Transforming The Way The World Views Plant-Based Dieting - An Interview w/ Breanna Danielle
At the age of 23, Breanna Danielle continues to work toward changing the view of maintaining a plant-based lifestyle. Originally from Baltimore, MD but currently residing in the Central Valley of California, Breanna considers herself as a wellness entrepreneur and a researcher who intends to influence socio-political policy. Even while pursuing her sociology Ph.D., she still finds the time to share her knowledge and resources with the world.
What inspired your journey to a healthier way of living?
I began to get serious about living a healthier life throughout my undergraduate experience in college. For the first time in my life, I felt like I had an opportunity to take control over how I lived without really having to explain myself to anyone. I never grew up around the culture of wellness and what it meant to be healthy, both mentally and physically, so as I developed my own identity as a young adult I made the commitment to make sure health and wellness were at the core of my beliefs.
My journey has been a long one, it took me close to 5 years to become fully plant base. I believe that transitioning to the lifestyle is the best way to go. I started the transition to eating less meat back in 2011 when I cut out all red meat and pork from my diet. It made a big difference in my digestive health which made me consider cutting out all meat. In 2013, After a viewing of my documentary Food Inc. and understanding the food industry in the U.S, I made the decision to switch to a pescetarian lifestyle which lasted until 2014 when I went fully plant-based.
Have you ever felt pressured to maintain a healthy lifestyle?
I personally have never felt pressure to maintain a healthy lifestyle because I’m very transparent about my journey towards a healthier lifestyle. The work is hard and the journey is never a constant incline, some months you’ll see enormous progress while other months there may be a decline or a plateau.
When you look at improving your lifestyle as more of a journey rather than a task or goal you’ll begin to see that the journey is never fully over. There are always areas of life where you can make improvements in order to live your best life and function at your highest.
In your opinion, what is the biggest misconception about plant-based lifestyles?
Honestly, I think there are a lot of misconceptions about living a plant-based life. The biggest misconception is the idea that you have to be physically thin and of an upper social class to live a plant-based lifestyle. Representation in the media and through social content rarely show how there are people of color who maintain a plant-based lifestyle on a budget. People who live a plant-based life come in all different sizes and are apart of a wide range of social class. There are no rules to who can and cannot adopt the lifestyle. I created the Plant-Based Bre platform in tandem with my blog because I wanted to be an inspiration and example of how being plant-based doesn't mean that you have to be amazing in the kitchen or that you have to spend a ton of money on groceries per week. I truly believe that this lifestyle is for anyone, regardless of lifestyle, age, culture or body type so I wanted to highlight that through my Facebook community and Instagram.
So, pursuing your PhD can be a lot of work, do you feel like your schedule makes it harder to maintain your healthy eating habits?
The most important way to maintain a realistic plant-based lifestyle to take preparation seriously. Even though I have an extremely busy schedule I also find time to prioritize meal planning in order to make it easier on myself. A lot of the time poor preparation and planning leads to rushed decisions about your meals. Being a slave to convenience when it comes to food always results in options that aren’t the most nutritionally dense so I make the habit to pack lunches and snacks and take them to work and class with me on a daily basis.
You blog, what inspired the transition of your blog to whereshebegins.com? How has your blog helped you on your journey?
I started whereshebegins.com in February of 2015. Since the initial launch of my blog I’ve made content changes and found more of my personal voice. I view my blog as a creative platform that has evolved with me over the last two years. As I continue to grow and experience new chapters of life I expect my blog to grow with me. As I transition to a rigorous Ph.D. program I plan on my work reflecting this chapter of my life.
Tell us about your cookbook and what inspired you to write one? When can we expect it to be released?
My cookbook launches September 1st and will be available for purchase at WhereSheBegins.com. I have a passion for cooking and look at food as having the power to heal. I played around with the idea over the last year but really began to take my vision seriously after graduating my undergraduate program in May. Included in the eBook are over 25 recipes, grocery guide, and tips on making the transition to a plant-based lifestyle a bit more convenient. I created this book with every lifestyle in mind, it’s not only for people who want to go vegan, it's a general guide on ways to incorporate less meat and more plants into your diet. If you're a meat eater, 'flexitarian, vegetarian, or plant-based the book has something for you.
I decide to write the cookbook because I wanted people to incorporate more plants into their diet. I also looked at the cookbook as a way to push myself into new creative and entrepreneur endeavors.
How important do you feel it is for all of us to start reconsidering what we consume as far as food and beauty/personal hygiene products?
Moving towards non-toxic care has been such an eye opening experience!! I think non-toxic living in extremely important in order to live your best life. The phrase ‘natural’ is NOT regulated by the FDA meaning that the definition may vary from brand to brand. With the FDA not regulating the word natural a lot of companies use the term ‘natural’ to trick consumers into thinking that they are buying products that won't put their health at risk.
A lot of popular brands use ingredients that increase the risk of cancer and disrupt reproductive functioning which can lead to a plethora of health conditions which is why I’ve transitioned into nontoxic beauty.
What are some of your favorite non-toxic beauty products?
If I had to choose three products from my minimalist routine they’d be:
Acure Facial Cleansing Crème, Nourish Organic Face Lotion, and Sweet Almond Oil. I use them all on a daily basis and the almond oil serves so many purposed from moisturizer to carrying essential oils.
What is your favorite plant-based meal to cook? Care to share the recipe with us?
What advice do you have for others looking to transition to a plant-based diet?
One of my favorite plant-based recipes would be lentil curry, it’s super simple to make and works great for a meal prepping. My advice would be finding your favorite dishes and sticking to them, in the beginning sometimes simple is what works the best. Meal preparation is also extremely important because often times when we’re hungry we don’t make the most rational meal decisions.
What are 3 major things you hope to inspire and instill in others as you continue on your path in life? (More so words of advice to living your best life)
1. Do things that bring you joy – Over the last year I’ve been in a period of de-cluttering myself and through that experiences I’ve realized that it’s important to have things in your space that bring you joy. As a self-check-in, ask yourself ‘does this bring me joy?’, then prioritize your practices and habits accordingly.
2. Be kind to yourself – Often times we have the habit of being extremely self-critical. Throughout my creative endeavors, I’ve realized that being my own worst critic can only be beneficial to a certain extent before it becomes damaging to the way I view myself. I’ve learned to practice self-compassion and as a result, I’ve become less critical and judgmental of myself and others.
3. Learn your boundaries – As someone who has a dimensional lifestyle I’ve learned early on that it’s important to set your own boundaries and stand firm in them or other people will abuse you and your talents.