By Taylor Ward

I recently became a vegan. Part of my inspiration to make the switch came from following @instagremma, a vegan activist and model account on Instagram created by Emma Claire Fried.

When I was still deciding to go vegan, I messaged her on the off chance that she might respond and give me some advice. Fried gave me the names of a couple of other accounts I could follow to get more information, and once I made the transition, I thought it would be interesting to interview vegan chef @eatingwithmax, Max La Manna.

La Manna consistently posts pictures of his vegan creations and his attempts to live a waste-free life on his blog and Instagram feed. He has more than 12,000 followers on Instagram and has a plethora of recipes that range from soups to desserts – all plant-based and vegan-friendly.

Enjoy this small window into the life of an inspiring figure fighting for animal safety, health and happiness.

From looking at your website, you said that you were influenced a lot by your mother and father in the kitchen. Could you tell me a little about how they shaped you into the person you are today?

Manna: My father was the chef and my mother was the caretaker of the garden, and this is where you would find me when I was playing sports and creating havoc in my neighborhood as a child. My siblings and I were always surrounded by food and understood the values of a home cooked meal. One memory from my childhood is when my father would leave ingredients and spices all around the kitchen and he would ask my siblings and I “What was in the food?” My father made me become more aware of my senses and helped me develop a palate. It was a fun game growing up, and even today, I ask my friends the same question.

What was the turning point in your life that spurred you to go vegan?

M: I was living in NYC and friends of mine invited me out to Hawaii for a couple weeks, and I was unknowingly eating vegan food. And then [I] met a couple who had begun practicing veganism for years, and they basically took me under their wings because I was so engaged and open to learning more and made the switch while I was in Hawaii. The moment came to me perfectly – it was meant to be.

Did you feel supported in your decision to go vegan, or was it more difficult than you imagined it would be?

M: I totally felt supported in my decision. Educating myself and researching properly led me to this decision and it has impacted my life tremendously.

What was that transition time like?

M: The transition to go full vegan took about year or so. There were moments where I allowed myself to eat certain products, and I found this to be a successful part of going full vegan. I knew people who would stress themselves out, and eventually, I was stressing myself out. If I wanted to make this change, then I needed to be kind to myself and allow myself to mess up.

You’ve been vegan for going on six years now. How do you keep yourself motivated to continue with that lifestyle?

M: Well, I plan to live a long, happy and healthy life – and if I plan to do that, my question to myself is “how?” I am motivated to inspire others, so if I let myself down, then I am letting down humanity, the animals and the planet. It’s a big task, but I am stronger than ever to take it on.

What advice would you give to new vegans?

M: Embrace the change and take your time transitioning. Know your truth and give yourself three reasons why you are making this change, and if you’re strong and supported by those three reasons, then nothing can knock you off your path. AND have fun – no one likes a grumpy vegan. This is a process and you won’t get it right on the first time, but keep going.

*This interview has been edited for clarity & all photos were from @eatingwithmax Instagram

Motivation Friday 🌿 It’s always going to be a little nerve racking and a bit of hesitation when you move into a plant-based lifestyle. I like to leave the word “diet” out of conversation as it frightens most people that they need to go on some crazy meal program journey – this isn’t like that at all. If you need help or advice, I’m pretty sure the other plant-based/vegans reading this will shine some light and help you along the way 👋🏼🌿👋🏼 There’s been a 600% increase in people identifying as vegans in the U.S in the last three years- only 1% of U.S. consumers claimed to be vegan in 2014 and in 2017, that number rose to 6% – In the UK, the number of people identifying as vegans has increased by 350%, compared to a decade ago. 🥗 @sweetgreen 📷 @modelfit 🌿💚♻️ Do you have a friend who needs to read this? 👉🏼👉🏼Tag your friend in the comments below 👈🏼👈🏼 🙌🏼💚🙌🏼 #zerowastevegan #plantbasedliving #plantbasednutrition #plantbasedmedicine #foryourhealth #eatingwithmax

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