I grew up in Southern California, raised on a standard American diet. My mom was a product of the generation committed to serving every dinner with a meat, a starch, a vegetable, and a salad. I admire how she cooked for the six of us night-in, night-out (plus brown-bag lunches for school). My sister and I "helped" her cook and bake on most Saturdays, from the early days when we stood on chairs next to the counter to our teenage years when we experimented with some of our own disasters, I mean dishes.
When I was in college, I decided to give up meat as a way to lose weight. It worked, but in the process, I lost my taste for meat and jumped on the vegetarian bandwagon. I bought the Moosewood Cookbook, the bible in those days for any self-respecting vegetarian, and continued to expand my cooking skills. In time I got really good at quiche, mac 'n' cheese, fondue, and other creamy, gooey dishes.
Seven years ago, I decided to give up dairy and eggs, going completely vegan. It was another big step in my cooking and eating habits. In some ways, I was a beginner again, because so much of my cooking and baking--and what I ordered at restaurants--relied on eggs and dairy. But this time I was smarter. I was analytical about it, kept notes, whittled down my goals, and stayed on the lookout for good recipes to fill the gaps in my repertoire.
I never expected to get extra energy from giving up eggs and dairy, but I did. Within 6-12 months I noticed I didn't get as sleepy during the day, I was ready to tackle tasks with more energy, and my memory and recall improved. I haven't been sick, not even a cold, in seven years (knock on wood). My main motivation was compassion for animals, but the health dividends have been amazing, even without being fastidious about whole and unprocessed foods 100% of the time.
For the last two years, I've also been systematic about trying out new dishes with my husband, who used to be a typical omnivore, eating meat once or twice a day, but who now only eats meat when he goes out to eat. I've learned a lot from this experience about what scares omnivores off. I've shared some principles based on his responses and those of others.
My goal is to help people who want to eat less meat, eggs, and dairy find resources and information to make progress on their resolution. If you're putting food on the table for a family every night, making a change like this will feel daunting, but it's feasible, and I hope I can help. There's now so much scientific evidence supporting the reduction or elimination of animal products--you're going in the right direction. It will just take a little time and a change in perspective (your own and the relatives and friends who tell you you're crazy).
When I first became a vegetarian and went home from college for dinner once a week, my mom made two separate main dishes, one for me and one with meat for everyone else. Within a few months, she realized the vegetarian food was pretty darned good, and everyone could eat it. Less work, fewer dishes to clean, good taste, and better health all around. Yeah, she was pretty smart, my mom.