With about 2% of Americans practicing a plant-based diet, it’s no wonder many feel making healthier changes don’t relate to their lives. Most people don’t even know anyone practicing a plant-based lifestyle.
I’ve decided to start a series to spotlight past and present brown vegans (famous and non-famous), who have made a change in their lives for health and/or ethical reasons. Enjoy!
How long have you been a vegan?I only seriously started practicing veganism since October 2011 but have been a vegetarian since winter 2003.
What made you decide to embrace a plant-based diet?I have been a vegetarian since 11th grade because I wanted to improve my athleticism and become faster and stronger. I refrained from eating meat and flirted with fish off an on throughout college and grad school. But I. LOVED. CHEESE... and baked goods which was a problem. I was never an egg person and adopted soymilk (which I no longer drink) at an early age. Even though I have always been a healthy eater, a recent cholesterol reading summer of 2011 showed me I wasn't as fit as I could be. Still under the recommended levels (which is actually where most aneurysms lie) I was puzzled. At 24, vegetarian, and a certified gym rat, why weren't my numbers better? That honestly scared me, so I began to read about ways to improve my already healthy lifestyle. After learning about the meat industry and their brainwashing effects over the general population, I began consciously (but secretly) incorporating more vegan dishes in my meals. Sitting down at a meal felt more like a protest, a blatant disrespectful gesture to "the MAN." I my digestion and mood is now normalized, skin clear, energy high and I just feel lighter and happier. Not to mention I don't feel bad about the animals sacrificed, the rainforests leveled, or the unnecessary sea trolling that had to be done in order for me to eat. I finally feel at peace.
I recently developed a love for cooking/ baking. Trying out new grains and vegetables is fun and exciting to me. My taste-buds are so much more now that I'm vegan. I enjoy baking treats and serving them to skeptical audiences too! ::evil laugh::
What was the hardest food to transition away from?ummmm cheese, duh... mainly pizza. But there are so many yummy substitutes out there. And the longer you stay away, the less you have those cravings. I tell myself I can make ANYTHING someone else eats. It just takes creativity and patience.
Any advice to new vegans?Educate yourself. You will need an arsenal of quick yet informative reasons of why you went vegan as well as answers to ignorant questions like where do you get your protein from and why don't you eat fish then? Also take things slow. If you are transitioning straight from eating meat, take it extra slow.That lazy feeling we get after eating a large meal, constipation, acne flare ups... that means your body doesn't agree with what you are feeding it. Your body will eventually let you know what it likes and doesn't like. It is up to you to listen to it.
What are some of your favorite books or websites on veganism?The normal suspects, By Any Greens Necessary, The China Study, and Veganist. Those are the basics. They provide solid reasoning of why one should continue to follow a vegan diet.
Please share a recipe you enjoy.
I get all of my recipes from www.vegweb.com.
The Ultimate Pumpkin Cheesecake
1 (12 ounce) package firm silken tofu
1 (8 ounce) container vegan cream cheese(Tofutti)
1 cup pumpkin puree (I use canned)
1 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 graham cracker crust(Whole Foods makes one sans honey)
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Except for graham cracker crust, purée all ingredients in a food processor.
2. Pour into the crust.
3. Bake for 50 minutes. Let cool and refrigerate.
You might notice that you have too much filling for a pie crust, maybe even for an over-sized pie crust.
Serves: 1 pie plus some left over filling; Preparation time: 10 minutes; Baking time: 50 minutes
I want to give a big thanks to Monique. Brown vegans like her give me encouragement to keep striving and learning about making not only ourselves but also our community a happier and healthier place. Much love <3