Victoria Eden is a 26-year-old fitness influencer and a spokeswoman for animal welfare. She lives on the North Shore of Massachusetts with her boyfriend and two cats. Victoria grows her own vegetables and is a supporter of local farmer's markets. She encourages others to live a life of balance; don't deprive yourself of indulging occasionally but be good to yourself and the planet.
Read part one of our interview with Victoria below.The opinions expressed in this interview are Victoria's own and do not reflect the view of GreenChoice.
What is it about your lifestyle -- particularly the fitness aspect and veganism -- that’s important to you? How did you transition to being vegan?
For me, the veganism started with my extreme love for animals. I started riding horses when I was about five-years-old and we always had pets growing up; cats, birds, hamsters, rats, birds, a huge saltwater fish tank and even things like turtles and hermit crabs. Our family friends were animal rescuers and rehabilitators as well as always having a home filled with cats and dogs so we were just surrounded by that loving and unconditional energy that only animals can share with you. I remember my twin sister and I playing with the live lobsters that my dad would bring home on our kitchen floor when we were young. An hour later he was serving them to us at the kitchen table and I remember us eventually just going, “Wait a second, what are we doing? Is this where our food comes from? We were just playing with these cute critters and now they’re being boiled alive?” I went vegetarian and never looked back, that was 14 years ago. A year after I made the switch to vegetarian I went totally vegan. I had done to research on how our dairy and egg products are made and I was horrified to see that it’s just as bad, if not worse, than the meat production industries. I think there’s a huge disconnect with people and their food. We are raised just being served and eating the food that we are given without question because it looks nothing like a living creature anymore. I think if people had to do the work themselves to cultivate their own meals, we’d have a lot fewer meat eaters on the planet.
My friend Kaite posted something the other day that resonated with me so strongly, she said, “If you put a child in a room with a bunny and an apple the child will never try to kill the bunny for food.” We simply don’t need to exploit animals anymore and it's amazing that more and more people are switching to a compassionate lifestyle.
Did you notice your health change at all when you went vegan; either for better or worse?
I went vegan for the animals, but the health benefits have been so wonderful! I immediately lost about ten pounds of excess weight that I had been carrying. When you cut out all of the pre-packaged food that you are used to eating and snacking on, your body THANKS YOU. There are so many processed fats and refined sugars hiding in those boxes you grab from grocery store shelves. Now, I will add that it’s easier than ever to be what I call a junk food vegan. With endless companies popping up proving vegan substitutes for all the foods we grew up loving, these too can be filled with hidden no-no ingredients. I don’t like to limit myself or tell people that they shouldn’t also enjoy these things, rather I have the fun vegan foods in moderation.
When 2018 began, I was really fed up with the fact that I had fallen into the trap of eating out constantly, staying out late, not taking care of my body. For the first time in my life, I began counting my calories and cooking my own whole food plant-based meals as well as working out in the gym 100% consistently. All I can say is that I wish I had done it sooner and am so incredibly passionate about sharing this lifestyle with everyone that I can.
I have so much more energy motivation and happiness. I don’t diet, I just eat yummy healthy colorful meals that make me feel alive and fuel my goals in the gym. We truly are amazing, capable creatures, and when we take the time to treat our bodies with love, amazing things will happen. We are making ourselves sick by consuming the mass market meals and spending all day sitting down with our faces locked to our screens. It makes me sad because once you finally realize how beautiful life is when you just get up and move, when you feed your body fresh foods filled with nutrients, when you have the peace of mind that you aren't contributing any harm or horrors to the other souls on this planet, it doesn't become an option anymore, it becomes a lifestyle and a passion.
What do health and sustainability mean to you?
When we start talking about sustainability we really need to start accepting as a society and as a planet that animal agriculture is one of the most unsustainable and environmentally devastating industries that we currently practice. There’s so much hype around hybrid cars and working to cut down our greenhouse gas emissions but what many people don't realize is that the production of farm animals is responsible for more of these emissions than all of the transportation industries combined.
Animal agriculture is responsible for a large percentage of our planet’s greenhouse gas emissions (42% of all agricultural emissions can be attributed to animal agriculture). Imagine how much good it would do if our massive production facilities were shut down, we would see major benefits immediately. A vegan diet can reduce the food-related water footprint of people by 52 percent (Penn State University). We are using more water to raise farm animals then we are consuming for ourselves, how crazy is that? It is also a leader of our ever-worsening issues with species extinction, deforestation, and ocean pollution. We are desperate to convert more and more habitats into desolate factory farms to keep up with our increasing population's demand for more food.
For more information on the emissions created by animal agriculture, visit the FAO here.
It is far more cost effective and sustainable to grow plants than it is to produce animals and feed them. Shutting down factory farms and growing fresh planets can reverse world hunger and start to heal our planet. The Earth is sick, overworked, and losing all that makes her so beautiful. I don't want to have to worry that someday people won't be able to dive into the oceans and see them filled with life, won't be able to wander the green rainforests or experience the diversity of the animal kingdom that makes our home so special.
If for some reason the wellness of our planet doesn't worry you, shouldn't your own health? Eating animal products increases your chances of developing serious problems such as heart disease, diabetes, cancer, obesity, etc. We eat our packaged processed food because they're easy, but all of these preservatives and fats and sugars that make our food taste better are so void of the nutrients we need. Healthy food should be fresh and colorful. Health to me is making smart choices, eating right, and being physically active as much as you can. It’s good for the body and the soul. Stay tuned for part two of Victoria's interview coming next week.
Know someone living a life of health and sustainability who is deserving of recognition? Submit them to be featured. Interview conducted by GCNow Content Writer Rilee Dubilo.