While I was attending San Francisco State University (2006), it seemed like everyone was vegetarian or vegan. The comments I heard about the lifestyle struck a nerve and never resonated with me. It seemed like an act of privilege and a snub at my culture. I swore I would NEVER go vegan…again. I had gone vegan for a short time in high school (1997), but did it completely wrong. My body became very weak, to the point I could feel my legs giving out on me as I was walking. My lips were completely pale. When I went to the doctor, he told me, “You know, some people just need meat.” Trusting my doctor, I became one of those people that say, “I can’t go vegan because my body needs the protein.” What my doctor did not tell me was that I needed to eat more than beans, pasta, rice, and potatoes. I took meat out of my diet and never replaced it with a variety of vegetables, but I didn’t discover that until later. In high school, I went back to my regular diet and even adopted an Atkin’s diet for a while which is basically a meat overload.
Fast forward to 2012. I had given birth to my second child and I felt my unhealthiest ever. Walking to the park down the street was too much. I was out of shape, stressed, and tired. I had frequent headaches, colds, bloating, and the list can go on. I became worried about health and worried about how much my kids might miss out on because of my health. Not only could I not do as much as I wanted to with them, but my health could also take a turn for the worse. I had lost my aunt and grandfather to cancer and I knew I had to take control. I binged watched a couple documentaries on Netflix and decided I was going vegan for my health and my kids. January 2013 I became a PLANT-BASED vegan. My mission was to include a wide range of fruits and vegetables. I began counting nutrients instead of carbs, protein, and fats. And, I continued to enjoy some of the “traditional” foods I was raised on, just with a healthy, cruelty-free modification.
I believe veganism can be for everyone, but it’s also going to look a little different for everyone. I never had to give up my identity but reaching my optimal health drastically improved my quality of life. Veganism transformed me and redirected my path. I spent years teaching in public schools and managing youth non-profits. My goal was always to educate and empower our youth. Now, I get to educate the family and empower them through health. Many communities of color are targeted with the unhealthiest foods, denied healthy choices, and rooted in traditions that no longer resemble our ancestors. I hope to shine some light on veganism because our health truly impacts every facet of our life and we deserve to flourish.