Just Start

It’s the first of the year! No doubt it’s also the first of many things for you: the first day you’re going plant-based, the first day of your 10,000 steps challenge, the first day finally doing that thing you said you’d do. No matter what you’re tackling this year, you’re doing what that little voice in your head, your heart, your gut, is telling you to do:

“Just start.”

So here I am, too, just starting at I am Vegend. After months (years!?) of talking about the sort of blog I’d like to do, I’m actually doing it.

My food journey probably looks a lot like yours: born into an omnivorous house filled with the scents of roasts and ribs. At ten, my precociousness gave way to an aversion to red meat (I had seen a 20/20 special) but a devotion to chicken. Because I’m really cool, I used my early driving privileges for regular pickups of chicken fingers and french fries until I slowly nudged those out of my life, too.

Then, the final straw. After moving to New York City in 2008, I had no kitchen in which to cook and no money to spend. Vegetarian meals and ingredients were almost always less expensive than meat dishes so I began to fill at least half my plate with produce and grains. After a healthy dose of the hottest food books at the time, The Omnivore’s Dilemma, In Defense of Food, Eating Animals, and others, there was no turning back.

Over time, I have refined my diet to trend toward a “whole-foods, plant-based.” That means that few things I prepare and eat were processed or packaged beforehand, no meat or fish is included, and very little dairy is used.

But, I am not constrained by orthodoxy.

I balance whole-foods, plant-based meals with baked goods that will rival your grandma’s; my colorful, filling, and inviting plates occasionally include dairy and oil. I do my best to not be preachy about my food choices and instead lead by example. Four-fifths of my family is either vegetarian or pescatarian (no meat but fish is included). My father eats substantially less meat than he used because my mom won’t cook it for him.

I warned my now-boyfriend about my vegetarianism before our first date (some guys really couldn’t handle it). He was undeterred provided that his meat eating was not a dealbreaker for me. It wasn’t, and still isn’t, but I’m so thrilled that he has adopted a more plant-focused diet.

He is also an amazing cook in his own right, who has transformed our differing eating habits into his personal Everest: he sees dinnertime as a challenge to satisfy the vestiges of his meat-based previous life and the plant-based requirements (namely me) of his current one. We’ve nicknamed him “the Vegend” as his veg-friendly dishes have become truly, well, vegendary.

I hope you find this blog useful for your food and cooking journeys and that you’ll be as inspired as I am by the abundance of food options we can enjoy.

And when the time comes to pick up a new recipe or challenge, you’ll do what’s necessary.

Just start.

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