I'm Sam Turnbull, vegan recipe blogger, and bestselling cookbook author, writing to you from Toronto, Canada.
Here's my story...
You might be surprised to hear that the moment I decided I was going to go vegan, I was completely and utterly bummed about it.
Let me explain, I NEVER in a million years thought I would become vegan.
I grew up in a family of foodies, chefs, butchers, and hunters (yes, it's true). My household had a flock of chickens (both for eggs and for eating), the freezers were stocked full of meat, steaks were cooked rare, and there were even real animal heads decorating the walls (not that I ever liked the heads). Now, doesn’t that just sound like the most vegan household you have ever heard of? Probably not. So, as I’m sure you can imagine, switching to veganism was a BIG change for me.
So what in the world happened?
As a kid I always loved animals. I had dogs, cats, gerbils, turtles, and even a rabbit named Gravy (no, I didn’t realize how incredibly odd that was at the time). But even though I loved animals, I was still an avid meat eater. It made sense to me: animals were killed because we “needed” to eat meat and that seemed a-ok to me.
I thought vegetarians, and especially vegans, were so extreme and silly. They were all dying of protein deficiency for sure. (Insert eye roll here.) So, that’s how I was coasting along through life. Loving my pets, being creeped out by fur and taxidermy, all while wearing leather and eating meat, eggs, and dairy.
One fine day in 2012, I made (what turned out to be) the best decision ever: to sit down and watch a documentary about being vegan called "Vegucated". And that triggered some uncomfortable questions in my brain.
So the next morning I woke up and decided to try being vegan. I cleaned out my cupboards and fridge of anything that wasn't vegan and started this crazy new adventure. I knew I wanted to try it, but I also knew I wasn't entirely convinced yet, so that night I watched "Forks Over Knives". And then I followed that up with every health, environment, and animal cruelty book and film I could get my hands on.
The result? You guessed it, here I am today, dun dun duuuuun! A vegan. (Hi!) 👋
By the end of my documentary and book binge-fest, two things were absolutely clear to me:
- I was officially going vegan.
- I didn’t want to be vegan.
After all of my research, it made 100% logical sense to me to be vegan. It was better for my health, the environment, and, of course, the animals. The problem was, I actually hated the idea of adopting a vegan lifestyle. I remember being so frustrated, almost wishing I could unlearn all of the facts I had learned. I loved meat and cheese, and I really didn’t want to be “that weird vegan girl.” Well, I couldn’t unlearn, so I had to come up with a new plan of attack: be the best damn vegan I could be!
Becoming the best damn vegan I could be...
I had always loved to cook, so I started researching vegan cooking. I stocked my cupboards with what the recipes required: hard-to-find, expensive, and odd ingredients such as arrowroot starch, brown rice syrup, xylitol, guar gum, spelt, hemp, and other things that I still have lingering in some back corner.
All the recipes had names that included the words “energy,” “glow,” “detox,” or “power,” and were mainly for bars, balls, juices, smoothies, and salads. They required hours of prep, dehydrating, and straining, and had a ton of steps.
Cookies were raw, chocolate was frozen, desserts were healthy, dinner was spiralized, grain bowls were a must, and everything had kale, quinoa, chia seeds, sprouts, avocado, and coconut oil in it. This, to me, was indeed boring food
Now, don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with those kinds of recipes. They just weren’t for me. Sometimes I love a smoothie or juice, but for the most part, I just want pancakes and pasta. Why did I have to become all sprouts and kale just because I was vegan?
So, I began playing around in the kitchen...
Not only were my new creations satisfying, hearty, full of flavour, and straight-up delicious, but they were just as easy to make as any other meal. With limitation came inspiration, and before I knew it, going vegan had become one of the best decisions I’d ever made!
As a sweet bonus, I saw my health improve. I didn’t even know that I had been feeling bad until I learned what it felt like to truly feel great! Gone were the days of feeling bloated after eating, of having a sensitive stomach, of getting drowsy mid-afternoon, of unbuttoning my jeans after meals, and of feeling guilty and grossed out when I thought about what my dinner really was. I was now healthier, leaner, more energetic, and just overall happier.
The best and most surprising part of going vegan was that I absolutely loved it!
I started to document my recipes so I could make them again and again. At first, I was just taking quick snaps on my phone and jotted down the ingredients, but I decided a better plan was to (not so subtly) woo my friends, family, and anyone who would listen to the greener side by sharing my recipes online. And so this blog, It Doesn’t Taste Like Chicken, was born. Hot dang, it worked! Friends, family, vegans, vegetarians, and omnivores from across the world were making my recipes — and raving about them!
As the feedback started rolling in, I fell in love with recipe writing. It was so fun, creative, and tasty! Not only that, but I was helping to show people that a plant-based diet can be totally delicious, easy, doable, and good for you! Now, fast forward 10 years, and I'm proud to be "that weird vegan girl". Haha. I have made it my full-time career to share all of my totally scrumptious, approachable, comfort food favorites, and everyday meals made vegan. No fussing about, just good ol’ food that everyone will love, vegan or not.
This blog now gets millions of visitors every month, I have two bestselling and award-winning cookbooks, I run an online subscription meal planner called The Easy Vegan Meal Plan, I teach online cooking courses at The Ultimate Vegan Kitchen, and you could easily say that going vegan was one of the best decisions I ever made. 🙂
If you are new here...
If you're like me, a reluctant vegan, or if you are just looking to incorporate more plant-based foods into your diet, I'm here for you! I promise to help you fall in love with vegan food.
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