Never in a million years did I ever thing I’d be one of those people saying phrases like “I don’t eat meat” or “Was that cooked in the same grease as the meat products?” Not ME! Even after I followed a vegan diet for a month a couple years ago, and discovered it wasn’t as difficult as I imagined, I only planned to eat meatless occasionally. Never did I think I’d be the one telling my friends and family about all the tasty, yummy, incredibly delicious vegetarian meals I’ve made and honest to goodness, not miss meat at all. Plus this whole “I’m vegan” thing seems like such a trend, and as you can tell from how I talk about my natural hair, I’m not into doing anything because it’s “in”. So, how on earth did I get to the point of two months later not having any chicken, pork, or beef and only seafood once? Well, what had happened was….
I regularly watch interviews on The Breakfast Club via YouTube. As a New Jersey native transplanted elsewhere, it gives me a touch of home plus the hosts are extremely entertaining. Well, this particular day Russell Simmons was the guest as he promoted his new book The Happy Vegan. I can honestly say, I had no idea this was the reason for his interview, I simply find him to be an interesting person with a wealth of interesting experiences I enjoy hearing. Russell began the interview talking about how long he had been eating a vegan (aka plant-based diet), his reasons for doing it and how great it made him feel. And you have to admit, for someone who abused drugs and alcohol pretty badly during his early adulthood, at sixty years old Russell looks absolutely amazing! He went on to discuss the links between government funding to the meat industry, poor meat quality in the United States and the increasing incidence of cancer. I was intrigued by his ideas, and honestly by the end of the interview, not only was I scared of meat, but I also wanted to grow my own vegetables because it made me distrustful of ALL of our food sources!
Also, I am embarrassed to admit that I have gained back quite a bit of the weight I lost in 2014. I’m just sick and tired of the yo-yo, plus I lie awake at night worried about the damage I’m doing to my cardiovascular system. So I tried to isolate the reason behind it. Long story short, when I cook – I eat healthy. When I am not cooking, I don’t. Bottom line. My schedule fluctuates regularly due to work so I don’t always have the time (or make the time, even when it is available) to work out but honestly, that wouldn’t be as devastating if I wasn’t hitting drive thru’s and ordering out so often! As a single woman, with no kids and a long distance boyfriend, its so easy for me to get into rounds where I simply am not eating right. So aside from the things Russell brought up in his book – which I did purchase via Amazon – motivating me to give up meat, I also concluded that it would force me to prepare my own healthy meals at home.
With these thoughts in mind, I started my journey to transition to a plant based diet. I cannot express how much I am enjoying it. I never imagined trying so many different recipes; I have so many things I want to try that I have tons of recipes printed out and have started a file filled with foods I can’t wait to make! Now, I’m often asked the question “What are you – vegan, vegetarian or what?” Well, technically I am eating a vegetarian diet right now. I’ve a;sp largely eliminated dairy (long before this due to my lactose intolerance) and eggs. However, my focus isn’t to claim a particular label or eliminate animal products from all areas of my life (makeup, clothing) as true vegans do. My focus is to eat as many nutritious plant-based foods as possible, eliminating processed, canned and convenience foods. I try to make as much from scratch as I can, one because it often saves money and two because it eliminates excess sodium, preservatives and other food additives. For those who are unfamiliar:
A plant based diet it simply means a diet based on foods derived from plants, including vegetables, whole grains, legumes and fruits, but with few or no animal products. I try to make as much from scratch as I can, one because it often saves money and two because it eliminates excess sodium, preservatives and other food additives.
Has it been expensive? Shockingly no!!! If you are interested, I can share my budget, how much I actually spend, how I save money and what I prepare. I’ve began sharing different meals via Instagram (follow me @EbonyCPrincess), so you can get an idea of what I’ve been making there. I try to always use the hashtag ECPcooks whenever I share meals, so that’s an easy way to see my latest meatless meals. Is it inconvenient? Again, shockingly NO! But it does require a bit of planning. Some meals are really quick and simple, while others are a bit more involved, just like regular cooking. Also, I’ve been freezing leftovers so I have my own freezer full of freshly made “convenience” foods – frozen soups, burgers, etc. for the times I don’t have a chance to cook. Have I been tempted by meat? Not really, but I’ll be honest and say I have craved seafood a few times. In Russell’s book The Happy Vegan, he admits that he indulges in fish every now and again (once a year or so) and doesn’t beat himself up when he has it. Lastly, am I losing weight? Yes! I know once I begin exercising again I will lose more quickly but without any major effort at all other than eating plant-based foods I am losing an average of one pound per week.
I don’t know how many vegetarian and vegan readers I have, but I’d love to hear your journeys.
When did you begin? What was your motivation behind changing your diet? What are your favorite meals? Your fast and easy go-to meals? Any information you can share, I’d love to hear!