Interview: Tracye McQuirter, Vegan for 24 Years and Author
Author of "By Any Greens Necessary"
Today, I have the privilege of interviewing Tracye McQuirter, MPH. Tracye is the author of, By Any Greens Necessary. By Any Greens Necessary helped me stay on my journey of eating a vegan diet. It has almost been a year, since I gave up all animal based food products and I owe Tracye the credit for her life changing book.
So, without further ado, I present to you Ms. Tracye MQuirter.
1. What inspired you to become a vegan?
During my sophomore year at Amherst College, our Black Student Union brought Dick Gregory to campus to talk about the economic, political, and social state of African-Americans.
But instead, he flipped the script and talked about the plate of African-Americans. What really got my attention was when he graphically traced the path of a hamburger from a cow on a factory farm, to a slaughterhouse, to a fast food place, to a clogged artery, to a heart attack. That led me to do my own research about diet and disease and to become a vegetarian first, then a vegan.
Evelyn:Tracye, your tracing the paths of the cow, chicken, pig, and fish in your book sealed the vegan deal for me.
2. How long have you been a vegan?
I’ve been a vegan for 24 years.
Evelyn: Wow, that’s a long time and I must say you look marvelous.
3. Have you had any issues with your health since you’ve eaten a vegan diet?
I have excellent health, with no issues at all. That’s definitely the result of eating healthy vegan foods and exercising regularly.
Evelyn: That’s awesome!
4. Your book, By Any Greens Necessary helped me tremendously. After reading your book, a light bulb came on and I was finally able to stick with eating a vegan diet. Why did you write this book and what was your inspiration?
Writing is my first love. As a little girl, I was writing and making my own books for fun. So, it was natural that my passion for writing and my passion for veganism would come together in a book.
As I grew into my teenage years, I also wanted to become an activist, to fight for social justice, especially for African-Americans. Information about and access to healthy food is a social justice issue in this country.
So, this too, naturally led to my writing By Any Greens Necessary, and coming up with that title. And finally, as a friend reminded me, I love good food, so writing a book about food made perfect sense for that reason, too.
Evelyn: By Any Greens Necessary had my attention from the time I read the first page. I could not put it down.
5. I love your book, By Any Greens Necessary and I recommend it to many people. Will you write more books in the future?
Yes! I’m working on my second book now (more details on that soon), and I already have the topics for my next three books after that. I plan to spend the rest of my life writing because I love the whole experience of it.
Evelyn: I cannot wait to see what you have in store for us.
6. What advice do you have for someone who is struggling with becoming a vegan?
Release the idea of struggling. When you’re really ready, this will be a transition to look forward to, not struggle through. Besides that, here are some practical tips to help you get started:
Tip 1: You’re Closer Than You Think
Notice how many vegan foods you already eat without even thinking about it. Every time you eat a banana, an orange, or an apple, you’re eating vegan foods because all fruits are vegan. The same goes for eating collards, string beans, or broccoli, because all vegetables are vegan.
All beans and nuts are vegan too, so if you eat black-eyed peas, lentils, or almonds, guess what? You’re eating vegan foods. Even pasta and rice are vegan—just try the healthier, whole grain versions like brown rice and whole wheat or corn pasta because they contain the essential fiber and other vitamins and nutrients that are removed from white rice and white pasta.
So, as you can see, most of you are already eating plenty of vegan foods everyday without being aware of it. That’s important to know because it makes the idea of eating vegan foods less daunting.
Tip 2: Spice it Nice
Now that you know how many vegan foods you already eat, think about seasoning them with plant-based spices and flavors to keep them vegan. Most of the herbs and spices we use to season meat dishes come from plants anyway, so it’s not that far-fetched.
So, for vegetables and bean dishes, skip the turkey or ham bits, and try a product called Liquid Smoke to give it that rich smoky flavor you’re looking for. You can also add red onions, fresh garlic and ginger sautéed in olive oil, along with your favorite fresh or dried herbs, such as basil, thyme, oregano, cayenne pepper, and curry.
Spike or Trocamere brands make great all-in-one dried herb seasonings. And one of my favorite replacements for table salt is Bragg Liquid Aminos, a healthier version of soy sauce. These products are available at health food stores and many grocery store chains.
Tip 3: Expect the Food to be Delicious
Many people feel that vegan foods just won’t taste good. As if millions of vegetarians and vegans just decided to throw away their taste buds! In this day and age, it should really go without saying that plant-based foods can be delicious.
Just think about foods like spicy black bean burgers with roasted butternut squash, ginger stir-fry vegetables with cashews over wild rice, curried chickpea and mushroom stew with cornbread, strawberry smoothies, blueberry waffles, and apple crumb pie.
There are thousands of scrumptious vegan foods out there. Almost everything that you eat now has a healthier vegan version. This is a way of eating that reflects abundance, not deprivation. Trust me, if you can make a dead bird taste good, you can make wholesome vegan foods taste even better.
Tip 4: Have a “Veggie” Night Out
Google the best vegan or vegetarian restaurants in town, call up your girlfriends, and go on a culinary adventure. This is a great way to try lots of different vegan dishes at one time and have fun doing it. And don’t forget to try the vegan desserts!
Arm yourself with knowledge so that you can make an informed decision about what to eat. We’re masters at eating meat and dairy foods, but most of us have no idea how harmful these foods are to our health.
We know even less about vegan foods and how beneficial they are—but we’ve managed to hear and believe that these foods are somehow deficient. Allow yourself to question this conventional thinking and start learning more. Enjoy the transition!