In The Gym With Lauren McKinney

Meet amazing vegan and plant-based chef Lauren McKinney who shares how she transitioned to veganism and is living her best life.

Meet amazing vegan and plant-based chef Lauren McKinney who shares how she transitioned to veganism and is living her best life. #vegan #plantbased #eatplants

Please introduce yourself to our readers. 

My name is Lauren McKinney. I’m a certified plant-based health coach and have been vegan for almost 11 years. I retired from my corporate gig in 2020 to spend more time doing all things Vegan Radiance and helping others find their most Radiant Life! 

I love cooking, being a grandma, salsa dancing, going to the beach, lifting weights, snuggling with my husband, and of course having a good belly laugh as much as possible. I just love being happy!  

Meet amazing vegan and plant-based chef Lauren McKinney @veganradiance who shares how she transitioned to plant-based eating and is living her best life. #vegan #plantbased #eatplants

What were your starting and current weight and measurements before and after going vegan? 

I’ve been vegan for almost 11 years, and when I first started, was close to 190 lbs. I easily reached 148 lbs within a few months just by switching to a whole food plant-based way of eating.  

Here’s an article on Black Women Losing Weight in which I was featured, detailing my weight loss journey.  

Why did you go vegan? 

(Diatta, I never tire of telling this story!) I was lying in bed on a Saturday morning, June 2011; ribeye steaks marinating in the fridge, beers on ice. That was how I was going to spend my weekend. But, before I could even get out of bed, I felt something in my spirit that clearly let me know I was to stop eating meat…. that day.

And that was that. One day turned into two…..two days into two weeks, two weeks into 2 years and now almost 11.  

I started feeling better within a week and never looked back. Of course, I started educating myself after day 3 and once I learned all the benefits of being plant-based, I got truly excited! It’s been the best shift I’ve made in my life.  

How did you transition to veganism? 

That’s the funny part….I transitioned overnight! Again, no plans to do so, I knew nothing about being vegan, but the universe did. So, that’s how it happened for me.  

I started learning about plant-based eating/vegan during my transition. I read books, articles, watched documentaries, researched..everything I could get my hands on.

I really wanted to understand the “why” behind it. I did not want this to just be another diet. I’d done them all. I wanted a lifestyle change that would have lasting effects and be sustainable.

And, I wanted the positive health results all these people were experiencing. I, like many, have family riddled with chronic disease and I wanted to do whatever I could to reverse this history. Though we cannot control all factors in life, I could determine what I ate.   

What do you like most about veganism? 

It’s so much fun and I feel great! It’s truly been the catalyst to healing dis-ease. Within one week of going plant-based, the inflammation started subsiding in my body, so things stopped aching and hurting. Allergies disappeared…It’s the key to keeping my body functioning at a high level.

I’ll be turning 60 next year and feel better than I did in my 30’s. I can run, jump even do headstands! It’s been the greatest gift to my life!  

I’m much more creative in the kitchen creating plant-based foods than prior to going vegan. My mind just pops with ideas! Sometimes I’ll get dreams about making a dish and can’t wait to get in the kitchen to see if it works.

Fun fact, did you know you can make macarons from the liquid in beans (aquafaba)?! I love making foods that no one even knows is vegan!

And quite honestly, so many foods we already eat are familiar….greens, sweet potatoes, squash, cabbage, tomatoes; you can even add in a vegan cornbread. It’s easy as pie! (Which by the way can easily be made vegan.)  

What is your favorite vegan food or recipe? 

That’s impossible to answer! There’s just so many! I love vegan Soul food, Thai, Italian Lasagna, Street food, Gumbos…so, so many options.  

However, I’ve literally eaten a salad almost everyday since going plant based and never tire of them. One of the easiest ways to better your health immediately, is to eat a homemade salad every day chock full of vegetables and a homemade salad dressing! It’s all about making them delicious and of course, the sauce!  

Here’s one of my absolute favorite dressings that I enjoy over a chopped salad along with mandarin oranges, almond slivers. It’s a Thai peanut that can serve as a dip or sauce. You can find the video on my Instagram page.  

Vegan Radiance Thai Peanut Sauce 

  • • 1/3 c peanut butter (unsalted)
  • • 1/3 c water
  • • 2T apple cider vinegar
  • • 1T lime juice
  • • 4 pitted dates
  • • 1 tsp chili powder
  • • 1 1/2 tsp minced garlic
  • • 1T Coconut aminos or soy sauce
  • • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

Blend in blender until smooth 

What do you eat on the average day? 

I have to tell you, I’m a foodie! I used to own my own wedding cake business in the San Francisco Bay area for several years and was also a corporate event planner, creating menus for events with world renowned chefs at 5-star venues.  

As much as I’d like to eat deep-fried mushrooms and waffles for dinner, my daily menu is pretty simple to help keep my health and weight in check.

I start each day with lemon water.  

Breakfast is fresh fruit prepared in a variety of ways. Smoothie bowls, Raw Apple/Banana Oatmeal, Tropical Fruit Salad. 

Lunch is usually a huge, delicious salad topped with all kinds of fruits and vegetables and of course a great dressing. I love Raw Vegan Tacos; I make an incredible pizza using a 2-ingredient crust.  

Dinner is a delicious stir fry, casserole like Shepherd’s pie. But I can turn just about any dish into its vegan version!  

What do you think is the biggest misconception about veganism? 

That the food is boring or takes too much time to prepare. I find it quite the opposite. Getting in the kitchen is a joy and prepping food for meals makes all the difference in the flavor. You can control the amount of salt, spices and make a truly gourmet, healthy meal.  

What general tips do you have for the average person interested in transitioning to veganism? 

People go vegan for many different reasons. Health, the ecology, protecting the animals…Once you are clear on your why, your food choices will be easier to make. For example, my vegan introduction was completely fueled by health reasons.

So, a whole food plant-based lifestyle was my focus. I did not eat processed vegan foods, like soy burgers, fried foods, and sugar. I stuck more with legumes, vegetables, fruits and vegetables prepared in delicious ways. There are just so many easy, nutritious meals that can be created in minutes with a little know how.  

Eating packaged vegan foods might work to transition someone else gently. Everyone’s path is different, so perhaps using vegan foods that mimic a meat-based diet would be the answer so that they can learn/ramp up more slowly and not give up.  

How can our readers learn more about your vegan lifestyle? 

I’d love to see you on my Facebook page or Instagram page. Come say hello! Check out the instructional videos and recipes that accompany the posts.  

I host 5-day Reboot programs to get you started on establishing a healthy eating foundation that will be sustainable beyond the 5 days. Participants have had incredible success with it from losing weight, ridding themselves of headaches, aches and pains, foggy brain and so much more.

This is a great step into the world of whole food plant-based with delicious recipes and personal guidance from me. Click here to learn more.  

I also give live demos/classes on everything from raw vegan meals to desserts. I enjoy group sessions where everyone can cook along or just sit back and watch the magic…like making soft serve ice cream out of only bananas! Yep!  

Need a public speaker for your event….yep. I never get tired of speaking about plant-based eating and health.  

Contact me at email: veganradiance@gmail.com or DM me on social media.  

If you enjoyed this article and are inspired, join our FREE online fitness accountability group on Facebook at https://facebook.com/groups/femmefitale.

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