*hey friends! this post is part of the VEG articles- inspirational stories from around the globe. today, the most lovely natalie lynn borton of thoughts by natalie is sharing her story with us. i find it so inspiring to meet other people eating a plant based diet, and feel incredibly lucky to have this amazing online space to meet, greet and discuss with others about the issues we care about. this series is meant to inspire you and enlighten us on how people from all over the world make eating this way possible. please read on, grab a few recipes and join the conversation! xo, bonnie

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My husband and I started eating vegan in September 2011. We had just returned from a week-long trip up to Northern California—complete with a shrimp boil and a couple of trips to In-N-Out Burger—and wanted nothing more than to snuggle up on the couch and watch a movie. After scrolling through Netflix options, we discovered Forks Over Knives and pressed play. Our lives haven’t been the same since!! That very night, as the credits rolled, we decided to start eating vegan.

Though I’m a HUGE animal lover and really against factory farming (it’s not only bad for animals, but really bad for people, too!), the key driver in our decision was health and disease prevention. We’ve lost so many loved ones to cancer, and have many relatives and friends suffering from other health issues that could be prevented or kept at bay through a plant-based diet. We know we can’t keep ourselves 100% healthy and perfect forever, but we do know that what we eat hugely impacts our risk for disease. For us, the “sacrifice” of eating plant-based is well worth every ounce of extra effort it takes compared to those without dietary restrictions.

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Though it can be tough to eat out sometimes, the hardest thing about eating vegan has probably been the judgement of others. A lot of people don’t respect the choice, feel threatened by it, think it’s some weird diet, or think we’re high maintenance. One day, I hope eating vegan will seem as normal as going for a daily jog.

Overall, we are so glad that we learned about the health benefits of a plant-based diet in our twenties! We have more energy, sleep better, have an easier time exercising (even when we’ve taken several weeks or months off), and maintain our weight without thinking about it or dieting. Personally, I’ve experienced huge benefits for my skin and also in regards to my view of food. The anti-inflammatory properties of plant-based foods have been immensely helpful in keeping my eczema at bay. Additionally, as someone with a history of eating disorders, I’ve found so much freedom through eating this way—I used to judge food as “good” or “bad,” and now I simply eat what I want, when I want because plant-based foods are truly nourishing and I can trust my body to tell me when I’m hungry or full.

An average day of eating for me might look like this: green tea to start the day (coffee and almond milk for my hubby!), oatmeal or a green smoothie for breakfast, apples and nut butter for a morning snack if I’m hungry, bean soup and salad or a vegan pesto & veggie sandwich for lunch, veggies and hummus for an afternoon snack, and a hearty meal for dinner like vegan lasagna with a side salad.

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Though it’s tough to pick just one, my favorite vegan recipe just might be the Engine 2 Raise The Roof Sweet Potato Lasagna. It has about a million ingredients in it, but it makes TONS of food so you can eat nutrient-packed and tasty leftovers all week long. This is definitely my crowd-pleasing recipe. Among my other favorites include Sweet Potato Shepherd’s Pie, Almond Butter Granola and Gluten Free Vegan Chocolate Chip Breakfast Cookies. Vegan food is delicious!!

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Much like Stephanie suggested in her VEG Article, my biggest tip for making the switch is research! When my husband and I were transitioning, we found the documentary Forks Over Knives and the book Veganist by Kathy Freston to be the most helpful and informative. I also started following several blogs that shared vegan recipes so that meal preparation was much easier. My favorites include Oh She Glows, Wolf and Willow, Scaling Back, A House In The Hills, and of course Going Home To Roost!! Pinterest is also a great source for vegan meal ideas—I keep track of what I find (and make!) through my good eats and my weekly bite series on my blog!

Overall, eating vegan has been one of the best choices my husband and I have ever made and we don’t plan on ever going back :)

a huge thanks to natalie for sharing her story and recipes with us! if you’re interested in sharing your story about eating a plant based diet with GHTR, i’d love to hear from you. just email me!

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  • We eat vegetarian, but have been wanting to switch over to vegan. This is so inspiring!!

  • This article is so inspiring! I’m eating strictly pescetarian this month (usually I try but I falter) and this is inspiring to move into a vegetarian lifestyle. I have many vegetarian and vegan friends so it’s reassuring that this couple found it easy after a road trip of fast food and haven’t looked back since. I also love that it has improved the quality of her skin (she’s gorgeous). Thank you for sharing!

  • Thanks for letting me share with your readers, Bonnie!!

  • I am starting my transition to Veg living – I can’t give up eggs yet….I love reading inspiring stories! Thanks for sharing!

  • I love your article, Natalie! I am also excited to see veganism become even just a little bit more mainstream. I read this article recently about trying to switch people’s mindset about meat-eating being the default: http://www.good.is/posts/5-behavior-and-culture-hacks-to-get-people-eating-less-meat?utm_medium=social&utm_source=fbwall

    I also recommend the incredible cookbook Veganomicon (for more great recipe ideas) and the book Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer (to inform meat-eaters and to rekindle any vegetarians/vegan’s commitment to the lifestyle).

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