Levita Mondie: Eat Green

Editor’s note: The following is a guest essay written by Levita Mondie. Mondie writes the blog Vita’s Vegan Ventures to share the joys, benefits, and how-to’s of ethnic vegan cuisine. She also owns Vita’s Eatery, a combination of vegan cooking services, including hands-on cooking lessons, lectures and catering. Through Vita’s Vegan Ventures and Vita’s Eatery, she shares over 15 years of experience veganizing traditional recipes.

To find out how you can make a difference this Earth Day and to get recipes from chefs like Levita Mondie, Barton Seaver, Mario Batali and Alice Waters visit earthday.nature.org.

Fifteen years ago this month I traveled back home to Memphis, Tennessee, to be with my mother in what turned out to be her last days. Her bout with cancer had taken a turn for the worse. Her diagnosis more than a year and a half before and her subsequent battle left me feeling paralyzed with fear, for here was a situation over which I felt I had no control. Only when I began to explore her illness did I feel some measure of power. Along the way, I encountered lots of information about food and how it sets us up for health and longevity or for disease and degeneration. The more I learned the more I sought, and I gradually incorporated alternatives to the unhealthy aspects of my diet.

Within a year of my mother’s passing, I had transitioned to being vegetarian and later vegan. Today I teach hands-on, ethnic vegan cooking lessons, conduct demonstrations, lecture, and maintain a blog about my vegan ventures to share the joys, benefits and breadth of such a lifestyle and to empower others to make healthful, delicious food choices.

While I was drawn to a plant-based diet for health reasons — in general, a vegetarian or vegan diet can prevent or alleviate ailments such as obesity, high pretension, diabetes and some forms of cancer — I have come to appreciate the fact that my daily food choices positively impact other creatures and the planet that I call home. To sustain the demand for meat, animals are genetically engineered, pumped with hormones, crowded together and disfigured for the sake of profits. In contrast, plant-based diets decrease the demand for, and thereby the abuse of, animals. In addition, producing a plant-based diet conserves more fossil fuel than the production of chicken or beef.

At my mother’s funeral in May of 1996, I thanked God for healing, not knowing how I would recover from such a loss.  Today I firmly believe that a manifestation of that affirmation of healing is the work that I feel called to do around food. What began as a way to deal with the terminal illness of a loved one morphed into a way to improve my own quality of life and has evolved into recognizing and honoring my connection to other life forms.

And for this journey I am grateful.

Vita’s Veganizing Tip:

In dishes that feature ground beef such as chili or spaghetti sauce, crumble and season extra firm tofu from the bulk bins of a health food store or by Spring Creek or Twin Oaks brands. Season the crumbled tofu as you would the ground beef and marvel at the results.

(Image: Levita Mondie. Image credit: © Levita Mondie)

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  1. Thank you for this wonderful article and highlighting Levita’s blog. There’s no denying that plant-based diets are better for our health and the planet’s!

  2. After several years of vegetarianism (on my way to veganism), I can testify to the health benefits of a plant-based diet. A painful ailment that was never fully diagnosed disappeared within weeks of my changeover! And plant-based diets are just plain better for the planet.

  3. Yes, we’ve been vegetarians/vegans for more than 4 decades and LOVE it. The animals also love us for it and it’s HEALTHIER, KINDER and in every way BETTER—also much more economical! It would take care of the hunger problem if people only understood that they can stay healthy and HEALTHIER that way!

    Thank you for publishing this excellent article!

  4. I `m always amazed at the reasons given for being Vegan. It seems the info that leads most people to be vegan comes from a person who has never grown a plant or taken care of a livestock animal in their life. There is 900 more times estrogen in the same size portion of peas than an implanted beef, estrogen is 30,000 times higher in a birth control pill and cabbage is one of the highest veggies with estrogen.Oh by the way most beef especially dairy spend most of their lives eating and converting the sun`s energy in the form of grass which I have never seen a vegan save from his lawn to feed himself.

  5. My husband cured a melanoma A that should have killed him in a year by switching to a plant-based diet after doing a colon cleanse. We are convinced that the Standard American Diet is causing all these illnesses to increase – not genetics or longer life spans like the doctors like to tell us! Eat for life – yours and our fellow creatures!

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