Imagine being at a family gathering in the summer and everyone around you is eating tender, bar-b-que sauce dripping, baby back ribs. For me, there are two things that go through my mind; “Thank God I don’t eat that anymore” and, “Man that looks so juicy, but I don’t eat that anymore”. This used to be a serious dilemma during family get-togethers until I adopted a plant based diet. Reflecting on my life, I can honestly say that I am proud of how far I’ve come with my eating habits.
As a result of losing my paternal grandmother to colon cancer in 2004, I came up with a plan to change my diet. I have always been this hypochondria thinking individual, who, when engaged in conversations related to illnesses, would always self diagnose for some strange reason or another. My grandmother’s symptoms prompted me to get my life right or I would’ve been next. But thinking back on those thoughts, I’m thankful I had that mindset because it helped to change my life for the better. Just like so many other African Americans, I grew up eating that good ol’ “soul food” consisting of a large amount of starchy foods, greasy meats and literally a pinch of overly cooked veggies. So I knew it was time to make that change.
I started with eliminating pork and beef, and with each New Year I would cut out other foods that were unhealthy. The transition was quite easy, but we all know that with any changes come test and trials. By late 2007, I had a serious setback. I started back eating every “Porkie Pig” and their family members for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Oh boy my body definitely paid for it. This habit continued throughout the next year causing health issues from sinus infections, skin problems and mood swings. At this point the food had taken over that I knew there was no getting back on track. It was like a strong hold that couldn’t be broken. Eventually that “Will Power” kicked in full force allowing me to gain control over my body once again.
After getting back on track, I became introduced to a variety of delicious vegetarian meals which had me convinced that these foods were prepared with some sort of meat because of its delicious flavors. But I was definitely wrong yet thankful that my taste buds found something new to love. It was then that I discovered what real soul food tasted like; a food that is delicious, nourishing to the soul and oh so healthy indeed. This was only the beginning!