The Quarantined Vegan

In mid-March of this year, the powers that be in NYC began the process of closing down the entire city. Although this wasn’t the first pandemic to occur in New York (I counted and I think this is the third one I’ve lived through), it was the first to occur on such a large magnitude that it forced the closures of schools, businesses, restaurants and more.

Like millions of other people in the city, I thought about so many different things when this first happened. Safety, security and the unimaginable things to come. I was blessed to be working in a job that allowed me to work from home. I wasn’t sick and I could take care of myself. But the whole idea– or reality, of a global pandemic really did take me– and this country, by storm.

Watching mom’s cat stare longingly out the window. Yeah, we all wanna go outside too.

Being vegan in the middle of a pandemic can certainly have its challenges. However, those challenges are largely dependent on where you’re located. As many vegans (and non-vegans) have seen, prices have unfairly skyrocketed due to the massive and unprecedented shift in supply and demand when it comes to meat and dairy products. That’s one side of things. On the other hand, vegan goods have remained steady in their pricing, if not cheaper. Again, supply and demand. Although a global health crisis is the last thing I would want to occur in order to bring attention to veganism and vegan food, that’s sort of the way it happened.

Made lots of veggies during quarantine. And upped my bread-baking game by like 1,000.

Personally, I did face a few challenges, but they weren’t bad enough that I haven’t been able to keep up with my vegan lifestyle. Yes, I live in NYC, a recognized mecca of vegan food. However, New York City is a big place– well, geographically it’s not that big, but you know what I mean. I don’t live in Manhattan or any of the areas of the city in which I would be able to easily access highly sought-after vegan products. I could travel to some places not too far away, but in my attempt to truly quarantine myself, I decided not to go that route. Luckily for me, I’d already been eating more of a whole foods diet. This not only became the prominent way in which I’d find myself eating for the past couple of months (well, that, and pasta), it also made me realize the reality of the foods we consume and the disillusion involved in the American diet– yet again.

I had to really stop and think about why it seemed so drastic to eat the foods that so many people thrive on, day after day, year after year. The foods that I hail as being the earth’s way of giving us all the nutrients we could ever need. The foods that so many Black and Brown and Latinx and Asian and Indigenous people have survived and thrived on for literally centuries. I thought about the perils that I have written about before– that even when you’re vegan, it doesn’t automatically mean you’re healthy. Now, I understand that this is a loaded and highly debated sentence.

I get it. I understand. Please don’t “@” me.

There are no vegan foods that contain cholesterol. Most vegan food is way healthier when compared to its non-vegan counterparts, even if its cooked in butter, or oil, or fried. But it’s something to really think about. We should never stop fighting for veganism for all the reasons we do. Animals, the planet, our health, and more. I’m simply saying we have to have the same foresight about a vegan diet that we should have for anything else.

Tried some amazing vegan noms from The Stoop in Ridgewood, Queens.

A whole foods, plant-based diet is one of the only diets that can truly survive a pandemic. And this time, it’s not just a weird vegan saying this– we’re currently living through the proof of it.

There was never a shortage of canned goods. Beans, rice, pasta, veggies and fruits were all killing it in the supermarkets. Baking your own bread became the biggest trending thing on Vegan IG and probably all of foodie IG. Not only that, but these are the foods that we need to eat to strengthen our immune systems and make them the savage, virus-fighting things we know they’re capable of being.

Being on lock down kind of forced me to rethink the way I eat– and this is already something that I think about often as I continue try to navigate my love of comfort, soul and junk food, all of the vegan variety. Even more so– it’s kinda hard not to want to revel in comfort food goodness when the world seems to be falling apart around you.

But there was even more to it than that. Trying to walk the fine line of enjoying life and understanding that what we eat is not the center of that life, but also that life can be enjoyed to the fullest when we are healthy and truly happy is an interesting thing.

Exploring the beauty of one of my favorite parks in the city, and social distancing like a boss.

So basically, I spent most of quarantine baking a lot of bread, finally being able to try new vegan noms after what felt like forever, doing home work outs, and even going to one of my favorite parks– once.

But I actually did recognize one thing to be true: the less I consciously thought about that fine line I just mentioned, the more I naturally walked it with perfect balance. Positivity breeds positivity. Effort breeds effort. Consciousness breeds more consciousness.

I worked from home, I talked with and met new and interesting fellow vegan folks, I Zoomed with vegans all around the world. I got to watch a virtual screening of vegan short films and meet with the organizer of the International Vegan Film Festival. I lived life to the extent I was able to, living in the most bustling city in the world that was, for one of the first times in history, no longer bustling.

Lessons are to be learned from everything that happens in life. So here are the lessons I learned living as a quarantined vegan:

  • Stay vegan. And if you’re not vegan, go vegan– like now.
  • Fruits and veggies have continued to hold the championship belt when it comes to winning in the arena of food.
  • Live life and enjoy every moment as much as possible.
  • Don’t take anything or anyone for granted– and really, how many opportunities do we all get to recognize this one, and still don’t?
  • Virtual meet ups are kinda my jam.
  • All hail carbs– still.

I hope everyone has remained safe and healthy during this crazy time in history, whether you have been directly or indirectly affected. I hope that everyone remains faithful that things will get better, and I hope that everyone takes this time to rethink what it means to live a happy, healthy and thriving life.

Globe with mask image courtesy of Anna Shvets via Pexels.com.

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