“Yeah, so since I was overweight for many years, and had tried going vegan with initially losing the weight but doing it all wrong, becoming iron deficient, I wanted to find a way to show others that you could be healthy, become vegan, and still lose weight. Showing the methods for creating balanced meals, proper snacks (as needed) and just showcasing how you can feel great really lights me up.”
Carol Aguirre, Registered Dietician
I was able to chat with Registered Dietician, Carol Aguirre, about her journey toward the Vegan lifestyle and her passion for sharing the benefits of going vegan. Carol is empowering women to thrive and lose weight for long-term success.
Can you share a bit about your background and life growing up and how it intersects with who you are today? How do those childhood memories connect with what you’re doing today?
“A little bit about my background – both of my parents, immigrated here from Ecuador. They actually immigrated here separately, and met in Massachusetts. I was born there. They predominately ate lots of dairy and meat products. I vividly remember being excited to eat porkchops on Fridays, it was a staple in our house. As time went on and I got older, I put on weight. I was definitely overweight as a child – my father also had issues with his health, high-blood pressure and hypertension. Both of my parents were not extremely overweight but they were definitely overweight.
When he went to the doctor’s they were going to put him on medication and my parent’s didn’t know what to do. My parent’s friends who were vegeterian came to visit and they talked to my parent about the diet, being vegetarian. We went from eating white bread to eating wheat bread – I was too young to understand, but little by little my parents changed their way of eating, which influenced me. My dad’s lab values were beautiful after he changed his eating and it intrigued me as a kid.”
How did you go from the vegetarian lifestyle to the vegan lifestyle?
“When I started college there was a girl in my class, who introduced herself and shared that she was vegan. I was like ‘what is that’ and she explained how it meant that she didn’t eat any animal products for the environment and to save animals. So I’m like 18 years old, and I was like ‘wow this is so cool, I’m gonna be vegan,’ but I did it all wrong. I’m thinking fruits and vegetables. I remember they had tofu in the buffet line of the dorm cafeteria, I thought I’d try tofu, but was soon grossed out by it so I found myself eating a lot of salad and fruits. When I went home for Thanksgiving break, my mom was like what’s wrong with you. I lost a lot of weight and found out I’d become pretty badly anemic (iron deficient). I was done being vegan for a while. Later on in life, I tried doing it again – I determined my why for going vegan and I was off to a better start. I’ve now been vegan for about five years and it’s amazing.”
So many dieticians talk about the vegan lifestyle like it’s not healthy. Can you speak a bit about this?
“I’ve definitely heard of some dieticians not agreeing with the vegan lifestyle, and that’s okay, right, everyone has their opinion. But I feel as a vegan and dietician that you can certainly get all of your nutrients, but you have to pay attention to what you’re eating. You have to make sure you’re eating a variety of different foods out there, if you’re eating the same foods consistently, you will miss out on nutrients. As a new vegan, it’s important to get a baseline of lab values, start eating vegan and then in six months, see where you’re at again. After that check your labs on an annual basis. The lab values you should get are beyond the basic lab values – ask for; B12, Folic Acid, Omega-3 Panel, Vitamin D and Zinc if possible. Don’t forget to continue eating balanced. There are some nutrients, like B12, that you might want to take more frequently because it’s hard to get the nutrients through foods.
I know a big component of what you do is centered on empowering women to have more balanced lives, how does this tie into your dietitian? background?
“Yeah, so since I was overweight for many years, and had tried going vegan with initially losing the weight but doing it all wrong, becoming iron deficient, I wanted to find a way to show others that you could be healthy, become vegan, and still lose weight. Showing the methods for creating balanced meals, proper snacks (as needed) and just showcasing how you can feel great really lights me up. I know being overweight can make someone feel a little bit insecure and I can definitely understand that. Even going to the gym, I felt insecure about the machine because I did not like the way I looked in my workout clothes. So, I think this is how the vegan weight loss nutritionist program came to be.”
Do you have a favorite quote or mantra that you live by?
“So I don’t have a favorite quote or mantra, but what I will say is to take care of your health, right ’cause if you don’t take care of your health, whose going to take care of it? Show up for yourself, so you’re able to take care of everyone else.”