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Plant-Based Stories: Steph Yu

Posted on January 10, 2019

My name’s Steph, and I’m a plant-based blogger on Instagram and Youtube at @happyandhealthy96. I’m a lover of good food, stories and people, and I recently wrote and published a book titled A Beautiful Mess. It’s about my experience of living and learning through four distinct seasons of my life — fall, winter, spring and summer.

Making the Switch

I transitioned to a plant-based diet overnight about six years ago. At the time I was recovering from a severe eating disorder and was truly just ready to feed and nourish my body in the best way I could. I stumbled across the documentary Forks Over Knives, and the next day I had ditched dairy (which was really the only non-vegan food I was still consuming) and never looked back.

The main hurdle I encountered after going plant-based was one that I constructed for myself. After transitioning to a plant-based diet, I adopted a very black and white, right and wrong, binary view of the world. Because I fell head over heels in love with the plant-based diet and lifestyle, I zeroed in on that perspective, and I created an echo chamber for myself where everything in my life just reaffirmed my preconceived biases. And the real hurdle this created for me was I alienated myself from many friends and family members who had differing beliefs from I held in that aspect of life. I just couldn’t get past the fact that we disagreed on certain values, and I think I became pretty intolerable to be around for a good year or two. It took my stubborn self a long time to reconcile with the fact that everyone has their own path and direction in life, and try as I might, having screaming debates at the dinner table was not going to help them see where I’m coming from. But that simple lesson took me a surprisingly long time to learn.

My Philosophy Today

After much obsession and over analyzing and more or less unhealthy relationships with food — is just to remember why we eat food. So often I can get caught up in or diet culture of being “pure” and eating so healthfully it’s almost religious. In those moments, I have to remind myself I personally eat for two reasons: to feed my body and to feed my soul. It’s all about balance. I definitely eat veggies and whole foods, healthy fats etc.. But eating treats and enjoying food in communion with loved ones are among the greatest joys in life. So now I really just don’t overthink it, and I trust that in the grand scheme of life, the donuts and vegan burgers will balance out with the oatmeal and tofu.\

Tips For The Switch to a Plant-Based Diet

I wish someone had told me to frequent Costco more than Whole Foods, and that as delicious as it is, organic hazelnut pecan butter at $25 a jar is not “essential” on a plant-based diet. I’ll let you guys in on a little secret. I’m really not much of a cook at all and have almost zero patience when it comes to making elaborate meals. I always tell people I don’t really make food. Rather, I assemble already made food items, and mix them together. Most nights I usually just grab a big bowl and toss baked sweet potatoes, brown rice, stir-fried veggies and beans together, then plop on a healthy dollop of guacamole and a drizzle of the Daiya blue cheese dressing. And then I call it a night! It’s definitely no five-star meal, but I LOVE it because it’s filling, tasty and easy.

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