This is a profile of a man who now calls Fremantle home, after living in cities such as New Orleans, New York, Minneapolis, Melbourne, Townsville and Perth. He has been vegan since 1974, and is who I’d classify as being extremely advanced in the kitchen and more knowledgeable still about all things veganism.
I’ve sampled many of his delectable creations, such as whipped cashew and pear dip, chia guacamole, cauliflower ‘rice’, sprouted quinoa salad and was even given an impromptu ‘Sprouting for Dummies’ crash course.
His fascinating and detailed story spans over 5o years.
A 63 yo, New Orleans-born Cornell University-graduate, Warren Gossett is the son of a pharmacist and school teacher. He was a computer programmer for the University of WA prior to retiring in 2005, and still occasionally tutors primary school and first year university students. He spends his time engaging in the private study of whatever interests him: mathematics, chemistry, physics, music, dancing, history.
Warren had a typical American diet up until he was 16. This was highly processed fare such as hot dogs, bacon and eggs, Kellogg’s Cheerios and Wheaties, fried chicken, ice cream, buttered corn, fairy floss, lemon meringue pie, and Whitman’s sampler chocolates.
Vego since: 1966
Why go veg?
A mystical experience in August 1963. I read a public library book which talked about the selfishness of killing animals and the karma it created. I first read the word vegetarian. I finally applied the idea to myself in 1966 when I finished high school, moved away from home and could start choosing my own food easily. Except for about five months in 1972-73 when I decided to accept a girl friend’s diet I have been a vegetarian or vegan ever since.
Note that I started out as a vegetarian for what could be called spiritual reasons. I knew nothing of the other reasons for being a vegetarian and I had never heard the word vegan during this college phase (1966 – 1972).
I was a summer hippie in California 1967 and 1968 and had brown rice and macrobiotic food the first time. Now of course I avoid alcohol or drugs.
I came across a book call Dweller of Two Planets by Phylos the Thibetan (Frederick S Oliver). It turned out to be a fascinating explosion of mystical philosophy from 1899 California. It suggested a beautiful path that we followed through this life and many lives because reincarnation was central to the book. I was in! There were mentions of the value of studying vegetarianism, astrology and numerology as well as science. I did so over the years. The reason given for vegetarianism was that it was selfish to kill animals and the karma it created was bad. You couldn’t compensate the soul of an animal for the loss of its life experiences. Compensating a plant soul was possible or at least more possible.
This has remained a key part of my philosophy and mystical view of life over the last fifty years.
Vegan since: 1974
Why the next step?
When looking for a new house to share I met potential housemates. One was a vegan and gave me two books when we met, along with with another guy, to consider the house-share possibilities. We never lived together nor met again but this meeting had a lasting influence on me. The last things for me to give up was goat cheese and choc chip cookies.
I was especially influenced by Viktoras Pisces Kulvinskas’ second book in 1976, Survival into the 21st Century. I learned about and tried fasting, sprouting alfalfa, mung beans, fenugreek and sunflower seeds. He mentioned exotic things like wild food, unfired food, fruitarianism and breatharianism and the Aquarian diet. Now instead of Kulvinskas’ term unfired food we usually say raw food.
At the 1978 North American Vegan Society convention in rural Pennsylvania I learned about sprouting, factory farming, vegetarians in sports and first heard of a group called Sea Shepherd.
“I learned there wasn’t just my one reason for being a vegetarian or vegan, spiritual, there were several others: ethical (animal rights), economic (it was cheaper), ecological (less polluting and better for biosphere), health (many factors), and aesthetic (wasn’t it more beautiful?)”
Influences: The books were Love Your Body by Viktoras Pisces Kulvinskas and Mother Nature’s Guide for Folks Who Like to Eat by Dick Gregory. The arguments in the books convinced me that I didn’t need to eat dairy products and that the dairy industry was harmful in several ways. I had already given up eggs because of boredom, concern about cholesterol… plus I had too many of them in college.
Philosophy: Still oriented to mysticism and science.
A typical day’s meals: My diet is easy to arrange. I just go to Coles, Woolworth’s or occasionally Manna Wholefoods, Peaches or Kakulas Sisters and get vegan things.
Idiot-proof meal? I like organic pasta and black eye peas, they’re my fail safe meals. I also like rice, potatoes and pumpkin. I’ve discovered that celery is very versatile: It lasts well in the fridge and can be consumed raw, cooked for 20 minutes or juiced.
“I moved to Australia in 1980 to eventually work as a computer programmer. Some people in Minneapolis had thought Australians drank a lot and ate a lot of meat so how would I fit in. My mother assumed it was part of my travelling phase and I’d be back in six months. But I knew it was a warm country with lots of fruits and vegetables. I had enjoyed the two week holiday in New Zealand and Australia I took earlier that year for my 30th birthday.”
Warren’s Whipped Cashew Dip
1 cup raw cashews (soaked for 30mins)
2 pears (goldrush)
optional: vanilla extract, lemon juice, agave / stevia (to taste)
Throw away soaking water from cashews. Peel and core the pears.
Blend in a food processor until smooth (about 3 minutes).
Taste – add optional ingredients if your tastebuds want and blend again.
Add filtered water if you like a thinner dip.
Serve with vege crudites, crackers or toasted bread.