The author behind this blog is Vanessa. Heya by the way! 🙂 I am born and raised Orthodox with a bit of a hippie soul. I also have been plant based for three years and mostly vegan for almost a year but it wasn’t always like that. I enjoy reading, getting to know anyone, nature, pilates, running, reading everything especially cookbooks and bring a licensed massage therapist.
For awhile, a lot of what I enjoyed to do was hindered by symptoms of IBS that started in massage school. I was even advised to spend more money I didn’t have and pursue something else, because it’s going to be difficult for me to be successful. I appreciated their honesty, but I only half believed it.
I took such a joy in seeing family, friends and clients that I knew this couldn’t be it for me. And it wasn’t. I could succeed and beat this. I had the tools right in front of me.
For one, I was studying massage therapy which is the study of anatomy and how our anatomy functions, how muscles work and their attachment sites as well as variouses diseases and conditions. After a short while, it clicked that our bodies can only consume so much. The body is not designed for overload otherwise disorder will soon be present. I looked at my diet which at the time was nowhere what it is now. I could put away large strombolis, a half a dozen of pieorgies, pizza and bacon burgers. I also loved seafood. I liked to eat a little bit of everything.
Needless to say, the stomach doesn’t agree and I’ve dealt with IBS symptoms. I did my research on alternative diets and accepting plant based potluck invitations. I started slow as a pescetarian and noticed mild improvement but really felt my life turn around for the better once I went vegetarian. Seeing friends that were vegan and successful was inspiring which ended up in me taking the plunge earlier this year around my birthday. Veganism has been a challenge and I’m not 100% but do feel relieved to feel a lot better today. Would I credit and recommend a plant based diet? Yes and yes.
As I fell into my alternative diet, I began to feel even more isolated from my mostly conservative family and church. “I don’t know what you eat,” or “I couldn’t eat like that,” were common responses. I still stuck by my diet because it made me feel good not in an egotistical sense but a functional sense. I was the unofficial token “what does she eat?” parishioner, outside of not being able to sing, sew or having an adequate background to teach Sunday School.
But I still loved the Orthodox church and faith. I was baptized in the Orthodox faith. I was taken aback by the hospitality and humility to Christ and the church. And also the icons. The same icons of Jesus and the Theotokos that has always been there since my Sunday School days to the ones that my husband and I were standing in front of during our Crowning on our wedding day. I wasn’t sure how to give back or what my “special talent” that Father always talked about that everyone had was.
As someone who enjoys writing, I enjoy observing people even over participation. Between real life and online, I noticed a common stress in finding delicious and healthy recipes for fasting periods. Our fasting periods consist of a mostly vegan diet. I had a light bulb moment. Why not share some of my favorite plant based recipes with my church? That’s how and why this blog was born.
Of course, there’s another important part to this blog.
Training my Orthodox husband from cookies to kale….
I met my convert husband at church and coffee hour. We’re a lot alike in ways, but in ways we can be opposite of one another. When I first met my husband, I learned more about the faith than ever which embarrassed me a bit as a cradle. But he never judged me for being cradle and not knowing we don’t cross ourselves when the priest stands in front of us and gives us a blessing. He was patient. He was kind. He was also humble. I learned. I got better.
But he also loved to pile his plate high at coffee hour with all the sweets you could imagine. His idea of date night, at first, was a parish festival. Two places I enjoyed for the fellowship but made me cringe because as a plant based and mostly vegan woman, there was often little for me to eat and we plant based people truly enjoy to eat too!
Coffee hour and festivals also tended to be unhealthy and I was always a health nut. I know how to cook with kohlrabi and fenugreek and actually enjoy it. I read labels. I drink kale smoothies religiously but only after morning prayer. I listen to Dr. Axe and Dr. Greger and support an integrative approach to medicine and healing. I’m optimistic and believe in little victories, simple pleasures and making wishes on balloons in the park. I believe diet either heals or hurts. Aside from my massage license, I should have just added registered dietician to my resume. 😂
So, you could only imagine that I stood out like a sore thumb for awhile at church, where meat rules the roost at festivals and banquets. There were some awkward exchanges between us including a time where I walked out of a church banquet because of their refusal to serve anything other than meat or dairy.
Although I did apologize for walking out of the banquet, I remained humble but optimistic that we weren’t all the same. I never used to enjoy big amounts of meat or dairy and feel sensitive to animal cruelty and oppose factory farming. Perhaps in Biblical times, Jesus and the Apostles killed and ate lamb to survive but the entire process just hurts me. Plus, we now know that we don’t have to eat meat for survival. Numerous studies show a vegetarian and vegan diet has been not only satisfying but helpful in healing the body and mind.
I started bringing my own food to coffee hour. I tried to make enough for everyone in case anyone wanted to try anything. But I didn’t and don’t mention the ingredients (unless someone askes) nor did I expect or secretly wish that everyone will eat the way I eat. I just wanted and want respect, if not, acceptance.
But then something happened over time and things got better.
I endured empty dessert platters often even before I made it over to coffee hour, compliments on my potluck dishes and a request to keep bringing my chocolate chip cookies.
Hardly anyone knows it’s vegan nor does it even taste earthy. My favorite recipes stem from recipes I used to eat before I stopped eating meat or dairy. It’s been surreal how good and good for you some of it tastes!
Although my husband is not vegan or plant based, he has always been slightly more open but still readily ready to reach for a homemade cinnamon bun or a scone. He always had goals in mind to getting healthy again but that can be hard to do when a lovely person surprises everyone with homemade cinnamon buns and when you often travel for work.
It can be very difficult, but not impossible. And I’m determined to help him.
Is it kale smoothies and spirulina from here on out? Not exactly, but I realize someone can’t walk before they learn how to crawl. And neither is a diet solely consisting of clean eating neither truly healthy or the go to. That would just make me want to binge on French fries, to be honest. After marriage, the meal is one of the few times in a day that a couple and family can truly be with each other undisturbed. So, it’s important to make sure the meal can be thoughtful, creative, heartful and not in the least, delicious.
This is why Honey & Allspice was founded and developed: tying food, faith, marriage and life together. I hope you will find the resources helpful, comical and/or heartwarming if you have similar goals or are just looking for simple and delicious vegan recipes.
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