I grew up in Indiana, eating mainly corn, boxed mac and cheese, and Green Giant peas out of a can. I loved going to Pizza Hut with my parents and sister so that I could order a personal pan pizza and a root beer in a kiddie cup. As the years progressed, my relationship with food began to change. Decisions became my own. I realized I ate more than most middle school children my age and the kind of food I was eating was also different. At lunch, I would put the most amount of food on my plate that I could, for the least amount of money. Although there were many options when it came to lunch in high school, I would regularly pick up food from the same line as the kids who were on the reduced price meal program. I paid the regular rate, but I was getting the most food, and eating it all. I stayed slim through regular participation in gym class, ballet, and marching band. My metabolism was high and I tried my best to eat balanced meals. Chicken, mashed potatoes, corn or green beans, skim milk, and maybe a fruit cup. Eating out of each food group was key for me.

I loved the care my parents took to prepare meals and ensure I was fed enough. I remember one particular day on the school bus headed to a marching band competition. I was eating a Subway sandwich my mom had dropped off. Some punk kid decided to tease me about it. I remember questioning whether or not I was eating too much food. With complete freedom, high school students mostly chose to eat cinnamon rolls as a meal, or pizza paired with cheese filled bread-sticks, cheese sauce for dipping, and soda. I ate more because my meals were packed with vegetables and fruits.

At home, I think my mom and dad both cooked a lot. This was in part because I was lucky enough to have my parents together as a married couple throughout my childhood. We lived in the same house, in the same city, from the time I was in second grade until I moved out in 2011.

In 2016, I started practicing a plant-based vegetarian diet. Every day, I feel like I am making a difference by choosing a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, and free of meats, poultry, and fish. I’m not harming animals with the dishes I choose to cook and eat, and I am helping our planet conserve water. I couldn’t be happier. I try to use and consume the least amount of processed foods I can. Like any human, I occasionally break down and reach for some Oreos or Pop-Tarts, but trying to eat mindfully 90% of the time is achievable. Cutting out processed foods means making a tomato sauce or a big chocolate cake from scratch. It means getting back to basics, learning food science. And reconnecting with food as a product of the earth and a natural product that provides energy for our muscles and brains. Good food strengthens our bones and makes our hair shine. It also keeps our hormones balanced and our mood elevated.

On Victorian Eats, you will find delicious vegetarian recipes for a modern life. This means foods contain less sugar and more sweetened flavors derived from nature. More whole wheat and ancient grains. And plenty of vegetables. I understand a vegetarian diet is not for everyone, but I encourage you (meat eater or not) to check out some on my recipes and have fun. Cooking brings people together, and I’m so glad it brought you to me.

Happy Eats, Victoria Wyss