I saw this picture of fellow vegan Angela Heverling on Instagram and new I wanted to tell her vegan health story. That's because her confidence in this photo is apparent. although I learned Angela didn't always feel that way.
When it comes to being vegan and yoga, I've learned from my own experience with yoga and yoga teachers, that not all yogi's are vegan, even though it is one of the eight limbs of yoga. And, not all yoga students have the strength and confidence to go on to complete the training to become yoga teachers and then actually teach classes.
Currently age 40, from Washington, D.C., Angela went vegan in 2009 partially for ethical reasons and partially for health reasons, she said.
From vegetarian to vegan
"I had made some lifestyle changes to lose weight and decided to go vegetarian as I had been when I was younger," Angela said.
After she went vegetarian, she began reading more about animal issues and listening to podcasts such as Colleen Patrick-Goudreau's Food for Thought and she learned more about animal agriculture and the dairy industry.
"I decided then that I needed to stop consuming all animal products," Angela said.
The Our Hen House podcast started soon after and Angela found it inspirational.
At around that time, Angela moved to D.C. and found some vegan Meet-ups and met some other vegans and that widened her circle.
"I think that meeting other vegans is a very important part of the process when you first go vegan," Angela explained. "Becoming part of a community really helped me, even if I did not spend a lot of time with them."
Easier weight management, more energy and lighter periods
Angela explained that she never really had many health problems besides managing her weight, so she is not really a whole food vegan.
"I also love food and try to eat healthy but I like to experience all the new vegan products, which are not always low in fat or sugar," Angela said.
But, she definitely finds it easier to maintain a healthy weight being vegan and knows that eating more whole foods every day can help with that.
"My weight has always fluctuated a bit, but as a vegan, the range is healthier than it was when I was an omnivore. I feel like I may have more energy as a vegan but I've also become much more active since becoming vegan which may also account for that," Angela said.
Another perk which I've heard from other vegans: Angela said her periods have become shorter and lighter within a few months of going vegan and she has often gone several months without experiencing any cramps at all.
Gaining that physical confidence
In talking about her past, Angela explained she very sedentary through her 20s, although was already practicing some yoga before going vegan in her early 30s.
"I began practicing yoga more regularly after I went vegan and now I teach yoga part-time." Angela said.
She credits the yoga and the veganism for helping her feel that she's capable of trying new things, especially in the physical arena.
"I learned to swim and also started running about 5 years ago," Angela said. "I have since completed a sprint triathlon, a few slow marathons and I am training for my first 50k trail run next month!"
What yoga has to do with being vegan
As Angela said before, she practiced yoga for a couple years before going vegan.
"I felt that yoga philosophy was one of several things pointing me toward going vegan and after going vegan, I became interested in Jivamukti Yoga, which has a long tradition of social activism and veganism," Angela explained.
Angela says her yoga practice deepened because the Jivamukti tradition includes studying philosophy, chanting, meditation and more which introduced her to other parts of yoga. Angela explained that one part of yoga is called, Ahimsa, defined as nonviolence or non-harming to all beings.
"Some yoga teachers define Ahimsa simply as being kind to yourself in class. I disagree and think Ahimsa directs how we treat others and requires a consideration of our food choices and making sure these choices cause as little harm as possible. For me, that means eating a vegan diet," Angela said. "As a teacher (and in general,) I think it's important to support those who wish to make more compassionate choices."
For those interested in exploring veganism as it relates to yoga, Angela recommends Yoga and Vegetarianism, written by Sharon Gannon, one of the founders of Jivamukti Yoga.
"After 7 years, it just feels like I've always been this way. And, I think I actually eat a wider variety of food now, because I cook for myself more and explore more."
Angela said loves being vegan and can't imagine living any other lifestyle.
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