In the beginning it was all set out to create a vegan space, that makes people of color feel at home. The couple, Gem and Jennelle, created this entity named “Gem Eats Vegan” to establish a new and creative way to make vegan food just as tasty as ethnic home-cooking.
The couple reassured me that, being vegan doesn’t mean you have to eat bland vegetables. “I season things like how your grandmother seasons things,” Gem jokingly stated. They also made it clear that being vegan isn’t as expensive as many people think. This also depends on where you live.
The two are based in Brooklyn, New York, serving them with an easy access to diverse ingredients, that would be harder to find in places like East Stroudsburg, PA. However, if you have a Trader Joe’s near you, definitely go and buy your essentials from there.
Some helpful tips on staying within your budget
This is a great way to load up on all of your produce. This saves gas and time when it comes to making daily trips to the supermarket. If you can only find what you like in those expensive health foods stores, try looking into DIY-ing your diet. Not everything is going to be in those neat packages…EXPERIMENT! See if you can recreate that flavor you love in your own kitchen!
Check out your local farmer’s market or street-vendors! They’re prices are completely different from those sold in a corporate setting. $2.69 for avocados at FoodTown compared to 69 cents at the local farmer’s market? This is also a great way to buy your fruits in bulk!
Buying frozen fruit seems easy and beneficial but it’s actually hurting your pockets. At Walmart, Dole’s Fruit & Veggie package is $3.64 offering you 16 oz for your daily smoothies. Think about your daily fruit and veggie consumptions, buy in bulk at those shops listed above and freeze what you know you can’t consume. You might forget about it, but you won’t have to run to the store when you know you have 2-month-old fruit and veggie mix in your freezer!
For people of color looking to change their lifestyle toward a more plant-based life, don’t stop seasoning your vegetables just because they are green or red. Even though she and her partner created a vegan catering business, Jennelle isn’t a vegan! She loves how Gem doesn’t stray away from her Nigerian background, “she doesn’t make it taste like just vegetables!
To Gem, “the spicier, the better,” seasoning most of her dishes with crushed red pepper, cumin, Himalayan salt, and scotch bonnet. To build “a depth no one expects” Gem uses nutmeg! The nutty and sweet taste of nutmeg can go well with the dark leafy greens you stocked up on! Its also perfect for squash, sweet potatoes, and yams.
Things weren’t always as sweet and green for the couple. Before moving to Brooklyn, Gem had difficulty dealing with the stress of everyday life and school. Her health started to decline, but she wanted to change it. While most people would take baby steps to become vegan, like becoming pescatarian, vegetarian, and then finally becoming vegan. Gem turned her life around by completely submerging herself in the vegan lifestyle. After she saw a lot of physical and mental changes. She reached her weight goal and developed a new level in her passion for cooking. Within it all she found love for her partner, as well as herself.
For anyone thinking they want to change their diet by becoming vegan or more plant-based, you aren’t alone. There are plenty of organizations and resources all around, local and national.