My name is Ashley, and I am as passionate about cooking as I am about animals. I first tried vegetarianism about seven years ago after watching Food, Inc. and becoming aware of the health benefits of the diet. I stuck with it for about five years, occasionally deciding that a bite of sushi couldn’t hurt, or that I cared less about my health on a given day than I did about some cheese pizza.
A few years later, I got into weight lifting. Fueled by articles from bodybuilding.com and fully caught up in the trendy “Macro counting” or IIFYM (“If It Fits Your Macros”) diet, I became convinced that to look healthy and fit I needed to lift heavy and eat my body weight in protein every day. This diet is essentially advanced calorie counting, in which one tracks their intake of carbs, fats, and proteins (macronutrients) to achieve a particular intake of each macronutrient. I started weighing all my foods down to the gram (not very fun), and slowly started to eat meat again because the foods I loved on my vegetarian diet were simply too high carbohydrate and “too low protein.”
I lost some fat and gained some muscle, but not much. I “had” to go very low carb while keeping my protein intake unnecessarily high. I got married and looked great in my wedding dress, but I wasn’t enjoying my food much anymore.
This was the rub: I never really loved the feeling of eating meat, eggs, and dairy, but I was “supposed” to eat those foods. And I was constantly tired from low-carb dieting, and craved the delicious starchy and satisfying foods I used to eat: hearty oatmeal bowls, fruit-packed smoothies, soups and stews, pastas and veggie tacos.
While I was living the low-carb life, I also didn’t like that there always seemed to be some sort of dead “someone” on my plate in order for me to hit my protein intake for the day. My husband and I got a dog, a little French Bulldog named Tobi. I fell head over heels in love with him. Soon, the inconsistency between so adoring my puppy and eating animals at nearly every meal really started to bother me.
I watched Earthlings, and listened a great book called “Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs, and Wear Cows” by Dr. Melanie Joy. As I listened to this book on my morning commute, I would ugly cry at the horrifying details of how all the “someones” I had eaten came to be on my plate. I vaguely knew some of this before, but to truly understand it all and know, for example, that sweet pigs are just as intelligent and aware as my little Tobi (they may actually be smarter) made me ready to swear off meat and animal products for good. I don’t want to participate in the needless suffering of countless animals, and this has become my true “why” for plant-based eating.
I also watched many health-oriented documentaries (see my Vegucational Resources) for more information, which provided bountiful evidence that I needed nowhere near the amount of protein I thought; indeed, this may actually be harmful to our health. Fueled with this new knowledge, I became fully committed to a plant-centered approach to eating.
I designed this blog with the intention of making delcious, plant-based dishes that you can feed to vegetarians, vegans, and omnivores alike. Many of my family members adhere entirely to the Standard American Diet (“SAD,” always makes me chuckle at the irony), so these recipes needed to be top notch items I would share with my own family to show them how abundant and flavorful vegan food can be.
The best part about this approach to food, besides the countless animals saved, is that I have never for a second felt deprived. I absolutely adore eating this way, and hope you and your family will try it too. You certainly don’t have to do it all at once (I know I didn’t), just give it a try a few nights a week. Come lift your dish with me!