It’s easier to change your environment than your mind.
May 2018 I graduated college, dropped the bomb on mom and dad that I got married 3 months prior, and I was on my way to Oakland, California with my new husband. We would finally be living together and doing life together as husband and wife. I was so in love and so excited for this new journey in my life. I wanted change and I was about to get it in a big way.
As soon as we got to Oakland, we got an apartment. We lived within walking distance from Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s and the weekly farmer’s market. Luckily, my new job was close to home and walking distance from the same Whole Foods. It didn’t take us long to get settled in as newlyweds with nothing in front of us except lots of opportunity.
I decided to make a dinner for my husband (I was all up in my new wifey feelings). I called my mom to get the recipe to my favorite dish she made which was honey glazed chicken. I had never cooked chicken before then. I was more of a baker as a child but I wanted to go all out for my boo. I labored and sweat and put my foot in that dish. It came out so good, I was beyond impressed with myself.
Ready to lay on a huge surprise and have my husband look at me in awe and excitement and think to himself that he was lucky to be married to me and lucky he scooped me up as quickly as he did, I turned around from my creation in the kitchen to ask him if he was ready for dinner.
My husband, sitting in the living room, asked innocently, “what did you make?”
“I made honey glazed chicken!” I said in an exaggerated way to make sure he understood how good this dish was.
“Oh, about that, I am not eating meat anymore” he said calmly like he did not just watch me work in the kitchen for what felt like all day.
OK, what the actual hell! I don’t even cook, much less something as labor-some as chicken. I washed and cleaned it. I cut off all the fat like my momma told me to. I seasoned to perfection and his triflin’ a** is not gonna to even try it! It’s so good though! I was beyond pissed. What’s wrong with meat? I could understand processed foods. I grew up eating cereal and pizza pockets so I understood I was not perfect with my diet but my mom also made home cooked meals like this honey glazed chicken and pork chops. And there was always rice and peas and mixed vegetables on the side. A balanced plate was really important in my home.
He probably could sense I was disappointed so he pulled me in for a hug and said “Thank you for making this for us. I want to show you something.” We cuddled on the couch in our very modest apartment and watched a documentary on his laptop of a research professor explaining to a class why meat was not for human consumption. It showed clips of the professor out in the field studying animals in their natural environment. He explained the physiological differences between animals and humans and made the connection to the list of chronic ailments humans deal with because we’re not following our natural diet.
I was blown away and supported my husband. I decided that I too would eventually give up meat but I was not going to have all my hard work go to waste. I ate my chicken by myself and it was good. I gave myself a pat on the back for a job well done. Seasoning was on point.
I resonated with everything I heard in the documentary. It all made sense and then I discovered Dr Neal Barnard’s Program for reversing diabetes in a book store and made a commitment to quit meat because I did not want to end up like my grandma suffering from diabetes. There was one thing I had to do though. There were these hot wings at Whole Foods that I loved so much. So, I told my husband, “I need to have them one last time and then I’m done”. We went the next Saturday and I made a whole thing out of it. I packed my plate and ate slow and savored every bite. When I was done, I was ready to let the meat eating part of me go to embrace a life healthier than I was already attempting. My husband, his support, and his encouragement helped me get there. But also, the environment of Oakland, California itself.
My husband and I went to the farmer’s market every week, shopped at Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s and connected with other black people who were following a plant-based diet and holding workshops speaking on the health of our communities nation-wide. We frequented Cafe Gratitude which offered raw vegan foods and it tasted delicious. We even went out to other ethnic restaurants: Ethiopian, Indian, Senegalese and had delicious vegan options to enjoy. And, my husband has always been a good cook. He cooked for me before I said “I do” which is probably a big reason why I decided to marry him, and he continued to cook after we got married. He made delicious vegan meals that rivaled all the restaurants. I never experienced a vegan diet devoid of flavor and fun. Eating clean meant fun, flavor and family.
How can you eliminate unhealthy foods in a way that does not make you feel deprived? This is the key.
For me, my struggle with processed vegan food was always cereal. Hot cereal is not only sweet but tied to my childhood which was a time of great comfort and joy. Every time I would eat cereal, it would bring me back to that warm, safe space, something I felt I needed throwing myself into adulthood as fast as I did, getting married, moving across the country twice and opening a business in my early twenties. I knew better but it was difficult to do better sometimes. I just wanted to comfort myself.
What worked for me was finding healthier cereals at health food stores. The ones that did not taste great helped me get off cereal. Sometimes it helps when something does not taste good. If you tell yourself “I will only buy this healthy cereal if I’m going to have cereal” and it doesn’t taste good, it ruins the experience and the habit of using that for comfort goes away. Then you swap it with something else. For me, that something else became a smoothie with 3 bananas and vanilla. It’s like cereal but not because it’s healthy whole foods and not processed food. It’s sweet and dense so super comforting.
In this podcast episode, you’ll learn:
🗣️ The herb that is helping folks break addictions
🗣️ Alternatives to processed vegan foods
🗣️ How plastic may be in your sea salt
Listen to the Full Episode:
🥭 I get Imperfect Produce delivered to my door. Here’s $10 to shop and create your imperfect box of organic fruits and veggies.
🌿 Where Iboga is legal and illegal
🌿 The opioid crisis and its affect on children
🌿 Raw vegan yogurt
🌿 Why You Should Avoid Canola Oil
♻️ Microplastics are ubiquitous
💞 Join the Facebook Group for support on your wellness journey
🧘🏿 Interested in becoming a health coach? Learn more about IIN
📖 My book, You Can Afford to Be Healthy
🍓 30 Day Raw Vegan Challenge
🧘🏿 Schedule a free consultation
📧 E-mail me to submit a question and get featured on the Raw Food Health Empowerment Podcast
// HOST Samantha Salmon
Certified Holistic Health Coach and Ambassador of Health and Happiness
// CO-HOST Dorrell Hylton Salmon
Mom, Wife, Hair Doctor, Beauty Parlor Counselor, and Prayer Warrior
The information provided in this broadcast is for educational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice. These statements have not been evaluated by the food and drug administration, or the equivalent in your country. Any products/services mentioned are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent disease.
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