Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Getting Older and Better

This blog thing seems to be a once-or twice-a-year extravaganza for me. Being a vegan is getting to be second nature now, so not much more for me to elaborate. I find restaurants are not as challenging as they used to be, and most of my friends are serving buffets now, so that makes life so much easier. I am now on my 4th year of turning vegan and I can say that I feel pretty damn good for turning 70 this month. And I honestly think it is because I have changed my diet. There are a few parts that have been replaced, but that is most likely because of my past love of outdoor sports which included a few falls and accidents along the way. Nothing to do with my supposed lack of meat protein.

A lot of my friends ask me why? Why change at this stage of my life? Well, why not? Seems to me that as you age, your quality of life becomes much more important to you. And why not live it healthy? I still consider myself a veganeophyte, as many people have been eating this way for years and years. And on special occasions during the holidays, if there is an appetizer with cheese in it, unbeknownst to me, I just may eat a bite or two. Now this may outrage those ‘vegangelicos’, but I try the best I can. I can say I eat totally vegan at home because I am the cook, but who’s to know what lies hidden in the salad at a restaurant in town. Or if that wonderful spiced tofu was cooked in a pan that previously cooked a steak. Too many things are beyond our control, so this is where it now stands with me. Not perfect, but still climbing.

I have also been trying to get away from convenience vegan foods, as there is nothing better than natural organic food. I consider the vegan meats and ‘cheezes’ transitions foods, and boy did I need those. They were my crutch for a long time, but I am weaning myself away from them and spending more time cooking my own veggie burgers, and making my own cheeze sauces. I purchased a Vitamix and now a smoothie is better than a cupcake if you make it right. And so many things you can sneak into that smoothie that take care of a lot of your daily requirements.

I have also started a facebook group called “vegetizing” and I have met the most wonderful people on this site. It was a lonely world there for awhile, but now I can talk to people just like me! We don’t criticize or judge anyone who is not a vegan. Everyone is just trying to eat healthier and perhaps needs support and encouragement. We share recipes, thoughts, ideas, articles, and funny stories, but never badmouth someone who questions a vegetarian or vegan diet. The purpose is to get away from eating a SAD diet and incorporate more healthy foods so that we will not need drugs or doctor visits to make up for what our body requires.

So this veganeophyte is still learning new things and keeping an open mind as to what discoveries lie ahead with nutrition. I feel good about not taking the life of a precious animal that has suffered for our pleasure. We ingest their pain and I don’t want to be part of that sad life they live before their brutal death. I ask anyone who is considering this lifestyle to watch the many films out now that show just how our food is prepared. I don’t have to mention the film titles as they are all common knowledge by now, you just have to have to courage to watch them.

My love for animals is deep and I hope in the future this vegan thing will not be such an odd lifestyle, as our food is no longer the same as was years ago. Everyone needs to be aware and do their own research, as the food companies will not do it for you, and doctors do not have the time. It’s up to you and you alone.

”You have just dined, and however scrupulously the slaughterhouse is concealed in the graceful distance of miles, there is complicity.”

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Sunday, April 3, 2011

A Note To Anyone Interested In Becoming Vegan:

I am fairly new to veganism, almost 3 years now, but it took me awhile for the transition. Some can do this immediately, but I am a little older than most of you, so I had many years of omnivorous eating to overcome.

I was a pescetarian for most of my adult life, and then one day after reading Kathy Freston’s ‘Quantum Wellness’, I decided to give veganism a try. My husband would still have his meat & potato dinners, but I would be fixing my own meals from now on. I started with her 21-day cleanse and I only made it to 14 the first time. But from that point on, I continued to veganize myself. There were many bumps in the road... dinners out, dinners at friends’ houses, and items bought that I wasn’t aware had animal products in them, but I gradually changed my ways and eliminated animal products. Most big changes don’t happen the first time, I think it took me almost a year before I could officially say I was a vegan. Now I love it and don’t miss any of the foods I used to crave in the carnivore category. Be a scientist. Just try the new habit to see what it will be like, and to see how you feel. Start small, make little changes at first, one change at a time. There are tons of meat substitutes that are great for transitions. And many many vegan cookbooks out for you to use. After awhile you won’t even know the difference, or you may even like the new taste better than the old. It took me quite a few months to overcome my need for cheese, but now I think I like the texture and taste of the ‘cheeze’ better. You know the old saying ‘you have to acquire a taste for it’, well that’s what this is about, acquiring new taste buds and healthy ones at that. Of course, vegetables and fruits are always something we can partake in without guilt, and so many creative ways to prepare them. I used to consider them a side dish, but now I try to make it the main part of the meal: 1/2 of my plate goes to fruits and veggies, 1/4 to whole-grains, and 1/4 to legumes. And this fills me up considerably so I am not craving more food. Just don’t strive for perfection and you will do fine. Focus on the habits that are important and minimize those that aren’t. If you don’t succeed one day, just know tomorrow it will be better.

Since my vegan adventure began, my husband has joined my plant-based diet and has lowered his blood sugar, lowered his cholesterol and lost weight. My two daughters have also been trying to incorporate some vegan eating into their own lives, albeit more difficult with families. So hang in there ‘Veganeophytes’. It gets easier as time passes, honest!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010


It seems that this vegan wannabe is living in an area that just doesn't fit with the vegan lifestyle. I'm not complaining as I love it here. It's just that being a California native, I was spoiled with all the health-food population living in sunny southern California! I mean, exercise was a way of life. Granola, yogurt, and fruit smoothies were popular there..... way before this form of consumption became in vogue. Needless to say, my background is in early hippy gourmet eating, and the whole non-meat genre was well under way when I lived on the west coast.

However, I decided to become vegan when I moved to Utah. What in the hell was I thinking! This is the land of hunters and fisherman, not tofu-grass-fed vegans. And the restaurants are few and far between. If I want to go to a 'vegetarian' restaurant, it is at least 45 minutes away. I live in Park City, and if you want just a vegetarian meal, most restaurants serve pasta with a dash of vegetables and heavy cream sauce. Or you can always order marinara poured over more pasta. That almost doesn't give one a reason to go out for an evening. There is nothing hard about preparing noodles and sauce. I could make the same at dish home and don't even have to comb my hair.

There are a couple of restaurants in my city that do have vegetarian/vegan meals, but they are rather expensive. A restaurant called Shabu has an excellent vegan dish of crusted coconut Tofu with vegetables. I love it! And the River Horse Cafe' has a superb vegetarian meal that they offer. But those are the exceptions. I find most of the time it is just too much trouble to order a "specially prepared" meal. This makes eating out a rather unpleasant experience. I do wish this vegan thing would catch on in Utah. It will probably take several years for the flesh-eating mammals to finally realize that it is detrimental to your health, to the environment and to the animals. It took me a long time to figure this out myself, so am not being judgemental. By the time this becomes more prevalent here, I will probably have moved on to greener pastures.

So, there you have it. This fish is swimming upstream at the moment, and will probably be doing so for several years. Can't blame everyone here for being the way they are, I just wish they would make one dish that was vegan. I wish they would make just one imaginative special dish that they created as equally appetizing as they do when a beef dish is prepared. Vegetables are colorful and can be elegant if available in an original way. Chefs are supposed to cater to all types of palates, but since we are the minority at present, I will have to suffer through pasta for a long while.

Saturday, January 23, 2010


Well, It's 2010 now and I'm well on my path to Veganism. It's a hard road, but I can do it. I am woman, I am strong! The worst part about changing your eating ways is habit. If you are as old as I am, it is very hard to not eat foods that have become part of your regular daily diet. Years and years of diet education have taught us the necessary food groups: grains, fruits and vegetables, dairy, and protein (protein being meat and legumes, etc.). There was no such thing as substitute meat way back then, like they have now. You had it drummed in your head that you need meat!

Of course, over the years I have read books like Diet For a Small Planet, Laurel's Kitchen, which did tell us that eating vegetarian was healthy. But it was hard to stop eating something you have been eating for years. People say, "oh it's not hard", but for some of us it is very hard! We are all different and we have different likes and dislikes. It is almost..... in fact I think it is just like an addiction. You grow to like certain foods and you can't stop. Look at people who are overweight. They can't stop overeating. Well, if you crave certain foods sometimes it is harder to stop eating them than it is to stop coffee, or any other habit you have initiated into your lifestyle. Think about the alcoholic and the withdrawal that he goes through to escape that dependency. So why should eating meat or dairy or any animal product be different? You have been eating this diet for years.

One of my most addictive foods is fish. I love fish! I have some Norwegian in me and we grew up having fish of every kind for dinner. Sardines and Saltines were my favorite snack. And, of course fish has been publicized as being 'magical' in your diet. It has omega-3 fatty acids, good protein, protects against heart disease, diabetes, cancer and can slow progression of Alzheimer's disease. So why would anyone want to stop? Now we are finally discovering that fish do feel pain and they do suffer. The fishing industry is responsible for some of the most environmentally damaging practices affecting our seas and oceans today, which simply put, contaminate our fish. So what do we do about those omega 3s? Well, the first thing to remember is that the vegetarian diet is widely recognized as being protective against heart disease, the main ailment that the advice is aimed at, so vegetarians have a head start already. And a tablespoon of flaxseed oil per day would fulfil this requirement or you can take supplementation.

My biggest challenge, however, was cheese. I love it. I would only eat vegetables if I could sprinkle butter or cheese on top. I never knew any other way to eat them. So I began eating vegan cheese when starting this new venture and at first I didn't care for the texture. But I found after using it for several weeks, I loved it. I became addicted to it's taste! The same with tofu and artificial meat. I grew to love the flavor and substitute it for meat whenever a recipe would call for it. It is something you have to acquire a taste for and it takes a little time. Now I make dishes with mostly vegetables and I eat an apple or fruit as often as I can. I keep baby carrots in the frig, set them out in the afternoon and make sure I have at least 5 a day. My morning cup of tea has lemon added to it. Vegetable soup is another easy way to get in those tomatoes and veggies. If you try you can add these little things progressively to your daily diet, and soon you will be well on your way to veganizing yourself :)

There is one message I would like to get out there to some of you who are considered radical Vegans. You are passionate in your plight, and that is wonderful, but please, please don't throw stones at those of us who have not yet completed our training! Give us our own time to accomplish what others have done. Give us some credit for trying to escape our addictions. They ridicule us for becoming Vegetarians and say that it isn't helping anyone if they can't go completely Vegan. Hogwash! At least they have cut out meat in their diets, this is a big change from what has been ingrained with past eating. I'm sure if we keep up the information that has been evolving, many more will come around to eating Vegan.....but don't push! Don't be so egotistically enlightened. You had your time to decide, let us have ours.

I don't think there are many Vegans who were raised as a one. They chose to become Vegan for their own reasons: some for health and some because of the inhumane treatment of animals. Whatever the reasons may be, it seems like some are on this high pedestal and we are way beneath them. This isn't the way to get your point across to others. So I am pleading with all you Vegans out there to be more sympathetic to those of us struggling to become one ourselves. It is harder for some of us than for others. It is just like training for a marathon. Most can do it, but it takes a few athletes more time than others to achieve their goal. Give us that time and give us encouragement rather than ridicule.

I have not completed my course, as yet, but am coming in on the home stretch. This is the only way I can do it. I love hearing encouragement rather than hearing the dangers I am contributing to the planet by not becoming a full-fledged, completely and totally pure Vegan. Needless to say, for me, it is not easy being Vegan, but I know of the challenges and I can overcome them in time.

Saturday, September 26, 2009


Well, to start off, my cooking techniques have been strange through the years, so changing my ingredients in cooking to Vegan isn’t a big deal to me. It just adds more interest to my already unusual cuisine habits.

I was a health food nut in the 60s, teaching my little ones that yogurt was ice cream, giving them Tiger Milk Bars instead of Snickers, and sneaking chopped carrots into foods where they didn’t belong. It all went great until they started school, then their little friends had to go and spoil all my training. They loved the food I fixed because they didn’t know any better, but were too embarrassed to eat it in front of their peers, so eventually I succumbed to a semi-American diet, at least for their lunches. Their friends would complain when coming to our house that there was nothing good to eat. What is tofu? Why isn’t there any candy or good cereal? This mama was not of your normal American variety. So it isn’t a big deal for me to change to a diet different from what the average American would eat.

On my attempt to become a Vegan cook, I had to do it gradually. Some can jump into it all at once, but I have friends who had to accept me to be even more unconventional than I already was, so it has taken me a little longer than most. And you have to admit that being a Vegan is in the lower percentile of the American population, so it isn’t too popular for those who love eating flesh. I had to take baby steps. Now, in preparing meals, I have been adding vegetables and fruit into anything I cook or bake. I try to do it as discretely as possible, especially when serving my husband, and guests. It is a joke now as to whether I have put tofu into anything they are eating. They are always wondering what the ingredients are in my dishes. And sadly, I have yet to convince anyone that comes over for dinner to come around to the Vegan lifestyle. At least it hasn't stopped people from coming over for dinner. :)

I find baking is the easiest transition. I have always used applesauce, etc. for egg replacement since I have high cholesterol. And anytime the recipe asks for milk, I just use soy or rice milk. I have always used oil instead of butter, and in the past, most of my ingredients have had no animal products. Now there are so many books out with vegan recipes that it is quite simple to serve cookies, breads, cakes, and pies that are vegan.

The hardest part for me is changing my taste buds. I have never really been a vegetable/fruit lover. I forced myself to eat that part of the meal, so I would add creamy sauces and cheese to vegetables to make it more appetizing. I guess cheese was the hardest for me to give up. I have now, however, developed a taste for Vegan Cheese and I love it. At first I didn’t like the texture but now I have grown ‘accustomed to her taste’. It is like a delicacy to me. I have also never been a big fruit eater. These days I realize how many different apples there are to choose from. I am now a connoisseur of the apple. It is the same with tofu. I used to buy tofu already prepared in dishes as I didn’t really know how to cook it to my liking. But with all the help from my vegan friends on Twitter and Facebook, I have acquired some fantastic recipes. Tempeh is another food I had never tried. Now I am a convert. I can honestly say that meat is the farthest thing from my mind when I am hungry.

There are a lot of cookbooks out there on Amazon.com. I use primarily vegetarian cook books and just substitute animal ingredients for the vegan ones. To anyone just starting out with the vegan diet, spend a lot of time in the kitchen. You have to. This way of eating takes more time then the quick fix foods or a Big Mac. You need to wash and cut your food. So just turn on the TV or radio, have your computer handy for conversation while the oven is on, and start cooking with purpose. I am lucky as my kids are not living at home, so that makes it easy for me. I only have a husband to contend with and he seems to be coming around just a little into thinking it ain't such a bad idea. And besides, he doesn’t cook so I have an advantage here.

To a Veganite, the more raw the food the better. I still have to cook my food….as I said, little steps. I am also not much of a juicer, I like the crunch and sensation of a pear, and apple or a carrot. In time I hope to acquire more of a taste bud for the raw, but in the meantime I have accomplished a great deal on my road to vegan cooking. Each of us must find our own personal way to incorporate this new passion and make it fit your lifestyle without impediments.

To be continued….

Here are some of my favorite Vegan Recipe materials:

Vegetarian Times
Vegan Yum Yum by Lauren Ulm
Great Chefs Cook Vegan by Linda Long
Simply Delicious Vegetarian by Carla Bardi
Vegetarian Cooking & Vegetable Classics by Roz Denny and Christine Ingram
100 Great recipes Vegetarian by Vicki Smallwood
Homestyle Vegetarian by Bay Books
Vegan Cupcakes by Isa Chandra Moskowitz & Terry Hope Romero
How it all Vegan by Tanya Barnard & Sarah Kramer
happyherbivore and chic_vegan

Tuesday, September 8, 2009


Well, this is my first attempt to create a blog. I am not an expert writer by any means, but I wanted to express my thoughts to other Veganwannabes. I have been a semi-vegan-vegetarian for a little over a year now, and I guess you could say there have been many bumps in the road. I find most of the bumps are from others who think this is too far out, and a bit of the pain in the neck. That is why I have not confessed my new and improved eating habits to everyone I know. I can truly say that I am a pure vegan when preparing my own meals at home, but I do have a social life which entails eating in restaurants and at friends' houses. The biggest task is to please your host and not offend their meal preparation. I almost dread the time I have to sit down for a meal and I just hope they don't notice that I have not eaten everything on my plate. It is also frowned upon if I bring my own soy burger, side dish or meal. And there are times when I don't tell the host about my 'special' diet. That is when I have to be very creative. I will sometimes hide the meat under something so they won't notice. I have felt like a child not cleaning her plate and angering her parents. There have also been occasions where I do have to partake in animal flesh or die from embarrassment because of what they call my strange eating habits. That is why I cannot say I have completed my Vegetarian/Vegan training yet. I am still a vegan neophyte.

But alas I am getting much stronger now. I am coming out of the vegan closet and disclosing, to those friends I can be open with, that I am attempting to become a vegan. Yes, one of those 'California-health conscious-freako-tree-hugging' vegans. It is getting a little easier for me now as many restaurants are adding vegan and vegetarian items on the menu. I think this is partly due to the fact that it is fast becoming somewhat of a fad to be anti-meat, which is fine with me. Many who say they are vegans only want to jump on the bandwagon, even if for a short time. It is now very 'cool' with the younger generation (I am not with this persuasion), so there are many out there who want to give it a try. However, some do not follow the true vegan diet. That's ok with me also. Join. It makes it more recognizable to the public and could possibly even encourage people to read about this so-called weird sect that has suddenly 'enlightened the world'.

I must admit, I started this endeavor for the selfish reason to become healthier. I have high cholesterol and nothing was working to lower it. I was exercising, eating a low cholesterol diet and taking all kinds of vitamins, but nothing was working. Then I decided to try a vegetarian diet. This helped lower my cholesterol, but not significantly. So I started reading vegan books about people who were following veganism. It all seemed so logical when you read about our bodies and what they truly need in the way of nutrition. So I decided to go 'all the way' so to speak. A bonafide veganist. Certainly not of the hardcore, abolitionist variety, just at the Vegan 101 level.

I always avoided the most important reason for this lifestyle, the brutalization of animals. I knew what had been done to them and I tried to not watch or read anything about it. I knew it would be something I could not endure. I love animals so much that I can't support any kind of abuse they may have suffered, and I knew this would change me. I didn't want to become a radical loud-mouthed opinionated vegan. I tend to be somewhat hard-nosed myself, but I was one of those meat-eating non-vegans so I have no reason to condemn. I'd been raised on hamburgers, steaks and fried chicken. I had been a hardcore carnivore!

So I decided it was time to face reality and read and watch everything. I watched Earthlings, Food Inc., read all the books on the vegan lifestyle, joined facebook groups, twittered anybody who was a vegan. I immersed myself. After absorbing all this material, my heart is still aching from all the pain and suffering these animals have had to withstand. No living animal should ever go through that life that we have created for them. I knew it would make me a different person, and I couldn't face what I knew was to be true. But I did, and now I am. I am a person who is trying her hardest to change her lifestyle, eating habits and help change the environment.

I will not be pushy or become one who preaches, but if asked, I will explain my reasons for why I am changing my way of life. And I ask all of you who are in my shoes to keep struggling and don't let those who are hunters, fishermen, and judgmental non-vegans dissuade you. Be firm in your beliefs. Don't let them intimidate you into thinking this is a ridiculous way to live. It is your body, your mind and your spirit. Pave the way for others if you can. Have them read before they pass sentence. Help them be informed in subtle ways that will not aggravate them. This is merely our belief system and if we choose this way of life, we ask that others respect our choices without critical observations.

I still have a long way to go, but I am getting more confident of my choices for not contributing to the genocidal-type treatment of animals, helping change the environment and for living a healthier, more vibrant life.