Seven months ago, Farin Montañez progressed from being a vegetarian to going vegan.
Today, the 30-year-old self-employed entrepreneur is happier and healthier. She’s also the author of a Thanksgiving cook book for vegans.
Montañez is also a major proponent of a diet that sticks to plant-based foods
That means no meat or any food that contains any animal product or byproduct.
No cheese (at least those that use milk from cows, goats or other animals).
No honey (bees produce the sweet stuff).
No eggs (think of the hens).
Montañez, a former newspaper editor/reporter, used to be an omnivore (meat-eater for those not up on diets).
“I loved hamburgers. My weekly meals were like pizza, burgers, burritos, tacos, pasta,” said Montañez, “and I would rotate through all of them with my family.”
She was a vegetarian 21 months when she viewed a few documentaries about going vegan this past March. April 1 seemed like a good time to take the plunge, she said.
“When I was an omnivore, I used to get really bad migraines once a month,” said Montañez, an ultrarunner. “Since going vegan, I have not had a single migraine.”
Also, she would get sore after a really hard, speed or long training run.
“Now, I’m no longer sore despite the same amount of effort,” said said. “I recover much faster and have no inflammation.”
I do feel better mentally knowing that an animal didn’t have to die for me to have a meal.
There is another positive to going vegan, she said.
“I do feel better mentally knowing that an animal didn’t have to die for me to have a meal,” said Montañez, a married mother of children ages 5 and 7.
Drawbacks include having to shop more often (plants don’t keep fresh too long), walking through the meat produce section of a grocery store and putting up with omnivores who love to chide the vegan lifestyle.
“We’re always going through fresh fruits and vegetables all the time,” she said. “I actually get sick when I walk through the meat department (at the grocery store) and I smell the flesh. I can’t walk through that side of the store anymore.”
Montañez, a 2005 graduate of Edison High School, began blogging about being vegan after she was laid off this year. She felt something was lacking.
“I felt like I needed something extra to have on the blog,” said Montañez. “I wanted something tangible for people who subscribe to my blog to have something in their home with my name on it.”
That’s when she hatched the idea of ‘Spirited Vegan’s Thankgiving Cookbook,’ a 122-page collection of her own recipes for a holiday feast that covers everything from hors d’oeuvres to the main dish.
Her reason for the cookbook was simple: Not too many vegan Thanksgiving cookbooks are out there.
Also, Montañez reasoned, why not a vegan cookbook for a “day that is known for consuming a turkey or a ham? You can show people you can eat things that don’t harm animals.”
Montañez packed 45 recipes into the cookbook. The replacement for turkey is lentil loaf.
There are vegan sauces.
There is even a pumpkin swirl cheesecake, which is the most difficult because real cream cheese can’t be used.
“The replacement was cashews,” said Montañez, who tweaked the recipe three times.
Last month, she invited friends to test a recipe and show up at her house.
“They tested it, provided feedback and brought a dish for a potluck-style party,” said Montañez. “Everyone survived.”
Publishing the cookbook (it’s available on Amazon with a retail price of $19.95; on Kindle for $5.99) was a big step for her.
“My mom has always wanted me to be an author,” she said. “I actually put myself out there and published a book.”
Montañez will host a book-signing from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday (Nov. 19) at Fleet Feet in the Fort Washington shopping center on the corner of Fort Washington and Friant Road.
She will have a limited number of cookbooks for purchase.