Three months ago if someone would have asked me to stop eating cheese, I would have responded with a nasty glare, a shriveled lip and said something to the effect of "Why would I ever do that?". In just that short amount of time, shorter actually, only about 2 months, I have become educated and aware and have made choices that will change our lives. Baxter and I have moved to a plant-based diet. At first, we were happy with just becoming vegetarian, but after further research (I'd be happy to share with those who are interested), we have moved to only plant-based foods.
As I was researching a vegan diet and it's benefits, I found some amazing recipes and suggestions from Lindsay S. Nixon, author of Happy Herbivore, Everday Happy Herbivore and newly-released Happy Herbivore Abroad. Not only was I elated when her new book was published, but I immediately responded when she asked who would like to participate in her blog tour. Lindsay's recipe's in Happy Herbivore Abroad are amazing and include flavors from all over the world. My favorite recipe so far has to be the bread pudding (England) on page 156! It is so easy to make and the ingredients are things most people already have in their kitchen. Another nice feature of the book is that Lindsay includes stories of how the recipes developed and how her travels around the world have changed her as a person - an idea most people who live on a boat (aka cruisers) can identify with.
Over the last 24 months, we have spent a considerable amount of time living on our 37-foot sailboat, Stella Blue, traveling up and down the east coast, through the South Pacific (aboard Mahina Tiare III) and from Florida down to the southern Exumas so I have a particular interest in how a plant-based diet adapts on a boat. I know many cruisers who have limited refrigeration, limited storage space and of course, everyone would like to eat a bit healthier. I asked Lindsay about those issues and more in our interview. As a note, Lindsay is giving away a free-copy of her new Happy Herbivore Abroad to one of our blog readers. Just post a comment below and I will draw a winner on Friday, 12/7/12.
Have you always been a vegetarian, or what inspired you to move to a plant-based diet? I was a vegetarian for most of my life, but lapsed back to meat-eating in my late teens due to family pressure and peer pressure. A serious health scare in my early 20's brought me back to a vegetarian diet and about a year later I adopted a totally plant-based (vegan) diet. I was motivated mainly for health reasons, but I also care about the environment and am moved by the plight of farm animals.
What is your favorite aspect of cooking plant-based recipes?
I don't have to worry about food born illness when cooking. I used to be so fearful that I didn't cook meat enough, or I'd get sick from eating cookie batter, or that I didn't clean my cutting board sufficiently after chopping up chicken and following with onions. I don't have to worry about those things anymore!
What do you find the most difficult aspect of eating vegan?
There's nothing really difficult about eating a plant-based diet. It may not always be the most convenient option, but I'd rather a little less convenience if it means better health.
Do you have an ultimate favorite recipe?
Asking a chef what their favorite recipe is, is like asking a parent to pick their favorite child :)
What do you consider your staples for your recipes?
The basics: vegetables, fruits, beans and legumes, whole grains and plenty of spices!
What advice could you offer to someone who would like to follow a plant-based diet but does not have refrigeration?
I imagine it would be difficult following any diet -- specifically one with meat, dairy and eggs -- without refrigeration (since those foods MUST be refrigerated). The good news is that fruits and vegetables do not require refrigeration. Similarly, dry grains like rice, and dried beans and lentils are shelf-stable. You can also buy shelf-stable tofu.
Do you feel like you sacrifice any part of your diet by not eating animal-protein?
No. I feel like I only benefit. I eat a much wider range of food now on a plant-based diet than I ever did as an omnivore. Plus nothing tastes as good as being plant-based feels. It's such an amazing feeling -- you can't get this glow without a plant-based diet.
How do you respond to people who think all vegans are hippie liberals and will eventually realize the error of their ways and go back to eating animal protein?
I don't look like a hippie liberal so that sort of silences that stereotype with people around me :) I have had people come up and say things like "you're vegan, but you look so normal" I really try not to laugh. Most of the time, people are busy asking about my glow, or my complexion, or how I stay so trim and healthy -- and I tell them my big secret-- I'm plant-based! and then they're curious to hear more.
The impact you've had on other people's lives by educating them and helping to change their diet is significant. What is the most important message you would like to convey?
Every time you can eat a plant-based or vegan meal, do it. Your body will thank you.