I recently did a feature for Fresh Vegan (now Fresh View) Magazine! Love that team – if you haven’t yet subscribed to their magazine then you should! It is always LOADED with amazing features and recipes. I was delighted to contribute something for them recently – to share my story about why I am not a vegetarian anymore and how I became a ‘conscious consumer’.
Get the full mag online by clicking the pic or read my story below.
Why I’m not vegetarian anymore.
Don’t you just love all these labels? Vegetarian, pescetarian, fruitarian, vegan, raw, SAD, gluten-free…..oh it drives me crazy! But in a way I love them too as they have provided me with an understanding of my pathway to conscious eating, a pathway towards health, stepping stones if you like.
I truly believe that I eat ‘normally’, that my diet is ‘healthy’ and not a label – currently that means that my diet is high in raw foods, wholly nutritious, mostly plant based and I squeeze as many juices and smoothies into that formula as I can. I am not sure if you would truly label that as ‘Vegan’ or ‘Raw’ but those labels do help with a bit of positioning.
I find it difficult to wear a label because I know from my own life experience that you can be a vibrantly healthy meat eater who is thoroughly conscious about where their foods come from and eat a diet that is healthy and vibrant, organic and locally sourced etc. It is also possible to be an incredibly unhealthy vegetarian, or vegan, and eat lots of processed microwaved meals that as long as there is no meat in them – great, it’s on the plate.
I know because I was once there. I was once a vegetarian who did not eat consciously: the overall sum of my lifestyle choices left me in an unhealthy place. I ate a mostly processed diet and really didn’t think too much about what I was putting into my mouth! Until things reached a point where I really had to make some changes. And this is when I walked the pathway towards conscious eating, leaving vegetarianism behind, becoming vegan and exploring raw.
The Unconscious Vegetarian
I had been a vegetarian (well a pescetarian really) since the age of 20 so considered myself pretty healthy as I wasn’t eating meat. The truth is though that I was eating ANYTHING that wasn’t meat. Now listen up – I wasn’t eating everything in sight or ordering take-outs every five minutes, far from it. Specifically I just wasn’t making conscious food choices. Not meat? Great! I was eating it.
The weight slowly piled on. I was eating a ‘normal’ diet but making poor food choices, portion control was probably an issue. I had a rich dairy filled diet that included lots of boozy nights out with friends and late nights working or socialising. As a result by my early 30s my weight was out of control, my PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome) was also out of control – I was still focussing so much on my career I didn’t really focus on anything else. I had lost sight of ME.
I was truly a vegetarian by this point – although I hadn’t even considered that giving up dairy should ever be something that I could or would or should consider.
Living with disease – PCOS
Suffering with chronic disease was hellish: when my disease, and lack of general health, was at it’s peak so was my weight. I had many of the symptoms of PCOS: excess and rapid weight gain, difficulty in losing weight, fatigue, anxiety and mood swings, ease in putting on weight, hormone imbalance, insulin resistance, hair thinning, miscarriages, chronic heavy periods, flash bleeding, periods that would last for more than five weeks at a time…. you get the picture. I also had ultrasound scans that showed that my ovaries were swamped with cysts. At this point I was really lost for a solution and was told that:
- There is no known cure for PCOS
- I would find it really difficult to lose weight, and that whatever I ate would probably be stored as fat
- I needed to lose weight to break the insulin/weight gain cycle
- I was told to ‘eat less pies’ (even though I wasn’t eating the pies!) basically the nutrition advice I got was awful
- I had two options – continue with a course of drugs that were making me VERY unwell or have a hysterectomy
There was no way that I wanted a hysterectomy, and I was feeling very ill still taking all the drugs so I just stopped taking them. Why swap one set of hideous symptoms for another? In fact, I wasn’t swapping them. I was just ADDING to my PCOS symptoms as they didn’t ever go away!
At this point I had no solution. And I had no idea that my life was about to turn around. I healed my body naturally – I now do not have PCOS and I avoided all medical interventions – including surgery to remove my womb and heavy drugs. I am now a ‘Raw Foods Educator’ – I have written books about raw, I teach about cleansing the body with juicing and raw foods and run retreats all about detoxing, raw foods and moving the body: Raw Juice Camp is the first and only raw vegan military bootcamp that provides a very holistic approach to getting healthy.
If anyone had told me five years ago that this is what I would be doing with my life I would have cracked up laughing!
Becoming a Conscious Eater and Waking up to Veganism
I moved along the pathway by taking my first steps into juicing quite by accident. I was given a wonderful book – Jason Vales 7bs in 7 days – which eventually led me to attending one of Jasons retreats. I had the mindset that because of my PCOS the normal symptoms of a detox would not apply to me – as I had been very well coached into believing that it would be difficult or near impossible for me to lose any weight whatever ‘diet’ I was on. And I believed it. It was amazing that cleansing my body for a week with juices felt truly awesome – and I lost 10lbs! For me this was an incredible moment – it really impacted me – what I had been told about my potential to lose weight wasn’t true. This was unbelievable news! More than the weight loss I had no idea how much my body was already healing and how things would unravel.
Well that was the start of my journey into raw. I juiced myself silly on and off for months and fell in love with all the flavours and of course the results. I carried my juicer everywhere. I lugged it across London in a cool bag if I was on the move. Wherever I went my juicer went. I was juice fasting aswell as juicing daily combined with eating healthily. And over time my body began to regain it’s balance. I didn’t lose weight at a shocking rate – it came away naturally and also it is worth mentioning that at this point I wasn’t ‘raw’ – just instinctively making better food choices. Fizzy drinks went out of my life aswell as most dairy products. I was becoming a consciously consuming vegan.
It wasn’t enough for me however – I wanted to understand what pure eating was all about. I wanted MORE knowledge and I explored my raw food curiosities. I studied human nutrition and did spells of 100% raw for lent and for holidays. It was incredible. I then committed to doing 100% raw for a year (my Raw365 project!) which was my biggest learning curve! This was when dairy foods left my life too.
My 100% raw for a year was amazing – I did it as a ‘sponsored diet’ – and in the main it was for quite selfish reasons – I needed robust diet police to keep me focused! And it worked! I raised a great deal of money for charity and I gained my ‘healthy’ back.
Being a Consciously Consuming Vegan
VERY quickly my PCOS symptoms began to slow down. I was noticing changes. Periods were becoming manageable and more regular, less painful and my cycle eventually settled. I had my full year of regular cycles EVER at 40. E.V.E.R. I had no idea what that was all about! I had 11 periods in one year. Not bad for someone who sometimes had two or three that could last more than a month. It was unbelievable to me! My weight was balancing and I was feeling full of energy and feeling just absolutely great!
These changes were not JUST as a result of ‘eating less food’ I was hyperflushing my system with high levels of nutrition: I was detoxing and allowing my body to heal. What was great was that I did NOT go on a crash diet!! It took me years to lose the weight – and I am still slowly losing more. I was just healing at my own pace. Not bad is it, considering I was told there was no cure. I might have had my womb removed at this point had I listened to that advice.
I was becoming very aware about where my food was coming from. About the food industry and food production.
Now I am very aware about what I put in, and on, my body and consciously choose the best food options available to me in that moment. I also don’t beat myself up if sometimes I ‘get it wrong’. I have truly become a consciously consuming vegan, which for me also includes not judging yourself, or others.
- Green Juice – from ebook Raw7 – Juicing & Raw for Weightloss 7-Day Detox Plan
- Chinese Stir Fry – from FREE ebook Raw24 – One Day Raw Detox
- Vanilla Rose Cheesecake – from eBook Raw 7 – Juicing & Raw for Weightloss 7-Day Detox Plan
- Chocolate Mousse – from eBook Raw Amour – Recipes for love
What I did
I was so obsessed with how my body was healing – I wanted to share it ALL with everyone! I bought juicers for friends, I made raw cheesecakes for everyone, and took raw chocolates to business meetings. I was also bursting with all the information that I had been absorbing from my research and my experience and sat down one night and wrote my Raw7 book – my Juicing & Raw for Weightloss 7-Day Plan which I then piloted over several months with a group of enthusiastic volunteers. I think that was when my business Explore Raw was really born. I didn’t plan any of it. It was just in me.
I am now a ‘Raw Foods Educator’ – I have written five books about raw, I teach about cleansing the body with juicing and raw foods and run retreats all about detoxing, raw foods and moving the body: Raw Juice Camp is the first and only raw vegan military bootcamp that provides a very holistic approach to getting healthy.
If anyone had told me five years ago that this is what I would be doing with my life I would have cracked up laughing!
I have recently had ultrasound scans that show that I have NO CYSTS at all. Not even one or two (to have one or two is quite normal I am told). My ultrasound scans show that my ovaries are as ‘clean as a whistle’. My blood tests show normal, if not super fantastic, hormone and insulin levels. Medically speaking I now show NO SIGNS OF POLYCYSTIC OVARIES OR POLYCYSTIC OVARIAN SYNDROME. I have allowed my body to heal!
It is important for me to share this as I am often challenged on my ‘healing myself’ strapline. Let me be clear – it was ME that made the changes to my lifestyle on a level that allowed my body to heal itself – by hyperflushing my system with quality, natural, healing raw foods, and leaving my unhealthy vegetarian lifestyle behind.
How I help others
My professional career has given me the experience and credentials to be able to offer all of my knowledge and support to others. I am not just a ‘former fattie with a story’ I am an experienced and enthusiastic raw foods educator. Visit my site www.exploreraw.com and try more recipes!
I am a trusted coach to many clients who are looking to turn their health around! I am also the author of five eBooks, I teach detoxing, juicing and raw and run my own private events. This year I will be launching Explore Raw Cookery School to give students practical knowledge of how to create awesome, healing raw foods that taste incredible. I also partner with military trainers and yoga gurus to run my own fitness holidays and retreats in Portugal. I still do corporate work, as a freelance coach, trainer and facilitator, and love the diversity that my portfolio brings me.
My message to you? Start your own story. Take accountability for your own health.
Eat consciously. Have an open mind. Start juicing. Explore Raw.
Download your FREE copy of Stephanie’s eBook One Day Raw Detox – Raw24 at www.exploreraw..com and sign up for news!