Like many vegans, I’m often asked: So, what made you go vegan in the first place? And as anyone whose ever asked me will know, I attribute it to my parents, especially my mother. The fact of the matter is that I can more easily tell you why I’m still vegan than why I started. I really only gave it a try because of my mother’s encouragement. 

And so I thought it might be nice to get the skinny from her: why veganism? How can somebody start? The first step can be intimidating but it’s also really exciting… and so, without further ado, please enjoy this guest post from my mother.

They say all journeys start with that first step. In the case of my vegan journey, it started with that first bite. The recipe, “Orzo with Curried Chickpeas and Raisins,” was taken from a cookbook that I had purchased, “Supermarket Vegan.” And while the first bite wasn’t magical (I should have added a tad more salt),  I knew I was on to something special, very special.

It all started just about two years ago. I’m not exactly sure what possessed me to purchase a vegan cookbook. I’ve always had an interest in nutrition but I’ve never been the least bit interested in vegetarianism. I guess I felt that vegetarians were closet cheese-aholics. Frankly, “Supermarket Vegan” was probably just an impulse purchase; certainly not my first one and by no means my last! I currently own 19 vegan cookbooks. In those cookbooks, I’ve discovered the joy of seitan, the wonder of roasted celery root, the splendor of sauteed collard greens.  I could go on and on. Did I mention the baked goods? I guess you would have to taste them to believe them. My point is that vegan cooking is wonderful. Honestly!! Anyone who would tell you differently should have their taste buds examined by a health care professional. Some of the ingredients can sound intimidating — vital wheat gluten, TVP, tempeh, miso — but they are easily found in a Whole Foods near you and most meals are prepared in a snap. As far as the health benefits, all I can say is that I feel great, really great: in body, mind and spirit. I’d like to say that I look ten years younger but that would be stretching it a bit.

To the issue of animal cruelty, my advice is: don’t ask if you don’t want to know. But if you do want to know, I strongly recommend “Eating Animals” by Jonathan Safran Foer. Vegan cooking started out as a bit of a lark for me: a way to expand my rather limited repertoire. After reading this book, it became a passion.

Don’t be afraid to give vegan cooking a try. You’re not making a lifetime commitment. You’re simply opening yourself up to new possibilities. Vegan cooking may not be life-transforming for you but I guarantee it will be life-enhancing.

Go on. Give it a go. Start your journey. You never know where it might take you.

Vegan Cooking: A Family Affair | My sister Kathryn whips up a side of kale for dinner.

Vegan Cooking: A Family Affair | My sister Kathryn whips up a side of kale for dinner.