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Plant-Powered Passion

Written by: Cary Wong

Chef Charity Morgan's Culinary Journey of Education and Empowerment

From our initial contact, I could sense that Chef Charity Morgan is a very busy person. Speaking from her bustling kitchen, she effortlessly juggled our conversation while conjuring up tantalizing dishes. Each, a testament to her diverse background and dedication to plant-based cuisine.

Born and raised in Sacramento, California, her culinary journey began at her family’s farm, where she was nurtured on a rich tapestry of her mother’s Puerto Rican dishes and her grandmother’s Creole delicacies; these formative years instilled in her a deep appreciation for diverse flavors and a palate eager to explore the world of cooking. Growing up with such an array of spices, aromas, and freshness meant she started unconsciously gaining culinary knowledge as a young child. Reflecting on her upbringing, Chef Morgan says, “It trained my palate… I ate everything… It helped me push boundaries and incorporate spices and techniques.”

Transitioning to a plant-based diet wasn’t just a personal choice for Chef Morgan; it was a profound transformation that reshaped her approach to food and life. Inspired by her family’s journey to plant-based living, she embarked on her own path, encountering challenges and setbacks along the way. She tried and failed to transition to a plant-based diet for the first time around 2015. However, this failure became her greatest teacher, teaching her about patience, compassion, and the importance of meeting people where they are on their journeys to wellness.

That experience taught her to be patient and kind with others struggling with going plant-based. It’s a common refrain from the vegan community to just make the transition without thinking about it. In reality, people don’t find that helpful or practical.
Chef Morgan also extended the idea of being compassionate toward animals to being compassionate toward her fellow human beings. She realized that going plant-based was a very difficult journey, even for a culinary arts degree holding chef such as herself. Imagine what an average person with no culinary background has to go through if they choose to transition to this lifestyle!

In 2017, Chef Morgan’s husband (the then-NFL linebacker Derrick Morgan) started researching diet for athletic performance reasons. In an attempt to decrease inflammation while he was playing a sport with a high injury rate, they started adopting a plant-based diet together. This time, it was a success.

The difference was the approach. Chef Morgan admits she was not prepared on her first attempt. She searched online for plant-based methods and just went by recipes she found. She discovered, however, that she could not follow someone else’s recipe.

This time, when Chef Morgan successfully went plant-based, she made it her own. It was not about Googling the next tofu dish or what to do with chickpeas. She changed the way she looked at food. Instead of “Hey, you got to stop eating all the amazing things that you’ve eaten your whole life,” she kept making the delicious Puerto Rican, Creole, and Vietnamese dishes she likes by changing the ingredients.

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