Whenever I thought of vegans, I always imagined some hippie, crazy-looking white people. There was rarely an encouraging thought I had about them at all. Vegetarians I could tolerate because at least they ate cheese; but vegans said you couldn’t have a damn whisker of a cow. But those ideas slowly went out the window when I moved to Austin and saw all races of people doing the whole vegan deal, including my friend Atenas. I’ve known her since college and she has always celebrated her Mexican heritage, especially in food and beer. However, she had a baby a couple of months ago and wanted to get a little bit back into shape; enter the idea of veganism. So like a good friend I asked her, “What the fuck is wrong with you?” And just like all my friends she replied, “What the fuck is wrong with your ugly ass face? I’ve just started and already losing weight.” So I thought about it, because even though I work out each week, my weight goes up and down. That could have been the moment that would have sold me but there was more.
All great changes in history involve one fact: somebody was trying to impress a woman. There was this female I met through a random Facebook post and she happened to be a vegan. So one night I hopped in the inbox to strike up a conversation and we got into talking about vegan places in the city. I felt this was a sign from God, but God knows I’m lowkey slow on things. So weeks go by and I see the Breakfast Club interview with Russell Simmons. During the interview he mentions how he has been a vegan for over 20 years and, in his 60’s, even pulled a 30-year-old model. I get curved from 30-year-old regular women, so now I’m convinced this is the life I gotta live.
So I made a decision to be a vegan for 5 days, Monday-Friday. My unofficial first day as a vegan, I went grocery shopping the Saturday, which is my normal shopping day. It took me a little longer than usual shopping because I had to check labels and make sure I wasn’t eating somebody’s pet. In addition to that, I was put on to some great new items such as almond milk, which apparently lasts for a month. In other words, I’m saving them dollars on something that I find myself replacing every 2 weeks. My regular weekday diet consists of a lot of fruits and veggies but the challenge was taking out meat. For that, I went with a pack of BOCA soy burgers but I still felt the need for something else. So I went to Central Market to cop some tofu sausage, figuring I could make a vegan jambalaya; a dish I affectionately call, What’s Beef Jambalaya.
Now after a weekend of pizza and other animal delights, I was ready to start my journey. I had my food cooked and a plan of action set. The first day was not bad at all. I had my jambalaya, which consisted of tofu sausage, black beans and brown rice. I ate it for the first couple of days for lunch and dinner as well as get the chance to exercise a little. On Wednesday I was on my way to an event so I had to make a smoothie. My normal smoothie creations are purely fruit and orange juice. But this new vegan person that I am fucks with vegetable goodies such as kale, cucumbers and vegetable juice. Everything was going great then I hit a major bump in the road.
Everybody knows that I love beer. So before this experiment I looked up what beers are acceptable for vegans. Disappointingly a lot of them were either name brand or the high end IPA but I figured the name brands (Budweiser, Michelob, etc.) were sufficient enough. So Tuesday, I attended the open mic at Spiderhouse Ballroom, and usually when I go, I have a Lone Star but it was not on the vegan list; yet none of the vegan beers were on the Spiderhouse list. I didn’t know what to do. I rarely go to an event such as that and not drink; and that is what I ended up doing. For the first time, I attended a performance and had not one drop of alcohol. It felt weird at first but as the night went on I didn’t realize it as much and even had a good performance. The same thing happened the next day when I had to attend another event that had a keg. I didn’t want to sound like a weirdo and ask about the beer, so I just fell back and enjoyed the show. Afterwards, I hit up the Strength in Numbers Showcase and got a Michelob to satisfy my drinking tendencies.
A photo posted by Brandon Simmons (@bsimmstexas) on
But not everything was all bad with being vegan. Despite it looking nasty as hell, the tofu was actually tasty and kept me filled up for workouts as well as throughout the day. Without drinking, I felt more energy when performing, and most importantly, driving home. I learned more self-control, when I felt the urge to go get cookies or something junky.
Will I do veganism again? It’s very likely that I probably will not be a full-fledged member, but I will definitely incorporate some of the ideals such as eating more veganistic foods, mainly fruits and vegetables. I got on the scale after my 5 day journey and saw I lost 4 pounds so there is something to consider. Growing up black, I really wasn’t taught this type of lifestyle; especially when our culture is associated with pig parts (bacon, pigfeet, chitterlings, etc…). But even without those particular foods, it was rough pondering the thought on how to give up cheeseburgers, pizza and Lone Star beers. These were foods that I grew up on or have memories of. However, there is no amount of calories can outweigh the opportunity to improve yourself.