in the kitchen

Interview with a Vegan

I’ve considered it. The thoughts of no longer consuming meat, eggs, cheese have crossed my mind on more than one occasion. I’ve been thinking about going vegan but I can’t bring myself to take the leap -even if I do take baby steps every week like rarely cooking meat and cutting dairy out of our diet – including the kids’. So I decided to speak to a friend who has chosen this lifestyle path and satisfy my curiosity of all the questions I have regarding this healthier way of eating. 

When did you turn vegan? 
I turned vegan in October of 2015. I’d been a vegetarian since about 2013 and after a small health hiatus at the beginning of 2015 which took me back to eating meat to heal a digestive tract problem (sounds crazy to me now that I reverted back to meat to heal my body but you live-you learn) I then took all animal products out of my life and it really was life changing to me both mentally and physically.

Why did you turn vegan?
For the animals for the planet – the oceans, the land, for my health. The way that animals (and by animals I include fish because mostly when you say you don’t eat meat they offer you fish as if fish haven’t got a central nervous system and don’t poop) are being farmed and the extent to which they are being farmed has a negative impact on the Earth as a whole and that also has an impact on us too. The soil is destroyed so we get no nutrients growing into the fruit and vegetables we eat – even good clean water is hard to come by. Animals are pumped full of toxins and hormones. Farm waste ends up in the ocean which then ends up in the fish – fish are being farmed to within an inch of extinction and we continue to eat sushi flown in from across the world further adding to its pollution. It’s a vicious cycle of supply and demand and the more we demand, the more the land and ocean will be compromised to satisfy the demand. It’s consumerism at its worst.
Leonard Shlain describes the evolution of the human race from primate to predator to parasite and now, sadly to pathogen. We’re killing our host. Unfortunately we evolved away from Mother Nature rather than into her.

Is it expensive?
Depends on if you buy organic. In Cyprus I feel lucky because we have a great farmers market every Saturday down by the Oxi roundabout and you can find small sellers who may not be certified organic but you can drive to their village and see where your produce is coming from – everything is in close proximity here and it’s important for me to know where my food comes from. I don’t have a family, so I don’t really know about cooking for a family but I batch cook for myself most weekends and it’s not expensive. Beans and legumes are quite common in the Mediterranean so a bag of lentils is a couple of euro. It gets expensive is if you want to buy things like tofu or tempeh which is pricier. I try to use what we have here and I try to use things in their natural state so I avoid processed food. If I can make it in my kitchen then I’ll use it.

Is it easy being vegan?
Yes. Much easier than killing a cow or a pig or a chicken or a goat and that’s the only way I could eat meat – if I had the b***s to actually kill something myself.

Favourite food?
Chickpeas and lentils are the love of my life.

Favourite treat?
Spinach pies

What changes have you noticed in regards to your skin or immune system?
I haven’t got IBS anymore, my mind is clearer like a fog has been lifted; I sleep better and breathe much deeper. I haven’t had a skin lymphoma lesion since 2013 so I do believe my immune system is having a break as it isn’t working so hard to pump out toxins.

The hardest part?
There’s nothing hard about standing up for all animal rights and the Earth.

What do you miss the most?
I can make pretty much anything I miss using the herbs which are traditionally used on different meats if I miss something like say, a gyro – I can marinate chickpeas or cauliflower in the same spices and have it cruelty-free in pitta bread. It’s the spices that you add to meat that actually make it tasty.

Biggest misconception?
That we’re vitamin and mineral deficient.

Stocking tips? Pantry, fridge, etc.
Weekly trips to the farmers market for fresh produce. Beans and legumes in pantry as well as tofu and tempeh, certified gluten free oats, tamari, rice vinegar, arrowroot starch, herbs for sure – fresh or dried, apple cider vinegar and baking soda (personal hygiene tip: brush teeth with baking soda then swoosh apple cider vinegar around the mouth for super white teeth once a week). One of the most important things for me is TURMERIC. I buy dried organic turmeric and add it to everything I eat. If I find fresh turmeric I add it to my smoothies or juices. I even have it in my lemon water some mornings. It’s my favourite thing. It’s highly anti-inflammatory and a very strong antioxidant – take it with some freshly ground pepper or peppercorns in order for your body to absorb it to its maximum.

Would your kids be vegan?
Unless I can trace and see where their animal products are coming from or again, unless I can kill it then yes, they would be. I’d also like them to fully understand what it means to an animal to go through the torture of a slaughterhouse. The notion that dogs’ and cats’ lives matter more than any other animal is the cornerstone of everything that is wrong with the meat industry and the marketing surrounding it. We’ve been conditioned to ignore the fact that our souvlaki was part of a pig and that it didn’t give its life happily for us to skewer it. I remember going to a tavern in Deftera and the place mats had depictions of happy animals on it and then they served out the meat meze – how ironic and how scary that no one thought about where their meze came from. There’s a reason why slaughterhouses don’t have windows…

I asked my lovely vegan friend for an easy recipe for kids as well as adults and this one is as easy and yummy as they come because its a cookie recipe!

2-Ingredient Healthy Banana Bread Breakfast Cookies

adapted from Ambitious Kitchen’s recipe

– 2 large, ripe bananas, mashed

– 2 cups gluten free oats

– 2 Tbsp chopped walnuts

½ tsp cinnamon

–  ½ tsp freshly grated nutmeg

• Preheat oven to 175 degrees Celcius.
• Place oats in blender or food processor and blend until oats are the consistency of flour.
• In a bowl, mash the bananas and combine with the oats until smooth.
• Add in the cinnamon and nutmeg and walnuts.
• Line a baking tray with parchment paper and place balls of dough on-top. Flatten and bake for 9-12 minutes or until cookies are set.
• Let cool on a wire rack.

For more info on going vegan I found this article someone wrote about doing it overnight! Good tips too.

This one’s good too because what if your family doesn’t want to go vegan with you.

And 10 easy tips for vegan beginners is pretty cool.

Some yummy vegan recipes to try whether you’re vegan or not.

Feature image from Thug Kitchen 

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