Women co-author ‘Vegan Cheat Sheet’ for health & happiness


It all started with a little friendly competition.

Back in 2009, Lisa McComsey of Island Heights and her family decided to take part in a get-fit challenge. McComsey, along with a handful of family members and close friends, each threw in $50 and set their own fitness and weight-loss goals. Whoever reached his or her goal by the end of the challenge would take home the $400 pot.

Inspired by her former People magazine colleague Amy Cramer and her new vegan regimen — a lifestyle that included consuming no animal products — McComsey decided to try veganism for a month and set a goal of dropping eight pounds and being able to complete 20 “boy push-ups.”

“Amy and I had been friends for years, and I had no intention of going vegan. It wasn’t even remotely on my radar, not even going vegetarian,” said McComsey, a Toms River High School South graduate and the copy director for Allure magazine. “But her story inspired me so much, and I was getting ready to launch into this family fitness competition, so that’s why I gave it a try. I’ve always been into health and fitness, so this started as just sort of an experiment for me.”

McComsey won the contest, stayed vegan, and now, with Cramer, is the co-author of “The Vegan Cheat Sheet,” a handy new Zagat-size guide published by the Penguin Group.

Having completed 25 26.2-mile marathons as of last November, five of which she ran as a vegan, as well as a number of triathlons and 100-mile bicycle rides, McComsey explained why she and Cramer decided to write “The Vegan Cheat Sheet” from a health-conscious point of view.

“We wrote from that perspective because it’s what we know best,” she said. “But, now that I’ve seen some movies and read some books about the horrific conditions in slaughterhouses and things, I do feel good from an ethical standpoint that I choose to eat this way.”

Portable starter kit
With Boulder, Colo.-based Cramer creating recipes and McComsey handling the majority of the copy, “The Vegan Cheat Sheet” is a slim and portable but comprehensive starter kit to living on the veg. The book contains information on where vegans can get all of their daily doses of vitamins and minerals, a list of “vegan replacements for things you love” (examples include using ground flaxseed or flaxseed meal and warm water in place of eggs and vegetable stock in place of beef or chicken stock), a sample vegan shopping list and a breakdown of how to make the transition to veganism in 21 days.