Hi, I'm Jeff Knutson, Assistant Coach in these parts.
I'm the instructor of Loafing Around With Jeff! (an advanced cooking course that teaches you how to make easy no-meat Veggie Loaves from scratch without a recipe).
I'm also a co-instructor in our recipe-free cooking course for beginners called Vegan FUNdamentals.
I keep things running smoothly behind the scenes of Vegan Coach with Customer Support and all the techy stuff, so you'll likely have contact with me somewhere along the way.
Sass asked if I would introduce myself and share a little of my story with you because she's sure you'll relate!
If you are vegan, or considering it, chances are you probably have a moment you can point to as your "Ah-ha moment."
Mine happened at the tender young age of 39. I went vegan "cold turkey" after reading John Robbins' classic book Diet for New America.
But, I had one problem: I did not know how to cook this vegetarian way.
I ate out most the time and all I had ever cooked myself were burgers, eggs, toast, and some strange mixes of stuff that combined with hamburger like Manwich® and Hamburger Helper®.
The only recipe I had ever used was on a package of egg foo yung, which to me was a BIG deal as I followed the directions of heating the pre-mixed ingredients in little packages inside the box. I thought I was "cooking."
As I struggled to become vegan, I wondered how I could eat breakfast without milk. Or eggs. Or cheese. What else could there be?
Dry cereal? No more bacon or sausage? What about butter? And, oh no—what about Egg McMuffins®?
This was my sustenance. My head was swirling.
Unfortunately I was the ONLY person I knew who was vegetarian. The only one! I had nobody to go to that would understand my situation. In fact, back then I had never even met a Vegetarian!
And I needed to EAT! I needed to eat, like, now. And I had just stopped eating the only things I knew how to cook.
And to top things off, it was 1993 in the meat- and dairy-loving Midwestern world of Minnesota.
Can you say?...
EVERY SINGLE PERSON I knew, when they learned I went "Veg," thought I was going to get weak from lack of nutrition and sustenance and had come under the influence of some freakish cult.
But, against all odds, within a few weeks I began to feel a surge in energy and lightness and I could tell this was the right way for me.
I soon became an official Vegetarian.
At the same time I had just started dating Sassy and she was mildly curious about my diet. She humored me and went along with it most of the time, but was still eating what she wanted. But, after listening to me rant and rave about how I felt eating this way, a few months later she eventually read Diet For A New America, too.
She decided to join me with vegetarianism, as long as she could still eat CHEESE! (Maybe you have thought this at some point too.)
Within a few months we both went vegan.
So, now that we were in on this together, we eventually began calling ourselves "Vegans." Pretty radical in 1994.
Salads and spaghetti? That was dinner. Practically every night. Over and over.
To our credit, we got a steamer and started adding veggies to our spaghetti. If we were feeling creative, we made sub sandwiches filled with raw veggies.
I'll never forget one evening back in 1994 we went with some friends to an upscale restaurant. With all that food on that huge menu all we could eat was salad (iceberg lettuce with olive oil and balsamic vinegar) and a DRY baked potato.
This we ate while our friends feasted and made cute little jokes.
Of course, we knew what they were thinking, "Oh, look at those poor Vegans. They barely have anything to eat!"
People back then weren't sure what "vegan" even meant. It doesn't happen as much today, but back then I can't tell you how many times I heard the question, "But you eat chicken and fish, right?" (as if "chickenandfish" was one food item that somehow isn't really meat).
Sassy even made a fun little cookbook to share with our friends and family to answer the never-ending question "What DO you eat?" (as if there is no food other than meat, dairy, and eggs).
And tofu? In natural food co-ops back in 1994 the tofu was found in large tubs of water. WEIRD! We never touched it. We had absolutely no idea what it was.
We had a hard time being true to our vegan aspirations because it seemed that society and culture conspired daily to trick us with animal ingredients in foods we didn't know about…
We had to be on our guard practically every moment of the day.
Then I discovered to my horror that there were EGGS in our spaghetti!
...about what to eat and how to fix it you've come to the right place. Sassy and I have been down our own path of discovery, and it is now our mission to help you along yours.
We have spoken to and worked with hundreds of new Vegans since VeganCoach.com got started back in 2007, and most of us have gone through the same thing: Confusion about what to eat, little (if any) support from family and friends, excitement about starting on a new path but wondering how the heck you're going to pull it all off!
We'd love to help make your learning curve a little easier with Recipes Shmecipes, our fun (and FREE) online cooking adventure that teaches you how to be Vegan without recipes. For beginners or the well-seasoned! You can click the link to get started today.
Thanks for being here.
Assistant Coach/Tech Guy
"Best plant-based resource for everyday living on the Web!"
-- Beverly English, Mableton, Georgia
"Really fabulous with lots of helpful and useful hints on living a healthy, nutritious vegan life. I always looked forward to receiving these emails the most, and found the friendly and open style in which they are delivered very encouraging. I am ready now to put all this information into practice."
-- Amanda Brown, Beccles, Norfolk, United Kingdom
"Sassy and Jeff have taught me a lot. They have given me the confidence to not be afraid of trying new things to cook and eat (like tofu and tempeh). They have helped to make my eating habits healthier (although still not the best...yet) and I am very grateful."
-- James Blount, Pompano Beach, Florida
"The First Step was very comprehensive and it was taught in a fun manner that held the attention. I feel very fortunate that I found your website. Being a foodie, a nurse and perpetual former dieter, I thought that I knew everything about food and how to cook it. Boy was I wrong!"
-- Lisa Scott, Rochester, New York
"Very good use of my time -- both to reinforce the concepts I already knew and to introduce me to new concepts."
-- Caroline K., Foster City, California
"If you are thinking about becoming a vegan Recipes Shmecipes is very informative and will answer a lot of questions about consuming a balanced vegan diet."
-- Lenore S., Cairns, QLD, Australia