“Some people think a plant-based, whole foods diet is extreme. Half a million people a year will have their chests opened up and a vein taken from their leg and sewn onto their coronary artery. Some people would call that extreme.”
- Caldwell Esselstyn
Eating animals is something I have always felt uncomfortable with as far back as I can remember. I avoided meat as a child, and at age 12 decided to become a vegetarian. With 20 years of vegetarianism under my belt and 4 years of veganism, my understanding, my purpose and my relationship with my diet and nutrition has evolved and matured as I have grown more conscious.
Cheese was the last thing for me to part ways with (I was so addicted!). But once I eliminated all dairy and meat from my diet I finally felt what it was like to be free from bloating and inflammation. I am lactose intolerant (which didn’t jive well with my cheese addiction), so I just always thought that feeling full meant also feeling sick. I love food too much to feel sick every time I eat, so something had to give and I decided to give a vegan life a shot. Once I was fully meat and dairy free I felt so good all the time! My training and recovery both improved, and I began to really take my health and diet more seriously.
I have also recently discovered that I have an autoimmune disorder called Sjogren’s disease (a type of Lupus). My rheumatologist confirmed that my plant-based diet was likely the reason I am able to stay asymptomatic a majority of the time.
”Let food be thy medicine, and medicine be thy food.”
I have recently begun to delve deeper into my vegan journey and have become more passionate about eliminating any usage of animal flesh and fluids for my personal benefit. My ethical veganism is something that has truly anchored me into my dietary and lifestyle choices in a more profound, conscious, and spiritual way than just a food restriction for my own health.
Eating plant-based on the trail is of course non-negotiable for me. While Jamie is supportive of my plant-based diet, he hasn’t made the commitment himself (yet... still holding out hope!). However, we decided to plan the nutrition we carry for the thru hike to be fully plant-based. Jamie wants the security of “slamming a pizza” whenever we hit a town, but my commitment to being plant-based won’t waver in towns.
This decision to be plant-based requires more planning than what most thru hikers have to worry about since we are needing to mail ourselves a majority of our nutrition (instead of relying on whatever we find in towns along the way). It also means we are tethered a bit more to a schedule since we will be relying on our resupply mail drops for healthy, calorie dense, plant-based nutrition. But what better person to take on the megaplanning of being vegan on a thru hike than yours truly? Bring it on AT spreadhseets!
In that vein, I had to cut myself off and we have decided to only plan out the first half of the trip. We will make any adjustments for the second half on the go. I imagine our taste buds will change a bit while we are out there and we may have new ideas of what we need and how much of it we need. We will try to communicate these tweaks to our boxing angels back at home while we are out there. (Made possible with the help of trail angel SuperParents and friends who will be coordinating all of this! THANK YOU!)
“The most ethical diet just so happens to be the most environmentally sound diet and just so happens to be the healthiest.”
― Dr. Michael Greger