Location: Ohio, USA
Occupation: Food Photographer, Recipe Developer, Writer
1. When did you start your journey to become vegan?
About 15 years ago I made the decision to adopt a more compassionate lifestyle. This included dabbling in and out of veganism until I finally understood what being vegan meant. Once I understood the full implications of using non-human animals for food and entertainment, I knew I could have no part of it… ever again.
2. Why did you decide to live a vegan lifestyle?
At the point in my life when I decided to go vegan (for good), it was a very fundamental choice for me. Veganism fits perfectly with my decision to lead a non-violent life, to keep my body in good health, and to try my best to aid in the longevity of the planet.
3. What is your favorite aspect of going vegan?
My favorite aspect of veganism is that I am making a difference every single day in so many areas of my life, and that my children will be raised with an acute awareness of compassion towards others and the planet. Plus, I love that veganism helped to introduce me to kale and nutritional yeast! I’m not sure how I ever lived without them.
4. What have been the pitfalls of going vegan?
I honestly have felt more advantages to being vegan than pitfalls… other than the occasional question or criticism (which is a really great opportunity to talk about all the delicious “normal” food we eat)… I have never felt better about any decision I have made. I really love being a vegan!
5. How do you friends and family who are non vegans feel about it?
Since I had been dabbling in and out of veganism for about 10 years, I’d say most of my friends and family are used to it! I don’t hear much criticism… and if I do, then I take it as a perfect opportunity to set a good example. Even my sister in law (who is not a vegan) commented to my still skeptical brother that I must be doing something right… after all these years I look incredibly healthy and happy, and I’m always smiling. My husband and kids are vegan, so they have no qualms or complaints… they love it!
6. How have you incorporated veganism in other aspect of your life besides what you eat?
I see veganism as not just a diet, but a rejection to any non-human animal use. This includes using/purchasing leather, wool, fur, down, shellac, beeswax, and countless other products derived from non-human animals, and visiting circuses/zoos etc. I’m still learning everyday about hidden non-vegan ingredients in certain products, and making a conscious effort to replace those with happier, healthier ingredients as I encounter them.
7. How do you deal with eating and socializing with non vegans?
At first it seemed to be a pain, as everyone would always want to start up a conversation with “what do you eat?”. After enough times of showing up to a function or potluck with plenty of delicious vegan food to share… nobody seems to ask many questions anymore.
Since my family is all vegan (husband and kids) we don’t ever have any issues with eating out, as we tend to favor cuisines which have plenty of vegan options by default–such as Indian, Mexican, Thai, Japanese, etc. As long as we don’t head into an American steakhouse with high expectations, we always leave with a happy and full belly. If we have to head into an American steakhouse, say with extended family, then we are sure to try and check out the menu online before we leave for the restaurant. I’m not sure I have ever been invited to a non-vegan dinner party… but if I was, I’d be sure to let them know I’m vegan before arriving!
8. What would you suggest to someone thinking about going vegan?
Read all that you can about veganism! There are countless books and web resources available today. Read about how factory farming is wrecking havoc on our planet and learn the truths about “happy” meat, eggs and milk (hint, there’s no such thing). Try and understand all you can about cooking, eating and dining out as a vegan. Get in touch with other vegans, either via twitter or facebook. Again, read everything you can! Also, if you haven’t yet, watch Earthlings and Meat your Meat… those films have opened many folks eyes to the brutal realities of the meat, eggs and dairy industries. Not for the faint of heart, but they definitely get the message across. And there’s never a need to watch them twice.
9. What is your favorite vegan resource?
The internet, absolutely. No matter what the question, you can find an answer on the internet. For newbie vegans, I would recommend Vegweb. There are thousands of tested recipes on this site, and even a forum!
I am a sucker for South Indian cuisine. I always love a giant dosa served with some spicy chutney.
I am currently in the process of finishing up my very first cookbook…which will include over 100 fully illustrated vegan & gluten free recipes. After that, I’ll begin my second! I guess you could say that I am just launching my career as a gluten free vegan cookbook author.
I have also partnered up with the fabulous Jessy Farrell from Happy Vegan Face and Kittee Berns from Cake Maker to the Stars. Since we are all gluten free vegans, we have teamed up in making a gigantic resource for vegans who eschew gluten. We are excitedly working to bring everyone a shiny new website and an entire community driven recipe archive for all things vegan and gluten free.
In the meantime, we created a community so that folks with gluten allergies can easily find vegan blogs that share recipes with the same dietary requirements called xgfx.