My daughter
My daughter

One of the best and most wonderful things (and there are plenty) my daughter has done for me, is to point me in the way of veganism. It has helped me to clarify things  in my life, to identify another purpose for my place on this planet,  to heal from emotional  injuries and to  improve my health. Now this did not happen overnight. It has been an ongoing healing and discovery of sorts-one that I hope continues for the remainder of my life.

 These are the benefits of, not the reasons for, my becoming vegan. I became vegan for the nonhuman animals, plain and simple. My goal is to inform, point out, challenge and hopefully to inspire people to choose veganism for the sake of those beings who are discriminated against and brutalized in order to satisfy our own pleasures, not needs.
The first step I took towards being vegan was to eliminate nonhuman animal products from my diet. It is what I now like to refer to as a plant based diet. Was it hard? Not very, except that I had a craving for luncheon meats, bacon, hot dogs and melted cheese. It is so funny/odd because it is not like I even ate copious amounts of these foods before I became vegan.

So, no wonder I craved cheese! But I am over it now and glad to be. I still like the melty idea and will occasionally melt some Daiya Cheese over whatever I am having for dinner.


Mac and Cheese with Peas

I would like to share with you some of my daughter’s inspirational thoughts and information about cheese made from the milk of nonhuman animals as well as other nonhuman animal products we call food.

Originally Posted on January 13, 2010.

 The Busy (Happy!) Vegan 
Why vegans do it better OR Give up the cheese!

Anyone who even “sort of” knows me (which, at this point, is everyone who could possibly be reading this) can tell you that there was a time when I lived almost exclusively on cheese sandwiches. Bread, preferably toasted, Miracle Whip Light, and skim-milk mozzarella, with the odd tomato or cucumber slice thrown in, was a staple combo in my life. For the meals (or snacks!) when I decided to venture slightly out-of-the-box, I made sure to take the cheese and/or mayo with me (mac & cheese, egg salad, crackers & cheese… you get the picture). During my first attempt at eliminating animal products from my diet, I used to refer to cheese as my “gateway drug”, which it actually turned out to be. One fateful night at an Italian restaurant with omnivorous friends, a quickly growing dissatisfaction with toast and peanut butter, and limited menu choices, and all of a sudden there I was with a tummy full of vegetarian pizza… and a tiny bit of shame. It wasn’t long before I was, once again, regularly enjoying my cheese sandwiches.
Since then, however, I’ve done a lot of research, and tried a lot of recipes, and have been happily (and healthily!) vegan since…February 2009.

As I mentioned, this is a shock to many people around me, given the sheer volume of cheddar that I consumed in a given week. This is why I understand why ovo-lacto vegetarians are hesitant to give up non-flesh based animal products. I never believed it could be as easy as it has been – but a couple of great cookbooks and an understanding of exactly what goes into making some of my ex-favourite foods helped me leave them behind and never look back.
Besides the basic premise that we don’t have the right to use animals for our pleasure (taste, comfort, warmth, tradition…), and the horrific conditions under which most animals are grown (let’s face it: the happy family farm may as well be run by Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy), here are a few bits of info about how different animal products are made that may explain why veganism is the way to go:
  • Often used as a gelling agent in different products like marshmallows, gummy bears, medicine “gelcaps”, paintball shells, photo film and hairstyling gel.
  • Made from pig skin, cow hides, pig and cow bones, which can be boiled down, or prepared through environmentally disastrous curing, acid, and alkali processes.
  • The pork and beef industries would not survive without being able sell its by-products (hides, bones, etc.) for other uses such as leather and gelatine. 
  • Even organic, free-range (if you can actually ensure that it is “free-range”) egg farms acquire egg-laying hens from chick “factories” which routinely slaughter male chicks, typically by drowning or suffocation.
  • A chicken’s natural lifespan is about 5-10 years, with the possibility of living up to 10-12 years. The egg production of egg-laying hens peaks at about 2-3 years, largely due to living conditions. At this point, they are deemed “spent” and sent to the slaughterhouse. In other words, when we eat eggs, we contribute to the early death of chickens. 
  • Dairy products are produced by impregnating cows, and then collecting the milk that is intended for their calves. Calves are formula-fed: the females typically follow (involuntarily) in their mother’s footsteps and become dairy cows; males are used for veal, which means they are slaughtered very young, some as early as a few days old.
  • A cow’s natural lifespan is about 25 years. “Spent” dairy cows are killed at about 4-5 years old.
  • This one’s the kicker: many brands of cheese are not vegetarian! Rennet is a coagulating product that is used to separate milk curds from milk liquid (whey). Rennet occurs naturally in mammalian stomachs, and is often harvested from cow stomachs. Vegetarian rennet is available, but is usually derived from microbial or genetically modified sources. 
  • There is a fair amount of controversy about whether honey is vegan or not. Honey (at least the kind of honey you’d typically find at Loblaw’s in a cute bee-shaped jar) is a food source created by bees, for bees, and stored by bees as wax honeycombs in beehives.
  • Commercial beehives entail the confinement of bees, and the theft of their food source for our purposes (toast is just as yummy with jam!).
  • A queen bee has a natural lifespan of about 5 years. Commercial beekeepers typically kill the queen after about 2 years, and select a new one on behalf of her colony.
  • 10-20% of bees in commercial beehives die prematurely over the winter… not all of them by accident.
Making the decision not to eat the flesh of animals is a great step towards reducing cruelty to animals. That being said, choosing to eat animal secretions (sounds gross, I know, but that’s what milk, eggs, etc. are!)  still contributes to their early slaughter.

Annie’s Vegan View

“On the bright side, for those who stop eating cheese, eggs, honey, and other animal products, a door opens to plenty of yummy, healthy foods that don’t contribute to the harm of animals, humans working in the animal agriculture industry, or the environment (avocado, hummus, pine nuts, quinoa, almond butter, tahini…). Buy a cookbook (or 2 or 3 or 4 or 5…), experiment, and enjoy!”
These are my daughter’s words, not mine. But I concur and I thank her for them. Let’s be open to new ideas of kindness and compassion for the sake of all the nonhuman animals. We have everything to gain!

May all beings be happy and free.


May all beings be happy and free!

May all beings be happy and free.



  • September 26, 2016 at 8:08 am

    Hi Anne
    I can relate to the being vegan opening the door to lots of yummy food bit!
    I hadn’t realised just how much I could actually eat being a vegan and it has also re-ignited my passion for cooking and baking and I see it as a challenge to make vegan versions of everything I previously enjoyed. Lasagne, Mousaka and shepherds pie were my favourites and now I much prefer the vegan alternatives and they are so much healthier too. I do find it hard to find vegan cheese that melts properly but I have just got used to this now. I usually buy Violife cheese slices or Tesco smoked cheddar style and the latter is a bit more melty.

    I have a good cookbook called Veganomicom but I like your recipes better. They are simpler and have lots of handy tips and now you have printable versions I intend to print them all off and make myself a grammie annie file. Maybe you should write a Vegan Grammie Annie cookbook Anne! Wouldn’t that be great. I would certainly buy it.

    Take care

    Rachel Weightman


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