Chef Rain Truth, founder of The Cultured Vegan, is a classically trained chef, entrepreneur, and business owner. She has been a leader in the vegan community for more than 22 years, and now she is raising three vegan children. Chef Truth contributed to the first African American Vegan Starter Guide created by Tracye McQuirter, and is currently gearing up for the 3rd Annual Midwest Vegan Fest (a free annual fest that’s celebrated by thousands of people and which she created).
We spoke with her about her experiences with veganism, and got some great tips for anyone looking to make the switch.
What’s your vegan story?
At the age of 6, before I even knew what “veganism” was, I knew I had an unexplainable connection with animals. Somehow the connection was made between food and animals as I was a little girl sitting at the kitchen table with a chicken leg drumstick in front of me. I screamed once I realized the same bone on this leg felt like the same bone on my wrist. However, I was always a side item child. I loved eating big bowls of Popeye spinach every day after school.
How would you say you are trying to change lives through veganism?
I am simply here to show people how beautiful and easy this lifestyle can be through education, great tasting food, and just an understanding mind and listening ear. People want to eat healthier, some just don’t know how and some are afraid of detaching from the foods that are interconnected with a family tradition or memory. Something that makes them think of grandma or their favorite aunt.
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What can people do to make their transition to veganism easier?
The key is to plan ahead. Start with one day a week of no meat instead of trying to just go cold turkey. Be gentle on yourself. Surround yourself with other people that are already vegan. Join vegan groups, research veganizing recipes of things you already eat to keep that familiarity there.
What was your biggest challenge when going vegan, and how did you deal with it?
I honestly didn’t have any challenges. This was something I decided as a child before I even knew it had a name. I knew that something didn’t feel right about eating animals and therefore I stopped.
What are your best, most practical meal-planning tips for vegans?
Pick one day a week (Sundays are best) to shop and prepare your foods. Think of the rainbow and incorporate that into your plate. Focus on staple foods such as beans, rice, nuts, seeds, that you can purchase in bulk. Not only will this help to keep your costs down, but it will allow you the opportunity to make large quantities of things to distribute in each container for each respective day. Make this a priority.
What are some of your favorite vegan dishes?
I focus on global cuisine, so I love making curries and dishes with a spicy flavor profile. Jerk Tofu, Curry Chickpeas, Jambalaya Pasta are a few things I enjoy making.
Related Reading: 5 Tips for the Bet Tofu Ever, According to Vegetarian Chefs
What are your favorite food indulgences?
I absolutely love Indian and Ethiopian food. The foods are very similar in texture and flavor, but the tradition and culture of the cuisine allows you to have such a beautiful, warm experience every time.
Who in the vegan movement inspires you?
Dick Gregory was one of the key people in the movement that I honor and hold in high regards.
What are some of your accomplishments you feel especially proud of?
I feel extremely proud of helping my mother to beat her cancer back in 2016. I mean, I have cooked for celebrities, television shows, sports teams, and dignitaries, but that honestly was my proudest accomplishment above all others.
What empowers you in your work?
My ancestors empower me! My mother and father and all of the people that came before me to pave the way for me to do the things I do. Also seeing so many of the people I love and that I am close to suffer from sickness and food related illnesses. They are getting younger and younger, and my goal to help my community understand that we must change the way we eat.
What do you wish every reader knew about veganism?
That we eat a lot more than just nuts and berries. Also that it is not expensive like people think. The key is to plan ahead, cook at home, pack snacks for the road, and eliminate or reduce processed foods. Also that apples and bananas are vegan.
The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.
Header image courtesy of Jabari Hunt Photography