(All the photos are of plant-based dishes and illustrate how you can eat as a vegan)
6 years ago, after having watched a documentary about how animals are abused and killed in factory farming, I realized I could no longer contribute to this industry. At the time, I had a thriving blog where I wrote about traditional Norwegian food, I was a chef and owner of a catering company serving animal-based dishes and had a meat loving chef-husband. How on earth could I transition, how drastically would my life change? It was all too overwhelming and scary to think about.
Admittedly I was selfishly thinking about all the delicious dishes I would have to give up. No more meatballs, pizza, ice cream or cheese. These were foods I both loved to eat and cook with. Would I have to get used to eating boring, bland vegetables and go hungry and feel unsatisfied on a daily basis? And what about my readers, customers and life partner, how would they react to my announcement? As you can see, I had a lot on the line.
Like most other people, I had been taught from a very young age to distance myself from farm animals, as if they didn’t have the same personalities and abilities to feel, love and live as my cats and horses I grew up with. Somehow they were in a class of their own, and we weren’t supposed to show too much affection or understanding for them.
Incredibly enough, as children we didn’t really question it, even though sometimes it felt odd to eat the chickens I saw in our barn or the ducks my dad brought home as ducklings. These beings were so cute running around, and now all of a sudden they were gone and on our dinner plate.
Later on in life, there were countless occasions when I just shut my computer off if I saw a video clip of animals being treated badly, thinking hard about how I could justify continuing to eat them. We need meat to survive, right? But it never did feel very good or true. Even so, I pushed these uncomfortable thoughts further and further away until I could look at myself again in the mirror. Until one day I couldn’t.
In September of 2013 I made the overnight decision that I would no longer consume meat, fish, dairy, eggs or honey after having watched part of the movie Earthling (I couldn’t finish it). It didn’t matter that I thought all the skills I had learned in culinary school were no longer going to be useful, as they were all centered around chicken, beef, pork and milk products. I couldn’t imagine producing an exciting dish from beans, grains and tofu. It seemed as if my creative brain was spent.
In hindsight, I’m grateful for my classic training. I am better able to produce plant-based replicas of animal-based dishes because I know what they taste like and how they are made. This gives me a better understanding what flavors, textures and experience people who would like to transition, are looking for.
As I grew more confident playing around with plant-based ingredients, my world started opening up and my choices expanded. How could I have thought that I would be “limited” as a vegan, when there are hundreds and thousands of plants to play with, and only about 5 choices in the animal world? If you’re an omnivore, think about how many different foods you eat – pretty much just chicken, fish and eggs right? How varied is that?
Vegan chefs are among the most creative people I know. Once your body gets used to plants, your taste buds really open up, your energy soars, mood lifts and consequently, you get inspired to create.
Still not convinced? Just take a look at the photos scattered all over in this blog post and let me know if you think these dishes are sad-looking. I may have gone a bit overboard with the pictures, but I felt it was necessary to paint a picture of how vivid, colorful and glorious plant based foods are.
Vegan meals I’ve created and perfected include spicy curries, frittatas, omelettes, creamy pastas, pulled ‘pork’ tacos, enchiladas, cheesy nachos, smoked ‘salmon’, pate, cheese, ‘fish’ n chips, burgers, meatballs, linguine with ‘scallops’, ‘crab’ cakes, ‘fish’ au gratin, meringue, cheesecakes, cinnamon buns, black & white cookies, chocolate mousse, cream puffs, marzipan cakes and so much more.
100% delicious with 0% animal-based ingredients.
I decided I would become a ‘kitchen animal advocate’ by creating incredible dishes that would make even the biggest skeptic to veganism a fan. To show people how fun, tasty and exciting it is to discover new ingredients and dishes to enjoy every single day. To demystify what it means to not eating meat, that vegans want for nothing and that everything we’ve been taught about not eating our animal friends is not scary or restrictive. Perhaps through my food, I can challenge people to start thinking about things from a different angle, opening their minds to something unfamiliar, and as a result, feel inspired, motivated and encouraged to make a change. A change that will benefit people’s health, the environment and of course, the lives of animals.
My husband is still a meat eater, but he has switched from drinking cow’s milk to almond milk, and he loves my vegan mayo. He will not only eat everything I cook for us, but he also enjoys it immensely and gets inspiration for dishes he in turn creates for his job. By shining my light and being an example of this lifestyle, I influence and inspire others, including my husband. Not by nagging, begging or convincing, but by showing him that my life has become richer, not poorer, as a vegan.
If there is one suggestion I could make if you’re considering making a change, is to not worry about what others think.
It’s time to start living for you, besides most of what you fear will not happen anyway. We always make it tougher in our minds than what the reality is, because we haven’t been shown a different way. But as someone once told me, there are a million ways to do the dishes – perhaps you could entertain a different way today and see what happens? If you don’t try, you will never find out how gratifying it can be.
I am in no way, shape or form writing this to shame anyone who is still eating meat or any other animal-based products. Rather, I want to share my experience and story to let you know I’ve thought and gone through everything you have. I was once also blind to, and unaware of, what is really going on in our food industry.
I truly believe that nobody knowingly and willingly wants to harm another being. But belief patterns, traditions, habits and behaviors can be hard to break up from; because that means that part of you will die or change. What you believed in for so long, is actually no longer true. It takes a lot of courage to stand up for yourself and the animals, but I’ve yet met one person who told me they regretted becoming vegan. They only wish they did it sooner.
If you are plant curious and think you would be interested in some more information, support and encouragement to make a step towards going plant-based or vegan, get in touch! I would love to help. Visit my ‘work with me’ tab on my website, send me a message l or check out my recipe e-books
These are all tools that will help give you a better understanding of how exciting plant-based food and living really is. It’s only natural that when you discover something fantastic, amazing and life changing, you want others to have the same experience. Will you finally make a brave step today?