Vegan Family Profiles
by Rebecca Hess
Please tell us your names and ages along with something special about each of you.
Anthony Kleikamp: age: 48, occupation: machinist, favorite past time: cutting firewood and just being out in nature.
Denise Kleikamp: age 41, occupation: health food store clerk and consultant, favorite past time: reading Christian literature and going for walks with her son, Craig.
Craig Kleikamp: age 20, occupation: Bible worker, favorite pastime: playing piano and spending time with family and friends.
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Why did your family go vegan?
We decided to become vegan together as a family about 5 years ago for health and spiritual reasons. We were already vegetarians for a few years prior to this decision and knew back then that our goal was to get back to the original diet of Eden which would keep our bodies and minds more clear to understand God speaking to our hearts.
Is everyone in your family vegan and if not, what's that like?
I (Denise) was raised around many vegetarians in her community and so her family was more understanding and supportive of their dietary changes than Tony's family. In fact, Denise's mother and sister eat meat and dairy but are some of the best vegan cooks because of their willingness to accommodate the food changes with much effort in preparing meals that they could enjoy with them at family gatherings. This has been a tremendous blessing for Tony, Denise & Craig.
Are your extended family and friends supportive of your lifestyle? If you recently transitioned to veganism, how did they react to your change in lifestyle?
We have gotten to the point of accepting the fact that our choices in food may sometimes bring about negative attitudes from those who do not share our convictions but we have learned to eat before we attend some gatherings and just extend gracious smiles when comments are made due to lack of understanding or unwillingness to accommodate us.
Do you know other vegan families in the area?
There are a few other people in our church who are also vegan and that has helped a great deal when we first transitioned into it. Plus, the majority of the church members are vegetarians. Pot lucks can be a challenge but the handful of vegans that are there usually let the others know and try to label our dishes.
Do you have any favorite recipes or cookbooks?
With the internet and digital dish system, which features great cooking shows like those on 3ABN (which are all vegan) we can have access to wonderful recipes at our fingertips. I also will try to convert "regular" recipes into vegan friendly ones.
Please describe any social or emotional issues you've had to deal with in raising a vegan child.
Our son was a teenager when we made this lifestyle change to become vegans so there were never any major issues with him...and the fact that this was done as a family I think made a big impact on his acceptance of it all and his already sweet spirit of knowing that we would not ask him to do anything that was not in the best interest for his body and soul. We have always been a close knit family and this step only bonded us closer as we met the challenges together and prayerfully surrendered them to the Lord. An added bonus was with the fact that Tony lost over 25 lbs. in no time at all after we made this change and his over all health improved greatly. We also decide at the same time to eliminate refined sugars from our diet. It just seemed to make more sense in conjunction with the whole idea of becoming more health orientated. We still know that there is more room for improvement but we continue to press on and learn from our choices though some times we let our taste buds dominate our wisdom of knowing what is best. We are at peace with the fact that though we may often stumble that does not mean we forsake the steps in the journey of abundant health or loose sight of the rewards which await, even if it is not realized until eternity.
Have you met any resistance (or ignorance) when dealing with doctors and/or teachers?
Do you have any words of advice to offer other vegan families or
families in the process of transitioning to veganism?
We are always willing and welcome any questions regarding our lifestyle choices and consider it a joy and privilege to share any insight in this area of our lives. Like I tell many of the patrons that frequent the health food store I work in: "Your taste buds can change and make adjustments quicker and less painfully than a disease that has resulted from improper dietary choices." Like everything else in life, we have to be constantly looking at the big picture down the road instead of momentary satisfactions. Our Creator knows what is best for His creation, it is just so sad we don't heed the counsel yet we agonize with the consequence of the results from our foolish choices. We all need a good helping of forgiveness and grace on every menu vegan or not.