Mamme vegane a New York
Interviews & photos with 5 NYC based vegan mamas
Vegan Italy magazine
Leinana Two Moons is the author of cookbook Baconish: Sultry and Smoky Plant-Based Recipes from BLTs to Bacon Mac & Cheese, works as customer service for vegan fashion label Vaute Couture and runs the blog Vegan Good Things.
Annika: When & why did you become vegan?
Leinana: I want to say it was about 9 years ago now, I don’t know the exact date. For me, it was a gradual transition, starting with the fact that I married a long-time vegan! My husband had been vegan over 20 years already when we met. At the time, I still ate fish and dairy, but no other meat. I’m the only one who cooks, so at home I would only cook vegan food, just to make it easier; but if we would go out I would still sometimes order fish or eggs. But then I got really into cooking vegan recipes and found that when we went out to eat, I always ended up being more interested in what Anthony ordered. Without really thinking about it, I started eating fewer animal products. At some point I started noticing that the fewer animal products I ate (especially dairy), the better I felt. Health issues I had literally my entire life were disappearing. I cut all animals out of my diet, and then one night after watching the movie Earthlings, I gave up even wearing leather or buying animal products in any other form, and declared myself vegan from that point on.
Annika: How did your community of family & friends react to your choice to be vegan?
Leinana: Well, with me, most people who knew us knew that Anthony was already a long-time vegan, and I was a pescetarian, so I don’t think it was really much of a surprise when I finally went vegan too. I did have some friends express surprise that I was able to give up cheese, because, you know, everyone thinks it’s impossible to give up cheese! And I did have a couple of friends who worried that it would be difficult to go out to eat together – or that I would drag them to only vegan restaurants! Most people took it in stride.
Annika: As a customer service guru for Vaute Couture and a published cookbook author you have a strong connection to both vegan food and fashion. NYC is known to be a very vegan friendly city so what are your thoughts, as a local, on the movement there and the vegan food and fashion scene?
Leinana: Well both the vegan food and fashion scenes are really booming. I mean, we’re really lucky that there have been tons of great vegan restaurants in NYC for a long time, long before I went vegan. But it seems lately that there are exciting new vegan restaurants opening all the time now! Just in the past two months, Isa Moskowitz opened Modern Love, there was a vegan French restaurant that opened, and an all vegan Thai restaurant. The by Chloe chain is on fire. As far as vegan fashion goes, I was lucky enough to meet Leanne Hilgart shortly before she moved to NYC to open her first Vaute Couture store here. Now just a few years later she has her flagship store, and Joshua Katcher has his label Brave Gentleman, they’re both making such a huge impact in ethical and sustainable fashion. It really feels like the whole world is looking to NYC to lead the way in the future of fashion. It’s all very exciting. Just a few short years ago, we would go to vegan events in the city and know almost everyone there. Now, the last few vegan events I attended, they were packed and I hardly knew anyone! It’s a testament to how veganism is growing, and how many more vegans there are now.
Annika: What are some of you and your family’s favorite dining spots (in NYC but also anywhere else)?
Leinana: In NYC, we love Han Gawi for the most amazing vegan Korean food, and the ambience is just so calm and lovely. We love the Blossom and Candle restaurants for special occasions, and 00 & Co. for the freshest, most inventive vegan pizza. I also love the Cinnamon Snail, and Dunwell Doughnuts, because…doughnuts.
Annika: What are your favorite dishes to make at home for your family?
Leinana: I’m half-Thai so I make a lot of stir-fries, curry, and noodle dishes. I will use tofu and whatever vegetables we have in the fridge for those. The kids like it when I do stir-fries with either a teriyaki-type sauce, or a peanut-sesame sauce. We also have a special “Two Moons” family pizza, which is a cornmeal crust piled high with sautéed shiitake mushrooms, garlic, artichoke hearts, black olives, and fresh basil.
Annika: What was the response of your children’s doctor on your family’s choice to be vegan?
Leinana: They didn’t question it at all, vegan families are fairly common in NYC, especially in Brooklyn, where we lived when both of my children were born. I think the doctors here are well informed and aware that vegan diets are perfectly healthy – in fact, often even healthier than non-vegan diets – for children. Like with all other children, our pediatrician monitored their growth, their development, tested their blood for vitamin/mineral levels, and saw that both of our children are thriving, energetic, and perfectly healthy.
Annika: How do you handle social situations for your children like birthday parties or other events with their peers?
Leinana: We’re really lucky to have a fairly large circle of vegan friends with children close in age to ours, so it’s amazing when you get to go to a birthday party and you know the cake and everything else is vegan. We’ve also been lucky to have really thoughtful non-vegan friends, who have provided an extra cupcake or other vegan treat for us. Otherwise if there will be mostly non-vegan food, we’ll just make sure that we feed them beforehand and bring plenty of snacks of our own, and/or ask the host if we can bring a dish to share with everyone. The best thing is when we host our birthday parties and invite non-vegan kids and their parents. At my son’s 4th birthday party last year, we bought a vegan ice cream cake that was so good, the kids were crazy for it and even the non-vegan parents were raving and said it was the best they’d ever tasted.
This interview is part of an ongoing interview series by Annika Lundkvist with vegan mothers and fathers around the globe. For more interviews and information please visit this page: Interview Series: Vegan Pregnancy, Parenting & Kids.