Sarah is a mental health therapist at the University of Maine at Farmington and in private practice. I have a house in the woods where I enjoy reading, walking, gardening and spending time with my partner and our rescue pets. I also love visiting farm sanctuaries!
1. How long have you been eating plant-based? I have been vegan for about 9 years, and I was vegetarian for 10 years prior to that.
2. What made you decide to go plant-based? I’ve always had a strong connection to animals, even as a little kid. One day it struck me that I would never be able to kill an animal just so I could eat it, so if felt unethical to me to eat meat and therefore essentially pay someone to do just that. That was when I became vegetarian. As I learned more about other animal industries (dairy, eggs, wool, zoos, circuses, animal testing, etc.), I became aware of how many animals suffer and die for those products as well. So, the same logic that led me to become vegetarian-that I would not personally kill an animal for my own purposes-led me to become vegan.
3. What are the benefits eating plant-based have done for you? The biggest benefit is that I feel even more connected to animals since going vegan. Exploitation and hierarchies create emotional barriers and disconnection. The fact that I no longer look at animals with any sort of expectation for personal gain has gotten rid of those emotional barriers. So now when I interact with animals -wild or domestic- I can appreciate them solely for who they are, not what they can provide for me. I get to be present with animals without that cognitive dissonance that comes with being an animal lover who eats or profits from animal mistreatment. The other benefits I’ve experience since gong vegan are feeling better physically and learning how much a vegan diet decreases one’s carbon footprint.
4. What did you find to be the biggest challenge of eating plant-based? I have found the biggest challenges to be people’s misperception or preconceived judgments about vegans. (I once had them too!) I try really hard to share about veganism in an honest, open and compassionate way that allows for nonjudgmental dialogue, rather than fruitless debate.
5. What are your go to foods for breakfast, lunch and dinner? Breakfast: Toast with jam and/or vegan butter, some sort of protein (e.g. vegan sausage, scrambled tofu), and fruit. Lunch: Lunch is frequently at work, so I’ll often go for convenience with either leftovers or an Amy’s vegan frozen meal, fruit or cookies. Dinner: Same sort of vegan protein (e.g. tofu, Gardein products, veggie burger), vegetables (varies based on the season) and dessert (there’s so much amazing vegan ice cream now!)
6. Do you have a favorite cookbook, tip or recipe to share? Google can give you any vegan recipe you could ever want. Many of my favorite recipes are by Nava Atlas, Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Chocolate Covered Katie. And here’s my favorite tip: You’re already eating vegan foods everyday! If you’ve had any fruits, vegetables, grains, bread, rice, beans or even Oreos today, then you’ve eaten vegan food. See? You’re already part way there!
Website: I’d encourage anyone who wants to learn more or even get to know some farm animals in person to visit: www.peaceridgesanctuary.org -an amazing farm sanctuary in Maine that holds regular open houses in the summer and fall, also www.farmsanctuary.org-which was the first farm sanctuary in the U.S.