So after a frenzy of food possibilities over the holidays, we return to a reality where we are less thrown into such extreme choices of “naughty” and “nice” foods. Many of us seek a fresh start, or at least a definite path to answer the hot question of “What should I eat?” First, it’s a blessing that those of us with choices have them, as many people throughout the world don’t. I reminisce about Trevor Noah’s joke on when he arrived to the United States, his utter shock at how many choices of yogurt we have here. Thank God for this first world problem.
At this point, I can say that I have been studying health and the way that food can affect health for more than 25 years. One question that has come up continuously is whether to eat meat, or not. Many of my patients have been scared straight from meat after watching “What the health?”Here is my experience as a vegan.
There was nothing more liberating and empowering for me, than saying, “No I don’t eat that.” While many of my relatives thought I was crazy, particularly when I would visit down south, they respected my choices. I did experience my fair share of teasing, particularly from friends. For instance if we were out and passed grass, they asked me if I wanted to graze. I was 12 years old when I chose to stop eating meat and the teasing didn’t bother me, I had been converted by my best friend growing up who was raised vegan. It started with me giving up swine, so I could enjoy a peaceful lunch without her harassment. One day, my best friend, her godfather and I attended a seminar at the Slave One Theater in Brooklyn led by Queen Afua. The diagrams of how meat could affect the body, looked terrible. My best friend leaned over and asked me “So, when are you going to stop eating meat?” and without thinking about it I answered “I already did”.
I was lucky enough to live around the corner from a health food store. Last I checked that health food is still there. Shout out to Linden Boulevard and 200th Street in St. Albans Queens! I would get fresh juices and veggie patties, “Redi” burgers and a host of other meat alternative products, nutritional shakes, vegetable pasta and more. I carried this eating lifestyle with me to college and bonded with other converts. I even converted a few along the way. I definitely noticed a feeling of lightness and less acne, which what young woman doesn’t love?! When my college boyfriend began to deliver pizzas though, cheese sticks and I became very close. Duncan Hines soft baked cookies, white chocolate macadamian Otis Spunkenmyers and Snickers were my study pals. Hanging out with those frenemies also led me to having my first ever cavities.
After I graduated from college, I decided to give up dairy. I could just tell it wasn’t good for me. Without trying, I lost 10 pounds in less than 2 months. Lesson learned about dairy, it can definitely lead to weight gain. Years later when I began to study Chinese Medicine, I learned that dairy creates something called dampness in the body, which can directly lead to obesity. Some of us it affects more quickly and noticeably than others.
Life as a vegan in New York was great in the nineties and continued to be so. With a plethora of choices that were easily accessible, New York Naturally- a free NYC health directory of healthy foods and eats at my fingertips and best of all, feeling light and great, why would I ever no longer be vegan? Check out part 2 of this series for why