Lillian LewisWhen I was a little girl, I learned a lot about nutrition by watching my mother cook Korean food and also from my father’s battle with diabetes and cancer, however even with that I remember him as the strong man he always was to me. 

My mother was born in Korea and she grew up learning to grow her own vegetables and preserve them, which was something different in America. The traditional Korean diet is filled with a plethora of vegetables and colors, strongly supported by various tastes that just thrilled the pallet as much as my soul. Koreans believe that good food is the best medicine and every single meal you eat should have foods that include these colors:  red, yellow, white, black and green. I learned early on that veggies are necessary everyday and at every single meal.  My mom always gave us a choice of Korean food or American/Soul food.  My mother stressed the importance of drinking plenty of water and exercising daily. She is currently traveling but lives in El Paso and still has two huge gardens (despite being in the desert, she has quite the green thumb) that she grows a plethora of veggies, which she shares with the other seniors in the neighborhood. She is still whipping up amazing Korean food that I enjoy whenever I go to visit her or that she brings with her because like most Korean mothers she has been known to travel with suitcases of Korean food and I just love it.  

My best memories with my father are of the times we spent in nature. He always took us camping and the summer before he passed away we drove to Bonita Lake in New Mexico one last time. He was such a wise man, having traveled the world since the age of 17 and I enjoyed all of his great stories. Growing up, he always took us to watch the local baseball team and university basketball games, and I credit my father for my athletic abilities. My father taught me so much in the short time I had with him and thanks to him I learned to accept others and if you can help someone, you should do so. Life is too short to be angry and we must enjoy our time and space together. 

When my father was diagnosed with diabetes, I would read everything I could on the disease and what we could do to help.  It was more than just the diet in my father’s case, but I knew that proper diet and awareness was key to helping keep the diabetes under control.  I wanted to help and this began my interest in health and wellness. My father, after a few years, passed on due to diabetes and cancer. However with his passing, my resolve strengthened to push on my journey of health and I wanted more people to know about it. Thanks to his teachings, I have become even more adamant to share what knowledge I have about health and being a vegan.

I have been an athlete my whole life and diet is very important, it affects your ability to perform.  I have discovered that I just feel better when I don’t eat meat.  I don’t get sleepy after a plant-based meal; in fact I found that I have more energy.  I grew up eating meat but at eleven years old I came to the decision and wanted to be a vegetarian.  I told my parents and they supported me but it didn’t last but two weeks, I was still a child and I am proud of even that achievement. It was hard not to eat meat.  Those two weeks however spoke to me, I knew this was something I wanted to do and felt passionately about. I knew that animals were being treated poorly and I just had no interest in consuming meat.

So again when I was around 26 or 27 years old, I tried being a vegetarian again, this time it lasted much longer I’m happy to share. I’m even happier to tell you that it led to me trying out a vegan lifestyle for several months. I really enjoyed the changes in my diet but like many people I was lacking the knowledge about different sources of protein and nutrients and I soon began to lose too much weight, making me go back to eating meat and animal products.

In 2011, I stopped eating pork and eventually in 2016 I began my vegan journey anew.  I began studying other vegans and vegetarians and their stories have helped my decision to enjoy a plant-based lifestyle.  Here we are today, I am still learning and I am doing my best to live the healthiest life I can.  I choose to have a plant-based diet because I feel better about myself as a whole.  I know that I am not contributing to the death of other living creatures, I am helping the environment and I am just helping myself feel better.  I definitely saw the difference between the health of my mother and father based simply on what they were eating. My mom had a diet full of greens, plants and fruits while my father consumed a lot of meats, fried foods and diet soda.  My father passed away from lung cancer in October 2009 and as mentioned earlier, that was my wake up call in general.

This blog is dedicated to my loving father and of course my mother, I am choosing to help educate others on the benefits of a plant based diet because the lack of knowledge is holding us back from living life to the fullest. I respect and understand a lot of people who cannot give up meat and by no means am I forcing the vegan lifestyle on them, however if they want to know more or just want some tips to get healthy, I am more than happy to share whatever knowledge I have at my disposal, after all I am also still learning and sharing is a great way for me to learn too. Please feel free to read up and know that I am a strong advocate of healthy living but most importantly I am a stronger supporter of a happy life. This blog may help those who are still looking for something for them and if I can help anyone get even one day healthier, all this work will be worth it. Stay healthy!