I’m Sylvia and I am in my “refreshment” stage of life having retired 2 years ago to care for my mom. I was an executive for 25 years and now I am living my authentic self on a 2-acre food forest. We call our property the Good Earth Food Forest. My husband and I moved to Sarasota 2 years ago, and have been slowly converting our property into an edible landscape using the principles of permaculture. When I am not working on the property, I am preparing amazing vegan comfort food that incorporates raw meals, herbal remedies, live probiotics and organic food from our land. Some of the other areas of my lifestyle include minimalism, following Dave Ramsey’s principles and creative projects such as calligraphy, mosaics & breadmaking. My creative motto is “if you like it, make it”. I am the creator of GoodEarth Pure Soaps and make my soaps with all natural ingredients that I sell at www.GoodEarthPureSoaps.com.
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What was the moment you realized that you wanted to go vegan?
Growing up my mother made our meals from scratch. That was before the advent of microwavable food. We rarely ate fast food. Around age 12 my Dad was a Muslim for a short time and I was introduced to the concept of not consuming certain meats. Later in life, my older sister was a vegan/raw foodists/sometimes fruitarian/fasting-on-Saturdays and I lived with her after college. I quickly and eagerly began my journey to learn about what was important for my health. I also learned about the industrialization of food and the treatment of animals.
How long have you been Vegan?
In 1981, I started my plant based lifestyle and I was 22. That was 36 years ago and this year I turn 59.
Why is being Vegan important to you?
Eating vegan is important to me because I love my body and I want to have a good quality of life. I don’t want the usual aches, pains, medications, and diagnosis that a typical American diet provides for a person of my age. I know the industrialization of breeding and preparing animals for the market is not something I want to participate in or consume. I want fresh and local plant-based food.
Any recommended Vegan books?
If you are considering a vegan lifestyle I suggest that you do your own research and connect with other people in your community for support. I visited a slaughter house when I first started out in the 80’s so I could understand this decision for myself. It was gruesome. It was bloody. The meat was gray on hooks. Flies were everywhere and maggots. I gagged. The process to get that meat to the market takes weeks and months, dyes and chemicals to have it appear fresh. Back in the 80’s, the media did not show how meat was raised. Cages, drugs, etc… a long way from how Native Americans cared for animals before commercialized agriculture. There were no documentaries. There were very few books on the subject. When I started in the 80’s there was no one using the word vegan. The closest understanding to that word was a vegetarian. Vegetarian to my parents meant tofu, grass, twigs, berries, nuts and bland taste. We had Food Coop’s that carried bulk whole foods, not the Wholefoods Market we have today. Today there are so many options, combinations of fresh ingredients that more than pleasing the palate for sweet, savory, and salty cravings. I am vegan for the nutritional dense aspect and I would suggest if someone is contemplating veganism from a nutrition standpoint to study the importance of whole foods and nutrition. “Survival for the 21st Century” by Viktoras Kulvinskas was my Food Bible in the 80’s. Ann Wigmore and Dick Gregory were my Vegan role models. I would suggest people read books on living a plant based lifestyle to understand what are you saying yes to when you are saying no to consuming animals.
Any recommended social sites, Facebook Groups or other?
I suggest finding a local vegan network to be successful. Meetups are great. If you don’t have a local one in your area, create a meetup group. I did that when I lived in Lakeland, Florida (PolkVegConnect) and it was nice to have that support. On Facebook, I enjoy local Facebook groups like VegSarasota, VeganSarasota and Vegan Couples Sarasota.
Do you have a favorite movie or videos or your own media that you want to share?
My husband and I watch a few documentaries over and over again. We like “Simply Raw” which shows the transformation of medication dependent people who were able to reduce or stop their medication in 30 days on a raw vegan diet. We also like “Fork over Knives” and “Food Inc.”.
What is your favorite Vegan meme?
I love the vegan meme that shows pictures of what society thinks I do, what my parents think I do and what I actually do, which is an amazing array of fresh and delightful food.
What is the vegan stereotype you hear the most and how do you respond to it?
Protein, protein, protein. “Where do you get yours from?” is a common question. I always suggest they research new data on how much protein does the body actually need. Even the food pyramid developed by the USDA has drastically changed over the years. Food combining, B12, vegetables and Omega supplements are what I use. I’ve had my protein measured and doctors are always amazed at my numbers. Lastly, I always ask them to name a disease off the top of your head that is due to protein deficiency.
What’s your favorite Vegan restaurant?
I love comfort vegan food. I am a vegan foodie and nutrition snob. Everywhere I travel, I find a vegan spot. Sweet Peas in Tallahassee has it right. They know how to combine great local ingredients with fresh flavors. There are always sweet, savory and salty options available.
Please share your favorite vegan recipe?
My favorite meal would be 75% raw, 15% grains and 10% Savory (i.e.: buffalo veggie or tofu). This is sustainable for me. I fast several times a year, ensure my body is cleansing appropriately, and herbs are a vital part of my regime. I use food as medicine if I am ill. I incorporate live probiotics in my day such as making a batch of kombucha every week and I recently learned how to capture wild yeast to make sourdough bread.
The recipe for Buffalo Tofu
2 egg replacers
¼ cup of water or milk
1 cup all-purpose unbleached flour
1/3 cup of cornstarch
½ bottle buffalo sauce
4 tablespoon vegan butter
1 block of firm tofu or a vegetable like cauliflower
Squeeze water from tofu.
Cut in medium sized blocks
Whisk the ingredients together in a medium-size bowl.
Mix the flour and cornstarch in a large bag.
Dredge tofu into the batter then toss into the bag of flour.
Deep fry in a large pot of oil until light brown and crispy, then drain on a paper towel-lined tray.
Melt and mix ingredients on low settings on the stove.
Place the fried tofu in a baking dish with enough room so the tofu does not touch each other.
Pour sauce on tofu and ensure all the pieces are coated on all sides.
Bake at 375 for 20 – 30 minutes or until the tofu is sizzling with goodness.
Some encouraging words for new Vegans?
Vegans unite! Your tribe is everywhere. Facebook, Instagram, meetups, etc…. If you are going to be vegan, then you must have an interest in nutrition. Eating a taco from taco bell without the meat and dairy is not enough.
What does living cruelty-free mean to you?
Living cruelty-free is being aware of the areas in your life where you can build a habit and culture that is sustainable for all living creatures.
Talk about a time when you struggled with your Veganism?
I struggled with my vegan lifestyle during the time I raised my three children. My husband was not vegan at that time so dairy, chicken, and fish were part of their eating habits. Today all of my children are “flexitarians”, meaning they like and prefer REAL food, prepared in a healthy manner, with love, when they are home. My husband also eats very wholesome and mostly vegan.
What is one question you would ask other Vegans?
If I had a question for other vegans I would ask if they consume nutrient-dense food and my answer would be “yes”. Many in their quest to be cruelty-free are sometimes missing this aspect. Real food can be healing, uplifting and tasty. Be cruelty-free and