Last Updated on March 5, 2016 by bvnadmin

[vc_row full_width=”” parallax=”” parallax_image=””][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]This story begins and ends where it started: Me confessing my profound love for tender, juicy meat. Steak, pork chops, ribs — you name it, cook it and put it on a plate in front of me. That was my thinking until this summer when I decided to try a new way of living. In the spirit of Jay Z and Beyoncé, I took an August break from beef, pork, chicken, dairy, honey and any other product that comes from an animal or insect. I thought it would be a perfect way to give my body a healthy break leading up to my birthday weekend, which took place in a major meat capital of the world, Texas.

Every time I thought about going vegan prior to this, I found myself in a near panic. How could I give up meat? I had tried Meatless Mondays a few years ago, but they didn’t stick. I even tried a few practice meatless runs to build up my confidence this time. You see, I grew up in a household in New Jersey influenced by my Southern black roots. If a meal didn’t have short ribs, bacon, sausage, meatloaf or turkey wings, it wasn’t a meal, according to my father. I still remember an episode of “The Oprah Winfrey Show” in which Oprah and her Chicago employees took on a week-long vegan challenge. During a behind-the-scenes episode, Oprah said she was surprised some of her male employees embraced the vegan challenge because, in her words, “black men like meat.” It’s part of our culture to eat meat. With heart disease in my family, however, I worry about eating red meat on a regular basis and how that might eventually harm me. After all, recent medical studies have shown the link between eating too much of a good thing — in this case, every cut of red meat you can name — and heart disease, high blood pressure and cancer.[/vc_column_text][vc_separator color=”black” align=”align_center” style=”” border_width=”” el_width=”50″][vc_column_text css_animation=”bottom-to-top” el_class=”boxContainer”]


[/vc_column_text][vc_separator color=”black” align=”align_center” style=”” border_width=”” el_width=”50″][vc_column_text]Going vegan

For 22 days — and some were tougher emotionally for me than others, I made the switch and lived on a plant-based diet after I devoured Beyoncé’s lifestyle guru’s Marco Borges’ book, “The 22-Day Revolution,” which claims to “transform your body, reset your habits and change your life.” The book is filled with the type of motivational stories you might find on a daytime talk show, perfectly styled photos of vegan meals like chickpea sandwiches, quinoa-stuffed red peppers and cauliflower salad, and a forward by Queen Bey herself, in which she says, “If a Houston-born foodie like me can do it, you can too — you just need to try it for 22 days.”

Before I went vegan, I did what any carnivore in their right mind would do: I had the most amazing steak dinner of my life. Alexander’s Steakhouse, which has restaurants in places like Taipei, San Francisco and Cupertino (yes, I was told it’s a favorite among Apple executives), opened in Pasadena, just outside L.A., and the wagyu beef selections, with their perfect marbling, flavor and tenderness, were beyond heavenly. Days after this exquisite, five-star meal, I went vegan for 22 days. Cold turkey. The program is 22 days because the long-standing belief is that you can break a habit in 21 days.[/vc_column_text][vc_single_image image=”3066″ alignment=”” style=”” border_color=”grey” img_link_large=”” img_link_target=”_self” css_animation=”appear” img_size=”full”][vc_single_image image=”3067″ alignment=”” style=”” border_color=”grey” img_link_large=”” img_link_target=”_self” css_animation=”appear” img_size=”full”][vc_column_text]There are countless stories in Borges’ book about people who started plant-based diet and within two or three weeks had dropped 10 to 20 pounds. I assumed I would drop some leftover weight after having lost about 30 pounds during the past year. I ended up with three problems I wasn’t expecting: I was gassy — uncontrollably so (a Google search turned up stories about how being gassy was a newbie vegan mistake); my movements were slower and very deliberate as if my body wanted conserve energy; and anytime I ate, even if I was full, I felt a strange emptiness at my core as if my body was longing for meat. If you’re going to try a plant-based diet, you have to be prepared. Stock up on spices and healthy vegan selection (Borges’ book includes a grocery list) and take my advice: there’s nothing wrong with taking longer than 22 days to allow your body to adjust. My first three days were iffy:

Day 1: I managed to get in a workout as recommended in the book. Overall, I feel full from lentils and brown rice and I’m still energized for the most part.

Day 2: I can hardly get out of bed. I’m consumed by a massive headache, one like I’ve never felt before. I might have to go to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. My body must be going through a meat withdrawal.

Day 3: Still not feeling 100 percent. This plan may not work out for me.

By the third and fourth days, I began to feel somewhat normal with every bite of lentils, brown rice and fruit but I was still moody and still gassy.[/vc_column_text][vc_single_image image=”3064″ alignment=”” style=”” border_color=”grey” img_link_large=”” img_link_target=”_self” css_animation=”appear” img_size=”full”][vc_column_text]After the seventh day, my headaches were mostly gone. I didn’t crave meat and I stuck to a rotation of lentils, rice, quinoa and other plant-based options. Having once trained as an amateur natural bodybuilder, I knew I had to stay focused and disciplined on this diet.

To cut down on costs, I skipped ordering meals through the website associated with Borges’ book,, which would have been about $630 for 22 days of meals. Instead I supplemented my homemade meals with delicious organic protein bars from 22 Days Nutrition, which packed 20 grams of protein and were non-GMO, plant-based and gluten- and soy-free.

I spent most of my free time researching vegetables packed with the most protein such as peas, kale and spinach, and for about three weeks I ate combinations of broccoli, Brussels sprouts, eggplant, black beans, brown rice, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, blueberries, strawberries, pineapple, bananas and other fruits and vegetables. (I’m allergic to soy so tofu was off my list.) When friends asked to meet for lunch, I insisted on Chipotle, which has vegan options, or rescheduling entirely for after my 22 days. Friends admired my will power but several said they’d never opt for a plant-based diet.[/vc_column_text][vc_separator color=”grey” align=”align_center” style=”” border_width=”” el_width=””][vc_column_text css_animation=””]Continue reading this article on
Words by Marques Harper
Photography by Aundre Larrow