What inspired you to become a strict vegetarian? The reasons I chose to become a vegan are numerous, but the main reason boils down to a comprehensive response to today’s food culture. Our food choices can preserve the integrity of the natural world and not contribute to industrial environmental degradation. Making good food choices, such as eating seasonally and locally, can be one simple thing we can all do to make a difference.
Many have heard of “meatless Mondays,” but what would happen to the health of individuals and the Earth if people would expand that practice to just two days a week?
I know I am just one person, but I believe in trying to reduce my own carbon footprint while I eat sustainably and live compassionately for my health, the land, the air, the water, my fellow citizens and the animals of the world.
What do you say to people who think a plant-based diet is boring? Fajitas and stir-fries are anything but boring. A person can explore so many different cultures and cuisines of the world through wonderful herbs and spices, and you don’t even miss the meat.
I am living with my grandparents, Bourke and Barbara Dreyer, and while my grandpa enjoys his meat and sugar, they are both willing to try foods I prepare. Grandpa likes my flatbread, and Grandma told me she thought I was turning into a gourmet cook. She even liked the spring rolls I made.
I will experiment with ingredients such as buckwheat, wild rice, polenta and miso. Food is a passion of mine, and I love reading recipes and preparing new dishes.
Do you think you also lead a locavore lifestyle? Yes, it’s important for me to know from where my food has come, and I also have friends that aren’t vegetarians who inspire me by eating locally. As a vegan, it’s important that I don’t heavily rely on processed soy products, but it can be tough to eat local vegetables when it’s the middle of winter.
The summer produce is wonderful, and I am growing some of my own food, including herbs — such as oregano, mint and basil — kale, lettuces and tomatoes. My world is open to a large variety of fruits and vegetables, and there are so many from which to choose!
Why did you choose this recipe to share? This is my version of Johnny Carino’s Artichokes and Angel Hair Pasta from Carino’s Italian chain of restaurants. I chose something simple to share, because I know sometimes people get a little freaked out by meat substitutes, like tofu, and this is a dish anyone can make and enjoy. You don’t have to use angel hair noodles, and sometimes, I even make my own pasta.
For me, veganism is about compassion and not being harsh to that which surrounds me, whether it’s humans, animals or the Earth’s environment. That I choose not to eat food derived from animals as a vegan doesn’t have to be weird. In fact, it is my greatest hope that every human can be even a little vegan every now and again.
Mary G. Pepitone is a freelance writer who lives in Leawood. She also writes a nationally syndicated home column. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org to nominate a cook.
Residence: Kansas City, Kan.
Occupation: Freelance writer
Special cooking interest: Vegan
Mediterranean Vegetable Pasta
1 (8-ounce) package angel hair pasta (for a vegan dish, use pasta not made with eggs)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup cut (2-inch-dice) fresh asparagus
2 Roma tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1/4 cup capers, rinsed and drained
1/4 cup Kalamata olives, roughly chopped
1 cup chopped marinated artichoke hearts
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
Prepare pasta to the al dente stage according to the directions.
While pasta is boiling, heat a large saute pan over medium-high heat and warm oil. Saute garlic and asparagus for about 5 minutes. Add tomatoes, capers, olives and artichokes to pan and saute until warmed through.
Drain pasta and pour into saute pan. Gently stir together and season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.
Per serving: 650 calories (24 percent from fat), 18 grams total fat (2 grams saturated), no cholesterol, 105 grams carbohydrates, 20 grams protein, 936 milligrams sodium, 11 grams dietary fiber.