Somehow the food we ate as kids gets embedded in our DNA. For James Johnston, chef and co-owner of two vegan restaurants in Texas, that presented a problem. He craved Southern-style dishes, heavy on animal products. As exemplified by his vegan country collard greens, his solution was to adapt country-style cooking to veganism.
Photo by David Latt
These look amazing!
“fat peanut butter patties with a shortbread crust and thick chocolate coating.”
Healthy Girl Scout Cookies: Tagalongs (Healthy Dessert Blog)
Check out Anjali Sareen’s This Is What Vegans Eat article and slideshow on Huffington Post. She does a great job of showing a wide variety of foods that vegans enjoy and that are also really accessible to non-vegans. Get ready for some more photos of chocolate chip cookies, lasagne, tacos, and ice cream that will get your tummy rumbling.
Well, not entirely! Read my bio for contradictions aplenty. But veganism does allow you to avoid a lot of, shall we say, moral discomfort. I remember worrying a lot more about the impacts of my actions before I went vegan – it was a source of stress for me to think I might be causing suffering (as indeed I was). Once I took the plunge and went vegan, I felt very free. That’s why I think of veganism as a liberatory process.
For instance, I used to say “I love pigs.” And yet if Facebook had existed when I was a carnist, I may have posted photos of a cute piglet on a farm without thinking very much about how he was about to be separated from his mother and would one day face a trip to the slaughterhouse, or about how this farm I’m seeing in this image isn’t at all like the horrific, factory-like farms on which the vast majority of piglets are raised. I may have posted recipes that included “free-range” pork sausage. Back then, I would not have seen the contradiction, but I know I often felt oddly “not right” about my decisions. And I felt really bad when I heard people mention the slaughterhouse, because no matter how much the small farmers we were supporting said what they were doing was humane, I had a hard time imagining what that might look like.
Today, I have a different perspective. I say, “I love pigs,” but I think it’s more important that now I know I should say, even more importantly, “I respect pigs,” because they are not objects for me to desire or want or eat or use or confine or buy or sell. They are individual persons, just like me, who desire autonomy and freedom.
I know that’s good for me personally. But even better, I think it’s really good for the animals I used to exploit, before I realized there was a way to opt out of the violence I was causing.
A turkey helped me stay vegan when I was doubting my decision.
I grew up eating animals and loved the flavors and textures. It was a big part of my life – my dad’s southern cooking, my mom’s midwestern deliciousness: Pork chops, BBQ ribs, scrambled eggs, cheesy casseroles, I loved all of it.
So going vegan at 18 was really hard. It was a phase at first, an experiment, and at a certain point I was feeling like I had to decide if I was going to keep going or if I was going to give it up.
I went to Farm Sanctuary to check in with the animals, since that was who I was doing it all for anyway. There was this rescued turkey there, who ran up to me and let me pet him. He closed his eyes and purred, pushing his head up into my hand, like a cat. After that moment, I never doubted my decision to go vegan, ever again.
Thank you, dear turkey. Here’s to a future where Thanksgiving is about gratitude for a good harvest, not about hurting sweet little people like you and all the other animals we humans tend to forget love peace and good food just as much as we do.
Photo: Rhonda, a rescued turkey
Today is International Respect for Chickens Day, and I would like to voice my respect, love, and admiration for chickens. I am so happy I went vegan, because I went from feeling guilty and confused about these birds, to feeling like they’re my sisters, who I should get to know. And you know, they’re pretty awesome.
Peace and love to everyone of all species! Here’s to a peaceful future.