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[Calgary Herald]

Once-extreme diet makes inroads into the mainstream


Calgarian Diana Stoevelaar hasn't had a hamburger, a bite of cheese or a glass of milk in 21 years.

She's not sick. On the contrary, she says, her health has never been better.

Stoevelaar became a vegan more than two decades ago in her search for a non-medical treatment for her arthritis and lupus.

At first, she decided to give up dairy products, hoping for relief from her chronic pain.

Within 48 hours, her pain was gone, so she decided to make further dietary changes, and on June 23, 1987, she had her last bite of meat -- a hot dog.

She's now vegan, one of a growing number of people across North America who are consciously choosing what they opt to eat.

What exactly are vegans? Think of them as extreme vegetarians. Not only do vegans avoid all types of meat, they also stay away from dairy, honey and eggs, too -- any product that comes from animals of any kind. (Most avoid wearing leather and, it probably goes without saying, fur, too.)

Instead, they eat diets that primarily consist of fruits, vegetables, soy, whole grains, legumes and nuts.

"It's someone who eats only plant food," says Stoevelaar. "I usually joke with people that I don't eat anything that ever had a mother."

Reasons for becoming vegan are myriad. Some people do it because they don't believe in killing animals for food. Others do it for environmental and health reasons.

"Maybe it's just a growing awareness in our society," says West Coast-based cookbook author Dreena Burton.


These days, vegan-friendly foods are available in every major grocery store, even Costco; vegan cookbooks are sold in every major bookstore. And numerous Calgary restaurants and natural foods stores -- including Buddha's Veggie Restaurant, Coup restaurant, Planet Organic and Community Natural Foods -- offer plenty of milk-free, meat-free, vegan-friendly options.

Why now? Perhaps we're simply following in the footsteps of the stars.

Actresses Pamela Anderson and Natalie Portman; fashion designer Stella McCartney; musicians Moby, Bryan Adams, Prince and k.d. lang; and record producer Rick Rubin are all vegan.

Then there's the weight-control appeal. The bestselling diet book Skinny Bitch by Rory Freedman (a former modelling agent) and Kim Barnouin (a former model) is making converts around the world with its promise to help women become thinner if they follow a vegan diet.

"You cannot keep shovelling the same crap into your mouth every day and expect to lose weight," they write on their website .


"My husband and I both tried (being vegan) for a month, and we both felt much, much better," she says.

Since then, she's written three cookbooks, blogs regularly about her vegan lifestyle ( and is raising two vegan daughters.


full story: news/reallife/taste/ story.html?id=9740e2d4-dfa0-4432-a5f1-cc11ac87df14


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