FEATURE: Samantha Salmon

I chose to go meat free in 2008. I was newly married and just starting my career in the corporate world. My husband and I had just moved to the Bay Area, California. (I’m originally from NYC). Since I was newly married, I wanted to step into the role of the perfect wife by cooking honey glazed chicken for my husband. I called my mom for the recipe. I had never made it before because I was never really a kitchen person. I baked as a child but not anything more than that. So I got the directions from my mom and dove into really putting my foot in this dish. I was so proud of myself and when I gave my husband a heads up that dinner was ready, he informed me he wouldn't be eating it because he was now vegan. I was really annoyed and upset that he wouldn’t even try. 

He sent me one of the latest videos he’d watched and I decided to watch it while I ate my honey glazed chicken myself. On the video he sent, a researcher was explaining the physiological differences between herbivores and carnivores in the wild and drew the comparison to the physiology of the human body. He made the point clear that the human body is most closely matched to that of an herbivore in the wild and the fact that we are acting as carnivores is causing a plethora of diseases. 

Our body was not made to digest meat. This video made a lot of sense to me but I had a long history of saying “if it don’t have chicken, it’s not a meal”. So I just challenged myself to try going meat free. I didn’t really plan to be vegan. I was just experimenting with myself. I spent 2 weeks as a vegetarian and naturally progressed to veganism because I was never a fan of eggs and dairy. The only thing I really was craving at the time that I had to wean myself off of was buffalo wings at Whole Foods. That was tough, but that mental struggle only lasted two weeks. 

I think I was able to quickly become vegan and stick with it for 8 years because I don’t miss out on flavor. The food I eat is very well spiced. My family is from Jamaica so we spice everything. We go beyond salt and pepper. Pulling on that and other ethnic cuisines, like Indian, African, and Middle Eastern dishes, I’ve been really enjoying whole food dishes (as opposed to processed foods and frozen meals).

It’s also helpful that I have always had support. My husband is vegan and made the transition  a couple of weeks before me so we kind of did this journey together. I have since inspired my mom to go plant based so it’s awesome when I go home to see her because she makes all the Jamaican dishes vegan and uses healthy ingredients. Her food is always delicious. My mother-in-law is also vegan. My husband and I even opened a raw vegan smoothie bar in Chicago (Earth’s Healing Cafe) where we’ve sold raw vegan entrees and desserts. We promote and educate a lot on how to allow the body to heal itself and the body heals a lot quicker when animal foods are not consumed.

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