1. When did you start your journey to become vegan?
My journey to veganism began in 2008, shortly after the birth of my son. I became concerned about the origins of the food on our plates, and while doing research on ingredients such as high fructose corn syrup came across a lot of unsavory information about the meat industry. I went vegetarian, but after reading The China Study as well a few other books, it was only a matter of weeks before I was completely vegan. After we rented and watched the film Earthlings a year later, the husband was on board with veganism too.
2. Why did you decide to live a vegan lifestyle?
For us, the vegan lifestyle just fits. We’re happy, healthy, and eat better than ever. We want to live with compassion and respect for all living things, and refuse to support an industry that so obviously can’t do the same. Dairy milk is a cow’s breast milk, intended for her young whom she will never get the chance to feed. Leather is the skin of another once-living creature! We have no intention of contributing to unnecessary suffering for such unnecessary things. The reasons go on, but for us, it’s an easy decision.
3. What is your favorite aspect of going vegan?
I love absolutely everything about being vegan. I love being creative in the kitchen. I love supporting organic brands and small businesses. I love demystifying what vegans eat for those who are curious!
4. What have been the pitfalls of going vegan?
There haven’t been any pitfalls. I guess the only thing we selfishly lament from time to time is there are never any desserts at restaurants. It isn’t an issue for us because if we really want a treat I’ll just go home and make something even better, but it seems to make dinner companions “feel sorry for us” as they eat theirs.
5. How do your friends and family who are non vegans feel about it?
My family and friends love when I cook vegan meals for them! I make the meal for “the big holidays”, veganizing family favorites. Our loved ones get really excited about finding vegan products, recipes, or articles to share with us and we get a lot of, “Look! I made this! It’s vegan!” or “I found this new vegan product you should try!”
6. How have you incorporated veganism in other aspects of your life besides what you eat? If yes, how so?
We don’t buy anything, food or otherwise, made from animals or animal byproducts. Animal-derived ingredients are everywhere, in things most people would never think of, but we do all we can to keep them out of our home.
7. How do you deal with eating and socializing with non vegans?
Eating at restaurants is a lot easier than it seems, but it does take a little practice. I just speak to the waiter and find out what they can do for us. Sure, we end up with a lot of pasta with olive oil, steamed veggies, and cheese-less salads, but if it’s for the sake of socializing and enjoying family and friends then it’s worth a few bland meals. If it’s a party or gathering, I always bring a dish or just make the whole meal. It’s a lot less of an issue than one would think it may be, although, occasional someone expresses feeling uncomfortable eating their own non-vegan meal in front of us.
8. What would you suggest to someone thinking about going vegan?
Absolutely go vegan. Give it a few months and it will feel so natural. You’ll know exactly how to read a label, what to grab in the grocery store, what to order in your favorite restaurant, and where to find awesome vegan recipes. Also, don’t run out and buy every vegan novelty product available, because you probably aren’t going to like them, and I don’t want you to be discouraged by that. Try some new-to-you beans and grains: quinoa, farro, brown rice. Try a few of the vegetables you’ve always wondered, “What is that?!” as you strolled past the produce section! Greens are an absolute must, and even though you may not know it, you need more kale in your life! Pasta dishes are great for quick vegan meals, and if you really have your heart set on trying faux meats and cheeses, find Gardein and Daiya. Gardein chick’n products have excellent texture and flavor! Daiya cheese is delicious melted on pizza, pasta, or sandwiches, but I don’t recommend piling it on too much or eating it unmelted.
9. What is your favorite vegan resource?
My favorite vegan resources are my cookbook collection and my stash of VegNews magazines, but the vegan blog community is an excellent place to find and share information.
10. What is your favorite vegan restaurant or dish?
There aren’t very many vegan restaurants around here, but if we feel like a road trip, Chicago Diner has amazing vegan food! My favorite dish is probably sweet and sour stir-fried peppers or a giant romaine salad with homemade maple dijon dressing. I’m always trying new recipes, though!