Jax Vegan Couple Talks Plant Based Life
It seems that more and more in our newsfeed, media and life in general we are hearing about plant based living. By definition, a plant-based diet is a diet based on foods derived from plants, including vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, legumes and fruits, but with few or no animal products. Veganism, of course, would mean strictly plant-based with no animal products. Sounds hard, right?? Enter the Jax Vegan Couple.
Safura and Ubaid are a local Jax couple who are striving to make a vegan lifestyle more attainable for everyone. Vegans themselves for over a decade, they know all the tips and tricks to ease yourself into this lifestyle, make it affordable and get yourself in the healthiest state possible. Their blog features vegan restaurants, recipes, meal plans, grocery lists … literally everything you need to get started and maintain! Check out what they had to say about going vegan!
I'll start with the most obvious questions, when did you begin a plant-based lifestyle and why did you choose to go that direction?
My husband Ubaid and I have been vegan for over 10 years and are passionate about whole-foods, plant-based eating and love to share our knowledge with others. When we went vegan we began feeling more energetic, stronger, creative and happier than ever before.
Many of our family members had passed away from stroke and heart disease at a young age.
This lead us to do research and follow all the plant based experts in the food and health field to find out how to live healthier without disease. We read the book, The China Study, watched Forks Over Knives and follow the teachings from these expert doctors: Joel Furhman, Michael Greger, Joel Kahn, Michael Klaper, John McDougall, Caldwell Esselstyn and Neal Barnard. We were thrilled when we got an opportunity to meet with these doctors on a vegan cruise in 2018.
When did you start the Jax Vegan Couple blog?
Friends and family always came to us for advice and tips on healthier eating and how to reverse their disease. Therefore, we launched our social channel JAX Vegan Couple last year in 2018 with the mission to educate, engage and inspire others and help them on a healthy whole-foods plant-based journey! We offer free tips, resources and recipes to our followers to educate, engage and inspire them to make better health and lifestyle choices. We created a 21-Day Meal Plan eBook with over 70 recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks. It also has a getting started guide, FAQs, grocery list and menu for anyone thinking about going on a plant-based diet. We donate all the proceeds from the sale of this eBook to farmers, this is our way of giving back to the community. We would truly appreciate it if you share our story with your family and friends and follow us on our social channels: blog jaxvegancouple.com, YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter.
Do you have a routine that helps you stay successful as social media content creators?
Yes routine is very important, as both Ubaid and I have full-time jobs in IT and Marketing. So we plan all of our content on the weekend, we input all our ideas, stories, images in a content calendar. Ubaid is always doing research and sharing this information on Facebook and blog. I am the creative and he is the science. I love to create new recipes, take the photos and do the Instagram posts. As a marketing professional I know how important it is to have great content with beautiful images and hashtags. We love to stay connected with our followers, by liking and commenting on their posts and responding to all requests. This is very important for engagement and to gain brand loyalty.
What questions about a vegan lifestyle do you get asked the most?
Number one question we always get asked is, “where do you get your protein?” or “Don’t you need milk for healthy bones and calcium?” Nearly all vegetables, beans, grains, nuts and seeds contain some, and often much, protein. Kidney, black, pinto and most other varieties of beans contain high amounts of protein per serving. Chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans, are another legume with a high protein content. Ezekiel bread is made from organic, sprouted whole grains and legumes. These include wheat, millet, barley and spelt, as well as soybeans and lentils. Steelcut Oats are an easy and delicious way to add protein to any diet. Vegetables with the most protein include broccoli, spinach, asparagus, artichokes, potatoes, sweet potatoes and Brussels sprouts.
Do you have a vegan restaurant in town that is your go-to?
The vegan scene in Jacksonville is amazing, any chef at any restaurant is willing to make vegan food for you. We went with a group of friends to Nineteen in TPC Sawgrass and tried an indian dish called Vada Pav Vegan Sandwich. Chef Azhar, at Nineteen is always creating fantastic vegan indian dishes to try and always says don’t be afraid to ask them to create a vegan dish if you don’t see anything on the menu. Another favorite is Vernon’s Kitchen in Sawgrass Marriott, chef Riley and chef Joe started a ‘Feast for Rabbits” vegan monthly pop-up event which features a different theme each month with delicious 5-course vegan dishes. True Food Kitchen is another great place to dine out in Jacksonville these days. It is a restaurant inspired by Dr. Andrew Weil and his philosophy of an “anti-inflammatory” diet that food should make you feel better, not worse. They have a lot of healthy vegan options and the cauliflower steaks are delicious!
Is there any one piece of advice you would like to share with those considering a cruelty-free lifestyle?
One of the first steps is to reset your refrigerator, freezer and pantry. This won’t happen overnight, but as you start cooking with more plants and whole foods, you will naturally reduce your reliance on packaged, highly processed foods. Like anything, it’s an individual process. You might dive in headfirst, while others may move step by step. Whichever approach you choose, start now and begin to make the change. It’s easier than you might think and is critical for future success. You have to start small and stick with the plan. If you got off track, the only way to get back up again is to start over and that is definitely okay. This journey transitioning to a plant-based lifestyle is not easy and there will be struggles, but knowing that there is light at the end of the tunnel and seeing results proves that it is worth it for the long haul. Say goodbye to overeating, binging on junk food, feeling tired and lethargic and say good bye to all that extra weight on your body just waiting to come off.
Are there any well-known products that people may be surprised to know are vegan?
Not products, but some of the food I cook people are pleasantly surprised at how delicious it is and can’t believe it is vegan. For example, we had some company over last week, and I made falafel burgers they were delicious! Another one is mango ice cream, made with all fresh ingredients and tastes creamy and sweet made with mangoes, dates and avocados blended together.
Many people are convinced that a plant-based lifestyle is difficult, do you have any pro tips you can share that help you maintain this lifestyle?
Start meal prepping on the weekend it makes it easier not to eat junk when you have prepared healthy food ready to eat when you are hungry.
What are some things people get wrong about vegan lifestyle?
There's nothing to eat but salad - Everyone thinks it is not a meal unless it contains meat. Becoming vegan changed our relationship with food. We realized there are so many delicious flavors to experience. If you're stuck for ideas, there are so many tasty, healthy meals to try and we have all the recipes on our blog.
Vegans have vitamin deficiencies - If you choose nutrient dense, plant foods, you're unlikely to run into deficiencies. Greens are packed with calcium, legumes are filled with foliate, seeds contain omega-3's — the list goes on.
It's expensive - With some planning and shopping around, a vegan diet can be very affordable. Bulk buying lentils, pulses and whole-grains works out cheaper, and you can often get deals at markets on fresh produce. You'll also save money in the long run, with less being spent on medical bills.
Becoming vegan is difficult - Making changes can be hard. Most of us have habits that are ingrained from childhood. If you attempt to change everything at once and go vegan cold turkey, you'll probably struggle. If you focus on making small, gradual changes, then it isn't so hard. Perhaps begin with a green smoothie for breakfast, and when you're comfortable, add a salad for a lunchtime meal. Don’t eat processed foods, if it is not in the house you will not eat it.
How is your blog different today than when you began?
We are blogging more each week, new content tips and recipes are posted more frequently. We saw a need from our followers for more researched content and started a new section called Health Rx. In this section we share all the health tips for you that you can utilize daily. Ubaid our Medical Detective (MD) is always doing research and participating on webinars with famous plant-based doctors to bring you the truth. from GMOs Revealed, to Hidden ingredients in Food, to Tips and Benefits of whole-food plant-based eating lifestyle.
Jax Vegan Couple provides this information as a free resource. Hope you can take some knowledge away each day and share with family and friends, you never know who can benefit from this information.
What is something that makes or breaks a relationship with a Brand for you?
We love to promote and collaborate with other brands who share the same passion and enthusiasm we do with a holistic, whole-foods, plant-based lifestyle and cruelty free products. Some things that break a relationship with a brand for us are: unresponsive customer service, use of our personal information and unnecessary spamming with emails.
Just for fun ...
What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
We love to read, entertain, work-out!
What is your go-to cocktail?
Not a cocktail but we love to drink this golden elixir, with turmeric, ginger, lemon and pepper.
Ubaid loves “The China Study” and I am currently reading “100 Best Foods for Health and Longevity” by Dr. Joel Furhman.
Bucket list travel destination?
On our bucket list for travel destinations is Galapagos Islands in 2019. Some other awesome places we visited recently are India, Costa Rica, Spain, and Morocco. We make time to visit one country each year.
We had 2 beautiful Eclectus parrots from the Soloman islands and a tabby cat. When we moved to Florida from Chicago we gave them away to friends.
Favorite cruelty-free Brands?
Beauty Counter for make-up, Veg-world, Veganuar