Hello there! I am Jade, also known as one of the moderators of this site, vegan chef, awesomely nomadic globe roamer, and international foodie extraordinaire. I want everyone who visits myveganplanet.com to feel as though they have a nice, warm and cozy home at this website…with tons of vegan information and recipes. Therefore, I feel it is important that you know a little about me and why I think veganism is awesome! So sit back, relax, and I’ll tell you a little story…
From Journalist to Chef
When I was seventeen, I moved from my rural home in Northwest Texas to Amarillo, Texas to attend college and continue my studies in Journalism. I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to be when I grew up, but I knew it would involve writing. Maybe I got some influence from my parents, who are both teachers, but nonetheless, my path was a career in communications, not food. I’ve always loved cooking but never really had much of an opportunity to really get into it until I moved out and got my own apartment. I had a tiny kitchen, fully equipped with a half stove, a very small oven, 2 saute pans, and a very small refrigerator. Somehow, I still managed to invite my friends over once a week for giant feasts of Italian cuisine that I learned how to make while watching The Food Network and taking notes. Finally, after a year and half of struggling through college and not really enjoying it, I packed my things into my car, took out forty thousand dollars in loans, and moved to Austin, Texas to attend the Le Cordon Bleu Texas Culinary Academy. I had decided that I could spend ten years in the cooking industry, gain a reputation and learn as much as possible, and then work my way into becoming a food writer, restaurant reviewer, and food critic. At the time, I had spent my entire life as an omnivore. Coming from “beef country” Texas, I could have even been classified as a carnivore who randomly ate bread and potatoes. I had no interest in vegetables, fruits, or anything outside of the world of cheese-covered meat entrees stuffed in bread. You can imagine that attending a French culinary school did not help much in this matter. However, I learned a wealth of information in a very condensed 15 months. After graduating, I moved to Dallas – jobless and very poor – and literally walked door to door asking for work until I landed the Executive Chef position at a Spanish Tapas restaurant called Republic. I was 20.
Learning while Performing
I must have been born with an amazing poker face because at this time in my life, I had no idea what I was doing, but was able to keep it a pretty good secret most of the time. However, with luck, I made a few friends in the culinary industry that helped me out along the way. I was learning how to work quickly and accurately, how to perfect old recipes and make them more cost-effective, how to come up with my OWN recipes on the fly – all while trying to expand my horizons in what I ate. I learned a great deal about Spanish Tapas – many recipes I am currently working on modifications to make them vegan. All in all, the 2 years spent being thrown into the fire after graduating were great for the learning experience, but also instilled some good kitchen habits and skills in me that I will never lose.
Unhealthy and Unhappy
By 2005, I had realized that although I was learning a great deal about cooking, I had stopped paying attention to my health – and it wasn’t so great. Unfortunately, I wasn’t born with the luck of being one of those people that gets to eat whatever they want, never exercise, and stay perfectly fit no matter what. (You know what I’m talking about – we are all friends with that person, yet we secretly want to hate them for being born so lucky…). I had put on some extra weight in culinary school, which was to be expected (fifteen months of eating cream and butter-filled French food in Texas sized portions will do that to you), and I hadn’t done anything to take that weight off. In addition to that, I noticed that at 21 years old, I didn’t have the energy I should have, and my general health seemed a bit weak, as my immune system was low and I was sick often. A lot of you know that turning 21 in America is also the introductory year of alcohol into a person’s life, so just to make things a litle harder on myself, I began dumping pints upon pints of empty calories from beer into my stomach on a weekly basis. Finally, in October of 2006, after going through a horrible break-up and deciding I didn’t want to feel 40 years older than I really was, I started searching for alternative diets and eating habits…trying desperately to change things and feel better inside and out.
In the middle of my research, I had a flashback to a day that my friend Greg had told me about his vegan roommate. That was the first time I had ever even heard of the term or what it meant. Trust me, where I come from, there are no vegans. The first time I went back home to visit my family after going vegan, they stared at me while I ate like I was from another planet. Anyway, I decided to buy a few vegan books and after reading, I chose to give this diet a try for 6 months. The vegan diet appealed to me for 2 reasons: 1) it eliminates all animal products completely, so you literally HAVE to learn to like your vegetables, which was something I knew I needed to do, and 2) it is the only diet that does not cause harm to any living creature whatsoever, which…hey….thats pretty nice, right? I don’t have to kill anything to still be able to eat lovely food and be healthy…why not? About 2 months into my vegan experiment, I noticed some drastic changes in my health. I was losing weight, not rapidly, but it was coming off. I had more energy. My skin was more clear than it had ever been. My eyes seemed brighter and I was definitely feeling better about myself, my health, and life in general. I’m not here to tell you that going vegan will instantly make your life perfect, but I do believe that any positive change made with a positive attitude will end in positive results. At the end of that year, I quit my job as a pastry chef in a high-end steakhouse and got a job working at an all-organic market in Austin, specifically making vegan foods.
2 Years Later…
Here it is, almost 2 and a half years later and my 6 month experiment has turned into a lifestyle for me. Now that I have become familiarized with veganism and vegan cooking techniques, my mission is to start finding ways to convert essentially every type of ethnic cuisine into vegan dishes. That way we can all enjoy the foods from around the world. Hence the point of this website. Anyone who knows me knows how passionate I am about food and travel, so this will be the place where those two things will merge. So this is your opportunity to take as much of the information from this website as you can…or if you have anything to contribute, please email me and let me know. I want this thing to be great.