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My Vegan Story - Erin Nicole

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Hi my name is Erin Nicole and I operate the blog Vegan Virgin. I am a dog mom to two fur babies, a pomeranian named Benjamin and a chihuahua named Bella. I am an avid runner and I love creating my own healthy recipes.  The goal of my blog and social media is to help people transition to a vegan lifestyle, as I know it can be difficult. My instagram is @theveganvirgin and I post recipes daily, work outs, my dogs, and products that I recommend.
I became vegan in April 2014 shortly after my best friend Natasha visited me. I was on the fence about becoming vegan as I had attempted it before after reading Skinny Bitch and I had failed miserably due to poor planning. Together we shared my 'last meal', which was a tirimisu at Sotto Sotto in Toronto. She was supportive of my desire to make a change and together we ate healthy vegan meals and got creative in the kitchen. After she left and it was just me on my own, I felt overwhelmed and unsure of where to turn. I could feel my drive fading as it had before and so I decided to seek out information and support.
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I am not one to watch a lot of documentaries, but I knew I needed a push. On Netflix there was a movie called Vegucated that chronicled 3 New Yorkers who reply to a Craigslist ad to try going vegan, and have the process filmed. The first is a New York bachelor that LOVES his meat and cheese. The second is a student that lives with her parents and they eat food that is traditional to her culture which happens to be very heavy on the meat. The last is a single mom who's freezer would give Food Babe a heart attack, as it is full of ready-to-eat lasagnas, and other instant meals. I identified with different aspects of the characters and If found it to be very motivational.
After the documentary I dumped the milk down the sink, and tossed the cheese. By cheese I mean a wheel of brie (an actual wheel), and varoius deli cheeses. I notified my local coffee shop we were switching things up and no longer would I be taking that whole milk latte to go.  I felt like coming out to my barista as a vegan was a huge step!
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In all honesty - the first 30 days were hard because I craved cheese. But, after 2 weeks my skin cleared up significantly and by the end of the 30 days my energy was through the roof. Instead of 3-4 cups of coffee, I had 1 in the morning. I didn't feel like my energy dipped mid afternoon and I even gave up naps - which I had grown quite fond of in the snowy Toronto months. I looked forward to my workouts and my results came instantly. Week to week I toned up and to this day I can skip a week and my body remains the same. These days I run 40-60km a week and I do HIIT and Tabata workouts. My favourite are on the YouTube channel Fitness Blender. I also do hot yoga part time and walk as often as I can, rather than drive.
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I focus on eating whole, organic ingredients. I stick to a gluten free diet for the majority of the time, due to a wheat and yeast allergy. I start my day with a large protein smoothie. My favourite is the Chocolate Coconut Mylkshake on my blog. Lunch is often a wrap or Buddha Bowl. For dinner I often opt for brown rice avocado sushi, taco salad, veggie fajitas, stir fry, or curry. Lately, I have been loving Pineapple Cashew Fried Rice and Ethiopian influenced curry such as a Coconut Vegetable Lentil Curry.
It can be very difficult for new vegans as there are many substitutions that are unfamiliar which is why I created my blog to help "vegan virgins". I recommend documentaries such as the soon to be released nationwide PlantPure Nation, and the cookbook that accompanies the film as it is easy to follow and the meals are very health focussed. I also recommend Forks Over Knives, Vegucated, and Hungry for Change which can all be found on Netflix.
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Be open to the change and know that you don't have to do it perfectly, but give it it a try and see how your body and mind react. I started out as an overworked, under nourished vegetarian who relied heavily on cheese and lattes! I am now currently studying to become a Registered Holistic Nutritionist and I work at Oakville Naturopathic Wellness Centre. This past week I took a job at Smash Box Media to work with accounts that are part of the vegan, health, and lifestyle community to make sure that their message is getting out across the social media platforms. I am very excited to continue on this path to spread my love of food, health, beauty, and veganism with others. Please follow me on Instagram @theveganvirgin and my blog. I love helping "vegan virgins" and those who are plant-based curious.

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