Herbie of the Week: Mary M (A Plant-Based Diet Quieted Her Food Noise & Brought Balance)

Meet our Herbie of the Week: Mary M!

Mary started having body image issues in high school, which ultimately followed her through college. She was labeling food as "good" or "bad" and felt guilty when she ate.

Three years ago, Mary and her husband watched a couple of documentaries that made her change how she sees food and decided to go plant-based. Today, Mary no longer feels like she's on a diet and finally has a GOOD relationship with food.

Here's Mary's story in her own words...

In high school I started having issues with body image; I didn't understand how to healthfully have the body image I wanted. This continued through college and I labeled certain foods as "good" or "bad" and began to have feelings of guilt when I ate food. I was tired of feeling this way all the time, and STILL not having the body image I wanted. I was not happy, and was headed down a dangerous path toward an eating disorder.

Three years ago, my husband and I watched "Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead" first and learned about the power of plants to heal. But it was "Forks Over Knives" that really led us to think about changing our eating habits. "Hungry For Change" was also instrumental in helping us learn to see food differently. I realized that all foods have certain qualities, but that we could choose to fill our plates with lots of healthy options that make us feel good, full, and happy! I learned to enjoy cooking again, and I found so many lovely meals that I didn't feel like I was on a "diet" anymore. People fear that a plant-based diet will be restrictive, but for me it opened up a whole new world of real foods with real ingredients.

To make the transition easier, we focused on eating whole foods and "accidentally vegan" meals we were accustomed to already. Things like stir-fry, pasta marinara, three-bean chili, and salads were easy to make plant-based. Then we started finding ways to make other recipes easily plant-based by using beans and legumes in place of meat such as: Lentil Joes, chickpea salad sandwiches, Veggie Pot Pie, black bean tacos, etc.

We also spent an afternoon at a bookstore flipping through cookbooks so we could find a few that were appealing to our tastes and style. A big part was understanding that the transition wouldn't happen overnight, we were trying to re-wire 25+ years of habits! If we didn't like something new we tried, we didn't get upset or overwhelmed. We just picked a new recipe to try again another day!

Today, we love making variations of a stir-fry since you can use up whatever produce you have in the fridge! But we also tend to make a lot of bean dishes like soups, veggie patties, and burritos! One of my favorite Happy Herbivore recipes is the Hawaiian Chickpea Teriyaki - it only takes 15 minutes to pull it together and it's so good!

Since going plant-based, I've never had such a good relationship with food as I do now. I learned to love and respect my body enough to fill it with tons of healthy plants. I have learned to worry less about the outward image of myself and more about how I FEEL in my body.

One of the other benefits I've noticed is the overall sense of peace I feel now. My husband and I are vegan, so we feel very connected to the world around us now, especially all the animals! I feel as though my thoughts and actions are aligned, and I love knowing that I am choosing a lifestyle that is not only good for the animals and the planet, but that it is also good for my health! We both have also embraced being more active now that we feel we have more energy, so we go walking, biking, hiking, and skiing more often than we did previously.

Thank you so much, Mary, for sharing your plant-based journey with us!