Finding inspiration from my past ?
A couple decades ago, when my kids were young, I kept a journal. Nothing fancy, just a yellow legal pad, with the following written on the first page:
The Carrot Underground
Raising Compassionate Kids in a Carnivorous World
In the early 1990’s, veganism was still considered a fringe lifestyle. My husband and I, both vegetarians at the time, had explored becoming vegan, but like a lot of people, struggled reconciling the fact that, not only would we be giving up cheese, but life in general would be a lot more challenging. Few, if any non-dairy products were available in stores, and the handful that existed, frankly, didn’t taste great. If you weren’t a fan of soy milk, you were pretty much out of luck. When we started a family, our kids’ doctor tried to be open-minded about our choice to raise them without meat, but he had issues with cutting out eggs and dairy. Since there weren’t any vegan pediatricians available within our medical plan, and, because he was the only one we found who supported the idea of a meatless diet – for the first several years of their lives – our kids were vegetarians. Raising veggie babies was easy.
Our kids grew up with a houseful of rescued animals and two animal activist parents. I still smile to think that our son attended his first animal rights march in Washington D.C,. in-utero, when I was 6 months pregnant. From the time they were toddlers, we taught our son and daughter that all living beings need respect and kindness. I’m convinced that their early exposure to compassion helped them develop empathy for others: Humans and animals.
By the time our kids reached elementary school age, we had prepared them to accept the fact that most of their classmates likely ate meat and animal products. While most of the other kids were open-minded and accepting, there were occasions during lunchtime, when another student tried to coerce one of our kids to eat a bite of a meat or make fun of them for never tasting a hamburger. Even some of the other parents would offer our kids McNuggets or fish sticks, assuming that, somehow, chicken and fish were not meat.
At the end of their school day, our kids would come home and share these stories with me. I knew what I was hearing was only a glimpse of what they encountered on a daily basis and it broke my heart. As someone who had fought for the rights of animals my entire life, I was conditioned to the negative diatribe and push-back from people who resisted accepting the reality of animals as sentient beings. But I hadn’t prepared myself for how I would react when it was my own children needing to defend themselves because they defended the rights of animals. My initial reaction was to talk to the school administration, which I did. But I soon realized, I needed to sort out my thoughts, and find meaningful ways to help my kids find their own ways to respond and deal with others who may not agree with them or try to bully them. That is when I created my journal – The Carrot Underground. I would jot down anything from an emotion, a stream of consciousness, or a flash of inspiration. It really served as a type of catharsis to help me process the moment and maybe, find some answers.
Fast forward to 2018. My husband and I decided to sell our 1916 California Craftsman house we had owned for 30 years. It was our family home. We raised our kids there, developed great friendships with our neighbors, operated a popular art gallery nearby and played an active role in our community. We experienced births, deaths, holidays, wedding showers, birthdays and celebrations of life in that house. We shared our hearts and home with umpteen rescued dogs, cats, rabbits, birds, rats, fish, and frogs over the years. Making the decision to leave a place so familiar and comfortable to start a new chapter somewhere else was both terrifying and thrilling – and – not what we had initially planned. But we had reached a point in our lives where we decided to take a leap of faith and do something new and unexpected. The hardest part of our decision, quite honestly, was accepting the daunting task of clearing out all of the stuff we had accumulated, including three decades worth of paperwork. I spent a full two weeks sifting through and sorting through reams of documents, files and assorted papers. One day, I was going through my “idea” drawer, where, for years, I had kept lists of recipes, drawings, and random thoughts. I would toss all of those scraps of paper into a on old desk drawer, thinking “One day, I’ll do something with this stuff”. As I reached the bottom of that drawer, I ran across the journal. I looked at the title and then it hit me…I needed to write a blog.
When I sat down for the first time to begin developing what would be come The Carrot Underground, I honestly had no clue where I was going with it. I knew I wanted to do something that might inspire others to reduce the amount of animal products they consumed, but I wasn’t sure what would be the best approach. Using the same journal from more than 20 years earlier, I jotted down a bunch of ideas and just started writing.
What began as a spontaneous “ah-ha” moment 18 months ago has since turned into a full-time passion project. To date, I have authored more than 65 vegan-related articles and posts, including 45 recipes. With my daughter Madison and husband John, we have produced 21 cooking videos for our YouTube channel. The Carrot Underground ?currently has pages on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Twitter and contributes to online recipe sites, including dishfolio.comand foodgawker.com, and the beautiful magazine Hbd – Home by Design. One of my Instagram photos is featured in the prestigious Michelin Guide, and I am thrilled that The Carrot Underground has been selected as a Feedspot Top 100 Vegan Blogs.
It is incredibly heartwarming to welcome our growing number of followers from around the globe. ?I hope you find The Carrot Underground ? to be a source of inspiration for you and that you will share it with your friends! ?