Nikki comes from halfway across the world. I was living in Los Angeles when I first met her nearly 5 years ago. She is a woman after my own heart (ie. desserts addict!).
Below is her journey to veganism and how it helped overcome various physical ailments.
Nikki Mitchell, lives in New York but originally from Long Beach, California. Now works at one of the best NYC wine and cheese restaurants located in Hell’s Kitchen. Being a vegan, she does not consume cheese anymore (or tries hard not to! She may taste here and there so she has a general idea of the taste and can describe items to customers).
What got me on this road to drastically change my eating habits? Its hard to pin point a specific day but when I was 18 I met my first vegan. Her mother was diabetic at the time and had really bad legs due to bad circulation and she was severely obese. Her name was Brie and she was really skinny and super serious about what went into her body. I remember chowing down on rice and vienna sausage out of a can and thinking…..you don’t eat sausage!! Also, my grandmother suffered from weight issues and various cancers through her life, and I took care of her at the age of 9 til she passed away in 97, I was 18 and broken-hearted.
A few years later I wanted to be a make up artist. At the time I worked at Borders Book store and bought books on how to take care of your skin as I felt this was the real beauty secret and make up was just the fun stuff for special occasions. I was hype to study skin and tackle my own problems as I knew I was gonna get asked about my own skin regiment and I wanted beautiful skin. At the time it was oily and the pores were big. Not horrible skin but not great either. I had no idea at that time that the real cure was food.
During my time at the book store my allergies became increasing horrible. I was sneezing and coughing and everything set it off. First thing in the morning my throat and nose was itchy and scratchy. I was constantly doped up on anti-histamines and just miserable. I had no health insurance, which would only shove experimental allergy drugs my way, and again a feeling like I can take care of this problem came to me. I studied on my lunch breaks at the bookstore on how to cure allergies. I believed in prevention and not pharmaceutical addiction. Taking care of my grandmother for years and all the meds she took left a bad impression on me.
With some solid research and a willingness to take a risk I bought a juicer. A juice man juicer. I bought the Bragg’s apple cider vinegar book and all its amazing cures, that I still use til this day. So here I was 23 yrs old ( I am now 34). I have my juicer and decide to fast for 3 days. What I learned was that I was toxic and I needed to clean my system. My boyfriend at the time thought I was crazy and laughed. But I was high just thinking of how this might change me from the inside out. I was so depressed and miserable and I wanted to be a make up artist with good skin and not show up to work with puffy eyes and a red irritated nose. Juicing was great for skin as well!!
“6 months later I was cured (of all my allergies). They have never come back like they were when I was 23. Here and there when Spring comes I will sneeze once or twice. Everyone around me is miserable with their seasonal allergies and taking drugs for them. Nope not me. But I was young and still felt invincible. I was a vegetarian for about a year not too long after I cured myself of allergies. “
I ate cheese and french fries. Now I was suffering from constipation. haha..
Falling off the wagon…
So finally I got my dream job working for M.A.C. cosmetics and it was stressful and I was living on my own and I was single. I started to drink more alcohol and I was not a vegetarian anymore. My morning breakfast was a sugary coffee of some sort and a croissant, sometimes a cinnamon roll. Ugh…..thinking about it now I cannot believe I was not bigger. I was a mess and my mouth paid for it. Before I moved to New York I took advantage of my insurance and went to the dentist. I had 11 cavities. Yes….11. Disgusting.
I moved to New York, mouth filled with porcelain and a new attitude. Long story short…bad intimate relationships followed more heavy drinking and bad eating…wham….bam…..150 lbs at my heaviest, a constant bloated belly, constipated, irritable and unmotivated. I was a mess. To top it off my apt was burglarized and not too long after that I was homeless.
A few friends took me in and I had the couch. No computer, a crappy job at Sephora I had a lot of time to think by myself. My health and spirit in a prison of self pity, but again I was determined to change my situation. I found solid work in 2010, where I am now. I bought all my stuff back that was stolen from me and started buying kitchen machines. I knew I had to get my health back.
Getting back on the vegan track!
I reopened books I had carried with me from working at Borders. My juicing books and holistic books on everything from detoxing mind body and spirit. I saved like crazy to buy a Vitamix blender, I got a food processor as a gift as I was always talikng about getting one. I bought expensive German knives. I started Youtubing on how to use knives correctly and also found herbalist and a vegan/raw community on Youtube. These people have helped me in so many ways, its incredible. But I definitely owe it to Kristina, from Fully Raw Kristina who continues to teach the amazing benefits of raw food and its amazing ability to cure mind body and spirit.
In the course of all this change for me I was experiencing some serious energy drops after I would eat. I couldn’t stay awake and I was so dehydrated. I couldn’t understand, I was juicing again, cutting back on meat to just fish. Than one day it hit me. Gluten…..my body was not responding to it in a good way anymore, if it ever really did. Years of eating bread and pasta and sugary gluten goodies. My body did not know how to process it. So to use energy to break down the gluten and other food I would knock out in a hard sleep while my body spent the energy in my tummy breaking it down. I have been gluten free since January of 2013 and lost 20 lbs, and have been incorporating a more raw food lifestyle as well.
A typical day for me:
My day starts off with watermelon juice, and either chopped apple or pineapple to follow. I am energetic with the natural sugars and feel like I had a cup of strong coffee but no refined sugar and no dehydration. I have a sugar tooth so staying away from refined sugar can be challenging. I try to make raw deserts and my own nut butters. I make my own vegan nutella using coconut sugar and vanilla extract for sweetness and flavoring. This is my go to for when I get a sweet attack. I’ll dip apples in it or bananas. Every Monday I grab my rolling cart and head to the store and literally pile bags of oranges, mangos, pineapple and watermelon into my cart. I get home and clean my fruit and chop it up for the next few days.
Food as medicine:
One personal thing I want to share is I have fibroids. About 8 of them, and one connected to my uterus that causes me to bleed heavily every month and makes me mildly anemic. Juicing has helped to incorporate greens for iron in my body that I would not normally eat daily. I believe the fibroids are there because the body manifested them. Stress, bad eating and a negative mind created them. Now I have to reverse their hold on my body and set them free.
“Good eating, a positive mind and a true understanding that mother earths foods are, our best medicine. I cured my allergies, I am no longer constipated, I have energy and a healthy weight that does not hold me back from being active. Dairy, refined sugar, and flours are killing us slowing. We have to educate ourselves to change our minds about what health is. And what it should feel like and look like. You will smile more, love stronger and feel amazing. This is what has happened to me. Try not to judge others but be an example. This is a real challenge as you want to share with others your small miracles. And you can, but actions are better. This has been my lesson. I am so grateful for the humility as it has been a great teacher. This life style can bring amazing vitality and a sensitivity to all living things. That is GODLY!”
Accountability. Responsibility. This is where you will find the greatest strength to make changes in your life. I had to take responsibility for my health issues and reverse the damage. No blame.
Advice to newbie vegans
Take it slow. If you don’t you will cheat. Start to incorporate more fruits and veggies into your daily life. It’s pretty simple. It’s great because you are adding instead of feeling like you are sacrificing something out of your life. Try not to talk too much about what you are changing, just be about it. This will allow less stress on you while you are building confidence and learning about healthier habits for yourself. Your actions will speak for you. If you are looking for a community and want to share, this is great. Seek like minded individuals who share your philosophy. Watch videos, make a new dish once a week..a smoothie, dessert or main dish, etc etc.
“When you get in your kitchen and start looking out for #1, your labour will turn into love, I promise.”
Biggest misconception about vegans:
One of the annoying things about food transitioning is the bad “media” about ppl who go veg! A lot of times vegetarians and vegans get a bad rep about being self-righteous and preachy. Or controlling in some way about what they eat and begin to make others feel judged. This does exist, but this is not about feeling labeled and excluding yourself or others. This is about “living”. And living honestly, with food that is going to give you continued energy and vitality. Where disease does not exist and Dr. visits are just for a regular check up, nothing more. You can take pride in your efforts and changes, but be grateful that you have the luxury to choose. People naturally resist change so you have to be patient with others and yourself.
“There is no try….it’s do or do not”. I try not to talk up my ideas before I’ve had a chance to experience them. That goes for anything in my life. ‘Im not perfect but everyday I get closer and closer to my goals.
Nikki’s Vegan Nutella