Working 2gether Tuesdays
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working 2gether is greater than being divided
working 2gether is greater than being divided
Part 1: Why I eat a plant-based diet, why you should too!
I started eating and cooking healthy because I was actually - and being totally here - severely depressed. My grades were trash, I wasn’t fit, I wasn’t really talking to anyone, and I honestly thought that life was gonna be terrible forever. But even though I felt terrible about everything all the time - deep down - I just wanted to feel happy again. Luckily I had Mr Gray looking out for me. He teaches kids like me that eating a healthy, plant-based diet is able to give your body an incredible mental and physical boost. I was so deep in depression and sadness, I was willing to try anything to get better. The best part was that I didn’t need any proof, because very soon, I was the proof! I went from having a 1.2 GPA, to a 3.5 GPA, even though I was taking the hardest honors and AP classes available to me. I went from being one of the slowest kids on the cross country team, to being a varsity runner the very same year I started my new diet. Our team even got won the Moore League Championship.
With my life now better than ever, I naturally just became more social and outgoing as a person too. I was confident enough to make new friends, ask people out, and form relationships that I know will last a lifetime. Eating a plant based diet gave me a clear head space and more than enough nutrition to stay awake, active, and happy. I never knew what it was like to get the highest score in the class or to cross the finish line before I started eating like I do now. And I especially never knew how proud and accomplished I could feel from doing all of that. No.
Part 2: Why I cook plant based, and why you should too!
Most restaurants and school cafeterias I ever went to didn’t really have a lot of vegan/plant-based options, so I realized I would need to start cooking on my own if I was gonna commit to this diet long term.
When I started learning how to cook, I thought I would need to spend all my time and money on food that doesn’t even look, smell, or taste good. Damn I was so wrong! All I did was look up the first 3 recipes I found on YouTube for ‘Cheap Vegan Burritos’, and I just fell in love with cooking all sorts of vegan stuff! Veggies cook faster than meat, and having them spiced and sizzled in the pan filled my kitchen with the most magnificent aroma in such a short amount of time. The first couple of months, I was low-key not that good at cooking, I’ll be honest. But soon, even my friends started to ask “What smells so good?” when I popped my food into the microwave at school. Once I started cooking and eating plant based, not only did I begin to prefer the taste over animal products, I just found it so much more convenient to chop and cook some vegetables at home when it would take twice as long to wait in line at Chik-Fil-A.
And no disrespect to Chik-Fil-A! That type of stuff does taste good, I get that. But by cutting back on the meat, dairy, and eggs - even just for one day of the weak - I was able to ease into eating healthier, quicker, and (surprisingly) cheaper.
Seriously, a weeks worth of groceries that can be used for lunch and dinner costs about $30. Compare that to the Chicken Sandwich combo at most fast food places, which costs about $6 for 1 meal. If you buy that sandwich every day of the week for lunch, you end up paying $42 for 7 unhealthy(albeit tasty) meals. But for $30, you get 14 meals that are both good tasting, AND good for you! You save 40% more money too!
It’s cheaper to pack your own food from home than to go out to eat most days of the week.
Part 3: Where to start
Websites w/ Recipes and Scientific Research
- The Game Changers Recipes (targeted towards athletes)
- Forks Over Knives
- The Beet
Some Good Restaurants in LB w/ Vegan options
$ - Long Beach Pho (try the Vermicelli w/ Tofu)
$ - Chipotle (pick beans or sofritas for protein)
$ - Mangosteen (try the veggie Bahn Mi or Pho)
$ - Ahimsa (all vegan menu) (homemade veggie burgers and very filling ‘bowls’) (Tell them Jonah sent you!)
$$ - The Wild Chive (great sit down restaurant)
$$ - Seabirds (same as before)
Download the Happy Cow app. It’s basically Yelp but for vegan/vegetarian food, including places that Yelp doesn’t even have info for. By far the easiest way for kids like me is to check Instagram, Twitter, Reddit, etc. Every social media platform has hundreds of pages dedicated to eating plant-based/vegan. Just type in ‘Beginner Vegan Recipes’ and see what pops up.
Part 3: You don’t have to do it alone!
By sharing the food you make, whether it’s on social media, or giving your friends a bite of what you made for lunch, you’ll be surprised by how much support you’ll receive for learning a new skill like plant-based cooking! Lead by example, and soon, like minded people will want to follow your lead. Sometimes, I’ll make extra food for my teachers and teammates to try. But what I really love doing is inviting my closest friends over for dinner whenever I can. Teaching them just how simple and cheap it is to make a healthy, plant based meal. Especially one that looks, smells, and tastes good enough for all of us to enjoy!
Michael Gray is a School Climate Enhancer and a specialist in pointing student-athletes in the right direction academically.