Hi! My name is Charmaine Simmons. I am 24 and I reside in Chicago. I became a vegan recipe creator/chef a year ago after working as a freelance writer for xoNecole, BeautyCon and Bustle + being a makeup artist for MAC Cosmetics as well. Becoming a vegan recipe creator and creating recipe books and content was never apart of my plans however becoming vegan lead me to falling in love with cooking. I have two recipe books out: Simply Vegan and Simply Char’s Special Treats And Dishes. Simply Char’s Special Treats And Dishes is my latest book and is actually my favorite. It only contains 14 recipes however everything is vegan + nut-free and can also be made gluten-free and soy-free if needed. I have vegan jerk chicken alfredo, bbq jackfruit pizza, vegan cheesy Cajun pasta, vegan nut-free cheesecake, vegan s'more brownies and so much more deliciousness I know you will enjoy. Both books are amazing and can be downloaded to any device you have for easy access. I plan on releasing a printed recipe book for all my dishes soon.
If you're interested to learn more about Char and her vegan journey, read the interview below and don't forget to check out her recipe books linked above!
- How long have you been Vegan?
I have been vegan for 2 years now.
- What prompted the lifestyle change?
My aunt was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer in December 2015. Seeing her in pain and trying to gain her health back, I decided to do research and learn what the average American or human in general eats since cancer is so prevalent and to learn how it is connected to the illnesses that keep causing us consistent pain and death. Learning how toxic animals and animal by-products are for the human body inspired me to transition to veganism in January 2016. I became fully vegan in March 2016.
- What is one of your favorite recipes?
I would say my Buffalo Cauliflower taco recipe is one my favorite in terms of dishes. I have a recipe video for it that you can find here. For desserts, my vegan coffee cake donut recipe is another favorite. You can find the recipe here as well. However, I love everything I make so this was hard for me haha.
- Do you find that it's expensive to be Vegan?
Not at all. It is actually cheaper to be vegan/plant-based than it is eating meat, dairy and eggs. I can spend under $40 a week and eat like a Queen.
- How do you "Vegan on a Budget?
I buy fruits and veggies that are in season. You don’t need veggie meats and cheeses so only get them as treats/when you want to splurge. Plan meals ahead and create grocery lists that include a weekly budget. I have other tips as well which can be found in this video.
- Are there any foods that you miss?
Nope. I don’t miss anything from my previous diet. I either had the vegan version of it or can make it. When it comes to food, everything is about seasoning and texture. You can make fruit, veggies and grains taste like anything you like when you use the proper seasonings and make it the texture you desire.
- What's the difference between vegans and vegetarians?
Vegetarians are eating a diet that is meat-less but still consume animal by-products which is dairy and eggs. Meanwhile, vegans do not consume any animals or animal by-products while also trying to produce the least amount of harm to animals. Veganism is a lifestyle; it is not a diet. We do not support zoos, aquariums, SeaWorld, horse and carriage rides, horseback riding, etc. We do not wear leather or fur. We do not use products tested on animals. Those are the differences.
- What advice do you have for anyone thinking of changing their lifestyle?
The number one tip I give is to take your time. When I changed to this lifestyle, I slowly did it. It took me 2 months. It can take a person shorter or longer. Take your time and truly educate yourself on how to eat enough and properly, what is the harm in meat, dairy and eggs, what will I gain from a plant-based diet and other things. Everyone is on their own journey including you. We have a lot of reprogramming to do in terms of changing to this lifestyle so take your time and don’t beat yourself up over mistakes. Even starting off as cutting out dairy or trimming your meat intake to 4 days a week is enough. Small changes are still good changes.
We at NOLA have been huge fans of Char for a while now. Her delectable dishes were what first caught our eye and her dedication to her vegan lifestyle is what kept us around! The NOLA team just wants to thank you Char for allowing us to interview you and showcase your wonderful treats to our audience!
The NOLA team