I write a food blog, manage a smartphone recipe app, and am a few months shy of getting my masters degree in public health nutrition. Like many of us who read the Food & Nutrition Magazine's Stone Soup blog, my passion is all things wellness, food and nutrition.
Ironically, nearly three years ago, my decision to adopt a vegan lifestyle had nothing to do with health. Sure, I was aware of the research showing the benefits of a meat-free diet and a reduced risk of developing heart disease and diabetes, but I was young and didn't yet have a fear of those diseases.
The call for me to become a vegan came after reading The Kind Diet by Alicia Silverstone. This was the first time I really thought about the realities of factory farming and animal suffering in a way that touched my very core. Within days of finishing the book, I decided to become a vegan.
After the initial excitement wore off, my veganism grew in ways I never expected. A few months later, I read the book Eat to Live by Dr. Joel Fuhrman. It argues that a primarily plant-based diet is best for optimal health. I cut back on the processed vegan food and significantly increased my intake of vegetables. Within a few months, my chronic migraines, allergies, anxiety and excess weight disappeared, and I was feeling my best ever.
Then, two years into my new lifestyle, I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. Depression, shame and betrayal ensued. Why hadn't my meat-free diet protected me from this diagnosis? Was I a vegan- and health-advocate failure for having gotten cancer? Aside from making plans for surgery to remove the malignant tumor, I experienced a turbulent battle with my emotions.
I learned later that thyroid cancer often takes years to develop and there was no way to figure out why it appeared when it did. After I had the surgery to remove my thyroid and was told by my doctors that I was cancer-free, I was able to understand that my veganism was so much more than my own food choices.
Now, as I approach my third year of being vegan, I appreciate that the passion for continuing my life as a vegan is based on the very reason why I became a vegan: a deep love and respect for living beings and a desire to reduce suffering. Many people call this "ethical veganism" and it accurately describes my desire to live a compassionate life, all while enjoying the cruelty-free, whole plant-foods that are as nutritious as they are delicious…like this vegan "ice cream."
Strawberry and Vanilla "Nice" Cream
Recipe by Carrie Forrest
You'll need an ice-cream maker for this recipe, but this "nice" cream using coconut milk as a base is a wonderful alternative to a traditional dairy-based ice cream.
1 13.5-ounce can full-fat coconut milk
2 cups unsweetened soy milk
1 1/2 cups pitted Medjool dates
1 pint strawberries
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 vanilla bean
- Place the can of coconut milk in the refrigerator until chilled thoroughly.
- Combine coconut milk, soy milk, dates, strawberries, vanilla extract and the seeds of the vanilla bean in a high-speed blender and process until smooth.
- Pour the mixture into the base of an ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer's instructions.
Please note: If you like this recipe, you can find 100 more on Vegan Delish, my recipe app for iPhones and iPads.