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Living the Lifestyle – Richmond magazine

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THE AMBASSADOR

Keva Miller

Cookbook author and founder of FeedShine, a catering and private chef service that provides education surrounding vegan and vegetarian cuisine

What are some of the challenges of having a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle?

It’s really about stepping out of your comfort zone, because most of the challenges can be solved by simply realizing the resources you already have around you. And learning to cook is a must. Unlike a diet based on heavily processed foods, the options to eat out can become slim, which forces you to learn how to cook fresh foods regularly. And this is what stops many people from delving into curiosity about veganism — they simply don’t know how or what to cook to be fully nourished and satisfied. 

Favorite vegan comfort food?

Curry chickpeas and jasmine rice by far. It’s super simple, cheap, flavorful, warm and comforting — and it’s really filling. It’s my favorite go-to recipe from my cookbook, “Trill Prep.”

Biggest myth about being vegan or vegetarian?

The biggest myth is that the food has to be expensive, and it can’t be as flavorful as a meat-inclusive lifestyle. 

Advice for someone who is interested in becoming vegan or vegetarian?

Start small and follow your curiosity wherever it leads you. Many times we will think we need to throw everything in the kitchen away and start from scratch, but your chances of sticking with changes [increase] when you give yourself room to learn.

THE ACTIVIST

Krissi Vandenberg

Executive director of Vegan Action, a nonprofit that certifies vegan products worldwide

When and why did you become a vegan?

I grew up being an animal lover and wanted to help animals ever since I can remember. It felt like a natural choice to stop eating animals. 

What are some of the challenges you’ve experienced related to having a vegan lifestyle?

A lot of folks feel immediately defensive and either make fun of veganism, defend their choice to eat animals or work hard to break down the reasons for being vegan. So I make it clear that I’ve made my decision, and I’m not living my life to judge other people, but instead try to have an open conversation. 

Favorite vegan comfort food?

Breakfast food. Sometimes I’ll make a big breakfast at home, but there are quite a few places in Richmond that have great vegan breakfast options like Postbellum, Harrison Street Cafe, 821 Cafe, Lamplighter and The Daily. 

Biggest myth about being vegan?

That it’s expensive and elitist. Eating vegan is about eating food from plants. It’s about shopping at the farmers market or the grocery store, getting the basic staples and learning how to cook easy and delicious food at home. 

Advice for someone who is interested in becoming vegan or vegetarian?

It’s really important to not get too caught up in the label. If you need to be vegetarian most of the time or “vegan curious,” that’s a great start.

THE COMMUNITY BUILDER

Brenda Morris

Founder of the Richmond Veg Fest and RVA Vegans Meetup, founder and CEO of Humane Investing

When and why did you become a vegan?

I was already vegetarian when I went to college and was beyond thrilled to discover at dinner on our first day that my roommate, Rachel, was also a vegetarian, a rarity in 1990. We were instant best friends and told the world — well, the fraternity brothers and everyone else who would listen — that we were soulmates. Several months later, when Rachel came back from Christmas break, she told me she had gone vegan. I was adamant that I did not want to hear anything about it, as I was not interested. The thought of giving up pizza and soft-serve ice cream was inconceivable! I do not remember what PETA literature she showed me, but I know I joined her in going vegan within two weeks.  

What are some of the challenges you’ve experienced related to having a vegan lifestyle?

Though I have gotten better at this, I still feel hurt and sad when someone I love eats meat in front of me. This happens rarely, so when it does, it is all the more painful. 

Favorite vegan comfort food?

I am a pasta addict.  

Biggest myth about being vegan?

Though I fit the stereotype of being someone who proudly wears my vegan-hood on my sleeve, I have many friends who are quiet about their veganism and only discuss their ethics when asked.

Advice for someone who is interested in becoming vegan or vegetarian?

I would surround myself with as many folks who support your lifestyle as possible, especially in the beginning. We have a meetup group that is great for people who do not always have family or friends who “get them.”

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