Vegan Like Me aims to profile fellow vegans, from all walks of life from everywhere in the world! We’ve all been beginners and I think its important for folks to hear people’s stories in order to motivate themselves to keep going. This feature is intended to do just that. If you are vegan and would like to participate, get in touch with me and I’ll be sure to send our questionnaire along to you.
Name: Nicole Graziano
Nicole, vegan 3 and a half years
Where do you live? Northampton, MA
How long have you been vegan? ”3 and a half years”
What inspired you to take on a plant-based (vegan/vegetarian) diet? ”I have been vegetarian since I was 8 years old. As a kid, I simply thought it was “really weird” to eat animals, so I stopped. My parents dealt with it just fine, and I was a healthy teenager. I was vegan for a short time in my early 20s as a result of being immersed in the NJ hardcore scene. Truthfully, though-I didn’t fully understand the reasons for being vegan, so eventually I reverted back to eating dairy and eggs. Later, in my mid 30s, my boyfriend stumbled upon Colleen Patrick Goudreau’s Vegetarian Food for Thought podcast because we were very interested in veg. cooking, and we both listened. Little did I know that after listening to just three of these podcasts, my choices and diet would be forever changed. I am embarrassed to admit that until listening to Colleen’s words, I had no idea that cows did not readily give milk and had to be impregnated in order to do so. It was all I needed to hear, and I became vegan the very next day after hearing her speak the horrific truths of the dairy and egg industries. My boyfriend also decided to become vegan just a few days later. We’ve been much more at peace and healthier ever since!”
What do you love most about being vegan? “I was pleasantly surprised by the 15 pound weight loss I experienced after becoming vegan and have found that I don’t gain a pound on a vegan diet no matter what I eat. This is fortunate, as I love vegan food. I also feel that my vegan diet has halted the aging process for me. I’m 38 and feel better and more energetic than I ever have before. It just keeps getting better. Also, as a food lover, I also really love scouting out vegan restaurants and recipes. But, what I most love about being vegan is knowing that I am doing my absolute best to ensure that no harm comes to any animals. I feel much more at peace and in line with my belief system as a result of my food choices.”
What three items do you always have in your pantry? “Nutritional yeast is a must for us. I LOVED parmesan cheese before becoming vegan, and nutritional yeast mixed with nuts and sea salt is a fine substitute. I also think that some wonderful sauces can be made with tahini and miso, and I make a delicious macaroni and cheese with these ingredients that could fool anyone. Perhaps most importantly, we always have a bunch of fresh, local vegetables on hand as a result of our summer and winter farm shares. We love coming up with new recipes for whatever we receive each week.”
What is your favorite vegan comfort food? “It’s hard to name just one, but I really do love pastas with creamy sauces. We do wonders with nutritional yeast, fresh herbs, vegetable broth, white wine, and soy milk. I’ve been enjoying quinoa pasta lately as a healthy alternative. I also really love making different nut cheeses. They’re delicious!”
What advice would you give to someone who is thinking about taking on a plant-based (vegan) diet? “I would tell them to go for it and explain that when I did, I never looked back, not even for a second. It’s the best decision I have ever made, and I can smile every day knowing that I am doing what I can to help my health, animals, and the environment. I’d also tell them to visit a local farm sanctuary and find out what happens to animals whose bodies and secretions are used for food. After educating themselves and meeting the animals, they’re most likely to go come to veganism naturally.”
Do you find anything difficult about being vegan? “I have never experienced any difficulty being vegan in terms of finding delicious, satisfying food. I do tend to sometimes struggle though when friends and family know the truth about how animals are treated and still remain omnivores or vegetarians rather than vegan. When this happens, I try to remember that it took me a long time to come to veganism, and I try my best to practice acceptance. Thanksgiving is a tough holiday for me especially because I absolutely adore turkeys. I got a chance to hang out with a few at Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary and was amazed and impressed by their personalities and gentleness.”
Any other comments you or words of wisdom you would like to add? “We also have two vegan dogs, as well an occassional foster dog who all seem very happy and healthy.”
I can totally relate to Nicole’s sentiments about Thanksgiving. Over the course of this year, I have become very close with a turkey at WFAS named Beatrice… I am not looking forward to the holiday this year, particularly because I know how awesome these creatures are. However, I am looking forward to celebrating them at the annual ThanksLiving celebration at WFAS! And that is what is important to me. Tickets go on sale this weekend and they sell out like hotcakes!