As a sistah from Inglewood, I’m often asked how I can dare pass up fried chicken, neck bones, or that plump turkey on the holidays. I’ve been hesitant to post this because there’s no quick way to answer. So alas here’s the story…
When I was 7 years old my mom’s friend was a vegetarian & she seemed super cool to me. Years later, my 9th grade health teacher was vegetarian & she was extremely energetic. Because of these 2 women, I’ve been very interested in the importance of maintaining optimal health. So at the age of 14, I stopped eating red meat. Like many Americans, I really thought a diet of poultry & seafood was Oh So Healthy, so I ate this way for years. But for some reason I couldn’t get rid of a lil pouch on my belly no matter how much I exercised. In 1999, as I began to study holistic healing, I learned some amazing facts. Even chicken & fish are harmful because human beings were not designed to be carnivores. Our teeth & intestines prove that. And our poor health confirms it! Did you know?...
...More Black people have died from degenerative dis-eases than were killed during the entire slave trade?!? We have gotten too comfortable with losing our elders to health problems & mistakenly calling it “old age”. Heart attacks, strokes, cancer, diabetics, hypertension, osteoporosis, gingivitis, obesity, dementia, high cholesterol, fatigue, pneumonia, the flu – ALL dis-eases are preventable! We give ourselves these dis-eases with what we put in & on our bodies. Animal flesh, animal secretions (dairy), chemicals, & negative thoughts are what create disharmony in our bodies. We’re the only animal in the kingdom that drinks the milk of another species. WTH?!? We eat mostly chemicals. No wonder 1 in 3 Americans will acquire some form of cancer in their lifetime.
My grandparents on both sides are no longer living. Most of my aunts and uncles are gone. My cousins are sick. My own father was on dialysis for 10 years before his recent kidney transplant. Dis-ease. Dis-ease. Dis-ease. I’m sure you have some relatives that were on 12 different medications for several years before they suffered some slow unsightly death. It’s the American way! So I’ve decided to break the cycle. In August of 2000 I did The Master Cleanse (only cayenne-maple-lemonade) for 10 days. And when I ended my fast, I decided to only fill my Temple with foods that would edify me. I’ve been a vegan vegetarian ever since. Afterall was there an ice cream parlor, steak house, or mini bar in the Garden of Eden? I believe health is wealth. What good is a trillion dollars if you can’t get out of bed to enjoy it?
Trust me: I was raised on eating everything ‘from the roota to the toota’, so I know what I’m missing. I love food that tastes great just like you do. But I’ve found delicious vegan substitutes so that I can still eat what I was raised on. There are vegan versions of bacon, sausage patties, hamburgers, hot dogs, Italian sausage, cheese, milk, butter, taco meat, pate, chicken nuggets, sliced lunch meat, Turkey roast, even BBQ ribs. My favorite meal is vegan soul food. Just switch the ingredients of YOUR favorite recipes & enjoy!
“I don’t eat meat…unless it just got out of the shower”
1/19/2012 07:43:52 am
Hey Tanjareen, I talked to you before and I had a question for you. I recently became a vegan and i know you said you were, so i wanted to know if you could give me an example of what you eat in a day as specific as a breakfast/snacks/lunch/dinner breakdown?
1/19/2012 07:45:00 am
Hey there Ms. Superfit,
1/19/2012 07:49:33 am
Wow. Just read your article. I gave up pork at the age of 43. Started feeling so energetic gave up all red meat but ground beef. Went the fish and poultry route. You are saying this soon to be 56 yr old can feel even better. God bless you. It’s time for a new adjustment. I’m here to let folks know that what you say is true. No excuses folks. This old man was chemically addicted to hard drugs for 35 yrs. Good eating habits and exercise equal energy & stamina. Wish I had the financial wealth part, but I have a daily shot at it still.
1/19/2012 07:50:17 am
HEY Tanjareen that you for your letter very inspiring and informative. i myself just started a vegetarian diet and slowly given up dairy products. but it has been a amazing 1st year. and challenging, im 49yrs old and have lost 30 lbs (really) i feel great never felt like this in all my adult life. so its never to late to start and thanks for the help
Hi Chinedu. Thanks for your comment! I'm not sure just how big you need your box of rice to be :-) but I buy 3LB bags of brown jasmine rice from Trader Joe's for a great price. A few of those bags should hold ya for a while. If not, try Costco or Smart N Final.
1/24/2012 05:18:37 pm
Hey Tanj, Thanks for the christmas card and always thinking about me around the holidays. I have to apologize for not being as diligent. Anywho, I kept thinking to myself Tanj needs to do a vegetarian blog and wahlah! here it is. Great, more people, especially of color need to have this information. I, just like you, changed my eating habits, shortly, after moving to L.A. in 2004. I was always around vegetarians. My mentors and theater circle where I got my start acting in N.Y., were mostly vegetarian. They would always tease me about eating meat. I just passed it off that they were crazy fanatics. I never thought I would stop eating meat. Although I was never raised eating pork and had cut back to almost totally not eating red meat all together with the exception of jamaican oxtails. So, after I moved to L.A. and started to become more aware that a lot of people's ailments were do to diet, especially people of color I wanted to change my eating habits. I had acne growing up and into adulthood and the only thing that would help was antibiotics. I knew the problem could only be solved internally. None of the topical stuff was doing much for me. I refused to be on medications for a lifetime, because that is another problem side effects. I wanted to get to the root of the problem which no one ever addressed. I too stop eating all meat. I finally found a creamy and tasty enough ice cream substitute. I was not vegan however. Although I did cut mostly everything dead out of my diet. I cheated every now and again and had cheese. Fast forward. I had heard soy can make the body think that it is estrogen ( that's why it is good for menopausal woman) and may not be good for pregnant woman especially male babies. I heard it could cause all kinds of complications such as deformities and even miscarriage. So, I went back to eating meat when I found out I was pregnant in 2008. I am still eating chicken and fish and ironically a lot of my friends who were once vegetarians are now eating meat. My question is this. I still make many healthy choices in regards to food. I eat quinoa, brown rice, brown rice and quinoa pasta, loads of kale and greens and fruits and veggies. I use agave instead of sugar. Amino acids instead of salt (it has soy in it) more herbs instead of powered seasonings. veggie cheese(without casein) almond, rice, hemp and coconut milk. Coconut yogurt, rice and whole grain breads, coconut and tapioca flour, red potatoes, egg replacer, tofu for eggs, etc. What are some other healthy choices or alternatives to soy and tofu meats?? Oh and I need your recipe for vegetarian mac and cheese. The other thing is people have to watch the juices they drink. Juicing is a better option. I have become so obsessed at times with it that I want to make my own everything from scratch to avoid preservatives and toxins in store bought products. Can you also talk about the weight people can gain from eating all that tofu and soy? A lot of my vegetarian friends were gaining weight. Vegetarian does not meat you are completely eating healthy, although it is a much better option. I know I rambled on so please forgive me. I am excited to talk about this topic and wanted to get all my thoughts out. Anxiously waiting for your feed back.
Wow, Mylika! Thank you so much for your comment! So open and honest! I can totally relate to what you typed, including the acne challenges. I know quite a few vegetarians who have gone back to eating meat. And quite a few women who were coerced into eating meat once they got pregnant. Most people give up meat without really understanding how to substitute the tastes, while correctly nourishing their bodies. Plus society makes us think we need way more protein than we really do. And many overnight-vegetarians gain weight because they become what I call a "French Fry Vegan". They eat french fries, pasta, and pizza all day, and wonder why they feel so tired and heavy all the time. So after a while, they go back to the eating habits they were raised on.
GREAT article! As I asked on Twitter. How in the world did we get so misguided, misled, bam-damn-boozled in what we eat. Can we trust the FDA anymore? Cause when it comes to business and mass production of food, I hate to say it, but we're being lied to 24/7! Thanks for the enlightenment Tanjareen!
Yes, Alice. Unfortunately, there is no money in actually curing dis-ease. Its much more profitable to keep pretending to search for the cure. People donate zillions of dollars to research, so the powers that be won't teach us how to really stay healthy. C'mon, why is one organization monitoring Food AND Drugs (FDA) ??? Makes no sense.
2/7/2012 08:14:59 pm
Hey sweetly I enjoyed reading your post. I would like to know, Where can I purchase all the vegan food you mentioned?
Hi Donna! Any health food store should carry it. For example: Whole Foods, Henry's, Erewhon, Simply Wholesome, Whole Wheatery, Veg It Up, and Full O' Life, are just some of the places in Southern Cali that sell vegan meat products. You can go to HappyCow.net and type in your zip code to find the vegan grocers and restaurants near you. And at some point, I'll post a blog listing my favorite vegetarian eateries. Hope this helps.
2/19/2012 07:30:17 am
1/21/2013 01:41:40 pm
*transferred from email*
2/25/2013 04:05:52 am
Greetings Young Lady, Your very thoughtful in your answers to people, I know you a little bit and how busy you are, and it is kind that you take that time.
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