This testimonial is written by Walleska Tepping, who continues her veggie adventures while running her  fashion company, EcoChicc, which creates sustainable handbags, apparel, and accessories handcrafted from natural resources and recycled materials.

Walleska PictureWhen I first started hosting the Restaurant Feature segment called Meatless on the Move for the TV series Tasty and Meatless, my first question was, “I don’t have to become a vegetarian, do I?” If the answer had been “yes,” I think I would have turned down the opportunity, because I didn’t think it would happen in this lifetime. I come from Brazil; the country of “Churrascarias,” which means the all you can eat steak houses. If you took away meat, I really did not even know how to cook!

I accepted the challenge to become the only meat-eating host of a meatless television show, not knowing that the universe was already conspiring in my favor. As a long-term practitioner of yoga, I had decided that year to become a yoga instructor and was accepted for a month long teacher training at the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health. My past training was in the Iyengar and Ashtanga yoga traditions where the practice is more aggressive in nature. When I started Kripalu yoga I knew it was a very special blend that somehow made me feel more balanced between my yin and yang. Going to the Kripalu Center for one month gave me my first taste of what is to eat a complete vegetarian diet twenty-four hours, seven days a week. I was scared I was not going to endure such a month long training without my usual meat fix. But I made it, and surprisingly it wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be. The fear is what kept me from getting there sooner. The first benefit I noticed was how light I felt doing my yoga and spiritual practice. The postures that I had previously struggled with were opened in a whole new and sacred way. I also had so much energy in the first two weeks of not eating meat that I slept only four to five hours daily and felt refreshed when usually I needed eight hours of sleep.

When I arrived home, I went back to eating meat, but on a much smaller scale. I got open to the idea of not eating meat every single day. Tofu became more appetizing once I gave it a better chance. I started to change some of the ways I cooked and I got more involved with Tasty and Meatless, downloading recipes from the web site. The different dishes I tasted while hosting my segment at the various restaurants also gave me some brilliant ideas for my own experiments at home and also options of eating out. Tasty and Meatless also expanded the web site Restaurant Guide and I started reading the monthly newsletter GOODnews to learn more.

It has been three years since I first asked that initial question and I’m very grateful that my life, in its ever changing flow, gave me the opportunity to educate myself. It is all about the power of knowledge and tuning in. The shifting began in search of self and continues as more light is shone upon it. So yesterday I was a meat eating Homo Sapient, with many of the signs of feeling ill and earth bound. Today I’m a pescatorian, since I still eat seafood occasionally. Tomorrow, perhaps a vegetarian. Did I say vegetarian? For many of us that is a scary word. That’s why it is rarely used on Tasty and Meatless, because of the fear that it brings up in people, like it did with me. Even if I never become a complete vegetarian, the one thing I know that I am committed to is to always be open to the universal language that speaks to all of us. I’m still listening and accepting the guidance in making better life choices.