NAME: Marsha-Gail Davis
OCCUPATION: Medical Student
LOCATION: The sunny city of San Diego
WEBSITE: Bangin’ Bird Food
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN VEGAN? AND WHAT INSPIRED YOUR JOURNEY?
I’ve been a bangin’ bird food eater as I like to call it for almost 2 years now. Best decision of my life, hands down! Hmmm….what inspired me? Well, I’ve kinda been obsessed with health since I was a teen. I just had this desire to figure out how to achieve the highest level of health because I felt in that way I could really live life to its fullest potential.
Health is absolutely wealth! If you don’t have health you really don’t have much. So as I got older, I started getting more and more curious about how I could really achieve this level of great health. In high school, my mother already began making some changes in the house. She stopped buying white bread and lessened the amount of processed snacks in the pantry. At the same time I was going through my own little journey and started making small changes here and there. I stopped eating so many snacks, replacing them with fruit for lunch, I became addicted to water and started educating myself about processed food and meat. Things really started changing once I entered college where I became more conscious and convicted that plants were the way to go.
“Convicted” seems like such a strong word but it was that intense of a pull to live this way. It just made serious sense to me. This change became evident to my friends who started buying me raw cookbooks for birthday gifts, pointing out that all I ate was “bird food” and being such willing taste testers of my homemade smoothies and granola. I would go months without eating meat and began to realize that I didn’t really miss it. There was one memory in particular where I hadn’t eaten meat for I think two months and I felt like trying some chicken again one night at dinner time. I just remember taking about two bites and being done. I don’t what it was but I just could not eat the rest. I had no appetite for it. Once out of college, I really began to do my research and started reading anything and everything I could get my hands on about eating right and food production. From documentaries like Eating, Food Inc. and Forks Over Knives to books like By Any Greens Necessary and The China Study and many other media forms, I just tried to expose myself to as much information as possible.
HAS VEGANISM ENHANCED YOUR HEALTH? WHY OR WHY NOT?
I always say that it has improved my life by infinity because the benefits are never ending. In general, I feel so much lighter. Lighter when I eat, in weight, in spirit. I feel incredible because it just feels like exactly what I need to do for my body. I’ve had many a flu or cold seasons pass me by without contracting the dreaded stuffy nose and congested head.
Energy, clear skin, the same weight I had in high school, regularity, mental clarity and the ability to consistently wake up around 3 or 4 in the morning without feeling horribly groggy have sealed the deal for me. The best part for me is that I absolutely do not feel restricted. My bird food is bangin’, real talk. I really enjoy eating this way. It’s a win win situation all the way.
IN RETROSPECT, HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT MEAT? OR DO YOU HAVE ANY THOUGHTS ON AMERICA’S MEAT INDUSTRY?
I am just about ready to get on my soap box! Don’t cut the mic, haha. The way meat is produced in this country tells me one thing: Companies are more concerned about profits than people. It is so sad because many people don’t know where their meat comes from, the conditions of the slaughterhouse and the process and are putting a lot of trust in the industry to provide them with high quality food. The reality is that the food isn’t high quality because the processing is neither sanitary nor humane. Google fecal soup and check out this article, for example.
Granted there are those honest farmers who really strive to produce high quality meat, which brings me to my second soap box point. When you think about something that is high quality, it should have more profound benefits than adverse effects.
In the case of meat, I think it is associated with the latter. You do get quite a bit of protein that your body needs but in addition, you things you don’t need like cholesterol, saturated fat, meat-induced inflammation and the list kinda goes on. With plants, it’s all benefit. They just want to do their job and make your life amazing!
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?
When I first began, I didn’t have much of a community. My sister was doing the switch with me so we were support for each other but I was always the only one in group settings. The norm became, “Oh, Marsha doesn’t eat that” or “We have to have something different for Marsha” or “You know you can’t eat that because you’re vegan.”
It wasn’t isolating because I was sold on my decision and embraced the process but it is always better to have that support. It makes a big difference. So I decided to start a blog that aims to connect with all people and create excitement about plant love while lessening the hesitant attitude towards trying a plant-based diet, especially in the black community. The name is Bangin’ Bird Food, a no brainer :).
Because I’m a nerdy knowledge addict and I love to cook, it’s a fusion between an informative resource (citing current scientific research, the news, facts about protein sources, etc) and a food blog where I can share recipes and entertaining stories. I also love the idea of connecting individuals and sharing stories, so in addition to sharing my own story, I plan showcase the journeys of other bird food eaters so that people can connect and be inspired by each other.
DO YOU HAVE ANY ONE OR TWO TIPS ON TRANSITIONING INTO VEGANISM?
Knowing what works for you is the first step. If gradual works for you, take gradual steps, but if you are a cold turkey kinda person, tell the Standard American Diet that it’s about that time. You will know what you are ready for. I was kind of a combo. I was already gradually lessening meat eating in college and then after I graduated decided finally to go all the way and never looked back.
- The first thing you have to do is educate yourself. Once you have consolidated all that info in your brain, its like some kind of natural synergistic reaction happens that gives you the much needed motivation to make the switch and make it a successful one.
- The second thing is creativity and openness. You have to be wiling to try new things and be creative with cooking. If you seek to have variety in your meals, you will find them to be pretty exciting and enjoyable. You’ll be surprised at some of the things you will grow to like and learn how to prepare food in a new way. Enjoying how much you are learning and embracing the process makes the experience a really beautiful one. So scout as many blogs as possible and enjoy eating deliciousness on a regular basis.
- Lastly, keep your eye on the prize. If it gets hard, always remember why you made the decision in the first place and it will bring you right back to your focus. Over time, it will all become second nature and you might be shocked that you’ve been living on plants alone for a year without the desire to go back. Be happy and healthy!
Are you a vegan, vegetarian, or pescatarian? Email firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to be featured in the Black Vegetarian Series. Check back every Tuesday and Friday for a new profile! Click to read past profiles here.