Vegan Interrogated: Cari

Name: Cari Newton
Location: Marion, Ohio

A little about yourself:
I live in a small town in Ohio with my boyfriend of 8 years, Jay, and our little dog, Trixie. We love traveling and eating good (vegan) food! I’m really into cooking and eating ‘whole’ foods. We try not to eat very much of processed foods/GMO’s (will be easier to do if GMO labeling vote passes). When Jay and I can’t escape our small town, we work together in our jobs, find fun in all things nerdy, and watch shows straight through on Netflix. I am heavily involved with a lot of craft projects and vintage collecting. We have the most fun having elaborate dinners with friends.

What made you decide to go vegan?
I was vegetarian for 10 years and always wanted to go vegan, but I thought it would be too hard. After moving to the mid-west from Los Angeles, I got caught up in eating way too much dairy. I gained a lot of weight too. Shortly after I decided to go vegan, I lost weight and started to feel better than I ever have. I wish I hadn’t waited so long to make the switch. When I cut dairy out of my diet, it made as much of a difference in my health as when I cut out the meat.

Favorite meal to make is a huge dinner event. I have been hosting vegan dinner events at a classy local bar, Circa, in downtown Marion, OH. The meals consist of soup, appetizers, salad, main course, side dishes, and dessert. I love coming up with a different menu for each event. Even though I only know of a few vegans in town, the dinner events have become quite popular with mostly meat eaters in attendance! I’m impressed that so many people are willing to step out of their comfort zone and try something new. I love to show that a vegan meal is more than salad and tofu.

Dumbest question someone asked you about being vegan.
I get so many… People ask me if I eat peanut butter a lot. Just shows that a lot of people have no idea what they are really eating… And, no, I am not going to try your pot roast after 13 years of not eating meat, even though you say it’s so good that one bite will convert me back into being a meat eater.

What was the reaction from your friends/family?
I tried to be vegetarian when I was 12 years old and was not allowed. So when I was 21, I did it on my own. My friends and family love to make fun of me, but they are supportive and they are becoming more open minded to try my vegan dinner creations.

Do you find going out/social situations difficult?
Going out to eat at regular restaurants can be a little difficult. I ask a lot of questions about ingredients that servers usually do not know. I love it when I go somewhere and the server is helpful with my vegan questions (I always tip extra!)

Do you have any advice for people toying with the idea of becoming a vegan?
Go at your own pace. Don’t worry too much about ingredients at first. You will learn as you go. Find a vegan buddy or two to help you with questions or tips. It will be easier if you have someone that you can call, text, or email as you are learning the best & easiest ways to be vegan. Also, you can search on the internet for recipes for almost any regular meat or dairy dish and just add the word ‘vegan’ in front of your search and lots of recipes will come up, often with reviews.

Do you think your veganism has an impact on something greater than yourself?
Absolutely! Not only does my veganism have an amazing impact my health and well-being, it also greatly benefits the environment, animals, and others that can use an example of a vegan lifestyle.

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