Welcome back! We have another journey to learn from and explore. I met Nicholas in Denver, Colorado. We both worked at the YMCA, and I made fun of vegans one day. He asked if I was vegan or if I just made fun of them. I said, yes. You do not have to be vegan to explore the benefits of a whole-food plant-based diet or drift toward a healthier lifestyle. The goal is to shift the needle toward enlightened and responsible choices. I would like to send a big “thank you” to Nicholas for taking the time to share his journey with us.
What kind of meals did you have growing up?
I grew up being spoiled with great Italian food. My mother’s side of the family, D’Amico, is Sicilian so pasta, meatballs, and lasagna were staples at family events and holidays. Besides that, the all-American diet, which I like to refer to as the ‘no-restriction diet’.
What was your first exposure to a plant-based diet? What inspired you to learn more?
The first time I was exposed to a veggie diet was in high school, someone confronted me and said I was a murderer! It actually turned me off from considering trying it. One of my best friends was a veggie and occasionally vegan, but we never really talked about it. I never asked why, and he never put it on the table for discussion. So, I left it out of my consideration. What inspired me to learn more were a handful of strange coincidences leading up to me, on a whim, watching the documentary Cowspiracy.
How do you feel now compared to earlier in your life? What have you noticed?
My morals and ethics are now congruent across my actions and choices, and this has brought a new sense of balance and peace to my life. I used to say ‘violence is wrong’ yet I was participating in it when I ate animals and animal products, so I conflicted with my own nature. Specifically, when I was a kid, I would cry if an animal got hurt, and somehow, through conditioning, indoctrination, culture, propaganda, and ‘accepting the norm’ I turned my back on those views when sitting down to eat. This change not only affected my mood, but also my physical body. I am more fit and stronger than I ever was before living on plants only. There has not been one day where I woke up feeling weak or malnourished, in fact, I have more energy than before.
Describe the changes you had to make?
Once I made the decision, I changed ‘cold-tofurky’ and the very next time I went shopping for food and out to eat, I made every choice plant based and have not slipped up or had a change of heart since. Quite simply, people think it’s hard to make this change, but honestly, it couldn’t be easier. I mainly shopped in the fruits and veggies section, and if I wanted to purchase something in a box or package, I would carefully read the label. If I did not recognize an ingredient, I would look it up, and in time, I found that if there are too many ingredients. I shouldn’t be ingesting those ingredients and I became aware of every food choice since my awakening. In the beginning, I made what I knew how to which included smoothies, pasta, and curry. That was my diet for the first few months and I gradually tried new dishes. In time, I began to love cooking.
What have you learned through this journey so far?
All life is important, and I want to keep my hands clean of oppression and destruction. It all begins on our plate. Laws and culture don’t determine what is right and if I want peace, I cannot limit other beings the opportunity to attain their own peace.
Who do you seek inspiration from now?
Yogis, vegan athletes, plant-based doctors, animals, and Kyle Wheeler!
What are staples in your diet?
Water, sweet potatoes, fruits, veggies, grains, nuts, and dark greens.
What did you think would be nearly impossible at the beginning of this journey that has become second nature?
Forgiving myself of the spiritual crimes I committed.
If someone were to say, “I want to begin a plant-based lifestyle.” What would you tell them?
Great! I’m here for you if you need any guidance or advice! Have you heard of Kyle Wheeler?!