A Plant-Based Diet Isn’t Foreign. Stop It.

My mother often refers to the ‘iron fist with the velvet glove’ as a metaphor for using grace and tact with people. I wholeheartedly believe that some people need an old school Grandmother approach as opposed to the more modern and understanding approach. So this will be uncomfortable for some people. I’m not apologizing. 

Saying “I don’t like vegan/vegetarian food” or being offended by a “plant-based diet” is the fastest way for me to end a conversation and not care. Let’s breakdown what this is exactly.

A plant-based diet is a conscious attempt to eat foods that are unprocessed and resemble their natural state as much as possible. It’s much more flexible than being a vegan because you define what it means. A plant based diet reduces how much processed food you eat, this includes Oreos, canned soups, boxed flavored rice, sugary cereals, and most other things you find in the middle of the store. We make an effort to avoid these foods when possible to reduce our sodium, unnecessary chemical, and preservative intake. Some people also choose this approach to support local farmers and reduce their meat and dairy intake. This doesn’t rule out eating meat on occasion. It simply means that you are making the effort for most of your foods to be plants. And “plants” doesn’t just mean spring mix. There are your vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, grains, and legumes.

Saying you don’t eat plant-based foods is irritating and is flat-out stupid. Where do you think collard greens come from? That’s a plant. Black eyed peas? Also a plant. Pineapples? Plant. Guess where flour comes from? A plant. Corn tortillas? You guessed it, it comes from corn, which is . . . a plant. Almonds? Plant. Peanuts? Plant. Okra? Plant.

See why I get annoyed? Most of your food already comes from plants. At one point, that precious bowl of greens and cornbread was a collard leaf and corn-stalk in the ground. Wanna make it vegetarian? Don’t cook the greens with neck bones and learn how to actually season your food. Surprise!!! Your spices are also plants!! Garlic, onion, turmeric, ginger, black pepper, cayenne, paprika, cumin, bay leaves, chili powder, and so much more. Crazy! I know!! And another thing, unless somebody adds hammocks into cornbread, it’s probably already vegetarian. Wanna make it vegan? We have almond milk and you can use a ‘flax egg’ to get some extra nutrients too. Cornmeal, flour, and baking soda are still vegan friendly.

Allergic to nuts? Soy milk, rice milk, flax milk, hemp milk. So many alternatives and they becming more accesible by being in Walmart, Publix, and even Aldi.

“Well buying all that milk is expensive becuase we drink so much.” Well then either don’t buy non-dairy milk or reevalute how you use milk. Problem. Solved. I’m basically Sherlock. Run me my check, please. Whatever you choose, save your lecture about ‘well I’ve been drinking milk for 40 years and I’m fine’ becuase I promise you that no one wants to hear it because you are most likely not fine.

If you’re taking multiple medications for preventable diseases, do not make slick comments about my diet. You’re taking medication for high cholesterol or diabetes when your doctor told you to exercise and eat better. I’m making decisions with my life today so I never have that conversation with a doctor. That is a goal. I’m not trying to be 40 and checking my blood sugar multiple times a day while I eat nothing but fast food and drinks loaded with simple sugars. There is a difference between lacking resources and being lazy. I see this in my family all the time and I just walk away at this point.

If you have the access and resources to consume a little less meat and dairy, your body and the environment thank you. Even if you have no interest in reducing how much meat you eat (meat is expenisve, that is reason enough for me), please drink more water.

DRINK. MORE. WATER.

If you drank more water, you would spend more time in the bathroom and not trying to mind my diet too. Just sayin.

My content isn’t to convince you to make small or large adjustments to your lifestyle. Buying a half-gallon of non-dairy milk isn’t going to make you vegan. But it might help with the lactose intolerance you regularly ignore. My content is for the people who are intrigued by the concept but need relatable examples of how to actually do it. For some of us, a smoothie or bowl of oatmeal is much more feasible than just eating a bowl of fruit. It’s much easier to blend a quick smoothie before class, or work, with oatmeal and chia seeds than to chop fresh fruit just to be hungry again in an hour.

Side note: The black bean soup at Panera is vegetarian-friendly and tastes delicious. 

Try one meatless meal a week, but that means you would need to eat a vegetable. Pinterest, Google, and even my blog have examples of these meals. Just search “easy meatless meals.”

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If you see something on my blog or Instagram that inspires you to try it one day, I’m happy and excited for you and I’m here to answer any questions you may have. Oatmeal and smoothies are an excellent introduction. If you dont like oatmeal, there are endless breakfast options. My cousin likes making tofu scrambles and I have zero interest in making it for myself. My other older cousin just text me about matcha yesterday. I’m glad to offer what I know becuase this part of the internet can be diffcult to navigate at times. If I don’t know the answer, I will hop on Google at the first chance I get to find resources.

Just say you aren’t willing to take control of your health and be quiet. Some of us don’t want to end up like our grandmothers and aunts with high cholesterol and diabetes. Heart disease is killing Black women at alarming rates. It’s killing us faster than alcohol, cigarettes, domestic violence, gun violence, car accidents, and drug overdoses. It’s literally killing us and we aren’t recovering fast enough. I don’t do this to look cute on the internet, I do this because I know the potential consequences and the people who need this information the most aren’t getting it. It’s nice to see Carly, in Bali, eating a bowl of fruit on Instagram. But I’d much rather see Ronesia have to think for a few minutes about where the nearest pharmacy is instead of going there regularly for prescriptions. I’d much rather see a world in which her refrigerator and pantry are full of nutrient-dense foods that support her body in the best of ways instead of her having heart attacks, blood clots and hospital bills.

Or maybe that’s just me.

This ends my rant and PSA on the topic.

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