"Animals are my friends... and I don't eat my friends." -George Bernard Shaw
Urbanite turned mountain girl. Compassionate vegan & foodie. Raising a veggie baby in an omnivorous world. Sharing the journey with @bsidesnarrative.
Okay, I need to take a step back. There was a time when this gal right here, BoulderVegan, was not vegan. Nor have I resided in Boulder for very long. I moved here from my hometown of Chicago in early 2009. Neither of these facts should come as a surprise, as vegans aren’t ‘born’ vegan and most people in Boulder are from somewhere else.
Now for a step even further back: I was extremely fortunate to grow up in a household where my parents actually valued healthy eating. My mother, in the ‘70s, was breastfeeding me and making homemade baby food while banning junk food from the house. She was that lady, the one who handed out toothbrushes on Halloween. No, really, she handed out toothbrushes on Halloween! We never, and I mean never, ate fast food. People thought she was crazy- and in that time, at that place, she was in fact crazy. When I was in grade school, I hesitated to invite friends over to play because my house had all the ‘embarrassing’ snacks: fresh cut fruit, seaweed crackers, rice cakes topped with all-natural peanut butter- the kind that you actually have to stir, oh the horror- and for very special occasions, carob-covered raisins.
I preferred to play elsewhere, where the Moms would give us candy, ice cream, chips covered in neon ‘cheese,’ ‘Pop’ (Midwest, remember?), and when I was lucky enough to sleep over, bowls of sugar-covered cereal for breakfast. These ‘foods’ were so foreign- and delicious to me.
Believe me, I do take this into consideration when I think about raising my kid on unprocessed, vegan food. Will his eyes also light up the first time he eats Doritos at a friend’s house? Probably. Despite living in Boulder, where ‘real food’ is a mainstream topic and food-restricted diets are the norm, ours is still very much an uphill battle.
After all, kids do rebel. Right?
Confession: after a childhood devoid of sugar, processed, and fast foods, sodas and neon cheese, you’d think it’d be a cakewalk into adulthood. Nope. I used to be a pretty miserable example of health.
I smoked cigarettes and binge-drank my way though college and my 20s, I used tanning beds, microwaved my meals, and lived a rather sedentary lifestyle overall. I remember in college eating candy for dinner and boxed Mac’n’Cheese for breakfast. I’d eat pizza at 4:00 in the morning, skip meals all together. I remember joking once that I’d get Scurvy if not for the lime in my Vodka tonic, that’s how devoid my life was of fresh produce. How did this happen? Well, like I said, kids rebel. It’s inevitable. I suppose my parents were lucky I didn’t rebel in much worse ways, but it was also so discouraging for them to see me take such a toll on my health for the better part of a decade.
Should I assume Charlie will also rebel? I haven’t ruled it out as a possibility, that’s for sure. Look, I can only do my best and educate him and send him out into the world with enough info to be able to make decisions on his own. We have a long road ahead of us and I will take this journey day by day.
All I know is this: I am where I am today because of my Mom and her crazy ways. Yet, I feel like I benefited from that that “health hiatus” to discover my own point of view. I found my way and here I am, exactly where I belong, crazier now than my Mom at her craziest. And I can only thank her for educating me, for developing my taste buds and teaching me to eat healthy at such a young age. I don’t think I can hold my views and values so near and dear, however, if not for that bout of rebellion.
I earned this BoulderVegan label and I wear it proudly.
As soon as Charlie turned 6-months-old, he was introduced to solid foods. I couldn’t wait to feed him actual food. I’d been exclusively breastfeeding him since day one and I was ready to expand the kid’s palette- and allow others to finally help with mealtimes.
I thought for sure he was ready. It’s got to get pretty boring to eat… I mean, to drink the same thing every day, all day long, for 6 months. Surprisingly, the first weeks of food introductions didn’t go so well. I was excited and in turn spent so much time preparing organic sweet potatoes and bananas, smashing lentils and beans and steaming up vegetables. I expected him to just go crazy for all of these new tastes!
I remember the day I fed him his first bite of actual food. It was Mother’s Day. There was no gift I wanted more than to feed my baby homemade food. I prepared his first meal- mashed avocados- while @bsidesnarrative got the multiple cameras ready. We tucked him into his seat and loaded up his little spoon with avocado. He took a big bite… and the expression on his face turned from happy to pure horror. He spit the avocado out and started to cry. It was the first time he had tasted anything besides breast milk. Let’s just say he was not a fan.
I’ve read that it can take multiple times for a baby to take to new foods, so I wasn’t discouraged. In fact, we played this game every day until Charlie turned about 9-months-old. Suddenly, one day, he was just ready. I was eating black beans and I gave him one, expecting him to spit it out as usual, but he ate it and asked for more- a first!
Now he’ll literally eat anything and I’m obsessed with feeding him. He wants whatever we’re eating, so not only does it force us to make wise decisions with every single meal, but it also challenges his little taste buds as well. We’re known in our house to eat some pretty intensely flavored things, hummus with raw garlic, roasted chilies, Moroccan chickpea stew. We use Indian and Thai and Mexican spices and our little guy loves it all- no matter the spice! So along with motivating us to eat real food at every meal, he also motivates us to get creative, to cook every night.
Raising a veggie baby, I get asked the same question constantly:
“What about cow’s milk after he weans? You can’t deprive him of that?”
I won’t go into too much detail here- that’s for another post- but the short answer is this: I will never regret having a dairy-free baby. Just like I won’t regret depriving him of the milk from any mammal other than me. And when he does wean, there are so many exciting options.
I’ve been very into making homemade milks from nuts and seeds lately. My favorite so far is almond milk, but I’m playing with hemp, coconut, sesame seeds, and cashews. I’d ultimately like to create something- a hybrid of all of the above, perhaps- that’s super rich and nutritious and can be a great all-purpose drink to fill in the gaps in Charlie’s diet.
Here’s a quick and easy recipe for homemade almond milk. I only make a little bit at a time, as due to its rawness it only keeps in the fridge for a few days- that’s what the lack of preservatives and pasteurization will do! We finish every drop in our house anyway. It’s that good!
Soak, overnight, 1/2-cup raw almonds in a bowl. Just cover with enough water- about 2-3 inches over the nuts.
After soaking, drain and rinse.
A note about the blender— I use the the most valuable tool in a vegan’s kitchen— a Vitamix blender. If you don’t have one, I think a regular blender will work just fine, but you may have to blend a little longer and strain out any pulp— no biggie.
Place in blender in this order:
1 1/2 cups of iced cold filtered water.
1/2 tablespoon real vanilla extract- I use Tahitian Vanilla from Savory Spice Shop in Boulder, CO
1/8 teaspoon Himalayan salt
3 Medjool dates, pitted
Add the soaked almonds
Blend on high for 2 minutes and there you have it: homemade almond milk. It’s raw, organic, vegan, cheap to make, and delicious!
I love and respect food. I also love and respect animals. Personally and ethically, I have made the decision to become vegan.
Though I’ve only officially made the transition to full veganism about 3 years ago, I’ve always struggled with how it’s ok to eat some animals and then let others live in our homes and be part of our family. It never made sense to me.
Let me make one thing clear: I respect my Omnivorous friends and family. I love dining with each of them. I love cooking with them. We have a shared appreciation for what’s on our plates, whether mine is braised kale and heirloom tomatoes fresh from the farmers market or yours is grass-fed, locally-raised beef from a farm 20-miles away.
There is a consciousness that comes along with being a true foodie. I’m against factory farming. I’m against processed food. I’m against ingredients we can’t pronounce. I’m against fad diets and any movement that treats food as if it’s “sinful” or used as a “reward” for being ‘good.’ All in all, I’m against anything that serves to disrespect food.
I’m not a junk-food vegan. I don’t eat deep-fried Oreos (yes, they’re vegan) or processed-soy lunchmeats on refined breads drowning in vegan cheese and mayo. I don’t fuel myself on the “fakery” that is out there. I’m all about fresh, organic, raw when possible, unrefined REAL food. I’d rather see my Omni-friends eating that beef I described above than a genetically modified soy monstrosity that is vegan, yet is trying to emulate beef.
True foodies can be Vegans or they can be Omnivores. If we respect where our food comes from, understand HOW it gets to our plate, ask questions, demand that we are given safe, clean, organic, affordable fresh food, then we are all in this journey together, aren’t we?
This blog is the story my meals create with my family. They happen to be vegan, yes, but really they are about a love and appreciation of food.