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Forest Grove resident and former Intel employee educates people about the vegan lifestyle

Giving up my business in 2008 was one of the hardest things I've ever had to do. It was like watching a lifelong dream die, right before my eyes.

I was devastated, as I had truly enjoyed meeting and helping so many people. But fortunately, I had a backup plan, so back to the corporate world of high-tech I went, and would remain for the next nine years.

CHUCK UNDERWOODMy entire career had been spent working in the high-tech Industry, and although there have always been ups and downs, for the most part I could always count on a stable job. So imagine my surprise in 2013 when once again I was faced with a situation that could possibly leave me jobless. My company was merging and letting go of the majority of its employees, and this time I had no backup plan.

Imagine being 50 years old and having to start completely over — again.

Sadly, it's an all-too-familiar story in this day and age, but what I did next may surprise you. I know it surprised many of my friends and family, that's for sure. With no formal education in writing, photography or cooking for that matter, I started a vegan food blog. And everyone laughed.

You can't make money blogging.

Veganism is just a fad ... it won't last.

Don't be stupid!

How in the world do you make money doing THAT?!

Ignoring all the naysayers, I was passionate about what I was doing. I knew that switching to a whole-food, plant-based diet was the very best thing I could do for my health, the animals and our planet, and I just had a feeling that one day it would become a big deal.

So I started developing recipes and posting all my favorites.

Every single day I posted something, either to my blog or my Facebook page. Even after working my 12-hour night shift and barely being able to keep my eyes open, I just kept blogging.

Eventually I took a plant-based nutrition course to further my knowledge. I studied other food bloggers. I pored over every photography blog I could find. I tried new and different ingredients in my recipes.

One way or another, I tried to improve every aspect of my business.

And I just ... kept ... blogging.

Slowly but surely, week by week, my little blog starting growing.

It grew, and it grew, and it grew.

And today? I am considered a leader in the online plant-based community. I have tens of thousands of readers from every continent in the world, and I receive emails, comments and messages thanking me — each and every day.

They thank me for helping them lose weight, eat healthier, lower their blood pressure and even reduce or eliminate their medications. One lady even said her "couch-potato, junk food-loving, microwave ready, carnivore husband" is not only enjoying my recipes, he's actually in the kitchen cooking them himself.

The pure joy of being able to really help someone ... no job in the world can compare to that. Not one.

That is why I blog.

In June of this year, I quit my corporate job (for good this time) and have completely replaced my high-tech income. And my previous company? I just saw where they are laying people off again. I wish them well.

Chuck Underwood lives in Forest Grove with his wife, daughter and grandson and blogs at brandnewvegan.com. He previously owned Woodchuck Computers and has lived in Forest Grove since 1996.

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