I posted this on my Facebook page the other day and got an overwhelmingly positive response. So I thought it deserves its very own blog post.
I call it "A Vegan Conversation".
Kinda of a funny story..... so here we go.
A long time friend saw my Facebook Page the other day and asked about the whole "Brand New Vegan" thing..... what it's all about, the cookbooks, the ads, the branding, etc.
Apparently, she thought I was selling products for another company. In fact, I still have a lot of friends (and family members) that have that 'deer in the headlights' glaze when they try to understand what I do.
So this is how I explain it.
This is what Chuck Underwood and Brand New Vegan are all about.
This is how I spend my time, my 'job' if you will, and it's NOT just a pastime or a hobby - this is my passion.
To help people get healthier - one bite at a time, without feeling like they're missing a thing.
Because as we all know, the source of most of our chronic diseases in America today is not a virus that floats through the air, or 'bad genes' handed down from our parents, as many would think, but rather it's simply the foods that we eat.
Not only are they making us fat, but they're also making us very sick.
But the GOOD news is .....it can be completely reversible.
Here is an example of a typical conversation I've had many times...and I'm sure you have too.
A Vegan Conversation
"So what do you do again?
I am a Blogger... (insert blank stare here...)
Ok, I'm a WRITER.
I own, manage, and write for a website called Brand New Vegan. I recreate favorite comfort foods to make it easier for people to transition to a plant-based diet without any meat, dairy, or oil.
"Oh, ok....wow! Wait...no meat?!? You're VEGAN?! Why?"
Because our Standard American Diet of meat, cheese, sugar, and fat is making people sick. And trust me, they're VERY sick and tired, of being sick and tired. People want to change their diet and lifestyle. They want to feel good again, get off all their meds.
"How long have you been doing this?
My website has been up and running since 2013, and I've been eating this way since about 2007.
"So you're Vegan, wow...
Yep, I am - and I also follow a Whole Food, Plant-Based, No Oil Diet.
"Don't they mean the same thing?"
No, not really.
Veganism is not just about diet, it's also about taking a stance against the useless cruelty and exploitation of animals.
Over 56 billion farmed animals are killed every year just to supply meat to the restaurants and grocery stores, and the majority of it comes from factory farms. They live their short lives in spaces so small they can hardly turn around and are usually so diseased, tortured and abused, they're pumped full of antibiotics just to keep them alive. Did you know over 80% of all antibiotics used in the US are fed to farm animals?
A "Whole Foods Plant Based Diet" is all about the particular foods we eat so it's more about diet, health, and nutrition.
"So you don't eat meat?"
No. I eat plants. And not fake processed foods either. I eat whole foods, like beans, veggies, fruits, salads, oats, whole grain breads and pastas, with tons of rice and potatoes.
"But where do you get your protein?!"
From those same plants. There are PLENTY of plant-based foods that have just as much protein as meat.
Beans, peas, lentils, nuts & seeds all have protein. Even oatmeal. Then there's Broccoli, Spinach, any of the Nut-Based Milks, Tofu....
I really don't worry about it. There has NEVER been a case of protein deficiency recorded in the medical journals. Ever. As long as you eat enough calories, you'll get plenty of protein.
"So what on earth do you eat?"
Lots of things. Tons of veggies, soups, stews, greens, fruit. And lots and lots of starches. Corn, rice, potatoes, pasta....things like that.
"Well, I can't have carbs because I'm diabetic".
That's too bad, you should probably be watching how much fat you eat instead. Doctors are finally beginning to realize that saturated fat and trans fat from meats and cheap processed foods is probably what caused it to begin with. It's really not about the sugar. High blood sugar is a symptom, not the cause.
"Well my doctor never mentioned that......and he IS a doctor so I'm going to follow his advice, besides it runs in my family"
That's fine, just realize that there are doctors who are actually TRAINED in nutrition, and have successfully reversed Type 2 Diabetes using a high carb, low-fat diet.
Besides, FOOD runs in families too.... and I bet you inherited your love of certain foods from your parents.
"But you eat chicken and fish don't you?
Nope....I don't eat ANY meat. And I avoid dairy and any added oils too.
"But Olive Oil is healthy for you, it's full of good fats"
There are plenty of foods that have natural fats in them, along with the vitamins and nutrients and fiber. When you strip away all of that and just extract the oil, all you have left is just pure fat.
Olive Oil has 120 Calories per tablespoon, and with over 4,000 calories per pound, olive oil is the most calorie dense food on our planet, even more so than pure sugar. Remember, "The Fat you Eat is the Fat you Wear".
"And where did you learn all this?"
I've been studying this for over 10 years now, from books, blogs, and documentaries. I also follow quite a few medical doctors who recommend it. And I do have certification from Cornell University on Plant-Based Nutrition.
"Well those doctors are probably just trying to sell their books or something"
Many of them DO have books, yes, you're right. But you can also find everything you need absolutely free too. Dr John McDougall's entire program is on his website - without having to buy a single book. Dr. Michael Greger also donates all of his profits to charity. They're already doctors - they don't need to sell anything to make a living. They do this to help.
"And people really follow your blog?"
Yep, believe it or not I have tens of thousands of followers..... from all over the world. And it just keeps growing every day.
"Wow! And have you helped anyone?"
I get emails, Facebook messages, and comments every single day. Ladies are finding out their husbands like my food because a lot of it is ...well. GUY food.
They're losing weight, getting off their pills, and some are even beginning to cook for the very first time. One lady told me her couch potato husband liked my recipes so much HE was starting to cook them himself.
"Well good for you.......... that's real nice....."
Does any of it sink in? .....probably not.
But maybe a seed or two will be planted that will one day take root. People have to approach this when they're ready.
And hopefully when that day comes.... and I do mean WHEN..... they'll remember my blog and why I'm here.
But regardless, this is me.
This is Brand New Vegan.
M Kay Caulk Hill
You covered it all and very well written. Love your response to disease runs in the family because so do diets.
You bring the valuable information calmly, truthfully and honestly. That is why this is so precious.
Thank You Chuck!
Annie Gust Ferguson
Very well done, Chuck. No confusing technical stuff, just plain facts. I'm going to forward this to a friend who seems to really want to "get it" but gets lost in the science. And you're right. I've experienced many "deer in the headlights" looks during the last 4 years. It's so frustrating knowing something so easy that could save your best friends' or family members' lives, and they just consider you their "weird friend"!
Ronde Papic Walch
I had to laugh out loud. I'm not a blogger but a lot of the questions still apply. I am going to copy this and just read the script as they ask the questions like a customer service representative at our family reunion next week. I do get the protein question a lot. Could you include that please? I am laughing as I request this. So great you wrote this out! Way to go Chuck!
I just had to say I couldn't help but laugh out loud at YOUR reply with "a customer service representative at our family reunion." Too funny and so true!
I’ve been eating this way about as long as you. T FIRST I TRIED TO “”justify” my eating with people - there was a dramatic weight loss and everyone wanted to know how I did it. So I told them. Big mistake. Way too much engagement for me, justifying all my choices. Now I tell people that I eat this way because it is healthiest for me. And when they say “I could never eat like that” I just smile and nod. I make it about my needs so they don’t feel so threatened. Usually seems to work. I’ll leave it to you to convert the non-believers.
I've gave up meat 5months ago and I notice my hair has started falling out and thinning I went to the doctor for a physical all came back good this didn't start until I became vegan I don't want to go back to meat so what could it be
I'm sorry, I am not a medical doctor so cannot offer any advice. I would, however, suggest you search around on the various plant-based Facebook groups to see if other people had the same problem.
I know this comment is over a year old, but for anyone else who may be suffering this, here are a few options for you:
#1 - eat more protein-dense vegetables. Beans, peas, lentils, tofu, tempeh, seitan, broccoli, potatoes (skin on), even sweet yellow corn.
#2 - Vitamins B (specifically biotin), C, D (especially D) and E - there are a lot of foods out there that are rich in these vitamins that don't involve meat, dairy, eggs, or honey. Look for them, or take (vegan) supplements daily.
#3 - ensure your daily caloric intake isn't drastically altered (unless you really need to lose some weight). A sudden change in diet is traumatic for the body, but cutting calories is even more so, and many people have expressed hair loss as a result. Essentially, the body tries to cope by "re-routing" blood flow to the more essential parts of the body. The scalp is less important than, say, the hands, so fewer nutrients/oxygen = hair follicles wither and hair? Who really needs it? Toodles!
Hope this helps!
perfect advice. there are shampoos and supplements that can help too. I am going to try Biosil (amazon). add protein powder to smoothies, lower stress in your life, amino acids, omega 3s , zink, biotine, collen, vitemin e and vitamin C are supposed to help.
(not an expert, just did some research)
I am very excited to.to try your recipes. They look amazing! My doctor is vegan and has been working hard to get me to go plant based since my breast cancer diagnosis . I've tried, and continue to do so, but stumble from time to time. I do miss mac and cheese, hot dogs, brisket and the like, but your cheese and gravy recipes seem very promising to me...as they say in Fried Green Tomatoes" "...secret's in the sauce..." and I belive good sauces help everything! So, II am intrigued and hope to follow your example and improve my health and life! Thank you for setting the example!
I wish I could find a vegan doctor! Are you in Portland by any chance?
Yes, I am. And if you are too - maybe consider looking up Dr. Craig McDougall who works at OSHU.
"There has NEVER been a case of protein deficiency recorded in the medical journals. Ever. As long as you eat enough calories, you’ll get plenty of protein."
Just love this quote Chuck - the amount of times I get asked "But where do you get your protein???"