Name: Demeriese Naima Valier
Location: Baton Rouge, LA
How long have you been vegan? And what inspired your journey?
I’ve been vegan for one year. I started off as an ovo-lacto vegetarian three years ago after taking 6 months to eliminate meats from my diet one by one. What inspired my journey was my desire to release excess weight and to achieve optimum health. I was 125 pounds overweight and that does not mix very well when you live in Louisiana during the summer and you have to walk around a big college campus all day. Veganism is but a stop on a trip that started with me cutting soda and processed foods out of my diet and hopefully will end with me eating an 80% raw foods 20% cooked foods vegan diet.
Has veganism enhanced your health? Why or why not?
Vegetarianism and then veganism has definitely enhanced my health. When I first stopped completely eating meat I lost fifty pounds in three months without exercising! My skin has a glow to it now, where before it was just oily. I very rarely get sick, injuries heal faster, and PMS & menstrual pain are a thing of the past. I have more energy than ever and I no longer feel groggy and cranky when I wake up in the morning. I have an overall enhanced sense of well being. Eliminating meat from my diet and fortifying it with natural whole foods has reset my body’s systems. Now they’re working the way they’re supposed to. Going meat free has been the best decision I’ve ever made.
In retrospect, how do you feel about meat? Or do you have any thoughts on America’s meat industry?
At first my going meat free was strictly a health decision, but the longer I did it and the more research I did on the process of getting meat from a farm to a dinner table, the more I realized that I had to remain at least a vegetarian for ethical and spiritual reasons as well. The ethical side of eating meat is what prompted me to go from an ovo-lacto vegetarian diet to a vegan diet. The atrocities that befall factory farm animals is deplorable and I believe that if more people were cognizant of how a cow became the burger that they’re eating, vegetarianism might start to become more appealing to them.
Was there a community of black women that helped you along your meatless journey? And if not, what are you doing to change this for others?
There was not a community of black women to help me along my meatless journey. My father is health conscious and he supported my efforts wholeheartedly. One of my best friends also supported me also. Other than them, I was by myself. I’m from Louisiana and people who are vegetarians are few and far between. Most of the time people can’t fathom the idea of how I’m even still alive after going so long without eating meat. I’m doing my best to just be a living example of how being meat free is a desirable alternative to the standard American diet. I show people that vegan doesn’t mean boring when it comes to food choices. I answer any questions people may have about eating a diet free of animal products and if they request my help or encouragement, I gladly and freely give it.
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