Vegetarian questions and answers | Food & Drink Feature | Chicago Reader

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Vegetarian questions and answers

Health myths, survival tips, recipes, and vices from 17 vegetarian, vegan, and veg-friendly Chicagoans



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Decisions, decisions


I dabbled with vegetarianism as early as junior high school; I was kind of on and off from the age of 13. It all started when my older brother exposed me to the Smiths album Meat is Murder, which opened the doors to a very different way of thinking regarding food production for my young mind. I went vegan when I turned 16 in the summer of 1994. Sadly, the musical reference point at that time was a little less classy—Earth Crisis was all the rage with my circle of friends. Although I still appreciate those early Earth Crisis records today, I gotta say it is with no short supply of self-deprecating irony that I approach them.

—Trevor Shelley-de Brauw, local musician in Pelican, Chord, and Let's Pet

I was raised vegetarian and I have been vegan for thirteen years. My mother raised my sisters and me on Edensoy, fresh fruits and veggies, tofu, and nutritional yeast. I became a vegan around the time I became pregnant with my first child.

—Laviyah Ayanna, co-owner of Ste Martaen Vegan Cheese and the Vegan Food Truck


Undoubtedly the honey-free vegan Nabisco original graham crackers. You won't find these in a natural food store, but these bring me right back to childhood. I have been known to eat most of a box in a day with some soy milk or tea.

—Ryan Howard, president of Chicago Vegan Foods (formerly Chicago Soydairy)

There's a recipe for BBQ "ribs" that I could eat forever ( I was a big meat eater back in the day so that helps offset that craving. It'll probably scare nonvegans with its crazy exotic ingredients. I guess booze isn't necessarily a vegan vice (whatever that really means), but I'll drink anything with EtOH. I'm not really down on the vegan hippie health tip.

—Dave Sutherland, organizer of Vegan Chicago

I don't know if this counts, but on Sanibel Island in Florida, there's a place, The Island Cow, which has a po' boy sandwich that consists of deep-fried artichoke hearts layered heavily with chevre, pickles, and mayo. As far as I'm concerned, that's where it's at! Beyond that, anything deep-fried: french fries, onion rings, vegetables, cheese. Oh, and pancakes. Lots and lots of pancakes.

—Karen Yates, associate artistic director of the Chicago Opera Vanguard

Hilary's cookies, which are made locally in Chicago and sold at many Whole Foods. Definitely check them out if you haven't had them yet!

—Eric C. Sharer, registered dietitian at the Block Medical Center for Integrative Cancer Treatment; Chicago outreach coordinator for the Vegetarian Resource Group

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