The best story I have of inspiring others is my brother James and his girlfriend Meredith. They had both read my blog, and after a failed shopping trip they decided to go vegan. Meredith said that how I said veganism works for me because of the strict set of rules really struck a chord with her. I told them to watch Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead, and they did and they enjoyed it.
I also got them a book to inspire this start – Food Rules. I am jealous because there is now a second edition to Food Rules, which is illustrated and has a few new rules! I wrote a little inspirational, motivation, supportive blurb in the front of the book for them. One of the "Rules" is to shop mainly the perimeters of the supermarket, as illustrated in this picture...
When I went to South Orange, NJ and visited them for the first time on this trip the first thing we did was take everything out of their cabinets and separate the vegan and non-vegan items they already have, and them reorganized their cabinets accordingly. Bottom stuff=Vegan, stuff on shelf=not vegan!
Then we went grocery shopping. I helped them start to learn how to make smart decisions to shop vegan on a budget. I told them staples to buy such as lettuce, tomatoes, carrots, peanut butter, apples, bananas, and other things. I also learned on this whole trip just how lucky I am to buy my fruits and veggies in California because of how incredibly much cheaper they are here. For example, apples on the east coast might cost $1.79 a pound, and here in Cali we get them for like $0.59-$.069 a pound! It's because everything is grown here :)
Then we went home and I cooked them one of the most simple, filling, and satisfying meals I have learned to cook since going vegan…. Tacos filled with refried beans, lettuce, and salsa, with sides of rice and corn, all with lime squeezed on top.
I cooked because Meredith was sick. Otherwise, she is a fabulous cook. The next night when I wasn’t there she made fajitas that could kick my taco’s butt. They are learning the beauty of leftovers, and they said they ate on the leftovers from this first vegan meal for two days.
My brother introduced me to a favorite power breakfast wrap that he used to get at App State in Boone, NC. It is a burrito-sized wrap, spread Peanut Butter in a line down the center, top with thin-sliced banana, raisins, and a small drizzle of honey. Wrap it up like a burrito. We made ours the night before and then I had a great protein filled go-get-em breakfast to quickly grab and take out the door with me to catch the train.
When I returned to visit James and Meredith again for the last night of my trip I wanted to show them a fabulous vegan dinner. We went out to an Ethiopian restaurant within walking distance of their apartment in South Orange, NJ called Lalibela.
I had never had Ethiopian food. It was like traveling out of South Orange, and the US, for an evening. Our waitress was amazing in explaining Ethiopian dishes and traditions and culture to us. She brought us a free appetizer!
In Ethiopian dining you do not use any silverware. You scoop everything up with the bread-like dough thing. I can’t remember what it’s called, but it is delicious. For your dinner you pick three numbers from the menu and pick one as your main dish and the other two as your sides. So James, Meredith, and I each got three different numbers, and then they serve them to you all on one giant communal tray.
It was perfect for sharing and trying everything! I could not tell you what each thing was or which number it was, but it was all amazing. And James and Meredith definitely went home with some more awesome leftovers. After dinner I was craving something sweet. I had been looking up vegan ice cream (there’s a place in Brooklyn with it, but I didn’t go. Next time.) Our waitress brought us the dessert selections and informed us they are both vegan.
She said they are so good she usually doesn’t even tell people they are vegan, and you can’t even tell. We split the two cakes between the four of us.
Their friend Laura came with us, but she got salmon. That’s okay we’ll still be her friend. The service at Lalibela is the best restaurant service I think I have ever received. The food was authentic and delicious and clearly made with love and respect for their culture. Not only were we fulfilled and satisfied with our meal, but we made a friend in our waitress, learned about Ethiopian traditions, and had our very own little escape vacation in one meal. James actually said he felt like he had left South Orange for that little bit and traveled to an exciting place! Ten billion gold stars for Lalibela!!!
So with all of these building blocks I have now set James and Meredith out on their own in this crazy vegan life. Also, in true pay-it-forward, ripple-effect fashion, one of Meredith’s friend is now inspired by all of this and is also going vegan! Meredith also started her very own vegan blog and is getting great support for that already with lots of readers! Go read here blog here!
Pass it on! Tag, you’re it!