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Helen Bennett Harvey promises that no animals were harmed in the making of this blog. Vegging Out is a recipe for a new way of life. Or at least a new way of eating. Pull up a chair. Contact me at:

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Raising a Vegan Family In A “Non-Vegan World”

By Lisa, The Vegan Mom

My son Alex is 10 and my daughter Ava is 4, and they have been living free from animal products for over a year. Thankfully they both enjoy many veggies, as well as brown rice, whole wheat breads and pasta, beans, fruit and lots of other healthy stuff!

I am also thrilled that they are totally on board with the “not eating animals” thing!!! I know that many kids would pass out if they had to give up pork chops, bbq chicken and steak!!! But not my little Vegans! They are proof that children can physically thrive on a plant based diet and be completely content doing so!
My family could honestly be the “poster family” for Vegan living! All four of us are on board, including my husband. We love that our bodies are healthier, our foot prints on this Earth are lighter and no more animals will suffer for our meals, fashion or beauty products. My family is proud to live cruelty free!
Although becoming Vegan is truly one of the best decisions that we have ever made, I can’t tell people how great it is raising a Vegan or Vegetarian family, without being honest about some of the obstacles we encounter. These obstacles should not sway anyone from choosing this lifestyle, but instead prepare them for a few bumps in the road.
One issue is school lunches!!! I mean, would it kill our schools to have a Vegan option…. other than an ice-burg lettuce salad & PB&J?!?! The food they feed these children is horrible!! Lots of ham, cheese, sausage, fried chicken….. the list goes on!! I’m not even sure if there is actually any chicken in the “pop corn” chicken served in most cafeterias! Is it a surprise that so many kids are overweight and on their way to a lifetime of health issues? I truly hope that our nation’s schools will begin to make some “real” changes in our children’s cafeterias. The school systems need to realize that “food is health & good health begins with what we eat”!! I pack my son’s lunch on most days, but I won’t lie, it is tough to be creative every day. Some mornings I feel a bit overwhelmed, but fortunately there are a lot of great books that offer me inspiration.
The toughest obstacle for Vegan families is eating out. We have a few restaurants in our area that truly cater to our dietary needs, so we frequent those places. Once we venture out a little farther, we have to be careful of where we stop to eat. I find that most ethnic restaurants like, Asian, Indian, Mexican and Italian are good bets. They use a lot of veggies, beans and pasta. Just beware of egg noodles and creamy sauces & dressings. Ask questions about how the food is prepared!! Believe it or not, there are a few good phone apps that can let you know of Vegetarian and Vegan friendly restaurants in the area. Gotta love technology! Also, be sure to pack lots of healthy snacks for your outings, this way you won’t be pressured to constantly stop for food.
Of course there is also the issue of other children questioning, or making fun of Vegans & Vegetarians. The problem is, they don’t understand this type of diet, so they mock it. They might say, “Where do you get your protein” or “Meat is the most important part of the food pyramid” or “Vegans are weak & meat makes you strong”!!! Fortunately, my son is strong and he stands his ground, and recently a few of his friends have said that they would like to be a Vegetarian or Vegan just like him! I love this! The trick is to make your children feel proud of their Veg lifestyle and other people will be drawn to their positive “vibe” and influence! Alex has recently received his 1st degree Black Belt in karate, and he passed all of the the vigorous physical & mental testing with flying colors!
Knowledge is power, so children should be taught about the many benefits, a Vegan diet offers. My son loves the fact that his immune system is so strong and his cardio endurance has greatly increased!! He also realizes that his risk of obesity, diabetes, and certain types of cancers are greatly DECREASED!!! Most factory farmed animals are pumped with steroids, antibiotics and other toxins, which have been proven to negatively effect human health.
My children also realize that a plant based diet is much kinder to the Earth, and that the “United Nations” has recently stated that a Vegan diet is vital for the future of well being of our planet, “A global diet free of meat and dairy is necessary for the world to mitigate the worst effects of climate change”.
I also believe that parents should not hide the truth about factory farming and animal cruelty from their children. Of course you don’t want to be graphic and emotionally scar them. But both of my kids realize that farmed animals are not happy, and they are often in pain and neglected. The media paints such a pretty picture of farmed animals, and many people don’t have a clue about what actually goes on, before they have that glass of milk, chicken nugget or scrambled egg. I recommend taking your kids to visit a local farm sanctuary. Spending time with these beautiful, gentle creatures, will really help your family “make the connection” between human being & animal.
A trick for Vegan parents, is to always have tasty, healthy snacks in the house and not be afraid of baking!! I bake a few times a week, so my kids always have something sweet after dinner. We buy very little processed snack food at the store.
Another trick is READ, READ, READ!! Blogs, magazines, books, etc…… There are so many great ideas for Vegan families! I never leave home without my newest cookbook or copy of VEG NEWS. It is important for me to have the extra support that they offer!
Raising a Veggie loving family can be tough at times, but just remember that you are offering your children a future that is full of compassion and optimum health. You are teaching them respect for living creatures and the Earth we live on. Being Vegan is “bigger” than just not eating meat, dairy & eggs. Veganism is a “Movement” and Vegans are truly “Enlightened” human beings. Our children will carry this enlightenment with them throughout their entire lives and because of this, they will help in changing our world….

Editor's note: Vegging Out is delighted to have this guest blog from Lisa, the Vegan Mom. Learn more about her lifestyle and life with vegan kids here.


Thursday, August 26, 2010

Seeking vegetarian recipes

Do I dare admit it?
Sometimes being a vegetarian can be boring.
I take full responsibility for this, as I know I work very hard and have lots of non-work responsibilities too but that’s no excuse. Lots of folks balance it all, grow their own food and eat well without taking shortcuts.
I take shortcuts.
That means not many breakfasts made in my house. At least not by me. Don’t get me wrong - I love pancakes as much as the next person - but think of all those carbs. Plus, the five people who live there are all on different schedules and any cooking is usually done late and never early.
So if I am going to make something vegetarian lately, fast and simple is the key word in any recipe. And I am trying to avoid - for now anyway - anything that contains wheat or yeast. (including cereal)
That means egg-white omelettes are a staple - with lots of veggies tossed in. I tend to buy frozen, then mix them up and store overnight in fridge, so they cook quickly if I make something in the morning.
Yet, there is nothing so exciting in a veggie omelette.
Especially if that also serves as dinner. And if often does, if my older daughter, who is a kitchen whiz, decides not to make one of her specialties, such as vegetarian curry.
That brings me to the point of this post.
Does anyone have a quick and easy vegetarian recipe they would like to share?
If so, send it along to and we will post it here.
We know there are lots of committed vegetarians out there and we would love to share what you know.

And what you eat!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

What becomes a legend?

Have you met Claire Criscuolo?
If not, I think you should.
She is the food maven who for more than a quarter century has made a downtown New Haven block a destination for foodies and vegetarians. Her restaurant is legendary and it draws kudos that is well deserved.
But Claire also shares what she knows and she knows a lot. She wants people to have healthful options and in addition to having those options at Claire's Corner Copia, she writes a regular column and with her friendly voice, gives readers inspiration to make good choice.
Here is her latest, it's on gardening.
A recipe is included.

P.S. Claire also is the author of “Claire’s Corner Copia Cookbook” and “Claire’s Italian Feast.”


Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Vegan school drop out

I tried but I could not do it.
I am not sure when or even why eating in general took on a civic meaning, but for me it has and I can’t escape it.
I believe that if more people ate less meat, more people would eat. Period.
Taking this to the next step, it seemed only natural that the benefit of not eating meat would be multiplied by subtracting other animal-based products from my diet.
I gave it my best shot. No milk, no cheese, no eggs. You get the picture. I did it.
But I could not stick with it.
The amount of organization it takes is extraordinary.
The amount of sacrifice it takes is...well, let’s just say it goes beyond giving up a typical birthday cake. (My husband spent $40 on a vegan one)
I have waited to admit it but felt I must: I gave up my short-lived vegan ways and while I am sticking to a vegetarian diet, I have added back milk-based items and eggs.
I know I could be accused of simply being lazy and I accept that as true. But the vegan lifestyle was a lot of work and, frankly, I truly missed having eggs. I try whenever possible to eat only cage-free eggs (yes, I know this is no panacea) and I do love eggs.
There. That’s done.