Since all I tend to do around here is post recipes and yammer on about myself… I thought it would be great to use this platform to introduce you guys to a fellow blogger: “The Veggie Gal”, Kim Newman.
Kim is not only a wonderful cook, she has also become one of my good friends (even if she does live hundreds of miles away!). I don’t know how she keeps up with her busy schedule and still remain an excellent advocate for delicious vegan food, but she manages to do so beautifully!
I also appreciate how different her approach to eating is than mine… she tends to stick to the “low fat” side of things, and I tend to eat a pretty “high fat” diet. But, we both agree on one thing: good food is worth talking about! Or in our case, blogging about.
And, because it’s fun, and we love the vegan community so darned much, Kim and I decided to give each other interviews! You can find mine here.
Keep reading for my interview with Kim. The pictures of her delicious foods are linked directly to her recipes… just click on em!
Why did you go vegan in the first place?
I had been a vegetarian for over 25 years, but cheese and ice cream were such a big deal to me, that I always just avoided learning about the horrible treatment of the dairy cows, how their housing affects the environment, and how horrible dairy is for our health. That all changed when I had my 3rd child- because at age 2 she was diagnosed with autism and JRA which was extremely debilitating to her on top of already having Down syndrome. I studied everything I could on health and the treatment of those two disorders. I found that dairy is one of the worst foods anyone can consume, and the affects on someone with autism and JRA are even greater. I then read The China Study and was forever changed. I switched over to veganism right away and my daughter and I have not touched any animal food since.
What changes physically and mentally have you noticed since going vegan?
One of the most exciting things for me right off was that I lost 35 lbs in just under 4 months without even trying! I had just had a baby 6 months earlier and the weight was not budging… but then, wham, it just fell off. Within a few more months I could see better and didn’t need my glasses anymore to see my microwave across the room! I no longer have heartburn and never have constipation! My cholesterol went from being 221 to 140 and all my labs are perfect! I wish I could say I was taller and had more money too, but it does not cure everything! :)
What types of criticism, if any, do you encounter for leading a vegan lifestyle?
This biggest thing that people worry about is me getting enough calcium and protein. I always tell them to read The China Study! I have had several well meaning people including aunts and grandparents say that they really worry about my kids getting enough protein. It gets really old, but I explain that most Americans actually get too much protein; and excess protein causes things from osteoporosis to cancer. Some people listen and want to know more, and others’ eyes glaze over and you know it is not worth wasting your time. Another thing people almost always say is “what do you eat?” and that is one reason I started my blog.
Are your family members vegan, and if not, how do you manage with omnivores/vegetarians in the house at mealtimes?
Originally my daughter and I were the first, but when my youngest son was old enough to start solids after breastfeeding, I told my meat-eating husband that I wanted to raise our son vegan and he immediately agreed. My husband has watched and learned a lot through my journey and is on board with us raising the kids vegan, but he has not committed 100%. He did do a 21 day vegan trial and he lost 10 lbs and his cholesterol dropped 15 points! His blood pressure was in the perfect range as well and he stopped having all the heart burn too. The problem is my 18 year old son is a meat eater as well, and will bring things into the house that tempt my husband. He still loves his pizza, hamburgers, and steak but is eating those foods less and less often. He did tell me he is interested in trying vegan again soon. My 16 year old daughter switched over to vegan 6 months after I switched because of my wonderful changes. She is dedicated to the lifestyle and will never return to consuming animal products. It can be difficult having meat eaters in the house; mostly because they might cook some meat and it smells just horrible to me and is disgusting to look at. My family is very good about it, though, because they know I don’t want it any where near my food, and they don’t eat it that often in the house.
Which blogs/bloggers/other vegans most inspire you?
I love your Manifest Vegan website so much because it has all the wonderful gluten free recipes. I have my youngest daughter on a gluten free diet and finding gluten free and vegan websites are pretty hard. Your website has been one of my favorites since it came on the scene! I also love Fat Free Vegan because she follows a low fat vegan diet, which I try to do as well but fail miserably sometimes. I love dessert!!
Happy Herbivore is another great low fat vegan website that I enjoy as well. BUT I think all of us vegan bloggers are inspiring because the work it takes to research recipes, shop for them, cook them, take creative and beautiful pictures of them, edit those photos, post them on our blogs and then try and promote that post is huge… not to mention the passion for our art and dedication to ourselves, our family and our choice.
The non blog vegans I love are of course Ellen first and foremost because she is bringing veganism to the masses and showing people that it is not a weird tree hugger thing to do, but a healthy and kind thing for yourself, the world, and the animals. I think anyone with eyes can see that she has become even more radiant and beautiful since her diet change, and doesn’t everyone want that?!! Even though Oprah is not vegan I love that she has brought it to the masses too. All the vegan doctors like Dr. John McDougall, Dr. Neal Barnard, Dr. T. Collin Campbell, Dr. Joel Fuhrman are doing an amazing job at spreading the word, and offer such wonderful information for anyone interested in being more healthy. I think with the epidemic of obesity, cancer, heart disease and diabetes everyone should be reading their books!
Did you find it difficult to “go vegan”, if so, what advice would you give to those trying to transition into the vegan lifestyle?
Its funny because I can be the biggest procrastinator and indecisive person, but for some weird reason whenever it has come to (first being a vegetarian and now) being a vegan- once I dedicate myself to it, is all or nothing. I became a vegetarian at 16 years old and did it completely alone with no knowledge of other vegetarians. I withstood the criticism I got from all my high school friends and worried family. Once I learned about the extreme detriment to one’s health through consuming animal products, I was done! I can say, though, that I did miss cheese and ice cream in the first few months. Not enough to cheat… but just the memory of the richness it had. I have found some wonderful substitutes for both and now I never even miss it. I think everyone is so different in how they make changes that they need to do what works best for them. If they are “all or nothing” just go into the kitchen and throw it all out and stay away from temptation for a few months until the addiction is released from your cells. If you can’t do it that way, go to blogs like ours and try “meat free Monday” and then move on to adding “meat free Friday” and so on. Once people see that it is not just about eating carrot sticks and beans they might be more open to the switch. There are also the videos – that for me are just so hard to watch – like “Meat your Meat”, “Earthlings”, “Food Inc.” and so on. Watching that should change just about any one’s thoughts… at least some!
Do you always try and eat low fat/ non fat vegan foods?
The key word here is “try”, I am not perfect!! I love dessert too much and am not strict about it when I eat out. I would love to be what some call a “McDougaller” 100% of the time but I have my weaknesses and I feed a family that just won’t go “fat free” all the way. I do believe that added fats in the form of oils are very bad for your health, and I try and avoid them where I can.
What types of tips/tricks would you offer to those of us vegans that also want to strive to have low fat/ fat free vegan foods?
The best tip is: instead of baking with oil use applesauce and when you sauté, just use vegetable broth or a really good non stick pan and dry fry. You can cut tons of calories and fat by doing those things.
What are your pantry staples?
Rice, potatoes, onions, garlic, canned beans, canned tomatoes, dry pasta and lots of spices. You can make so many dishes with just those ingredients. I actually try and not have things like chocolate chips, flour or sugar because you also can make tons of things with those, and I can get myself into trouble :)
What new things have you learned since you first started your blog?
Photography matters!!! I had never thought twice about lighting, background or decor but, wow, it really can make a difference. You can see the difference in my old photos vs. my new ones. I am actually slowly replacing the old ones because I am actually embarrassed about how bad they are.
Any foods off limits because you aspire to have a low fat diet, or do you adhere to the “everything in moderation” motto?
I don’t make anything off limits that is vegan and treat myself when I really want something. I try hard to eat well most of the time and when I splurge I try not to feel guilty about it. I am probably 80-20 most of the time.
Do you think you’ll be a vegan for life?
ABSOLUTELY! I could never ever ever eat the decomposing flesh of an animal ever again! Also, since learning what I learned about the health benefits and the horrible truths about animal based products, I would never subject myself to those things again; not to mention the terror that the animals go through to feed people. I want no part of that and hope everyone will open his or her eyes one day.
Can you list a typical daily meal plan? Like breakfast, lunch, dinner?
Breakfast: I rotate dry whole grain cereal with rice milk, hash browns, and oatmeal around most of the time. I might make pancakes or waffles on the weekend for the whole family, though.
Lunch: I try and make enough dinner to have left-overs (lazy…and raising 4 kids) but I also love salad baked potatoes, they are quick, easy and tasty.
Dinner: I try hard to rotate dinners and always have at least one new thing a week, but sometimes I get stuck in a rut of the same types of things like everyone does. Our favorites right now are; vegan crunch wraps, spaghetti, lasagna, soup & sandwiches.
Snacks: grapes or other fruit or smoothie, but if I had something naughty in the house I’m bound to reach for that (like chips, left over muffins or cookies)
In a nutshell, Kim is a pretty awesome gal! Thanks so much, Kim!
For those of you just getting acquainted… find out more here: