I honestly didn’t plan this, it kind of chose me. For about a year I was really getting deep in research on African history. I would say black american history, but with black american history it always starts with slavery. I honestly got tired of hearing about slavery and knew that we just wasn’t born and boom, we were slaves. I never got fully taught about my ancestors, where we came from. In fact where everyone came from. Not even in my african american studies class in college. One day I was on Youtube, and I can’t remember what drew me to it, but a video of Dr. Claud Anderson came up. I decided to listen. He doesn’t discuss African history but he does give you the facts about Black American History that is not taught in school. What he was saying blew my mind, and from there I went on a search. I bought tons of books and watched countless of Youtube videos. I was hooked for about year straight. That was the only thing I read and watched. While doing this research, mostly everyone spoke about the diet of black people. How mostly all of our ailments stems from what we eat. That white and black people are different biologically. Which is why some things affects us worse than it affects them. In turn, our diet cannot be the same as theirs. (Not saying that everyone can't benefit from plant based. Just what I was reading) I wasn’t ready to accept this train of thought just yet. I was brought up in a family where health was important. That is what my dad instilled in us, eating right and exercising. Till this day our whole family is into fitness. So I didn’t think anything was wrong with eating meat or by products of animals. But I continued to read and it continued to come up. Then I ran across Dr. Llaila Afrika. And he kind of sealed the deal for me. And after listening to him, I changed my diet the next day. I stopped cold turkey. Many people don’t suggest this, but honestly, once you know the facts, you don’t want to persist in that way anymore.
So I stopped cold turkey, which meant I didn’t have any cookbooks, no information on how to cook vegan. So I went off of what little information I had. While growing up, we were pretty much poor. And we ate beans and rice literally everyday. And that is what I made myself, of course with fruits and veggies. I did this for about 2 months straight. At this time, my family was still eating regular (our regular). I didn’t force them to change over. And I knew my husband was not going to go for it, so I didn’t even attempt to ask him if he was interested. And so, I made 2 meals everyday, for them and for me. And since beans and rice last for a while, I made that in bulk, so I wouldn’t have to make it everyday. After about 2 months I saw that Charnika (Chary-Jay) of YouTube, was vegan, cause a video of hers had popped up in my feed. And she talked about who she follows on Youtube and what cookbooks she bought. I immediately followed the person she mentioned (Sweet Potato Soul) She was a life saver! She turned my boring meals into a delight. Now I was in business! Once my husband saw all of the meals I was making and how good I felt, he said he wanted to give it a try. I knew I had to wow him, so I went on and bought Thug Kitchen cookbook, Vegan soul cookbook, and Caribbean Vegan cookbook. The best one out of all of them, to me is, Thug Kitchen. So once my husband made that decision, everyone in the household went plant based.
How did people accept me going plant based? I wish I could say that people were supportive, but not really. Automatically people assume you are a weirdo or that you feel like you are better than them or whatever it may be. In any regard, people did not like it. I actually didn't tell anyone for about 5 months in. I was forced to, when my sister let the cat out the bag. I had only told her. I quickly realized that when you tell people, they automatically form an opinion about you and what you eat. They assume you are not getting enough protein, that you only eat veggies all day everyday, which I do, but I eat a ton of other stuff. My meals are probably more broad than the meat eater. And so for the most part I keep it to myself. My children had an issue with our neighbors kid. My kids tell everyone and anyone we are vegan. It kind of gets on my nerves. I tell them the thrill is gone and they can stop spreading the word..lol but they don’t. But the child that they play with everyday started telling them that they were weird and that they need to eat meat and drink cow's milk sometimes. And that it is not cute to be skinny. I was not at all mad, but I did let her parents know and they took care of it. That is the world we live in, anything different is considered wrong, and I understand this, cause I used to be that way. Very closed minded, but I have come out of that, and I accept everyone as they are.
Were there any changes in my body? All of the people I listened to made it seem like when you went plant based, that you immediately will have clear skin, that your bowels will immediately be free and clear, that your hair will be super long, that you just automatically will be great! But that was not the case for me. First off, when you cut yourself off from anything, there will be adverse effects. For a couple of months I was having headaches and having dizzy spells. I tried to see if that was normal, but no one talked about that. I google searched it and some said that it could happen. And so I just rolled with it. I said if this persist for a very long time than something is wrong, it subsided after a couple of months. Now, let's talk about acne. When I went to college I started experiencing acne. This may have been due to stress. After a couple of years it cleared up. Then all of a sudden in my early thirties I started to have outbreaks again. Only this time they made dark marks and would linger around longer than I would have liked. So once I went plant based I assumed that about after a month, all of my issues would be gone. Not at all, they actually got worse. My bowel movements got worse as well, and my dandruff still seemed to stick around. Good thing I wasn’t doing this for my acne. If I was, I probably would have said, this was for the birds. I persisted on and I can say that after this full year, my face is actually starting to make some headway. My bowel movements are superb. And my hair is awesome! I learned that your body is doing some major detoxing and so you will have more acne than usual, and even a whole lot of dandruff. My bowel movements were sporadic at times but now I go at least 4 times a day (experts say you should go as many times as you eat..fyi). If this is too much info, sorry, but I grew up in a family where this was normal discussion...lol I can tell that my hair is more healthier. I used to have to clip my ends about every 2 months, and now it is about every 6 months. And my scalp is clearing up from having so much dandruff (experts say that dandruff can come from being constipated). I can say that you do get more energy immediately. And that was awesome. But me being as busy as I am I am still exhausted by the end of the day. But during the day, I feel pretty great. Even on the nights I don't get much sleep. Oh, and let me mention my mood! I have been so positive, and upbeat now that I went plant based. I used to be so rigid and uptight a lot, but now I have become more easy going and less stressed. It has changed completely!
Do I still eat animal products sometimes? I am completely committed to be plant based and so I don’t indulge. My husband and I do go on vacation about 2 times a year and I can say it is pretty difficult. Since my husband doesn't care as much as I do, I try not to be a buzz kill when we are going out when we’re out of town. When we went to Denver it wasn't an issue. They had a lot of restaurants that catered to vegans. When we went to New Orleans, that was very hard. I found one place and the other restaurants I stayed as close to plant based as I possibly could. When I come back from vacation I do, do a full detox cause I can feel a difference in my body. My husband and kids on the other hand do eat animal products occasionally. I can’t completely control what they eat when they are over my siblings house and over grandparents. And so I choose not to worry about it. Of course I would want them to stay on the course, but in today's society that is hard. I especially would want my daughter, cause I have mentioned before that she has dermatitis. Since I make all of the hair products, it cleared drastically, but not all together. And I can really see improvements in her scalp now that she has went plant based., And when she eats off the diet she will have an outbreak. So I do see where it affects her, but I can't win all battles and so I just roll with it. Either that, or we will be forced to live in a bubble...lol
Is being plant based difficult? It is and isn’t at the same time. When I am not traveling I cook all of our meals. So I am never tempted to eat out. But cooking 3 times a day can be quite tiring since I am cooking for a family of 5. But I like it this way because I don't like putting my life in someone else's hand. I know exactly what I am preparing and what is in it, so I love it. But we do have those occasions; backyard bbq, birthday celebrations, holidays, where it can get a little hard. So far it's been good. I cooked our thanksgiving meal and we ate before we went to the parents house. When I go out with my sisters, either we choose a place that has vegan options and if it doesn't, I just sit and enjoy conversation. And I don't really feel weird about it. Once you know you are in it, it becomes second nature and you don’t think twice about it. It is just like when a person doesn't drink. They may be around it but they don’t indulge.
In all honesty I love being plant based. I know that I am eating healthy. When you make that big of decision to go plant based, it kind of changes all of your eating habits. I gave up all processed foods. I don’t buy cake anymore. And that used to be my passion. But I have given that up. Every now and then I may go buy a vegan cupcake from a local baker but that’s not often at all. I feel better and think I actually look better. I have always been thin but I have gotten compliments that I look really tone, and that my skin looks really healthy. And thing is, I don’t really work out as hard as I used to.
This is my year being a plant based eater. It has been really fun. It makes eating exciting because you get to be creative and try things you never even thought about trying. Normally, your meal is based around meat, and now the sky's the limit...lol If anyone is thinking about it, I would say go for it. But just make sure you are prepared; buy cookbooks, know that people are going to criticize, and know that your body is not going to change overnight. It will get worse before it gets better. And don’t take it so serious, sometimes you may trip up, but get back on and keep doing it.
Peace and blessings.
Co-founder of EverButter LLC, Wife, Mother of 3, Kitchen Chemist