Both my husband and I have been vegetarians since sometime in the mid-90s. I went all the way to veganville in 2004. What I miss most is milk chocolate and nope, there’s still not a really awesome soy or rice milk chocolate substitute.
Raised on Lard and Bacon
I grew up in southern Indiana in a family that had migrated north from Tennessee and Kentucky. The kind of food my grandma taught me to make when I was a kid consisted of veggies boiled to death with lard, butter, salt and pepper with a ham hock thrown in. Meat (esp. bacon) was served daily. She always had a huge garden and everyone gathered at harvest time to string beans and can foods for the winter. She and grandpa never owned their own farm but always rented from others. So I don’t think the garden was ever larger than an acre but to a kid, it seemed huge.
While in high school, I had severe allergies and I remember my grandma saying that she thought I might be allergic to milk. In hindsight, that was a pretty radical statement for someone in a rural Midwestern town. Not until years later would I realize she was on to something.
Discovering Whole Wheat Bread
Grandma also taught me to make jams and jellies, chicken dumplings, cobblers and cornbread griddle cakes. Of course, all of these included lots of eggs, milk and refined sugar. I was in college before discovering whole wheat bread and the joys of steamed veggies. I previously had no idea that green beans could be anything other than army surplus green. This was quite a revelation to me and began my journey for healthier food. Soon after, my family labeled me a granola freak.
Going All The Way
The vegan tipping point came while watching an undercover Peta video of egg and milk production facilities. This brought back memories of the factory farm across the road from my grandma’s house and the cramped chicken cages that I had conveniently forgotten.
I finally took that last step to giving up dairy. About a week later, my body recovered and began to digest food normally. I was thrilled since I had never known what it meant to digest normally.
This also began my online exodus into vegan cooking. Without all the helpful recipe sites out there in 2004, I would not have been able to make the transition. Fatfree Vegan, PPK and the Vegan Lunch Box are the three biggies that made the trip possible.
This blog, with its recipes and cooking tips, is my way of giving back to the online vegan community that unknowningly supported me when I was lurking and learning.
So please try out the recipes and let me know what you think. I hope this makes your life a little easier too.