To nourish your mind as well as your body

Anger and intolerance are the enemies of correct understanding.

-Mahatma Gandhi

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

VAM Questionnaire: Alison

Alison is a vegan artist in Seattle, Washington. She's incredibly talented, sweet, and one of my very favorite people. If you're interested in seeing some of her fabulous work, you can see it here. She has generously offered to answer some questions here about her life as a vegan. 


Q When did you become a vegan?
A About 8 years ago.
Q Why did you become a vegan?
A I had been vegetarian for a few years, and a close friend had recently become vegan herself, she gave me this cookzine, Soy Not Oi. It was written by a collective called the Hippie Core Crew, a group of punk rock kids who compiled some recipes they wrote themselves, and some they had liberated from other sources. The kids who created this zine also wrote stories about why they had become vegan, the whole thing really moved me. As a result, I decided to become vegan.
Q What were some of the things you read that moved you about the Hippie Core Group? 
A Wow, it has been so long, I am not sure I even remember. I think it was along the lines of animal freedom and how even using animal products is oppression. I didn't want to contribute to another animals oppression if I could help it. Also, they were just really personal essays, being vegan to these people was a very personal thing that I don't think I felt in my vegetarianism.
Q What is the most common misunderstanding you face about being vegan?
A That vegans don't eat anything. Or that eating anything vegan is healthy just because its vegan. I have certainly found that vegans tend to eat a lot healthier than most, but you can still eat crap if you're vegan!
Q What is your strategy for maintaining a vegan diet?
A Eating as healthy as possible and trying to keep a well rounded, balanced diet. Keeping up on your vitamins, especially b-12, iron, and calcium, although these are important for any diet. 
I should also note that I am not 100% vegan anymore since my cholesterol is unhealthily low(cholesterol is only in animal products).
Q What do you eat that is not 100% vegan? Was it hard to add this back into your diet?
A About a year ago i started eating eggs because my doctor told me that my cholesterol levels were too low, so I needed to somehow incorporate some animal product in order to stay healthy (plants do not contain cholesterol). About 4 months ago i noticed they were making me sick, so I stopped, and have since started eating chicken occasionally, both out of a fear that I am not getting enough protein (since I can't eat wheat gluten or soy anymore)and cholesterol (although there is probably not much in chicken). I may need to reevaluate this and probably think about trying to incorporate cheese or something higher in cholesterol into my diet instead.
This decision was definitely a hard one for me, one that I grappled with for months, but out of need, I chose to eat only happy chicken eggs that had been grown on a farm not far from my house. Now I am only eating, happy free range chicken from my local coop. Which, although isn't ideal is still something I am working on, and still don't feel completely comfortable with, but when I really think about it, my health is top priority.
Q What is your favorite vegan meal?
A Traditional Phad Thai with veggies and tofu (without the fish sauce and egg of course)
Mango with coconut milk
Hot tea
Q What is your favorite dish to prepare?
A Chickpea Miso Soup with stir fried veggies and rice noodles
Q What is your favorite vegan recipe?
A Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies (recipe in Soy Not Oi)
Q What is your favorite vegan cookbook?
A The Real Food Daily
Whole Life Nutrition Handbook
Q What is your favorite vegan restaurant?
A Chaco Canyon Cafe (vegan with a lot of raw dishes!) in Seattle, WA.
Q Which culinary tools do you use most often in the kitchen?
A Chefs knife, cast iron frying pan, blender/food processor.
Q Any advice/thoughts you'd share with people who are considering becoming vegan/vegetarian?
A Do it for the right reasons, not because your friends are doing it, but because you really believe in it. Be considerate of friends who are carnivores, and don't try to force your beliefs on them or make them feel bad because they eat animal products, you may alienate your friends as a result. Be patient with people who don't share your diet. Make sure to stay on top of what you are eating, it can be challenging to eat healthy most of the time. is a good way to keep track of things and get a general idea of the amount of vitamins/protein/etc. you are getting.

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