Updated: Mar 19
By Samantha Goodman
Samantha Goodman is a PlantEd Project Ambassador based in Toronto, ON.
I started coming to the cooking sessions ran out of Jackie’s family home during the summer of 2017. I was hooked from the first time I attended. The people were awesome, the evening was well facilitated and the food was delicious. I started going every single week - it was the perfect way to spend a summer evening.
I continued signing up for every cooking session held for the next two years. I enjoyed experimenting with new recipes and different ways of cooking. I learned how to prepare tofu, I tasted recipes that I couldn’t believe had no animal products and I got to sit around and have a “family” dinner. It’s a great memory from my time in university.
At this time I wasn't vegan or vegetarian. I loved cheese and I didn’t understand how you could get protein without eating meat. I also found it hard enough to cook for myself so I couldn’t imagine limiting the few recipes I knew how to make. But the more sessions I attended, the more I started incorporating plant-based meals into my every day life. Fast forward to November 2019 when I was living in Toronto and adjusting to working full time.
Fast forward to November 2019 when I was living in Toronto and adjusting to working full time. My mom suggested that we watch the documentary called “The Game Changers” on Netflix, which is about plant-based eating from the perspective of famous athletes. I wasn’t that interested at first, but she insisted and said that her non-vegan friends thoroughly enjoyed it. Finally, I agreed but on the condition that we turn it off within the first ten minutes if we don’t like it.
I have no idea when the ten-minute mark was. I was immediately intrigued by the compelling story. I’d never been exposed to the health aspects of a vegan lifestyle or seen the human perspective. The documentary took us through how eating animal products impacts your intestines, your digestion and your overall health. I have Crohn’s disease which is an autoimmune disease that is the inflammation of the small intestine. I am on medication to manage the disease but I am always researching different diets that can help during flare-ups. I was immediately fascinated by the vegan diet as a way to manage symptoms of Crohn’s such as bloating and stomach pain.
After the documentary, I turned to my mom and said: “Let’s do it. Let’s give it a try.” She wanted to take it slowly by starting out with a vegetarian diet and moving towards veganism. I knew that I wanted to feed off of the momentum from the documentary and go all the way. I went to the fridge and unpacked the turkey and cheese sandwich I had prepared for lunch. I roasted red peppers, cooked quinoa and drizzled on olive oil to replace my original lunch for work.
That was four months ago. Since then, Jackie has come to visit and helped us through the process. It has been an fascinating journey. I have re-negotiated my relationship with food and what I put in my body. I am a lot more conscious of what I am eating and if I am getting enough calcium and protein. It has not always been easy. My mom has been a huge help and I am thankful that we are doing it together, along with my dad who joined after he watched the documentary. I’m grateful to have PlantEd Project as a resource and Jackie as an incredible vegan mentor and friend!
People often ask me how long I am going to be vegan for. I tell them that as long as I am feeling good, I’m going to stick with it. There is no end date or final goal. I am going based on how I feel and for now, I’m feeling pretty great.
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