needs to be mindful of how we use up natural resources, and how our consumerist mindset effects the environment, wildlife, and future generations. While I’m not perfect, I continually try to think about ways I can lessen my impact on the environment and to hold myself accountable for my choices.
Why I’m vegan
My post Why I’m Vegan gives a brief overview of my evolution towards a vegan diet.
Recommended posts for getting started
For business-related or other inquiries please contact olivia(dot)e(dot)sterling(at)gmail(dot)com
Please be advised that the only supplements I promote on Livin’ on the Veg are ones I found on my own after extensive research. Additionally, please be advised that I generally prefer to find health and nutrition-related articles to link to on my own as well.