Photo: Steph Yu

Photo: Steph Yu

On Easy Animal-Free, I share real-life recipes, strategies, tips, and info to help you—and those you love—eat more plants.

There are hundreds of fantastic vegan cookbooks out there, and thousands more vegan recipes online. The recipes run the range from simple to complex, from healthy to indulgent, from Indian to French cuisine. Yet, in my work as a farmed animal protection lawyer, I kept hearing the same thing from people who wanted to eat more plant-based: I don’t know what to eat. How can this be, when every recipe or technique we could ever want is at our fingertips?

I actually totally get it. I too once had a shelf full of cookbooks and decent cooking skills, yet would completely blank at dinner time. I too once relied on take-out way more than I’d care to admit. Eventually, through trial and error and more trial, I hacked the vegan family kitchen to figure out how to create maximally delicious meals for minimal effort—meals that are nutritionally balanced, family-friendly, practical, tasty, and satisfying. I love sharing with you what I’ve learned, and what I’m continuing to learn.

I started Easy Animal-Free as an Instagram account to share the food that I’m really feeding my family on a daily basis. That grew into talking about topics beyond the actual food, arguably the ones that matter more to so many of us—like how to decide what to make for dinner in the first place, how to cook without recipes, and how to get our kids to eat their @%&$ veggies. 

I try to keep things on the lighter side around here, not because there aren’t terrible things happening in the world, but because there are terrible things happening in the world. In my case, focusing too intensely on combatting atrocities made me feel depleted and bitter. I’ve become much happier and, I think, more effective focusing on solutions, meeting people where they’re at, and writing about topics that bring us together and create connections. My sense is that we all need more of this.

I’ve heard from so many of you that what I’m sharing is making a difference, so I’ll continue to share about the food and related topics that I find interesting and helpful. I also get so much inspiration from you too, through your comments and messages. Thanks for being here with me—you enable Easy Animal-Free to exist. 

About Me and My Family

As a plant-based food lawyer and writer, and director of the Plant-based Policy Centre, I advocate for plant-based policies as solutions to public health, climate change, and animal welfare issues. I believe good food choices should be the easy food choices—more than conscious consumers, we need a responsible, kind, sustainable food system. I lecture on food law issues at conferences, government committees, and law schools across the country, appear regularly in the media, and have written dozens of op eds and even a legal textbook chapter on plant-based food law topics.

As a child, I had a strong connection to animals, from hamsters to horses. I loved them so much that around the age of 10 I became a vegetarian. This was in the 1990s, when vegetarian cuisine was terrible but nobody cared because we all had terrible taste anyway. I ate canned baked beans, boxed mac and cheese, vegetable-flavoured ramen noodles, and peanut butter on rice cakes. I didn’t know the first thing about farming and I was a certified cheeseaholic with epicurean expertise in French fries. 

In my 20s, I started to think more about where my food came from. The more I researched, the less I wanted to support modern-day animal farming. When I read a very sad account of a downed bull at a slaughterhouse, the switch flipped for me, and animal foods totally lost their appeal. My love for animals won out over my love for cheese.  

Fortunately, my husband was on board. As a former world-class rower who’d eaten 6,000 calories per day, he had a special interest in food as fuel. When we’d met, he’d noticed the nutrition panel on lentils: they’re rich in protein, fibre, and iron, and low in fat. But as someone with limited kitchen skills, he was literally boiling lentils and eating them with ketchup. When I showed him the world of simple homemade Indian-inspired lentil curries, he was all in.  

Our two children were both the product of vegan pregnancies. They’re big boys now, strong, energetic, happy, and smart—living proof that vegan children can thrive.

Even my parents couldn’t resist my plant-based tentacles. Nearly 70 years old and a decade into a mostly plant-based diet, they’re both active and energetic, performing music, jogging and snowshoeing, and travelling the world. This is especially meaningful to me because I lost my paternal aunt and grandfather to heart disease—she in her 50s, and he in his 60s. Many people don’t realize how powerful our dietary choices are for not only extending our lifespan, but extending our health span, too.