Welcome to another post of our plant based stories series! If you followed along late last spring, our main mission in this series was to introduce you to a handful of people from all different walks of life who have committed to adopting a vegan diet. Through their stories we learned how one baby animal changed Amy’s life, how Lauren reversed heart disease and why Sharon’s doctor says her medical records are like that of a teenagers!
Community is built around getting to know each other and that was our other aim in this series – to support each other on this vegan journey and give each other practical tips ranging from transitioning from vegetarian to veganism like Robin did
or how to handle eating out or even what to say to friends and family when they ask about your new lifestyle.
Without further ado, let’s meet Johanne from Sunnyside Hanne
and hear about her journey to veganism or as she calls it with a smile in her voice, the ‘slippery slope to veganism’.
Meet Johanne, Full of Energy Food Blogger at Sunnyside Hanne, Wife, Mom, Gardener and World Traveler
Hi Johanne or should we call you Hanne, Jojo, Shorty or Sweet Potato? (PS I want to hear the story about the Sweet Potato nickname!) Thank-you for being part of our Plant Based Stories series, can you tell our readers a little about yourself?
It’s true I answer to Hanne, Jojo, Shorty and Sweet Potato – I actually seem to have more nicknames than friends. I live in Rhode Island in an old renovated farmhouse that has a huge garden that I created out of a parking lot (we need to hear that story too!). My husband, Hanaan and I homeschooled our now grown children. I seek joy each day and feel blessed with a sublime life partner of 30 years, a delicious, hysterically funny daughter, a son who is currently living in a Buddhist monastery in Thailand. I have two grand doggies and a wonderful community.
I have wandering feet though, and am always ready to grab a bag and travel. I started Sunnyside Hanne to reignite in me the flame that went out when my mom passed away. I veganize the foods of my childhood – those days were spent in Greece, Denmark and the USA and then I also love to veganize the foods from my travels as an adult.
Were you always a vegan? Can you tell us about that turning point in your life?
About twenty years ago when my kids were small, I began a special occasion cake business and although I was not vegan at the time all the eggs and dairy that go into large cakes made me suddenly aware of the irony in celebrating these special occasions with a pretty cake that was full of suffering. Every wedding cake that I made from that moment on, was “secretly” plant based That realization began my “slippery slope to Veganism.”
I think that is hilarious that you call it the ‘slippery slope to veganism!” When I think about it, I guess my journey was also a slippery slope. Slippery slopes can lead to positive life changes! Was your family supportive of your transition to this new lifestyle?
My mom became vegan at the same time I did and we would go and picket KFC and the circus together. My husband totally supported me in my transition and he transitioned five years later.
Sounds like you definitely had both the support and motivation for sticking with this new lifestyle! I can tell that you have a huge compassionate heart for both others and animals. Are there other things that you are passionate about in life as well?
I adore working in my garden. In fact, I can’t keep my hands out of the dirt and have been found there before by my family all dressed up for a party but yet turning the compost. Exercise is my therapy. I run, lift weights, take yoga and Zumba classes. I am a big reader and love to write, photograph and cook.
Sounds like you have a very well balanced life! Have you experienced any health benefits from going plant based? Do you think most people would benefit from adopting a vegan lifestyle?
Good question. Honestly, I haven’t really noticed a difference in my healthy perhaps because I started early enough. Meat, eggs and dairy were not a big part of what we ate growing up. My kids are always telling me, “Mom, you have too much energy!”
I believe there would be health benefits for most people but I truly believe the real reason to give up animal based foods is that by opening your heart to compassionate living all the walls you have built to separate yourself from the suffering you are taking part in crumble and suddenly you can make all sorts of changes to help both animals and people around the globe.
I love that last statement of yours!
A hindrance that I hear from a lot of people considering going plant based is that they are unsure how to handle eating out or traveling. Do you have any tips for our readers when they are faced with those situations?
Eating out can be a tough one. If I am in a meat based restaurant I throw myself on the mercy of the chef and stress that I would be truly grateful for whatever they serve me, even a PBJ sandwich! Usually they come up with an amazing meal. We travel mainly in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern countries and there are always fantastic vegan options.
Do you have any favorite vegan bowl recipes you can share with us?
I do eat a lot of savory Rainbow Bowls but in summer I also love a bowl of airy, cloud like Lemon Mousse
That looks like a breath of fresh air right now – so fresh and summery! My daughter adores lemon, I will have to make this for her!
Speaking of summer, what is your favorite, can’t – live – without plant based food?
Watermelon is my favorite summer fruit as well!
What else can we find in your grocery cart other than watermelon?
Everything for humongous salads, legumes, quinoa, unsweetened soy milk, frozen fruit, dark chocolate. Boom!
Do you have any other plant based tips you would like to share with us?
Aquafaba has been a game changer to me, not only in desserts but also as a substitute for oil in granola (for crunch) or eggs in Fritatta. I even made an aquafaba page on my blog with tips and trick and all my “Aquafabulous”
I never thought to use it in granola! I am definitely checking that resource out!
Where can readers connect with you to learn more about you and try some of your fabulous recipes?
Thanks so much Johanne for sharing your plant based story with us! If ever we make it to Rhode Island, we want to check out that garden of yours!