You love vegan ice cream. I love vegan ice cream. Suzanne Haws (a.k.a. Agnes L.) loves vegan ice cream. But unlike us, Suzanne has made it her business to help others learn how to make and enjoy this awesome food. She's the author of the really fun Vegan Ice Cream Paradise blog, which full of great ideas to whip in your kitchen. She lives in Mountain View, California.
Vegetarian or vegan?
How long have you been veg*n?
I've been vegetarian for four years, and vegan for about three and a half.
What inspired you to go veg?
In December of 2001, my husband and I adopted a kitten. We named ouradorable gray and white baby “Upton.” He was sickly when we brought him home, but that’s somewhat to be expected from a shelter cat. Upton, though, had a very difficult time recovering. One health problem followed another. After a few months of lingering illness, we discovered that he had FIP, which is always fatal. I watched him get sick, then get better, then get sick again. It broke my heart to watch him suffer, and I was nearly inconsolable when he started having severe seizures. In June of 2002, we let him go, and our vet put him to sleep. A couple of weeks later, I was preparing a chicken for dinner. I had taken the chicken out of the package and was washing it in the sink. I began to look at it--really look at it. It had a torso, legs, wings. It struck me that it was this whole animal. One animal that my husband and I wer egoing to have for dinner. It would feed us for dinner and a couple of other meals as leftovers. Three meals, one animal. At that moment I realized that this chicken didn't want to suffer any more than Upton did. All either of them wanted was to live and be happy. And I had paid for this chicken's death, even as I was still mourning Upton. At that moment, I knew that I had to become a vegetarian. It took about three months to transition (after all, I grew up on a cattle ranch), but it was the best decision I've made. After going vegetarian, I started learning more about how animals suffer in the dairy and egg industries, and I went vegan.
What's your best story of trying to find veg food?
My husband and I were driving through southern Utah on our way to Canyonlands National Park. There's not much in that part of the state asidefrom microscopic little towns dotting the highway. We saw a ramshackle old restaurant/camping ground called "The Dairy Café." We were only vegetarianat the time, and we thought we might find something to eat there. The woman who owned the place looked like an extra in a Tim Burton movie, and the building itself didn't inspire confidence in the quality or cleanliness of the food. Nevertheless, we asked if they had any vegetarian food. "What, you mean, like lettuce and stuff?" she asked. No, we explained,just something without meat in it. She looked at us like were crazy."Well, milk and eggs--they come from animals too, you know!" Unfortunately, it turned out that she had nothing that didn't contain meat, despite her unexpectedly pro-vegan statement to us.
How do you handle family holiday dinners?
My husband and I usually spend Thanksgiving with vegan friends, so that's not an issue. We typically spend Christmas with his family, and they arevery open to having a mostly or completely vegan meal. It helps that we offer to do the cooking! Additionally, we've started requesting, in lieu of Christmas gifts, donations to Vegan Outreach. Then if family members insist on chowing down on meat, we are secure in the knowledge that even if they never change, they've given money that will be used to convince other people to go vegetarian. We can't save the animal they're eating at that moment, but their contribution could possibly save hundreds or thousands of animals from a life of suffering. That gives us the peace of mind we need to relax and enjoy the holidays, regardless of what others are eating.
What's your favorite veg food?
Probably my husband's vegan pancakes. And homemade vegan ice cream, of course!
Do you have a favorite veg book?
Peter Singer's "Animal Liberation" helped me make the transition fromvegetarian to vegan. Since then, the Vegan Outreach essay "A MeaningfulLife" has helped me to become a more effective advocate for animals.
Tofu or tempeh?
I'm trying to learn to like tempeh, but I'm really a tofu girl.
What did you have for breakfast today?
Raisin Bran, soy milk, and a glass of orange juice.