A Texas Vegan

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No more piggies, and chickens, and cows. Oh, my! That’s right, this born and raised Texas COW-girl is no longer eating meat. As of mid January 2020, I am a clean, plant-based vegan. Never in my wildest dreams did I predict those words would come out of my mouth, much less pivot into a lifestyle. I guess you could say that for me, it was a real GAME CHANGER!

Over the years, experts convinced me that high protein was best for my challenged muscles. Then why did a tiny cringe tickle my spine every time I sank my teeth into a piece of meat? Embarrassing to say, this feeling was less altruistic, and more self-centered. I was more concerned about the unknown chemicals and toxins the chicken was delivering to my body, than the chicken itself. The longer I ate my daily piece of chicken, the less “right” it felt. But, who was I to contradict the experts’ advice? Plus, I was not the cook in the family so gratitude and a smile would have to suffice.

Hence, I continued my rendezvous with a recurring date of suspect chicken. Then one day, during the summer of 2019, a dear Aggie friend, Scott, asked me if I’d seen a Netflix documentary called The Game Changers. Now, Scott is known not only for his laugh, but his easy-going attitude and fantastic sense of humor. Hours of entertainment included gifting me items such as The Clapper and a giant, plastic wind up key, easily suctioned to the back of my wheelchair. At first, I didn’t take him too seriously, but I had never seen him embrace anything with such conviction like he did this movie. 

Every conversation with my friend mentioned The Game Changers. After six months, Scott’s uncharacteristic persistence prevailed. This movie sounded intriguing, and my interest peaked. I was all in, yet a major hurdle still needed to be conquered since the literal power was not mine. The Netflix account was not in my name, nor the remote control in my hand. Even at my mature age, I would have to defer this to the tv marshal, aka Dave Marshall, aka Dad. The one who loves to eat, yet is known for despising the Food Network, or anything remotely related.

Fall passed, unlike Scott’s excitement for the documentary. A January visit to Dallas and the Marshall household allowed him to talk The Game Changers up to my parents in person. Now we were getting somewhere, I thought. My dad placated him with head nods and smiles while trying to act interested. This was not going to be easy. Scott’s charismatic charms seemed futile with my father.

After a few more calls from Scott and mentions from me, my dad agreed. Mom and I quickly huddled around the tv before he reversed his decision. Finally, the moment I’d been waiting for was coming to fruition! This is it. Until I heard him shrill, “OH, GAW’D!”. “What in the world could have elicited such a fierce reaction?”, I thought. Did he read the previews?…He read the previews. Still determined, I reminded him of his agreement with Scott to watch. Mom and I were riveted from the beginning. Dad, not so much. Like a school boy in time out, fidgeting and tapping ensued after a few minutes. To my dismay, his good efforts led to walking away. Credit was due for trying.

All hope was not lost. God’s timing is perfect, even in the simplest of life’s passings. The next day, dad’s frustrations were coming to a slow boil as his favorite NFL teams were losing. Suddenly, out of nowhere, on his own accord, I viewed a giant capital N sprawled across the tv screen from the corner of my eye. I pulled my head out of my computer and held my breath. Was he really headed to Netflix? Were we really about to finish The Game Changers? “Awesome!”, I yelled, as I set the computer aside and called my mom to join us.

Viewing The Game Changers was a game changer for our entire family. I could finally understand why Scott thought it was so important for us to watch.  Viewing on his own terms, Dad was glued to the screen the entire time. The plant-based message had begun to sink in. At the conclusion of the movie, dad asked me, “So, are you going vegan?”. Without hesitating, I replied, “I sure am!”

After The Game Changers marinated dad’s brain for 24 hours, he casually made a statement declaring, “I think I can do that vegan thing”. Mentally, mom and I were already on board, and that’s all we needed to hear. So on January 14, 2020, all three of us officially became clean, plant-based vegans.

Mom’s homemade vegan pizza

The absolute truth is that ALL of the credit goes to my mother, Mary Ann Marshall. She is the implementer of this lifestyle. Without her, none of this would be possible and I would probably be frequenting the Mickey D’s. drive-thru, ordering a meatless Big Mac with saltless fries. Refashioning her entire way of cooking, mom creatively turned old, faithful recipes into new ones. Her flexibility and adaptability to transform our meals was admirable. Her famous Chicken Tortilla soup endured only minor tweaks such as portabella mushrooms instead of chicken, and vegetable broth for chicken broth. Different, yes, yet still, absolutely delicious! Discovering new recipes, or adding more beans, nuts, fruits, and veggies to old recipes was not always easy, yet she figured it out. Mom’s dedicated work ethic and willingness to change proves her undeniable love for family.

Portabella Mushroom Tortilla soup

One of the main premises of The Game Changers conveys how vegan athletes have the advantage over their opponents. These athletes perform with more energy, strength, and endurance, just by being plant-based. During my research on Charcot Marie Tooth, I found that bodies affected by CMT, like mine, have a hard time converting food to energy. Hopefully, going vegan will help my body perform more efficiently and give me that much needed edge.

The person most impacted by this new lifestyle was my father. He lost 12 pounds in 12 days!! Fast Forward 3 months,..Dad dropped 30 pounds!! His circulation increased, his inflammation decreased, and his blue eyes sparkled. Those were just the obvious, external transformations. He also e got a perfect report from his cardiologist. I was so proud of him! In turn, I could tell he was proud of himself, basking in justly deserved compliments.

To our surprise, undeniable satisfaction fills our stomachs after removing meat as our main source of protein. Meat is an afterthought, not missed at all. Healthier nutrients fuel new energy for daily activities as well as leaving less of a carbon footprint on the environment. With a nudge from Scott, God has directed this new transition to our lives. The acceptance which welcomed this new transition forward is definitely credited to dad. The execution of our plant-based diet was solely due to mom and her willingness to uproot her cooking style and embrace a vegan way of life for the good of our family. For her, I am very grateful. Most of all, I feel extremely blessed for the food on our table, especially during a pandemic…which we are, hopefully, all taking with strides of faith.

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