Hi everyone! Today is the first Tuesday of 2016. Time really flies when you are having fun, or when you are just too busy to keep up. Today I am sharing with you all a really fantastic guest post. I am so lucky to have met a pioneer in the vegan world. This chef is a cooking instructor, a natural foods consultant and a wonderful local friend. Mimi Clark, also known as the Veggie Gourmet, has written this post and also shared with us, one of her original recipes. Without further ado, here is Mimi, “Pioneer Vegan Mom”
Thank you, Sara, for inviting me to share my story on your informative and fun blog. I’ve been vegan, along with my husband and my daughter (who has been vegan since birth 26 years ago) for the past 30 years. Back in 1989, we didn’t have any of the wonderful resources that we have now, so it was a challenge to raise a vegan baby. However, I read all the literature and I was convinced that, if done properly, my daughter would get all the nutrients she needed on a vegan diet. It helped to have a pediatrician who himself was vegetarian (Dr. Russell Libby, VA Pediatric Group). Dr. Libby was extremely supportive in my quest to raise my daughter vegan. The book, Raising Vegetarian Children, by Joanne Stepaniak and Vesanto Melina, would later become my Bible. (Note: For those readers who may want more in depth info on raising a healthy vegan, I wrote an article for Live in the Now, an online publication, in which I share 15 tips on how to raise a vegan child. Sara selected a few of her favorites, which appear at the end of this post.)
Back story: By day, I was a speech/language pathologist in FCPS; by night I performed in musical theatre. When I went on maternity leave, one of the staff said that she was going to miss the healthy food I brought in for the teachers to sample. I said, “Well, you could make it yourself.” She had no way of knowing that her response would be life-altering for me. She said, “Don’t get me wrong. I love your food. But I’ll probably wait until I get cancer to make it myself.” Driving home that day, I knew that change was in store; that I had other important work to do, which was to parlay my teaching skills my teaching skills into teaching people about the virtues of a plant-based diet before they got a disease. And that is what I have been doing for the past 25 years. (Sad follow-up: I bumped into a mutual friend last summer – now 25 years later – who told me that the staff member who made the comment, recently died of lung cancer which she did not have in 1989.)
How I got started
: I began teaching cooking classes for FC Adult Ed, and have since taught over 2,000 students in the DC Metro area, including at MOM’s Organic in Rockville, MD, and many Whole Foods stores. I also teach monthly classes
in Fairfax Station and I do demos for manufacturers of vegan products at natural food stores to introduce customers to the latest products on the market. I am fortunate to have a close, personal relationship with most vegan manufacturers, and as such, they send me products to test, some of which have not even hit the shelves (for example, www.edwardandsons.com
is launching sweetened condensed coconut milk with which I have been experimenting during the holidays. LOVE IT!). My students reap the benefits of my relationship with manufacturers by getting coupons and goodie bags in all of my classes.
: I’m currently in the process of getting plant-based certification from T. Colin Campbell’s Plant-Based Nutrition program, courtesy of the Coalition for Healthy School Food
in NYC for which I do fund-raising, and Candle restaurants
in NYC, for whom I am a brand ambassador.
Monthly Group cooking Classes
: My next class
is Soups & Stews on January 10th
in Fairfax Station. Although the class is full, you can get in on a cancellation if you contact me immediately at this email address, [email protected]
I am happy to offer Sara’s blog followers a one-time discount which will make this class only $50/person (discount only available for next week’s class only!)
Here are Sara’s favorite tips excerpted from my article:
- Motivate Your children with children’s books: When you read to your child, include books about compassion, health and the environment, including: Cows Are Vegetarian, by Ann Bradley, Making Kind Choices, by Ingrid Newkirk and That’s Why We Don’t Eat Animals, by Ruby Roth.
- Embrace movies about food choices: Watch videos as a family, including Vegucated, Peaceable Kingdom, Earthlings, Food, Inc. and Forks Over Knives.
- Consider alternatives for classroom inclusion: Keep a goody bag in your child’s school classroom so that when a mom drops in with surprise cupcakes, your child can have his or her favorite treat.
- Be proactive about social events: When your child is invited to birthday parties, it becomes more challenging. You can send your child to the party with a vegan cupcake or you can offer to make or buy vegan cake/cupcakes from your local health food store for all of the kids.
- Lead the path and light the way: You’ve heard this parenting advice before but it bears repeating: Model the behavior that you want your child to emulate. While fries and chips are vegan, they do not constitute a balanced vegan meal. Use trips to the grocery store as teachable moments, explaining ingredient labels and nutritionals. The same holds true when you go to restaurants so that your child hears the questions you ask your server, i.e. “Is the base of this soup made with beef, chicken, or vegetable broth?”
Wishing you a Happy and Healthy New Year, and please enjoy my “Good Luck Black-Eyed Pea Salsa” recipe!