I am a Certified Food For Life Instructor. I provided Nutrition and cooking classes for weight management, diabetes, cancer, heart health, employee wellness ;program, and private & family coaching.
1. How long have you been vegan? Since 2010.
2. What made you decide to go vegan? Cheese. Because of the 2 lbs of cheese I was eating weekly, by age 47, I could hardly bend my toes; it was becoming painful to wear shoes, and it hurt to even slide my feet under the covers at night. I did some poking around online and discovered that DAIRY was the #1 trigger for joint pain, inflammation, arthritis and gout. I’m sure I had gout. So, I got rid of the dairy in my diet, and six months later, my feet were fine.
Shortly thereafter, I read the book Skinny Bitch, and that was that. No more animal products. (that book lead me to The China Study and Dr. Barnard, and PCRM…)
3. What are the benefits eating vegan have done for you? I can walk and wear shoes comfortably, first of all! Zero doctor appointments (other than one well visit) in the last 9 years, which means almost zero medical expenses. I feel great, none of the weight gain or menopausal issues that many women my age have (I’m now 57); I’m on no medication other than a B-12 supplement; I remain active and energetic, able to work hard on my feet all day long, sleep well at night, get up the next day and do it again. It’s a wonderful feeling knowing that I am largely in charge of my health and therefore, my future. No health insurance by choice… I refuse to pay high premiums for a “service” that I won’t use that’s more likely to hurt me than help me.
4. What did you find to be the biggest challenge of eating vegan? There was a BIG learning curve up front in learning how not to make meat the centerpiece of each meal. Breakfast was easy, but lunches and dinners were more of a challenge. I had put cheese on everything (or butter, sour cream, etc.), so I had to retrain my taste buds to like the taste of foods minus all the fatty goop on top. I learned a new path through the grocery store and quickly realized that MOST of the shopping would be done in the produce department, then a quick trip down the beans/rice/grains aisle, then over to the cold case for some plant milks… and done. It seems so easy now, but back then it was like learning a different language.
5. What are your go to foods for breakfast, lunch and dinner? During warm months, Rip’s Big Bowl is my favorite breakfast (oat cereal mixture + cinnamon + berries + flax meal + walnuts/chia + almond or oat milk); during cold months, oatmeal with similar toppings (or raisins instead of berries) and a drizzle of maple syrup. Smoothies in the Vitamix a couple times a week when we can get organic or fresh-picked berries. Lunch and dinner are soups, bean or veggie chili, eggless sandwiches (tofu + vegan mayo + kala Namak mineral salt which tastes like egg yolk), occasionally veggie burgers (Little Lads First Hand Burgers are our fave! Made in Corinth, ME), tomato soup (mixed with soy milk) + grilled “cheese” sandwiches (FYH Smoked Gouda), BIG SALADS in summer with balsamic vinegar or lemon/lime juice as dressing. Veggie pizza, Happy Herbivore’s Cheater Pad Thai, mashed potatoes/dressing and a small Field Roast roast once in a while (that’s our holiday meal)
6. Do you have a favorite cookbook, tip or recipe to share? My two favorite cookbooks are: 1) The Prevent & Reverse Heart Disease cookbook by Jane & Anne Esselstyn. I love them! I make their oil-free hummus all the time… it’s practically a food group. My other newer favorite is The Vegan 8 cookbook by Brandi Doming (at most 8 ingredients per recipe not counting salt, pepper, water). We LOVE her Cheesy Mexican Tortilla Bake and sometimes do it as written, and sometimes with rice instead of tortillas:
For NEW vegans, the best comfort food recipes (all oil-free!) are at https://www.brandnewvegan.com by Chuck Underwood. He has recipes like biscuits and gravy, Instant Pot stew… all delish.
Life changed when I found that I could make GRAVY on the stove in 5 minutes, thanks to Mary McDougall’s Golden Gravy recipe! I make this frequently all winter long, and we pour it on whatever we have: https://www.drmcdougall.com/misc/2011nl/oct/recipes.htm (there are several recipes on this page; scroll down to the gravy) I sometimes add a splash of soy milk + black pepper to make it creamier.
My web site is https://positivelyplants.com and I look forward to filling my classes/events page over the next couple months as my partner and I finish building our off-grid cottage in Highland. I especially encourage folks to visit my RESOURCES page (https://positivelyplants.com/resources/) which I update frequently, as new books and films are released. Enjoy!