It is that time again. Each month, I have the privilege of featuring the story of one of the many unique vegans living here in the Cowboy State! This month I am sharing Lisa Powell’s journey through veganism. Her story is interesting because she hadn’t met another vegan in person until we got together. Situations like that are why I do what I do! By carrying the vegan message and sharing other people’s stories, it shows everyone that there are actually a lot of vegans around here, and that it is surprisingly easy to be vegan in Wyoming!
About five months ago, I received an email from Lisa through my website. She had found my business card at the local Natural Grocers and was excited because the only other vegans she had met were online. I knew that I wanted to meet up with her and share the good news: that there are at least 30 of us vegans running around Casper! We talked over coffee, and I was excited when I heard her talk about her passion for cooking, animals, and health. I instantly knew that I wanted to interview her!
Four years ago, Lisa decided to go vegan. The first time she was exposed to veganism was when her friend was dying of cancer. She told her about Kris Carr’s book Crazy Sexy Cancer. At first she “kind of brushed it off, didn’t think anything about it.” Then she read the book Skinny Bitch. After reading that, she became slightly irritated because the book includes information about factory farming and she “wasn’t ready to hear about the abuses and slaughterhouses”. She put that aside, and after her friend passed away, she kept seeing Kris Carr’s stuff appear. She thought that “she’s trying to send Kris’ information somehow!” She found some of Kris’ books like Crazy Sexy Kitchen and Crazy Sexy Diet. After she rediscovered those books, she saw how important it was to avoid animal products. Her books were very inspirational to Lisa, and it really helped her transition to vegansim. The more she saw that, the more she “found the underground videos of slaughterhouses and all of the cruelty involved. Once you know that, you can’t un-know it, and you just can’t ever go back.”
After she came across all of that information, the transition to veganism wasn’t difficult. She “was never a never a huge meat eater”. She ate meat “because that was there and it was what was available”. “It was easy to not want it (meat).” The only thing that was difficult for Lisa to give up was cheese. When she first went vegan, most people were not at all supportive. “They were pretty condescending. They always made the comment ‘well you still wear leather’.” She gave up leather and would explain that there are alternatives. It was uncomfortable for her. She wouldn’t try to hide it, but she wouldn’t openly talk about it either. She used to be a teacher and when she would get together with co-workers at lunch they would comment on how great her “hummus and peppers” looked. When they finally realized why she ate the way she did, “all of the negative comments would come out”. Luckily, her husband was very supportive of her decision to become vegan. When they got married “he didn’t eat pork or beef”, and when she went vegan, “He was perfectly happy without eating meat!”. Now, he is just vegetarian, but she’s “working on him”.
Now that Lisa has been vegan for a while, she still answers questions, and deals with people who are skeptical. She frequently gets asked where she gets her protein, but she is armed with facts and quickly answers any questions. One of her favorite things to do is bring a vegan dish to a party and not tell anyone. After all of the food is gone, she will let people know that they just ate vegan food, everyone is always surprised! One of her favorite things to make is the chick’n from The Gentle Chef. She with put barbecue sauce on it, and most people have no idea that it is vegan. Even when there isn’t a special occasion, Lisa will share her food with people. Whenever she makes things at home, she will always give some to her friends. It is one of the ways Lisa shows activism without scaring people away. She loves giving food to her “tofu hating friends”, but struggles to hold her tongue when they “think tofu is gross, but they will rip the leg off of an animal”.
When it comes to food, Lisa gets a lot of inspiration from many creative, incredible vegans! At the top of her list are Miyoko Schinner and Skye Conroy. She thinks that “Skye Conroy’s meat analogs are amazing”. She loves all of Miyoko’s products and has been taking advantage of the fact that Natural Grocers carries some of her products now! In fact, one of her overall favorite products is Miyoko’s cheese, “since it was so hard to give up cheese”. She enjoys following the Esselstyn’s and Dr. Gregor for inspiration when it comes to healthier options. Lisa cooks a lot and loves making herself the “peanutty noodles and the stuffed shells” from Chloe’s Kitchen. When she isn’t cooking for herself, she really likes to go to Johnny J’s to get their veggie burger, or the sesame tofu from JS Chinese. She loves traveling and trying to find vegan options while she is out of town. There isn’t any specific restaurant she likes, but she enjoys finding vegan options at common places like airports.
To end the interview, Lisa suggests to any new vegan “to not be afraid to be in the kitchen”. “There is no way to be vegan if you’re not willing to spend time in the kitchen”.
It was such a pleasure to interview Lisa. It was a lot of fun hearing her take on veganism, and realizing how many similarities we had, when it came to cooking inspirations and favorite products. She has definitely left me inspired to continue bringing vegans in the community together, especially since she hasn’t had the opportunity to meet any other vegans yet. I hope her story inspires others to get into the kitchen, try new products, and to live a cruelty free lifestyle.