My Journey to becoming Vegan


Why?
This is very recent news that all started with a picture. I just so happened to be perusing through some old photos of myself when I found the one. It was a mirror shot, post work out and I had the signs of a 6 pack forming. I immediately thought to myself, "You need to get it together." The picture, taken ~4 years ago, was proof that I had once been way more disciplined about my food intake and consistent (and aggressive) with my workouts. It was a reminder of what I am capable of achieving if I can just be a lot more disciplined than I have been. So, on a whim, I decided to transition to a vegan diet...for the second time.

I'll be honest, my sole purpose for wanting to become vegan is to get that six pack. After all, if I'm going to jump on this train, it has to be for my own personal gain. For me, that's a six pack and the added health benefits to a plant based diet. I'm sorry to disappoint those of you who thought that this was for the animals. 

What I thought...
Ok, so maybe you have the same perception of vegans that I once had. Ignorantly, I imagined that any black person who dared to be vegan probably burned incense all day, wore a dashiki, and wanted us all to "stay woke." If that's you...well.... I mean, I didn't know a single black person who was vegan, let alone a black person who didn't eat pork. My perception was left to my imagination. Thankfully, over the years more and more people of color are sharing their vegan diet and journey for others to learn from. And, wouldn't you know, many of them don't burn incense all day and wear dashikis! :)

One such vegan is a fellow alum from my undergrad, Tasha, better known as The Sweetest Vegan. She was the first black vegan that I actually knew. Like me, she is from the south and understands southern comfort foods. I had one stipulation for this transition: I still have to be able to have soul food...well vegetables. So, she was the first person that I reached out to when I made my very recent decision to become vegan. She was able to recommend cookbooks that are meant to "veganize" many southern dishes. Additionally, she creates her own vegan recipes for traditional desserts.

I've also had the opportunity to watch some of my favorite YouTubers transition into vegan lifestyles. Women of color, like the ChicNatural and Toni from My Natural Sistas, who shares her vegan recipes, along fashion and hair content. These women are far from what I once imagined that black vegans were like....although, I have since met some who fit the bill. Making this jump doesn't seem so hard knowing that I have some resources.

If at first you don't succeed...
I said that this was my second attempt, which obviously means that there was a failed first attempt. Back in 2012, I maintained a vegan diet for several months. It began as a 40-day Daniel Fast and kind of kept going. I decided to call it quits when Thanksgiving rolled around. I. LOVE. TURKEY. That put an end to it all and it's been an upscale battle since then. But as much as I love a good baked turkey, it definitely won't be the hardest thing to give up. My guilty pleasure? All things dairy.

Cheese and more cheese, please!

For someone who's lactose intolerant, you'd think that dairy would be the first thing to go; however, the savory, creamy taste of cheese gets me every single time. So, instead of trying to give up all of the goodness cold turkey (no pun intended), I've begun by transitioning to a vegetarian diet and then I will progressively adjust to a vegan diet. By doing so, I'll give myself time to find diary substitutes for my recipes and hold on just a tad longer. Though random, I'd also like to be able to eat the top tier of our wedding cake on our 1-year anniversary without feeling the guilt of "cheating."

To assist with the transition in the kitchen, I've been making a list of all of the vegan dishes that I already eat and other's that I'd like to try from Pinterest or online. After being able to write several things down, it really shows that I still have a vast amount of options available, despite the dietary restrictions.

Let's be real...
I don't expect this to be an easy journey. Animal byproducts are so intertwined into the foods that we eat and in other products that we use. Again, I'm not trying to be PETA here. My primary focus is to remove animals and their byproducts from my diet because I've seen the impact that it has had on my physique and overall health before. If, in the process, I save the life of animal, then great!

I plan to document this journey as much as possible. From recipes, to how my body reacts, to managing this lifestyle with a spouse who still eats meat. In doing so, I hope to encourage someone else to take a big step in improving their health.

Are you vegan or vegetarian? I'd love to hear about your journey and some of your favorite recipes. Let me know in the comment section!


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