Dear DiarySips, Sweets & Snacks

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There were moments when I doubted this post would ever come, but here we are: I did it! Well, sort of. I admit, I snuck a tiny bit of super healthy food during the 48 hours when I wasn’t supposed to ingest any solids, and I may or may not have baked up some vegan chocolate chip cookies late at night on the very last day…

Alright, so maybe I didn’t do everything exactly right, but I ended up with so many great takeaways that it honestly doesn’t matter all that much at this point how I got here. I’ve never been the type to play by the rules- I find I do best when I do things my own way. That said, I really did do my best to stick to the schedule, and though it was a struggle at the time the improvements that I’ve seen in my life since have already been so worth it.

Some of the benefits I’ve noticed, to name a few:

// I haven’t touched a cigarette in over a week and don’t really feel the desire to smoke anymore! Yay!

// So far I’ve stuck to a 100% plant-based diet and I’m eating way more veggies on the daily. I’ve rediscovered the joy of trying new recipes and putting together healthy homemade meals. I plan to move forward eating as clean, cruelty-free, and plant based as possible, and I’m actually paying attention to what I put into my body for the first time in ages.

// I have so much energy! I’m working out again! I actually feel nourished! Possibilities are endless!

// Cleansing real toxins out of my body inspired me to clean other toxins out of my life too, from people to activities, and everything in between. I made some hard decisions, and said goodbye to some parts of my life that I loved dearly but needed to let go- much like smoking I suppose.

On the third day of the cleanse Marcelina (aka my amazing Village Juicery nutritionist) wrote “embrace lightness” into my schedule, and that really sums up how I feel this week. I recently read a quote “If you want to fly, you have to give up what weighs you down”, and I couldn’t agree more- I feel so ready to take off into 2016 at full speed, and I couldn’t be more thankful for the jumpstart that Village Juicery gave me!

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Dear DiarySips, Sweets & Snacks

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Well, as expected living on just juice was a challenge- in fact, for me it was pretty much impossible. I’m a super active person, and I always have about 100 things on the go, so attempting to go so many days without any carbs and then survive two days drinking only liquids honestly just didn’t really work.

Though I did my best to relax, I ended up working and running errands like crazy before collapsing into bed and sleeping almost all day both days. I felt like I was missing out on a bunch of important time, and by the end of day one I just got SO hungry. What can I say? I truly love to eat, and though a cleanse might work if I was laying poolside in the sun all week reading books and taking long naps, a few days without food in the middle of cold Toronto winter and a crazy busy work week started to feel almost unhealthy.

And so, At the end of day one I ate a few bites of kale salad, and on day two I couldn’t help but snag a few pieces of the vegan sushi we made with Juniper Wood Kitchen.

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After my indiscretion, I ended up consulting Marcelina, curious why not eating even made sense in the first place. She explained that because our digestive system is always working hard to, well, digest, it never gets a break to heal and regenerate. By ingesting only liquid foods, we give it that break to cleanse and gather energy instead of continually loading it with solid food to process. This makes a ton of sense, but in the end I couldn’t ignore what my body was telling me- I really needed to eat, so I did.

Though I’m sure cleanse experts will shake their heads, I still feel really good about how I’ve done so far. It’s been a whole week since I’ve touched a cigarette, and six days without any animal products or junk food, which for me is VERY big. I didn’t crack and order a pizza, I didn’t go out drinking with my friends (despite their insistence vodka is basically just a potato), and most importantly I’m feeling so inspired to make all sorts of healthy vegan recipes this week!

But not so fast… I’ve still got one last day to go! I’ll report back later this week with the full review.

Dear Diary

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Okay, so before you click “close window” and write me off forever, hear me out on this one. I’m coming up on my 25th birthday, and for the last year I’ve been in a really strange, unnatural mode of thinking. Essentially, sometime around my birthday last year, I decided to stop caring so much. I decided that I would only look out for myself, that focusing on my career made more sense than focusing on relationships, and that I would do what I wanted when I wanted because I was a strong independent woman.

What I didn’t realize is when you don’t care anymore, nothing really matters all that much.

When August first came around this year, I had a massive wake up call. Why on earth was I actively trying not to care about the things that mean the world to me? I’d lost sight of my morals, my hopes and dreams, and my outlook on love and human connection. I was jaded, tired, and somehow along the way I’d managed to become the sort of cold and detached person that I always swore I’d never ever be. I decided that this month, I was going to get back to my natural state- to caring.

For me, part of “caring” has always meant looking out for the welfare of animals, and doing my best to help out. Growing up I volunteered at the Humane Society, and in more recent years I have fostered dogs for the local rescue where I found my pup Honey. A lesser known fact perhaps is that I’ve been a vegetarian almost my entire life! My parents aren’t big on eating “animals that have families”, so my sister and I grew up never tasting a burger, steak, bacon, or ribs. I ate chicken, turkey, and fish like my parents until my teens, and from that point on I’ve been totally meat-free. In my mind, it just doesn’t make sense that something should have to feel pain, fear, and die for the satisfaction of a meal in my belly, and though I often miss the taste and tradition that comes along with meat, for me the guilt just isn’t worth it.

As much as I’m a really great vegetarian, veganism is a whole other ballgame. A few years ago I took on the challenge of eating animal-product free, and I managed to last almost a whole year before a pint of Ben and Jerry’s half-baked got the best of me. Fast forward a few years, and I’m just as into B&J as ever, plus I’ve developed a pretty serious passion for artisanal cheeses (hello smoked cheddar!), which makes veganism feel more impossible than ever. That said, as much as I’m a huge supporter of small, local, ethical eggs and dairy, there are some facts I have a hard time ignoring as an animal lover, and as I head into a new year, I want to know that I’m doing the most I can to minimize suffering in the world every single day. For example, even on small farms dairy cows are kept pregnant over and over again to continue producing breast milk (just like we would have to be). Their calfs are often taken from them before they even get a chance to feed them a single time, because that milk is to be sold to humans of course, and once separated the babies are locked into confined spaces for a very short time until they can be slaughtered for veal. Until I find a dairy farm that doesn’t subscribe to these practices (I would LOVE suggestions!), I can’t help but feel pretty conflicted when I bite into a slice of brie.

So, I’ve taken the plunge. Starting August 1st I’ve been eating vegan, and though I am certainly not promising to never go back, I’m really loving the effect this decision has had on me and the way I eat already. Instead of dialling up takeout or dousing noodles with butter, cheese and truffle salt every night, I’m actually taking the time to plan meals and get back to cooking again, a passion I’ve totally lost touch with over the past few years. I’m also revisiting some of my favourite vegan baking recipes from my plant-based days, and though I’m a lot more hungry (which I didn’t know was possible to be honest), I’m much happier with what I am choosing to ingest.

Over the next few weeks I’ll be sharing some of my favourite vegan tips, tricks, recipes and restaurants, and you can follow along with the hashtag #RAOPgoesVegan. I’d also love to hear some of your suggestions too!