16 November 2010

Interview with This Dish Is Veg team member JL

Have you ever wondered about the team of writers behind This Dish Is Veg? Well this is your chance to learn more about us. Occasionally we will be featuring interviews with our fabulous contributors from all different backgrounds and walks-of-life who are dedicated to bringing you the articles you see on this site each and every day.

Post-40 JL became a marathoner and triathlete, changed careers and transitioned from vegetarian to vegan. She now blogs about vegan cooking (and wine!) and fitness. JL is a community college administrator and teaches nonprofit management at a local university. She holds a B.A. and M.S. and is currently enrolled in an advanced graduate program on Adult Learning.

What inspired you to become a vegan?

I became a vegetarian eight years ago when I met a goat in Kenya. I ate him. I was attending a ceremony and the goat was presented to us, a true honor, and then slaughtered and stewed. It was out of respect for my hosts that I ate the goat. That was the last time I ate "meat" though I continued to consume fish for a few more years. In retrospect, I wasn't vegetarian at all. Four years ago I quit eating fish, fully embracing a vegetarian diet. In January of this year I followed a two-week cleanse with a nutrition counselor. I ate no dairy for two weeks and had two hard-boiled eggs. When the cleanse concluded, I realized that I was an egg away from eating vegan. I made the decision that day to begin a vegan diet. While I'm experiencing great health, I have to say that one reason I remain vegan is for the animals. I read "Eating Animals" and that sealed the deal.

According to your blog, your husband is an omnivore. What type of challenges does that present?

My husband is a good sport. I recall phoning him from Africa to inform him I was a vegetarian. By the time I returned to the U.S. he had figured out how to prepare tofu for me. He even tried a vegetarian diet for a few weeks but was miserable. I reminded him that I had a reason to be vegetarian and he would probably remain miserable unless he found a reason, too. He returned to eating meat. He is very supportive of my vegan diet and gets involved in the cooking of vegan meals. But I will not prepare a dish involving animal products and he respects that.

Living in the metro New York area must offer quite a selection of dining options, what are some of your favorite establishments?

Does it ever! My hands-down favorite vegan spot is Candle 79. A close second is Hangawi, a gorgeous vegan Korean restaurant. I like Candle Cafe, Pure Food & Wine, V-Note, Bonobo's and Angelica Kitchen. When dining out with omnis who are not interested in vegan fare, I take them to Josie's East, where we can all enjoy a delicious meal.

When not dining out, what are some of your favorite recipes to prepare at home?

Anyone who reads my blog will see that I'm all about easy, healthy, good meals. I tend to make things up as I go along. I always have cooked beans, grains and lots of veggies on hand. In the morning, when packing lunch for work, I will start grabbing things. That's how I came up with this Tofu Pumpkin Soup. A fancy cook, I am not, but I do make tasty, hearty and healthy dishes.

Why did you decide to join the TDIV team?

I learned about TDIV on Twitter. I responded to a request for recipes and then started firing off a few recipes to them. Daelyn asked if I might want to consider taking on some news stories and I was delighted. I love TDIV because it shares the wide array of what it means to live a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle. Yes, it's about the food, but it's about the animals, about politics, about ... everything!

As a vegan participating in triathlons and marathons what message would you like to convey to others who also eat a plant based diet and are considering competing in those types of events?

I'm definitely an amateur athlete, so my advice is simply based on personal experience. Eat a well-balanced diet and replenish the calories you lose with more intense workouts. It's really that simple.

Julia is a student who has a passion for veganism, animal welfare, and religious studies.