celebrating veganuary & my vegan journey
“no vegan diet, no vegan powers!”
as i approach my four year anniversary of transitioning to a vegan diet, i’ve been reminiscing on what i love (and don’t love) about being vegan. if you’re here to make fun of me or shame me, you should keep reading because you’ll probably change your mind once i start getting excessively sappy.
what is veganuary? a u.k. based non-profit created the month-long challenge to encourage non-vegans to adopt an animal-free diet. you’ll begin to hear about the health benefits of lowering your meat intake, possible weight loss, and of course, saving the animals. well, my journey to celebrating my fourth veganuary involves those three things but evolved into so much more.
if you’d like to read my other articles with my vegan insight, i’ve dissected my personal experiences as a black vegan and the harm of white veganism, spoken to one of my favorite chefs, provided a step-by-step guide to grilling for your plant-based friends, shared a friendly walkthrough for north florida’s vegan scene, and whined about the woes of traveling while vegan. but i’ve never publicly shared my personal story about the why/how/when of my journey to being florida’s sexiest vegan.
(screenshot of a friend’s text indicating that i’m a frequent supporter of tallahassee’s vegan kingdom, the bark)
following the impact by my two vegan friends in high school (shoutout to jasmyn and rowan), watching what the health for a class discussion, and the plant-based pact between my best friend and i, i decided to attempt a vegan diet in 2019. my journey to removing animal products started with red meat and ended with a short-lived battle to stop eating cheese. my parents are caribbean (and located in the south), so meat was a part of every meal, whether it was my mother’s weekly pot of jamaican curry chicken or corned beef.
as i started mentioning my new lifestyle in conversation, the popular q’s by curious minds began to start: why did you go vegan? what do you eat? how did you give up meat and cheese? can you eat fish? (usually followed by) are you sure fish is considered meat?
although many of these questions end up spiraling into 30-minute long conversations or a long-winded explanation about my reasons behind veganism, i never get tired of telling the story. perhaps it’s because i like hearing myself talk, but it’s also rewarding to reminisce on my growth as a foodie and self-proclaimed plant-based princess.
have i developed icks about veganism? of course. there’s the entirety of white veganism, everything revolved around that one particular non-profit, bad vegan cheese, unsatisfying options at non-vegan restaurants, having to turn down free jello shots, the isolating feeling at the cookout/barbecue, and my b12 deficiency.
alas, i’m grateful for my choice. i appreciate the rare home-cooked meals, sliver of restaurants to experience fine dining, abundant veganized recipes, saturday mornings at the farmers markets, and overall, my second nature as a foodie. there’s some sort of community in understanding the impact of nooch, seitan, vegenaise, and oyster mushrooms. i treasure getting to bond with my other plant-based pals over a dinner party or crafting my entire travel itinerary around a popular menu. there’s no doubt that i’ve created a bond among other vegans from my hometown or forming controversial opinions about beloved dairy-free products. beyond my lifelong immunity against the heat of scotch bonnet peppers, i’m thrilled that i have so much to learn about how my jamaican heritage intertwines with ital cuisines and rastafarianism.
so fast forward to nearly four years later, my reasons have changed and evolved, and i’m happy that i’m able to identify them.
advocating for fresh and accessible produce for all, protesting the exploitation of farm workers, not shaming people for being carnists, introducing your loved ones to your favorite vegan foods, supporting local vegan spots, educating others on food apartheids and systemic racism, grilling a beyond italian sausage, pivoting to eco-feminism that prioritizes communities of color, visiting animal sanctuaries, and learning about the wonders that are mushrooms.
how will i continue celebrating veganuary? i’m visiting the pnw for the first time this month, and i’m excited to try new cuisines in seattle, portland, and vancouver. otherwise, you can find me trying recipes from my instagram bookmarks.
some of my favorite vegan spots:
spicy moon (manhattan, ny)
the bark (tallahassee, fl)
city o’ city + their sister spot, watercourse foods (denver, co)
tarantino’s vegan (las vegas, nv)
ethos vegan (orlando, fl)
hippie hibachi (atlanta, ga)
pura vita (los angeles, ca)
planta queen (manhattan, ny)
orteá vegan collective (lisboa, pt)
the cream (barcelona, spain)
vg pâtisserie végétale (paris, fr)
o.g. lola’s (traveling pop-up but based in pensacola, fl sometimes)
seitan’s helper (brooklyn, ny)
end of the line (pensacola, fl)
screamers pizza (brooklyn, ny)
red white ramen (boston, ma)
trilly cheesesteaks (new orleans, la) *vegan options
plant city + its speakeasy next door 345 (providence, ri)
blu bar (barcelona, spain)
i-tal garden (new orleans, la)
sage plant based (los angeles, ca)
aunts et uncles (brooklyn, ny)
koshari mama (boston, ma)
sweet pea cafe (tallahassee, fl)
charlie was a sinner (philadelphia, pa)
slutty vegan (atlanta, ga)
my favorite articles/books about veganism:
aphro-ism: essays on pop culture, feminism, and black veganism from two sisters by aph and syl ko
afro-vegan: farm-fresh african, caribbean, and southern flavors remixed [a cookbook] by bryant terry
the intersectional environmentalist: how to dismantle systems of oppression to protect people + planet by leah thomas
living lively: 80 plant-based recipes to activate your power and feed your potential by haile thomas
going vegan deepened my relationship to my latinx roots by amy quichiz
what is white veganism? by isaias hernandez
a homecoming by amirah mercer
a guide to coming out as vegan to your immigrant parents by ian kumamoto
reminder: the roots of veganism aren’t white by elie gordon
angela davis on veganism (not a book or article, but a short video!)
my favorite vegan instagram accounts:
thanks for reading screaming into the void, but in lowercase! if you’ve enjoyed this veganuary post, subscribe for free to receive new posts and support my work.
i forgot to mention — i didn’t expect that veganism would lead to developing telekinetic superpowers similar to todd ingram in scott pilgrim vs. the world.
no i am not lying. i learned them at vegan academy.