Holiday Special (EP 35: The Vegan Life Coach Podcast)

Navigating the holidays as a vegan, especially if you’re newly vegan or in the process of transitioning, can be really tough!


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*Links mentioned in the episode are at the bottom of this page.

In this episode we give you some valuable tips, tools, and strategies that will help you not just survive, but truly thrive this holiday season.

I talk about how fortunate I am that most of the people I spend my holidays with are vegan at this point, especially since I will be spending the time with my immediate family and closest friends this year.

Stephanie however, has a more “blended” family, which we know is the situation most of our listeners are in.

Add on top of the stress brought on by navigating the holidays with non-vegans, this year we are adding a pandemic to the mix… Oh boy! 😉

Having the holiday season amidst Covid19 means that many of the traditions we follow year after year won’t be feasible (at least not safely).

Stephanie and I talk about the opportunity we have this year, thanks to the pandemic, to view these challenges as a “forced pause,” giving us the space to step back and take inventory.

We give our listeners some solid strategies for taking full advantage of that opportunity, including determining what traditions you actually enjoy. This is a great year to let go of the traditions that don’t serve you or your family.

I love what Stephanie says about releasing old traditions and trying something new… “Design this holiday season just like you’re designing the rest of your life!”

Listen or watch the full episode for lots of laughs in addition to the valuable discussion to help you reduce your stress and make this holiday season one to remember (in the best ways possible).

– Ella


Episode 32: Letting Go

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My Holiday Confession

For the majority of my adult life, holidays were a huge source of stress and anxiety for me.

If you’re thinking, “That’s the case for almost everyone,” I agree!

However, the stress and anxiety I experienced was not over gifts, travel, or spending time with family. Although it did involve food, it had nothing to do with being vegan either. Instead, the source was my disordered eating and distorted body image. I was terrified of feeling out of control around all the “fattening” dishes, snacks, and sweets.

I’m not talking about minor stress and anxiety here. I’m talking about being completely consumed by thoughts about how to “prepare” to be powerless over my food choices when surrounded by a feast of foods I don’t normally eat. I’m talking about being obsessed for weeks prior to a holiday get-together.

I would become fixated on doing whatever I could to make sure I didn’t gain weight from indulging on all the delicious vegan dishes I knew would surround me. If you’re someone who has struggled with disordered eating and a poor body image you can probably relate in one way or another.

It’s hard to believe that for well over a decade I experienced holidays from such a dark place.

If I wasn’t so comfortable being vulnerable and sharing my story at this point in my life, I’d be totally embarrassed about how I thought, felt, and acted. I experienced so much shame all those years that I didn’t share my struggles with anyone.

I hated that I was so selfish. I was ashamed that I was so focused on myself and my body during a time that was supposed to be about gratitude, generosity, and family. It was part of the self-destructive cycle I was trapped in. Beating myself up, hiding, restricting, binging, beating myself up some more, over-exercising, and flat out feeling unworthy of being accepted and loved.

Fast forward to 2017 when I finally broke through the shame by “coming out” with my story (read it HERE).

healthy vegan lifestyle

It was the last step I knew I needed to take to heal. All the work I had been doing to gain the self-worth I needed to feel confident and empowered over my choices came together. It was that same work that allowed me to build a healthy relationship with food and my body so that I could start eating and exercising mindfully and intuitively. It was never about food or my body. It was about my relationship with MYSELF that needed the attention!

The joy and meaning that my life took on after sharing my story prompted me to create the Plant-Empowered Coaching Program to help others transition to an empowered vegan life.

Instead of it taking years to heal, or worse, never healing, I began to coach people through a powerful six-month process that allowed them to gain the tools and embody the principles that took me years to master.

When I say “master” I mean that I feel completely confident in my ability to effectively work through any challenge or hurdle that presents itself in my life. That being said, I will always be working to grow and gain new tools and perspectives that will allow me to continue leading the healthiest, happiest, most meaningful life possible.

I am eternally grateful to be able to say that I finally feel free to enjoy the holidays in the ways I’ve always wanted to.

If my story resonates with you please join our incredible, free Empowered Vegan Life tribe. See you there!

Beyond Survival… How to Thrive As a Vegan Over the Holidays

Wouldn’t it be fantastic if the holiday season was a time when you were able to simply focus on spreading love, experiencing joy, and spending valuable time with family? How incredible would it feel to be free from all the extra pressure you put on yourself to make sure everyone else is happy? What would it mean to you to be free from secretly stressing about how you’re going to avoid splurging too much and gaining that extra weight you seem to pack on before heading into every New Year (when you plan to have a “fresh start” of course)?

As I mentioned in my last blog post, the holidays used to be an incredibly stressful time for me due to my struggles with disordered eating and a distorted body image. If that’s a struggle for you too, check out last week’s post as well as the Facebook Live event we did in the Empowered Vegan Life Facebook Group.

The focus of this post is on the other stressor that many of our Plant-Empowered Coaching Program clients also face… Being vegan around critical relatives who just don’t get it.   

I’ve got great news for you!  I’m here to help you write a new story for your holiday this year.

It’s important to first understand that you have no control over how other people think, feel, or act. Therefore, you must let go of trying to change anyone else and focus on “doing you!”

This year, instead of apologizing for being “difficult,” I encourage you to be proud and confident about your decision to go vegan. Don’t play small and hide.

Think about it… By acting (eating) in line with your values you’re setting an incredible example for those you love, no matter how hard a time they give you. I invite you to be unattached to the outcomes and simply shine your light on those around you. Then, instead of jumping to conclusions, sit back and observe what happens with curiosity and compassion (which is also how our clients learn to approach THEMSELVES)!

Choosing a mantra or two to say to yourself every time someone is critical or pushes your buttons can really help. Some of my favorites are:

“No one can make me feel inferior without my consent.”

“They are doing the best they can with what they have.”

“The only approval I need is my own.”

“What they say is a reflection of them, not me.

”I choose to courageously speak my truth with love.”

Will this be uncomfortable at first? Yes! Do it anyway! Head to your gathering without expectations. Bring a vegan dish or two to share. Focus on the precious time with your family instead of focusing on the food and eating. All too often we don’t consider that time with family precious until those people have passed. Living in gratitude makes all the difference in the world.

Basically, consciously using the holiday as an opportunity to work on YOURSELF is key to continue powerfully down the path to not only a health and happy life, but also a meaningful life.

Top 7 Vegan Thanksgiving Swaps


I’m writing this post about vegan Thanksgiving swaps for anyone who, like me, is choosing convenience this holiday season!

Maybe you can relate to some degree… As many of you can imagine from reading my story, “From Disordered Eating to Plant-Empowered Living,” the holiday season used to be an incredibly stressful time because of all the less-than-healthy foods surrounding me. I experienced the holidays as a time where my will-power was constantly “tested.” My goal… not to gain any weight. What a miserable way to spend what is meant to be a special, fun time to spend with loved ones!

Well no more! Ever since I finally ditched the diet mentality and learned a method I call “Plant-Empowered Eating” (the method I teach as part of the 6-Week Plant-Empowered Coaching Program), the holidays are now filled with joy instead of stress. I put no pressure on myself. I eat what I feel like eating. And guess what… I have never looked or felt better every single month of the year. (My clients can also attest that this method works.)

I’m telling you all of that because I am not into holiday cooking, so I don’t do it! I prefer to take the convenience route, especially now that there is such a wide variety of vegan Thanksgiving swaps on the market today. Many of these vegan swaps, although healthier than the non-vegan options, cannot be considered healthy. But as part of a mostly whole foods diet, I say, “Who cares!” As long as it is cruelty-free, I’m down to try it.

So with that all being said, I have put together a list of my top vegan Thanksgiving swaps for you…

  1. SoDelicious Nog

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2. Gardein Holiday Roast

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3. Tofurky Veggie Roast

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4. Simply Organic Vegetarian Brown Gravy (vegan)

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5. Follow Your Heart VeganEgg 

Image result for follow your heart vegan egg quiche

6. Hilary’s Holiday Stuffing

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7. Daiya Cheese Cake

Image result for frozen vegan pie Daiya

I hope this list of vegan Thanksgiving swaps will help make your holidays joyful and stress-free. Enjoy!


5 Simple Ways to Enjoy a Vegan Memorial Day BBQ

Vegan Memorial Day BBQ-Stars_and_Stripes_by_DivineDesign-660x240

A vegan Memorial Day BBQ may seem like somewhat of an oxymoron, but it’s time to break away from tradition and get healthy and creative!

Memorial Day generally involves barbecue grills loaded with racks of ribs and burgers,tables full of macaroni salad and chips, as well as coolers full of beer, wine, and sugary cocktail mixers.

Have you ever experienced something like this? As you are being invited to a BBQ, the invitation ends with an uncomfortable, “Oh yeah, but you don’t eat meat.”

Here’s the Deal

A Memorial Day barbecue does not have to be synonymous with a meat-eating extravaganza. I look at barbecues as an opportunity to spend time with friends, meet new people, play volleyball (there is often a beach v-ball court around here in South Beach), have a few drinks, a lot of laughs, and share my vegan lifestyle simply by being present and being me!

The Bottom Line

You can have a vegan Memorial Day celebration that is healthy, delicious, and fun if you keep these five simple tips in mind.

1. Fill up on veggies

As cliche as it may be, bring a veggie and hummus platter to the party. Celery, cucumber, carrots, broccoli, cherry tomatoes, and cauliflower with a couple different types of hummus is the perfect way to fill up on satisfying, guilt-free food, leaving less room for the unhealthy stuff. People actually end up appreciating having a healthy option in the midst of all the junk food.

2. Replace the meat and dairy with vegan alternatives.

There are so many incredibly tasty vegan products on the market today to choose from. There’s simply no need to put disease-causing animal products in our bodies or support the cruelty of the meat industry. I recently wrote a whole blog post highlighting my top picks for store bought veggie burgers. I also have a post on the best vegan cheese brands on the market to date, so check those out for suggestions.

Of course if you enjoy preparing food, then please, have fun making your home-made vegan patties, potato salad, coleslaw, and whatever else you are craving. There are tons of awesome vegan recipes out there to try!

3. Drink plenty of water and avoid sugary drinks.

Sugar is enemy number one when it comes to a healthy immune systems and attempts to prevent weight gain. By remembering to drink lots of water, you will help yourself stay hydrated and avoid other unhealthy liquids. Soda, sweet tea, and juice will only make your calorie intake and blood sugar levels skyrocket. Not good! If you drink alcohol, keep your intake moderate and avoid sugary mixers, including juices. If you really want a mixed drink, try using soda water and fresh lemon with your liquor for a low calorie, sugar-free alternative.

Vegan memorial day workout

4. Get in an intense morning workout.

Burn off those extra calories in advance with an awesome workout in the morning before the festivities begin. Working out not only helps keep you on track for your fitness goals, but also boosts your mood and energize you for the rest of the day. Even if your gym is closed for the day, you can train in your own home or outside with effective body weight exercises you can do anywhere.

5. Say no to preservatives and artificial ingredients.

Synthetic additives and preservatives sneak into so many of the foods on grocery shelves, and they can wreak havoc on our bodies. The key here is reading nutrition labels—but that can be tricky (learn how to tackle tricky labels in the “How To Go Vegan Beginner’s Guide”).

Labels are your friend. Always read them to find out what you’re really eating.

Now relax & have a blast!!!

And if anyone has links to recipes you have tried and love, feel free to post a comment to share!

*Header art by Mitchell Lazear

Top 8 Healthy Holiday Recipes


Do you, like most of us, use the holidays as an excuse to gorge on unhealthy foods?

Are you, like most of us, also making the resolution to get in better shape and see your sexy abs in the New Year?

I’m writing this especially for you!

Let me start by saying that I am a realist and agree that we shouldn’t give ourselves a hard time for splurging sometimes. The holidays are a time of overwhelming temptations. I get it! However, if your New Year’s resolution is to lose weight and get in better shape, then over-doing it too much is really setting yourself up for failure. I’m not saying it’s impossible, but I am saying that, quite simply, the less weight you gain before January 1st, the less weight you have to lose.

Being moderate over the holidays is easy to say, more challenging to do. That’s why I wanted to come up with a list of healthy holiday recipes that will make everyone happy, especially yourself in the new year! Filling yourself up with yummy yet healthy dishes will make less room on your plate for those dishes that will contribute to packing on the pounds. So many traditional holiday dishes (vegetarian and some vegan ones included) are stuffed with bad fats/oils, highly processed grains, and refined sugars. The good news is they don’t have to be in order for dishes to be satisfying and delicious! Take a look at my list of top healthy holiday recipes to either follow or get ideas to create your own special recipe. Adding new traditions to the holiday table is a great thing, and you will convince your family and friends to agree when they give your dish a try!

  1. Crustless Mushroom and Chive Quiche from Kirsten Mitchell @veganfueledfitnesscrustless mushroom and chive quiche
  2. Crispy Smashed Potatoes with Avocado Garlic Aioli from Oh She Glows!smashed potatoes with avocado garlic avioli
  3. Glazed Lentil Walnut Apple Loaf from Oh She Glows!Glazed lentil walnut apple loaf
  4. Ridiculously Delish Roasted Brussels Sprouts  (from my new book, The Six Weeks to Sexy Abs Meal Plan!)Brussels-Sprouts-Thanksgiving
  5. Vegan Cornbread from The Pretty Beevegan cornbread
  6. Vegan Green Bean Casserole from Oh She Glows!vegan green bean casserole
  7. 1 Bowl Apple Gingerbread Cake from The Minimalist Baker-Apple-Gingerbread-Cake-with-Vegan-Cream-Cheese-Frosting-1-bowl-easy-and-SO-tasty-vegan-gingerbread-cake-christmas
  8. Silk Chocolate Pie from Making Thyme for Health Silk-Chocolate-Pie-vegan-and-gluten-free
    Feel free to share your favorite vegan, healthy holiday recipes as well! Happy Holidays!!!