Four years ago I started down a path that has changed my life. It has given me a way to align my heart and my actions. It opened my eyes to another way of viewing the world and our relationship to other species that I had previously ignored. It made a huge impact to our family.
I stopped eating meat, fish, dairy and eggs or buying any products made from animals. In February 2012, I took a one month vegan challenge.
More than just the physical act of eating a different diet, it was very difficult for me to go against the flow of how I grew up, traditions, social gatherings. In fact for many years I tread a line where I was mostly vegan, but would not necessarily call myself one.
Then, I realized that I have to stand for what I believe in. I am proud of being compassionate, peaceful, and not wanting to cause harm. I’m okay with extending the acceptable love of animals to include ALL animals.
I vote proudly with how I spend my money.
I’m proud that I have never written anything on the internet that I am ashamed of, that I regret. I do not criticize, mock or am rude to others who do not share my beliefs. I hope to be a positive example, and a friendly and pragmatic vegan.
If I don’t stand up as a positive, non-radical, business owner, designer, mother, it won’t help the word vegan to become more mainstream and accepted.
The more you open your heart and your mind to the health, environmental, and animal issues… it really just makes a lot of sense.
I want to change the world to be kinder, less violent, and sustainable for all. I am very proud to no longer contribute to the horrific factory farms, and on that point I definitely feel there is common ground we can all find. The cruelty, pollution, disease, and destruction does not make sense. Let’s start there and move forward together. We have strength in numbers. Even if you would not call yourself a vegan… vote with your money and your choices. You can make a difference in the world, and for the future.
Or, what would I be happy and excited to do even if I weren’t paid?
Funny enough, I have had almost a year to experience this. Although I have retained my design firm, I am also doing a lot of work that only pays in feeling good.
I’m not sure I can answer this question completely at this point. I have always thought design, art and illustration are what I love and where my skills lie. Sometimes I wonder if this is just the default thought pattern, and where I have spent my 10,000+ hours. It is definitely what people thank me for, but I don’t know if it what makes me happy and excited. The creative process has always been stressful, but I think that is a common issue with artists, writers, and others.
If I truly could name one thing that makes me happy and excited- it is travel, new experiences, exploring foreign countries. I love it.
What I have learned is that integrating my life with what I care about is great.
I’ve learned that I don’t have a community.
I’ve learned that now that I have space and time, I have to let go of excuses that running on the work treadmill gave me. If I don’t cook, clean, exercise or parent well, I no longer can think it is because I am just too busy and working too hard.
I’m most happy and excited when I am productive creating things. I’m excited when I am not just making promises, but actually delivering them. When people appreciate and thank me for helping with a worthwhile project, that feels really good.
What really makes me angry in the world is that wealth and “wants” are the priority. I’ve spent a lot of time in the last four years researching climate change, factory farm cruelty, droughts, health issues, environmental devastation and more. I’m surrounded by good people with families who I’m sure care about the future… yet, they are not fully informed or motivated to make any changes.
Are we just hearing “blah, blah, blah” when climate scientists talk about rising ocean levels destroying large coastal cities? Or, do we think these events all over the world are not connected? Although 97% of climate scientists agree that we are headed for calamity… we ignore these signs for the most part, maybe thinking there is nothing we can do.
We know population growth is on the rise, and that now China and India are now using more fossil fuels and resources than ever before, but we continue to do things the same way we have done in the past, and expect that everything will just work out. We are going into uncharted territory here with the amount of resources available for more people than ever, within my kids’ lifetimes.
For those just meeting me, I write and draw about eating for the future. Eating is something we do at least 3 times a day, and we vote for our future with every choice and purchase. It is estimated that our dependence on livestock, and their grain and water requirements constitutes more than all transportation combined. It is connected and affects all the major issues I mentioned.
Pretty big deal. So why are Americans eating an average of 200 lbs of meat/year over twice the 75 lb/year world average? Look to who is profiting from the sale of meat, dairy and eggs. 99% of our meat comes from Factory Farms. Factory Farms were designed to squeeze every bit of productivity from animals by making them grow faster, have less space, and die sooner for as much profit as possible. Over 80% of the meat production in the US are owned by just a few giant agribusinesses who buy up smaller brands to look more organic…. Tyson, Foster Farms and Perdue. They will do everything in their power to protect their own interests.
Until we start caring about what these billion-dollar companies are doing, they will continue to hide the truth from us with politics, ag-gag laws, pollute our water without penalties, send chicken to China for processing and back to sell without even labeling it, subsidize their products with our money, and waste water, rain forests and land. We will have to eat less meat to change the world.
I’m not touching on the antibiotics being overused to keep these animals alive in close, unhealthy conditions or the known health and safety issues to people. I’m also not talking about the over-fishing, destroying the oceans. So many reasons to avoid an inefficient and cruel system.
I’m angry because we can make a difference, yet we choose our desire to eat bacon, or convenience of using cow’s milk, over the most important issues which will affect ALL people and animals. The worst consequences you can imagine.
In order to be effective in making change, I have to keep this anger in control. I choose not to rant about these issues or put people in such a defensive position they won’t listen. The anger does keep me motivated, but I direct that towards the factory farms, not those who have not yet understood. We can find a common ground there. I will use the skills and talents I have been developing over the last 20+ years, and use design, art and illustration to catch the attention of people numbed to the graphic photos and bored or immune to statistics, articles and numbers. I will help people and organizations who are making a difference in the world.
This is a personal post about my perspective. I’ll be back to my normally-scheduled news, recipes and illustrations shortly…
The more I have been involved in vegan advocacy and activism, the less connected I have felt with my “community” of friends. It could be several things… I tend to be introverted so I really need to make more of an effort just to invite people over. I am sometimes concerned that I am putting myself in a place where friends or family might feel my veganism is an issue. I really worry about making things difficult in social situations by asking for food without animal products, while at the same time realizing that making a big social change is pretty much impossible to do easily.
Recently there was a situation where a very nice invitation came into my inbox about a special dinner for my son’s school extended beyond an initial paid group to include auction volunteers and sponsors. I played a very small role in even my volunteer efforts, just helping for one day. It was not a dinner that I would have signed up for as I knew it would probably not be vegetarian, definitely not vegan. There were at least a couple of options- don’t say anything and don’t go, or ask if there will be a vegan option available and go. Since I knew that there was at least one other vegan volunteer, I thought I would just ask. Just not showing up to things does not help make veganism more mainstream.
The person in charge of food kindly offered to look into it, but since egg is a major ingredient, wasn’t sure what to do. Being a pain in the ass is just not something I enjoy. I used to be the person that when asked by hosts if there were any food requirements, would say, “I eat anything” and felt good about being so easy.
There is a line between concern for others’ comfort, or the greater concern of the planet, the animals, and the future population. I can’t/won’t apologize for wanting a more peaceful, compassionate and healthy world especially as the stakes are raised. I think most people would want that, it is just hidden from easy view behind those who profit, traditions, habits and status quo.
I have tended to stay involved but on the outskirts of our wonderful vegan community in town, just because I felt that it was more important for me to socialize and be part of my non-vegan circle. While it is comforting to go to parties and groups where the food is all vegan and everyone is more or less on the same page about the same animal issues, I don’t need to preach to the choir. I’m also a little concerned about being even more immersed in vegan culture than I already am. I am at a point, 4 years into this journey, that I remember clearly what it was like not to notice or care about the things I am aware and care about now. I understand and have compassion about how it is not an easy transition to make. I don’t want to forget these things by surrounding myself only with like-minded people. I honestly want to have open conversations with people, meet where we can, not to make judgments.
Lately, I have felt like I really need the Vegan communities support. That I don’t want to feel alone all the time. I’ll make an effort to balance the two groups moving forward. And also, to try to not be overly sensitive (something which I have struggled with all my life). I want to have deep friendships with a variety of people, but I can’t ignore what has been uncovered, which is at the core of my being.
I’m excited to seeing changes happening in the world which will draw everyone closer together. Research and studies proving that eating less meat is beneficial for everyone. In the next 5-10 years I hope that having a vegan option for the many people who would pick that, will be something that is just accepted and part of life. It will no longer be the difficult guest situation, or even radical. Our future is moving towards that in any case. You know we’re mainstream when even Fox news is saying it!
I’m finally writing about a reunion last month with my two best friends from University. I have known these women since we were about 19 years old (more or less), and well- we’re gaining on our 3rd decade of friendship. But we all look exactly the same (at least that is what we think). I am now older than my PARENTS were when I graduated from college, that is so bizarre. I feel lucky to have these forever friends, and even if we all live in different states, our states are adjoining ones. Since moving to Portland in 1999, there aren’t a lot of people in my daily life who knew me before I was married with kids, and all my “old” friends have a special place in my heart.
We’ve made it a point to get together at least once a year. Sometimes with families, sometimes just us. I found photos of the three of us in shoulder pads, stone-washed denim and big permed hair from the late 80s, and photos of all of us at each others weddings. Through marriage, kids, deaths, job changes, and other life changes, I know we all support each other. We had a lot of laughs trying to take a decent selfie for this trip, we just don’t practice enough I guess!
For this February weekend, we took over my parent’s home on the Oregon coast. And they were kind enough to leave town so that we could have it all to ourselves to talk freely (and without my mom seeing how many wine bottles we went through). Since my two friends both had some travel costs, I offered to plan and pay for the food and of course be the driver.
My friends are not vegan, and when we were planning the trip, they were really kind about saying I could make whatever I wanted.
I challenged myself to come up with food that they would hopefully enjoy, always trying to present an easy and delicious view of vegan food using whole foods. Making things that are supposed to emulate meat doesn’t really measure up to those who eat meat regularly (I’ve found). They are more satisfying for those of us who haven’t had the real thing for awhile!
Indian Vegetarian Korma Substituted coconut milk for the heavy cream to make it vegan. I also made some chickpea cutlets for the first time from Veganomicon, but those weren’t my favorite. However, people love those, and so I might try again and see if there was something that went awry. My friends said they liked them, but they are kind people, so what else would they say?
I ended up talking to them more about my vegan ideas and philosophy than I usually do. Later, I thought about that. I try to be careful with all my friends not to cause any alarm… or maybe to appear “normal enough” so they will continue to invite me over for dinner. (-; With these friends, I am not worried that they will abandon me, even if they don’t agree with me. Because it has become a very important part of my life, it was nice to be able to share that side.
We ended up eating out only a few times over those three days. On the way to the coast, we ate at Laughing Planet. Lazy Susan at the coast, where I was personally disappointed about the lack of even a non-dairy creamer for the coffee. It is charming, but not vegan-friendly… but the other options were Pig n’ Pancake or Scoop n’ Grill which definitely weren’t better. Sweet Basil’s Cafe is the most vegan-friendly option in Cannon Beach, but they open at lunch. For dinner back in Portland, we went to Pizzeria Otto, and tried their vegan pizza- cashew “ricotta”, lemon and pumpkin seed pesto. It was really good!
We had a pretty rainy weekend, but honestly, it didn’t matter that much. What a gift to be able to catch up on all the new developments in each others’ lives, talk about anything and everything, and reminisce. We may not talk often, but when we see each other it is like no time has passed.
I love you girls! Thank you for your friendship as we change through the years, but always remain the same at heart.
This may sound silly, but I wanted to share this story.
Yesterday, I was driving slowly near my house and heard a “thunk” against the car. I was talking on speaker phone at the time, and didn’t think I was distracted, but I honestly didn’t see what it was or where it came from.
I parked and walked back to the spot hoping it was a pine cone that had flipped up, and not what I was fearing.
But, there he was, a tiny little brown bird, eyes closed, feet straight out, not moving. Mercifully, I suppose he died immediately. I took a pine branch to sweep him off the road so he wouldn’t be squashed by cars, and he was still so soft that each rotation of his small body made my stomach lurch in connection to how recently he had been living. Such a beautiful day, Spring just beginning, and it was all over for him.
I made an internal vow that I would not use speaker phone any more (which I don’t do with kids in the car anyway). Not sure if it would have made a difference, but more attention on the road is always good, and made me feel like his life did mean something.
Each life does matter, and you may think I am over-dramatic, but I don’t want to be responsible for death. Yes, I know these things happen, even in harvesting vegetables, but we can do what we can to prevent as many as possible. It made the connection for me again that I don’t like to see small birds die, so I also don’t want to be responsible for killing the birds that I can’t see. If I eat eggs or chicken, someone else is killing that bird for me.
Later, I walked back to where I left him, near the curb, and he was gone. I would like to believe (and hope) that he had just been stunned, and woke up later. In any case, I learned something from that bird, and he strengthened my compassion.
Usually I keep my posts not too personal. However, I am ready to share the other side of our wonderful vacation last October. Also, most of my readers at this point are my family and friends, so this is for them.
I think there must be two types of people (generally). Those who enjoy the theme park experience, and those who find it a form of torture.
I thought possibly that I enjoyed it, but now that it has been 6 months since our Disney experience I realize we fall into the other category. I was pretty traumatized by it, and I don’t think I can ever visit one again, EVER, although Star Wars and Harry Potter tempt me. If I could go on an uncrowded, not extremely hot day, for free… well, that probably won’t happen. The kids were pretty unenthusiastic by the end, and didn’t even want to buy any souvenirs.
Their favorite part was having their own room and TV in the hotel, and when we went to a friend’s house for dinner and video games.
So my original post was all about the veg options. I left out the 45 minute lines for rides, accidentally becoming part of a charity walk for an hour before the park opened LATE, that our kids don’t like any exciting/fun rides. or that we spent like $50 one morning on enormous Jamba juices to try to quench our thirst.
The best part of Disneyland for my animal lover was their petting zoo! I heard that is going away, along with other Frontier land attractions to make room for Star Wars Land. I’m glad we can do our daughter’s favorite thing near our home, for free.
“Mom, can I just stay here in the shade and pet the animals?”
Are you a theme park person? I think it helps if you go often so you know what to do and how to maximize the fun, minimize the wait time. I’m pretty sure if there was a way we could have done this more wrong, it would have been difficult! Check opening hours, don’t leave your glasses on the ride, don’t go during a 108 degree record-breaking heat wave or get caught up in a charity event. Anyway, first world problems. I am grateful for the trip, if only for the future vacation savings for us and the kids.
We’re updating the blog, and as I reorganized some old posts, I realized that I missed celebrating my Veganniversary. February 1, 2012 I started this journey and have consistently stayed true to this commitment. And yes, I still count myself as vegan even if I slipped up sometimes.
I really didn’t know if I would relapse, but at this point, I feel even more strongly about the movement than before. It has made a huge impact in my life, and changed how I view the world. I’m now advocating every day for the animals, the earth and my kid’s future. Not to mention, our health. In the past 4 years I have read so much, and learned even more than when I started. I now have experience in cooking plant-based meals and there are more products even then when I started.
Besides trying a new vegan restaurant to celebrate, I have a new goal to start for March. While we feel positive about veganism from a standpoint of animals, environment and health, I think our family can make improvements to our meals and cut back on processed foods and oil. If you are just beginning, meatless chicken patties and prepackaged meals can help make the transition easier. Since I have had time to fall back on that, I want to delve deeper into making our meals to include even more whole foods and less sugar.
Mostly, I just get lazy sometimes and don’t feel like planning ahead. However, I want to help some people in my community who also struggle with meal planning, so I am going to put in the effort and make healthier meals that everyone will eat. I’m pretty sure that this is one of the major stumbling blocks for a lot of people. Once you remove cheese- how do you make quesadillas, grilled cheese, and other easy items? I’m not a fan of soy-based cheeses, so this means being more creative so the recipe doesn’t NEED the cheese. I love this easy, delicious cauliflower alfredo dish for example:
1/2 cup unsweetened and unflavored almond milk (or non-dairy milk of choice)
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/4-1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
3/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt, or to taste
1/4-1/2 teaspoon pepper, to taste
Fettuccine pasta of choice
Put cauliflower in a large pot and cover with water or steam it until fork tender, around 5-7 minutes. Drain.
Meanwhile, sauté the minced garlic in oil over low heat for 4-5 minutes until softened and fragrant, but not browned.
In a high speed blender, add the cooked and drained cauliflower, sauteed garlic, milk, nutritional yeast, lemon juice, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Blend until really smooth sauce, let it run for a minute or so. Set aside.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add your desired amount of pasta and boil for the time instructed on the package. Drain pasta.
Add cauliflower sauce into the empty pot and add the drained pasta. Heat over low-medium until heated enough to your liking. Salt again to taste.
Serve with fresh minced parsley and black pepper. Add in sautéed peas, spinach, or broccoli if you like.
Sorry for the silence lately. There has actually been a lot happening, and much to write about. There have been two big reasons for the silence.
One: I have a lot of work to do! For my design firm I have some great clients and am doing book illustrations, t-shirt designs, logos, a website and more.
Two: I just haven’t been really feeling like I have anyone reading this website.
Except… for my mother. And this post is for her.
My mom probably inspired me the most to be an artist. Since a young age, she has always given me opportunities and encouraged me. She frames my artwork, printed thank you notes that I drew, and enrolled me in art classes. She is a very creative person in her own right in so many ways: knitting, stamping, watercolor, gardening, and cooking.
She has been very supportive of my vegan lifestyle, even if she is not vegan herself. She enjoys trying new foods like tempeh, cashew cheese, and tofu and has given me some great recipes to try. She is queen of the kitchen gadgets and among other items, wanted a Vitamix before it was even on my radar. Now, it is my favorite and most-used kitchen appliance. Recently she got a spiralizer and has been making zoodles (zucchini noodles), and all sorts of interesting things. I am sure it is only a matter of time before I get one. We share recipes- successes and mistakes.
I am fortunate to have a very veg-friendly family in general. Our relatives have been great about making sure we have something to eat at all the gatherings, and choosing restaurants that have veg options too. When I visit my sister, she gets non-dairy milk and plans veg meals. Last Thanksgiving, my family even decided to have a turkey-less meal, which was so incredibly wonderful. I didn’t ask them to do this, but it was so appreciated. My mom substitutes out the chicken broth, and makes us meals.
My mom has always been encouraging of my endeavors, and I know she is my #1 supporter of everything, including this blog. It keeps me motivated to write, when I know people are reading it..
Thank you for being such a great mom, who accepts change, new adventures, and compassion. Love you!! Hope to try even more kitchen appliances and recipes with you for many more years (Instant Pot is next on my list, and cauliflower rice)!
Here is a vegan version of my mom’s delicious General Tso’s cauliflower recipe breaded in panko. It has been approved by my dad and picky kids alike.
As I packed the kids lunches today, I reluctantly reached for the box of clear baggies for their sliced apples, another one for their tempeh sandwich. The environment is on my mind a lot, and I read so many articles. I know what is happening (for the most part) in other parts of the world. I strive to make a difference. To me, caring about climate change, clean air, water and food means caring about all animals and people. All our issues over racism, sexism, gun restrictions, and everything is trumped by the fact that if we don’t take care of our beautiful planet, we will all be gone.
Sure, it is just easier to enjoy the moment and hope that the future will work out somehow itself. Due to where I was born and the time I was born, I have enjoyed a good life. However, the really harsh part of the problems even those of us not dealing with poverty right now, is that it may not be us who pay the price, but our children. They will deal with the consequences of us not paying attention right now. In the end, the planet will be okay once it shakes us off, but we sure brought down a lot of beautiful creatures by our way of living too.
Back to the plastic baggies… I know there is an enormous swath of ocean filled with plastic. I know that each of those baggies will be around for hundreds of years, and that wildlife are choking on them. So why would I continue to do this? There is this feeling that it can be overwhelming to try and do everything, but that is not my issue. My problem is sheer laziness. I don’t have enough reusable plastic containers, and I wasn’t good about washing reusable sacs.
My friend told me about his parents who were raised by parents of the depression era in England. His mom would reuse his lunch bag over and over every day, she even washed out his sandwich bag. We all grew up in a time of convenience. It is easier to just grab the styrofoam or paper cup and throw it away than remember to carry a real cup with you.
Individual packaging to make lunches “easier” means we buy apples already sliced and in separate bags or plastic cups. In Portland, Oregon there is so much focus on reduce, reuse, recycle, it is probably one of the easiest places in the world to be “green”. We only have garbage pickup every other week, but compost and recycling every week. So that is a big incentive to make sure that anything that can be composted or recycled will be!
Baggies are thin and don’t take up much weight, so they get discarded. Am I a hypocrite because I take reusable bags to the grocery store but not reusable bags for all the produce I buy there?
We can’t do everything right, but the point of this rambling is, that I had an “aha” moment. I tend to focus on the consumption of animal products as that encompasses so many issues at once: animal cruelty, pollution, deforestation, water, climate change. I don’t understand how people can be aware that this is happening, but don’t stop their actions.
It is because we either need to have a real fear instilled. Like in the depression when there wouldn’t have been enough money to be so wasteful. Or, it has to be incredibly easy and not too expensive. So, when people are deciding what to have for dinner, it is very hard for most to envision what the meal would look like without animal products. I believe if every fast food and grocery store had delicious vegan options at the same price, or less, as the animal versions, people would choose that.
I pledge to go invest in reusable tin containers so that I don’t have to feel that twinge of guilt every day. And then, I will move onto the next small thing. I will never be perfect, we can’t do everything but we can do something. I will make my carbon footprint as light as I can.