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Lincoln couple embraced vegan lifestyle and built following as YouTube influencers

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No meat, no dairy and no animal products whatsoever.

While a vegan diet may seem impossible for some, living a plant-based lifestyle is what changed Erin and Dusty Stanczyk's lives.

The Lincoln couple, both 35, met at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and often found themselves in the gym together. But no matter how much they exercised, neither felt as good as they thought they should.

At about the same time, Erin began suffering from anxiety, panic attacks and other health issues that doctors had a hard time diagnosing and treating. That led her to what she calls "Dr. Google," and the couple slowly gave plant-based eating a try. After two weeks, she felt better than she ever had.

In the years that followed, their experiences inspired them to share their story on social media to help others discover the power of food.

What started as a few posts on Instagram has led to more than 126,000 subscribers on YouTube and a combined 90,000 Instagram followers between their personal and business accounts.

Now, Erin and Dusty Stanczyk run EatMoveRest, which — as the name suggests — focuses on the three keys they believe are needed to live a healthy lifestyle.

Their YouTube channel consists of videos showing recipes, workouts and the daily life of a vegan family living in Lincoln.

“We try to inspire people to do their own versions of eating, moving and resting with a heavy emphasis on plant-based nutrition and vegan lifestyle," Erin said.

The Stanczyks produce content online as their full-time jobs, with their income coming primarily from sponsorships. In addition to keeping their YouTube and Instagram accounts updated, they also sell recipe books, an online meal planner and feature their favorite products on their website.

EatMoveRest is also set to publish a hardcover cookbook within the next two years.

The couple is currently featured on the United States of YouTube campaign, which promotes local influencers across the nation, focusing on those who still live somewhat normal lives.

Even with a heavy workload making videos and promoting their brand, all while raising a family, the beauty of their job, they said, is that it can be done anywhere in the world.

“We’re really just a couple of kids from Nebraska, but now we get to travel and make a living from anywhere,” Dusty said.

Through EatMoveRest, the Stanczyks also host retreats at tropical destinations for their followers. They have held three retreats so far, with two more set for March in Costa Rica. During past retreats, they have lived off the land by eating an abundance of fresh fruit and hosted activities such as yoga overlooking the ocean and even jumped off a waterfall.

“We get to be fully immersed in this lifestyle with our friends and followers from all over the world," Erin said. "Rather than teach them to eat this way, move this way or rest this way, we get to actually do it all with them in the most beautiful, eco-friendly places.”

Adapting to a plant-based diet was a slow process for the Stanczyks, however. Instead of cutting all foods out at once, they did it one thing at a time, first eliminating red meat, then chicken, cheeses and eventually eggs.

"Being Nebraska-born, we were raised on meat and potatoes, Runza and Valentino's. We thought there was no way we could ever cut those things out," Dusty said.

The Stanczyks have two young children who they share their vegan lifestyle with. In the future, they plan to allow their children to choose what they want to eat, but for now a plant-based diet is keeping them healthy.

"We got to marry our passion and purpose together all while having the opportunity to help people. It means so much to us," Erin said.

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Reach the writer at jebbers@journalstar.com

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