Food & Drink Magazine

5 Ways That FOOD Has Changed My Life

By Chuck Underwood @brandnewvegan

How Food Has Changed My Life

Hello from Austin, Texas!  

What do you do when your company sends you away for a month to train on some new equipment?  Why BLOG of course!  And that’s exactly what I’m doing this morning as I sit here in my hotel room in sunny Austin, Texas.

At first I thought, what on earth is a Vegan like me going to do in such a meat centered city like Austin!?

But surprise surprise!  The vegan scene here in Austin is rockin’!  There are SO many Vegan options here it’s not even funny.   I went to a local pizza joint the other night, and just because it was Wednesday meant that the Daiya cheese option was free!  I personally am not a big fan of the stuff.. but still….  DAIYA?  In AUSTIN?  

South by Southwest is happening here all week so traffic’s a little crazy – but I TOTALLY plan on getting out and seeing the sites this coming week, like the Whole Food’s Mother Ship which I understand is as big as a mall, complete with it’s own food court!

And ….along with seeing the sights – I’m finally going to get to meet some of you!

I have been cordially invited to attend a local Plant Pure Potluck that happens once a month here in Austin, and found out a LOT of folks who follow my blog will be there!  And are anxious to meet ME!   (gulp…..yikes?)

Along with our lunch we’ll be listening to Dr Linda Carney discuss ways to naturally combat Anxiety and Depression, and we’re going to have an open mic session where I’ll be leading the discussion on the Top 5 Ways that Food has Changed My Life.

So not only does this post get me ready for tomorrow’s potluck, it also gives the rest of you a sneak peek of tomorrow’s discussion. 

Hope you enjoy and thanks Austin for such a warm and inviting welcome!

Top 5 Ways FOOD Has Changed My Life


So MANY of us take it for granted.

For the last week I’ve watched person after person file through the continental breakfast line here at the hotel…..and I swear they could all be clones of each other.  Zombie clones……mindlessly shoveling down the pre-packaged, heavily-processed, egg-like entrees, the microwaved sausage links and patties, the casein loaded yogurts and cream cheeses….and without even a second thought as to how that FOOD is affecting their bodies…..

Just so long as it fills their hungry, growling bellies.

But food is SO MUCH MORE IMPORTANT than that!

Food is our LIFE!

It gives us our vitamins, and minerals, and nutrients that we need to function!

FOOD CAN HEAL US……if we can just learn to eat the right kind.  And once you learn exactly HOW to eat again….the right foods this time…… WILL literally change your life.

Let me repeat that and let it really sink in…..


I know it did mine.

Here are 5 Ways that FOOD has Changed My Life


I look at food completely differently now.

  • Is this food going to nourish my body?
  • Is it going to give me what I need to thrive?  Or simply give me empty calories of salt, fat, and sugar just to fill my growling tummy?
  • Is it really food?  Or is is some pre-packaged, processed, food-like experiment?

I actually think about this every time I eat now, especially if I’m out and about.  Where before, I was just like the zombie guests….mindlessly shoveling it into my mouth without so much as giving it a single thought.

If there’s anything this way of eating has done to change my life – it’s made me much more AWARE of what I put into my body.


I’m sure to my friends and workmates, I’m some kind of Vegan Alien or something because I don’t eat meat.  And I’ll even admin that sometimes …..I FEEL like an Alien….looking at some strange world, wondering what on earth is WRONG with its people….

I just watched a man just last night eat plate after plate of BBQ Brisket, followed by a mountain of Blue Bell Ice Cream and Pie.  No carbs, no greens, no veggies, just meat and dairy.  Or should I say just saturated fat…and lots of it.  

Is it any of my business?  No.

But I do worry about people like this because this man had every ear marking of a heart attack waiting to happen.    Late 50’s to early 60’s, obese, large protruding belly, round, chubby flushed face ….

Oh and of course after his BBQ dinner and the many bottles of beer…..he went into the backyard to shoot guns with the other guys.  Is this a Texas thing or just a guy thing?

I on the other hand, stayed behind and chatted with the ladies 🙂  

Sure I got some strange looks from the men, but eating meat doesn’t interest me anymore.  Neither does shooting guns, or talking about sports, or politics, or any of the other stereotypical ‘guy’ stuff.

Want to talk about food?  Or blogging?  Or health and nutrition?  I’m there.  But shooting animals?  Not so much.

Before… the peer pressure to ‘fit in’ would have made me want to join in the festivities, but not anymore.

I’m different now.  Food has changed me.  And I’m perfectly ok with it.


You might think….well duh…’re Vegan.

Yeah, but remember, when I first started…..I was focused more on my diet and my health than I was anything else.  The “WFPB” world that we know today didn’t exist yet, or at least I didn’t know about it.  As far as I knew – I was following a ‘Vegan Diet’.

Of course now I know that Veganism has nothing to do with diet at all.  The focus is completely on helping our animal friends.  But even though my main focus WAS health then……. now?  You can’t HELP but feel more compassionate, now that you’re on the outside looking in.

People still eat meat, and a lot of it.  So animals are going to be killed every day to keep up with the ever growing demand.

When you’re part of that world, you don’t even think about it.  But once you step outside and begin to learn and enjoy all the different plant-based foods, flavors, and textures…..foods you KNOW are going to feed and nourish you……

Looking back you’re like “How on earth was I ever a part of that?”    All that torture, and pain, and death…..and it’s so needless when we can get everything we need from plants.

One of my work buddies was watching a YouTube video the other day… was in some country where monkeys were getting electrocuted as they swung on the power lines….and he just thought it was the funniest thing ever.  Again…..I just looked at him in horror like …..”What on earth is WRONG with these people?!”

Compassion towards animals may not be the reason you start this way of eating….but you will eventually get there.  I think it’s inevitable.


My whole family has done a complete 180 turn on the foods we eat.

  • Fried chicken, hamburgers, and chuck roasts have changed to salads, rice, and stir frys.
  • We eat a TON of salads now where before that little piece of lettuce on our burger was our salad.
  • We eat more Cauliflower than ever….  (thank you Amazing Cauliflower Tacos!)
  • Sweet Tomatoes is now our favorite restaurant, where we used to go to hamburger joints and steakhouses.
  • We buy fruit, berries, and bananas like there’s no tomorrow – and hardly anything goes to waste.
  • My wife and I now use fitbits…… and get at least 10,000 steps a day…sometimes much more.
  • I quit smoking after a 20+ year pack a day habit.  Did food do this?  Yes – if you’re going to eat healthy food…..
  • You couldn’t tell that my wife had a brain tumor 7 years ago.  No scar, perfectly normal.  Did the food do that?  I think it helped.
  • My daughter healed very quickly after her first and only surgery with Crohn’s.  Same thing, the right food really helps.
  • Our weight has stabilized, and our blood pressure and cholesterol continues to drop.

SO many improvements it would be impossible to list them all.  I also see how food has changed YOUR health too, in the comments and emails I get.  Lost weight, reduced medications, lower BP, etc…..

Nothing I have found has more impact on our health…. than food.  And it’s so simple, easy, and inexpensive to prepare.  Slowly, bit by bit, we are spreading that message and people are beginning to take notice.

And the Number One Way That FOOD Has Changed My Life?


If you would have told me 5 years ago that one day I would be a Vegan Food Blogger……  I probably would have laughed so hard I’d probably snort Mt Dew out of my nose.  Of course today I no longer drink Mt. Dew.  Just water please, and thank you.  

I mean before my blog ….I was just a run of the mill, middle aged, semiconductor technician who was  getting older, getting fatter, and I’m sure getting sicker by the minute.

But this FOOD,  and this incredible lifestyle we follow is what led me to start this blog!  

Changing my food…..changed my LIFE!

  • Now I’m a writer, a cook, and a photographer…..(and still a semiconductor tech too, but one day…)
  • I actually have a certificate in plant-based nutrition
  • And it seems like very soon I’m going to be a motivational speaker too……uh, like tomorrow?  Yikes!

My life is COMPLETELY different, and I have YOU to thank for it.

Yes, the food changed me, but so have YOU.

Your likes, photos, comments, stories, emails, and messages…..they inspire me every single day.

I can’t count how many comments I get from ladies who tell me that their husbands – their junk food husbands, not only ASK for my recipes, but are EVEN COOKING THEMSELVES!

“Because your recipes and my Man are somehow cosmically linked…. he’s liked every single recipe of yours that I’ve made for him. And he’s started to make them himself…which is his way of giving them 2 thumbs up. (This is from a man that happily ate frozen bbq tyson chicken wings and multiple bags of shredded cheese per week just 8 months ago.) Thank you Chuck!”

How can THAT not change your life?

And THAT…… is why I blog.  

To help people.  And to teach them to help themselves, by coming up with tasty, easy to prepare recipes that remind them of the comfort foods they used to love.

Because if you don’t feel like you’re giving up anything…you’re going to stick with it a lot longer….right?

And to know that I can reach out and help people, even from my hotel room here in Austin, Tx……. that’s some pretty powerful stuff.

So once again….thank you all for your kind words, your support, and your friendship.  And for some of you, I’ll see you real soon.

Can’t wait to meet you.


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