How becoming a vegetarian opened Deborah’s eyes

Illustrator Deborah van der Schaaf has always loved animals. In issue 36 she tells us about being on a plant-based diet. “Becoming a vegetarian really opened my eyes.” 

“I have really loved animals ever since I was a child and actually don’t understand why it took so long for me to become a vegetarian,” Van der Schaaf says. “I was in the supermarket around Christmastime, and all those special traditional meat packages suddenly became too much for me, from one minute to the next.

Now I’ve got today’s trends on my side of course: I am really impressed by the people who were already vegetarians during a time when they would be mocked for eating tofu. I’m originally from South Tyrol, and although it’s in Italy, many of the traditional dishes originate from Austrian cuisine.

My grandmother made the best goulash for a table full of family members. A recipe for the variation using potatoes also turns out to be in her old cookbooks. This veggie goulash uses exactly the same stew sauce made with tomatoes, marjoram and caraway seeds, but you add gremolata (a zesty Italian herb sauce) at the end.

Becoming a vegetarian really opened my eyes, including taking a really close look at old habits: I apparently have more willpower and am more flexible than I thought. This might also apply to taking a long trip on my own, taking a class in something outside of my professional field or maybe even moving to a house outside the city with some animals and plenty of greenery.”

  • You can read Deborah’s tips for drawing here.
  • You can find more of Deborah’s work on her website.
  • You can find more life lessons from our illustrators in issue 36.

Text Deborah van der Schaaf Photography Annie Spratt