Change is daunting. Unfamiliarity is uncomfortable.
Recently, I made a change. I went from pescatarian to plant-based. As a pescatarian, I didn’t consume any land animals. What that left was: fish & seafood, eggs, and dairy. February 2014 was the last time I ate meat. I never saw myself going back there, I saw myself moving closer and closer to veganism.
I wasn’t big on veggies, but in the fall of 2016, I ate less dairy and a lot more vegetables. My eating habits made a U-turn into the world of veggies. Shamelessly, I’ll admit that I ate a salad almost every day for lunch that semester. What can I say? They were easy to customize. With limited options, my taste buds adapted to the point where I crave vegetables (especially broccoli).
It was easier to eat vegan at school because the only time I ate seafood was when I got a tuna wrap or had seafood pasta in Little Italy. I ate vegan about 85% of the time. I was more than halfway there, but why couldn’t I commit?
Whenever I went home, I ate a lot of fish and seafood because that’s what people eat in the Bahamas. It’s culture. It’s second nature. How do you go to Sunday dinner and not eat anything? How do you pass up tuna and grits in the morning? How do you go to Bamboo Shack and not order a conch snack? How? All of this is what I was trying to wrap my head around for months. I feared change. I feared potentially feeling disconnected from my culture.
In the beginning of summer, I continued with pescetarianism. However, when my family went fishing (it was my first time), I felt remorseful. It was disheartening to me. I saw it as us luring fish out of their vast ocean and into a tiny, crowded bucket of water. Daunting, uncomfortable, and unnecessary.
After procrastinating out of sheer fear of knowledge, I finally watched What the Health on Netflix, a documentary about the cons of consuming animal products and the benefits of a plant-based diet. In case you’re curious, here are some pros:
- Lower cholesterol
- Lessen your chance of type 2 diabetes
- Happy colon (lots and lots of fiber)
- Non-excessive protein intake (most people who eat meat tend to have too much): For reference, one chicken breast has 31g of protein, and if you have that twice a day, that’s 62g. For women, the recommended protein intake is approximately 46g.
- Great for the environment: most of the rainforests being torn down are for the sake of animal agriculture. Animal agriculture also uses a large percentage of the earth’s water (for more information watch Cowspiracy or visit their website)!
- More energy, less fatigue
- Overall health – with a wide variety of whole plant-based foods, there’s no doubt that you’ll get a ton of vitamins and minerals.
What’s difficult about veganism is social eating, especially in the Bahamas. However, you learn to bring your own food to family gatherings, or smile and say “no thank you.” At restaurants, it can be a bit more difficult. Most servers will ask if there are any food allergies, so that’s the chance to go ahead and say “hey, I’m vegan, so I don’t eat any animal products.” Sometimes you’ll be accommodated, but other times you might have to make do with several sides as one meal.
Fortunately, there are two vegan eateries in Nassau that I know of. Lil Mustard Seed and Eat Right Delights both have excellent options for plant based meals. Unfortunately, I wouldn’t recommend you make plans to sit down and eat at either of these places. They either have limited seating or none. You can, however, always order ahead and take it to go. Regardless, their food is delicious. You should try it even if you aren’t vegan.
One thing that makes a plant-based diet easy for me is the fact that I can eat oatmeal every day for breakfast and be happy. However, if you desire variety, YouTube is your friend. Some of my favorite Vegan YouTubers are ApplesandAmandas, Liv B, Caitlin Shoemaker, SweetPotatoSoul, and Tess Begg! Liv B, Caitlin Shoemaker, and SweetPotatoSoul (aka Jenne Claiborne) all have blogs with tons of recipes if you’re not into YouTube videos.
It’s unrealistic to expect people to change over night. It’s important to remember that sometimes the little things have the greatest impact. You can swap out cow’s milk for almond milk, cashew milk, soy milk, etc. You can even go meatless once a week and take it from there. Baby steps.
I chose ignorance for so long because I feared change and I saw eliminating things from my diet as a loss for myself, as opposed to something positive for the environment, myself, and the animals. My transition didn’t happen over night. It was a process. It took time.
Don’t fear change,