My life is pretty simple. Live, love, laugh, dance and cook yummy vegan food for others would probably be the storyline of my life. I initially started this veg journey as a child. I was that child that would talk to the squirrels, find abandoned baby kittens in the neighborhood and attempt to take care of them. I always had a connection to animals, nature and the earth. At family gatherings I would pile my plate high with side items and smile with glee, but my plate would be the center of attention as the absence of meat would have me in the hot seat on more than one occasion. I don’t even think I really knew what it meant to be a vegan.
However, I remember the transitioning point as if it were yesterday. A young child sitting at the dinner table staring at the leg of a chicken that was placed upon my plate for consumption. As I pulled the flesh from the bone, a purple tint was present. My small hand grabbed the bone and I remember screaming. I then touched my wrist and then the chicken again and that was literally when I made up in my mind I would never eat another “wrist” again. I could not understand why an animal needed to be killed in order for me to have food on my plate when vegetables and grains were so good.
Everyone thought it was a phase and I would get out of it until I grew up and started having children and raising them as vegans.
I would further my passion for veganism by starting my company “The Cultured Vegan”. TCV is a 100% vegan catering business with my daughter Alaysha as the vegan baker and bookkeeper and my son Nahjee, sous chef and cashier, in addition to the numerous staff members and volunteers that assist us with parties, shows, fests, and events.
We provide personal chef services, food demos, cooking classes, cookbooks, vegan lifestyle coaching and a vegan culinary certification program for children ages 4 to 18. The joy I feel showing others how easy, low maintenance and creative veganism is and can be by offering healthy and flavorful food alternatives is beyond words. This year alone I have catered three 100% animal-free vegan weddings where only the bride and groom were vegan, but their guests were aware, accepting and open to trying something different. This shows me that the times are truly changing and people are becoming more aware and acknowledging that there might just really be something to this, as they call it, “Vegan Thing”.
Another reason I took sharing veganism with the world is because as I travel to different vegan fests and conferences nationwide, it always baffles me the lack of people that look like me at these events. Why are we rarely in guest speaker roles or featured roles at these events? We are definitely disproportionately underrepresented in these spaces. It has been my mission to show the world that veganism is NOT something that was created solely for White people as I have heard many people say.
Being a vegan keeps me vibrant, light and lively. My energy level stays elevated and even the people I attract are just different. There is just a certain level of consciousness I experience when engaging in spaces that consist of people that are lifestyle disciplined and put health as a top priority. Because of the way I eat, my body is acclimated to certain foods and it immediately gives notice if something is unnatural or highly toxic.
My advice for anyone that is interested in going vegan is to make the decision and do it! Study, research, find recipes, and get creative. Do not straddle the fence. Pack snacks. Research vegan certified and friendly restaurants. Join or create a vegan group. Surround yourself with supportive people. Do not allow people to ridicule you. Educate yourself. Lack of planning and proper preparation will cause you to second guess this journey. You got this!