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EP 20 - On Becoming Healthy Vegan with Javant

Javant was facing health problems that are common and a "normal" part of getting older and yet, he knew inside there must be a way to heal these issues. So he started doing his research and learning about reversing heart disease and lowering blood pressure through dietary means.

This meant embracing a NEW way of living, preparing food and engaging in family celebrations. While many of his family find his new health kick “weird”, he was determined to eat his way to better health.

Now, he shares amazing, delicious and healthy recipes to help others do the same.

In today’s podcast he tells his story of awakening to his food choices and how they affect his health and longevity.

We also explore:

-his inclusive approach to sharing vegan recipes

-why there’s a comparatively high percentage of African Americans going plant-based

-the unexpected shifts he experienced after changing his diet

-his love of food that still persists but has taken a radical new form.

And more!

He encourages you to get educated, get cooking and be willing to be “weird”.

Javant shares healthy vegan recipes at @heathlyveganeating on Instagram. Connect with him there to learn his delicious and nutritious way of eating and keep a look out for a full length cooking show that may be in the works!


A: Every day there is a forgetting and every moment there is the possibility of remembering. Remembering who you truly are, awakening to your body, to the inner world and experience of being alive. Here is where you find the beauty, the joy. Here is where you free your Soma. Hello everybody and welcome to Free Your Soma, Stories of Somatic Awakening and How to Live from the Inside Out. I'm here today with Javond from Healthy Vegan Eating, which you can view and see his amazing recipes on Instagram. He's on TikTok and he has a YouTube channel that he's also going to start creating a cooking show on YouTube, which is really exciting. He's here to share about his experience healing his body through food over the last few years. I don't know how you can tell me how long you've been doing this over the course of your life that you've been doing this and a little bit about how and why you became so passionate about sharing these tools with others. So welcome, Javond. I'm so excited to talk to you today.

J: Thank you. Thank you. Very excited to talk with you also.

A: Yeah. So you share some really amazing, delicious looking recipes. I mean, that's why I reached out to you is because I had a friend of mine send you a couple of recipes I started following. And it's just such a pleasure to like watch how simple sometimes you can make these like really amazing foods, using just whole food ingredients and, you know, not a whole lot of like intensive prep work actually. So yeah, maybe you can tell us a little bit about have you always loved cooking or is this kind of a newer passion of yours?

J: Well, I mean, it's a newer passion. I would say that I've always liked cooking and been in the kitchen. I didn't have to do it a lot when I was young. Obviously mom was cooking everything and so I wasn't ever the cook in the house necessarily. But once I started eating healthy vegan, the style that I do now, where a lot of people are in verse in that kind of cooking. So kind of a necessity. I had to figure it out myself. And that's what I did. And then I became passionate about it. Once I saw, wow, this really tastes good. It's really healthy. And it just, you know, snowballed. And so now I absolutely love being in the kitchen, very passionate about it. This is my favorite thing probably.

A: probably. Awesome. Yeah. I mean, that's a perfect example of like, you know, even if we didn't grow up in a household where that was like the thing we were doing, you can always develop those skills at any time in your life, you can start developing and learning how to do something new, like a whole new way of cooking. That's awesome. Yeah. Like what got you into healthy vegan eating? And maybe you can, well, first, before we go into that, maybe you can define for us, like people are probably aware of what vegan is, but what does it mean to be a healthy vegan versus some other kind of vegan?

J: Well, you know, I use that phrase healthy vegan eating because some a lot of people think that just by becoming vegan, that you automatically are going to be healthier just by eliminating animal products. And that's not necessarily true. And so, you know, you can eat vegan food and eat a lot of junk. You know, you're going to eat a lot of stuff with, you know, all kinds of oils and fats and, and tried and processed. So healthy vegan eating is just something that I'm trying to, you know, signal to people that, hey, there's a way to eat vegan and be healthy at the same time. And one does not necessarily equate to the other. So my vegan cooking is done with whole plant foods, very little processed ingredients, no oil, no wheat, no refined sugar, no rice, because all of these are things that, you know, historically have caused problems for people that consume in large amounts. So healthy vegan eating, I'm not, I make it very clear that I'm not saying that my way of eating is the healthiest. I'm not saying this the only way to eat healthy vegan. It's a way to eat healthy vegan. But that's why that's why I made it.

A: Yeah, no, that makes sense to me, because I mean, I had been plant based in vegan in my 20s, and I still had, you know, health issues, and I had poor digestion, and it wasn't necessarily like, because I wasn't eating vegetables, but it was because I was eating certain other things that were getting in the way of my body actually being able to heal and replenish and things like that. And I didn't know, you know, it's things we, we often don't know until we learn something new and then experiment by applying it to our own bodies and our own lives and see what is the result, right? Of changing this little, little thing that I'm doing in my diet or my life. Absolutely. Yeah. Yeah. So tell us, like, give us like a background on how this came about, you know, how did you go from however you ate before into this new way of eating? Did you have some kind of, you know, health issue that showed up that required it? Or did you have some other kind of way that this came in as a solution?

J: Well, no, you're right on the money. There was a health issue that, that was a catalyst to be, you know, finding out and being enlightened that, that what you eat can dictate your health outcome. That was a foreign concept to me because I came up in a family where a lot of my uncles and aunts and maybe my dad had diabetes or high blood pressure or heart disease or cancer or all humerus. So as a kid, I'm seeing people around me as they get in their just 40s and 50s, which is not very old, develop these type of problems. And so in my mind, it was just, you know, something that happened. It was just a natural part of living. You're going to eventually get something and it's going to lead to something. Did you take your medication? And, you know, when you just take your medication and that's that's going to take care of you until you die. So, so when I had a health scare, I had some health issues and when they got some tests done and they were predicting some bad things. And so I just started saying, man, what can I do here? And I didn't just wait for the medicine. And I went out and I took my health into my own hands and I could start Googling and researching and reading books. And it was very, it was a very, you know, incremental thing from there. It wasn't overnight that I became vegan. It wasn't overnight that I became healthy vegan, oil-free, wheat-free, refined sugar-free. It was very progressive, very slow. But the catalyst was definitely my mortality and fearing, you know, if I don't change something, I'm in trouble. I'm in big trouble.

A: Yeah. No, I had a similar, I mean, it was different kind of expression, probably of a health crisis, but I had a similar experience when I was 19. And it really, you know, kind of wakes you up to, you know, what, what is it that needs to change? What is it that needs to shift in order for me to actually stay alive and actually live well and not be a prisoner in my own body when these things, you know, that seem out of my control are happening? Like, what are the small ways that you can take back control? That's really incredible. And, you know, you were doing this pretty much on your own. Like, did you have any support from your environment, like your family or your friends?

J: Absolutely not. I'm still crazy, according to some of them. For the way that I eat, it was, it was all self-taught really. I shouldn't say that. You know, I started Googling and reading about different doctors and the outcomes that they've had with patients and even themselves. And so I would slowly start changing things. But the people around me, you know, when you tell people, Hey, I'm going to go vegan and no one around you was vegan and I'm not going to eat oil and I'm not going to eat this. I'm not going to eat that. You know, you're the outcast. You become the person that's, okay, yeah, you know, when, when it's time to eat is like, oh, okay, yeah, he's the one that does it. You know, so, so I didn't have a big support system is what I'm saying. But that didn't matter because, you know, when, for me anyway, when I'm fearful that I'm going to get something that could, that could end my life or could compromise my ability to live a healthy and active life, that was enough incentive for me to say, you know what, I'm going to do this. Even if it's an army of one, just me, I'm going to make sure that I do this and that I get better and that I get healthy.

A: Oh, that's incredible. That's so inspiring. Cause I know that a lot of people, you know, it can be a really social thing. Why they don't make changes. They don't think it's going to be accepted by their family. They're friends. They're, you know, maybe even going to run into like literal argument and opposition with their spouse or, you know, with their children. And, you know, being able to do the thing that's going to help you anyway, even with those, you know, that lack of support or those challenges. It's a real strength of character that you get to rise into when you make that decision and you just keep moving in that direction. You know, and as you said before, it's not like it just happened overnight. I'm sure this was a gradual shift where you were making like little changes over time, but in the direction of where you knew you needed to be in order for your health to recover. And that's also such an important message for people to understand because we live in this diet culture where people are making sudden dramatic shifts in how they eat, you know, in order to lose that 10 pounds or something, right? Or, you know, because they get scared about their health, but then they're doing it too fast. It's too shocking to their system. And it's also like too much shock to them psychologically, and they just don't end up sticking with these things. And that's what I guess we call yo-yo dieting, right? So, you know, the methods that you're sharing, it's, it's, it's like, uh, if somebody's looking at your videos, it's like great ideas and that's like a direction that they are inspired to go in, but it's not like that they have to do it all right away. They don't have to eat exactly how you do overnight in order to start getting the health benefits, right?

J: Absolutely. And I, and I, you know, I think that's an important point because one thing I try to do with my page is I try to really, um, offer a variety of different types of foods. So, you know, I have a video where I made Reese's Cup, peanut butter cups, you know, where you think healthy vegan, you're not thinking Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, but what I want to acknowledge and always be mindful of is that people are in different places and some people are eating a lot of meat and eating a lot of sugar. And the idea of going vegan is just so daunting to them because they can't see how, why can't I have this? I can't have that. I can't have this. So my niche is, um, is showing people that, no, you can still eat a healthier version of the things that you eat now that you're fearing, give it up. And it tastes even better and it's good for you. So whether it's a burger or lasagna or a cake or pie or, you know, or Reese's Cup, you know, you can make it with a little, you know, creativity. You can make healthier versions of those things. Now, for people who have already dismissed the animal products and maybe aren't even eating sugar, not even eating oil. I've got lots of recipes for them too. And you can take it to another level, the salads, the hummuses, the bowls, and all those kinds of things. So I'm really trying to offer something for everyone. So no matter what stage you are, what point you are on your journey, there's something on my page that you can relate to and say, Hey, I could start there. I could start with Reese's Cups.

A: Yeah, totally, totally. Like it's a little bit of like a gateway into a new way of eating, you know, and then of course experiencing your body. So maybe you can tell us a little bit about that. Like as you started to make these shifts and your, did your health problems start getting better? Like how, how was that process for you? Like how did you start feeling better and how long did it really take you to kind of overcome the things you had been facing?

J: Well, you know, unfortunately, or fortunately, depending on how you look at it, a lot of things that are so obvious, you can have high blood pressure and not be aware of it. You could be pre diabetic and not be aware of it until you have an event. And so what I'm saying to you is I didn't feel that awful. I mean, I felt OK. But then I go to the doctor and they tell me, no, you're not quite so OK. You are pre diabetic and your blood pressure is elevated and you do have this this, you know, element. So for me, it wasn't like I was feeling bad and I got to feel better. It's just like, wow, these things are going on beneath the surface. And before they become before they overwhelm me, I want to do something about it. But to answer your question directly, I tell people you have no idea how good it feels to feel good until you feel good. And so what I'm saying is before I felt like I feel now my norm was that. And I thought that was feeling good. I thought that, you know what I mean? I was overweight, but I still felt like, hey, I can still play basketball and I can still do this. I'm fine. I'm like everybody else. But I realize now in hindsight, my goodness, that has nothing on this. And so the first thing I noticed was that I was losing weight. And I like that. And then I noticed that I had more energy. Again, I was never really lethargic or lacking energy in my mind. But again, you don't know until you know, it's like I wake up and I'm like, whoa, I've got I want to do something. You know, so I started running. I started running because I changed my diet. I had more energy. I wanted something to do with this energy. I'm feeling positive. So I started running. So the way that it manifested at first, you know, changing my diet was losing weight, having more energy. And then that, you know, kind of propelled me to do other things with all this new found energy.

A: That's a great way to put it. I mean, yeah, you don't know what you don't know. And there's this thing we call in like neurophysiology, habituation. And I mean, we know that word as habits, right? But it's something that your brain literally does, like the shirt that you're wearing, your brain got used to that a few moments after you put it on. And then you don't really feel it on your body. It's not like very clear, you know, or it's the same way like you put your hat on, and you leave it on all day. And then you take it off. There's those few moments where it still feels like your hat is on your head. Absolutely. Habituation, which is like we get used to things really quickly, and it becomes our new normal. And then we're sitting at whatever that baseline is of our normals. Like in your example, it was, you know, this is what feeling good feels like, right? And then some things shifted in your physiology. And you started actually having, you know, way more energy and feeling a whole new level of what good can be. And then you look back on that and you're like, whoa, like that wasn't necessarily feeling good. But I believed it was because I had nothing to compare it to, you know what I mean? Exactly. Two things. And I think, you know, it's a fabulous thing to get used to feeling healthy and well in your body. That's a really fabulous thing to like have as your baseline. Because then you know when something may eat or something in your environment is not good for you. Right? You can feel that when like you take something in or, you know, even just in terms of like people around you and the way that people are speaking to you or any of that, it becomes more apparent when there's something in your environment that's really not nutritious or healthy for you when you have a high standard of, you know, health in your body. Absolutely. Absolutely. I agree 100%. Yeah. Yeah. And then you kind of touched on this a little bit in terms of your growing up. But like I recently learned and I was quite amazed by this, that African Americans are really embracing veganism and that it's like actually like 8% or something of the African American population is vegan compared to like 2% of, you know, Caucasian like Americans. And I found that to be really fascinating. And I actually went to like a vegan festival in LA last year and I was like, wow, there's a lot of like people of color here. Like this is something that I see really becoming like a movement. Now, not all the food was actually healthy. There was a lot of like, you know, vegan deep fried things there. But like, you know, it was a step, you know, in this direction that I thought was really amazing. And so I wanted to ask you, you know, what do you think is the reason that more and more African Americans are attracted to veganism, whether it's healthy or not?

J: Yeah, well, you know, I think, you know, well, I don't think it's a fact that blacks are disproportionately affected by things like, you know, metabolic syndrome, the diabetes and high blood pressure, the heart disease, the cancers, the strokes, those things are way more prevalent in the black community, unfortunately. And like I said, that was my normal growing up is seeing these things manifest in the people that I love. But I think now that, you know, we have information right at our fingertips now, you know, 20, 30 years ago, you couldn't just go on the internet and see, you know, vegan and see a vegan influencer or read about veganism. But now I think that because people are struggling with their health or seeing the people that they love struggle with their health, that they're looking for answers. And because of this age that we're in, the answers are out there. And black people, more so than anybody are embracing that because they really want to change it. We want to feel better and stop the cycle, you know?

A: Yes, yes, because it can also feel like an oppressive thing to be like laden with all these illnesses, you know, it stops your life when you have to take all these different medications and you have all these medical appointments. That is like a form of feeling very like, hepped down. And, you know, if you're looking to rise up and free yourself from those, you know, patterns of oppression, then of course, you're going to want to get free of those illnesses and get free of those medications and those things that, you know, maybe people can really feel in their bodies are not actually solving any of their problems.

J: Absolutely. And I want to say also that, you know, there's a conception out there. And it may not be spoken directly. But there is this idea that somehow people of color are, you know, inferior when it comes to health. When it seriously when it comes to health, and that black people are more prone to these things that I named diabetes and high blood pressure, now statistically, yes, percentage wise blacks are afflicted with these things more so than other cultures, but it is directly related to what is eaten after the civil war when blacks were freed and had their own forms and their own land, there were more blacks and tenarians than any other culture in America. So, but that's when we were growing our own food, right? And we weren't eating the junk. And so I'm just saying to anyone out there, any person of color out there that's thinking, you know, well, maybe I'm just destined to have these things, because that's what happened to my mother and my grandmother, my uncle, which is the situation I was in. I'm telling you that it's not because of your skin color that you're suffering from these things or people you love were suffering from these things. It's directly related to what you eat, along with exercise, stress and other things, but primarily to what you eat. And I found that out the hard way. But I'm so glad I did. And now I'm trying to share that message with as many people as I can.

A: Yeah, yeah. I mean, and then there may also be like a component to it where, you know, the foods and the things that we eat in this culture, like, while they're very problematic, they're also not things that would ever be found in, like, say, African diet, you know, like, for example, I'm part Japanese and Japanese people tend to have issues with cholesterol. And it's because if you look at their generations upon generations of culture, most of them were not eating a high volume of cholesterol. Most of their, if they were getting any cholesterol, was coming from fish, you know what I mean? And they weren't eating a lot of it. They were eating it as part of a wider variety of different foods. And so their bodies don't actually process high volumes of cholesterol that well compared to, say, someone who, you know, is from a genetic background where there was a lot of dairy consumption, right? And then, you know, they do studies about that, like that Northern Europeans have, you know, are the ability to digest lactose better than like most of the other, you know, kind of genetic populations on earth. And that, you know, most of us don't really process that well, and it can lead to all kinds of health issues. So I'm sure there may be like a component to it where it's like, you know, eating a more whole food plant based, you know, and lots of different variety. First of all, I believe that's beneficial for everybody. But particularly for people with African heritage, it might be just closer to what they would naturally be eating, and what their bodies are tuned into. And all this dairy and, you know, wheat and stuff like that isn't really like, they don't have like the, the generations of information to process that, does that make sense?

J: Absolutely. Absolutely. But also what you said, I don't want to suggest that anyone is going to thrive off of eating a lot of meat and a lot of refined wheat and a lot of oil and a lot of, you know, you may survive, but you're not, you're not thriving if that's a large part of your diet.

A: Yeah, I mean, I would agree. I mean, there's, I have, like, you know, Japanese and European heritage, and, you know, I don't really see any of my European relatives doing too well with all a lot of that stuff either. So I don't know a lot about that. Yeah. And then when we're talking about getting into this way of eating and this way of preparing food, what would you say to people who are like, Oh, but I want it to be easier. I want to be able to just go to a restaurant. I want to be able to just, you know, get like a packaged food. You know, if you're talking to someone who's got that kind of mindset, what are the things that you do to make this kind of easier? What were the things you did personally before you started feeling like this love of cooking? What were the things that were like useful to start like, you know, shifting that mindset from quick, convenient and easy to like what's actually going to serve your body?

J: Well, I mean, you know, I don't want to be redundant. But for me, you know, when I'm facing serious health challenges, that's all the motivation I need. And so I tell people all the time, I mean, even if you're going to eat packaged stuff or eat in restaurants, there's still tears, right? There's still places that are better than others and healthier than others. There's packaged food that's healthier than other packaged foods. But ultimately, I wouldn't want to shepherd people to a home plant based diet. But I always say to anyone, you know, there are two things you have to have really, you got to have the want to, and you got to have the know how, right? I can supply the know how through my page and through talks, because I do talk some of my page to about different things health related subjects. But if you don't have to want to the rest of it doesn't matter. It really doesn't. So for those who go, Oh, it's too hard. It's too difficult. Okay, that's fine. Well, when you feel that it's not, we can have a conversation and I can help you. But until you are willing to commit to this until you want it for you, I can't force it on you. But once you want it, I am here and I will never give up. I will do everything I can to help facilitate you. And listen, I want to be clear that I don't want to be hypocritical here. It took a hell of a scare for me to do it. You know, I knew that what I was eating wasn't the healthiest. I didn't know to what degree it was doing the things that was doing to me. But I knew I could eat healthier, but I had no interest in that. I just wanted to eat what tastes good and what was easy and what was convenient, right? And what I could, you know, socialize with. That's all that matter. But again, for me, when I got those diagnosis, you know, that this these things are coming, that's serious. And so, so for me, I had the want to at that point, I just had to figure out know how now that I have that know how my gift back to anyone who was in the situation I was in, or who just wants to improve their diet to whatever degree. My gift to you is that I have created a resource that I wish that I would have had when I was trying to figure out what to eat. And more importantly, how to prepare. You bring the want to, I'm going to give you to know how.

A: I love that. That's really great. And you're right. There's no convincing anybody, you know, that's something there's this stereotype about vegans that they're, you know, preachy or something, or that they're trying to convert everybody into being a vegan. And, you know, my way of experiencing, you know, veganism and plant based has always been very voluntary, you know, like it's like, only if people are interested in talking about it, am I going to talk about it with them? You know what I mean? And other than that, like, it's completely up to them what they put in their mouths. And like, I don't have like, first of all, any control about that. And then what's the point of like judging that like, it's not my life. So it's, you know what I mean? It's okay for them to be like doing what they're doing, as long as they're feeling that that's the direction they want to go. And if somebody's confused about that, or doesn't feel like that's a direction, then of course, like someone like you or I is happy to have that conversation. But I really just, I love what you just shared about, you know, having the know how is the next step when you have the will. The will has to come first. And, and if, yeah, if it's not there, then you kind of just get to wait and see what happens, right? Absolutely. Absolutely. Yeah. So tell us a bit about like, I mean, I feel like you practically already have a cooking show with what you do on YouTube, because you have these really like easily viewable, I guess I would say, like they're really nice to look at like clipped recipes where you're talking over with the voiceover. What would be happening on the YouTube channel that would like kind of expand on that, I'm assuming like something a little more in depth? Yeah, well, you know, I thought that what I'm doing on Instagram was suffice, but I've had a lot of people say,

J: Hey, you know, I would love to see longer videos. Do you have you thought about doing a cooking show? And a lot of people say you ought to be food network, you got to have a cooking show. So, you know, it started to resonate with me after I heard it lots and lots of times and I started to ask myself, what could I do to expand on what I'm doing here? And so I conceptualize it. And what I want to do is just give more of the facts of why I'm using a certain ingredient over another ingredient. And then people will say, Well, how do you keep it from sticking? I'm not always stick. So while I'm cooking, I can give those little tips about how to because, you know, I don't cook with oil and I'm cooking in cast iron and most people say, Well, I can cook in cast iron and it not stick, but you can, you absolutely can. And so I'm able to fill in while I'm cooking with tips about why I choose certain products, why I choose certain things and even give their nutritional benefits. So if I'm cooking something, I'm talking about mushrooms, I can talk about why mushrooms are so incredibly healthy for us. So it just allows me to elaborate and fill in somewhat of the blanks for people as to why I choose the products that I choose and how I prepare them. Because, you know, no oil, no wheat, no refineries, no rice, all plant food, you know, that's intimidating to a lot of people. It just doesn't seem feasible. Like I just can't, how am I going to do that? So rather than just give them the Instagram clip, which people appreciate, there's a place for that. This will be a new context where I can take the time and just really explain what I'm doing, my approach and how I That's so fantastic. I'm definitely going to check that out.

A: And it sounds like an incredible resource for people who are really, you know, want the know how and you have such a lot of that. And, you know, you're right. I started, I stopped cooking with oil, you know, like about two years ago now. And it was a learn, there was a learning curve to figuring out how to bake. There was a learning curve to figure out how to keep things from sticking, you know, and just how to, I guess, taste food that wasn't oily, which was kind of like a new territory for me because I had always been into vegetables, you know, and I had been vegan but I had been smothering everything in salt and oil and, you know, sometimes maple syrup or whatever where there was like a lot of this very strong flavor. And when you start like taking some of that away when you start either using no oil or you start, you know, cutting out like sugar and salt, you get to actually recondition your mouth to taste things differently. And you taste new flavors that you didn't taste before because all you were tasting was salty and oily. Right. And I see you nodding your head because you know what I'm talking about like there's a reconditioning that we're going through with food. And that is some it's kind of like a little hill that you kind of got to get over in the beginning when you're used to a certain type of style of, you know, cooking or eating. Would you say a little bit about that how that was for you kind of getting over the that and readjusting your taste.

J: Absolutely. And that's definitely a doctor for me concept. In fact, he did a study on, you know, hunger and taste. And one thing that he said when I was early in my journey here is that if you give it time, your taste buds will recalibrate, and you will get used to the foods and enjoy them more than the foods that you enjoy before. And when he said that everything he said have been spot on. That's the one where I've said there's no way I'm going to love salad. There's no way I'm going to love. I didn't like nuts and seeds. I'm like, how is this going to happen. I can't see it happening. And it's not quick. I mean, you know, I think he says it typically takes about six months to a year before you can totally feel like it you know embrace the new food and a new taste of new flavors. But it does happen. And, and I can tell you now without the oil without the weed without refined sugar. I enjoy the food more now than I did then. But I just couldn't see it. I just couldn't see it. And that's the thing and is that, like, you know, if people would just give it a try when I say it I mean eating healthy eating this way. It sounds like you would never be able to adjust, but your taste buds do adjust your mentality adjust and then the feeling that you'll get from meeting this way will definitely be a motivating factor to keep doing it.

A: Yeah, yeah, it takes that time and then six months to a year I think it happens a little bit quicker for me because I'd already been kind of in this direction but I can definitely see for someone like my dad. You know it's taking him quite a bit of time to like adjust to things. You know and, and for a lot of people you know including myself I think, and maybe you can say something about this. You know, there's degrees these layers that you kind of talked about before of like we're, we're working towards this kind of I don't know the way with Dr. Jill Furman stuff it feels like towards this excellence and perfection of like what he offers right and and what's possible for our bodies, but like the road to get there isn't like a perfectly straight line. Right and we go through these kind of little dip in valleys and we learn things along the way and we have experiences that you know shift how we were doing something a little bit you know, and I've stopped seeing any of it is like a regression you know like if I go and end up eating something that doesn't agree with my body, you know because I personally am kind of sensitive and I can notice right away you know or something that's unhealthy or whatever. It's like okay you know that had that experience but now I can, I can eat something different I can choose something different next time, and I can kind of keep moving in that direction that I was going. So in regards to this about like making those shifts. The biggest one for me has been salt, and I think for other people it might be like sugar, you know for someone else it might literally be like wheat, you know like we all have these different things that were attracted to for different reasons. You know, like, what do you think which which one of these things the wheat the sugar refined sugar the oil. What was like the hardest one for you to like wrestle with and find a way to like transform your relationship to it.

J: Well, early on it was it that's easy it was to it was it well, well, I guess it's not easy going to name a law, but it was cheese it was bread and and it was sugar. But the thing that I want to say is that you know, it's a little too harsh and overstated for me to say you have to give those things up. It's just you have to go about it differently because I say no oil no we no refined sugar, no rice, but I still sweeten things and I still make cakes and pies and cupcakes, but I'm using dates I'm using whole dates or date paste, and it's just sweet as sugar, but it has fiber, it has antioxidants, it has nutrients. And so it doesn't do what we find sugar does you we find sugar is horrible. As far as salt. Now, I personally don't eat a little bit of salt on my hummus right during the week but I don't salt my food during the week in my recipes I do include salt, and I even put a little note salt to your taste, but there are ways to substitute for the salt for the sugar for the week so it's not like I can't eat week therefore I can't have cookies I can't have this. I can't, you know, have salt so I can't eat this I can't eat this, you just go about it a different way. So there are ways to work around it dates and me so and so and then as far as wheat almond flour and tiger nut flour and old flower. Again, they don't do the same things that we find we do to you and as fight your blood sugar and create all these problems. So even though you're giving up those things you're still creating those flavors, just with things that are healthy.

A: Yeah, it's a great since idea of replacing rather than like excluding right like we are giving something up but you're replacing it with something else that is sweet that is also tasty right. Yeah, the one I've been a lot in my cooking is Swiss chard very salty. And I didn't know that it was salty when I used to put salt on it but now that I'm not putting like a lot of salt on things I really taste the salt that naturally exists in Swiss charred tomatoes are also salty to me now, and have a way different flavor than they did when I would always be eating, you know, salt with my tomatoes. So yeah it's really fascinating this idea that we can make the things that we were enjoying, we can make them again but we can make them in a way that's actually like healthy and feeds our bodies to things that really needs that piece you mentioned about fiber I think that one was a huge light bulb for me, because I didn't fully grasp the power of fiber until recently learning about the gut microbiome and just how fibers really required to build out the microbiome the micro microbes in our stomach that help break down our food and do all these amazing things for our bodies. And so when you're drinking say even just juice like I used to be really into like juicing. Right, but then you take out all the fiber and that like actually removes some of the main nutrient, you know, and the structure of the food that your body needs to process it so kind of ends up becoming like a little bit like a sugar drink right.

J: Well, it can there's there's still benefit though. I think to juicy. I juice a little myself. You know, but but I'm someone who eats a lot of fiber anyway so it's not like, you know, if I juice, it means that I'm not going to eat those plants I'm still going to have to sell it in the beans and the nuts disease and I'm still going to have those things, but juicing has this has this place also independent on where you are, as far as the insulin resistance goes if you if you're not in bad shape with your system is this a pre diabetic or have diabetes already, then the sugars aren't as harmful as someone who is, you know, struggling with any of those issues.

A: That's a really great point yeah like I think we think of something like insulin resistance and then just make some sort of generic statement about it but each person has like an individual system that's going to respond differently and then their system can also change and adapt based on what they're putting in their body and so you can go from I mean I'm guessing you went from having some strong insulin resistance to not having that kind of blood sugar spike be as dramatic right.

J: Absolutely my blood sugar is great now is is is I want to say perfect but it's it's really good it's really good and it has been for years now that I've that I've changed what I eat and you know if you eat a lot of saturated fat and if you're vegan you probably not getting a lot saturated fat unless you eat a lot of coconut you know certain things like that but if you're not eating a lot of fat and saturated fat. Then that really helps with your insulin sensitivity also. And so so for me to have that juice drink it's not going to spike my blood sugar like it might with some others and so you so my juice quite a bit. It's been so absolutely amazing talking to you and where do you see kind of mean well first of all actually want to backtrack slightly how long have you been doing this when did this start for you if we can kind of get a timeline. Well, you know like I said it you know I follow the facts so I didn't wake up one day so I'm going to be being in a world where we know we found you're going to rice. Um, you know they happen, you know, at different stages. How long have I been eating like this I would say like this maybe two years, maybe two years because I held on to the fish for quite a while to because I felt like I needed to I don't need to make us but now I supplement for those days. Um, but but even when I ate the fish I was you know 95% a whole you know plant foods on process but I'm always evolving to you know I find out different facts and I and I might switch something because nothing drastic I mean I'm you know pretty much where I want to be, but I make tweaks here and there as I find out new things and go all black human things do all this, let me add those to my diet. So you know it's every ball thing and that's how I like it.

A: That's awesome that's so incredible. Yeah, and then with the regards to you know deciding to let go of the fish what was the motivation for that.

J: Well, again, you know I wanted to be vegan for I just felt like it was the best thing. I mean, look, this is something I like to talk about. If you don't mind real quick. And that is this that is this so you know I became vegan for selfish reasons, I had no, I should say I had no, but I was fine with eating animals, I didn't have compassion towards animals and and and and farmed animals because it's just, it was just what it was it was the norm. Everyone around me accepted it, you know it's just what we do we raise animals be slaughter and we eat them. I didn't have compassion for that. It wasn't until I stopped eating the animals, long enough to start saying like, that really was not. That wasn't that wasn't cool. Like we're literally raising animals and killing so we can eat them, but that's a hard place to get to when you're enjoying eating animals. So I became vegan for selfish reasons. I just followed the facts, it was all about what's going to make me the healthiest. And I thought that fish now and all of the oxides and all the chemicals and all of the micro plastics and all the things that are happening. I was like, you know what, I need to give this up and supplement to get these things that I might be missing. And then months after that, I started to have more compassion for the animals. And I started to feel more compassion towards the plight of an animal that's born and raised just to be slaughtered for my own personal taste, literally, right. So, so that was something interesting that happened, and it was just really natural and, but I'm glad I'm there now. I'm glad I'm there now and I feel, you know, I feel remorseful that I ever could do that and I ever could just be animals like that and be okay with.

A: That's really interesting. I think everybody, you know, has a different way that they can kind of come into being vegan. Like you said, a lot of people might just be focused on the health benefits and then somebody else maybe isn't focused on the health benefits at all and it's really for them, like, ethical issue when it comes to animals. But then there's this other impact that you touched upon about, you know, the environmental impact. And I know my dad he stopped eating seafood a few years ago because of what he found out about the oceans and about the things that were happening to the oceans because of the fact that fact that fact that fact and things like this. And he was like, wow, like as much as I love sushi, you know, I don't want to be a part of this, you know, devastation to something as important as our oceans. You know, so there's a bunch of different reasons that people get into this and what you pointed to there's really fascinating because when you are part of it, you know, when you're part of the system in the sense that you're eating, you know, animal products three times a day, you know, or more or whatever. Like, it's almost like your system is refusing to be a hypocrite. You're like your body's like refusing to let you be hypocritical so you can't really access the level of empathy that you might have for those animals because there's like almost like a protective mechanism in your unconscious that's saying like, oh, don't go there. Because because you're not going to find, you know, peace there you're going to find conflict within yourself and so there's like a block, right, that comes up about it. Yeah. Yeah. Thank you for sharing that. That's really incredible. I mean, for me, I, when I stopped eating animals the first time, because I've gone back and forth over, you know, the last few, like decade or so. And, and that's been a really interesting process because I've got to learn a lot about myself and the things that, you know, happen in my body and how I respond to them, you know, through my interaction with food. But you know, the first time was actually after I had a health crisis. And I remember just being grossed out by me. Like I would just have this aversion to it all of a sudden, you know, and I was like still eating it, going like, I don't like really want to eat this. And I was sort of bizarre because I didn't have anybody else in my world who was saying that I should not continue to eat animals for health reasons. But I found myself like just not attracted to it after I went through this health crisis. And that kind of aversion actually stuck in my system for quite a number of years, you know. And so for me, it was, it was partially, you know, because then it was also came, you know, into my consciousness about the animals and about, you know, even like the dairy industry and stuff like that. I learned about it and had a lot of empathy. But for me, it almost felt like a spiritual, like calling or something to like stop eating the animals at that period in time. And I didn't have like a reason for it. I didn't have like, you know, anything that I could figure out that was like saying, this is what you should do. It was just my consciousness being like, oh, this is like a dead thing. Like, don't eat it. You know, I didn't have like a criticism about anybody else eating it. I actually thought that I was kind of weird or something for having this experience. I didn't understand why I was having it, you know, but it may have been that my body was simply like rejecting something that was potentially toxic because it needed to heal. And so my body was like, I mean, that's my best guess is that my body had this natural like aversion to protect me in some way when I was in a very vulnerable state. Yeah. Well, well, I'll say you were weird and I was weird because no, seriously, because we're, you know, most people don't get to where you and I are as far as I don't want to eat me. How could you, you know, and that's why I don't condemn anyone who still leads me. You know, I don't I don't look at them and say, you know, they're kind of doing it. None of that with me because I was there and people that I love dearly still are there. And how could you not be? The odds of you growing up in America or Canada and coming to a place where you say, you know what, I don't want to eat me. The odds are against that, right? So, yeah. So, so even with my page, I have a lot of people that write me and say, you know, I'm not vegan, but I love your recipes. And I say thumbs up, you know, and keep enjoying them. And maybe somewhere along the way, you'll feel differently and you'll transition into being vegan, but even if you don't, you know, my page is still for you. It's still here for you.

A: I love that. Yeah, I definitely got that vibe from you. I got like this real openness and that there isn't a lot of like, you know, lecturing about or judgment. It's just sharing. You're just sharing information from your heart. You're sharing what you have found on your healing like discovery in your own body and you're living it. I mean, people can look at you and see the health and vitality that you're experiencing and that makes all the difference into whether or not they believe this is going to work for them, you know, that you can be a living example of what you're doing, you know, and that's such a huge part of it. Thank you. Yeah. And then you said just a moment ago, I think it's kind of amazing because we are born into whatever diet like we're born into, whatever culture we're born into. We're just indoctrinated, like we're fed whatever we're fed. And based on the education and the knowledge of our caregivers, like that could be any number of things that are not actually beneficial to our bodies. You know, and so there's this process of kind of, I guess you could say, like, coming to terms with that conditioning and how it's showing up in our bodies, whether that's in the form of a health crisis, you know, or someone having a lot of weight problems, you know, or physical pain, inflammation in their body and kind of recognizing like, oh, these things that I, you know, have these positive memories around for my childhood, they might not actually be things that like are helping me to grow and develop as a person. Maybe they never really were. And there's a reexamining of kind of like, oh, what is really going to help me? What is really helpful and reconditioning ourselves in that way too? And it's hard. Like as you mentioned before, because we don't live in a world that is promoting this, we live in a world where this is still pretty weird and pretty fringe. And the things that are normal and there's kind of a general acceptance of, you know, how it goes, you know, that as you get older, you're going to have to be on medication. You're probably going to have, you know, 40 extra pounds on your body by the time you're 50. And that's just how it goes, right? But that's how it goes from the standpoint of all of these foods and ways of eating and relating to food that are actually conditioned into us. They're not necessarily true, right? Absolutely. Absolutely. Yeah. So when we started getting that, like, I don't know, examining that dynamic, that's where we can find freedom. That's where we can actually break from the conditioning and choose something unique and different and weird that like actually suits our bodies, that actually suits our lives, right? That's a big part of what I advocate for people is you got to find what works for you and that's going to be different than what works for me. But if we're all kind of looking for this health and vitality and this way of healing in our bodies, like, you get to experiment, we get to figure that out together and we get to be on this journey. So thank you for being on this journey with me, Javons. Absolutely. Absolutely.

J: And you totally impressed me with how thoughtful and how knowledgeable you are with just with health and the idea of eating well. Yeah. Thank you. Thank you. It's been a long journey.

A: Oh, I was going to say something more and I wondered if you had an opinion about this or an idea. What I've kind of realized with my journey with animal products, especially when it came to like dairy and high volumes of saturated fat, I noticed that during times in my life where I was like particularly under intense levels of stress, I would start craving those things again. Like I would start craving like high volumes of saturated fat. And I started developing this hypothesis that it's some maybe some kind of biological thing where we get like this deep like primal signal from those kind of foods that like we're safe when we eat them. Because about it, like eating a lot of saturated fat is like that means I'm going to survive to hard winter. You know what I mean? That means if there's like and like I'm not going to like starve to death. So there's some kind of like mechanism of like safety that that represents in my body, but then it kind of backfires because the more that you eat of it, you know, you start having insulin resistance. You start having like heart, you know, issues and you start having blockages and all those things actually send signals to your body that you're not safe. Right. So it's kind of this it seems like a solution in the moment, but it's long term, not really that much of a solution to the issue of, you know, personal feelings, safety, right? But yeah, I was just curious if you like had any experience with that yourself of like, you know, times where you feel like maybe stress impacted like your food choices or things like that. Not necessarily stress, but you know, I think like everyone, you know, it's amazing how much we commune around food, right?

J: Christmas, Thanksgiving and happy events. So what still happens to me now is if I'm anticipating something I'm really excited about an event, you know, I'm going to my, you know, mothers and people are going to be there or whatever, or just something that I accomplished, a personal goal that I accomplished. My immediate thought is, OK, time to celebrate. And I think I want something sweet. That still happens to me now. I'm like, oh man, this is great. I'm so happy. You know what? I want something sweet. It's just going to make it just top it off of me. But now I can still do that. I just make it with dates and not to refine sugar. But that's the only thing that I had where I feel a certain, you know, something that's connected to me like, oh, I'm craving this or I'm craving that, or I feel like I need this or I feel like I need that. But that's more related, excuse me, just to be in condition that, hey, you celebrate. How do you celebrate? Get a piece of pie. Get a piece of cake. Get a piece of this. So I still have that, you know, kind of just natural reaction of things. Yeah, yeah.

A: That's a great parallel to what I'm talking about, but kind of on the bright side. Yeah, there you go. Yeah, yeah. Because yeah, I mean, what do we get like when we're kids, you know, and it's a holiday, we get candy, you know, what do we get? Exactly. Get cake, you know, if something good's happening, you know, we get a treat. And so that's totally a way that we're entrained into that, you know, kind of reminds me of like a little, you know, dog that was like, OK, I sat down. Are you going to give me a biscuit? That's right. That's right. Exactly. Exactly. And it's really sweet when you think about it, you know, it doesn't, we don't have to like judge ourselves for that or anything. It's actually like kind of a, you know, it's kind of a nice thing to have something to celebrate and something to enjoy and be able to connect with food in that way. Right. Sure. Sure. And with my recipes, you can do it and know that you're still not compromising, you know, your health short term or in the immediate. So yeah. Yeah. Oh man, you have some really great pie recipes for anybody who likes pie, who's listening, you should definitely check out. He's got a pie crust that I haven't tried yet, but it looks amazing. And then all kinds of different fillings. You really do serve it, serve it up on your dessert menu. I can tell that that's a passion of yours, something sweet, something. So that's what people like.

J: And that's what people like. People like to know I don't have to give up these things. OK, then I'm going to do those other things too. Right. Yeah. Yeah. Perfect. Very well said.

A: Well, it's been absolutely amazing to talk with you and, you know, share and hear a bit about like your journey and your ethos and what you're really sharing with people and what do you kind of see this, where do you see this going? I mean, obviously I would love to see you on the Food Network. But do you plan on like a cookbook? Do you plan on publishing things like that?

J: Yeah. Well, you know, I kind of just follow what was being requested. And so I didn't know where I was going. I just knew I wanted to share healthy recipes and help people and create something that I wish I would have had a place to go that kind of guides me on on how to make these foods. But people are asking for the cookbook. That takes a little more time. You got to get a publisher. You got to write it. It's a process. They asked for the cooking show. I'm doing that. But my ultimate goal is to have what I call a healthy vegan haven, where I'll like buy a piece of property, have a house and some apartments and have people come in and learn how to make these recipes, you know, and learn how to make healthy food like that would be the ultimate for me. But in the meantime, I'm just going wherever people leave me. They say they want this and I'm trying to accomplish that. And so the cooking show is next online cooking lessons. That's been requested a lot. So I'm working on those two and then the cookbook. Those are the three things that I'm focused on right now.

A: That's great. Yeah. Because if you have like a class, if you actually have like, you know, people signed up and enrolled, then you got that real time interaction where they're able to ask you what's on their mind, right? And then get your feedback about that. They can, you know, be doing it along with you and let you know, like, hey, this didn't work for me right now. What do I do? You know, that would be really, exactly. As I go, so many people are intimidated by it. They say, well, I can't do that. You make it look so easy, but I can't do that. I wish you could teach me.

J: Can you come cook for me? And so, um, so this is kind of my response to that and, and, um, and I hope to have those going by the summer, but, you know, by the summer for sure. Yeah. The cooking lessons.

A: Yes. And you're Hayden. I love that idea of a haven kind of like a place where people can go to get some community around this because like you did it alone and I've done it alone many times, but doing alone is really hard for some people. Some people really need that encouragement, that community, that support. It's great that they can find it online, you know, with you and, you know, with resources and things like that. And then there's also this really awesome opportunity to do something in person, which is even more impactful, I think, you know, when people get to actually be, you know, in, in the presence of others and feel that, feel that sense of belonging. Absolutely. Awesome. Oh, well, it's so great to get, to talk with you. Thank you for coming on the show. And I hope we can catch up again at a later point and kind of see where things are at for you because I just would love to stay in contact and know about all the wonderful things that you're up to.

J: So that would be great. And thank you so much for having me on. Um, I enjoyed it. It was great, great interview.

A: Yeah. Tell everybody, um, real quick before we go, like just what you're Instagram handle is, um, and where they, you know, if it's different, is it the same on through Tik Tok and YouTube? Yeah.

J: All platforms are the same at healthy vegan eating. And that's on Tik Tok on YouTube, on Facebook and on Instagram. And that's my email. So if you want to email me, you can do that too. So healthy vegan eating. That's me. Wonderful. Thank you, Javons. Okay. Thank you.

A: You've been listening to the free your Soma podcast to find out more information about today's guest, check the show notes and to find out more information about me, Amy, Takaia and the radiance program, visit www.freeyoursoma .com.

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