I was never the type of person to challenge myself, so becoming a vegan was literally a thought in my mind of things I would never do. It really went on the same list as skydiving, just simply no for me! My cousin, Razi’ El Muntasir, became a life coach teaching the importance of holistic lifestyles. I went to a seminar he had at Long Island University, and he drew me in, but I still didn’t think of incorporating what I learned with myself.
One day shortly after New Years of 2008, I was hanging out with my cousins watching a movie. Razi’ El asks, “Is that you breathing like that?” In response to his aggressive tone, I just denied everything! I then followed the denial with excuses about my bronchitis and being born with “nasaly” voice. Then he follows with, “Listen, that’s not attractive, you can’t walk around breathing like that, you need to fix that!” Now every woman wants a man, so as soon as you hear that something you’re doing is a turn-off you immediately are willing to fix it. Razi El says, “It’s very simple to fix this problem. People often underestimate the power of their own bodies. Your body has all the tools you need to heal it. Your responsibility is to fuel it with natural foods.” Razi’ El instructed me to change my diet.
At this time I was also looking to lose weight, about 20 lbs. But the thought, No cream? No mac n’ cheese? No scrambled, poached, sunny side-up (which I didn’t even really like) eggs? No Turkey? NO! I can’t do this! But I thought to myself, you know what Sara? You try it for two weeks and see what happens. So I made a commitment that night. The next morning I went to the grocery store and I grabbed some almond milk for my cereal. Then for lunch and dinner I became more creative with salads. I started making my own secret dressing, and added in things like artichoke hearts and olives, I made things interesting. Soon to follow was the start of my first commitment to a gym routine.
I didn’t even realize it, but becoming vegan slowly made me develop habits of seeking more knowledge, becoming more aware and challenging myself. I was looking up work out routines and new recipes (to not limit my diet to salads). I started cooking with Quinoa, and making burgers out of chickpeas and portabella mushroom tops. Two weeks after I started this new lifestyle, I called my other cousin, Razi’El’s sister, and she didn’t even recognize my voice over the phone. She immediately told me that I sounded clearer. Soon after, my acne issue started to clear up, and I decided to go natural since I saw my hair growing a lot thicker and faster. I also had more energy.
That one night I decided to change my diet for my health was life changing. It opened up doors and positive commitments in my life. Two years after I made that decision I took a course in my senior year at Fairleigh Dickinson University called, “The Ethics of Food.” There I learned about a lot of different ways I was also helping the environment, and that gave me something to be proud of.
People always ask me, what is there left to eat? Where do you get your protein? Do you get to enjoy your food? Well, there is so much to eat! I come from a big Haitian family, and eating is a part of our culture. My mother has managed to turn many of our delicious dishes into amazing vegan dishes by adding more vegetables, and mixing around spices and creating special sauces. There is more protein in the vegetables then you will find in any meat; and you can eat more of it because it’s less calories! I can make my vegan Mac N’ Cheese. I indulge in vegan ice cream made from coconut milk. I can enjoy Alfredo Pasta that’s made from Almond Cheese. My pancakes and waffles substitute the eggs with applesauce. Almond milk and cheese taste amazing! And no, you do not taste the apple sauce in the pancakes or waffles! You just taste pure delicious natural flavors.
My journey of becoming vegan was not hard at all. The trick to being vegan is learning your power foods and incorporating those foods into your daily meals. The key to being vegan is not thinking that you are at the top of your game, but always be looking to evolve and you’re your diet grow as your body grows. One of the things I have started to do daily is juicing my breakfast. So my breakfast consists of fewer calories and enough sugar in the fruits to get me going for the day. I never push anyone to become vegan, but whoever is interested I am more than glad to share my story and lifestyle with them. It is a life changing choice and for many, it is a lifesaving choice.
-Guest Blogger Sara Victor