Beating depression, moving to Maui, and raising a plant-based daughter. Meet this thriving vegan mumma.
Sara's journey into health and wellness all started with a walk along the beach, and a quiet moment with a few "spunky birds." She's since become vegan, overcome depression, sold everything and moved from New Jersey to Maui, and now raises her daughter on a plant-based diet, sharing her journey with over 10K global followers after finding a support network through YouTube when she had no idea what cloth diapers to use.
We caught up for a chat and as I sit down to pen this piece together and publish it to share with all of you, I can't help but sit back with a huge smile on my face, feeling full of inspiration. Meet Sarah Triglia.
The Anicca Way (TAW): Where did your journey on this path to health and wellness begin, and what pushed you to transform your life?
My journey to health and wellness began on a beach in the summer of 2010. I had recently moved into a loft across the street from the ocean (in New Jersey). I wasn't expecting to transform myself that summer. I was expecting to have a care-free summer in the sand. It simply didn't happen as planned.
One morning in May I went for a walk along the shoreline. A half mile north from my loft I came across an 'environmental area'; it was the only part of the beach that still had trees, dune grass, and golden rod. In this area was a fence that roped off a few spunky birds. They were black and white with long orange beaks. The sign read "Endangered Beach Nesting Birds. Do not enter." I was intrigued by these birds. I couldn't stop thinking about them. So naturally I Googled them and came across an opportunity to volunteer as a bird monitor at that very location.
I called the number, met with the organizer, and began volunteering. I watched the birds' parents protect, and sit on, the eggs for over a month. I saw the chicks the day they hatched, and everyday after until they flew off to Florida in August.
During this experience there was one day that impacted me deeply. One of the parents became tangled in a fishing line and hook. I worked with other volunteers to snare the bird and remove the hook. I was holding the bird when I felt the heart beating into my palm. This changed the way I looked at animals.
The evening after this experience I was cooking dinner with my friend. As I was slicing chicken breasts I kept thinking about the birds. In that moment I made the connection that my food had a heart beat...a soul. And, from then on I couldn't eat meat.
It wasn't until years later that I would learn of the health benefits of a whole foods, plant-based lifestyle. The documentary Forks Over Knives changed the way I looked at food. I started eating WFPB (whole foods plant based) when my daughter was six months old, because she motivated us to feel our healthiest. Our whole family now eats WFPB and I can't imagine any other way.
TAW: What kind of healing work did you embark on and how has it affected your journey?
I don't feel that I chose to embark on my healing journey....it feels as if it happened to me...I'm going to say 'choiceless-ly'.
After the incident (with the birds that summer) unexpected experiences happened to me that were both blissful and painful. All of these experiences brought new growth, perspective, and healing into my life.
Living is learning, right?!
TAW: How long have you been a vegan and how did you approach your move to veganism?
I will be vegan seven years this year.
I was vegetarian for a few months (after the experience with the birds) and the day before thanksgiving 2010 I was curious about how they raised millions of turkeys for the holiday. I did another Google search and read about the awful factory farm practices. In the corner of the website I saw a link that said "Why Vegan?" And thought, "Yea, why vegan?" So I clicked it and read on. I decided to go vegan the moment I read that cow's do not produce milk unless they were recently pregnant (just like humans). I had never heard that cow's milk is for cow's babies. That shocked me.
I stopped eating all animal products at once. I started my transition to veganism with eating all of the mock stuff - mock milk, mock meat, mock cheese - until I moved passed my cultural conditioning and addictions to those types of foods.
TAW: Were you vegan through your pregnancy and if so how was that experience?
I was vegan throughout my pregnancy. However, I wasn't eating a WFPB diet. I was still eating nearly all mock foods. I was eating a lot of wheat products, oils, refined sugar, salts, and processed foods. I wasn't educated yet on WFPB eating.
I was surffering with morning sickness and vomiting until six months pregnant. I didn't have a very positive experience. I am curious to see if I become pregnant again if my new diet would make a difference.
TAW: How have you incorporated your WFPB lifestyle choice with motherhood?
My husband and I decided to raise our daughter vegan once we learned about the health benefits of a WFPB lifestyle. So she has never eaten an animal-based food.
When she was three years old I let her make her own choice. I sat her down and explained the choices she had. It took less that a second for her to make her choice; she didn't want to eat animal products.
I feel that allowing her to choose this for herself gives her power and drive.
If she had chosen to eat animal products I would have allowed her to experiment outside of our home. Such as at parties and social gatherings. I would not have made her animal foods at home simply because I don't feel that they are promoting a healthy body if consumed long-term.
I want her to be her healthiest physically and emotionally. Eating a vegan diet and that being her own choice was also important to me.
TAW: When did you move to Maui and what inspired the move? How was that experience? What were the challenges and how did you overcome them?
We moved to Maui October 2015. We are originally from Pennsylvania but we were living in New Jersey at the time.
I wanted to move to Hawaii for years. It was a dream of ours, one that we felt was too impossible to realize. I was suffering from seasonal depression and I was constantly falling ill. I knew it was because I wasn't living a life true to myself.
People always ask what ultimately made me decide to risk it all and move across the world and the answer is simple: not doing it became scarier than doing it.
It came to a point where it was something I HAD to do. There really was no choice.
Moving 5,000 miles away, leaving my family, and not knowing what was going to happen was scary. It took a ton of faith. There were days we thought we would end up homeless. There were days we thought we couldn't make it here. But our faith kept us going and now we are living the life we dreamed of.
TAW: What about education? What are your plans for your daughter?
My daughter is 4 years old, and our home schooling journey is just beginning.
I remember the moment I decided to home school. It was in June 2006. The day I graduated high school. I remember walking out of the building in my cap and gown and thinking "if I ever have children I'm not making them go through this."
I hated school ever since I was a young child. Going to school felt like a prison sentence to me. There were even bars on the windows. I couldn't focus on learning. I was teased a lot and had social anxiety. I cried in school.
I enjoyed learning but I hated school. I always felt dumb when I was actually very smart. I don't feel as if I fulfilled my potential.
I have had conversations with Kaia, our daughter, about going to school and she has no desire to go. Hearing that from her confirmed my thoughts on homeschooling.
Homeschool is what works for us. Currently, I have a white board and (a few times a week) we work on letters, numbers, and subjects. Last week we learned about the Big Bang theory. She mostly learns by living. We have a pen pal in Australia. From this experience she has learned where Australia is, what it's like there, how to form words, and how to mail our envelope with the postal service. She also understands money, how to fix a car (thanks to her mechanic dad), how to operate a computer, and so many other things.
She has a grasp on how the world operates and I think that's ultimately what's most important to learn.
TAW: How do you maintain your self-care?
It's so hard to take care of ourselves (especially when we have children). The world demands so much from us, doesn't it? We need to make the money, pay the bills, buy health insurance and then stay healthy so you don't have use it, run our kids to classes or play dates, keep up with the errands, the house, the grocery shopping, school, and on it goes.
Self care takes a back seat almost all of the time in our society doesn't it? I didn't even know what self care was until about three years ago.
What I have come to realize is that if I don't take care of myself I get sick. I become physically ill. I have to take care of myself or I end up with the flu or pneumonia (once in college).
My self-care routine starts in the mornings. I wake up at 7:30am (about an hour before my daughter wakes). I take five deep breaths and say "I'm checking in with myself. How are you? What do you need to today?" And I listen.
Next I do 15 minutes of yoga, hula hoop for 5 minutes, rebound for 50 jumps, and dance and sing to a song that resonates with me.
The last thing I do is take five more deep breaths. I mentally say "I breath in confidence and love" during my inhale and "I breathe out insecurity and fear" during my exhale.
Do I do this everyday? No. Does my day go better when I do this? Yes.
It's not a perfection. It's about doing what makes you feel good inside.
TAW: What interested you in taking your life before a social media and online audience, and what do you hope to achieve by sharing your journey?
My struggle with breast feeding and cloth diapering. If you look back at the very first YouTube videos i made, they are cloth diapers reviews.
I was in tears for months after my daughter was born. I wanted to raise my daughter so very different then from what everyone in my life had done. It's what felt true to me.
But I had no idea how to do it. No one I knew breast fed, cloth diapered, co-slept, healed holistically, birthed at home, etc. So I took to the internet. Reading blogs, watching videos, and the like, to get advice and tips.
I wanted to pay it forward to the other lost moms that might need my help. That's what originally drove me to get on social media.
TAW: How do you balance social media with self-care and time away from technology?
Good question! This is something I'm currently figuring out. It's a challenge to balance social media work, real life responsibilities, being a stay at home mom, home schooling, and trying to focus on myself and self care.
It's a lot. Right now what I am learning is to "say it and forget it" or another way to put it is to "just keep moving." So, for example, if I post a video on YouTube I will check the comments for a day or two, and then forget about it. I've learned not to dwell. I've also learned to set aside time for social media work. I used to check my phone in the middle of the day and if I read a negative comment it would rattle my day.
Now, I mostly check social media after I get my daughter in bed. I will do some breathing. Remind myself I can love myself no matter what comments I read...get into a safe space. Read, reply and move on.
It never feels good to dwell.
TAW: Do you practice fasting and if so how often and what has been your experience?
I haven't had this experience yet. I have wanted to for a long time, but with my daughter nursing full term I didn't want to detox through my breast milk or accidentally dry up.
I can do this now, but have to find the space in my life. My goal is to do a week long juice cleanse in the future.
TAW: What inspired you to write an E-book and what challenges did you face?
I have always loved writing. When I was 12 years old I wrote an (unpublished) fiction novel. And my long term goal is to be a published fiction novelist.
The ebook started out as personal journals that I wrote while we were moving. I really liked them and decided that I wanted to make them into an ebook.
It turned out to be over 100 pages of journals from the time we first got to Maui until we settled into our home 6 months later.
The most challenging part of the process was getting it edited, figuring out how to sell it on my website, and all of that technical stuff.
Writing the book came easy. Sharing it was a little bit more of a challenge. When you open yourself up the world you never know what response you will get back. The task is to still love who you are and what you do...even if others don't.