I teach clients who’ve chosen to go vegetarian or vegan how to cook and eat healthfully, while incorporating sufficient protein into their diet. Often people go vegan or vegetarian, and think they can just stop eating animal protein and shift to only eating fruits, vegetables, and grains instead. Then, they might begin feeling weak, tired, and unsatisfied, so they’ll go back to eating meat and consider their adventures in vegetarianism a failure.
Vegetarians must eat beans! I learned this motto on The Farm, a spiritual community I lived in for fifteen years, where I was married and raised three kids. As a community, we were vegans before there was a word for it. We didn’t eat animal protein for spiritual reasons: We held all life as sacred and, thus, didn’t want to eat anything we could look in the eye. Because people have to eat living organisms to live, we went for those lowest on the food chain.
In 1972, I began working on recipes for The Farm Vegetarian Cookbook (© 1975 and 1978 by the Book Publishing Company). We made everything from scratch and, with few resources, cooked healthy, tasty, simple meals. We’d duplicate the types and styles of dishes we were raised with by making them veggie-style. Our protein was soy-based, and we created savory and sweet dishes by substituting soy beans, tofu, soy milk, tempeh, and other proteins for meat.
Some of my recipes were: Red Beans with Sofrito, Janet’s Bagels, Janet’s Sauteed Cabbage, Yeast Crepes, Cheesy Yeast Sauce, Tempeh Cacciatore, an assortment of sauces and whipped spreads, and many more. I was also a contributing editor of the cookbook, which has since become a classic.
I was manager and chief cook of the Farm preschool lunch program and then the Farm Community Kitchen, where we would prepare lunch for 400 hungry, hard-working young adults. Our experience showed that you could do hard physical labor, raise kids, and thrive on a vegan diet.