Hi Fabbies! Lately, I’ve been getting calls, text messages and messages on my social media asking me for tips and advice on helping different people become vegans. One day 3 different people texted me about wanting to become Vegan! I was like “okayyyy! the world is turning vegan!! Whoop Whoop!” So of course this gets me all excited, because I love sharing recipes and telling people what I love to eat. I mean, I still very much love food people! And so do other vegans! We get excited about what we’re eating next lol! Because I love vegan food so much, Chris and I are flying to LA next month to attend the Vegan Beer Festival! I am SO excited!
Anyway, one of the most common questions that I get asked is, “how did you do it?” “how did you give up meat??!” Well, I’ll give you guys the story of the how, when, where, and why it all happened:
Back in January 2014, is when I made the decision to give up meat. Chris had signed to the (then) Charlotte Bobcats, and had already decided to give up meat months before. The reason he gave up meat was because he had always struggled with being sick. The common cold, flu, (he even had the swine flu!), bronchitis, etc….you name it; He’s had it. The brother was always sick. Even being a professional athlete, his health was just not at its optimal. So he began to do research on what he could do to improve his overall health, and everything came back to this: he needed to change his diet. So he made the decision to give up meat (but at that point was still eating seafood), and I was like “good luck with that babe! I’m not giving up my hot dogs!” So I didn’t join him immediately. The kids and I were prepping to move to Charlotte for the season to join Chris who had been there house hunting the month before. Since he was not eating meat by the time we had moved there, I was like, “I’m the one who has to cook, so I’ll give it a try too.” At that point we still ate salmon every now and again, but were committed to not eating chicken, pork, or beef. So during grocery store trips, I simply didn’t buy meat anymore. Did I miss eating meat? Ehhh not really honestly. I did miss eat hot dogs (yall know I’m a country girl), but I soon found a vegan replacement and was hooked! I rarely bought seafood too, because Zé and Vito didn’t like the taste of seafood, and Chris didn’t care for it a whole lot anyway, so eventually we dropped seafood for that reason. Every now and then when I went out to eat, however, I would order oysters if they had them though.
So fast forward to the following year, 2015, where we were living in Los Angeles, California. (Sidenote: California is hands down the best place to live if you’re a vegan. They have countless restuarants and markets that cater to the vegan lifestyle, plus many deliver!) At this point, I had given up eating seafood, but was still eating dairy. I can’t lie, I used to LOVE eggs. Like, could-eat-an-egg-on-a-pizza, loved eggs. But again, the more I read and researched, the more I was like, ewww eggs are baby chicken fetuses! So eventually, dairy was completely eliminated from my diet too. At this point, Chris did not get sick for the entire YEAR. (Lucky for me, I had never been prone to sickness, so I didn’t get sick either. I did notice that I felt better though: more energy, lost 5 pounds, felt less sluggish, plus my skin was glowing! Or at least that’s what I felt like! lol!)
I have to give major props to Chris though. He would research and send me links to articles on food production, how there is pus (yes pus! Like the pus that comes out of a busted pimple) in cow’s milk, and countless videos on the slaughtering of animals and how exactly a lot of the meat in our grocery stores are processed. I decided to become a full vegan after that. (If you want to see the 5 minute video that changed my life in regards to eating meat and dairy, here it is: very eye opening!
Now, as you’ve read, it was a bit of a transition to becoming vegan, but the biggest help in giving up meat and dairy is to simply not buy it. I found that to be the easiest way for me. If it isn’t in the house, I can’t cook or eat it! It’s get a bit trickier when it comes to eating out, because vegan restaurants aren’t in abundance in certain states, but, as you get used to eating out, you’ll find that many restaurants will accommodate your requests. For example, if a chicken wrap is on the menu, I’ll say: “may I have the chicken wrap, but no chicken or cheese, add tomato, avocado, salsa, lettuce, sautéed onions, mushrooms, and peppers?”) Trust me, many restaurants will accommodate your requests. Plus, with the world becoming more health-conscious, many restaurants are adding vegetarian options on their menus as well, which is great! Just be sure to say “hold the cheese.”
You guys will be surprised at how many resources there are they can help your transition to becoming a vegan. Social media is a huge one, especially Instagram. There are some great accounts that post recipes, tips, vegan restaurants in different cities near you, and more! Here are some of my favorite accounts that I follow:
- Best of Vegan
These Instagram accounts are great resources to providing receipts, vegan events, and more! Follow them now!
Also Whole Foods is a great grocery store that has all of your vegan needs. Vegan hot dogs, vegan Italian sausage, vegan cheese, whatever! Whatever you love to eat right now today, I can almost guarantee that it can be made vegan. Even sweets! Whole Foods has vegan cakes, cupcakes, muffins, donuts, you name it! Don’t hesitate to ask an employee that works there to point you in the direction of the vegan food. One of my favorite vegan brands is Follow Your Heart, who makes everything from salad dressings to cheese, to eggs! All vegan! Field Roast and Beyond Meat are also great brands that provide vegan “meats”, that are all soy free. (I’m trying not to eat as much soy these days. That’s a whole other post. Just google soy and why you should avoid it.)
Other grocery stores have some vegan options, but Whole Foods literally has everything you would ever need.
As a vegan, I am still learning and growing in knowledge as to what’s good for me and my family. (Yes, our kids are vegan as well. They eat all the yummy vegan desserts and treats from Whole Foods as well. Trust me, they aren’t deprived and they love food just like mommy lol!) My best advice to a budding vegan is to do your research. Be open to trying new foods. Stalk ingredients on everything you buy from the store. Tip: Try and avoid high fructose corn syrup. This is if you plan on becoming a vegan or not. It’s just bad for you!
Some common things that I keep stocked in my refrigerator and pantry are these, simply because I use them in some way, shape or form on a daily or weekly basis:
- avocado (like hot sauce, I put it on everything!)
- canned black beans
- fresh sliced mushrooms
- onions and fresh garlic
- vegan Field Roast hot dogs
- whole wheat tortillas (so versatile! You can use them to make wraps, as the “dough” for homemade pizzas, quesadillas, and more!)
- fresh fruit
- vegan mayonnaise
- vegan ranch dressing
- vegan butter
- Follow Your Heart cheese shreds
- cans of Rotel (google it if you’re unfamiliar)
- cans of diced tomatoes
Those are many of the things that I rarely run out of, simply because I buy lots of, and/or I use pretty frequently.
I will say, as a budding vegan, you will cook more than you’re probably used to. Because unfortunately, fast food restaurants don’t cater to vegans, so a lot of your meals will have to be prepared by you, just because you know exactly what you’re eating. (I’ve been known to make food at home and bring it with me in my purse! Ha!) So have fun with it! Remix your old recipes that you used to love and make them vegan! My new favorite thing to make is vegan Mexican lasagna! It is ORGASMIC!!! Seriously!! (If you want the recipe, comment below, and I’ll make a post about this weekend.) I love trying out new recipes! You won’t love everything you try, but eventually you’ll find what you love, and the rest will be history! Best wishes to all of you who are making the transition to leading a healthier lifestyle. Even though we were raised on certain foods, that doesn’t mean that we can’t change our eating habits now, so that we can improve the health of us, our kids and grandkids for generations to come!