me be vegan part 1: being a weirdo

1Hey all, before we get going with this post, I want to let you know that I seem to have a gremlin in my computer and my computer shop turns out to run by complete #$%$^$%^#s, so I am without a reliable machine for 5 to 8 weeks. I will do my best to continue with regular posts, but I can't promise anything right now. On the bright side, without having the computer to distract me I've already got a new pattern worked out and several recipes. With time, I shall share!

Another thing, a disclaimer actually, is that this post is a response to an emailed question about becoming a vegan family from a reader. If you are not thinking about becoming vegan or even care about it in anyway, feel free to skip. Or you could read for information, the same way I always read knitting books without the least intention of making a single stitch. It's always good to know a bit more about the world we all share.




I am a conventional person.  Like Julia Child.  Have you seen the movie Julie & Julia?*  One of the best parts of the movie was when Meryl Streep, playing six foot two Julia Child, announces herself a 'conventional woman' and then stands up, emphasizes her clearly unconventional height.  It was well done and a brilliant reminder that what we consider normal is really only the familiar.

For really real, though, I am pretty conventional. I want what everyone else wants: food, clothing, shelter, and safety.  And also meaningful work, a feeling of community, to be close to those I love, a bit of fun.  As I go about my day there is nothing I do that strikes me as being unusual.

Lucky for me, the holidays are here (ish) and all the visiting with family and friends is going to remind me that I am not as normal as I think I am.  I turns out, in comparison even to kin, I'm a bit of a freak.  And about as far away from Julia Child as I can get. 

Don't tell me you haven't noticed.

Being a weirdo doesn't bother me in the least.  Neither does being the anti-Julia.  Especially since I sometimes receive emails from lovely people asking how they too can become freaks.  

I remember reading somewhere, some time ago, that about four percent of the North American population is vegetarian and about one percent is vegan.  This seems like a small percentage, vegetarianism being of lesser frequency in the general population than schizophrenia as I have been reminded, but it still means over twenty one million North Americans tonight are choosing their evening substance with a desire to make positive change for animals, the planet, or even just their own health.

I have been vegetarian for fifteen years and vegan for nine of those years.  My husband has been vegan for eight and our two children have never consumed animals or their products.  Being vegan is as natural to me as breathing, but for people considering veganism, it seems to be a daunting lifestyle.  The bodies of livestock animals are as intertwined with our lives as our families.  We can't get away from them without some major changes to the way we think and live.

Change, even desirable change, is stressful.  On stress scales, good events like the birth of babies are scored as high as divorces.  Becoming vegan is a big step.  Make no mistake there.  But as stressful as it is, is can also be a joyous transition and, I found anyway, unexpectedly freeing.  Instead of your dining choices reduced and restricted, you have now the opportunity to explore worlds that you would not of consider when your menu was based upon food coming from four or five different animals.  How rich and wonderful the world of plants is!  There is much out there to discover now that there is room on your plate.

The most frequent question I encounter from non-vegans is what the heck do I eat anyway?  The answer is almost everything.  Most food is vegan and it takes a special effort to create an omnivore's meal.  At least if you are cooking at home.  There are many wonderful vegan cookbooks out there and with the wide range of faux meat products available plus having a few ideas about how to substitute eggs and milk in baking, almost any traditional recipe can be veganized. 

The second most frequent question is how do I do this with a family?  My response is, how could I not?  Children require nutrients and calories, all which are readily supplied with a vegan diet, but even more so, children require to know what their parents value and a framework for meaningful living.  When they are older, they will more than likely reevaluate and make their own minds up as to where they stand.  Excellent.  Having been raised with critical thinking and strong values means they will already be comfortable with determining what is important to them and how to be true to themselves instead of being swayed by the crowd.

For the nitty gritty of veganism, I will have to come back another day.  There is lots of information out there for the actual nutrition stuff, almost every library out there has a copy of Becoming Vegan, and you can order family specific guides like Raising Vegan Children in a Non-Vegan world online.  I would like to share some of the daily veganisms I do with the kids and in the kitchen that have taken me a bit of time to learn but are ingrained into my everyday life.  Like how to live without cheese and what to do when offered non-vegan candies while out in public.  A girlfriend's guide to veganism, so to speak.

Until then, for you lovely becoming vegan families, try half a banana instead of an egg in your holiday baking and know that dark chocolate and candy canes are vegan, so go for it.


*I just finished watching Julie & Julia last night (every movie I watch takes at least two sittings, seeing how I usually run out of time before I run out of story). Last week, I read Julie Powell's book, and now, I'm desperate to find some time to actually read the blog that begun it all. I, for rather transparent reasons, love when bloggers make good.


  1. I've been reading your blog for a while now, mostly for the sewing tips. I hadn't even realised you guys were vegan too, but it's nice to know! We aren't the weirdos, you know - it's the rest of the world who are. :D

  2. I would like to significantly reduce the amount of meat we eat, but I'm worried of my 5 year old boy not getting enough protein, since he's allergic to milk, eggs, soy, nuts, fish and peanuts.

    When he has outgrown the soy allergy (small amounts are ok now), i think it will be easier to not eat/eat less meat.

  3. Thanks so much! This post is great, and I look forward to our family slowly joining the freaks. :) Sorry to hear about your computer and computer shop issues, though. :( Arg, those machines can be frustrating! My husband would say you should have a Mac (his answer to all computer troubles... not that I would know, being a very non-techie person myself, although I do quite enjoy the Internet).

  4. Thats a really interesting post. I'm not vegan or vegetarian but due to an allergy to cheese I often play it safe and take the vegan option when eating out (cheese and cheese by products, ie whey and whey powder which frequently end up in places you would not expect to find it as a cheap way of making things creamy). I don't see this as a restriction however, more a way of exploring a new section of the menu, and the foods I have had are always really nice, and really filling, and usually copied at home where possible!

  5. This is really timely for me. Until a couple of weeks ago, I had never even considered the idea of becoming vegetarian, and honestly, I thought vegans were just...a bit...strange. (But I used to think the same thing about homeschoolers and here I am smack dab in the middle of my third year doing that.)
    I recently decided that we needed to practice better nutrition by upping our greens/veggies/fruits. What I am finding is that I no longer desire much in the way of animal products.
    I am a long way from making any formal declarations, but when I left the library yesterday I had one veg and one raw vegan cookbook in my bag. And our spaghetti squash with homemade vegetable marinara for dinner last night was delicious!

  6. Just wanted to leave a comment, as I fall into the "no desire to become vegetarian but do enjoy learning about the world in general" category.

    Thanks for the info :) and for approaching this as a teaching moment, as opposed to a preaching moment!

    I learn something good from every one of your posts!


  7. This is very timely for me, I'm a vegetarian but have been considering veganism for myself and my daughter. Husband is mostly vegetarian, but not particularly interested in becoming vegan, though he'd certainly eat vegan food, he would just want to be able to have cream in his coffee and eggs for breakfast on occasion.

    You discussion of the stress of making a life change is interesting, and to the point. When I became vegetarian 5 years ago it was incredibly easy, I'd grown up cooking vegetarian meals, we had the Moosewood cookbooks around for instance. I didn't have to discover a whole new way of cooking. When I think about veganism it sounds really challenging, giving up meat, no problem, but cheese? I have a dysfunctional relationship with cheese "oh cheese, you're so bad, but I love you so." The health value of the dairy substitutes like soy milk, fake cheeses and sausages is questionable, imo. I've heard enough arguing about it that I think it's probably best to stick to traditional soy products (tofu, miso, etc.) I know there are other options out there, nutritional yeast, coconut oil, etc etc, but it seems hard to make the transition. I am looking forward to your posts on veganism, along with all your other posts! I love your blog.

    I've tried the banana instead of butter when making oatmeal cookies, they took a little longer to set when they came out but otherwise it worked great! Have you tried coconut oil instead of butter? I used that in the same cookies, it was delicious but it made our stomach's a bit upset. I've heard of using apple sauce as well. My favorite vegan/vegetarian site thus far is vegweb. com, great for recipes.

  8. Great post. I've been vegan for a year and a half, but the rest of my family still chooses to eat meat. I'm bothered by some of the reactions I get from people, as in being concerned that I will "turn" my children into vegans. I'm respectful of whatever choice they make in their diet.

    Becoming vegan was one of the easiest and most happy changes I've made in my life. It seems very natural to me. The only trouble I ever have is going to traditional restaurants in finding nothing vegan on the menu (but i do like french fries with salad!)

    The best thing about being vegan, in my opinion, is having a clear conscience. I love and value all animals, and I'm so glad that I don't have to worry about how my eating may be hurting other beings.

    Thanks for a great blog.

  9. your children drink animals and their products?
    Ok i'm a little confused? how does that work exactly

  10. A Holiday Thought...

    Aren't humans amazing? They kill wildlife - birds, deer, all kinds of cats, coyotes, beavers, groundhogs, mice and foxes by the million in order to protect their domestic animals and their feed.

    Then they kill domestic animals by the billion and eat them. This in turn kills people by the million, because eating all those animals leads to degenerative - and fatal - health conditions like heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, and cancer.

    So then humans spend billions of dollars torturing and killing millions more animals to look for cures for these diseases.

    Elsewhere, millions of other human beings are being killed by hunger and malnutrition because food they could eat is being used to fatten domestic animals.

    Meanwhile, few people recognize the absurdity of humans, who kill so easily and violently, and once a year send out cards praying for "Peace on Earth."

    ~Revised Preface to Old MacDonald's Factory Farm by C. David Coates~


    Anyone can break this cycle of violence! Everyone has the power to choose compassion! Please visit these websites to align your core values with life affirming choices: veganvideo.org & tryveg.com

    "Any great change must expect opposition because it shakes the very foundation of privilege."
    Lucretia Coffin Mott, 1793-1880, minister, women's rights leader, abolitionist, peace activist, humanitarian

  11. Hello!

    I have been following your blog for a long time but never actually commented. So this is my firs time commenting. The thing i wanted to ask is: why did you choose to become a vegan?

    Now, I am a vegetarian myself. And I have absolutely nothing against or a "wrong opinion" about vegans. I am just wondering whether you have chosen this life style just because you wanted to? or is there a more meaningful reason to it?(:

  12. anon, sometimes I am very distracted when I blog. All better now. Thanks!

  13. I found your blog through a friend and look forward to reading more. I am slowly attempting to become vegan. This is really hard for me since I have grown up a huge meat eater and not so much a lover of veggies. I am moving this way for a multitude of reasons some being: health, animal welfare, allergy issues and others. Do you have a favorite cookbook and how do you ensure that your kids are eating right? I know that's probably a dumb questions as there are many non-meat foods that provide the same if not better nutrients than meat.

  14. I enjoyed reading this and look forward to more info. We jokingly call my oldest daughter a "flex-a-vega-tarian" (Flexatarian = follows a veg diet with occasional lean meats). She's got nut, egg, and milk allergies and is a hugely picky eater, therefore she eats a predominantly vegan diet. I'm always looking for new ideas and ways to cook things the whole family can enjoy. I also like vegweb.com. It's been a great help in making these diet changes for her.

  15. I just found your blog and love it! We are vegetarians. I've gone Vegan for a month but I missed my cheeses too much--I'm not talking about kraft cheeses but these yummy gourmet cheeses. Good thing they are expensive, or we'll be eating them all the time! We don't buy milk unless I plan to use milk in something I am making.
    I've bookmarked your blog so I can come back tonight and read it, after the kids have gone to bed!