Tuesday, March 4, 2008

How it All Vegan: a conversation with Sarah Kramer

To Buy The Book - How It All Vegan!: Irresistible Recipes for an Animal-Free Diet

Contemplating a vegan diet? The vivacious and engaging Sarah Kramer, co-author of How It All Vegan and The Garden Of Vegan Answers questions from the Hip Mama studio audience about all things vegan!
Brought To You By hip Mama

HM: Have you always been vegan?

Sarah: Nope. Not always. I was raised Vegetarian since birth, meaning I ate a little dairy and eggs. In highschool I "experimented" with meat and ate mostly things that were salty (laughs). Bacon, sandwich meat, KFC... that kind of stuff. I could eat it if it didn't look like it was meat. Once I moved out of the house, I took meat out of my diet completely. Mostly because I didn't have a lot of money and meat was expensive. Plus I had NO IDEA how to prepare it. I went vegan about 10 years ago.

HM: Who do you think your audience is? Are you satisfied with who you are reaching?

Sarah: Our audience is all over the place, from housewives in the suburbs to punks in squats. It's pretty cool. I am constantly surprised and thrilled by the broad spectrum of people who enjoy our books. It is such a thrill to me that people dig what we're doing and take the time to come out and see us at our book signings or write us e-mail. It's wicked.

HM: How would you go about reaching a more diverse audience or is that important to you?

Sarah: We just put ourselves out there. This is us. Love us or hate us... but don't try and stop us, cause we're having a lot of fun. I think that enthusiasm is infectious and people really dig how much fun we're having.

HM: You describe yourselves as vegan warriors. With all of the social problems you could choose from do you really feel the most important use of your time as activists is being vegan?

Sarah: I think that everything I do as a vegan has a ripple effect. The food I buy, where I buy it, who I buy it from. The money I spend, the way I treat the people/animals/earth etc etc etc... all effect each other.

HM: Are most vegans vegan for animal rights reasons?

Sarah: I find that people are vegan for many many different reasons. Some people do it for ethical reasons, some to keep trim, some for health. We are a varied bunch of folks. That's for sure.

HM: Wouldn't being vegan require some kind of superhuman organizational skills? How would somebody who can barely get it together to make toast for dinner survive on a vegan diet?

Sarah: (laughs) Ahh yes. The Lazy Vegan. Welcome... Get How It All Vegan and The Garden of Vegan. The books are geared towards lazy people. Delicious easy to make recipes, with easy to find ingredients and almost every recipe can be made in under a half an hour. The most important thing to remember is that food is the fuel that keeps your body alive. Without it ... you die. So rather then looking at making meals as a chore, learn to enjoy the process. You're gonna have to eat. Every day. You might as well eat well.Sarah: White sugar is BAD BAD BAD for you. Stay away from it. Yuck. From what I understand white and brown Sugar are refined using animal charcoal filters. You can use alternatives such as Sucanat (brand name) sweetener, turbinado sugar, concentrated fruit sweetener, rice syrup, maple syrup, organic cane sugar.

HM: Protein. What's the lowdown on that? I function best with a high protein diet. How could I get enough protein by consuming a vegan diet?

Sarah: Read "Becoming Vegan" By Vesanto Melina.

HM: And what about B-12?

Sarah: Read "Becoming Vegan" By Vesanto Melina.

HM: Which books or other resource materials would you recommend for somebody who is interested in switching to a vegan diet?

Sarah: Becoming Vegan by Vesanto Melina.

HM: I ve been a vegetarian for 14 years. I tried to make the leap to a vegan diet but I couldn t give up cheese! The cheese substitutes were awful! Don t you ever miss eating non-vegan food?

Sarah: No. I don't. The only thing I miss are cool shoes... It boils down to making a choice and sticking to your commitment. I made a choice to be vegan and part of that is sacrificing certain ingredients. My sacrifice is my gift back and that fills me up with yummy goodness more than any piece of cheese ever will.

HM: Isn't it difficult to have varied and interesting vegan food choices if you are poor?

Sarah: No. I don't think so. HIAV was originally written for all of our friends who, like us, were vegan and couldn't afford expensive ingredients. Buying organic is probably the hardest part, if you're strapped for cash.

HM: What is your favorite way to prepare tofu?

Sarah: There's a recipe in HIAV, in the kids section, called Maple Apple Dip. YUM! Soft tofu with maple syrup and a little cinnamon... blended well. I use that as a fruit dip or over a fruit salad.

HM: What do you do when somebody invites you to dinner, and the food isn't vegan?

Sarah: I wouldn't go or I would suggest we do it potluck style. That way you can bring a dish or two or three that you know you can eat. Or... if I was stuck, I'd explain that I was vegan and ask if I could prepare my own food with the ingredients they have in the house. If there is nothing I could eat there, I'd order a pizza from a local pizza place and ask for no cheese.

HM: Are there any selections at fast food restaurants that are vegan?

Sarah: I don't eat fast food. I am a big believer that money talks and I do not want to support major chain fast food companies. Plus most fast food is empty and devoid of anything that is good for your body.

HM: What can you eat when you are on a road trip and the only eateries along the lonely highway are Burger Kings, or McDonalds ?

Sarah: Ahh yes. The road trip. Always a tough one. I always take a boo at and find restaurants/healthfood stores etc where I can stock up. I always bring a cooler and some food with me. Packaged soups, peanut butter and bread. Anything that will fill your tummy till you can hit the next vegan restaurant. Either that... or I stick with Mexican food. Beans and rice baby. That will get you to the next civilized town!

HM: What is the most vegan-friendly city you ve visited?

Sarah: Seattle is great. Portland is great. T.O. is pretty great....Juice For Life is one of my all time favourite restaurants. Victoria (where I live) is also pretty easy to be Vegan in.

HM: How do you handle criticism about your vegan diet, from well-meaning (or not) friends and family?

Sarah: Honestly, I've never had much criticism about my diet. I don't know why... maybe because I don't bother other people about their choices. I try to just live my life and do my own thing and hopefully people will be inspired by my lifestyle. I have never had anyone get aggressive or argumentative with me about my choices. But I don't let those kinds of conversations happen anyway, they are unproductive and never get anyone anywhere.

HM: Do vegans smell better?

Sarah: I think so. I can tell when someone is a hardcore meat eater, their breath is usually pretty bad and their skin doesn't look right.

HM: Do vegan women who breastfeed need any specific additional supplements?

Sarah: I am not a nutritionist, so I don't want to answer that. Check out Vesanto Melina's book Becoming Vegan, I highly recommend it to anyone who is becoming vegan or has nutrition questions regarding veganism.

HM: What would you do if, despite your efforts, a child of yours insisted on eating animal products?

Sarah: My parents were great. I'd do what they did. My mum was veg and raised my brother and I veg. After she passed away, my dad continued to raise us veg. But there was no pressure either way. If we wanted to eat meat, we could. If we wanted to be veg... we could.
Life is about choices, and we'd talk about that. We'd also discuss where meat comes from very early on I knew that a burger was made from a cow. I liked cows... (laughs) so I didn't want to eat them. Early on, my parents helped me to make a connection that food comes from somewhere, it doesn't appear magically on the plate. They never forced anything on me and my brother. They gave us choices. So if I had a child who insisted on eating animal products... they're going to have to cook it themselves.

HM: Is it true that pets can be vegan? Don't animals need meat?

Sarah: Cats do well as vegetarians, dogs do well as vegans. There is plenty of info out there on the internet and books about it. It takes a lot of time, because you have to make your animals food, so it's a big commitment if you're going to do it.
I suggest you do the research, before you start feeding the animal in your life a new diet. My dog loves carrots, broccoli, chick peas, apples. My cat loves raisins and popcorn...

HM: I get the feeling that many people who are vegan look down on me because I eat hamburgers. Do you secretly despise me because I like scrambled eggs and bacon?

Sarah: Dude, you sound paranoid! (laugh) I don't give a shit what you do. Just don't use my pots and pans.


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