I just celebrated my 10 year veggie-versary in August! I became a vegetarian in high school—the beginning of my junior year. In the beginning my family was like “umm…what?! that’s not healthy…you’ve gotta eat meat”. I tried to give up meat prior to this around middle school, but my mom wouldn’t let me quit all meats. So over time I started to omit meats one-by-one. First pork, then beef, then chicken, and lastly fish.
I had always felt weird eating meat anyway…as graphic as it is i’d have this vision of the animal being killed while eating meat and it really never sat right with me. Things started to change around middle school when I met a girl who was vegetarian and then learned in health class how to read food labels, how to count calories, and how to take ownership over what I put in my body. I ran home and tried to rid the cabinets of “bad foods” and at first my mom was basically like take a chill pill, girl. I think it was because she knew that oftentimes preteens are very impressionable and she wanted to see if this was something I truly felt strongly about. Through constant conversations I started to implement whole foods into our cabinets. As I opened up to my social group some were supportive, some weren’t. It was always “black people need meat” or “mmm nah I couldn’t do it" or something like that.
Today, it seems like veganism has grown to a household name and I’m thankful for social media to find others who “look like me" and "eat like me”. (Fun fact: once on twitter, I had a follower tell me he became vegetarian just from engaging with me) I knew when I started my journey as a vegetarian my end goal would be vegan. This didn’t happen overnight. But through this journey I’ve helped influence others: my cousin became a pescatarian, i’ve got my mother drinking green juices and smoothies, and even online followers engage in questions with me about healthy eating options and recipes. I know that everyone’s story is different.
Veganism as a whole has helped me become compassionate and turned me into an unexpected animal lover. I want people to know how to eat healthy, and to not say that nobody ever showed them! Even though I don’t think it’s right for ME to eat meat, I don’t want to pressure others with a seemingly cult-like attitude to quit. That won’t help. The running joke is that vegans always find a way to bring up that they’re vegan. Yes, it does happen. But the thing I want others to stop doing is making vegans feel uncomfortable in social settings, you know?
Outside of my diet/lifestyle I am many things. I am an actress, writer, and Zumba instructor. I recently published my debut ebook, Everything I Wanted to Say, which is available for $5.99 on LuLu.com. This is a compilation of free verse poems about love, growing up black in the suburbs, and briefly addresses mental health. I also blog at www.everythingiwantedtosay.blog.