Meet Shannon C…
I have a personal history with Shannon C. We were, at one time, neighbors who shared a common interest as first time mothers. When I met her, she was just like me – – veeeery pregnant. She was a Vegetarian and I was a meat-eater, who had dabbled in Vegetarianism in college. At that time, I was curious about taking another stab at being Vegetarian, but wanted to get all of the facts so I could stick to it this time. She was the first person to introduce me to tofu and after I decided to transition from meat-eater to Vegetarian, she was a main source for information and inspiration. And although we’re no longer pregnant or neighbors, we still hang out, our kids still see each other several times a year, and we’re what I call Veggie friends. Only this time, I became a source for her in her transition from Vegetarian to Vegan. Here’s her candid take on transitioning to Vegan…
Me: When and why did you choose to become a Vegetarian?
Shannon: I chose to be Vegetarian in the early 1990s. I gave up red meat for a few years because my coach recommended it for my tennis. I automatically lost 5 pounds, kept it off, and felt lighter on the court and better in general. Then a few years later I got food poisoning from chicken… it was so horrible, I could never eat chicken again and realized that I didn’t really need/like meat. So around 1995 I went Vegetarian.
Me: Why did you choose to go from Vegetarian to Vegan?
Shannon: Thanks to my awesome friend KIM TYSON… and a few other Vegetarian friends who recently went Vegan – I heard about the Vegan diet and was curious. Then, I realized my cholesterol was high – 196, and my bad cholesterol was VERY HIGH. So, I started cutting back on cheese for about 3 months. Then, I realized I don’t really need or miss dairy, so I tried VEGAN about 9 months ago. At first, I “cheated” a few times, but then realized I felt better. My eyes stopped getting puffy (I think I had an allergy to dairy), my dandruff got better, and I never felt like I was in a food coma…. so I enjoyed VEGANISM and stayed with it.
Me: How was the information received by family and close friends?
Shannon: My family has always thought I was crazy (as in sisters/parents) – even for being vegetarian for years. So becoming Vegan – they just don’t get it! My husband recently became Vegetarian and thinks being Vegan is great. He is a healthy eater, so it makes it easy.
Me: How does it affect your child(ren)?
Shannon: My daughters are young, and they still want to eat meat. I cook it for them, let them eat what they want (mostly organic, whole foods) but don’t freak out when we are at b-day parties, etc. I wouldn’t push it on them. But, they do seem curious and ask a lot of questions about being Vegan.
Me: What non-Vegan food do you miss?
Shannon: I honestly don’t have any cravings. My biggest weakness was cheese, but I really don’t miss it and have an easy time substituting with Vegan cheeses if I need that cheese fix.
Me: What have you discovered “new” to add to your diet that you had not tried before Veganism?
Shannon: I eat a lot of pumpkin seeds, avocado, more beans than I used to, more chia seeds, a lot more quinoa, and more potatoes.
Me: What Vegan recipe, product, and/or restaurant is your all-time fav that you can’t live without?
Shannon: EatPlants4Life is my saving grace. I also just go to the internet and look up certain things that match what I am serving. For instance, if I am serving chili at a party, I look up Vegan chili recipes for me. I love Sprouts for bulk food items, Whole Foods for date night or if I am going to someone’s house to bring Vegan items to share. Kroger has upped their game with Vegan items. Honestly, Costco is where I buy most of my Vegan items. Huge bags of flax/granola/pumpkin seeds, steel cut oats, smoothie mixes, veggies, and fruits that are organic. HERBAN FIX restaurant in Atlanta – totally VEGAN – awesome. Peace/Love/Pizza, Willy’s, and Moe’s are easy places that the whole family likes. Mellow Mushroom also has many Vegan items.
Me: Have you noticed physical, mental changes?
Shannon: I feel “lighter” when I exercise. I never get that “oh, I ate too much, I feel so tired” feeling, my complexion is better, my dandruff/itchy scalp is much less obvious, and my eyes don’t swell (I think I had an allergy to dairy). I just feel healthier overall putting whole foods/Vegan foods into my body. I don’t crave sugar and cheese.
Me: How has life changed socially?
Shannon: I’ll admit, it can be hard going to someone’s house for dinner. I always give a heads up so I am not seeming rude. I just bring enough Vegan items to share…. Also, going out to dinner can be tough because I want to suggest a restaurant that has Vegan options without seeming rude. I don’t want to be one of those people who complains or seems picky. Traveling can be tough, but I just bring a lot of Vegan snacks such as nuts, granola, bananas.
Me: What was your 1st Vegan holiday like?
Shannon: I ordered Vegan items from Whole foods – potatoes, cranberries, vegetables, etc. and brought enough to share. I had visitors and then was going to another house for dinner, so I didn’t have time to cook. Whole Foods saved the day! The Vegan stuffing was great.
Me: What did you miss having over the holiday season?
Shannon: I don’t really have cravings… so that isn’t an issue for me. As for sweets – I run to whole foods and get the Vegan cookies.
Me: What NEW food tradition will you add to your holiday table now that you are Vegan?
Shannon: I will continue to use Whole Foods as my go to…….. unless I actually have time to cook.
Me: As a busy working Mom, what advice/tip can you offer a new Vegan to help them adjust to this (sometimes time-consuming) diet.
Shannon: I bought a rice cooker and it is an absolute savior to cook a quick meal in a short time. Sprouts is an easy, quick, cheaper visit to the grocery store. I get a lot of frozen items, like Hillary’s Vegan items. Costco is a great way for a Vegan to spend money. Going out to Moe’s/Willy’s makes me and the girls happy – easy to eat Vegan. Peace/Love/Pizza has many Vegan items on the go.
Me: What advice do you give someone on the fence about going Vegan?
Shannon: DO IT, at least just try it. Watch the documentary What the Health, Forks Over Knives, and Vegucated. Or at least, go 75% Vegan and splurge on the weekends. My cholesterol went from 196 to 161 just in 7 months of going Vegan. I feel so much healthier overall and the cravings really go away, food tastes better, and unhealthy food looks disgusting to me now!