Toward a Cruelty-Free Christian Kitchen

Beet salad with vinegar dressing over greens, finished pine nuts and raisins + vegan potato salad

Christian and Vegan aren’t two identifiers that tend to go hand-in-hand.

Most Christians I know are happy meat-eaters who will point to the passage in Acts 10 where God showed Peter all the unclean animals Jews used to avoid eating, and told him to “eat.” The point of this passage was to demonstrate Christian liberation from the legalism of the old Covenant. And it’s a frequently-cited passage by people who think that Christian veganism is just… well … weird.

Most Vegans I know aren’t Christian–especially if they’re vegan “for the animals,” as the phrase often goes. Because let’s be honest. St. Peter and PETA wouldn’t get along real well.

If it was good enough for St. Peter, then it should be good enough for me, right?

So how on earth did I become a Christian vegan?

Before we begin, it’s important for me to say that I affirm the Acts passage and recognize that it’s not inherently wrong to eat meat.

I believe we live in a fallen world that won’t be right or beautiful again until Christ returns. Death in all its forms–for both humans and animals–is a consequence of The Fall that can’t really be avoided.

I do my best not to judge people who choose to continue consuming animal products.

But… BUT…

I’ve had to stop and ask myself the question, “Just because death is unavoidable, does that mean I want to be responsible for more of it than necessary?”

“All things are permissible for me,” St. Paul wrote. “But not all things are beneficial.” (1 Corinthians 10:23)

For me, consuming animal products is not expedient any longer.

Here’s why.

First, I received a command from God to go vegan at a certain point in my life.

I had already been on a long journey with the Holy Spirit to clean up my temple and treat it properly so that I could hear Him better. When a friend challenged me to a Daniel Fast it transformed my life, and I really felt the desire to continue that commitment by remaining vegan after the fast.

Not everyone can claim God told them to go vegan. And I wouldn’t expect them to. But I have to admit, it’s done a lot for my spiritual life.

Not only has it cleaned a lot of toxins out of my system that (I believe) were blocking spiritual receptivity, but it forces me to be more disciplined about my food choices. And that’s always a healthy thing for my spiritual life.

Around that same time, I was also told to shave my head, let go of makeup and stop wearing a bra–both of which (along with going vegan) really were outward signs of my commitment to following God, and to finding my worth and beauty only in Him.

All of this radically changed my life–and I recommend that any Christian woman make these four commitments for a defined period of time at least once in their lives.

Your relationship with your hair, your makeup, your female body parts and your eating are likely some of the most wounded parts of your feminine self.

God in His infinite wisdom raised all this for healing.

In the other areas, I was led to return to “normal” living. But for some reason, veganism stuck. Perhaps for Reason #2.

Second, veganism is a beautiful, tangible way of expressing your longing for the Kingdom of God on earth.

It says in Revelation that one day there will be no more sorrow, no more death, and that even the lion will one day lie down with the lamb in harmony.

I long for this day. And my eating habits are one way I can show my deep desire for that restoration of the harmony once found in the Garden of Eden. Every time I sit down to a plant-based meal–especially if I’m in the company of meat eaters–I’m reminded of what I’m hoping for.

Basically, you’re all going to be vegan one day, yo. May as well get a jumpstart.

It might sound strange at first. But this principle has actually promoted a lot of joy for me in this life choice.

Every time I enjoy a satisfying meal that didn’t involve cruelty toward any creature–including removing the mother’s young or depriving her of bodily fluids (ie: milk) intended to nurture her young–I tell God how excited I am to inhabit that future Kingdom where the world really will be the way He intended it.

Third, there are just a lot of health benefits.

Can a vegan diet be imbalanced? Yes. Do vegans have to be careful about certain nutrients and supplements to ensure they’re getting everything they need? Yes.

But if we’re committed to eating healthy while we’re eating vegan, we’re not over-consuming fats and proteins. (Yes, protein really is the most overrated thing people talk about when they object to veganism.)

I firmly believe that all flesh carries life energy, and when we’re eating dead flesh, we’re consuming all the terror, sorrow and pain that went into the final moments of the creature’s life before their flesh was taken.

How healthy can it really be to have that junk in my body?

Leonardo da Vinci expressed it well when he said, “My body will not be a tomb for other creatures.”

All things are permissible, yes. But not all things are beneficial.

Fourth, veganism has inspired me to have all kinds of adventures with food.

I buy vegetables now I never would have before. I’ve learned all about sprouted grains. I’m constantly expanding my smoothie repertoire.

Since becoming vegan, I’ve actually enjoyed all kinds of amazing foods I would never have found had I remained in the animal-eating camp.

As an adventurer at heart, I will always choose the route of curiosity and discovery!

There’s much more I could say about veganism, but I hope this whets your appetite (pun intended). Over time, I’ll be sharing recipes, tips and insights on running a cruelty-free kitchen.

Come along with me on this exciting journey.

Finding Freedom from Emotional Eating

For most of my life, I wouldn’t have said I had an eating disorder. 

To me, “eating disorders” were things like anorexia and bulemia: big, life-altering struggles that required the intervention of doctors, therapists and pastors. 

I never realized that every time I ran to the fridge for a snack when I felt sad, or cheated on my “vegetarian diet” (again), or couldn’t stop myself with just a few potato chips (cookies, cheese sticks, etc.) … I was essentially stuck in the same place as those women with “eating disorders” with more clinically acceptable eating disorders.

I was using food to cover up a craving inside that couldn’t actually be assuaged with sweets, salty, spicy or sour.

Today, many women comment to me that they wish they could eat vegan like I do now. “But I just can’t seem to give up the meat, eggs and dairy,” they quickly add. Others tell me they want to kick the sugar or the cola habit. Still others want to go gluten free, but the thought of no cookies or cinnamon rolls sends them running for cover. 

If any of those describe you, I’m hear to hug you and say, “It’s okay.”

I was there, too. 

The first biggest step I had to take to be free of my constant need for food, was to realize that I was in bondage in the first place. 

After my powerful full-body opening in July 2017, at which time the Holy Spirit began to speak me more directly, I began to realize all the ways I was carrying trauma and hurt in body. I also began to see how that trauma was driving me to hold on to weight I no longer needed.

Because I needed to feel safe, my brain was keeping me overweight—essentially—“hiding” me under layers of fat. And the easiest way to do that was with an addiction to animal-based, processed and refined foods. Did the drive to eat every time I felt sad, or to overindulge at every opportunity, disappear overnight? 

No, not in the least. Not by half. 

But awareness is the beginning of freedom. 

Once I knew what was going on, I could take steps to change my thinking, which changed my dominant emotional state and enabled me to finally change my behaviors around the fridge. 

So if you’re reading this today, and you know that you eat according to your mood, not according to your nutritional need … first, you are not alone. And second, the fact that you have acknowledged this pattern is a HUGE step toward breaking free. 

Because the truth is: 

  • You CAN stop equating food with emotional comfort, in the deepest level of your mind. 
  • You CAN come to a place where you no longer desire food except when your body is actually hungry.
  • You CAN adopt a vegetarian, vegan, raw foods or other alternative diet—once you are in a mental and emotional place where the first two points are already true.

And that’s the real issue here. 

Most women I know who want to change their eating are trying to do so without first shifting their dominant thought patterns and their everyday emotions. 

Adopting that new diet, losing weight or taking up more exercise simply won’t be successful if you try to “power through it” or make it “one more item on your to-do list.” 

Heart change and mind change must happen first. You won’t be able to shift your thoughts or emotions overnight. It WILL require that you confess your addiction to God and ask Him to heal you. It WILL take work to discipline your mind and body. But when you learn how to do that, and learn how to relax into receiving a smaller body, fewer cravings, and healthier food … it can happen.

Many of my my friends and mentees have experienced shifts in their eating as a natural byproduct of clearing their thoughts and emotions.

That’s how it happened for me, ultimately, as well. 

I didn’t totally set out to change my eating. My freedom from emotional eating patterns came as a byproduct of shift my thoughts to focus on God and His love, and learn how to live at the high, even emotional state that He desires for each of us. 

Eating can be a FLOW, just like love, money and creativity.

Release the struggle, and step into ease.

Guacamole With a Side of Masala: Adventures in Fusion Cuisine

When I arrived in the United Arab Emirates, people back in the U.S. were asking me quite frequently, “What are you eating?” For the most part, my answers were pretty routine. 

Rice. Curry. Fruit and Yogurt. Samosa. Rice. Curry. Fruit and Yogurt. Samosa. Rice. Curry … 

Okay, you get the idea.  

But there were some stand-out experiences. Or rather, stand-out explorations, because that’s exactly what they were: me trying things at home, with the help of my first airbnb host and first friend in Dubai, D, the world’s next Michelin-starred chef masquerading as an aviation engineer.

Our best experiment? Guacamole with masala, quinoa chips and some sort beverage that mixes milk, roof awzwah (a flower-and-honey sweetener popular in India and Pakistan), and basil seeds.   

Yeah, I know. It’s enough to make my head dizzy too.  

Because I have prior guacamole experience, Chef D allowed me to spearhead this part of the meal. But I have to admit, he was the one who had the idea to turn the two halves of the avocado into boats. Not to mention garnishing it with cilantro. 

Finally, at long last some Mexican food in the middle of the Arabian desert! 

I had promised I would buy an avocado and fix guacamole during my stay, so he could try it. But at every grocery store I went to, the avocados were green! “Why would I waste money on a green avocado that might never get ripe?” I said to myself. I kept hoping to find nicely blackened ones, but I never did.

Then today D brought a green avocado—and when I cut it open, I found it was perfectly ripe.

“They’re from Kenya,” he told me, laughing. “You want them to be really, really green. What other color would you want them to be?”

I shared how Haas avocados from the U.S. actually go dark brown or almost black when they’re really ripe. We had a good chuckle at my expense—and then (to my glee) he got his own come-uppance. 

I had told D that guacamole (at least, as I make it, anyway) requires a lime.

But when he handed me a bag, the small, round fruits inside were yellow.

”We need a lime,” I said. “Not a lemon. Limes are green.”

His eyes got wide. “Why would anyone want to buy a green lemon?”

Lemons. Avocados.

Apparently sometimes you really do want them both green. ..

And yes, I wanted my “green lemons” a lot. So I did what any red-blooded Michellin-starred chef’s assistant would do: I interrupted the regularly scheduled guacamole programming, threw on some UAE approved clothes over my yoga gear, and ran to the grocery store for a lime and tortilla chips. 

The lime, I found. The tortilla chips, well, I had to stretch my imagination and buy a bag of garlic-and-tomato flavored quinoa chips.  

When I returned, D mixed basil seeds—which give a boba-like “pop” to any beverage and are popular here for their refreshing flavor—with milk and the sticky red Roof Awzah for our drink. 

Finally, we sat down to enjoy the fruits of our labor. Quite literally. D seemed to appreciate the flavor, but something was missing.  

“I know what it needs,” he said, after careful consideration. 

D returned from the kitchen with a box of chat masala—a spice mix with cumin, coriander, mango powder, red pepper, and other refreshing spices, often added to fruit and salads in India. “Everything tastes better with chat masala, he explained. 

Indian guacamole? Well why not, I thought. 

We both dumped the chat masala all over our guacamole. And yes, reader, it did actually taste better. Not to mention more than a bit more Indian, too! D and I speculated what might happen if we added green chili, next time. And a bit of garlic …

Everything about this place is a mixed-up wonder, to be sure.  Ripe avocados are green. Lemons, too, can be found in green varieties. 😉 One requires chat masala to make a proper guacamole. And your new favorite breakfast beverage just might include basil seeds. 

Why should everything remain as it was, stuffed into narrow pre-defined categories that constrict creativity? When cultures mingle, creativity abounds.

Fusion is a beautiful adventure. And rather delicious, too.