The Daily Beet

22 Jun Plant-Strong Teen, And How She Went Plant-Strong

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Before we get to our interview today, we have picked a winner for our giveaway yesterday!
We were really impressed by how many of you have given up oil! We know it can seem daunting for some, but we’re here to help you if you need it.
The winner is: Dana! She said: “This is perfect! I just started Engine 2 and I was still confused about oil and I was looking for more recipes that sounded good to me. I am really excited, I have been vegan for 14 years and thought of myself as healthy, but I finally got my cholesterol checked and it was 245! My Doctor recommended “Prevent And Reverse Heart Disease” and then I found Engine 2. Now I know why my cholesterol was so high, I used to put olive oil on everything!”
Congratulations Dana!
Stay tuned, we are going to be doing a bunch of great giveaways this summer!
Now on to our interview with Plant-Strong Teen, Michelle!

(Michelle and Rip at an event in Houston)
We’ve got someone really great to introduce to you! Michellle (txvegteen on twitter) went plant-strong last year, and she has been doing great. If you have teens, Michelle is a great inspiration for becoming plant-strong. Although, we think she is a great inspiration for anyone wanting to make the change to plant-strong.
E2: Tell us a little about yourself, where are you from? What do you enjoy doing?

Michelle: I’m a born and raised Texan and have lived in the Greater Houston area my entire life. Additionally, I’m the daughter of an extremely enthusiastic Texas A&M Aggie alumni. Ever since I was a toddler, I’ve been going to practically every home football game for 14 years. I have fallen in love with the school and hope to become an Aggie in the fall of 2014.
In addition to my love for Texas A&M, I’m a 9-year girl scout, swim competitively and throw discus for my school’s track team. I have been swimming for over 6 years and throwing discus for 4, respectively. When I first started out throwing in 7th grade, however; I threw shotput as well as discus. I’ve also been in choir for 3 years and cannot imagine my life without music.
E2: When did you find out about the plant-strong lifestyle? What got you interested?
Michelle: I distinctly remember browsing the vegetarian section of my local Barnes and Nobles after a study session last May. I had been working on consuming less meat and was in a rut of the same old salads with beans or rice and beans. The title “Happy Herbivore” caught my eye because, to be honest, it sounded pretty funny. I figured, “what the heck, I’ll check it out.” Little did I know that after a few minutes of skimming, I would be dying to own my own copy (Unfortunately I didn’t have enough money on my person so I ordered a copy online as soon as I got home). I spent the entire summer trying out several of the recipes and began exploring other recipes online.
E2: What did your family think? Did you have any uphill battles with anyone in your family/friends?

Michelle: My parents were some-what supportive for the most part. They weren’t opposed to my decision to eat less meat and dairy, but insisted that I needed at least fish and some dairy to be a “healthy athlete”. By mid-January I stopped consuming all fish and seafood. My parents, especially my father, kept asking “why aren’t you eating fish? You need to. I’ll throw salmon nuggets down your throat if I have to.” (The last part was obviously a joke, but he wasn’t approving of my decision)
My mother was more understanding than my dad, but she wasn’t totally convinced. I heard via Twitter that Rip was going to be speaking at a Whole Foods in Houston on a school holiday and I jumped on the idea of going. Thankfully, my mom agreed to take me to the event.
After talking to Rip and a few other people at the event, I decided to give up the yogurt, despite the fact that my father thought that I “needed” it. I was fed up with being aware of how toxic animal products were, especially dairy, and that I was forced to still eat it. It would almost be an understatement to say that I had a huge burden lifted off of my shoulders.
E2: Do you prepare a lot of your meals? If so, do you have any favorite things to prepare/eat?

Michelle: I started preparing all of my own meals 2 years ago when I became serious about taking charge of my health and weight (I struggled with being borderline overweight/overweight for nearly 7 years). My parents didn’t mind but expected me to clean up after myself in the kitchen, etc. Because of my unpredictable schedule of voice lessons, track practice, choir rehearsals, and swim practice (during the summer but starting in the fall I will be swimming for my high school) in addtion to the mountains I have every night, I have an arsenal of several quick recipes that I rotate between. Some of my favorites include oatmeal w/ fruit, flax or chia and soymilk or Rip’s (smaller) Big Bowl for breakfast; Happy Herbivore Bean Burgers (Quick Burgers and Masala are my favorites) with a small salad or raw veggies, Hummus and Veggie sandwiches or a huge salad for lunch; Tofu Scrambles with plenty of vegetables, Beans mixed with brown rice and frozen vegetables, or Greens, Beans and a Potato(either Sweet or Russet).
E2: What advice do you have for teens wanting to look into going plant-strong? What did you wish you knew before you started?

Michelle: First of all, research as much as you can about getting all that you need on a plantstrong diet so that your parents will be more comfortable with your decision. Plan meals or snacks ahead so you’re not stuck in a rut when you find yourself hungry. (I always keep an apple in my bag for this reason)If you’re afraid about being teased by your peers, try to not let it get to you. You’re following this journey to better YOUR health and not to please anyone else.
The only thing I wish I could have had before starting my plantstrong journey that I didn’t was having someone else to talk to who was going through a similar situation. I’m the only one who is plantstrong within my family and among my friends, and I wouldn’t doubt that I’m the only one in my entire high school of nearly 3,000 people. I’m beyond grateful that I had the support from Engine 2 and Lindsay Nixon, a.k.a. The Happy Herbivore, through the rough patches of my journey.
We hope you enjoyed meeting Michelle as much as we have. We’re going to ask her to come back every so often and talk about her plant-strong life as a teenager. What questions do you have for her?
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Engine 2 Team
Engine 2 Team

The Engine 2 Team is dedicated to helping you become plant-strong! Each of us are on the plant-strong journey right along side of you!

  • Mary
    Posted at 10:40h, 22 June

    Well now I feel like I can do this, if Michelle can, at her age make the decision to get plant-strong? What excuse do I have as a 37 year old woman????

    I’m wondering how Michelle puts up with anyone making fun of her for eating the way she does? Or do people?

    Thanks Michelle!

  • Liz
    Posted at 10:42h, 22 June

    Wow, way to go Michelle! You seem like such a together teenager. Plus, you write better than most adults.

    Here’s a quote from Howard Thurman that helps me stay on track:
    “There is something in every one of you that waits and listens for the sound of the genuine in yourself. It is the only true guide you will ever have. And if you cannot hear it, you will all of your life spend your days on the ends of strings that somebody else pulls.”

  • Lisa
    Posted at 10:46h, 22 June

    My kids need to read this, they are teens and both overweight, and I can’t seem to get through to them. I am definitely to blame, I let junk food in the house for all of their life, and fast food as well. Now, they are unhealthy and very inactive. I can’t even imagine them making their own food, they just put hot pockets in the microwave!

    I don’t know if Michelle can answer this, but I’m wondering, as a teen – what can us parents do to encourage healthy changes? We’re not exactly the coolest when it comes to introducing change. I don’t think forcing it is a good idea, right?

  • Diane LeBeau
    Posted at 10:50h, 22 June

    Go Michelle! You’ve got lots of friendly support here on line.

  • Laura
    Posted at 10:57h, 22 June

    I just read this to my 9 year old and she is ready to make the switch! Thank you Rip for featuring Michelle, I think doing things like this will really help other kids and parents.

    I’m wondering how you eat out with your friends?

    • Michelle
      Posted at 13:53h, 23 August

      I make it work. 😉
      Most of the time if I eat out with friends, I’ll throw a few places out that I know they like such as Chipotle, Cafe Express, etc. that happen to have plantstrong options. 🙂

  • Leslie
    Posted at 11:21h, 22 June

    Very inspirational, Michelle! Thank you for sharing!

  • Dawn
    Posted at 12:15h, 22 June

    Fantastic interview Michelle! We need to hear more from you and teens like you, you can help change the youth of our unhealthy country!

  • Tina
    Posted at 12:57h, 22 June

    I am so completely impressed with you, Michelle! Would love to give you a giant hug! Kudos to you!!!! Keep up the good work!

  • Edith Tsacle
    Posted at 16:17h, 22 June

    Congratulations on following your own star, Michelle! Awesome at your age…
    I was wondering: was your Mom more convinced after hearing Rip and did you try giving your Dad the book by Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn on preventing or reversing heart disease? That compelling info (and the DVD Forks Over Knives) is what got me and my husband to make the change…

  • Jill
    Posted at 19:30h, 22 June

    This is great!
    Have your family and friends started to make changes? If not, does it upset you?

  • Bethany
    Posted at 21:50h, 22 June

    Awesome job Michelle, what a responsible decision. Best of luck!

  • mike crosby
    Posted at 00:52h, 23 June

    Way to go Michelle. Bottom line is it takes courage to make such a huge change in your life. And that you still had to eat those foods to satisfy your parents had to be difficult.

    I didn’t become a vegan until my mid thirties. So I didn’t have that pressure to eat foods that I believed harm my body.

    I would think that being so young and making this decision, before long you’re on auto pilot eating wholesome foods.

  • Parker
    Posted at 10:01h, 23 June


    Now, if you can get your Aggie family thinking Plant Strong! :o)

    • michelle
      Posted at 13:41h, 23 June

      My dad is actually the only Aggie in my family, but I’m working on getting him to become plantstrong. Very little baby steps but he’s slowly getting there. 🙂

  • Parker
    Posted at 10:02h, 23 June

    (sorry…that was meant to be a smile!)

  • Caden
    Posted at 20:16h, 05 July

    Another hottie! E2 is obviously the way to go!

    • Michelle
      Posted at 20:22h, 05 July

      Well thank you. 😉

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