“Wasn’t settling into early retirement together enough of a stressor for us? Now, bam, he announces he’s turning vegan? I wasn’t looking for a 24/7 buddy or a new vegan diet (which my husband never tires of reminding me is a lifestyle choice, not a diet). But somehow, they both came looking for me.”
Caren Albers writes in a smart, sassy and easily understandable way about this obviously challenging time in her life. She tells the story three ways: her story, her husband’s story and their story, which presents a balanced view of the challenges and benefits of changing from a primarily vegetarian diet to a vegan one.
Much to my surprise, and my husband’s astonishment, after reading this book I’ve become inspired to consciously incorporate more vegan meals into our diet, too. I doubt that I could ever be a full-on, full-time vegan—we travel too much, which means I lose control over our food choices on occasion. But I do see it as a way to travel more lightly on the planet and plan to continue to weave it in to our lifestyle.
I had the opportunity to talk to Caren and ask her a few of the key questions that arose in my mind as I read the book.
KM: If you could go back to that fateful day in June, 2011, when your husband announced he was doing Dr. Barnard’s program, and give yourself some advice, what would it be?
CA: Well, first I’d tell myself to CTFD – Calm the (we all know what the F stands for) down. I spent a ton of energy resisting what was actually happening and trying to force what I thought should be happening. That leads us nowhere fast! I’d tell myself that he would eventually stop talking about it constantly, although that took a little prodding! I have learned that most of our greatest challenges eventually present themselves as gifts. His passion to embrace veganism and my passion to resist it ended with us creating a book together that strengthened our marriage. That alone blew me away! We both like being a little radical, a little out there, and a little leading edge. Being vegan certainly fills that niche quite well.
KM: In your book, you describe an influx of new cooking equipment flooding your kitchen as your husband becomes interested in learning to cook. Now that you’ve been working with vegan recipes for while is there one new piece you couldn’t do without?
CA: I really do love our rice cooker. Stir-fry is such a healthy, yummy vegan meal. Being able to throw the rice into the programmable rice cooker works out great. Plus, there are so many fabulous varieties of rice to eat.
CA: My husband is starting to get a feel for cooking without a recipe. Here’s one of his latest attempts—a skillet veggie dish with a lot of fresh vegetables straight from his garden here in Florida. He’s so funny, after each new attempt he always says, “I think this is my best one yet!” I have to agree with him on this one. Here’s the non-recipe/recipe:
Sauté some onions, carrots, celery, and garlic in a little olive oil until the onions turn soft. Add 8oz of veggie stock, one can of white beans (rinsed and drained), one can of Rotel diced tomatoes & green chilies, and 1/2 of a nice hearty beer (drink the other half :-). Throw in some snow peas and broccoli or whatever you have. Cook covered until the veggies are tender. Season with salt, pepper, a little red pepper & soy sauce to taste. To thicken, in a measuring cup mix about two tablespoons cornstarch with about 1/3 cup of water. Add some of this into the other mixture and stir. You probably won’t use the entire mixture. Serve over organic brown rice. Top with some fresh Thai Basil or any fresh herb. Yummm!
CA: My favorite resource for leaning into veganism is Victoria Moran’s book Main Street Vegan. She even operates The Main Street Vegan Academy (MSVA) suggesting we “Dine gently. Live wisely. Make a difference. Take your vegan outreach to the next level by training to be an (MSVA) Certified Vegan Lifestyle Coach & Educator (VLCE).” Who knows, maybe my future plans will include getting VLCE certified. The academy is in New York City and I do adore going there. Could happen.
Both Married To A Vegan and Caren's previous book, Happiness Junkie, can be found on Amazon.com. For more information, contact Caren Albers here.
All photos courtesy of Caren Albers.
COMING UP NEXT: Travel Trauma!