Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Where I come from...

Perhaps I should take a step back for a moment and talk a little bit about my agricultural background. This will only take a moment, and I feel it’s necessary.

As a kid, life was never boring. Not only did we have tons of area to run free and play, I also had lots of pets. It was phenomenal. I’ve had pet cows, horses and dogs in my life, and I can’t think of a greater way to gain respect and compassion for these awesome four-legged critters.

Up until I was about three years old, breeding turkeys was our main business. We’d harvest fertile eggs from the hens and then send them to a hatchery where the chicks would eventually break out of their shells. I never had a pet turkey because I had a frightening run-in with a tom (male turkey) once, and that was enough to admire the birds merely for their nutritional contributions to society from that point forward. 

Wanting to grow the business, my dad decided it was time to break into dairy. He’s always had a knack for raising animals, and dairy cows have always been his true passion. We decided to remodel some of our older turkey houses into cattle barns, complete with large exercise pens and clean, dry stalls for the animals to rest. Looking back, not only was it an economical way for us to expand the business, but it was an pretty green building project—retrofitting barns, rather than building them from scratch.
In addition to the dairy, we’ve raised some grass-fed beef cattle and grown most of the feed for our dairy cows on site.

I grew up in a household with fresh, great tasting meat, milk and eggs and I saw first-hand how these products were brought to the table. The idea that someone could hate me because I’m a farmer, or because of my nutritional choices seemed so foreign to me. I don’t think I even knew vegetarians or vegans existed until I was a teenager. I am so happy we live in a country where we are free to speak freely and eat the kind of diet we most desire. I do my best to be respectful of everyone’s choices and lifestyles, and all I ask in return is the same.

It might seem as though I’m biased to the dairy, poultry and beef industries. But this week has been about more than just abstaining from meat and milk and gaining a fresh perspective, it’s also been about experiencing a newfound respect for the fruit and vegetable industry. I mean I’ve always loved the stuff from the dirt, but this week I’ve been isolated to just those ingredients. So here’s some love to my produce growin’ friends. Thanks for what you do, and for helping to deliver a safe, delicious, nutritious and affordable product to my table. I’m not going to be a vegan past this week, but I promise to include more delicious fruits and veggies into my diet after this week!

Vegan Food Diary, Day 3
Steel cut oats
Salsa and Ritz crackers
Black eye (coffee with shot of espresso) and dash of soy milk
Black bean quinoa dish (provided by Morgan Perry—thanks!)


  1. I'm sorry you've been made to feel that veg's hate you or other farmers. Most veg's I know aren't like that - there may be a few very loud folks who are angry, but most of us don't feel that way. We don't agree with the practices at some farms, but that doesn't mean we hate the farmer. I think many people have friends and family who do things they may not agree with, but they still like them. I hope you have fun trying new foods and find some new favorites.

  2. Sarah--

    Your words really resonated with me, and I'm so very glad you've shared your opinion. So often it's the voices that yell the loudest that can be so overwhelming. I hope it didn't seem like I was making a blanket generalization about all vegetarians or vegans. I very much appreciate your perspective, and kind words. Thanks again for sharing!


  3. Keep up the good work! A plant-based diet can be tricky, but you will see the benefits in the form of a long, healthly life. You have a wonderful open mind to try something like this in the midst of your culture, particularly with a background in animal agriculture.

    As far as the food goes, try some Tofurky sausages. Don't mind the name - they're delicious! They taste like meat, not (what you may think is) bland tofu :)

    Stay strong!

  4. Good luck with this project, David. One delicious protein source that is vegan is nut butters - not just good old peanut butter but also cashew butter & almond butter, the list goes on but I am crazy for these two. Try sliced of apple dipped in almond butter for a easy to pack lunch. Or, toast with a generous smear of cashew butter (a truly self-indulgent treat), I'll have this with some raspberry jam as a dessert frequently.

    If you have access to an ice cream freezer, make your own chocolate frozen tofu using silken soft tofu - the final product in a deep dark rich tasting chocolate with a texture like the super premium ice creams.

    If you like Chinese flavors, blend some tamari sauce, Asian chili paste, and vegetable broth with a bit of cornstarch to make a delicious spicy sauce. Stir fry together thinly sliced onion or generous pieces of green onions, big pieces of bell pepper, sliced fresh tomatoes, and broccoli florets with strips or cubes of extra firm silken tofu that has been dusted with Chinese 5 Spice powder. When the veggies are done to your taste, toss with the sauce. Enjoy with or without hot rice. (1/4 c tamari, 1 to 2 tbs chili paste - less if you don't eat flaming hot Buffalo wings - and 1 c veggie broth. Use about 2/3 c each onion & tomatoes - or use thinly sliced carrots if you prefer - & 1 1/3 c bell peppers and broccoli. For tofu use 1/4 to 1/2 box of extra firm silken) This is enough for 2 to 4 servings. Personally, I never eat vegan, but I do eat vegetarian most days - I don't often want meat but I can not go one day with out cheese & eggs. In fact, I often make this stir fry not with tofu, but scrambled eggs I season with 5 spice powder instead of salt and pepper. If you like meat, use chicken or pork.

    Also, try a grilled veggie sandwich: layer thin slices of onion, tomato, bell pepper with baby spinach. Make a dressing with a vegan salad dressing (it is a vegan version of Miracle Whip) and some of your favorite mustard. Spread this on the bread, layer on the veggies, spread the outside of the sandwich with a vegan vegetable oil spread (that is vegan margarine) and cook like you would a grilled cheese sandwich. This is very tasty. (And try it with Swiss or Muenster cheese added in when dairy re-enters you like.)

    Best wishes for a happy eating adventure.

  5. This is awesome. I am definitely going to be sharing with my blog readers your journey. I'll get the post up in the next few days.