Keep family baking traditions alive with these sweet vegan recipes

Amy Holcomb

I grew up on a cattle and pig farm in Woodbury County.

We had meat at every lunch and dinner and sometimes for breakfast. I was in 4-H and showed pigs at the Woodbury County Fair. At the end of the fair, the pigs were sent to slaughter.

My dad mostly raised feeder cattle, meaning he bought them after they were taken from their mothers on a different farm and brought to ours. They would bawl for their mamas when they arrived.

I watched as the calves grew into cattle and were eventually sent to slaughter. While I felt sad when I saw my 4-H pigs (who I loved) and the cattle head for slaughter, this was a way of life for us.

I really didn’t think about how my choices could be different until many years after I left home for Iowa City to go to college and where I stayed after I graduated. I knew from a young age that I loved animals, especially cats, and I was heartbroken whenever I saw any animal suffering. I knew that farm animals have loving relationships with other animals, love their babies, have unique personalities, and feel pain.

Still, I continued to eat meat.

When I became more involved in animal rescue, including volunteering at a shelter for cats with special needs, I began to understand that I could no longer love and cherish some animals while eating others. I became a vegetarian.

I was aware that I was being hypocritical by continuing to eat dairy and eggs, since chickens and dairy cows are subjected to the same cruelty as animals raised for meat consumption, but I wasn’t ready to give them up. Finally, a few years after I gave up meat, I stopped eating dairy and eggs as well.

A piece of rhubarb cake, continuing a family tradition.

The hardest part about becoming vegan wasn’t giving up cheese, as it is for many people; rather, it was giving up baking as I knew it. I grew up baking with my mom. We had traditions that were important to me, such as baking rhubarb cake and chocolate zucchini cake in the summer, cutout cookies and peanut blossom cookies at Christmastime, brownies to share at potlucks or to take on family vacations, and preparing my grandma’s no-bake cookie recipe, which was a family favorite.

Leave a Comment