Chef Charity Morgan holds a culinary degree from Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts and has more than 15 years of cooking under her belt. She and her husband, Derrick Morgan, live in Tennessee with their children. Derrick was an NFL line backer for the Tennessee Titans for 9 years, in a long and successful career. He retired July 2019. We sat down with Chef Charity for a quick Q&A, which quickly turned into a real girl talk about her passions, living a healthy lifestyle, and how PUR2o has been a part of that journey!
Charity, thank you so much for chatting with me today! Let’s jump straight in; Derrick got you started with Vegan cooking, can you tell me a bit more about how that came about and why?
It came about because the hardest part of becoming an athlete in the NFL is not just making it on a team in the first place, but a lot of it is also staying in the NFL. At that time, Derrick was approaching his 7th season and he was seeing guys who were his friends and people who he came into the league with, coming and going. It was always in the back of a player’s mind, how they are going to be able stay in the NFL a long time and approach the season staying physically healthy. So in the beginning of 2017, he decided to go plant based. As a wife, I supported him 1000% in his decision. Now our whole family has transitioned to being plant based as well.
You were already a Chef, and had gone to school for Culinary Arts, but you changed your whole cooking style because of him. Before Derrick retired, you fed another 12-13 guys on the team every week, as well as your family, a Plant Based diet. Where is the win-win for you on this?
Absolutely, when I did the research I realized that this is not something that is only good for an athlete who is high performance driven, but thought why not do this for me as well. I started doing more and more research and finding families, kids, people who are plant based, and seeing how well they are feeding their families tons of nutrition, opposed to meat and dairy that inflames the body. It made perfect sense for me, and for us.
I’d like to talk about your children a bit, as they are vegan as well. There is one thing seeing the benefit for an athlete of a plant-based diet, but what are you seeing is the benefits for them?
My children are THRIVING. They are thriving as individuals, they are thriving as athletes, and they are thriving in academics. My kids are very smart. I remember teachers would ask me about my son, “How did you get him to read this early?” as he was an early reader at 4 years old reading full on books. I feel like what you put into your kids’ bodies is so important. But also, if you focus on what they want and need, your children will tell you everything! When they are babies we can see that kids hate meat! We force them to eat meat. The average kid is not going for the meat on their plate, they are going for the fruits, the veggies, the carbs, the bread, and the things that are going to give them energy and help them grow.
You have married the cleanliness of your diet with healthy and clean PUR2o water. When you found out about what we do as a company, why did you feel it was important to incorporate that into your lifestyle as well?
Well, honestly, that wasn’t something new for me. It wasn’t like ‘Wow, PUR2o, look what they are doing with water!’ I’ve always been a conscious person. I eliminated a lot of junk out of my lifestyle when I became pregnant in 2011, so I always think about health first. Becoming plant based was the last part of that journey for me, before that I was a pescatarian (vegetarians who eat fish), but I’ve always been into water. It is so important, our skin is our biggest organ, and people buy bottled water all day long, but they forget that their body is absorbing so many chemicals while they are in the shower, or giving their kids a bath. When you talked to me about your water systems, not only was the alkaline part a benefit, but the whole house filtration was so important to me for that reason too. I was so happy when Antonio explained that your systems were going to remove the contaminants from the water that were really important to me, like Fluoride and Atrazine.
Removing all those chemicals from the incoming water supply is not widely understood. As you correctly stated, your skin is your biggest organ, and absorbs so much from the environment around you, especially when you are in the shower! Have you noticed any difference since you got the whole house system installed?
You know what I noticed was the biggest difference – the same like when you go plant based – is that you have a new normal. The biggest difference is when I travel, not when I’m at home! When I’m in a hotel, or I’m in an Airbnb, I can literally smell the chlorine, as if I’m in a swimming pool, when I shower, or when I’m brushing my teeth! I never noticed it before and now I’m more sensitive to it. My skin feels dry, my hair feels hard, and I can’t wait to get home, and I say ‘thank God I don’t bathe in this everyday!’
Water is the main component in so many dishes and food, and you are a Culinary Artist… aka an amazing Chef… so is that a main reason you made the decision to get a PUR2o water filtration system installed; to have safer and healthier water in your cooking?
I think for me it was bigger than that. It was so important for me to get the whole house filtration installed, and then to add a second layer of protection for drinking and consuming it. I have an in-wall plumbed in coffee maker, and to know that your coffee is being made without all those contaminants in it is so important to me. Your coffee is so much more flavorful without all that crud being mixed in with it.
Well now apply that to food, it’s the same when you are cooking. Your food becomes more flavorful when you are using clean water; the onions, the bell peppers, the garlic, and all the ingredients, the flavor comes through with cleaner flavors, because its not being masked with all the layers of chemicals and tons of other things. People don’t think when they clean out a water tank on an appliance and they see the build up, if the tank is like that, what is it doing to your body and your food?
Charity, Your passion is exuding over the telephone line! Let me tell you that going “vegan” or attempting veganism, is not easy. I have been able to eliminate meat from my diet, but cheese… I cannot get past that. I think that’s the hardest! What advice can you give me, or anyone else, that is interested but daunted by the commitment?
You know what, let me tell you, the more you keep cutting out stuff that your body tells you doesn’t make you feel good, you will get to a point where you take it those comfort foods naturally by yourself without realizing it. One day you will turn around and your body will not want it anymore and, when you do, your body will feel so phenomenal and it’ll say, “Stop eating that sh*t”. But really, if I can do it, anyone can do it. Before I was Vegan, or Plant Based – I prefer to say plant based, its less scary! – but I was literally eating a whole cheese plate for lunch with crackers! But then I feel like my body did so much better when I took the dairy away. For me a lot of inflammation in my body came from the dairy, and when I eliminated that, more than the meat, I started to feel great. It did wonders for me. I also realized that there are some phenomenal plant based cheeses that are insane, like Miyoko’s who make their cheese from Cashew nut milk! I could make a whole cheese board with just their stuff. You don’t have to give up the comfort aspect of food just because you are plant based.
You said something interesting a moment ago, that saying “Plant Based”, as opposed to Vegan, is a lot less intimidating, but there is also a stigma around being Vegan. It’s fine to say that ‘I know 13 Titans that are Plant Based’ as an opener, but how to we get away from that stigma surrounding it? Or even when your kids go to school?
Well, I love the school my kids attend; they are already a bit more conscious and supportive of our choices for our kids. I send lunch with them each day, and believe it or not the other kids are like, ‘Please can you get your mum to make me a burrito too!’ So, I signed up at the school, and on Thursday’s I send a plant based meal in for all the school for lunch, and when I walk in, the kids clap and cheer, they love my food on Thursdays; so do the teachers! I make things like Hummus and Queso, and when you start making things that people and the kids already love, they are excited about it. We have to stop thinking that we are giving up something when you choose a Plant Based lifestyle. What ever you love eating, I can make it plant based and I can make it better, not only because I’m putting top quality ingredients into it, but I’m putting love into it! At the end of the day, no one loves plain meat! I have had meat and chicken in my time where I send it back to the kitchen. If it is not seasoned properly then it is bland; it needs salt, it needs flavor. That’s because we don’t like the taste of plain meat, it’s not the meat that we like, its what the chef does with the meat to make it taste amazing that we like.
It takes 21 days to make a habit. Many of us we learned to cook one way, we grew up with that habit of saying, “What am I going to cook tonight?” and choosing meat, and a potato some veggies, and thinking that we have chosen balance. What would you say to those people who are considering or interested in a change, but are stuck in their ways?
So there is a quote that I go by… “It’s not a new way of eating, it’s a new way of thinking”. I will put that in context; make all the same things you always make… but find different ingredients! If you are Italian, oh my god, the ‘Veganized’ Italian foods are so easy. A lot of Italian foods, including pasta are already plant based. Another example is that I am making Puerto Rican food tonight. Enchiladas, Spanish beans, Spanish rice - all plant based - so if I can make Puerto Rican food vegan style, then you can make anything! People need to get out of their own way! For me to get a teenage boy or girl plant based is so much easier than a baby boomer, who gets in their own way and are stuck in their ways! They struggle to view it differently and get out of the habit they have been in their whole lives!
Charity, tell me, do you buy Organic food?
Yes absolutely! Not only is it a healthier and clean option but also I believe that buying Organic is also “your vote”. When you vote with your dollars, you are funding those things you want, and so when you buy organic, you are saying loud and clear to those who are using pesticides and herbicides, that ‘we don’t want to eat this crap!’
Let’s look at bottled water! Large companies are taking our ground water and spring water - something that nature provides us - and they are bottling it up and selling it back to you. They are drilling the Earth and drying up land, and making so much money selling you something that is supposed to be there for us all to share. It’s a demonic industry, but it’s exactly what I mean when I say ‘vote with your dollars!’ I don’t entertain, I don’t support, and I don’t buy products from these companies. The people running these companies are going to leave behind nothing for my children, or our grandchildren. Imagine what the next generation will see when they reach adulthood, what will be left?
At this point in the interview, our “girl talk” became a very heated discussion about those companies making money with a total disregard for the health and wellness of our bodies, and others depleting our planet’s natural resources- specifically water - in order to profit. It’s not that we went totally off topic, however our shared rant dove into the politics of big business and how companies are profiting at our expense.
For the sake of time and length, some of it has been omitted, however, it’s important to let you know how fired-up Charity became when talking about this subject. Clearly, this is a woman determined to change the world!
You give me chills talking like that, because I truly, strongly believe that clean drinking water is a human right. And I don’t care where you go around the world; there are people who have to walk miles to get access to clean drinking water for their families. And large water companies are pumping water and taking it away, but also upsetting the entire ecological balance of the area that they are doing it in. It drives me crazy.
It won’t be until people stick together, stand up to these companies, and choose to buy what they believe in - and vote with their dollars - that is when our voices can be heard. Water, air, fresh vegetables, we should all have access to those things, clean, safe and healthy without being beholden to big corporations!
People may think that what you do is a small drop in a bucket, but you know what, if you tell your neighbor, tell your friends, and slowly we will get more drops of water in that bucket, then eventually, maybe not in my lifetime, but one day, we will have enough voices together to be heard.
I wouldn’t doubt it! There are a lot of people waking up! The more that you stop putting the crap into your body, and become plant based, you’ll realize the mental clarity. When you take the Fluoride out of your water, and your toothpaste, and all the other contaminants in our water and life, it really changes how you think. When you put them in your body, and when you take them away, you become conscious of it. That is why I say it is ‘conscious living’, you become aware of what you are doing and how you are doing it, and you are not foggy. A lot of these chemicals you can directly trace them back to Alzheimer’s and different diseases, I don’t want that in my body at all!
Deodorant is a great example, so many people understand more about the chemicals in these products that are getting absorbed through their skin - like Parabens and Aluminum - and they are buying conscious products. So what has happened? Companies like Dove or Secret now have a “natural” option. They didn’t just do that for no specific reason. They did that because more people were spending money on the conscious options, so they launched a product to fit that new need, because that is where the money is. Fast food chains the same thing; they don’t want you to stop eating meat! But now they have more healthy options, and even plant based options on the menu where they didn’t before because, there is a consumer request for them. They are also following the money, because money speaks.
Now, on the flip side, you have the naysayers who say “too much soy” or looking at other ingredients in plant based products, and backlash, what is your take on that?
I say that it is not just about being plant based. If you were to cut out high processed foods alone, you would take a lot of crap out of your diet, so pre-made plant based burgers for example still are highly processed food, so you shouldn’t be eating processed meat alternatives every day. So don’t lean on just one thing. If you are not getting all your nutrition and protein from one place, and are eating a variety of fruit and vegetables, then you can keep a healthy balance.
Well Derrick retired from the NFL a few months ago, so what is next for you? What are you up to now?
Well, I can’t talk specifically about what I have in the works, there will be some exciting opportunities that I would love to share with you, but I can’t just yet! But what I can say is that although I love working with athletes, I would love to just be able to reach more people. People need help, and I would like to be able to do more for them and help people live their healthiest life!
I was recently involved in a movie called “The Game Changers” on Netflix as an Executive producer; it talks about the misconceptions of eating meat for strength and the benefits of a plant-based diet through scientists and elite athletes, and it is so interesting! However I can spread the word to people I want to, and that was one way to do it for sure. I look forward to the other ways that I have upcoming in the future to share even more!
What would be a closing message from you to our readers? We have gotten very passionate, but is there anything I have missed that you would like to share?
I would say, that you must look into water filtration. Whether it is a full house filtration or a drinking water system. Stop spending your money buying mediocre water, and these plastic bottles of water - don’t let me get started on plastic and plastic pollution! – so it doesn’t matter if you are buying alkaline bottled water, or other different options, but think how long has it been sitting in the bottle, taking on the chemicals in the bottle? After I had the PUR2o system for 2 weeks, drinking from my glass reusable bottle, I took a sip of my husband’s plastic water bottle one day and I was like, “Oh my God! Can’t you taste that?! I can taste the plastic!” It was the first time I had drunk from a plastic bottle in two weeks, and he told me that I was being dramatic! Now he is a water snob too! A company was sending him bottles of water, and after he finished the ones that he had, he jumped on the PUR2o water system, and was refilling his bottle from the faucet at home. Maybe about a month later he came to me and said ‘I get what you are tasting now! It tastes ‘off’ when I buy a bottle of water!’ He finally understood, and didn’t think I was so crazy!
My final message would be that “I think we don’t realize what we are doing, until we stop doing it!” So just try something different, and see what your body is telling you.
Well I have to admit, that this interview with Charity was such an amazing surprise! She is so very passionate and easy to chat to about all the things that PUR2o holds dear as a company, and as a personal family built business. Since doing this interview I sat and watched the movie “The Game Changers”, and I have been recommending it to everyone as a must watch. Watching Charity serve 200-300lb Athletes fully plant based food (that they are devouring) really challenges the misconceptions of a plant-based diet. Even if you do not commit to the lifestyle that she has, it is so eye opening about food, your body and the world around you, that it for sure makes you rethink a few things!
Charity and Derrick installed a PUR2o Alkaline Drinking Water System and a Full House System Filtration in their home, filtering out contaminants such as disinfectants (Chlorine & Chloramine), Heavy metals, Sediment, Agricultural Contaminants, Pharmaceutical Contaminants as well as Industrial Contaminants such as PFOA’s and PFOS’.