Today's post marks the second profile piece in this new series that features vegans in and around Bellingham. Special thanks to Stephanie for agreeing to be featured!
Stephanie Kountouros is a local activist, journalist and social media/ website person, but her passion is community radio. She's working hard to make KVWV FM a place for all viewpoints, communities and music that have no access to mainstream media. Her public affairs show, "The Hour of the Wolf News," features local news, discussions/debates about ideas, storytellers and tarot readings. Tune in Monday nights at 6pm at KVWV.org. to check it out!
Being vegan in (and around!) Bellingham of course means there is a connection to this wonderful city we all love so much. When I asked Stephanie to share her favorite things about Bellingham, she responded with an answer I think many of us share.
"Rainy, temperate weather helps create our incredible, lush greenery. I love it! I love cloudy days and blue-grey water. I love that Bellingham is large enough to have some cultural stuff going on but small enough to run into everyone you know at Co-op."
It seems like these days I am meeting more vegans than ever, which is something that makes me very happy. Being able to connect online can create opportunities for all of us to get to know each other a little more. Stephanie also noted this and pointed out other places online where she has been able to meet vegans.
"It's great that vegans are popping up all over the Bellingham internet and getting social! So glad for Vegan in Bellingham! There's also a Go Vegan! NW WA Facebook page, and an increasing number of vegans posting in Reddit's r/Bellingham."
In keeping with her activism and journalism work, it makes sense that Stephanie's personal interests would include conversation and communication. She also likes to play board games that make people laugh, like Cranium.
"I love talking about interesting ideas and concepts -- all the stuff that's not fit for polite company, like religion, politics," explained Stephanie."I love singing, whether around the living room or at a karaoke bar."
In addition to a love of delicious food, another thing many vegans I have talked to have in common is that being vegan makes them feel good because it helps contribute to their personal sense of well-being. I know this is true in my case, and I love it when people realize that the choice to be vegan is not about deprivation, but quite the opposite--it's about abundance, freedom, compassion and wonderful, wonderful food!
When I asked Stephanie what is her favorite thing about being vegan, she talked about the satisfaction that comes from feeling her actions are aligned with her ethics, and knowing that she is "part of a movement that can ultimately reduce suffering in the world." In terms of favorite local restaurants and favorite foods, Stephanie noted the ever-popular and very vegan-friendly D'Annas Cafe Italiano.
"D'Anna's has great vegan options and will veganize their soup and bread if you ask. Jun's on Railroad is incredible, and Jun will happily build amazing vegan sushi rolls that are not on the menu for you." (As a side note, I have not checked out Jun's yet but I look forward to doing so!)
Stephanie also enjoys cooking vegan mushroom stroganoff, which she describes as "incredible and so easy to make!" (Which reminds me, please share your recipe with me if you get the chance!) Other food loves include: "...fried chick'n using Gardein's chick'n scallopini, cashew cream, flour and spices," and she "can also be ecstatic with a gigantic, steamed artichoke and some lemon and Earth Balance to dip it in."
When I asked her to tell me something that she wished people who aren’t vegan understood about veganism, she responded, "That veganism has nothing to do with gluten-free diets. Please, please stop saying 'we have gluten-free' when I ask for vegan menu options. Please." (I agree, this does unfortunately happen pretty often...)
When asked if she could change one thing about Bellingham what would it be, Stephanie echoed the desire for a vegan restaurant. "Just one, but it would be incredible, and serve everything I want."
I, for one, would definitely eat there!