We started to rethink the way we live and eat 7 years ago and it has dramatically changed our lives. We wanted to share our journey with others and provide a group of support. Our eyes have been opened to so many things that we never thought to question. It’s amazing how little we knew about where our food came from or what was in it. Changing our eating habits has improved our health more than we could have ever imagined and opened a whole new world of culinary delight.
Brian and I grew up on a typical American diet, meat was the primary source of protein. Brian’s family hunted (deer, squirrel, rabbit) and fished (crappie, catfish) and grew veggies in their backyard. My family fished occasionally, but the majority of our food was store-bought. Brian and I both grew up on a lot of fried foods living in the south.
Brian and I started dating in September of 1998 and we were married in April of 2001. We had our first child in February of 2003. Thanks to Brian, I started to appreciate nature more and enjoyed doing outdoor activities. Our eating habits didn’t start to change until I was pregnant with our second child in 2006 and started having health issues with my gallbladder. This started our first change, lower fat. I started cooking with lean meats (chicken and turkey), stopped frying foods, switched to using extra virgin olive oil, cut down on butter and sugar. We also became more environmentally conscious at this time, started wasting less and recycling more. We became more active, walking the kids to a nearby park to play and joined a gym to lose weight and get in better shape. By the time our third child was born in 2007, we were becoming more concerned about what was in our food, so we started reading labels more. We didn’t buy things with high fructose corn syrup, artificial ingredients, tons of preservatives or chemicals. We also started to limit eating out at fast food restaurants. As a family we love being outdoors. We are very fortunate to live in an area with much to explore; nature centers, hiking/biking trails, birding trails, butterfly gardens, parks, beaches and lakes. In 2009 we were fortunate enough to move into a small house and out of apartment living for the first time in our marriage. This gave our family some great opportunities, like having a vegetable garden and backyard chickens.
After more research we decided to limit dairy from our diets in 2010. This wasn’t an easy switch, I struggled with this a little in the beginning. We started trying milk alternatives and we discovered our disliked of soy milk. We started drinking almond milk which tasted better than the soy milk, but was still quite different from cow’s milk we were accustomed to. The kids liked it in their breakfast cereal, but didn’t care to drink a glass of it by itself, at first. Even though we used to drink 2% cow’s milk, the almond milk was thinner and took some time to get use to. Yogurt and cheese were harder to stop eating. (we still occasionally eat yogurt and cheese now) We started to see how dairy was forced on children in the USA more, as well. Our oldest son was in first grade at the time and I started to notice how much of it was in his school lunch. He didn’t want to stop eating lunch at school all together, so I let him buy a few days out of the week, but asked him not to drink the milk. This is when I found out from the school that there weren’t other drink options with lunch. It was white or chocolate milk, that’s it, no juice and only water from the water fountains, which is due to the dairy industry having its hand in politics. We also got some negative feed back from our families. We were often questioned, “how will the kids get calcium?” and told “you can’t not give them milk, it’ll stunt their growth”. (It’s amazing the misconceptions people have and how little they know about food)
About four months after giving up cow’s milk we decided to stop eating meat. This was due to our concern for the environment, animal rights and our health. We got A LOT of feed back from family and friends about this decision, “what are you going to eat?”, “how will you get protein?” and “that’s so unhealthy”. To much of their surprise our three kids are growing like weeds, strong and healthy. We have meat occasionally (once every 3 to 4 months), but it’s organic, free range, antibiotic and hormone free. Overall we have adapted to our new diet well, although there were a few challenges along the way. We really had to do research and experiment with recipes. Thanks to our new diet we have found some great foods that I don’t think otherwise we would have tried. We have continued to stay active as a family and I have lost about 50 lbs in the past three years, managing to keep it off quite easily. Now a size 8, it’s hard for me to imagine that I use to wear a size 18. This journey with food lead me back to college where I obtained an AAS Culinary Arts degree. I love to share my knowledge of nutrition and food with others.
The kids have a strong understanding of why we choose to eat differently than others. They don’t feel like they are missing out on anything and they aren’t embarrassed to let others know that they are vegetarians. It’s still quite obvious that we are a minority when it comes to our diet. I only have two friends who are vegetarian/vegan. The majority of our friends and all of our family are omnivores who still eat lots of meat and dairy. Our diet choices aren’t always respected, especially when it comes to our kids. We are still committed to our diet changes and are still figuring things out as we go.
We hope that our story will help with your own personal journey, whatever it may be. Checked out our website for recipes, product suggestions, DIY projects, green living tips and much more!
“Be the change you want to see in the world” -Gandhi
“The Purpose Of Life Is To Live It, To Taste Experience To The Utmost, To Reach Out Eagerly, And Without Fear For Newer And Richer Experiences.”
“The worst kind of ignorance is the things we know for sure that just ain’t so.” – Mark Twain