The One With the Stereotype.

If you’ve been following me on Instagram for a while, you know that last summer I took on the challenge of eliminating animal products from my diet. I have been a vegetarian my entire life, but I felt the need to step up my game a little. Because I could. Because my body craved it. Because it felt right and the right time.
I’ve always staunchly believed in vegetarianism, but the full elimination of all animal products was a bit harder to fully understand. Mostly because we grow up believing things like, you have to drink milk in order to get sufficient calcium. And because cheese tasted really good.
Also, the vegans I had met weren’t always the nicest individuals. 
But I’ve always known the health implications of eating animal products. I’ve always known it was better to avoid it altogether. But ignoring these thoughts wasn’t an issue. I can’t hear you over this piece of scrumptious four cheese pizza! And if I could, there was always ice-cream to shush my conscious out.
But then last year a few little things started coming together. I met vegans who were nice, respectful and non-judgemental. They weren’t hippies, or solely salad munchers. And I realized, veganism doesn’t mean the stereotype. I could define what being a vegan was for myself. 
Then I chose to write a paper on vegetarianism for a philosophy class. While doing my research, I realized that there was no excuse for me to not go the extra mile. I studied the implications of eating animals and animal products on, not only human health, but also the animals themselves, the environment, and the workers in animal product industry.
During this time, the local newspaper published a piece on one of the local dairy farms in our area. Someone had videotaped one of the dairy workers beating the confined cows with iron beams. Of course, the situation was taken care of, but the news spurred my dad to also consider where our food was coming from. We would talk it over, and I’d tell him about my research—about how even the legal ways hens and dairy cows are kept cannot be considered humane. And we agreed that the cows, even when not being beaten, were not kept in a healthy and just environment. 
It was already a fact I knew, but my research solidified it even more—if you do it right, veganism doesn’t deprive your body of essential nutrients. You need to be smart, of course, just like you do even with a carnivorous diet. But all of the food pyramid can be obtained through natural foods.
So we decided we’d take on this challenge together. We made the decision to stop buying or cooking anything with animal products. I decided to set some amendments for myself, because I knew the minute I stated I could never have something, my stubbornness would kick in. 
So I decided that 
1. I would never deprive myself of something I wanted to eat (if at any time my body [not mind] craved something, it was possible to make an exception). 
2. I would not make things inconvenient for hosts/friends/travel (it would be better to break my diet than to offend hosts or friends; and if during travel nothing vegan could be found I would stick to vegetarianism).
It’s been almost a year. There have been times when I’ve had something I probably shouldn’t have. But things that I never thought would be possible have happened. I don’t crave cheese, in fact the smell of cheese on a cheese pizza is honestly a turnoff. 
I used to have constantly plugged sinuses, but combined with consistent exercise and the lack of dairy, I’ve been able to stop taking my steroid filled medication and no longer have trouble sleeping due to blocked airways on a regular basis. For me, this was huge!
I don’t know why I’m sharing this with you. Probably because it’s part of my journey and so it’s important. I do know what’s not the reason I’m sharing this. I do not want to tell you you have to do this. Do I believe everyone could benefit from it? Yes, absolutely! But I understand not everyone agrees. It will be so difficult for many people. For me it was easier—many vegetarian meals are vegan already. Plus, my family stopped drinking milk over a decade ago, and I’ve never enjoyed the taste of milk since. Also, my mother is allergic to eggs, so I’ve been cooking without them my whole life. But the things that made it the easiest for me was my conviction that it was the right thing to do—right by me, by the animals, by the environment.
I’d definitely encourage you to do your own research on it, especially vegetarianism. I’d encourage you to take it slow, know how you adapt to different things and make it easier for yourself. I’d like to help. All my recipes on the blog are vegan, and I will be posting more on here soon. If you’re not at all interested, I’d still urge you to stick around too! You never know when a recipe might inspire you to get cooking too! 
Thanks for letting me share.
What do you think about veganism/vegetarianism? 
All respectful opinions welcome!

Upside Down Peach Cake + Secrets.


I’ve taken to visiting our neighbor, Mr. Williams*, on Saturday afternoons. While he says he is content in spending his days with the company of his dog, the weekly visit from his son and occasional phone call from the other, I get the feeling he enjoys our visits as much as I do. He likes to tell me stories about his years in the army, anecdotes about his grandchildren and great-grandchildren, to beam with pride while talking about his brilliant dog, who is usually eyeing me from her spot on the couch next to him, and to tell me about how ‘the Lord has been good’ to him. 

When our visits first began, I thought it would do us both some good to have regular visits. I yearned to hear stories and listen to his advice. And for him, I thought a distraction from his daily routine might be nice. I can’t say I didn’t know I would be changed during our visits. Yet I didn’t expect it to be in the form of spiritual encouragement. 

It feeds my soul to hear his testimony and encourages me in my own journey. Every once in a while he’ll tell me to keep on in my faith. “Keep the faith, lassie,” he’ll tell me. “Don’t forsake the good Lord, because He won’t forget you.” 

Yesterday after our visit he ambled over to his freezer and pulled out package after package of frozen fruit plates. A local program brings him food every week. Every week they bring seven plates with three slices of peach and half of a pear. 

“I can’t eat all of these,” he says. “They’re good for making upside down cakes and things.” He put about eight plates in a bag and swore me to secrecy. I am not allowed to tell anyone that he is giving me fruit plates. 

But here I am telling you. But it’s okay. Wanna know why? Because today I’m sending the fruit right back. Not all of it at once, but cake by cake. I’ve decided there’s a good reason he’s sent fruit. He needs to eat it. So, I took his suggestion and made upside down peach cake. 

I haven’t told him it’s vegan. He’d probably give me an exasperated speech about how underweight I am (I am perfectly on weight, thank you very much) and it’s certainly due to the silliness of not eating any meat or dairy. So this post is full of secrets. You don’t tell anyone that he is giving away fruit plates, nor that the cake I made is vegan. Deal? I’m trusting you, Internet!

 *names changed to protect the innocent

Upside Down Peach Cake – Vegan

adapted to vegan from | Taste of Home

Ingredients

  • 1 can (15 ounces) sliced peaches in juice
  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 4 tablespoons Earth Balance butter, melted, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup organic cane sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup coconut milk + 1 Tbsp lime juice
  • 2 Tbsp ground oatmeal
  • Directions

    1. Drain peaches, reserving 2 tablespoons juice. Pat peaches dry. In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar, 1 tablespoon butter, cinnamon, nutmeg and reserved peach juice. Spread into a 9-in. round baking pan coated with cooking spray. Cut peach slices in half lengthwise; arrange in a single layer over brown sugar mixture.
    1. In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In another bowl, combine the buttermilk, egg, vanilla and remaining butter. Add to dry ingredients and stir until blended. Spoon over peaches. Bake at 350° for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before inverting onto a serving plate. Serve warm. Yield: 8 servings