“It all started in July 2017 when I turned on Netflix and watched the documentary that changed my life…”
Ryan Shepard, now plant-based cooking enthusiast and recipe creator, was left “in utter shock and disbelief” after viewing the What the Health film a few years ago. The documentary focused on the alleged hidden agendas put forth by the meat, dairy and egg industries with an emphasis on health.
“Learning that I can live my life on a plant-based diet and still receive 100 percent of my daily protein needs, carbs, healthy fats, etc. without harming animals was something I was ready for.”
Once he made the switch, he understood it was a lifestyle change – not just a diet – and ultimately realized “there is no need to consume animal products.”
Here, we sit down with Ryan to discuss his reasons for going vegan, spreading the message along with what his plans are for the future.
1. What’s your mission behind The Vegan Rhino?
My mission with The Vegan Rhino is not only to promote healthy foods and simple recipes to others, but it’s to help animals – living, breathing, sentient beings – live a life without being confined, tortured or killed inhumanely.
I’m glad I was finally able to open my eyes to a new way of life. My goal with my blog and social media presence is to share with everyone (meat eaters and non) that you can live a sustainable life without meat, dairy, eggs and other products we make from animals. I hope that by providing recipes, I can successfully spread the message and introduce vegan-friendly food alternatives.
2. Tell us the story behind your name.
When I was growing up, my uncle used to call me Rhino. Now being vegan, I thought that this was fitting because rhinos are one of the largest plant-eaters on earth.
3. Who do you look up to?
Growing up, Emeril Lagasse was the chef I looked up to the most. He was a big contributing factor for my appreciation for a culinary lifestyle. Currently, I follow a few social media accounts that I enjoy but do not currently have a role model per se.
4. What keeps you inspired?
I have a good amount of vegan friends and social media accounts that I follow to help keep me inspired. There is food all around, so I am always thinking of ways to “veganize” old favorites of mine and create new favorites as well.
5. What does a typical day of eating look like for you?
Breakfast: A bowl of overnight oats, some fruit, coconut flakes or granola, and a drizzle of agave.
Lunch: I enjoy a tofu stir-fry with vegetables and white rice.
Snack: I will usually make some nice cream or a smoothie. They’re packed with tons of nutrients and are super quick to make.
Dinner: I love making black bean burgers or tacos!
6. Sounds like your typical day is pretty balanced in terms of meals. Do you ever indulge?
I do not really have a cheat meal but I do love a good vegan German chocolate cake.
7. Um, YUM! You work a full time job and you’re constantly in the kitchen. How do you wind down?
Every Monday, when I get home from work, I take 30 minutes to an hour to decompress and do some yoga. My favorite yoga stretch is the warrior pose. I enjoy concentrating on my breathing while I’m stretching. My favorite way to relax is by reading near the pool with some cold fresh-squeezed lemonade, which is super refreshing in the hot South Florida weather.
8. What three items can we expect to find in your next Vitacost order?
My top three must-have products from Vitacost are:
1. Vitacost brand Himalayan Pink Salt
2. Seventh Generation products: I like to stock up on the soaps, trash bags, toiletries and cleaning products.
3. HU chocolate bars.
I love when the Himalayan salt is on BOGO, making it a great deal! The Seventh Generation products are great for my eco-friendly lifestyle and the HU chocolate, well, it’s just delicious!
9. What’s your ultimate dream job?
My dream job is to one day travel the world and own a restaurant. I think it’s really important to understand other cultures and different types of cuisine.
10. We look forward to visiting your restaurant some day! What do you feel is the most challenging part of healthy living?
Getting out of the old mentality that we are fed to believe since we were kids. Once you are able to get over the “but I’ll miss cheese” or “how do you get your protein” mentality, you will realize you can have all of that as vegan – and it tastes great!
11. What advice would you give someone who’s getting started on their journey?
I would suggest small changes first when moving toward a vegan lifestyle. It can be hard in the beginning but once you slowly get the hang of it, you will be in perfect shape. To anyone reading, feel free to reach out to me either via email at TheVeganRhino@outlook.com or DM me on Instagram @TheVeganRhino.