7.6 Editor's Pick
August 20, 2020

I got Sober & went Vegan before it was Trendy.

Author's own - Melissa Steussy

Has anyone noticed all of the people who are giving up meat and dairy these days?

I love it, I absolutely love it.

How about alcohol? It may just be me, but I am seeing so many people on social media with pages such as “The Retired Party Girl” and “Sobriety is the New Drunk.”

This to me is awesome. I am all for a healthier planet and for people not abusing their bodies with alcohol. I got sober in 1998 at 21 years old after a relatively short battle with alcohol. I took my first drink at 12 if you don’t count the dixie cups of beer that were handed to me as a young girl by adults who thought it was funny.

I come from a long line of alcoholics and drug addicts. My own mom used, drank, and smoked while pregnant with me. My dad went to prison for dealing coke shortly after I was born. They were even in a bar the night they met, so it all makes sense that alcohol would take over for me at such an early age. It was born into me.

I won’t go into my alcohol story here, but I will tell you that along with starting to drink at 12, I also became sexually active. I have an 11-year-old son as I write this and that is unfathomable to me. At 12, I had a friend whose parents would buy us wine coolers. I would pour from my mom’s jug of Carlos Rossi, and take beers from her boyfriend’s stash.

By 14, we had perfected the art of walking into stores and running out with alcohol and had older friends who would buy it for us. We would also stand outside stores with money and ask strangers to buy for us. At this time, it was Old English 40s that we liked to drink, so that’s what my weekends consisted of. I grew up in Kent, Washington, a suburb of Seattle where Macklemore is from.

I started to steal alcohol from people I babysat for and drink while babysitting, from the boxes of wine in the fridge. I was already stealing clothes throughout junior high and really had no moral compass.

The drinking and eventually drugs pursued me through high school until I was drunk in school and smoking weed during my lunch breaks.

I got into meth and coke at 17, and it got really bad from 19-21. A DUI, court-ordered AA meetings, and treatment kick-started my sobriety around Christmas of 1997.

Veganism is another story.

In my early 30s, I took a class called “Food and Mental Health.” I was going to school to become a teacher, and have always been interested in healthy eating, and how to help my own mental health issues. The class was taught by a naturopath in Seattle and focused on eating whole foods. In the class, I was awakened to the food industry and animal agriculture.

We watched documentaries like “Forks over Knives,” “Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead,” “Gerson Therapy,” and “Food Matters.” I learned about juicing, and how so many had reversed lifelong ailments and cancer with juice fasts, and by changing their diets to a whole food plant-based version, and by giving up meat and dairy.

Just seeing the images of animals being abused, artificially inseminated, crying for their mothers, and baby male chicks being thrown alive into a grinder was too much to handle. I had given up fast food and red meat already, but this pushed me to give up all other meat products, and I became a pescatarian, only eating eggs and fish. I still consumed dairy.

My pescatarian days lasted five years until I moved from Seattle to a small Midwest town in Minnesota. I was the odd man out, being a non-meat eater, and I couldn’t believe how much meat I saw being consumed. It opened my eyes to people’s diets, and I started feeling really gross about even consuming cheese. I was getting lazy about eating, had gained weight, and had low energy.

Something spurred me to watch the documentary, “What the Health.” I went completely vegan that day—August 28th, 2017. I even had my husband take some “before” photos of me in the front yard so I could remember how bad I felt and how heavy I had gotten. I was having joint pain in my hips, and my feet would hurt when I stood up. I looked puffy.

I started dropping weight pretty fast and followed a “whole-food, plant-based” diet for a while. I stayed away from sugar and used less oil. I joined all of these vegan and plant-based eating groups, and it was hard, but felt good. My feet stopped hurting, and I swear, I went down a shoe size—my feet had been that swollen and inflamed. My face got less puffy and my joint pain went away. I started exercising a couple of months after changing my diet, and the weight loss continued. I lost 30 pounds, and have stayed that weight for the last three years.

Shortly after I went vegan, I started watching Tabitha Brown, who would do these hilarious Facebook Live videos of her cooking her vegan eats in her kitchen. I felt a kinship with her because we went vegan around the same time. She had been battling her own illness and pain and took on a 30-day vegan challenge that changed her life. Tabitha Brown is pretty famous now, and a vegan queen. She is inspiring and funny and well-loved by many. She was recently featured in Vanity Fair and has over three million followers on TikTok. It’s insane. I get it. I love her—she’s so humble and hilarious. The best part is, she is helping people become healthier, and helping to save the planet with her sweet family.

Lately, I have been reinspired to go back to a more healthy vegan diet after binging on vegan pizza, quesadillas (insert “Napoleon Dynamite” quote here), and vegan meat products. I saw some photos of myself recently, and am just not living my best life (damn you, Covid-19).

This month, I have committed to eating only raw vegan foods, and am living on fruits, veggies, nuts, and seeds. I need a reset, and to get my body back to full speed. Tabitha Brown’s raw pecan tacos, made from either raw walnuts or pecans have been my staple—that, and zucchini noodles with tomatoes and avocado. Yum.

I hope this inspires people to check out some new documentaries, or to make a positive change in their diet, whether it be doing a 30-day vegan challenge, or hey, maybe an alcohol experiment where they give up alcohol for a month and see what changes in their mind, body, and spirit—Annie Grace’s 30-day alcohol experiment could be a good thing to try out.

Overall, committing to a vegan diet and giving up alcohol are such huge steps toward a healthier state of mind, a less harmful way of life, and a smaller footprint on this earthly home of ours.

I would love to talk more about veganism and sobriety, so feel free to leave a comment. I am equally passionate about both, and love hearing stories about humans who are changing for the better. We are worth it, and humanity needs us to be the best versions of ourselves not only for us but for our future generations.



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