Once in a while we get to know our customers on a personal level, and Natalie Norman is one of those we were lucky enough to learn about beyond their fashion interests. She shared with us some kind words about Jill Milan and details on her life, in particular how she has embraced being vegan.
What is your background?
Originally an attorney by trade, I’m a busy working mom who lost half her body weight on a raw vegan diet following two complicated pregnancies that left me overweight, unhealthy and miserable.
After healing myself, I went on to become certified as an Advanced Raw Food Nutrition Educator through the world-renowned Living Light Institute where I studied with top doctors in the field of raw vegan nutritional science. I also obtained certification as a Sports Nutritionist and earned my Plant-Based Nutrition Certificate from the esteemed T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies at Cornell University. In addition to my expertise in plant-based nutrition, I’ve studied raw vegan culinary arts and love to create delicious, easy raw food recipes that appeal to a broad range of tastes and backgrounds.
I’m probably not your average vegan health nut. I’m a 5’11” blonde fashion-loving glamazon and don’t really fit into the Earth Mother stereotype. People are sometimes surprised to learn that I am 100 percent raw vegan! Having loved glamour since I was a child, I was thrilled to discover a high-end designer vegan handbag line in Jill Milan’s gorgeous, quality work. I’ve happily dumped the designer leather handbag habit in favor of what I call “Compassion Fashion.” If it’s cruel, it’s not cool! I believe you can’t be fashionable if you’re sporting something that resulted from another living being’s suffering. I now carry Jill Milan handbags exclusively and strongly support cruelty-free fashion.
How did you decide to start NatalieNorman.com?
Following my own dramatic transformation, I made it my life mission to teach the raw plant-based lifestyle in order to help people live their happiest, healthiest lives.
I founded NatalieNorman.com to share recipes, tips, and support to help people transition to a plant-based diet and lifestyle as well as thrive on it. I built NatalieNorman.com from the ground up and oversee all its design and content. It is truly a labor of love and my goal is to reach as broad an audience as possible because the world needs this information. People worldwide are suffering as a direct result of poor diet and lifestyle choices, and I want to help change that.
My website is regularly updated with a wide variety of recipes and lifestyle blog posts. Visitors can also subscribe to my free email newsletter to receive useful information directly from me. I am also very active on social media. I love meeting people at every stage in their journey to their best health and consider it an honor to be able to help facilitate their progress.
Fundamentally, I believe raw vegan meals can be both tasty and simple. Most people intuitively know that eating more plants is good for them, but they just don’t know how to do it. That’s where I come in. If I can make raw foods work in the real world as a crazy-busy mom with a hectic schedule, then anyone can.
I also teach people that plant-based living doesn’t mean your food and fashion become boring. Quite the opposite! Your food becomes vibrantly delectable while delivering superior nutrition to your body. Likewise, vegan fashion can be glamourous and haute. I try to show people my life and my choices as easily accessible examples of plant-based living.
NatalieNorman.com continues to expand with many exciting projects in the works, including both live and online raw food instruction as well as providing an ongoing window into the complete plant-based lifestyle.
Could you tell me about some of your favorite restaurants and hotels in California?
Absolutely! First let me preface my answer by stating that you can bring your vegan lifestyle with you anywhere and make it work. I travel a lot between California and Georgia and have experienced a wide array of restaurants, hotels, and even airports where I have always found a way to stick to my healthy plant-based lifestyle. Some creativity and a big smile will take you far. People want to help, and they will do their best to accommodate you. Always be polite, patient, and willing to talk about your lifestyle. I always say, “Be a leader in your own life,” and that really applies when seeking out restaurants and hotels. With that said, some of my favorite spots are:
The Westin St. Francis, San Francisco: The Westin is in a fun location in Union Square. Their service is friendly and they go out of their way to respect your privacy and safety. My vegan meal requests were honored with a smile. It’s also a fun place to stay because you have so many things to do within walking distance, such as shopping or sight-seeing.
The Langham, Pasadena: What’s not to love about the Langham? A favorite destination when I travel to Southern California, this hotel’s service is impeccable in every way. They readily accommodated my raw vegan dietary needs and supplied fresh, beautiful fruit every morning. They also prepared delicious big salads for me and were happy to make additions to their menu. Here is a photo of the beautiful fruit plates delivered at the Langham. They varied their offerings each morning and the produce was always robust and fresh.
Seed to Leaf Organics, Santa Rosa: This new restaurant is an exciting addition here in the North Bay Area. They offer both cooked and raw vegan options including fresh juices and smoothies. I am all for fast, easy plant-based options and look forward to seeing this establishment thrive.
Polker’s Gourmet Burgers, San Francisco: OK, OK, stick with me here. Polker’s is a traditional gourmet burger joint in San Francisco. I used to love going there when I lived in the city and would always order their insanely delicious vegan burger. Not the healthiest, but I was glad to have the option! Years later, when I visit my old neighborhood and want to catch a quick meal with my non-vegan friends or family, I know I can count on Polker’s to deliver my classic fare: Two Big Salads. I can eat at almost any restaurant in the country and do fine because I order two of the biggest salads they can construct for me. But at Polker’s, their ingredients are reliably fresh and their portions are large. Plus, unlike at some other restaurants, I never have to worry that they will accidentally include some hidden cheese morsels or other undesirable ingredients. They consistently accommodate me and leave me ready to hike around San Francisco! Here is a recent photo of my two Big Salads at Polker's.