Ever since I was a kid I LOVED fruits & vegetables.
I was raised in a typical Black-American family, where everyone ate lots of meat, cheese and bread regularly. But I always preferred the plant foods. I'm not exactly sure why, but even as a kid, I just had the feeling that fruits and vegetables were more healthy for my body (note, I'm only sharing my journey and what felt true for me).
Now don't get me wrong, I preferred vegetables, but not everything I ate was healthy. It's more like, when I ate soul-food, instead of eating a plate of ribs with the sides of mac & cheese and greens. I only the had mac & cheese with greens plus some yams. Sure it was vegetarian; but not vegan, or gluten-free. Neither of those were on my radar.
"Vegetarian" as a label wasn't on my agenda at all. I guess because I didn't know any people who were. (There weren't a ton of vegans or vegetarian in Southwest Philly in the 80s) I simply ate the foods I liked, and limited the stuff I really didn't care for.
So I started cutting out the foods that didn't really appeal to me. By middle school I didn't eat any pigs. By high school I had removed cows. College got rid of shell-fish and chickens, and so on it went, until eventually I was a vegan.
And luckily my family has always been really supportive although I'm the only one. And even when I was growing up, and even now when I go home they always make special food for me. (I'm spoiled).
When I went vegan I didn't really know anyone else who was. And I can't say I did it for the animals or the environment either. The truth is, I did it completely for myself. And I love it.
You'd think being a vegan is complicated and restrictive enough lol. So why am I gluten-free too?
Firstly, I don't find being a vegan complicated or tough at all. But keep in mind that's because of my mindset and experience.
I've been making food choices that ran counter to basically everyone I knew since I was a kid. So eating vegan, making special menu requests, going to multiple restaurants before I find something I want...none of this troubles me. It's just business as usual.
But relating to the gluten-free thing, I didn't have to much of a choice.
I never really ate a ton of wheat, but at one point I realized when I had it, I got headaches and developed a rash on my stomach. Actually I had trouble believing my symptoms were actually related to what I was eating. But after conducting countless experiments where I stopped eating wheat on multiple occasions, and then ate some again...and had the symptoms vanish when I didn't eat the wheat, but re-appear after I started eating it again, I eliminated it from my diet.
And I've now eaten this way for about 10 years. And I love it!