Who We Are
Welcome to For Goodness Sake (4goodness-sake.com), a blog and cookbook about art and beauty, plant-based food, compassionate living, and our interaction with the planet we call home. We are a group of artists, professionals, and friends, who work together and grow much of what we eat. We share lunch each day at the Spiral House, a unique stone structure based on sacred geometry that was designed and built by artist Tom Gottsleben in New York’s Hudson Valley. You can view Tom’s work on his website, tomgottsleben.com.
Tom and his wife, Patty, have lived on the property since the early 1980s, assembling a small community of stoneworkers and others who comprise Tom’s sculpture crew, produce his exhibition publications, work on the many organic vegetable and flower gardens, and tend to the daily needs of such a large operation. At lunch, all are welcome to share the delicious plant-based meals created by Chef Diane Hagedorn.
Like an increasing number of people everywhere, many of us have turned to a plant-based lifestyle for health and humane reasons as well as to minimize our footprints on the earth through our food and other consumer choices. Given the scope of our experience and talents, it was inevitable that we would turn Diane’s recipes into a cookbook, For Goodness Sake: Plant-Based Recipes from the Spiral House Kitchen, the first of several books planned through our publishing arm. We’ve launched this blog with recipes from our book. New plant-based recipes from the Spiral House kitchen and from our friends will accompany our posts.
In these fast-paced and chaotic times, a growing number of people are becoming aware of the importance of social bonds, seeking a way around the isolation they feel. We believe that respect, care, and love of all living things and an awareness of our interconnectedness provide a good antidote.
Our cookbook and this blog enable us to share a sense of our loving community and its appreciation for a wholesome and compassionate lifestyle with others beyond our circle. We invite you to sign up for our recipe, gardening, and lifestyle postings, and hope you enjoy them in good health, surrounded by the warmth of family and friends.
What motivates us to be vegan
At the Spiral House, eating well means sharing with others organic, plant-based meals that are nourishing, delicious, and, whenever possible, locally grown. Many of us also regard a plant-based diet as one of the most effective personal choices we can make on behalf of the planet and the life that it supports. So when does a plant-based diet become vegan? Strictly speaking, a vegan is a person who does not eat or use any animal products, but vegans can differ over the nuances. Most wear no leather or animal products; some will. Similarly, there are different views about the use of silk (which is produced by silkworms) and honey (a product from bees, which may not have been treated humanely). We all have our own comfort levels.
A vegan diet is kinder
Large factory farms have forced out most of the small farms that once dotted the American landscape, to the point where the scale of today’s agribusiness bears no resemblance to farming as we once thought of it. The dairy and meat industries frequently operate without the kind of government oversight the general public assumes is in place, particularly in an era of government budget cuts. Even free range chickens and pasture-raised cows are typically slaughtered by cruel and horrific means that involve prolonged pain. An estimated 56 billion farmed animals are killed every year by humans, a figure that does not even include fish and sea creatures.
Unfortunately, farm animals are considered commodities by big business and afforded few, if any, legal protections. How different this is from the way we treat our domestic pets, even though farm animals are every bit as bright and sensitive as humans, with their own unique personalities that vary markedly from animal to animal, not just species to species. It is impossible to separate the food we eat from the way farm animals are treated by the animal agriculture industries. By adopting a vegan diet, it is estimated that each one of us can each save up to 95 animals a year, and thousands during our lifetime.
It’s better for our health
Eating animal fats and proteins has been shown to raise an individual’s risk of developing certain cancers, heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. Animal fats can clog arteries with cholesterol and impede blood flow to the organs. Scientists now know that many of us are able to avoid and manage these illnesses through the lifestyle choices we make.
A plant-based diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes is totally free of cholesterol and low in fats (especially saturated fats), while supplying the nutrients one needs for good health: protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. (Nuts also add protein but are high in calories and so should be eaten in moderation.) B12 is the one vitamin that can pose a nutritional issue, but this is easily remedied. Nutritional yeast — often added to dishes for its nutty flavor — is an excellent source. Fortified breakfast cereals, soymilk, and meat analogues contain reliable amounts as well. Most multivitamins also include B12.
One of the most pressing health issues facing the United States, obesity, is also one of this country’s leading causes of preventable death. Meat-eaters have been shown to have three times the obesity rate of vegetarians and nine times the rate of vegans. In an era when fad diets scream over one another for our attention, a well-balanced and healthy plant-based diet may yet prove to be the most enduring answer to weight gain.
It’s better for the planet
Avoiding meat and animal products is one of the most powerful and beneficial things we can do for the earth. The impact of livestock production on our environment and health is staggering. Highly inefficient, animal agriculture requires disproportionate amounts of land, water, fertilizer, fuel, and other resources. It also pollutes our land and waterways. Huge livestock farms, which can house hundreds of thousands of pigs, chickens, or cows, produce vast amounts of manure, often generating as much waste as a small city. As a direct result, livestock production is responsible for producing more climate change gases than every vehicle on the planet combined. And it is squandering one of the planet’s most precious resources: water.
Eight percent of global human water use is now devoted to raising animals for food. About 13 pounds of feed are required to produce one pound of beef. Many environmentalists believe these resources could be used so much more efficiently to feed humans worldwide, substantially reducing hunger through more careful planning.
Being vegan is simpler than ever
Once you familiarize yourself with some new products and substitution methods, it will seem as if you have been preparing plant-based meals forever. In fact, lots of the dishes we’ve been eating all our lives have been vegan without our giving it a thought: many soups, salads, grain dishes like kasha and bowties, vegetable entrées of all kinds, sauces such as marinara, guacamole, sorbets, and even some of our favorite dark chocolate cakes and fruit pies. To make it even easier, meat and dairy substitutes are now readily available in supermarkets and health food stores as a direct result of the increasing demand for plant-based foods. Our hope is that our book, For Goodness Sake, along with this companion blog, will enable all of us to become healthier and better informed, and to walk more gently upon the earth.