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When I moved to Tallahassee, Florida for law school, I was dead set on several things. 1) I was going to become an environmental lawyer and save the Everglades; 2) I would embrace any and all counterculture I could find, never morphing into the stereotypes that surrounded me; and 3) I was going to limit my stress as much as humanly possible.

I spent law school swept up in child welfare work, and it turns out that “limiting stress,” for me, meant not studying enough for what turned out to be the most difficult academic experience I have ever faced. [Notice I said “experience” here. It is not that the concepts in law school are “difficult.” It’s how you are judged on your grasp of them that strangles the confidence right out of you.]

Law school felt like a wound that wouldn’t heal. Trevor was my (all natural) remedy. Meeting him was one of the main reasons why I did not, in fact, lose my identity to the masses of legal brained crazies with their bad blazers and senses of entitlement, and thus held on to at least one of my lofty goals post-college.

I met Trevor while wandering through an art show near campus. I was there alone, not knowing an art-loving soul in that town, in my long skirt and braided hair, looking for something that would make me feel more colorful. I was looking for just about anyone or anything other than a law student, but there he was. I remembered him from his deep voice, bright eyes and seeming intellectual superiority to anyone else in my class. He introduced himself and his gorgeous partner (now husband), Guy, and there we were, three free spirits in a place unknown.

We had dinner together soon after that, and I remember hearing relief in my mother’s voice after reporting the details of the evening. You’ve met a good person.

Trevor and Guy are vegans. When I met them, their culinary journey had hardly just started. Though Trevor’s memories of bacon, egg and cheese sandwiches had not yet faded, his passionate animal rights activism throughout his mid-to-late twenties had brought him to this enlightened state of food appreciation. It also, consequently, brought him to law school.

Our first dinner was homemade vegan pizza. Trevor and Guy worked together so beautifully, the most intense respect glowing betweeen them, and though my very naive self giggled at the thought of fake cheese and winced at their giant bottle of nutritional yeast, I felt more at home there than I had felt in a long time. We listened to Patty Griffin and Emmylou Harris; I watched the candlelight flicker across the purple and blue tapestries on their walls. Wild, bright green plants blocked their only living room window; the room smelled of nature and incense and sweat and health. We talked about real things: fate, courage, self-realization, panic, faith.

Trevor is one of the great loves in my life, and it is now more than ever that I am grateful for his understanding of a type of eating that I knew so little of back then, and am still learning about now. As my dietary needs have started to change, his many words of wisdom over those three years resonate strongly with me.

My take on a vegan beet salad, pictured here, is stripped down of anything that would dare hurt your tummy. It is simple, fresh, and filling, and while roasting the beets can be a chore, the wait is more than worth it. The dressing, a simple combination of apple cider vinegar, olive oil, turbinado, Dijon mustard and nutritional yeast, is not only entirely vegan, it adds a pop and kick to the sturdy vegetables beneath it that keeps you looking for another bite. Minced garlic would be a nice addition to it as well. The chickpeas, after a brief toss in the frying pan, offer the most wonderful sensation on your tongue; the asparagus, after a quick blanch, keeps that snap that sets it apart from other vegetables. Find the complete recipe here.

For Trevor and I, our means of keeping in touch is mainly spiritual. We will always be connected. The last time we chatted, I mentioned something about cutting out a lot of meat from my diet. There was joy in his voice, and in the least patronizing way possible, he ensured me that he was there if I needed the support. While I don’t feel the need to cry vegan, or label my eating in any way, it’s nice to know that someone is leaving the light on for me.

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