My name is Simone and I’m a 21 year old single, stay-at-home mum of a 1 year old boy, Connor. I’m currently studying to become a breastfeeding counsellor and plan on becoming a lactation consultant in the future. Soon I will be starting a vegetarian/vegan nutrition course so I can become a vegetarian/vegan nutrition consultant and help people with their diets and health.
I’ve been vegan since March 2010. I am 174cm and used to be overweight but I now weigh a healthy 60kg. I used to always struggle with my weight and I didn’t have a good relationship with food; I saw it as my enemy and something I should avoid. I tried everything to lose weight even drugs and before I became pregnant I did lose weight, but it was a hard and unhealthy journey. While pregnant I gained the weight again. When I had my son, something shifted within me, I didn’t see meat as food, but I saw it as someone’s mother, daughter, son, brother. I saw dairy as a mother’s stolen breastmilk, which really upset me. I lost the baby weight following a vegan lifestyle. I have a better relationship with food now and see it very differently because everything I eat is cruelty free, and I feel like with every meal I am making a difference in the world.
1. Please share with us your journey towards a healthy weight. How did you achieve it? Any special tips you would like to share with us?
I had a lot of weight which I gained during my pregnancy to lose, and never thought I’d be able to. I didn’t go vegan to lose the weight, I went vegan because I could no longer be a part of or support industries which torture animals. The weight loss was a bonus! I ate when I was hungry and never deprived myself if I felt like a treat. I have a lot of different foods now in my diet, whereas before I ate the same things every week. It was boring. Now I try new foods every few days! I invested in a couple of vegan cookbooks including a raw vegan one and found a couple of good recipe websites. I suggest that anyone going vegan do that, because it can be very scary at the thought of cutting out meat, dairy and eggs if that’s all you ate previously. You may think there is nothing to eat, but you will be very surprised at what you find!
2. Does a vegan diet help to maintain a healthy weight?
I believe it does. Since becoming vegan I have become more health conscious and I’ve learnt a lot about nutrition. I felt like I needed to learn about sources of vitamins and minerals so if anybody asked me, “How do you get your iron?” I could answer with confidence. I previously had no idea when it came to nutrition, I just ate whatever and hoped I was getting what I needed. Now I know I get all of the required vitamins, minerals, etc as I had a blood test to see how I was going, and my doctor was speechless! It was nice to prove that a vegan diet can be healthy!
Also, just because I am vegan doesn’t mean I don’t have junk food, so if your goal is to lose weight you can’t go crazy on those foods, but it’s ok once in a while. I found that if I was craving something sweet, there are healthy raw vegan desserts that taste so good such as chocolate mousse!
3. Are there any other benefits besides weight loss that you have derived from following a vegan lifestyle?
I have a sense of happiness and that my life has purpose.
I no longer suffer from anxiety, depression and agoraphobia. I have been on medication for several years and for the last couple of years a very high dosage. Since becoming vegan I felt that I didn’t need it anymore, and with the approval of my doctor, I weaned and have never been happier. I believe that when consuming animal products, you are consuming their fear, pain and anxiety which they felt their entire life and at death.
I used to have bad breakouts and no skin products would ever clear them. It made me very self-conscious and I now have clear skin.
I am now part of the vegan community which gives me a sense of belonging and its fun to meet new people at different vegan events.
I am part of a positive change in the world and that is very exciting.
I am now passionate about cooking and trying new foods.
I love educating others and showing them that vegans aren’t always pale, stick-thin, hippies who eat lettuce and lentils all day. Its awesome teaching them about the vegan lifestyle!
4. How important do you think exercise is as part of a weight loss plan? Anything else that you think should be mentioned in addition to diet and exercise that you found can assist with weight loss?
I don’t have an exercise routine, but running around after my son keeps me active. I take him for walks and we play at the park, but I don’t have time as a mum to work out at the gym so I just do what I can.
I think that drinking water is beneficial. Previously I lived on a diet soft drinks. I occasionally have one but now I’ve substituted them for water or mineral water with fresh lemon juice if I feel like something fizzy.
5. Can you share with us your favourite recipe.
I’m constantly discovering new foods and trying a new recipe every few days but at the moment my favourite recipe would have to be:
Coriander Lemon-Lime Tofu over Black Beans
- 1 block of firm tofu
- 1 can of black beans
- 1 lime, zested and juiced
- 1 lemon, zested and juiced
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- 1 bunch of coriander chopped
- 2 tablespoons of olive oil
- Himalayan salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste
- Slice the tofu into bite size chunks.
- Add the tofu, the lime juice and zest, lemon zest and juice, coriander, oil, sugar, salt and pepper to a container and marinate for an hour.
- Put mixture in frypan and fry for about 10 minutes, or until cooked.
- Fry up beans in a separate pan for about 5 minutes, or until cooked.
- Serve the tofu on top of the beans.
6. If you could give some advice to people who are struggling with their weight, what would you say?
That it may seem hard and you may feel that you have so much weight to lose, you just won’t be able to get there but don’t give up. Make it a fun experience where you try new and exciting foods. There are so many recipes that you could eat something new every meal if you wanted to. Don’t make it like you are depriving yourself but just substituting for something a little different. Find yourself a support network with others who are trying to lose weight with a vegan diet, it will help talking about how you feel with others going through the same thing. You can also share ideas and learn from each other. Just realise that you are on the right track now, and you can only improve your health now.
7. Any last inspirational thoughts for us?
Veganism has improved my life more than words can say. It’s not just a diet, but a positive and kind way to live. It’s not only my physical health that has improved but also mentally and spiritually. I recommend it to everyone because I feel awesome!
Thank you so much Simone! You are truly an inspiration! 🙂