Showing People How Vegan Food Can Be Extraordinary

By Carly Sitner, Guest Contributor

My life as a vegan started when I chose to do a speech in high school about animal testing on cosmetics. Not knowing anything about the world in regards to animal rights and ethics, I was more than bothered by what I read and watched with my own eyes. That day I decided that I no longer wanted to be part of a lifestyle that promoted cruelty to animals in any regard. Immediately my mother was concerned, worrying I would wither away into nothing, but my love of cooking helped me jump into a world of produce I never knew. All of a sudden my diet no longer consisted of things coming from boxes, being mixed with water or powdered cheese. I was forced to read everything and learn about ingredients I never bothered to know existed prior. I became informed and enlightened, and my desire to be vegan propelled me to want to cook vegan food constantly. I wanted to know how to cook for myself and once I got the hang of that, I looked square in the eye of baking and demanded answers.

My parents were incredibly supportive of my journey. My mom went and bought vegan cookbooks and often made vegan versions of dinner for me so we could all enjoy sitting around the table together. While I had never made mention of culinary school, my desire to cook was not a surprise. When I learned about The Natural Gourmet Institute, a fully accredited culinary school in NYC that specializes in vegan food and nutrition, it took very little convincing from me for them to agree that I should go.

My time in NYC was some of the best years of my life. Finally school was something I loved going to everyday and the city stole my heart immediately. But after graduating and working at a few vegan places in Manhattan, the Pacific Northwest and my soon-to-be husband were calling my name.

I packed up and moved to Portland, Oregon, land of all things vegan. Where a doughnut, bowl of soft serve, plate of homemade gnocchi, some of the best Mexican food and best produce were all vegan and all at my disposal on any given day. In Portland I bounced around as a baker and pastry chef, honing my skills and deepening my love for food.

Nowadays I am 5 years + married and just adopted my first daughter. I absolutely cannot wait for her to try her first plate of Ethiopian food at my favorite restaurant here in town. In my spare time, I cook and bake at home and share my recipes with whoever wants them on my blog. Since day one my goal has always been to inspire and educate people about a vegan lifestyle, not by preaching or scolding, but by showing them just how easy and delicious vegan food is. With interest comes education and an open mind, and that’s when change happens.