Natalie Stewart is a vegan lifestyle mentor and coach with a degree in environmental management and a vision to support women while transitioning to a plant-based lifestyle. Natalie is in the process of creating a brand new program and mentorship service, the ‘Healthy, Happy Vegan program’ to guide her clients towards obtaining a high-energy, healthy, sustainable, and cruelty-free lifestyle. I caught up with Natalie online and here is what she told me about her exciting new endeavour:
Natalie, can you please tell us about you and what motivated you to launch the ‘Healthy, Happy, Vegan Program’?
I’d love to! I am 44, mum of two gorgeous vegan sons, and live in Hertfordshire, UK. My journey to veganism was a rocky road! I first became intrigued with the movement quite a few years back.
I was a meat-eater then, and although I had never even met a vegan, it intrigued me.
The truth was, I didn’t know anything about veganism, and I certainly didn’t consider the ethical side. It just sounded healthy, and health was important to me. So, in 2014 I tried Veganuary.
Here in the UK, it is quite a big deal – Veganuary is where you spend January eating a vegan diet. There are campaigns and TV adverts for it – it is quite widely accepted.
Unfortunately, I had no plan and had learned nothing about nutrition or recipes, so guess what – it was tough. Changing your eating behaviours (like changing anything, I think) with no plan, no support, and no clue is not advisable! I lasted two weeks. I felt awful. I felt deprived and concluded it was not for me – I wasn’t up to it.
It felt like such a mammoth task, and I had a new-found respect for vegans! However, I didn’t go back to eating as before, and I became a vegetarian.
I was pretty happy with this and settled into the vegetarian lifestyle for a few years. However, deep down, veganism was always niggling in my mind.
Looking back, I now know why it was so difficult. I had no support, no idea about how to eat a balanced vegan diet, and I loved cheese so much I felt addicted to the stuff!
Then in summer 2016, things changed. Still vegetarian, I started watching documentaries on health and plant-based living, which ignited a curiosity and passion within me. I wanted to know more about how to eat well.
The most significant change in my perspective came when I learned about animal agriculture, an industry that is hidden from us and yet so powerful and prevalent in nearly all of our lives.
I was horrified. That is not an overstatement. I had no idea about what is going on and how industrialised the animal processing industry has become.
After seeing and learning how the dairy industry operates, I knew I wanted to stop consuming its products. Stop financially contribute to cows’ torture (yep, it’s a strong word, but I have seen how dairy is ‘produced’).
I needed to learn more. My eldest son, who took this educational journey alongside me, really did help and inspire me in so many ways. We supported one another and learned a lot together. We changed how we ate and the way we viewed animals and food.
This time – for the first time – I did it correctly! My son’s journey led him to become involved in animal-rights activism, and I am so proud of him for that. Activism may not be my path (I guess it is because of the introvert in me), but I knew I wanted to and could help in other ways.
My journey to veganism was a long and bumpy one, and I know it does not have to be that challenging, but there are some key aspects you do need in place. In a nutshell, that is how the Healthy, Happy Vegan program was born!
What exactly is a food and wellness coach?
Good question. A food and wellness coach is a mentor and guide who will help you develop sustainable strategies to bring ease and clarity to your new lifestyle. There are many coaching styles, but my style is to provide inspiration and motivation while keeping things simple, fun, and enjoyable.
Can you explain why you decided to name your company ‘Wholefood Wellness’? How do these two terms correlate?
Like many newbie vegans when I first started, I was not particularly healthy, and looking back, I realise I was a junk-food vegan. I loved the ready meals, pizzas, ice-creams, and I was gaining weight and feeling rubbish. That’s when I started studying Nutrition and quickly realised that my vegan diet needed an overhaul.
Today, I coach women on how whole foods are the most enriching foods you can eat.
A whole food diet is based on eating unprocessed and unrefined plant foods, predominantly in their (or as close to) natural forms, such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, grains, and legumes.
Eating this way can have extraordinary health benefits. Before you panic, the good news is you can use whole foods to make healthier versions of pizza, burgers, and ice-creams. I can show you how!
I believe wellness is deeply connected to what we eat: if we eat well and feel healthy, our energy and mood can benefit! Wellness is also about alignment – living a peaceful, conscientious, kind life. When considering our environment and the animals we share this world with, we feel intrinsically peaceful.
And that is how Wholefood Wellness came to be!
What’s in the ‘The Healthy, Happy Vegan’ program name?
It is simple for me. It is how I feel every day! Becoming a healthy vegan has changed my life and health, and I want to help as many women as I can to feel great too! I’m not saying it’s going to be easy at first, and there can be some obstacles – that is why support and guidance are so essential when making the transition. It does become easy, though, along the way, and that’s a beautiful thing.
The program is based on a vegan diet. Can you tell us a bit about the health benefits of a plant-based whole foods diet, and how will you help both vegans and nonvegans to achieve a healthier and happier life?
The benefits are actually quite incredible. By eating a predominantly plant-based diet, you will naturally flood your body with vitamins and minerals. These highly nutritious foods will boost your immune system and help you feel more energetic.
It is scientifically proven to improve and even prevent some severe and common health conditions such as hormonal issues, gut issues, acne, asthma, depression, high blood pressure, painful periods, high cholesterol, diabetes, and heart disease. Studies have also shown it can help children who have autism and even help women with fertility issues.
The Healthy, Happy Vegan program is relaxed and easy-going. The core message is that becoming vegan can be stress-free and manageable for all women and ultimately provide a long-term higher quality of life.
The unique aspect of this program is the life-long support I offer. My clients are encouraged to return and chat with me whenever they need to!
My clients will benefit from a step-by-step approach, which allows them to progress at their own pace. Together we work on removing the overwhelm and confusion associated with switching to veganism. I will teach women how to re-create family favourite meals vegan style and save time in the kitchen.
I have years of experience living a vegan lifestyle and integrating that with a multi-diet family. My program will provide support and resources, tools, and guidance to make the transition as smooth as possible.
Who is your ‘Healthy, Happy Vegan’ program designed for, and what should your clients expect?
I designed this program for women at any stage of their health journey. Some women tell me they know nothing about veganism and need guidance step-by-step; this is what my program provides.
Some women may know about veganism but will join the program for accountability and support, often not available amongst their family and friends.
Other women may already be eating a vegan diet but are struggling with health, weight, and cravings and want to move away from the junky vegan diet. Wherever you start, you will become an empowered, informed, happy, healthy vegan after our work together.
The program is eight weeks long and is delivered online in a small intimate group of around ten women. Group work is an essential part of what I provide. I believe in the power of coming together to share in the experience and learn from one another. A sense of community is essential. A vital aspect of the program is the life-long access to weekly online calls where support is always available.
People’s relationship with food is very personal and unique; what would success look like for your clients after completing the program?
So true! My program will help you find what works for you. We are all busy with our families, work, and hobbies, and I am well aware that ‘one-size’ does NOT fit all! The program will help you discover new recipes and provide you with the skills to confidently veganise all of your favourite foods. By the end of the program, my clients will have a deeper understanding of nutrition and how foods affect the body. They will cook their vegan meals. They will feel confident that they are eating the perfect diet for good health, a better environment, and respect for animals.
In your statement, you mention that you will be offering a holistic approach to coaching / mentoring. Can you tell us how you plan to do this and why you feel it is the best way to help your clients?
Sure. I will delve into the many areas of living the vegan lifestyle, as it embraces more than just what food is on your plate. We will uncover how best to find vegan cosmetics and household products and navigate family dynamics, holiday celebrations, and eating out. We will also explore veganism’s ethical aspects to help my clients feel empowered for their lifestyle decisions. From personal experience and speaking with other vegans, I know that strength and conviction to succeed come from support, community, and a better understanding of everything vegan.
What are your future plans for the ‘Healthy, Happy Vegan’ program and where do you see yourself as a professional?
My sole desire is to normalise veganism and spread the joy of the movement. I share my passion and expertise to enrich the lives of other women like myself. I am excited to see the program develop over time and provide a broader range of practices such as yoga, meditation, and mindfulness. I plan to bring in guest speakers and enrich the experience for my members.
My five-year goal is to hold a retreat for all the fantastic healthy, happy vegan women to come together for a weekend of pure pampering, relaxation, connection, and the BEST vegan food!
Where can people find more about the program and contact you? Is there a launch date?
They can find me on Instagram @wholehearted_vegan.
The program launch date is the 4th of January 2021 – a perfect time to make the change and truly benefit from a vegan lifestyle. My website is wholeheartedvegan.com.
I have only ten places available, and there will be a massive discount for my founding members so do get in touch if you are interested!