By Keisa Sharpe-Jefferson
The Birmingham Times
For anyone considering a vegan diet, 34-year-old Jamaica Fuller – vegan for three years – advises that you start slow.
“Give yourself seven days,” said Fuller. “Go get you some fruit – juice your fruit and make you some fruit bowls. And get you some salads and focus strictly on vegetables (for meals). Don’t think about meat.”
Fuller was joined by her fiancé, Ray Parker, and their six-month-old son, one of hundreds who attended the 2023 Birmingham Vegan Fest at Cahaba Brewing Company, located at 4500 5thAvenue South, featuring vegan (and vegetarian) meals, baked desserts like pies and cookies, and other baked goods like brittle and flavored/roasted nuts.
The term vegan describes a more restrictive way of eating which involves meals that contain no food nor other products derived from animals. For many vegans, their diets are mainly comprised of fruits and vegetables – often referred to as “plant-based” meals – and are thought to contain greater health benefits.
Fuller says she went vegan three years ago due to some health problems. She says she struggled with high blood pressure and noticed it was much more difficult to shed unwanted pounds.
Since maintaining a vegan diet, though, Fuller says she lost 20 pounds after only three months of eating vegan meals, has maintained her weight loss, and has seen improvement in her blood pressure.
If a vegan diet seems too extreme, “just do strictly baked chicken and fish (for lunch and dinner) until you can wean yourself off of it (meat) for good,” she said,
Fuller said she enjoyed not only the food vendors at Vegan Fest, but other vegan-friendly companies showcasing creations like art and jewelry, t-shirt and clothing goods and home décor products (like wooden door hanging signs).
Vegan Fest is the brainchild of the group Birmingham Vegans, which started over 10 years ago to connect and educate the growing vegan community through various events such as meetups, festivals, potlucks, chef-demonstrations and vegan-themed films.