Written by Lisa Turner, editorial intern
When Jackie Rosenlund was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis at 19 years old, she decided to make herself feel better from the inside out. By switching to a vegan, plant-based diet she started noticing a shift in her health and spirits. Now she wants to share her journey with you through her new Web series Eatin’ Vegan, debuting on GoodTV in October 2012. We chatted with Jackie on how hard it was to become vegan and how it has impacted her life.
What made you switch from being an omnivore to a vegan?
About three years ago, I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. I would have painful flare-ups all over my body, in joints I didn’t even know existed! Instead of just following the regular plan of going on a prescription, I decided to seek alternative therapy. I worked with my chiropractor and massage therapist to learn more about how altering my diet would help me manage my pain.
At first I just cut out red meat and that helped a lot, so I explored other options. I became mostly vegetarian last year, but it was daunting to give seafood up. After coming home from traveling through Europe, I wasn’t happy with where my health was at, so I told myself, it was time to be 100 percent vegetarian. The more research I did, it made sense for me that in order to achieve optimal health and avoid future flare-ups, veganism was the answer. I made the full switch about five months ago.
Do you still get flare-ups?
I do, but not to same extent. They’re more of an irritation. If I’m able to keep my diet in check and manage my stress with running and yoga, then I’m not nearly in as much pain.
What was the hardest part of switching to an all-vegan diet?
The biggest challenge was retraining the way I think about food. Before I became vegan, I just pulled chicken out of the freezer and threw anything with it. Now it’s like, what do I eat? I don’t want to be eating rice and beans every day. It requires more planning at first, but once you do it consistently it becomes second nature.
What type of physical changes did you notice first when you made the transition?
Right away I noticed I felt lighter. A few days after making the switch, I started to feel like myself again, like a cloud had been lifted. I had more energy; I was eating cleaner, feeling ready for runs and recovering faster. Now I run five times a week, and do yoga the other days.
I lost about 10 or 15 pounds since I came back from Europe (where I was binging on meat constantly). More so than losing the weight, I look better. I have a healthier glow to me and I feel much more lean and toned. Another bonus has been that my hair is shinier and I get fewer breakouts.
Do people give you a hard time about your lifestyle?
All the time. A lot of people just don’t understand it but that’s part of the reason why I’m so committed to making the TV show. I want to demystify veganism without pushing my lifestyle on others.
What is one of your favorite quickie vegan recipes?
Like most people, I have a really busy schedule. With veganism, I found a joy in cooking, so I try to cook for myself as much as I can, but I also have to do it in a short amount of time. There’s one recipe I’ve been obsessed with lately–sweet potato tacos. Start with a hard shell corn tortilla, and add sweet potato as the “meat” of the taco by cutting it in strips then sautéing it with red onion. Load it with black beans, avocado, and shredded Brussels sprouts.
To top it off, I garnish them with this corn and jicama salsa:
- 2 ears of corn, boiled and cut off the cob
- 1 small jicama, diced
- 1 teaspoon of parsley
- 1 teaspoon chives
- 1 chili pepper, cut very small
- 1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar
Toss all the ingredients together in a bowl and let it sit in the fridge for at least an hour. It’s a great little mix, not only for tacos but for salads too!