Mommy to Be to “Lil’ Sprout”
Animal Rights Activist
Vegan Since 18′
Stay in Touch
The Creative Brew:
The Power of Networking, Vegan & Military Life
The Creative Brew:
TCB Roundtable Vol.1
Lick the Plate: Podcast Interview
The Coast News: Lick the Plate Blog Feature
Professional Career & Goals
My name is Emerald May and I’m The Plant Based Bae!
A Little Bit About Me
A little bit about me… I’m a twenty-seven year old vegan, yoga loving, roller skating fur momma to two German Shepherds & Savannah Cats named Odin, Freya, Rey & Blu. When I’m not working my full-time job, I’m usually out exploring new places with my boyfriend Austin or cooking up exciting new recipes to try from scratch. I was born and raised in Defiance, Ohio, a rural town in the Midwest and have called Southern California my home since I was 21, moving back to Oceanside, California at the end of 2018. Shortly after my 25th birthday, I decided to switch to a plant based diet which then led to me making positive changes in a lot of other areas. Once I realized the impact my diet had on my individual self, animals, and environment I started questioning more things around me. Since then, I’ve made it my mission to share my experiences & findings with others to spread the power of veganism out into the world.
Family & Personal Background
I was raised by a strong, young Latina “momma” along a supportive village of friends & family to help. I remember her working multiple jobs just to put me through Catholic school to make sure I could have a closer relationship with God and an opportunity for a better education. Whenever I wasn’t with her or my dad’s side of the family, I was with my Aunt Tina and her kids Craig Jeff & Samantha who were like the older siblings I never had. I have the best memories from visiting my Godparents Tony & Malena, spending time with them and their adult children (my “Godsiblings”) Stacey, Jamie & Isaac watching telenovelas & swimming in their pool all summer. If I wasn’t with them, I was with the Pedrozas or Esparzas with my childhood best friends Taylor & Kiana (a.k.a. Keenz). I’ll never forget the memories we made growing up together. I was practically “attached at the hip” with each of them respectively back then, and I’m so glad we still check in with each other til’ this day.
I come from a large family on both sides which I absolutely love. My parents have been separated ever since I can remember and despite that I’ve taken great pride in being the oldest sibling, always wanting to look out for them. It seemed so bizarre to me that other families referred to siblings as “half” sometimes because mine were what made me feel “whole“. I thank my “momma”, Regina for giving me the gifts of two beautiful sisters named Amethyst June & Lauren. I share my “papa bear”, Scott with my amazing younger siblings Jacob, Sarah, & Cade.
I grew up as a latchkey kid in a trailer court, learning how to be independent and do things for myself at an early age while not taking criticism from those who thought they were better, but were privileged in the town I come from. The way I was raised was to treat the janitor with the same respect that you would treat the CEO. Every job and every person matters… I think because of this, I’ve always marched to the beat of my own drum. As a kid, you could either find me rollerblading around the nearest cul de sac, bugging my older cousin Samantha, reading in the tree in our front yard, or playing with a number of neighborhood kids because despite my shyness, I was a “social butterfly”. I also did a lot of DIY crafts with my mom and played tons of video games alone, with friends & with my siblings. I credit games like Crazy Taxi and Megaman for giving me some of the best bonding experiences with my younger brother Jacob & older cousin Craig.
I know that my upbringing was unique and that it wasn’t exactly a cakewalk, so I thank both of my parents for doing what they did to shape me into who I am today. As busy as my mom was with work, she always made sure to make time to take me to whatever kind of practice, competition or event it was for whatever sport or hobby I was pursuing at the time. She gave me a chance to try out everything from the classics as a kid like t-ball, soccer, softball, volleyball but also got me involved in things like competitive cheerleading and baton. Eager to learn the value of a dollar, I practically begged her to let me have my first job before I was even a teen doing a local paper route for The Crescent News and learned how to sell, blowing my entire Girls Scouts troop out of the water one year because my mom drove me around my paper route to knock on doors and always remembered to bring extra order forms to the factory she worked at. I distinctly remember her coming home from that job smelling so sweet like the fresh baked bread they were manufacturing. She could be so exhausted from labor at the bread factory and still make time for dance parties to Bone Thugs n Harmony & Outkast in our living room. The older I get, the more I can relate to her. I think I get my hardworking & clean freak tendencies from her right along with my spirit of self-care and preservation. That’s served me well helping me always want to strive to do better and make her proud.
I still remember the first time I met my dad. I was about four years old when he took me to visit my grandparents house where we took a tractor ride and we picked a watermelon together. I think both of us were nervous to meet each other’s expectations, but I went back home feeling like I was on top of the world because I had finally put a real face to who my father was. Before this, I had gotten little gifts like hand painted handkerchiefs with Bugs Bunny & Taz from Looney Tunes hanging onto them wondering what he could be like in real life. Getting to know my dad taught me how that things aren’t always black and white. He showed me that your mistakes are not what defines you, but it’s what you do next that matters. I think I get some of my rebellious ways and “get it done” attitude from him. He also coined the term “be good, or don’t get caught!” fully accepting my wild side, while reminding me to be always make conscious decisions because he knew making mistakes was inevitable. We had serious conversations about what to do if I was ever too intoxicated at a party with friends or how to weed out the guys who only wanted one thing… He always tried his best to prepare me for the harsh realities of life. As we started to get closer during my teenage years, I learned important life lessons that I will never forget. He’s taught me most of my knowledge about farming, how to be a better driver and the importance of setting the standard for others, including my younger siblings. He reminded me that no matter what I was doing, someone little could be looking up at me.
Music & Other Major Influences
At an early age, I discovered music was my ultimate form of expression and I have to say one of the coolest things about having being raised by young parents was listening to their favorite genres like rap, rock n’ roll, metal, hip hop & alternative music. Growing up with my mom, I discovered artists she loved like Gwen Stefani, Eminem, DMX, System of the Down , Candlebox , Ozzy Osborne, Blue October & Rob Thomas…. I still wear her beloved Ozzfest shirts to bed sometimes. Whenever I spent time with my Aunt Tina or cousins Craig, Jeffy, & Samantha, I found love for even more artists like Janice Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Tom Petty, Fall Out Boy, & Dropkick Murphys. Despite my general dislike for country, I’d gladly listen to Dolly Parton with my Grandpa Higbea during trips to the lake and sing along to Dixie Chicks with my sister Sarah and Grandma on our way to the car ride to the train in South Bend (IN) on our way to Chicago for a girls trip. My music taste got even more diverse when my Aunt Kelly was kind enough to give me some of her old CDs leading me into more of The Beatles & Snow Patrol and while bonding with my dad, I discovered even more rap influences like 50 Cent and The Beastie Boys & have become obsessed with Johnny Cash because of him. In high school I was hungry for more music and artists I could relate to so I focused a lot on bands like Metallica, Paramore, Miss May I, Coheed and Cambria, The Shins & The Strokes. Til this day my favorite album is Sawdust by The Killers after listening to Hot Fuss on repeat after getting as a gift on my birthday.
All those experiences and influences led me to discover that my heart was leading me to doing something creative. The later I got into my teenage years, I found myself writing poetry as well as creating & exploring worlds within video games like Kingdom Hearts and The Sims. I had a couple of major life events that took my mind away from those types of things and the first was my youngest sister, Amethyst being born. I have to admit that sometimes it felt lonely growing up in a household feeling like an “only child” until I went to my dad’s so when she came into this world, I instantly became obsessed with her. I felt an overwhelming sense of obligation to her just as I do to the rest of my siblings although there was a maternal instinct inside me that she inspired to come out. I had always babysat growing up and even spent time in Chicago to nanny my cousin Lainey while my aunt returned to work but it had never been for longer than a month span of time. The beauty of helping my mom raise my sister in the beginning was finding the joy in nurturing & getting to know her. As she matures (and gets more feisty), I have so much fun bonding with her in new ways as she is becoming her own amazing unique individual like the rest of my siblings.
The second major event in my life that changed me was my great grandmother Juanita “Janie” Alvarado passing, forcing me to look at myself in the mirror and who I was becoming as a woman. I felt like a part of my childhood was lost along with her thinking back on all the fun memories we had. It also seemed to displace my family quite a bit causing many shifts and even bringing the absolute worst out in some people during the end fighting over her belongings. Being in her hospital room as she went to the other side was the last experience I had of my maternal side coming together for any type of event. It seemed like she was the “glue” holding many of us together and when she left, many drifted apart. I branched out and made friends outside circles I wouldn’t typically “belong” to meeting people leading many different types of lives/views and had one hell of a ride after growing up and moving out on my own at 18.
Looking back, I think growing up in separate households with different ethnicities brought more diversity to my upbringing with an animal based diet. My mom taught me how to cook Mexican dishes from scratch like rice, beans, empanadas, menudo & tamales using everything from animal broth to fats. Beef was only in our household for certain dishes we made and the focus of processing meat really came whenever I was with my dad. With him, I was raised on traditional American dishes with a more red meat and wild game. I remember our family hunting or fishing at every opportunity because it was just part of our culture & way of life.
Sharing meals together was a way to bond on both sides of the family, so I had always wondered how it would work with me being vegan feeling like the odd one out. I wondered how I could ever have my mom’s authentic mexican food or some of my dad’s classic “comfort food”. I knew this meant no more hunting or fishing, because my heart just didn’t feel right thinking about participating anymore. However, I’ve learned quite a bit since then and realize that we’re able to bond in so many more ways and they are very supportive of the way I live my life. It took me too long to realize that all they had cared about at the end of that I’m safe, healthy and happy…and that I would call and visit home more!
Leaving an Abusive Marriage
With my history, I found myself in a series of toxic and abusive relationships throughout my lifetime. I was always searching for “the one” who I could feel safe with and loved the way I needed to. I felt like I had so much love to give myself and was so eager to put that out in the world to see what it would return. Along the way, I had been exposed to everything from addiction, lying, cheating, false threats of suicide, and downright being used for my money or good heart. I was always searching for “the one” and genuinely believed that things were looking up for me when I got married at 19 years old and moved onto the Camp Pendleton Marine Corps Base in 2014, about a year after my ex husband was stationed there. I thought this was my chance to fulfill my life’s purpose but shortly after I arrived, I found myself calling my dad asking for help on what to do during a fight in the early years.
Over time, I stopped calling and checking in because the reality behind the Facebook & Instagram posts was much uglier than anyone else could ever imagine. The very fabric of my life was hanging by the threads of actions I was taking daily, how well I could keep up my appearance, how much I was making, and staying silent to the comments that made me question why my partner seemed to enjoy seeing me in pain and controlling the household. Each time I thought to leave, I had no financial stability and wondered what my family would think of me with a failing marriage. I had also felt an obligation to remain there because of the animals. The relationship also put so many in danger including my precious fur babies and nearly a dozen reptiles along the way who unfortunately didn’t make it. There had been violence and abusive behaviors displayed within the home on many occasions, but I was still under the impression that it wasn’t domestic abuse until your partner hit you. I had started to struggle with my weight and mental health due to instability of my career path, relationship & lack of contact with my own family. Things progressively got worse, so after increased violence and disagreement on his illicit drug use, I ultimately decided that was enough to walk away. Thankfully, I made relationships to lean on throughout the military community that I still value today.
I lost a significant amount of weight due to the stress that came after leaving from fear of personal safety, financial instability & altering my life in such a major way. It took me some time, but I was able to find ways to love myself again and develop better habits for self-care. I learned about what traits are healthy and truly abusive in relationship so I knew what to watch out for. I also leaned more heavily into veganism, becoming a louder advocate for animals now that I was ready to take up more space in the world.
My Journey Through Plant Based Living
When I first announced I was going vegan in 2018, I wanted to “blend in”, but my personal decisions were constantly put into question. I initially did it for my health and to remove the experience of eating meat/flesh from my diet altogether because for some reason it just clicked one day that it did not feel good to be eating it. I initially did research on diets and weight loss methods through this way of life. After watching several documentaries like Forks Over Knives & What the Health, I couldn’t look away to the hard facts in front of me pointing towards the meat & dairy industries being behind a number of conditions & diseases. Cancer has touched my family over the years and it is always a common concern among my generation. Among many others, when I was very young, we lost my mom’s mom, Julie, to breast cancer. If that wasn’t hard enough, her sister Tina was diagnosed some time after we lost Grandma Alvarado. Thankfully, she is a fighter & survivor in remission…and still as feisty as ever! In 2014, we lost her son, Craig to stomach cancer in his early 30s… When I grew up, I thought cancer was only genetic & something that just happened….It seemed inevitable that some of us were just a little luckier than others. It wasn’t until I started putting the pieces together and realized that our diets and environments are very closely linked to underlying diseases.
I was sold on the health risks not being worth it anymore and the fact that the animal industry was systematically creating a culture of disease, consumption & massacre. I decided that I did not want to participate in that anymore and when I voiced it without judgement for others, I found that criticism continued to come my way. I think many people agreed with me but were simply too upset about learning the facts of what they had come to learn about diets and ethics. The longer that went on, the harder it became to compromise each time when it came to my own internal alignment in many areas. I slowly started getting louder over the years and realizing that while I could fight for the animals, the earth, and environment: I could also fight for myself.
I didn’t have much support in the beginning, so I made it a point to go off on my own to discover new vegan groups & restaurants. I signed many petitions online as a way to show my support and even cooked many Thanksgiving side dishes without dairy to give others a chance to try it. I tested new items in VeganCuts subscription boxes, experimented with new recipes as often as I could, and tried out a weekly HungryRoot subscription to branch out even more. Despite my efforts to bring others into the world of plant based living (even for just a single meal), it wasn’t until recently that many people realized I was vegan at all and I got the kind of support I was looking for. I credit my passion for veganism helping me build up the courage to make necessary changes in my life to improve my overall health & well being. It’s also helped me meet so many fellow veg heads along the way!
In the past two years alone, I’ve lost nearly 40lbs, left an abusive marriage of 6.5 years, paid off a significant amount of debt on my own from the fallout, and walked away from a career I onced loved for 3 years that became an unhealthy environment for me & absolutely insatiable. I found many parallels in both situations upon reflection because I had finally understood my true worth & finally reconnected with my family back home realizing that is what is truly important. It also helped me learn how to put my needs first again and helped me learn to freely give & accept love again. Since then, I’ve been able to find my own peace and independence through the healing process. I’ve picked up new and lost hobbies like reading, hiking & roller skating and it’s caused me to connect with more like-minded individuals in the process, including my twin flame, A. I’m thankful to everyone who has supported me along the way
Finding True Love
At the beginning of 2020, I met my tall, dark & vegan handsome on a social dating app. It sounds cliché, but this algorithm really got us right! His name is Austin and I’ll often refer to him as “A” (He’s the type of guy to call me Agave instead of honey). I knew the moment we met that we were destined to be in each other’s lives for a reason, I just wasn’t sure what that was yet. He has always put in 110% effort into our relationship even from our first date taking me hike to Cowles Mountain, a drink at this stellar vegan bar & restaurant called Kindred, and then for some “munchies” at Native Foods. I instantly thought he was everything I had been looking for: handsome, kind, intelligent, creative, adventurous, plus child & animal loving. I remember coming home thinking that it HAD to be too good to be true…that guys weren’t really this sweet in real life… It took me some time to let him in after all that I had been through, but his tender love & patience shined through even the darkest of days through this whole pandemic.
I feel incredibly lucky to have found my true best friend and partner who I truly feel safe with. He appreciates every kind gesture I send big or small and we are always on the same team at the end of the day, no matter what we’re up against. Until I met him, I forgot just how fun life at home can be! He’s helped get me out of “survival mode” when I didn’t even realize I was still living like that and back to enjoying the feeling of being in love again, making it okay to be vulnerable sometimes. He loves to cheer me on and excitedly spectate whenever I’m doing yoga or and is always there as a hand to hold when things get tough.
Whenever we’re having a stressful day or just want to feel more connected, we meditate & talk. We call it our own little “therapy”.He reminds me not to move too fast and to take more breaks and I help remind him that what we’re working towards every day is worth it. Both of us have helped each other heal through many things and are always looking for ways to help others do the same for others out in the world. I love that he shares my big love for animals and that being the main reason he went fully vegan at the beginning of 2020.
He has so much capacity for love for the earth, animals and others around him that I find myself falling more in love each and every day. I’m always impressed with the hacks he comes up with in the kitchen which you’ll see more in the Vegan Recipe Blog. We both love going on adventures together spending as much time with the fur babies as possible. His parents are also vegan and have completely taken me in as part of their tribe. I feel that they are my family away from home here in Southern California and am so thankful for all their support in me & Austin. You can read more about how I knew he was “the one” here.
The Plant Based Bae Blog
The more I research and discuss the topic of veganism, I find that it is so widely misunderstood. Yet, there is a natural curiosity among friends, family and strangers I encounter on a day-to-day basis to learn more. I’ve wanted to start a blog for a while now, but had no idea where to start. I decided to give it a shot this year to help become a better resource and to use it as a form of therapy for myself. Since I started sharing my stories, I’ve received a huge amount of support online and in person. I never knew that people could be so psyched about veganism… or the topic of me for that matter! I’ve always loved to write and naturally have a lot to say, so I’m so excited to see this site develop.
You can read more about why I started the blog and about overcoming obstacles throughout the pandemic here. As always, thank you for all the love and support I’ve received through my journey. It’s inspired me to heal, to find true love & let go of negative things weighing me down. I’ve been inspired to create this blog with the goal of spreading more positive thinking in our society because we could all use a little more of that…right?
Recent Blog Posts
- What Does It Mean to Be Vegan?
- What to Expect: First Trimester of a Vegan Pregnancy
- The Surprising Health Benefits of Plant Based Living
- Vegan Carrot Ginger Soup
- Instant Pot Vegan Pot Roast
Stay tuned for future updates and feel free to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information or content requests.