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Going to the vegan side

(post, Tiffanie McCoy)

I've been on a long strange culinary journey the last few years. I started out as a farm child, growing and eating all manner of flora and fauna, raised in the tradition of French country cooking. After college, I became largely vegetarian, with occasional trips to sushi-land and steak-land. I'm not a fanatic, I just feel better when I avoid meat. If I get hung up on the thought of steak or pancetta or french onion soup, I just go find some and get it out of my system.

Then, a day or so after my first child was born (a little over two years ago), my husband announced he was going vegan. He'd just read The China Study, which is a fine book about nutrition. I was a little irked (I do love the cheese) at the thought of having to cook specially for him when my life was busy enough already, but I agreed to read some of the book and keep an open mind.

I did find the science to be well-thought out and substantive (I was a physics nerd back in college), so I decided to try out the vegan life, with my usual caveat of eating whatever I want if I'm getting obsessive. I was really worried about desserts -- vegan baked goods sounded mythical to me. How in the world can you bake a good cake without butter and eggs? And cookies? And puddings? And what do you eat for lunch if you can't fall back on a cheese sandwich?

Two years on, and I can honestly say I'm happy as a (mostly) vegan. I eat a very wide variety of vegetables, the recipes are interesting and tasty, and we're raising a toddler who likes to eat so many different foods! It helps that we live in California, with access to so much produce year round, and that we haven't yet found an ethnic food we dislike. My current focus is on vegan Japanese food, since I just bought a cookbook by Miyoko Nishimoto Schinner on that topic. I'll be writing more about my adventures with Japanese food later.

I never expected that going vegan would have expanded my horizons so much; the usual reaction when people find out you are vegan is to exclaim about all the foods you are missing out on. :-) So far from the truth!