Vegan Athlete Blog by Jaré Cervantes
Jaré Cervantes, Vegan Lifestyle Coach & Educator / Nutrition Coach
I picked up the magnet off the fridge with the colorful triangle on it, and read the words: “Food Pyramid”. My 8-year old self thought, so this is what I need to eat everyday?” I grabbed a piece of bread to start working on the “Grains” portion. As I took a bite, my mom told me to put it back because we were having dinner. Well, I tried! This is my first memory of caring about nutrition and the food I put into my body.
I was raised as a healthy eater - Mom didn’t buy Coke or Doritos, she bought Grape Nuts and juice. This carried over into adolescence for me, and I managed my food choices pretty well. College came around, and suddenly I was making midnight runs to Taco Bell with friends and drinking too much beer. The pounds packed on during school, and I worked my butt off over the summer to get rid of them. I started struggling more with body image issues. It was a vicious cycle, and I didn’t get it under control until my Junior year, when I started reading fitness magazines and following their diets. I felt better eating healthier and wanted to stay that way, so I learned how to be more consistent with my healthy habits.
Fast forward to my mid-twenties, when I was really serious about fitness and eating “clean”. I had tried countless diets by then - South Beach, the 3-Hour Diet, IIFYM, the typical Bodybuilder Diet…all in my quest to be healthy and look fit. At that time, meals of chicken, broccoli and brown rice were my best friend! Until cheat day of course, then it was all about cheeseburgers and froyo. I was still struggling to find BALANCE and make sense of nutrition. It finally came kind of randomly in 2015. My husband Saul and I started watching videos on how animal agriculture really works and learned the effects of animal protein on health. So we went vegetarian - no more meat! We were tired of cooking it and eating so much of it anyway.
A couple months later, Saul tore his Achilles tendon. The surgeon who stitched it back together told him to cut down on all animal products so that he would heal faster. So Saul cut out the dairy right away. I followed a couple months later (it was hard to let go of that froyo).
This sudden change in our diets had me researching on what we could eat and how to get our protein.
Soon, I started FEELING the benefits of a plant-based diet! My bloating and stomach pain went away, my skin was clearer and I had more energy. Saul felt great too - he healed very quickly from his injury and he had more energy in the mornings. As a personal trainer, that early morning energy was so important for him! Our muscles didn’t wither away - we felt even better in the gym and continued to gain strength! Something else happened too - my sugar cravings weren’t controlling me anymore, and I stopped having episodes of binge eating. Since I was allowing myself to eat tons of fruit, my sweet tooth was satisfied. I was getting more nutrients since I was filling up on more veggies, beans and grains since there wasn’t a big hunk of meat on my plate anymore.
It wasn’t all magical of course, we still made mistakes - like not eating enough and not knowing to take a B-12 supplement. But we stuck with our decision, supported each other and kept learning. No diet I ever did taught me how to truly nourish my body and sustain it as a lifestyle. Plant-based eating gave me that, because I had to learn more about real nutrition - not just how to count calories and macros. I finally felt like I found the balance I was craving.
I was so inspired about how good I felt and my new knowledge that I wanted to share it with others. I started my quest to do this by getting certified in Vegetarian Sports Nutrition and as a Vegan Lifestyle Coach & Educator with the Mainstreet Vegan Academy. This allowed me to start building my own business as a Coach so that I could help others find their nutritional balance (with less of the guesswork).
I am currently running my first “Let’s Eat Plant Based” 21-Day Challenge via Facebook and will be coaching clients online with plant-based nutrition. I am also able to help others transition into a vegan lifestyle. My goal is to inspire others to eat well so they can feel amazing and live their healthiest life! I also want to spread the word on the benefits of going vegan. We don’t need to take animals’ lives or deteriorate our Earth just so we can eat meat and cheese. There’s all kinds of delicious vegan foods (including cheese, ice cream and burgers), so you never feel like you’re missing out. GO VEGAN - for your HEALTH, our PLANET and the ANIMALS!