Chris Angel Murphy
Van Nuys, California
How long have you been vegan?
How long have you been vegan?
Almost two years!
What motivated you to become vegan?
I've had a persistent cough and phlegm issue for years that finally annoyed me enough into action. After going without dairy for a period of time, I noticed my body was much happier. The phlegm and cough went away, my skin was clearer, and my stomach/digestive system wasn't upset. The weirdest thing was being able to really taste food again and have a newfound love for flavor as if my taste buds woke up from a long slumber. Feeling lighter and having more energy to take on the day improved my mood. When I was putting myself through school, I found that I gravitated toward vegetarian meals naturally because it was more cost-effective for my budget (if even by only a few dollars here and there... it adds up!). After one last food tour of some of my favorite meals, I've slowly made the change over time. This isn't a fad diet for me - this is a total lifestyle change. I find that my body responds best to food that is fresh. Although some items are already vegan, I appreciate learning to make my own seasonings, dressings, hummus, and sauces. I'm working on making the change for the products I purchase, too. The focus for me is on committing to this by rotating these changes into my life over time. It's far less overwhelming this way and I find myself being more successful as a result.
Is your family or partner also vegan?
Living in Los Angeles has its perks; I've been very fortunate to live where there are many people to date who are vegan, vegetarian, or open to eating at places with more options for me. If and when the right partner comes around, I'm optimistic that we'll make it work if they are not vegan.
What is the hardest part about being vegan?
A few things come to mind. There are people who still don't entirely understand what it means. To be honest, I was that person years ago, too. Many of my friends will continue to ask me if I'm still vegan and compromise on places to eat, which means a lot to me. Whenever I cook, people know it will be a vegan dish, but I've only ever had compliments. There can also be sneaky ingredients to look out for because I've either been ignorant of it or it may go by other names. Alternatively, there are many things that are vegan but do not have the branding or marketing as such. It can be overwhelming at first, which is why I would suggest to anyone interested in making such a change, to take your time and be patient with the process.
Are you involved in vegan activism? If so, in what way?
When a petition comes around that makes sense to me, I will sign and pass it along. When I can role model it for others and share recipes, that feels the best. My understanding of being vegan is different from someone else's and I don't believe it's great for everyone, as all of our bodies have unique needs. Recently, it has been brought to my attention that it isn't cruelty-free, which is true. How are we supporting farm workers? Do they have humane conditions and fair wages? What about animals and life that may be unintentionally harmed due to our pesticides, farming equipment?
What do you do for a living?
I'm a social worker with a passion for technology and educating others. After almost a decade of speaking and training around topics affecting the LGBTQ community, I've turned it into a business that mostly focuses on working with helping professionals so we don't have to decide on being someone's teachable moment when accessing care at our time of need.
Do you incorporate your vegan lifestyle into it?
In my line of work, it only comes up if people are serving food at an event and ask if I have any dietary needs. Due to how hectic it can be, including traveling, I tend to be prepared with snacks or look up options ahead of time so I'm not hangry :) I do believe it will become easier over time, including areas where options are not as readily available now.
How do you eat throughout the week?
Whenever possible, I meal plan and make an effort to include some of the same ingredients throughout at least one additional meal so I am not wasting anything. A good example is kale; it's really easy to throw it in a burrito bowl, a salad, soup, and smoothie. It doesn't necessarily taste the same (if at all) in those options, so I'm not getting sick of it. There are some great blogs and books out there and when in the mood to find something different. Pinterest is a huge help if you're into endless scrolling and organizing. There are ample helpful podcasts and Facebook groups if you're looking for community and support. I get SO BORED of eating the same thing more than 3 times, so my favorite dishes are those that allow for easy swapping of ingredients or can start out a bit bland with options to change it up over the week.
Cook at home? Or eat out?
There are ample restaurants in Los Angeles that are vegan only or offer many options to swap ingredients. When I eat out, I try to order things that would be harder or not as worth the effort to cook for one person. Sometimes I get things I am easily able to make myself to be inspired by their take on it. However, I will always prefer a home-cooked meal because I take pride in challenging myself to prepare my own food. It can be really fun to
Can you share your favorite vegan recipe?
Black Bean and Butternut Squash Tacos! This is one of those meals that is super easy to fix on a weeknight or mass produce for friends to add their own toppings.
Is there much of a vegan social scene in your community?
I'm sure Los Angeles has an influx of vegan activists, social groups, food festivals, and more. Since I'm such an introvert in my personal time to balance out the kind of work I do, I tend not to participate in these kinds of events. Fortunately, I have many friends who are happy to eat vegan food, even though they're not vegan, and enjoy trying new places with me.