Brenda Palmer with her granddaughter.

FSTN Celebrates World Vegan Month

World Vegan Month is in November, and one of our outstanding FSTN staff members, Brenda Palmer, jumped at the chance to share her story of becoming vegetarian.

“I decided to become a vegetarian when I was 40 years old. That was 25 years ago, and I haven’t looked back! I was hardly eating any meat because I just didn’t like eating it anymore, so I decided that being a vegetarian was a good fit for me. I worked with a professor at ISU many years ago who was a vegetarian. She would eat green soup that smelled wonderful – lentil soup – which I had never eaten before. She was one person who inspired me, and now I make lentil soup myself. My 8-year-old granddaughter, Hailei, loves it and asks me to make it, because it’s her favorite soup!

After becoming a vegetarian, I did lots of research, studied cookbooks and read many books on nutrition to make sure I was getting enough of the right nutrients into my diet. I eat a lot of salads and bean dishes and occasionally alternative meat. I have plenty of protein in my diet plus I get iron through the salads and green vegetables in my diet. I donated blood a few years ago.  They tested my blood, and I was told that I was not iron deficient and in fact, it was a higher level than I expected. I remember some carnivores who wanted to donate were not able to give blood, because they tested low for iron.

Some of my favorite local restaurants that are vegetarian-friendly are Saratoga, Panera Bread, Qdoba, and Olive Garden. I usually do not have trouble finding vegetarian options while eating out. I can usually find something to eat, whether it is just a salad and a baked potato or sometimes a lettuce and tomato sandwich.

Being a vegetarian is better for the environment.  Pollution from livestock production largely comes from animal waste, which can run off into our waterways and harm aquatic ecosystems, destroying topsoil and contaminating the air.   This can cause harmful effects on wildlife and humans.

There have been other vegetarians that have worked here over the years, and I have usually bonded with them over recipes, etc. I am happy to say that attorney Steve Fleschner is a vegetarian! My daughter, Kelly, and her daughter, Fiona, are the only other vegetarians in my family. I don’t mind cooking meat for the carnivores in my family, but they will usually also eat the vegetarian dishes that I prepare. I am just glad that I can get them to eat some vegetarian dishes.”



1 pkg. dry lentils
1 container vegetable broth
1 can petite diced tomatoes
1 jar diced garlic, with olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
8 baby carrots, sliced thin
4 cups water (add more while cooking, as needed)
Basil 1 tbsp. (or to taste)
Oregano 1 tbsp. (or to taste)
Black Pepper (to taste)
2 tbsp. Olive Oil
One large soup pot


Rinse lentils in a colander and let drain while sautéing onions & green bell peppers in the olive oil. Add the can of petite-diced tomatoes & the contents of the jar of minced garlic. Next, add the carrots, lentils, veggie broth and water. Add the basil and oregano and bring the soup to a boil, and then cover with a lid and simmer for one hour. Stir every 5 – 10 minutes and add the pepper at the very end. You can also use a small amount of cayenne pepper before serving if you want to spice it up even more. You may serve immediately or refrigerate for later. (This soup always tastes better the next day and is good for a week.)

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