To begin this Vegan Month of Food (Vegan MoFo), I thought I would share some of my musings about veganism. To the fam, I do talk about my reasons for being a vegan and animals, but I think you should read it. It's my blog, darn it!
I stopped eating meat when I was about eight or nine years old. My family likes to blame it on "the family down the street who went vegetarian," and they are partially correct. The family down the street did indeed influence my decision, simply by explaining that they went vegetarian because meat came from animals who were killed, usually in a very inhumane way. I guess it was the first time I actually thought about what was on my plate, and realized I had the choice to eat it, or not. As a serious animal lover and advocate, the decision to become a vegetarian was a no brainer. My family was not pleased about my choice, but after realizing I was serious and would starve if they did not allow me to become a vegetarian, they became supportive.
I have to point out that having parents who supported their nine year old daughter, even reluctantly, in her decision to stop eating meat is pretty rare. My mother is the person who taught me how to cook tofu, and my dad made many a pbj sandwich for my school lunch. Even though my parents still pull the "I don't know what I am supposed to cook you for dinner with your strange diet" card, they continue to make sure I have a tofurky at holiday meals. My extended family has been very accommodating as well. If all families were this supportive of their young teenager who wanted to stop eating meet, I guarantee you would see a lot more vegetarians.
When I was 23, I started to feel like I was relying way too much on dairy for protein. I always said I would never become vegan unless I had a personal chef, but a friend encouraged me to try for a few weeks, at least to detox my body from dairy. After a few weeks I felt great, and decided to keep going with the whole vegan thing. I will admit there were times throughout the next two years I would try to eat some cheese or cream, but every time I did I would my stomach would attack me, and it wasn't pretty. After a while I decided to give in and admit it, I was a vegan.
There have still been times I have cheated a bit, eating a muffin with egg or butter in it, but for the most part I have been hard core about it. Especially the past three months, when I have really cracked down on not eating any traces of animal byproducts. Along my vegan journey, I began googling for recipes and buying vegan cookbooks, and for the first time in my life I became really excited about cooking and baking. There is a world of resources out there, and a huge online community of people making awesome vegan food. Every year it seems the world around me becomes a bit more vegan friendly, and when a deli opened up across the street from my apartment this past spring serving vegan sandwiches, baked goods and soy milk for coffee I could not believe my luck.
So, to my point (finally). I don't think it's my job to turn the world vegan. Or even the world around me vegan. At this point I am vegan just as much, if not more so, for the ethical reasons, the health benefits are an added bonus. Most of my friends, family, and my significant other eat meat and dairy. I try pretty hard not to lecture everyone on how many animals they could save from the slaughter house every year, how meat and dairy production is contributing to destroying our planet and how animal products pollute our bodies. I don't force everyone to sit down and watch just one video on PETA's website about meat and dairy production, which I truly believe would turn most people vegan immediately. While I strongly support groups like PETA, I have found my best ammunition to fight the fight is food. Particularly baked goods.
The more we vegans can make delicious food for those around us, the more we can convince others we are not strange hippies who eat gross hippie food. Even making one vegan meal for friends could save a chicken or two, or a pig or cow. Bringing a vegan cake or pie to a dinner can save some poor hen in a battery cage with no beak from laying a few eggs. It may seem like a small effort, but it adds up. And it helps me sleep a little easier at night. The thing about this vegan food I am making for others is it has to be kick ass. I have worked hard to perfect my cake, cookie and pie baking skills, and now when my family gathers to celebrate a birthday or have a special dinner they ask for Lindsey to "bring one of her cakes." That, to me, is a sweet sugary victory.
So, here we go with the Vegan MoFo. I will do my best to post every day (yikes!) about scrumptious vegan food that I eat or make. Don't be afraid, dear readers, try to make something, or go to a vegan or vegetarian restaurant for dinner one night. Or at least have me over to make you some cookies or come to Brooklyn and I will feed you pie. I make a mean blueberry pie.