Q: When did you become a vegan?

I went vegan in January 2018, and it’s been great!

Q: Why did you decide to go vegan?

I decided to make the change after witnessing the horrors of factory farming while watching an investigative documentary filmed in the U.S. I had always hated fur-farming and the use of fur and animal skin in clothing or other common goods, but I never really made the connection to the atrocities of factory farming until watching the documentary. So no fur, meat, or dairy for me.

Q: Why vegan and not vegetarian?

Animal agriculture is harmful to the environment - regardless of whether you eat meat or cheese. As an activist, I refuse to be complicit in the abuse of animals in any way, shape, or form. Calves are still separated from their mothers - and male chicks are disposed of. Skipping on dairy products is a small sacrifice to make in comparison to the ones that millions of sentient animals have to make when we decide to consume milk or eggs. And trust me, I love a slice of stuffed-crust pizza just as much as the next person. But for me, it just isn’t worth it.

Q: What changes have you noticed since going vegan?

Since going vegan (more specifically - whole foods, plant based), I have noticed that I feel less lethargic after eating meals. My tolerance for processed sweet foods has gone down substantially, and I have adverse side effects from consuming products with high amounts of sodium. I have also noticed that I am able to consume larger quantities of food than I used to, due to my change in calorie intake. Another one of my favorite changes: I have had the best skin of my life thanks to eating a plant-based diet.

Q: Do vegans need to supplement their diet?

Yes, going vegan means supplementing your diet with Vitamin B12. Unfortunately that can only be found in animal products. The main misconception however, is that vegans need to supplement their diet due to a lack of protein - which is simply untrue. As a vegan you can get enough protein from beans, lentils, soy, etc. Look out for a more in-depth article regarding this topic coming soon!

Q: What resources have helped you since your transition to a vegan diet?

Oddly enough - I actually sought out vegan recipes about a year before I actually transitioned. My first resource was a great website called Pick Up Limes. I really enjoyed the recipes and emphasis on simplicity and minimalism - and I still follow Sadia’s content as a fan! Other resources that I use on a daily basis can be found in my Top Ten Vegan Influencer list.

Q: What impact, if any, has your decision to go vegan had on your family and loved ones?

Well it has been a journey, to say the least. I’m lucky to have a loving and supportive family, however, I won’t sugarcoat it and say it’s always been easy. My boyfriend Matias is from Argentina, so his food culture is centered around meat and dairy products; he was a little bit hesitant at first, but he has been very open and understanding of my choice and he has even tried his hand at some (very good) vegan meals! Since I transitioned we’ve been focusing on eating healthier together, even if he isn’t entirely plant-based. Which, I will stress - is fine. Since I don’t see my family all too often it hasn’t been extremely difficult. There are hiccups every now and then but overall my family has been very supportive and curious about vegan food. I’ll be writing more on this in an upcoming blog post. Stay tuned!

Q: What are some of your go-to meals when you’re in a hurry?

Curry, curry, and more curry. Some of my favorite recipes include jackfruit and oyster mushrooms. The thing I love most about curry is that there really is not a “set” way to do it. I mean - don’t come at me if you are traditionally trained in South and Southeast Asian cooking, but - for me, cooking curry is all about throwing in whatever vegetables I have on hand, adding plenty of spices, and serving it with a bowl of quinoa or rice noodles. Simple and delicious - and quick.

Q: What do you miss the most since going vegan?

If you’re asking about food, pizza has always had a place in my heart. The same can be said for macaroni and cheese. If you’re asking about everything else, there’s nothing to miss.

Q: Where are you from?

I am Afghan-American. My parents are from Afghanistan and I was born in the United States. I grew up in the beautiful state of California - in between San Diego and Los Angeles, which has been great for me especially after becoming vegan because both cities have so much to offer when it comes to vegan food and culture.

Q: What is your professional experience?

I graduated from university with a degree in electrical engineering and I am due to graduate with my masters in systems engineering soon. I have been working - first as an intern, then professional engineer - for almost four years now.