each day at the Spiral House, a unique stone structure based on sacred geometry that was designed and built by the late artist Tom Gottsleben and his wife Patty Livingston in New York’s Hudson Valley. (You can view Tom’s art on his website, tomgottsleben.com).
Tom and Patty arrived at the property in the early 1980s and began assembling a small community of stoneworkers, who comprise Tom’s sculpture crew, and others who work on publications, tend the many vegetable and flower gardens, and maintain the house and property. All are welcome to share the delicious plant-based lunches created by Chef Diane Hagedorn, who studied at the Culinary Institute of America and other cooking schools. Diane has been assisted by her sous chef Valerie Augustine and most of the produce they prepare comes from our organic garden or greenhouse.
Like an increasing number of people, many of us have turned to a plant-based diet for health and humane reasons as well as to minimize our footprints on the earth through food and other consumer choices. Given the scope of our experience and talents, it was inevitable that we would turn Diane’s recipes into a cookbook, For Goodness Sake: Plant-Based Recipes from the Spiral House Kitchen (Rafferty Rocks Press, 2016).
Our cookbook and our blog enable us to share a sense of our loving community and its appreciation for a wholesome and compassionate lifestyle with others beyond our circle. We invite you to sign up for our recipe, garden and lifestyle postings, and hope you enjoy them in good health, surrounded by the warmth of family and friends.
So why plant-based? Many regard a plant-based diet as one of the most effective personal choices we can make on behalf of the planet and the life that it supports.
Eating animal fats and proteins has been shown to raise an individual’s risk of developing heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and certain cancers. Scientists now know that many of us are able to avoid and manage these illnesses through the lifestyle choices we make.
A plant-based diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes is totally free of cholesterol and low in fats (especially saturated fats), while supplying the nutrients one needs for good health: protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. B12, the lone vitamin not available in a vegan diet, can be easily obtained by eating fortified foods like cereals or taking a supplement. Fortified nutritional yeast — often added to dishes for its nutty flavor — is also an excellent source of B12.
One of the most pressing health issues facing the United States, obesity, is also one of this country’s leading causes of preventable death. Individuals for whom meat is a central part of their diet have been shown to experience three times the rate of obesity as that of vegetarians and nine times the rate of vegans.
The impact of livestock production on our environment and health is staggering. Animal agriculture is highly inefficient, requiring disproportionate amounts of land, water, fertilizer, fuel, and other resources. It also pollutes our land and waterways. Huge livestock farms, which can house hundreds of thousands of pigs, chickens, or cows, produce vast amounts of manure, often generating as much waste as a small city. As a direct result, livestock production is responsible for producing more climate change gases than every vehicle on the planet combined, including planes. And it is squandering one of the planet’s most precious resources: water.
An estimated 20-33 percent of all fresh water consumption worldwide is now devoted to raising animals for food. About 13 pounds of feed are required to produce one pound of beef. Many environmentalists believe these resources could be used so much more efficiently to feed humans worldwide, substantially reducing hunger through more careful planning.
Large factory farms have forced out most of the small farms that once dotted the American landscape, to the point where the scale of today’s agribusiness bears no resemblance to farming as we once knew it. The dairy and meat industries frequently operate without the kind of government oversight the general public assumes is in place, particularly in an era of government budget cuts and deregulation. Even free-range chickens and pasture-raised cows — which are surely a minority of the estimated 16 billion animals consumed in the U.S. each year —are typically slaughtered by cruel and horrific means.
Once you familiarize yourself with some new products and substitution methods, it will seem as if you have been preparing plant-based meals forever. Actually, lots of the dishes we’ve been eating all our lives have been vegan without our giving it a thought: many soups, salads, grain dishes, vegetable entrées, sauces, and even some of our favorite dark chocolate desserts. And, tasty new meat and dairy substitutes are now readily available as a direct result of the increasing demand for plant-based foods. We regularly update this list on our blog, forgoodnesssakeblog.com. Our hope is that our book, For Goodness Sake, along with this companion blog, will help us to become healthier and better informed, and to walk more gently upon the earth.
“F or Goodness Sake is filled with easy, nourishing meals that will fill your table with love and compassion.”
— Kris Carr, author of Crazy Sexy Kitchen, Crazy Sexy Diet, Crazy Sexy Juice
“F or Goodness Sake offers wholesome plant-based recipes that are as beautiful as they are tasty. From everyday meals to special occasions, this book proves that going vegan can be as pleasurable as it is compassionate and healthful.”
— Nava Atlas, author of Plant Power and Wild About Greens
“F or Goodness Sake is a dream come true — simple, whole food ingredients come together quickly with results that satisfy.”
— Kathy Stevens, founder and executive director, Catskill Animal Sanctuary
“If you’ve ever considered leaving animal products off your plate for health or ethical reasons, this will nourish and enlighten.”
–Jenny Brown, co-founder, Woodstock Farm Sanctuary