My Journey to a Vegan Life
Hello my name is Vegan Chef Gueli aka Chef Gully. Growing up in Ethiopia, I would always find myself in the kitchen, taking in the aromas and watching in awe as the women prepared meals. Cooking has always been my passion, but I didn’t realize that I could turn my passion into a career until my son was born with severe food allergies. That’s when I decided to quit my 9-5 and become a stay-at-home mom.
When I went out with friends, plant-based options in non-vegan restaurants were very limited. I would find myself not being able to eat because the menus contained foods that were either cooked in butter, soy, or oil tainted with animal by-products. Since I have always enjoyed cooking, I would constantly have friends and family over for an all-vegan dinner parties. Eventually, my friends encouraged me to turn my passion into a career, and here I am!
How and Why I Became Vegan
For 7 years, I suffered from Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis -inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) & inflammatory bowel syndrome (IBS.) My doctors informed me that my condition was incurable and that I would be required to take 16 pills a day, for the rest of my life, to keep my symptoms at bay. My quality of life was poor and I was in constant pain.
In 2008, I met my husband, who had been vegan since 2006. His journey was sparked by his chronic asthma flare-ups and his desire to become a healthier person. To this day, he no longer suffers from asthma. Upon hearing his story, I was intrigued about a plant-based lifestyle. I was honestly a bit skeptical about embarking on a plant-based journey because it was completely foreign to me, but knew I was ready for a change.
My husband never forced his way of life on me; he simply made suggestions and lived by example. Because of him, I was inspired to change my eating habits. Less than a month after eliminating animal products from my diet, I was symptom free. Due to this simple lifestyle change, I was able to combat my diagnosis and never look back! Needless to say, my life has forever been altered and I am thriving. I am grateful to my husband, my soul mate, my backbone, for helping me get on this path to better health. We make a great team! Best of all, we have been blessed with the most amazing son.
A Vegan Family
I will never forget this particular moment. My son and I were at the juice bar at Whole Foods, and had ordered kale juice. My son, who was 2 years old at the time, was being totally impatient. He was excited to get his green juice because it was his absolute favorite! As soon as he had it in his hands, he started to gulp it down. The lady standing in line behind me was totally shocked! As she gasped out of shock, I inquired if everything was ok. She told me she was blown away to witness how excited my son was to have kale juice, and wished her kids would do the same. My answer to her was, “That’s all he knows! He has never had added sugar and this kale juice is sweet to him because of the natural sweetness of the apples in the juice.”
Although that was my first incident of this kind, we have had, and continue to have, many moments like it! Parents are sometimes shocked that my son has never had candy, and that his favorite meals include lots of leafy greens and “scary” vegetables!
Not only did we introduce fruits and vegetables to our son at a young age, but we also live by what we preach – we eat our veggies! So, to new parents who want to introduce a healthy way of eating to their kids: live by example and introduce vegetables & fruits at an early age.
For those who wish to make a transition, I have plenty of “kid-approved” plant-based recipes that contain “hidden” vegetables to help your child transition and ease into this lifestyle.