By Eve Lynn Kessner
When The Sweat Life came to me and asked if I was interested in writing an article on being “mostly vegan,” I was pumped! This is something that I’ve been struggling with how to approach with my own readers, and am happy to have a place to share.
Veganism was such a huge part of how I defined myself for so long. It was what connected me to so many people, as a holistic nutritionist and blogger. It made me think deeper than I ever had in my life, about what I was putting into my body and how what I ate was affecting me. It brought meaning and purpose to the act of eating — which too many of us do without thought. It made me think bigger, open my horizons, and think outside the box that I was so accustomed to living inside.
Veganism made me a better person.
Veganism made me conscientious and considerate.
Veganism made me spiritual, energetically clean, proud.
And, ironically, veganism was the catalyst for my current non-veganism.
As I delved deeper into the vegan lifestyle and my quest for healthier living, I explored macrobiotics, Ayurveda, and raw foods, among other traditional diets, and maintained my vegan roots. All the iterations I tried of the vegan diet kept me feeling light and vibrant and thoughtful. The idea of testing ancient and traditional diets, simplifying and going back to nature, trying diets that worked for so many years on thriving cultures, was exciting and fascinating. One led me to the next, and the power of the learning process was as strong as the actual effects the vegan diet had on my body. It was both physical and metaphysical. It was really profound for me.
And then, it couldn’t be avoided any longer — my journey through health and wellness, clean eating, and clean living, it brought me to fitness. For years I avoided anything more than yoga (though I was an avid practicer), and long walks “to get the blood flowing.” It was silly how my mind blocked the knowledge. I read and read about interval training, heart health, energy flow, and I consistently felt that I was thin enough, healthy enough, active enough that I didn’t need exercise.
The truth was that I was not strong enough. In my yoga practice I was always super bendy, with no core strength to hold a handstand. Carrying my babies and groceries and pushing a stroller, I would tweak my back. I would sleep funky and wake up in pain, tire fast, be breathless up a flight of stairs.
It was time to get serious about my new lifestyle and hit the gym! But the gym and I are not really friends. I get bored without a book (try interval training on a treadmill with a novel in your hands). And I could never push myself to lift enough weights to make a difference — stretching was my forte.
Until I found SoulCycle. It was everything I needed. Dark, candlelit, loud music, dancing!! And as you already know, it was all over from there. Today I teach 12-15 classes a week, and am stronger at age 33 than I have ever been. I have more energy for my kids, do more writing than I have in years (here at The Sweat Life for example!), and sleep better through the night.
But as I grew strength and pushed my limits in that room on that bike, I found I needed more sustenance. Protein was becoming an issue for me. I was getting too thin, too drawn, and I was eating a ton! It was becoming increasingly difficult for me to find whole foods, clean, protein options that were easy on the go (since I’m bopping between studios and school drop off and pick ups all day). Vegan protein powders are amazing (I use them in my shakes regularly, I love the hemp protein) and nut butters are equal favorites of mine, but I needed more. More variety. And more energy.
Today I eat eggs (always organic and cage free of course) and fish (sustainably caught and low mercury options only). I still stay away from dairy and never eat meat. This flexi-diet feels amazing! After a triple teaching day on Fridays, I love salmon — and after my morning doubles during the week, a hard-boiled egg or two always keeps my energy light and consistent. Vegan, nut butter-based protein shakes do wonders for me as well, and my sprouted bread with some avocado, lemon, olive oil, sea salt, and gomasio start many of my days strong!
Going back to fish and eggs was honestly, emotionally tough for me at first. I felt like I was going back on my word, leaving a big part of myself behind, losing part of my identity. But, what it taught me is that I need to be more flexible. Rigidity is dangerous. Live by passion, not dogma.
More than anything else, it’s important to listen to your body and give it what it needs. There is a brain/body connection that must be respected. The best thing you can do for yourself is be tuned in enough, sensitive enough, to know what you need and have the strength to go get it.
Eve Lynn Kessner is mom to two little girls, Avital and Bar, ages 5 and 2, a sometimes vegan, a holistic nutritionist, and focused on living a organic, chemical-free, natural life. “Making our home and our diets safe, healthy, and chemical free is no longer a goal, but a necessity. It feels good, clean, and ethical,” she says. Eve studied at The Institute for Integrative Nutrition, and counsels clients on food and lifestyle choices, helping them make cleaner, more responsible decisions. Eve is also a SoulCycle instructor, and an all-around dreamer and believer.