I am half of the Cactus Kitchen Gals.
Alongside cooking food for events in our community, we are also excited to start this blog, to share recipes, ideas and stories around veganism. As these are the first blog posts, we might as well indulge ourselves and share a little more about us and our history with food.
At 16 I was terrified of frying an egg and if left to my own devices would have happily eaten cereal 24/7. I would love to watch other people cook and look at recipes all day, but would never be brave enough to try anything out myself.
That changed when my family first adopted a doggo and a few days later I became a vegetarian. The idea had been there for a while; “Earthlings” (2005) and “Behind the Mask” (2006) had made me aware of the ethical reasons that would make people switch to a plant-based diet, and through several years of protesting Circuses and Bull fights I had some friends that had made the switch.
I realised I would probably have to find ways to still eat without my mum’s amazing cooking. So I started making Seitan (oh, the effort!) and “cook” with tofu (who knew you are supposed to press and marinate it!?). Quite a few years passed in which I would swing between vegetarianism and meat eating, but always knowing that what I was doing didn’t feel right to me.
In my second year of university I decided to finally take the step again and, although I initially defined myself as a vegetarian, I would mainly eat plant-based which ended in me making the full change at the end of 2016.
My relationship with food hasn’t always been a healthy one. I would go from binge eating to not being able to eat at all when stressed. Especially on difficult days I would often (and still do sometimes) eat a lot of junk until lying in bed in a food coma. Take out was too often the dinner option. However, with poor mental health and on a budget, I had to come up with easy recipes that were freezer friendly, for those days when going from my bed to the kitchen was the most activity I could do.
Veganism sparked my curiosity not only in trying out new recipes and experimenting in the kitchen, but also in healthier food. Like many, I was terrified of not getting enough protein, iron, etc., and this made me start reading up a lot on nutrition. I learned how much and what I really need. With all the research I was also made more aware of the environmental and health reasons people had to go vegan, and started mentioning those as well as ethical reasons to why I am not consuming animal products.
I think of vegan food as something that can (but doesn’t always have to) be healthy, still taste awesome, and above all, something that can bring people together in a wholesome and positive way. Spending time cooking and eating with friends and family is one of my favourite things, and I would love to share this experience with as many people as possible.
You can check out Sophie’s blog post here (the other half of CKG).