I became lacto-ovo vegetarian over forty years ago when my younger sister, Dru, came back from college with her vegetarian boyfriend. She explained that killing animals for food was not a necessary component to human survival. That was a revelation to me! Living in Lexington, KY. in 1975, the idea had never occurred to me. However, being an extreme animal lover, I eagerly embraced the concept.
Then, in 1991, when I had just turned forty, my mentor Kaliji, who is the founder of TriYoga, had a showing of the “Diet For A New America” video by John Robbins. I left the room crying when it showed the plight of the cows caught in the horrors of factory farming. My husband, Mark, and I became vegan immediately. My ten-year-old daughter, Larissa, who had been raised lacto-ovo vegetarian, weaned herself from dairy and became vegan as well.
Times have changed since the early nineties, especially in the midwest. Back then, one would have to seek out a health-food store that carried soymilk and tofu. No non-dairy cheese-alternatives were available and it was tricky to find even bread that had no eggs or dairy.
But now, it’s so easy to be vegan! Every grocery carries a few brands and varieties of soy, almond or coconut milk and creamer, vegan cream cheese and butter, tofu, plant-based imitation meats, and even non-dairy ice-creams. Some even carry vegan cheese and most varieties now melt! I can still remember how excited I was when I first tasted Vegenaise, a vegan mayonnaise.
So, perhaps we older vegans had to be a little more creative in our cooking, making our own seitan and figuring every possible way to flavor the queen of all chameleon foods, tofu. Having a degree in art, I welcomed this challenge as an artistic endeavor. My sister, also an artist, enjoyed sharing her culinary creations with me and I with her.
After moving to California in the late nineties, I became the main chef for Kaliji’s small TriYoga ashram in Malibu. Cooking for ten or more people, three meals a day, was a whole ‘nuther ball game! Timeliness was a factor; and I truly learned the meaning of “necessity is the mother of invention.” I became quite proficient at creating tasty dishes out of whatever was available in the kitchen.
After our son, Matthias, who was raised vegan, started school, I re-entered the work force in numismatic restoration. Still working in the rare coin business, my husband and I travel quite a bit, enjoying amazing vegan restaurants all over the country. My grown children are both still committed to the vegan diet. Larissa became a family physician so that she can influence people’s food and lifestyle choices for the better. She is one of those rare natural cooks with an intuitive sense of taste. Matthias, an actor and singer/rapper, is also an amazingly innovative vegan chef, who has made a hobby of discovering (and patronizing!) all the vegan hole-in-the-wall establishments throughout LA. Due to his influence, most of his friends are vegan.
My experience is that living a life of ahimsa (non-violence) — truly caring for and seeing Divinity in all creatures — has its personal rewards, certainly in the heart and soul, but also in the body, as well. Now an official senior, I am definitely more playful than when I was younger and I feel rather ageless. Each week, I teach three Triyoga classes (besides my own practice), take two incredibly fun aerobic African–style dance classes, hike in the mountains, swim laps in our pool and jog on the beach. Other than sitting in meditation, movement is pure joy to me! Dancing lightly on the earth, loving it and all of its creatures, is what I want to share.
So, after years of creating yummy vegan food, I finally started writing my recipes down with the promise of publishing a vegan cookbook. Finally, my husband suggested I get with the times and create a free website. So here it is!
I humbly feel that the privilege of sharing my vegan knowledge with the world though this website is one of the most important and impactful accomplishments of my lifetime. I couldn’t have done it without the enthusiasm of my husband and children, the immense help and constant support of my sister, Dru Perry, and our dear friend, Roger Chambliss, who’s creative genius and technical skill has brought my vision into reality.
So… dance lightly on the earth, and remember It’s Easy To Be Vegan!