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Your Registered Dietitian Nutritionist & Nutritionist Team
“Do what you feel is realistic for you instead of feeling like you have to copy someone else’s journey. Because that never works.”
Catherine Perez is a plant-based enthusiast turned registered dietitian with a master’s degree in human nutrition. She has been vegan since 2009 and first chose a plant-based lifestyle to improve her overall health. Her story helped her start a business that is now influencing hundreds of thousands of people every day.
Catherine currently works virtually with clients one on one in the employee wellness space while sharing her favorite recipes on her blog and Instagram in the hopes of creating a space for evidence-based nutrition education and easy to approach plant-based recipes. She shares more about her personal journey and how you can successfully transition to a vegan lifestyle, too.
Becoming Vegan Overnight
Prior to becoming vegan, Catherine claims to have had one of the worst patterns of eating that you could imagine. Her meals were very unbalanced and included a lot of fried foods and sleeves of cookies. It wasn’t until her parents were diagnosed with different chronic diseases that she started becoming a little bit more concerned about her own health.
That led her to look at different avenues for how both she and her parents can potentially transform their health and wellness. As you might suspect, that led Catherine down a rabbit hole of wellness spaces and fad diets. But she soon realized that this all didn’t make sense and it wasn’t working for her.
As she begins pursuing her bachelor’s degree in biology, she starts to look at the science behind it. Within the first deep dives, she finds some information about plant-based nutrition and that’s very intriguing. She starts reading a bunch of different books, looks at primary literature and is very interested in the topic altogether. And then, pretty much overnight, she changes her entire diet.
Today, that’s not something she recommends to her clients – quite the opposite, actually. It’s not that other people can’t do it, but more so it can be very challenging just to swap your mindset one day to the next. After that, she starts to incorporate all the vegan versions of things that she was eating, along with more vegetables, paired with plant-based proteins. That’s when she starts seeing the most benefits health-wise. She starts feeling less achy and experiences the best fitness level of her life at that point, along with feeling better overall. She then decides that she wants to stick to this lifestyle long term.
Despite becoming vegan overnight, Catherine’s family took a little bit longer to understand her dietary requirements. Being of both Mexican and Dominican descent, they try to figure out how to veganize typical foods from these regions so that they can eat together. Her transition also involves a lot of explaining and answering questions. If you’re already vegan, then this might be more than familiar to you. With the challenging questions, Catherine did not step off her path in the process.
“Sticking through the transition, explaining yourself, and not being judgmental of others usually helps make the connection a little bit stronger with your family“ Catherine explains. Usually, family members start to learn some respect and boundaries over time. And as you lead by example, you can inspire others, too. Catherine’s sister became vegetarian, for example, and her whole family is more plant-forward than they were before. They all increased their vegetable consumption thanks to her.
Your Best is More Than Enough
As she stays vegan over the years, her why, her reason for starting this journey in the first place, gets stronger, too. Outside of Catherine’s health, she has many other reasons to stay vegan. Between environmental reasons and animal rights, these different avenues make her transition and staying on this path really easy. She starts learning about so many other reasons why veganism is beneficial beyond her own health.
If you’re familiar with my content, you know that understanding why you are embarking on your journey is so important. As you can tell from Catherine’s example, it only got stronger over the years. She was thriving on a vegan diet and that was a big part of why she stuck with it. When we focus on how things make us feel instead of what we “should” be doing, that might be the final catalyst that you need to start your plant-based journey.
While Catherine’s family didn’t necessarily jump on the vegan bandwagon with her, her reasoning was so strong that she was going to stick to her path, regardless of what was going on around her. She feels very lucky to have that mindset while being well aware that it isn’t as easy for other people. This is why she always tells people: “Do what’s realistic for you instead of feeling like you have to copy someone else’s journey because that never works.” This became a mantra for Catherine. Figuring out what is going to work best for you is of utmost importance. That way it is attainable, and it is something that you can sustain long term.
Providing the Evidence
When Catherine notices an increasing interest in her vegan cooking, she also starts posting pictures of it on Instagram. As the number of her followers suddenly start increasing, so does Catherine’s recipe content. However, she doesn’t stop there but also includes other information on veganism and nutrition on her blog. Next to food, she also wants to make it a protected space that shares evidence-based nutrition information and makes people feel comfortable about making a transition.
Catherine is very passionate about providing information that’s correct since there is a lot of misinformation about going vegan. This way people are going about their health in the best way with accurate information. This also reduces the risk of developing any issues along the way, which can often be traced back to a lack of correct information. Her followers know that if they have a problem, then they should speak to a dietitian and not just search the internet, because that usually creates more issues than it solves.
There is just so much misinformation out there, it can just get confusing – especially in regards to a vegan diet. Someone might try it and think it’s impossible to be plant-based and live healthy life. But if you work with a dietitian or if you approach it in a way that sustainable long term, then it can be a really beautiful thing. Because plant-based or vegan eating is something that is appropriate for all stages of life. It’s a way of eating that can have a beautiful impact on your health and beyond.
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