Maybe it’s because I’m getting older and more inclined to speak my mind. Maybe it’s because I’m so passionate about being vegan. Maybe it’s something I haven’t even thought of yet. Whatever it is, I’ve become one of those people. A letter-to-the-editor-writer.
I’ve been ranting on Technorati for a while now and then there was my recent response to The Plain Dealer article about veganism and earlier this month, I fired off a letter to the editor of Cooking Light magazine. That letter had been simmering inside me for quite some time and when I got a notice that I was about to receive my last issue, the spark was lit. They needed to know (well, I thought they needed to know) why I wasn’t renewing my subscription, even though I’d been a loyal subscriber for many years. And since my letter has very little chance of seeing the (cooking) light of day otherwise – no doubt an efficient administrative assistant has filed my letter under Crazy Vegan - I decided to “publish” it here on my blog.
What about you? Have the urge to let someone know how you feel about veganism?
Scott Mowbray, Editor
P.O. Box 1748
Birmingham, AL 35201
Dear Mr. Mowbray,
I have been a mostly-on, sometime-off again subscriber to Cooking Light for over 20 years. One shelf of my cookbook bookcase is devoted to Cooking Light Annual Recipe books, all of them filled with sticky notes and my terrible penmanship. One way or another, Cooking Light has been a trusted kitchen companion for a long time. However, I am once again letting my subscription lapse – permanently this time. Cooking Light’s culinary path and mine have finally diverged too far.
You see, a little over a year ago, after many years as a vegetarian, I adopted a plant-based diet; one that also excludes refined sugars and added oils (even the so-called “good” ones like olive oil). This was an ethical choice, but primarily one made for health, based on the powerful evidence presented in T. Colin Campbell’s The China Study and Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn’s amazing book, Preventing and Reversing Heart Disease. The recent Harvard School of Public Health study further confirms their findings: that consuming meat is associated with increased risks of death by cardiovascular disease and cancer.
As the evidence of the benefits of adopting a plant-based diet and foregoing meat and dairy mounts, Cooking Light’s recipes become less and less relevant to my lifestyle and the way that I wish to care for my body. It is not enough anymore to eat light.
I am very surprised that Cooking Light has apparently chosen to ignore both Campbell’s and Esselstyn’s findings. It would be wonderful to see the magazine blaze a trail – to encourage its readers to eat not only lightly, but thoughtfully, ethically and healthfully by preparing and consuming meals that are animal-free. Cooking Light could help shatter the myths that a vegan diet is boring, difficult to follow, time-consuming to prepare, and that getting the necessary vitamins, minerals and protein is next to impossible. At 45, I am in the best shape of my life. I run, practice yoga, lift weights, garden, keep up with a puppy, write a vegan recipe blog, prepare three meals a day, bake all of our own bread and run a small greeting card business from my home. I have the energy of an eighteen year old (as long as that 18 year old isn’t eating the typical “Western” diet, that is!).
I am not suggesting that Cooking Light become a vegan recipe magazine. That would be unrealistic considering the strong pull our society seems to have to consume meat and dairy. A change that big takes time. However, it would be a benefit to subscribers to at the minimum include plant-based recipes in each issue – not coated in cheese or based on eggs as the recipes in The Enlightened Cook/Everyday Vegetarian section are now. True enlightenment would be to include dairy-free, plant-based recipes! By the way, it is a shame that Mark Bittman’s column very often includes meat; he has wonderful vegan recipes that I’m sure would satisfy cooks and eaters of all stripes.
Thank you for many years of cooking enjoyment and learning. My Annual books will remain on my shelves – it is a challenge for me to veganize these recipes and some have become beloved staples. When Cooking Light decides to include creative, delicious and healthy plant-based recipes within its pages, let me know. I will happily become a subscriber once again.
P.S. For dinner this evening, I prepared a recipe from my final issue (April 2012). It’s the Eggplant Involtini recipe from Everyday Vegetarian. I made an easy tofu ricotta – it’s so creamy and flavorful it blows the “real” stuff away – and topped the eggplant rolls with cashew cream instead of Parmesan.