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Mid-Hudson Vegetarian Society, Inc.
38 East Market Street, Rhinebeck, New York 12572 USA -  845-876-2626
Vegetarian - Vegan - Animal Rights - Health - Nutrition - Environment

The mission of the Mid-Hudson Vegetarian Society, Inc. is to promote the vegetarian ethic in the Mid-Hudson (New York) region, educate the community and aid anyone in the pursuit of a totally vegetarian (vegan) cruelty-free and healthful lifestyle.

Newsletters - Summer 2005 Issue

My Vegan Journey
by Luella Jane Winne

The painful chronic illness called fibromyalgia was for many years my all but constant companion. It would burst forth with overall pain and a feeling of fatigue; then recede for a while; then reemerge. By the time I was 40, I was living as if I was a senior citizen (but receiving no discounts). Even scratching my head hurt. I had to take eight different prescription pills just to get through the day.

Depression, pain, fatigue and fogginess were frequent occurrences. In fact, I often didn’t leave the house for fear of being embarrassed by my awkward way of moving and my conversational lapses. A condition called “restless leg syndrome” added to my discomfort. I simply couldn’t find a position that felt comfortable enough for sleeping. Even a sheet felt too heavy. I got my dog Abigail to get me out of the house, but I couldn’t go far.

My life is very different (read better!) now, and this is how it came about:

My friend of many years, Roberta Schiff, MHVS president, asked if I would help with a community program she was conducting called “DownSize Me.” Hey, it was free. As part of the program, Robbie asked the participants to go vegan for the nine weeks. We would then be retested to see if our numbers (cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar) came down. Other health benefits could result also she said.

Getting in line after a shaky start

I told the group at the first session that:

1) I didn’t cook, and

2) didn’t eat vegetables.

For the first two sessions I just listened and read the handouts.

Then on February 17 of this year, I had a breakthrough. I jumped right into the veggie world. Fixing food turned out not to be difficult.

Well sure, many of you may be thinking that making vegan food is easy and rewarding – but remember, I didn’t cook.

I had spent months eating Jenny Craig prepared foods. When people mentioned vegetables, they could have been speaking Russian or Chinese. But after only two weeks of not eating meat

or dairy I was feeling well; so well in fact that it was becoming my new chronic state.

At each session, group members shared their progress. Each week I told the group about my increased energy. Outside of class, people were also noticing something different about me and some people noticed my skin. Teenage acne had left its mark and before starting on the program my skin felt like a street in February, but surprisingly it had now become smooth.

Where I am today

While only last summer it was hard to lift a shovel, now I’m growing a garden and steaming my own vegetables. Homemade hummus is now a staple in my kitchen. Even my taste buds seem to have changed. For example now I don’t need to sweeten my tea whereas before I used to add two tablespoons of honey. I don’t even miss meat and dairy (except for Swiss cheese). (Please, anyone who has a vegan Swiss cheese substitute, call me. I want it and want it now.)

I have taken the MHVS cooking classes with Maribeth Abrams as well as a series given by the Seventh Day Adventists in Livingston. I now read and try new recipes just for fun. The joy I get from exploring the variety of vegan food has been a happy surprise. Cooking “veganly” is easier than cooking “meatily.”

Now that I am looking better on my vegan eating plan, make-up is no longer a necessity. Now I use it to enhance, not to cover-up.

My beloved Abigail has gone where the good dogs go and Bennie is now my canine companion. The difference is that I have to urge him on to continue our morning walks through the village of Rhinebeck. I hike and bike now. People keep asking if I have lost weight, which helps keep me steaming those veggies.

Traditional Tempeh Salad
from the kitchen of Maribeth Abrams

Here’s a very quick, easy dish that is ideal for casual summer gatherings:

1 package tempeh, any flavor

Eggless mayonnaise as needed (Veganaise¤ recommended)

2 scallions, chopped

1 stalk celery,chopped

Handful chopped fresh parsley (or 1 Tbsp dried)

2 teaspoons poultry seasoning

Steam tempeh for 20 minutes. Let cool. Chop into small dice.

Then add all remaining ingredients. Chill before serving.

We look forward to hearing from you

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