By: Nikki Namdar | Creator of the Blog Orlando Vegans
After becoming vegan in the summer of 2011, I became obsessed with food. Obsessed is an understatement. I always had an unhealthy relationship with food. I was overweight, under-ate, and over-exercised. As someone with Hashimoto’s hypothyroid disease, that’s a no-no. But for the first time in my life, I actually started to enjoy food—its decadence and deliciousness. The savory taste of veggie burgers on my tongue, along with the sugary sweetness of pastries. I ate more, I ate often, I felt better. I was actually healthier. Yes, veganism comes with its ethical standpoints, but the healthful benefits are an added perk.
I began the Orlando Vegans blog in 2013 as a WordPress account. After nine posts, I was basically done. It wasn’t until a year later when I took a writing class at UCF that I relaunched it. We had to market our writing, something we are passionate about and use a digital platform to deliver it. I mostly did it to earn my A, honestly, but the Instagram followers started to mount up. So I felt that because I wanted to help people, I kept it going. Then I decided it was time to meet my fellow Orlando vegans. So I rounded up about eight of us at a local restaurant known for its organic foods and tasty teas, Dandelion Communitea Café. It was such a success, I wanted more. I wanted to meet every vegan in town. Fast forward to 2017, I’ve met so many and it hasn’t stopped. There are so many! Every day more and more people are turning to plant-based diets and vegan lifestyles. Recently a documentary What the Health revealed the shocking truths about the meat and dairy industry and how they are developing declines in our health. Prior to this film, documentaries about animal cruelty weren’t a big enough push for meat-eaters—it was the HEALTH risk that gave them a nudge!Thankfully at this time, there are a ton of plant-based options that can replace virtually any food or drink that people will miss. With companies like ToYou Snacks, a healthy, cruelty-free life is even easier. With no preservatives or gluten and diverse flavors from piña colada to goji cranberry, you can eat them as an on-the-go or pre-workout snack. Goji berries are packed with antioxidants, vitamins, and other nutrients. It’s truly an underused fruit, and ToYou utilizes it deliciously. After getting my first vegan variety pack, I was hooked (especially to the piña colada, ermagerd) and I knew I had to share. On my Orlando Vegans Instagram account, I will be launching a contest where one lucky winner will win a whole bundle of the bad boys! The giveaway will begin Friday, Sept. 22. Follow Orlando Vegans on Instagram, “like” on Facebook, subscribe to the YouTube Channel, and sign up for the emails. If you’re already a veghead or interested in becoming one, be sure to join us for the biggest vegan festival in Central Florida, Veg Fest, on Oct. 28! Mark your calendars and spend a day eating from our 20+ food vendors. For more details about the group and event, visit www.orlandovegans.net.