Keeping It Real

We recently completed a marathon week of guests. I had known about the visits for a long time (Europeans plan way ahead!) and was super excited about preparing and serving a bounty of vegan meals for each of them to showcase how delicious plant-based eating can be (and perhaps sow some tiny seeds).

First, let’s get one thing clear. Anyone who knows me for five minutes learns that I’m neither a confident cook nor an easy entertainer so adding the vegan dynamic took the stress level up a notch. But, as anyone who knows me for 5 minutes, also learns that I’m passionate about health and the environment so I was willing to push myself out of my comfort zone for the “cause”.

I had been looking through cook books and the abundance of online sources for inspiring ideas and became genuinely excited about embarking on some new culinary creations. However, our house is on the market so actually testing out any of these recipes had not transpired in real life since we constantly need to keep the house clean and free from smells.

No matter what kind of entertaining one does, it helps to have a few “tried and true” recipes that are always winners. That will be the key to my vegan entertaining in the future, however, the stars aligned for that not to happen this time.

This sweet family from Sweden were the first to arrive.

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We’ve known Mattias and Emma for almost 20 years when they worked with Niklas at Dell Nordic. Unfortunately, I was ill while they were here and could barely drag myself out of bed which threw me since I rarely get sick. Niklas totally stepped up during their stay and handled most of the entertaining and kindly offered to pick up cheese pizzas for the night they were coming here for dinner. As much as I hated to give up the chance to dazzle them with mind-blowing vegan food, I succumbed. Had we had our default entertainment recipes nailed down, I’m sure we wouldn’t have caved to convenience. There were several other factors that added to the dilemma which I won’t go into, but suffice it to say, we were stretched to capacity and then some.

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Next up were the Norwegians. You may remember our friend, “Jane” from either this post or this one back from our Paris days. They arrived on the heels of the Swedes and since a) I still wasn’t 100% and b) we had one cheese pizza left from the Swedes, we served that bad boy up. We didn’t buy any more even though the Moes can plow through one on their own in no time, but rather had it as a side in a whole buffet of colorful veggies and dips and lentils and salads and fruit. We were making progress.

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The Brazilan and Texan arrived the next day. After getting a late start from LA, they arrived after lunch so no meal for them. My old self would have served a glorified  FIKA, but I’m on a mission and offered them the OneGreenSmoothie challenge instead–and a deep dark green one to boot! Easiest entertaining ever and they were great sports about it. They’ve been vegan for 3+ years now so of course we blew off the catching up and had a deep dive on the realities and challenges for families trying to be plant based. Bottom line–don’t try to be perfect all the time.

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The following day, we had a celebration dinner for Sean (right) and Sanford from Sonos. Niklas happened to mention our beloved Cowspiracy documentary to Sean one day last January. He and his girlfriend watched it and immediately did the 30 day vegan challenge and loved the results. They are still veganish, a term I love because it gives people the flexibility to be vegan most of the time, but not feel like they have to be perfect all the time. Trust me, any and every little bit helps our health, the earth, the animals and is worthy of celebrating!

Sanford and Niklas started to play table tennis at SONOS and to level up the competition, made an agreement that whomever lost the series, would have to do something nice for the winner. Niklas won and asked Sanford if he would go meatless for a month as his act of kindness. To his credit, Sanford eagerly agreed. Not only did he take it seriously, he was dedicated until the very end! He, too, said he will continue to consume much less meat and dairy now that his “gap in knowledge” is closing as a result of his month of being vegan. sonos1

By this time, I was finally back to myself and prepared a full vegan menu to celebrate with these great guys! It was so much fun creating the food and sharing it with them to commemorate their contributions to the greater good. Not only were they good sports about the 30 day vegan challenge and the OneGreenSmoothie Challenge, they were super sweet to take on Linnea and Mattias in a rousing badminton match!

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Dare I say all those plant foods give one loads of energy!?!?

Thank you to all our guests for giving us the chance to explore entertaining as a plant based family. While we weren’t perfect, we definitely made progress and have a little more experience behind us as we progress on this endeavor.

 

 

 

Too Extreme?

My friend, Anette, wrote the following comment on the Swedish Surprise post:

I’m thinking that everyone had ice cream and your kids got broccoli!

Some background before you think she was being mean: Anette is Swedish herself. In fact, that’s how we met–through a Swedish play group when our oldest kids were toddlers. I think it’s fair to say Swedes have an obsession with ice cream, consuming even more than gelato-wielding Italians so it’s natural to serve ice cream for dessert to Swedes. And she meant it to be funny.

However, Anette’s comment sparks an interesting conversation and that’s what OneGreenSmoothie is all about–open discussions about why and what it’s like to be plant based. There are many misconceptions about vegan diets, but here are a few related to her comment:

  • veganism is extreme
  • veganism is deprivation
  • vegans don’t have fun

Extremism–veganism probably seems extreme when compared to the Standard American Diet aka SAD, but when viewed from a health perspective, the environmental impact lens, or animal welfare concern, it’s the SAD diet that is extreme in it’s over reliance on processed carbs, animal consumption, and convenience food. We all know vegetarians and if you think about it,  the step between being vegetarian and vegan is short–just the elimination of eggs and dairy so really not that “extreme”. Of course veganism is typically associated with a full lifestyle rather than just dietary, but for the sake of brevity here, let’s just stay food focused.

If you are courageous enough to watch this incredibly powerful speech , I am confident you will conclude that veganism is not the extreme, but rather the other way around. I’d love to hear your thoughts after viewing either way.

Deprivation–When first going plant based, it can definitely feel like “you can’t eat anything.” We certainly felt that way in the beginning and to be clear, we are not 100% perfect 100% of the time. However, now that we’ve been in this general mode for a year or so, we’ve realized that we’ve actually increased the variety of foods we’re eating. We have explored all sorts of beans and lentils and veggies and grains and tofus and tempehs and so much more than we ever would have considered before. See my Dallas post with the “Best Tacos Ever!”

Fun Factor–this has simply not been our experience. We still have fun, despite the grim faces in the picture I posted that elicited Anette’s comment. In fact, it’s actually been a bonding adventure for our family. We found a cool vegan-friendly restaurant, Mountain Rambler Brewery in Bishop, CA when we went skiing in Mammoth Lakes this past winter. Niklas and the twins found a vegan-friendly food spot at Magic Mountain just last month. When we travel, we go on a hunt for vegan-friendly places or at least a local Whole Foods Market. Discovering new places, food items, and recipes is all fun! Is it always easy? Not in the least. But it does get easier with experience.

Thank you, Anette, for unwittingly getting the conversation going. And to answer your question, no, the Moe kids did not get broccoli for desert! There are so many amazing vegan treats that it would be easy for anyone to be a “junk food vegan”. But we’ll leave that for another time.

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Love to hear your thoughts anytime!