How long have you been vegetarian/vegan?
I've been vegetarian since age 14, circa 1977, except for a brief omni stint.  More recently, I've been vegan since 2006. I actually first tried going vegan in 1986 but it only lasted for a month. Back then it was a lot harder: soy milk tasted like plastic!

When and why did you start your blog?
I started the original blog in 2006. Plant-based diets were nowhere near as popular or accepted as today, and at that time, I felt alone in my beliefs. By blogging, I connected with like-minded people, many of whom have become my friends.

What's your culinary point of view?
Most of my recipes are inspired by living in the northeastern US megalopolis, hence the name "Urban Vegan." But the impetus for a new dish can come from anything – traveling, paging through a cookbook, or seeing a gorgeous bunch of kale at a pop-up farmer's stall. Although most of my food is healthy by virtue of my plant-based, mostly-whole-food ingredients, I don't claim to make health food – others do that so much better. I'm happier when I give myself permission to sin, so I try to live by the 80-20 rule.

What happened to your original blog?
I took it down after my ex and I separated/divorced. Even though I'm fairly transparent about my personal life, the split was extremely painful and I needed to distance myself from that horrible time. Closing down that blog gave me closure. I occasionally resurrect some popular posts as "Blasts from the Past." If there's a specific post you'd like me to reprint, please email me.

Bossa Nova and Pablo, snoozing

Are you a welfarist or an abolishionist?
Neither. I'm an imperfect vegan who does the best she can in her own small way. Like other vegans, I experience menu and restaurant malfunctions, I deal as best I can with inevitable grey areas [like feeding my cats], and I make mistakes.

I have no interest in debating veganism, in looking at other herbivores under a microscope, or in persuading others to do anything they don't freely want to do. Anything you do to help animals – whether you are an omnivore who has rescued an abused animal, or a committed vegan who is transitioning animal fibers out of your wardrobe – is an honorable endeavor in my eyes.

Are all vegans judgmental?
No, that's a stereotype. But I don't appreciate judgmental vegans. What was once termed as the "vegan police" has recently morphed into the louder, extremist "vegan Taliban." They judge other vegans mercilessly, not to mention vegetarians, omnivores, and every variety in-between.

I try to remember that most of us were not born vegan or vegetarian. We all came to our lifestyles/diets on our own time frames, at our own paces.  Positivity is contagious – and so is negativity.

Perfect vegan? Not possible...
...Unless of course, you live off the grid, are totally self-reliant, and are basically cut off from societyI strive not to eat, wear, or use any animal products. But perfection is not possible in this area – or in any area of life. Sadly, animal products are omnipresent – in plastic bags, car and bike tires, glues [used in many purchased items] fireworks, dry wall, plywood, antifreeze, house paint, freon for auto and home air conditioning, etc. You see how impossible it is to be a perfect vegan right now?

That doesn't mean we should not aspire to be the best we can be – or that a 100% animal-free life will never be possible. But it does mean we have no right to judge other vegans.

Buttons was rescued from the alley by my loft. ? - 2013. RIP.

What can I do to help animals?
I share recipes to help people fall in love with plant-based eating – it's what I do best. Your talents may be different. Maybe you're a kickass activist or an entrepreneur. Perhaps you're a film maker or a cat whisperer. An uber-volunteer or a social media maven. Just be yourself, and do whatever you are passionate about.

What's your product review policy?
I do product reviews with full disclosure, and whenever possible, try to tie them into a giveaway contest so you, my lovely readers, can try them yourselves. Companies be forewarned: I call 'em like I see 'em – the good, the bed and the ugly.

What are your interests besides vegan cooking?
I love traveling, running, reading, sewing, knitting, social media, art, and being outside. There's not enough time in the day for everything.

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