FEATURE: Shamen Radcliffe

About two years ago, I watched some vegan documentaries and I was shocked. I knew that I could never eat or purchase animal products ever again. So, during my graduate studies, specifically while pursuing my master's degree in Community Development and Planning at Clark University, I researched and educated myself about the scientific benefits of adapting to a vegan lifestyle. After a few failed attempts, I fully transitioned to a vegan and it is the best decision that I have ever made!

As a first generation college graduate, who was born and raised in the inner city of Rochester, NY, my family and friends were shocked that I fully adapted into a vegan lifestyle. Growing up on fried chicken, mac and cheese, cornbread, you know "soul-food", my family and friends believed that I was just going through a "stage" and that I would eventually go back to my old eating habits. However, they were wrong! 

After completing my master's degree, I weighed 304lbs. However, by fully transitioning to a vegan lifestyle and hiring a personal trainer(s) at Fountain of Youth Fitness, where they embrace my vegan lifestyle, I weigh 238.8lbs (Well, actually less than that since my next weigh in is on July 5th.) In 4 months, I have lost 65.2lbs, 54.5 inches, and my body fat is down to 16.1%. I went from a size 3xl in shirts and 42 waist size to an L in shirts and 38 waist size. 

I highly suggest that anyone going vegan stay educated, informed, ignore negative remarks - specifically the unethical and biased assumption that adapting a vegan lifestyle is a "white person's thing", and go at your own pace because NO one is perfect starting out as a vegan.

As the Community Engagement Specialist at Project H.O.P.E. (Healthy Outcomes, Participation, Education and Empowerment), which is founded through the Greater Rochester Health Foundation, and a nonprofit organization whose mission is to address the social determinants of health and how those disparities affect the day to day lives of community residents, my aim is to inspire the community that I am serving to adapt an overall healthy lifestyle, so that they encourage others and take ownership of their community. 

So, don't give up! Embrace the rewarding lifestyle as a vegan to the fullest and inspire others!