Food Blog • Vegan Recipes • Animal Stories
For whatever the reason, you are here and have chosen to follow a lifestyle that is not only good for you, but also for the animals and for the planet. Below are some discussions and some directions to help you along your way.
There is no one way and we all are doing our best to live the best life we can. So don't be too hard on yourself for the past choices you have made or for the path you are about to go on. At The Gentle Barn, Ellie and I are very conscious of peoples paths and that we are all at different places on it, meaning that we are not judgmental and love you for who you are. Not everyone will see it that way unfortunately, so we recommend not trying to teach anyone how to be vegan right off the bat. Marinade in it for a bit and get your feet wet before the big push. It is hard to wait sometimes, but what you might find is that people just do not want to be told what to do and just like you, might need to find it for themselves. A great reason to introduce family and friends to The Gentle Barn and allow us to introduce them in a very gentle and nonthreatening way.
Ellie has been Vegan for about 20 years and me for about 18 years. The word "Vegan" was not a popular thing when we started, but it sure is now. While Ellie and I choose this lifestyle for the animals more than ourselves, as we get older we are starting to really focus on the health benefits as well. We want to be able to continue to serve the animals and be around for our children and grandchildren, when they come!
Excluding animal products from your diet is step #1, but that is just the beginning. That, in it of itself will change your life, and while you are transitioning, it is essential to listen to your bodies needs. What I mean by that is that when you have cravings, it is essential that you listen to them, but answer them with the right choices. For example, if you find yourself craving animal products, like steak and burgers, etc., your body is most likely telling you that you need protein. We have been programmed to go to the foods that our bodies have been used to for the majority of our lives. So now when you crave those things, you know that the answer is in the produce section of the store, not the meat department. This is the part of the transition that is usually hardest for people to figure out.
Learning what vegan foods equal the things your body needs is essential. This is where it comes in handy to have access to meat, poultry, fish and dairy alternatives and today they are SO much better than when Ellie and I started out. Go spend some time in a Whole Foods or other natural foods market in your neighborhood to see what there is to offer. Oh, and the "regular" markets are starting to jump on the bandwagon as well, with more and more options all of the time. In fact, Ellie and I do a lot of our shopping at the regular market and just supplement some of the needed foods from the natural markets, not only because the available organic produce is better, but it is also cheeper.
Back to our story, for me, I have been on a food quest, it seems like forever. I love food! Discovering it, making it, sharing it and of course eating it. My favorite thing in the world is to come up with a new recipe, make it and then watch the delight in Ellie as she eats it. Ellie is so animated when she enjoys something that it is so fulfilling. I also enjoy it when I see hundreds of people enjoying my food at an event etc., especially when I know that it was made in the most healthy and kind way possible and the people say, WOW I could eat like this everyday!
For me, Jay, my path started with animals when I was a child. They saved me, but what I didn't get, was that who I was eating was the same as the animals I loved, until The Gentle Barn. When I first came to The Gentle Barn and met Ellie and all of the animals, I knew I was home. So much so that I never left! My Vegan journey really started because of the little rooster in the photo at the top of this page, Mr. Olaf!
This is my only photo of Mr. Olaf that I found while going through old printed photos. Mr. Olaf was the reason I ultimately went Vegan and dedicated my life to protecting animals and children in 2001. Mr. Olaf was my friend and I was his. To make a long story short, when I went to the barnyard one day, he didn't come running like he always had in the past. It turned out that he had passed away. The profound impact that Mr. Olaf had made along with this situation truly changed my life. However, I wouldn't be woken up to this in its full force until standing in the market in front of the chicken rotisserie a few days later. As I watched about 40 chickens being cooked and being turned round and round on a spit it hit me; IT WAS MR. OLAF, or at least "someone" just like him. I broke down in the store, in front of all of the people there, who had no idea what to do with this big man sobbing in the middle of the market. I cried like a little baby and it was ugly. I cried for the injustice. I cried for all of the animals I had eaten and cooked, I cried for all of the suffering and I cried for my good friend Mr. Olaf, until the manager was in front of me asking if I was going to be ok or if I needed him to call someone for me or an ambulance.
That was it for me, I was Vegan!
For Ellie it was actually quite similar, but the chicken she met was being taken to slaughter and she was only 11 years old...
I was born an animal lover; I think we all are. My favorite things to do when I was a child was to muck around in the lakes watching tadpoles turn into frogs, search in the woods for salamanders, and sit under trees watching wild bunnies hop around. But I had no idea there was a connection between the animals that I loved and the “food” that I ate. When I was eleven years old there was a chicken in a cat carrier in the corner of the auditorium. The other kids were running around playing and laughing, oblivious to the terror the hen was going through. But I immediately saw the frightened and alone little bird. I walked across the room to her, took her out of the carrier, held her trembling body in my arms, smoothed down her feathers, and spoke to her softly, calming her down. The principle came in a few minutes later and said, “don’t pet the chicken, we need to get her to the slaughterhouse”, pulled her from my embrace, and ran out of the building with her. It was then that it hit me like a ton of bricks that "chicken the animal," is the same thing as "chicken and rice." I was devastated and as soon as I got home from school that day, announced to my horrified family that I would never eat animals again. My parents were worried that I would not get the nutrients, that my growth would be stunted, and that I would be ill. But I not only grew just fine, I was healthier than those around me.
Many decades later, when I had just started The Gentle Barn, a volunteer asked if I ate animals, to which I proudly told him no. He then asked if I ate dairy or eggs and I said yes because that doesn’t hurt anyone. He then told me the truth about animal agriculture. He explained that cows have milk just like any other mammal, for their babies. Its breastmilk! Just like dogs have milk for their puppies and at no other time, horses have milk for their foals, and we humans have milk for our babies, cows have milk for their calves. The dairy industry does not want the babies, they want the breastmilk. But the only way the cows can have the breast milk is for the cows to give birth. The cows are impregnated, and when the calves are born, they are taken away as their moms scream for them, and the breastmilk is stolen for humans to drink. The man also told me that eggs come from chickens who are born in incubators, put in cages or warehouses where they never see the light of day, and lay eggs for two years until they are sent to slaughter; all for an omelet! That was the day I went vegan and I have never looked back!
Back in 1999 I ate brown rice, tofu, vegetables and fruits, nuts and grain. There has steadily been an increase in more and more vegan products. And now there is so much vegan food of all kinds, and it is delicious! When I was pregnant with my daughter, Cheyanne in 2005 I was anemic. My midwife urged me to take iron pills which are made of cows’ blood. Of course, I refused. She was very concerned about my health so I told her that I would eat vegan food full of iron and it would be fine. She told me that in all her thirty years of being a midwife, she has never seen anyone turn an iron deficiency around through diet. So, we made a deal that I would eat healthier and return in two weeks for blood tests. If I was wrong, I would look at other options. I researched what fruits and veggies had iron and ate them at every meal. I ate kale, chard, collard greens, spinach, beats, pumpkin seeds, red apples, red grapes, and added black strap molasses to my smoothies. When I returned for the blood test, my midwife was astonished and declared that my iron levels were through the roof!
My children were always healthy, developed earlier than other babies, and had more energy than other kids their age. Everything we need is in the garden! Every fruit and vegetable, nut and grain has protein. We can find all the calcium and iron we need in the plants that grow. Mother Earth gives her gifts generously and we do not need to harm, enslave, or eat animals anymore! Eating animals has caused disease in our bodies, harm to the planet, and suffering for animals. And we can set the animals free, heal our bodies, and replenish the environment by going Vegan. It is easy and delicious. Please join us and let us know how we can support your journey!
OK so let me set you right here! VEGANS GET ENOUGH PROTEINS AND GET MORE THAN NONVEGANS! So have no fear, you, your family, friends or whomever is choosing a Vegan diet that made you read this, is going to be fine. In fact, better than fine. The truth is that the average Vegan woman needs about 52 grams of protein per day and men need about 63. You will find nearly all of your needed proteins through eating vegetables, beans, grains, nuts, and seeds. That isn't even talking about things like tofu, Vegan meat alternatives etc. This just isn't an issue. Just look at all of the athletes and celebrities who have chosen to eat this way.
I was at an immersion recently with Ellie and I heard a funny response to that same old question, "Where do you get your protein?" and the answer was, "What do you care? It's non of your business!" Now if you are an adult and living alone, that might be acceptable, but if your parents are asking or your spouse, it might need to a bit more refined. So I would go with, "The same place that you get your protein, just skipped the cow and got it from vegetables, beans, grains, nuts, and seeds."
Now is the fun part. I have always been on a food quest and can only talk to you from my own personal experience and that is, you better be careful because there is so much to eat that you can overdo it. The most important thing is to learn what you can and cannot eat and have fun. Below is a link to the shopping page and I encourage you to check out how to setup your kitchen and how to eat out. There are so many resources on this site, but the internet is also full of amazing Vegan EVERYTHING. If after all of the research you still have questions, contact me and I will help you!
Take baby steps if you need to and don't worry about the hype! Now go forth and be who you are...