My Story in a Nutshell


It all started when I was seven years old. 

My mom had picked me up after school to take me to gymnastics practice and asked how my day was. I told her we had learned about Daniel Boone (in case you don’t know, Daniel Boone was one of our first American folk heroes who infamously carried around a shotgun and wore a raccoon hat). 

I was confused. “Daniel Boone was supposed to be a hero mom, but he was not.” I said. “He was a mean man. He killed and ate animals!”

My mom was honest with me. She said, “Well Ella, we are just fortunate now-a-days. Unlike Daniel Boone, we get to go to the grocery store to buy our meat.” 

It was at that moment that I connected the food on my plate with the animal that it was. I was horrified! I told my mom, “I’m not going to do that anymore.” 

That was it – I never ate meat again.

I was extremely fortunate to have such loving parents. They gave me the freedom to explore who I was, and what was most important to me in this world.

Not only did I stop eating meat, but I had also discovered my purpose in life. Every chance I got, I wrote about how it simply made no sense for people to eat animals. Why would we kill another living being when we can easily live without inflicting such suffering? 

I couldn’t understand how anyone could love their dog and then turn around and eat a pig. I saw all creatures on this earth as equal in their right to live. And I saw us, as humans, the only species with the ability to consciously choose whether or not we eat other animals.

These strong beliefs came with a lot of weight, especially as I started getting older and discovered the truth about factory farming. I sought out information, and what I discovered was much worse than the image of Daniel Boone shooting Bambi that originally caused me to stop eating meat.

The undercover photos and videos I found of factory farmed animals felt like a knife in my gut. It was like I could feel the suffering of the animals and it tore me apart. 

When I discovered that the cruelty of the dairy and egg industries was no less than the cruelty of the meat industries I immediately went vegan. I was fifteen.

In my young mind, I thought that if only people knew the truth then surely they would go vegan like me. I didn’t see myself as different. I just thought I had discovered something other people were not yet aware of since the information back then was not readily available.

I therefore set out to spread awareness. I was a leader in a local animal rights group, organizing protests and leafleting every chance I got throughout my teenage years. 

I sat in cages on the sidewalk demonstrating the cramped conditions of chickens in battery cages. I wore buttons on my shirt at school, asking people to boycott companies that tested on animals. I led protests outside of fur stores, circuses, and pigeon shoots. I was on a mission!


After a while, I came to understand that many people simply did not WANT to know the truth about where their “food” came from. 

I was right that many people were unaware of the extent of the cruelty, but I was incorrect in thinking that simply presenting them with the information would be enough to motivate people to go vegan. This was a tough realization but it certainly didn’t stop me. I knew I’d be fighting for animals until the day I died. It was just a matter of HOW I was going to go about fighting.

Now don’t get me wrong… I believe we absolutely need those on the front line of this bloody battle. People to risk their freedom and even their lives to expose what goes on behind the closed doors of factory farms. 

We need people telling it like it is without concern for people’s feelings. I realize that may sound harsh to some, but there are millions of animals suffering, in horrible pain, and dying horrible deaths every second of every day. 

These animals, just like dogs and cats, experience love, happiness, grief, pain. If these were millions of dogs, almost everyone would be on board. They wouldn’t be calling the vegan movement “extreme”. But why? Why does a dog deserve life and love, and a cow does not? 

The problem is that people don’t want to let go of their defenses. It would make them wrong. It would mean experiencing negative emotions, including guilt, if they choose not to change their ways. Change is uncomfortable. Discomfort, however, is an investment in personal growth. Discomfort is the price of achieving not only a happy life, but also a meaningful life.

Going vegan is about wanting to make conscious choices. It’s about wanting to align your actions with what you truly value in life. It’s about not allowing yourself to say, “I love animals” and then turn around and eat their dead bodies. I learned that people have to be ready to open their minds and their hearts and care about the impact their choices make on other living beings and on the world, and to be willing to make a change.

Another important factor is believing that your voice, and your choices make a difference! Over 20 years after I led my first circus protest, in 2017, Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus took animals out of their acts. That’s a huge deal, and it happened in my lifetime. What’s 20 years of effort to save the countless elephants who will now be spared a life of captivity and exploitation?!


I would call the vast majority of my adult life, up until just a year ago, a period of life-experimentation, self-exploration. I experienced a lot of joy and excitement, but also dealt with a lot of shame and frustration. 

Although I would never wish many of my experiences on anyone else, I wouldn’t take back even the most painful parts. Every experience provided me with an opportunity to learn and grow. I see now just how resilient I am, and how cool is it that we can rewrite the stories we create about who we are and what we are capable of. I love knowing we are that powerful!  Let me explain.

It started with my first serious boyfriend. He was an alcoholic and a drug addict. It was during my time with him that I wrote my story about being “unworthy” and “not good enough”. From there my self-image went downhill. It was like I felt that, beyond my mission of fighting for animal rights, I really didn’t matter. 

Ella Disordered Eating Image

For the next 15 years I worked in the fitness industry and struggled in secret with a distorted body image, disordered eating, depression, anxiety, and terrible insomnia. 

Women were amazed by my strong, lean body and I was a walking billboard for the anti-stereotypes of what a vegan looked like. I inspired more people to start the transition to plant-based just by keeping myself in tip top shape, than anything else I could say or do. 

I put a ton of pressure on myself to be the shining example of a healthy, fit, vegan, which meant I couldn’t share my struggles. 

I was carrying around a lot of shame, which contributed to the disordered eating patterns. I would restrict my food intake, count calories, track macros, and walk around hungry 95% of the time. The other 5% I was binging, ashamed and alone (I could down an entire jar of peanut butter in one night).

The pressure I put on myself also led to body dysmorphia. I saw and felt fat that wasn’t there. After a devastating break-up from my fiance, I remember challenging myself to see if I could get below 100 pounds. I’m not one to lose a challenge and I managed it. I’m 5’7”.

My own food intake and weight were something I had control over. And with so much else out of my control I think that subconsciously, it gave me comfort.


It was a long, agonizing journey for me to come to terms with, and work though, my disordered eating and body image issues. It wasn’t until 2016, many years after I had built a name for myself with my brand, Sexy Fit Vegan, that I made it my mission to change my story of being unworthy and not good enough, and to heal myself.

I had worked my ass off creating my website and blog with the purpose of educating and inspiring people, but there was a disconnect between me and the people I aimed to help. I was frustrated by the lack of engagement. 

It finally hit me like a ton of bricks… It wasn’t about people lacking the desire to engage, it was about me not being honest with them or myself. I was presenting only the good, and continuing to hide all my struggles. Who can relate to someone who appears to have it all together?!

I set out to rid myself of the shame by getting vulnerable and sharing my struggles. I decided to not only come clean to my friends and family, but to all of my followers as well, which I did in 2017 with a series of blog posts I called “My Journey from Disordered Eating to Plant-Empowered Living.” Out of sharing came a sense of empowerment like I’d never experienced before. I finally felt free in my authenticity.

Now don’t get me wrong. The negative self-talk didn’t just disappear all of a sudden. It’s a process. I discovered a self-coaching system that allowed me to consistently do the work needed to finally reprogram my brain, rid myself of the limiting beliefs keeping me stuck, step into my power, and access the happiness that is already deep within all of us!

I then developed my transformational MASTER CLASS, started the Empowered Vegan Life Facebook Group, and created the Plant-Empowered Coaching Program to serve people who not only have the desire to transition to a healthy vegan lifestyle, but are also struggling with shame, an unhealthy relationship with food and their bodies, and are engaging in self-sabotaging behaviors that are preventing them from reaching their potential.

The coolest part is that what took me years to figure out is now serving people to their freedom in just six months! 

The new program is based on true transformation through empowerment and self-love.  It’s built on the basis of aligning your actions with your values. It teaches people to approach themselves with curiosity and compassion, to accept and respect themselves and their bodies. It coaches people down the path toward not only a healthy and happy life, but also a free and meaningful life. It coaches people to a place where they become the inspiration for others and make a positive impact in the world.

And though the program successfully helps people adopt a healthy, fit, vegan lifestyle, the focus in not about food! You see, for the people I work with, feeling powerless over food is just a symptom. And the countless diet plans and training programs they’d been beating themselves up over, were attempts at putting Band-aids on wounds that needed major surgery. 

And this leads me to where I am today! Continuing to spread my message of veganism through empowerment, through aligning your actions with your values and rewriting your story with self-love as the foundation.

Unlikely Vegan Duo Saving Millions of Lives in Bulgaria


An Unlikely Vegan Duo Has Teamed Up To Make History By Saving Millions Of Animals (and kids!)

Only passions, great passions can elevate the soul to great things. -Denis Diderot

And it is exactly that – a great passion for compassion that has brought Ashton and Denitsa together in the Vegan Beyond project to accomplish a great thing for animals while literally changing the course of history.ashton and denitsa

Having pursued a successful career in the US fast food industry,

Ashton has always felt that his achievements at work could never be fully celebrated by his heart,

as the industry to which growth he was contributing was not aligned with his core values and beliefs. Nor were they in alignment with the moral standards he had set for himself in his personal life. Despite the fact that upper management quickly noticed his talents and skills, Ashton was finding the monetary rewards that were coming from his rising career position less and less satisfying.

This is how about six years ago he teamed up with Denitsa, an internet marketing entrepreneur and consultant, asking for her services to help him gain his freedom by developing his own business and life coaching practice. After a few years of efforts, they not only succeeded to the point where Ashton was a sought after independent Business and Life coach, but the duo had developed a soul connection that would drive them to keep joining forces for the greater good!

Denitsa’s background is curious and versatile,

as she grew up in a picturesque region of Bulgaria, spending the summers in a wildly beautiful village, where her grandparents were growing chickens and rabbits for slaughter. At the age of 16 she moved to Switzerland for high school, and then the UK, where she completed her higher education, only to get a taste of the corporate environment in a large international organization, and then go back to the country that was calling her so strongly in her heart.compassionate christmas

Already a passionate animal advocate, she knew she had to come back to Bulgaria, which was calling her with all its desperation

for young people, who are ready to stand up and be the difference everyone wants to see!

Some of her most vivid childhood memories involve 5 baby rabbits, who she rescued by bottle feeding and taking care of after they lost their mother.

At this very fragile age of four or five she felt a pain she could hardly explain.

Deep down she knew that she was rescuing these rabbits only to have them killed later on, but she was numbing the thought, as it was too much for her child’s heart. The reality she grew up with was telling her that it is ‘normal’ to slaughter animals not only for food, but for various rituals throughout the year that would bring ‘health’ and ‘good luck’.

One of the reasons that today, as an adult, she shivers at the thought of going to the countryside is because the tradition of ritual slaughter is still alive – even more than ever!

One of the WORST periods for animals is Pre-Christmas time when villages are filled with the screams of millions of pigs, fighting for their last breath

Denitsa will never forget sitting inside the house, hearing the desperate screams, while her father and grandfathers would catch the pig they have been breeding for a year, pull him out of his ‘house’ and forcefully tie him only to have him killed! She would then feel the smell of the burned skin, and a bit later her granny would bring her the cooked meat with a big smile. Even a meat-eater would find the whole thing extremely ‘inhumane’ and unbearable.

This is a scene most Bulgarian children experience many times in their lifetime, and a tradition passed from generation to generation. Not all are lucky enough to only hear the screams! The boys usually sit there watching it all, ‘learning’ how it’s done!

While in Western Europe there is a ‘trend’ toward sustainability, in Bulgaria there is a trend towards ‘going back to the roots’ which means more ritual animal slaughters than ever!

These count up to millions, in addition to a reported yearly rise in meat consumption.

If we take Mahatma Gandhi’s quote:

‘The greatness of a nation can be judged by the way its animals are treated’ –

as true, then, despite an impressive historical record (involving the salvation of thousands of Jewish citizens during WW2), Bulgaria is very much behind!

When it comes to the treatment of animals, the situation in the country is close to a horror story!

Not only that, but 99% of the population is in complete informational block, regarding widespread health and environmental information, involving plant-based eating and the environmental impact a meat-heavy diet has on our planet.

The Solution

Ashton and Denitsa have come up with a long-term strategy plan to eradicate this cruel tradition and literally change history by changing how future generations are being raised! Joining their skills, talents, and experience, they have launched a Crowdfunding Campaign for the establishment a One-Of-A-Kind Cruelty-Free Center that will target the problem at its very root! Various recent examples with Denitsa’s local network have given proof that very little is needed for people to re-consider their behaviors! Her dad gave up the killing of two lambs for the opening of his car repairing service; another friend gave up meat just after a few interactions with her, and many others are willing to re-consider after receiving a tiny bit of education!

The issue is that NONE of this education is currently existent!

The powerful Vegan Hub they are aiming to build in the place where a large leather shop used to operate will provide a multi-fold approach for a consistent, permanent change that will result in millions saved from barbaric, painful death!

It is a brave, but achievable goal, and they are urging all animal lovers, despite their eating style to join and contribute to the cause!

The New Life Cruelty-Free Food And Educational center will pro-actively instill change into the population through the provision of free lectures, seminars, workshops, printed materials, as well as an affordable vegan café and plant-based meal delivery service. This civil, peaceful, education-driven approach will be directed towards young families and mothers, who are the main decision-makers regarding meat consumption and ritual slaughters.

Ashton and Denitsa believe that anyone with even a drop of compassion in their heart would want to contribute to a project such as that.

Their slogan is…

Now who wouldn’t want to? I sure do! To support the cause, click here. Saving Animals in Bulgaria


From Disordered Eating to Plant-Empowered Living Part 5


We ended part 4 with the question, “If you were so passionate about animal rights Ella, why weren’t you out there taking action and protesting?”

To answer, we have to take it back to my middle and high school years. As I kept uncovering the reality of abuse taking place behind the closed doors of not only factory farms, but also science labs, zoos, and circuses, I found more and more ways to speak out for the rights of animals. As I learned the horrific practices of the fur industry, and the merciless methods for testing the safety of laundry detergent, shampoo, and mascara, I set out on a mission to expose the systemic savagery to the masses. [If you haven’t read parts 14 of my journey, start from the beginning of my journey from disordered eating to plant-empowered living.]

Ella and Max

You see, in my young mind, I thought that surely if people only knew what was taking place, they would “see the light” and stop supporting the brutality in the name of a meal, a coat, lipstick, or an evening of entertainment. With that logic in mind, I became heavily involved in the animal rights scene. In fact, I was a leader for our local animal rights group. Before I had a license to drive I was organizing protests and leafletting all over town. I was tireless in my quest to be a voice for the voiceless.

What blows my mind today is thinking about the actions I took despite being a painfully shy person. To give you an idea, when I was five years old, my parents would role play with me so that I could practice saying hello to people they introduced me to (my natural reaction was to run and hide). Yet when it came to standing up for my belief in the rights of animals I was fearless.

I didn’t hesitate to organize demonstrations on the streets of Chapel Hill where I would sit inside tiny cages, displaying the cramped conditions of chickens. Chickens who had so little room to move that their feet would grow around the wires of the cage, and whose beaks were chopped off without anesthesia so that they wouldn’t peck each other to death from the stress of their conditions. I never had a second thought about standing on the side of the road, holding signs and chanting in protest of the Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus. I led campaigns urging L’Oreal and Revlon to stop testing on animals (I would wear anti-L’Oreal buttons to middle school every day and passed out pamphlets to all my classmates and teachers). I traveled to Pennsylvania for an annual pigeon shoot event, where we ran out into the line of fire in the fields in protest of the mass killing.

Bill Rosenberg Award

Bill Rosenberg Award for Animal Liberation

So my answer to the question, “Why weren’t you out there taking action and protesting?”… I was! In fact I even won the Bill Rosenberg Award when I was 16. This award is given each year by the Farm Animal Reform Movement (FARM) to “people under the age of 18 who have made outstanding contributions to farm animal liberation.”

Now I don’t want you to get the idea that I was this young animal rights activist who missed out on her childhood. As a kid I was a competitive swimmer and gymnast and had a great group of athletic friends

Ella Magersas a Teen

I was also your typical teenager in many ways. I went through the awkward adolescent phase like most everyone.  I dyed my hair, dark, gave my parents one-word answers, broke curfew, drank Boone’s Farm Strawberry Hill, and went to math class high (what can I say… math was right after lunch!) I met this drug dealer who gave me his brand new, decked out red Jeep Wrangler to drive around for over a year on the condition that I would pick him up and “drive him around” on occasion. (I was sure I could fool the authorities by playing dumb if we ever got stopped.)

Ella Prom

When I quit the volleyball team in 10th grade my relationship with my mom disintegrated with my new pothead status. Before I tell you more about that though, it will help if I give you a little background about my family…I was born in Pittsboro, NC and spent the first four years of my life living in a little log cabin in the woods. I was even potty trained in an outhouse, can you believe it?

My mom was the director of a preschool and my dad was a self-employed stone mason. My older sister, ten years my elder, suffered from mental illness and began self-medicating with drugs when she was just 10 years old. I have few memories of her during my youth, as she spent quite a bit of time in hospitals when she was not running away from home.

When my mom got pregnant with my younger sister, my parents decided it was time to move to Chapel Hill for the quality school system. My dad got a stable job at UNC and I got a real working toilet! I couldn’t be more thankful to have been blessed with two of the most loving, supportive parents imaginable. I mean seriously, when I said, “I’m never eating animals again” at the age of seven for example, they didn’t try to talk me out of it even once they realized it was not a “phase”, that I really wasn’t going to ever eat meat again. Big time parenting brownie points!

Young Ella Magers

My parents divorced when I was fourteen. They held their marriage together as long as they could. I was SO ready for them to separate at that point. For a period of time they tried to figure out how to turn our attic into a separate room with a separate entrance for my dad. Needless to say, it was a relief when we all sat down for “the talk”. Not to say it wasn’t tough. Divorce is never easy, but it was clearly the right move.

Family of Ella Magers

Getting back to the collapse of my relationship with my mom… She was understandably intolerant to drug use in her home due to the struggles of my sister. Being a teenager, I was sure I was immune to addiction and was convinced I could party without negative consequences. Being the strong-willed, determined individual I’ve always been, when my mom gave me the ultimatum of stopping using or leaving her house, I bet you can guess what I chose.Rebel Ella

Moving in with my dad gave me more freedom. He was apt to give me the benefit of the doubt in most situations which worked out for a while. I did not appreciate my dad back then as I do today. Eventually though, I grew up a bit, missed my mom, put my big girl panties on to work things out and move back in. A new beginning that eventually led to the place we’re in today, where I can honestly say my mom is my best friend. And as for my dad, I not only appreciate him today, but I’m also inspired by him and his journey down the path of embodying zen principles to the extent that he now volunteers teaching meditation to death row inmates!

I strongly believe that the strong foundation of unconditional love from my parents and my extreme devotion to animal liberation has saved me from spiraling out of control countless times over the years…

How so? Find out in Part 6!

Fast Against Slaughter 2015


On October 2, 2015 I participated in the Fast Against Slaughter for the first time.  

Oct 2 is World Day for Farmed Animals , and on this day tens of thousands of people take the pledge to fast in support of the billions of farm animals that are slaughtered each year.

Each day approximately 160 millions of animals are slaughtered  for food.  Before slaughter they are denied food and water for several hours or even several days.  They are scared and starving.  Through a voluntary sacrifice of food the hope is to bring an awareness to the plight of these animals and to experience a fraction of what they go through.

This was my first water only fast.  I have done juice cleanses before, but this was a whole new ball game. The fast could be anywhere between 8-36 hours, but my goal was 24.  I actually decided to do this at the very last minute.  I was already in the middle of the Wild Rose D-tox and I really wanted to do a heavy leg workout the day of the fast so I was questioning whether it was a good idea.  Basically I was making excuses. But at zero hour (literally midnight on Oct 1) I ate my last meal and committed to the fast.

IMG_3732I woke up hungry, like I do every morning, drank some black coffee ( I am actually not sure if this was allowed) and guzzled some water and got on with it. And for the most part I felt ok.  Hungry but ok.  Hunger pangs come in waves, and I found if I kept myself busy I could ignore them and they would pass.  I felt pretty good up until the last 8 hours or so and then I got shakey, headachey and was grinding my teeth. But I sucked it up, went to a movie, drank a ton of water and  made it the full 24 hours!  What kept me going was knowing that I was only experiencing a small part of what millions of farm animals experience each day and that I had a TOMORROW.  They do not.

This was a surprisingly emotional experience for me. I felt really connected to both the animals the I was fasting for and also to the amazing community of people who participated in this fast.  Any time I felt like bailing I was encouraged and supported by fellow vegans ( and non vegans too).  And to the naysayers out there who say that this fast is pointless because it doesn’t actually save any animals I would like to quote an 11 year old boy doing the fast who said “We have a 2 minute silence for the soldiers who have died for us every year but the 2 minute silent doesn’t bring them back.  Fasting today is our way of paying respect to the animals.”

I will definitely be participating again next year and I hope many of you will join me. You can find more information about the fast at