Juni 04, 2018
“This is more complicated than I thought, fifty-eleven ingredients and more than half of them I don’t even know what they are!“
My dad let out a deep sigh on the other side of the telephone line; he sounded discouraged and disappointed. “Dad, what are you talking about?“ I answered.
“Well,” he answered, “I bought this cookbook today, a vegan one; it says it’s Indian”.
I couldn’t help smirking to myself, don’t misunderstand me, I love Indian food and the long tradition in India of plant-based cooking. But for a 75-year old Swedish man who is used to cooking more simple dishes, an Indian cookbook can be, at the very least, overwhelming.
This was ten years ago, and the offering of plant-based cookbooks was limited, not like it is today with a massive variety of cookbooks from different countries and traditions, and of levels of plant-based cooking, books for beginning vegan cooks or more complex cookbooks if you’ve been in the game for a while.
So together, my father and I were checking out a few recipes on the internet and we went through the basics that one needs to know together. He decided to continue to cook like before but to just exchange the fish for beans, lentils or tofu, along with his beloved potatoes and the veggies he was already used to having anyway, like broccoli and cauliflower. He continues to make his traditional sauces as well, but substitutes cow cream for oat cream.
The spark behind it
What sparked all this was a book I had given him for Christmas about human and animal rights and the mistreatment of the animals we eat and use in other ways, and he was distraught. See, my dad generally likes to have scientific proof of things, and I suppose he’s not alone in that.
So now he knew all about the horrible mistreatment of animals in factory farms as well as the consequences of these practices on the environment and our health. He was angry with himself for going so long without knowing these things.
It irritated him that he was 75 years old and all this was new to him. Some people knew about it, so why not him? I told him not to blame himself, most of us are not aware of these “practices“ until we almost fall over them. We are intentionally sheltered from the knowledge of these practices, and we don’t learn about them in school or from the media.
He then told me about an incident that happened to him a few years ago. To give you some quick background, my dad grew up on the west coast of Sweden where fishing is a part of life (well, not for the fish, they die!). Most children there grow up learning how to fish, just like their parents and grandparents did.
Back to the story, a few years prior to our conversation about the extensive unfamiliar ingredients in the vegan Indian cookbook, my dad had been out fishing alone. He did it as a hobby with a string and a hook and while pulling up a fish that had gotten caught with his lips on the hook (I wouldn’t like that happen to me!), the fish and my dad caught one another’s eyes.
My dad said it was a split moment of true consciousness, like the fish had seen straight into his soul. It was a realisation of what he actually did to someone else. He released the fish (who probably was too traumatised and hurt to survive, but anyway) and never fished again. He still ate fish, trying to brush his conscience away.
Then I came along a few years later with my Christmas present, and he reckoned after reading it, that‘s it!
When are we too old for change?
For him, it was not even an issue that he was 75 years old at the time. Today he is 85 and is still cooking his delicious, simple vegan meals.
Sometimes I catch myself thinking I’m too old for this or that. It’s quite easy to fall into this self-soothing, lazy trap. I try to pull myself together and remember: it doesn’t matter what age I am if I’m making a change for the better, GO FOR IT!
I have such a great example of my dad going vegan at 75!
Telling ourselves we are too old is a sort of a mind trap. It hinders us from making changes and from seeing development in many areas. It’s such a shame. To keep on growing and learning keeps us young in our heart and mind.
Summer and picnic season is here
As I mentioned earlier, there is an enormous range of plant-based cookbooks now -the demand is so high! I would like to recommend one from a lovely Swiss lady, Brigitte Herde. She also does cooking classes, catering and lectures. A real power-woman!
And as summer is around the corner, swirling in with its first cool sunbeams, I’m sure you are looking forward to all the upcoming picnics and leisurely evenings together with friends and family. To accompany those summer festivities, here’s a super yummy and easy-to-prepare plant-based mayonnaise recipe. You can use it as it is or as a base for cold dips.
It’s also from Brigitte Herde, a recipe that is not in her cookbook. Check Brigitte’s website out as another great resource.
50 ml cold soymilk
100 ml sunflower oil
1 teaspoon lemon juice
½ teaspoon salt
Whip it hard (the mixture, I mean ☺), and it’s ready!
Wish you all a sunny and marvellous summer!
And if there is something new you would like to try, but your mean ego voice is telling you that you are too old to try something new, just think of my dad starting something new at 75! Yay!
Love you, dad! Happy Fathers Day!
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