VegFest 2021

Today was my first time going to a local vegan festival called VegFest. Even though I’ve been vegan for nearly a decade now, I somehow never managed to make it out there. I’m so glad I finally went though. It was so much busier than I could have ever anticipated. There had to be thousands of people crammed into the span of a few blocks. There were over 40 local vendors selling all kinds of things from plants and art to baked goods and bourbon. I don’t even want to calculate how much money I spent. There were a lot of things I wasn’t even able to try because the lines were too long or they sold out before I had a chance to stop.

I highly recommend attending any vegan festivities in your area. New vegans could definitely benefit from discovering what type of vegan options there are in their area. Experienced vegans can benefit from the uplifting atmosphere of being surrounded by like-minded people and seeing just how much support the vegan movement actually has. Even in more vegan-friendly areas, it can feel like a lost cause at times. There is nothing more inspiring than gathering together with your community to celebrate.

It’s really crazy for me to think about how far veganism has come in just my small area. There used to be hardly any options for me in the grocery stores or at restaurants. If I wanted to eat a dish that was even moderately tasty I had to put in all the time and effort to make it myself. Now being vegan is easier than ever.

I used to get it when I was first transitioning if people told me veganism was just too difficult for them. It was a big adjustment in a society that catered to carnism alone. Now I’m shocked that anyone can still use that excuse. With the Impossible Burger at Burger King, dozens of different vegan ice creams in the supermarket, and hundreds if not thousands of other perfectly incredible replacements for anything you could possibly desire, how could you still ask a vegan, “so what do you eat?” or “I could never give up x or y.” Hell, even the dinky little road side ice cream shop in the middle of nowhere has nondairy options now!

Even though I can no longer hold out hope that veganism will save the earth, it can still save the animals from enduring unnecessary suffering in the short time that we have left here with them. I am so grateful to be have been reminded today that there are so many other people in this world that are fighting to end that senseless pain.

Free Vegan Resources

Even after six years of veganism I am still finding new and exciting additions to my bountiful collection of resources. This past week I have stumbled upon two that I just can’t help but share with everyone I can. The first one I found accidentally as I was looking into details of The China Study by T. Colin Campbell for a co-worker of mine. This individual despite being certified in nutrition and fitness training for some reason believes that cholesterol does not make someone any more likely to get heart disease!

This continues to astound me so I suggested he read The China Study because despite not having read it myself, I knew that it was the most comprehensive study of nutrition ever conducted and strongly advocated for a whole foods, plant-based diet. After only a few simple searches I was able to discover that there is a PDF of the entire book available for free online! Click the link to check it out. While I doubt my coworker will take the time to read it, I have been reading it myself, and have learned a lot so far. Although years of arguments with non-vegans has taught me that solid evidence and facts and peer reviewed research is still never enough to convince someone of something they are determined to deny, it is still a helpful tool to have if you do happen to find someone who is interested. It makes it even more accessible when you can find this type of information for free from such a credible source.

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The next incredible resource that I came across this week is perfect for those that hold the mistaken perception that veganism is expensive and difficult to manage. I was looking for a free plant-based meal and workout plan in order to help me get out of the plateau I have reached in my fitness journey. While I have yet to find exactly what I was looking for, I did find an incredible vegan meal plan that could greatly benefit others. I hadn’t ever even heard of the website Plant-Based on a Budget before. It would be a wonderful resource for anyone dipping their toes into a vegan diet. This site gives you a full month of meals including recipes and shopping lists all for free! (There are some you can pay for, but the link is to the free version.) You are even able to choose a plan based on how many people you need to feed. I could hardly believe something so helpful had been right under my nose this whole time.

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I have shared both of these websites on my Facebook page in the hopes that those too timid to attempt a vegan diet before will be emboldened by this new information. I have certainly grown a lot since I first transitioned to this lifestyle. Instead of flaring up arguments with aggressive, impassioned proclamations, I’ve learned to just live by example and share information in an open and compassionate way in the hopes that those who are ready will find it helpful. I’ve learned that there is always more to learn and discover even six years in.

I am continuously inspired by the ever-progressing availability and amount of information there is about veganism. Things have changes so much since I began this journey. Each day the choice becomes easier and easier for others to make. I truly believe that the only possible future for humanity is a vegan one. I hope we all get to see it.

Vegan Grocery Haul

There is a common misconception that veganism is expensive. In this post I wanted to address that myth. It is certainly true that veganism can be expensive, but so can any type of diet. People seem to have a hard time imagining what vegans eat. Many think that their diets mainly consist of tofu and faux meats and cheeses which are usually quite pricey. Not many people realize that the staple foods in an average vegans diet are some of the cheapest foods you can buy: rice, beans, potatoes, and fresh or frozen fruits and veggies.

Just in case anyone is curious, I decided to show you all what a normal trip to the grocery store results in for an average low-income vegan like myself. All of the food in the photo to follow was under $45 at my local Kroger grocery store. I didn’t actually buy rice this time, but that’s because I always have that. The spices to season all of your delicious vegetable dishes can be a bit expensive in the beginning, but they are only a rare purchase as they last for a long time.

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In case you can’t make it out in the photo, here is a list of everything pictured:

  1. Watermelon
  2. Pineapple (x20
  3. Potato (x20
  4. Green onion bunch (x2)
  5. Cucumber
  6. Celery hearts
  7. Dark brown sugar
  8. Blueberries (1lb)
  9. Zucchini
  10. Avocado
  11. Red pepper
  12. Green pepper
  13. Radishes (3 bags)
  14. Frozen corn
  15. Broccoli (2 crowns)
  16. Tomatoes (3 Roma)
  17. Sugar snap peas
  18. Spinach
  19. Cilantro
  20. Kale
  21. Veggie stir-fry kit
  22. Dried apricots
  23. Cabbage
  24. Tamari
  25. Beet and ginger bean dip
  26. Mediterranean pickles
  27. Garbanzo Beans
  28. Kidney Beans
  29. Vegetarian refried beans
  30. Kombucha

That’s 30 wonderful plant-based foods for less than $45! I want to help spread the message that veganism can be easy, accessible and affordable. It takes a little practice. You learn how to shop with the season and benefit from bargain bins. But there is no reason that someone should hold themselves back from living a more compassionate and healthy lifestyle because of their income.

I hope that this can be an inspiring example to some of you out there that have held onto the false notion that veganism is simply too expensive to consider. If a 24-year-old, single, social worker can do it, so can you!

 

Atheist Easter & Vegan Deviled Eggs

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Even though I’ve been an atheist for over a decade now, I still love, love, LOVE “Christian” holidays. (They are actually kinda Pagan holidays, but I digress.) I view them as an excellent time to enjoy delicious fattening foods without guilt and spread lots of love to my friends and family. In addition to the unorthodox way I already celebrate, my past six years of veganism have made my holidays even more controversial and strange. And I wouldn’t have it any other way!

This year my grandmother that usually makes deviled eggs for my family’s Easter dinner was no longer with us. She passed away a few weeks after the new year began. In loving memory of her and her delicious addition, I decided to make my own version of these delights. I used to absolutely adore deviled eggs and eggs in general. Until now, I was under the assumption that a lot of egg dishes were simply impossible to recreate realistically in a vegan way. However, I recently went to a vegan restaurant in Pittsburgh, PA called The Onion Maiden where they serve vegan deviled eggs! I was overjoyed when I ordered them and discovered they were almost identical to the real deal.

After a quick Google search, I found that the secret ingredients to make a firm egg-like substance were Agar Powder and Black Salt. I was easily able to order both of these on Amazon for less than $10. Once I received these ingredients I was eager to taste the black salt because I had never heard of it before and I was very skeptical that these few ingredients that were called for would be able to produce something as egg-y as what I had sampled at The Onion Maiden. To my surprise, black salt is basically egg as a seasoning. Even by itself, it tastes exactly like a salted boiled egg!!! I am so blown away by this and the fact that I hadn’t known this as a vegan for all these years that I may make a separate post just about this incredible find. All vegans need to be aware of this!

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I used the recipe from BakedIn.com that was simple and took less than an hour. I have included the link to the recipe and a photo of everything I used above. (I didn’t want to buy more almond milk, so I just used what I had even though it was vanilla instead of plain. It didn’t seem to make a huge difference, but I’ll definitely use plain in my next batch.) I was quite pleased with the result. Even my non-vegan family members and friends were surprised at how similar my vegan version was to actual deviled eggs. These are definitely going to be a staple holiday food for me from now on. Let me know if you try them yourselves and what you think. Also THANK THE VEGAN GODS FOR BLACK SALT.

Hope you all had a lovely, cruelty-free holiday. ♥

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My Vegan Thanksgiving

Hello everyone! Sorry it has taken me so long to post this. I realize that at this point it is almost Christmas, but the effects of Seasonal Affective Disorder have really started to kick in the past couple of weeks and I just haven’t gotten the motivation to post anything lately. But I figured with another hectic holiday meal looming on the horizon I might give everyone (including myself) a little inspiration to make a few delicious cruelty-free dishes to share with the ones you love.

Here is what my plate looked like on Thanksgiving this year:

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You may note that there is a big ol’ glass of plum wine. Sometimes you gotta self-medicate to have a pleasant evening with the family.

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I made a pumpkin roll that kind of turned into a pumpkin pile. But it was still super yummy!

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I ended up making waaay too many of these dark chocolate truffles because after I made the first batch I decided they were so delicious that there weren’t enough…

There were honestly too many sweets in general though. I got a little carried away by baking pumpkin cupcakes and blueberry muffins as well. My sister even made a vegan apple pie, which was absolutely perfect. Overall, the holiday was extremely pleasant, and I look forward to preparing another massive batch of goodies for Christmas! I hope that the end of the year is treating you all well. I plan on making a few other posts I’ve been thinking about before the new year gets here. ♥

 

Surviving Holidays with Non-Vegans

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While most people welcome a chance to relax and enjoy time spent with family and friends during the holidays, for a vegan these can be trying times. I would hope that other vegans have a more pleasant and supportive experience with family members in regards to their lifestyle choices than I do. But I wanted to write some helpful words of advice and encouragement for those struggling to be understood by a less than understanding family.

When you are just starting out on your vegan voyage, the holidays can be hard enough just due to the temptations that abound. (I decided to go vegan when I returned from a vacation, and that day just so happened to be Easter Sunday.) However, once you have been vegan for a few years, the challenge instead becomes sitting at a table covered in body parts and watching those you love devour the innocent, poison their bodies, and decimate the planet. Good luck keeping your appetite at all.

The good news is that both of these issues can be ameliorated in the same way! The best thing to do to keep yourself sane and kindle some warmth in your soul during the holiday months is to find some new vegan recipes to try out. For someone like me who isn’t the most capable cook, it can sometimes be difficult to find recipes that don’t include dozens of expensive/uncommon ingredients or intricate instructions. Some of the simplest, quickest, and most delicious recipes that I have found recently are from The Minimalist Baker. This blog even has a special collection of recipes just for Thanksgiving that you can find here. (I am definitely going to recreate a few of these babies to enjoy this year!)

Creating your own buffet of vegan delicacies is a great way to eliminate the temptation of all the non-vegan dishes and desserts that will be right under your nose (and if your family is anything like mine, you may be pressured to take part in.) This is also a great opportunity to emphasize to those you love just how achievable and maintainable a vegan diet truly is. Some of my relatives regularly eat vegan alternative products just because I’ve shown them that they are so damn delicious!

Apart from the food itself, holidays as a vegan can also be difficult due to being misunderstood or even mocked by family members. Going vegan can turn a gathering that was once associated with warmth and togetherness into something dreadful and frustrating. Even after all these years my family never seems to get tired of poking fun at the vegans. (I’m lucky enough to have a vegan sister to share the harassment with.)

I don’t believe my relatives intend to be hurtful, but this just further emphasizes their lack of understanding. Somehow they still don’t comprehend how important this aspect of my life is to me. It makes me feel as if they haven’t even heard any of the things I’ve said on the matter. I truly hope that other’s have a more positive experience with this than I have, but I know there are certainly vegans out there that know this struggle all too well.

The best advice that I can give is to persevere.

It is highly unlikely you are going to convert anyone to a vegan lifestyle during a holiday feast or find anything other than aggressive opposition to your attempts for that matter. I have learned to just try my hardest to represent a happy, healthy, vegan lifestyle the best that I can, but not to press the issue too violently. I answer any questions openly and honestly. I try to stay positive and not let my disappointment, frustration, and anger get the best of me. I avoid letting myself get sucked into the negative spiral within my mind that any outright opposition to veganism tends to initiate in me. I try to keep my heart open and focus my mind on all that I am grateful for, because there is so much. I also try to think of who I was before going vegan and try to empathize with my unfortunate family members who still haven’t made the connection and are lost in the fog of carnism.

Finally, I would just like to extend an invitation to any vegans out there that need emotional support and encouragement for the upcoming months. Please feel free to contact me. I would be more than happy to help in anyway that I can. You are strong. You are compassionate. You can get through this.

Good luck, dear ones. ♥ 

 

 

Vegan on the Go

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Sometimes, when you are on the go or in a hurry, veganism is not the most convenient diet. It is hard enough to find vegan options in a restaurant, let alone a fast food place. There is always the option of ordering a salad without meat or cheese, but in my experience, a good percentage of the time you will be thoroughly ignored and receive the salad with no alterations whatsoever. Then there are some who may consider just an order of french fries. However, many fast food restaurants fry these in meat greases. Also, french fries are not very nutritious or filling. Even the veggie burgers that are served by Burger King contain egg ingredients.

The struggle to find vegan options from fast food restaurants can be a blessing and a curse. It does prevent you from eating poorly when you could be eating something a little better for you. However, sometimes a quick bite of food is necessary. So, after years of irritation, I have finally found an option that has worked for me, and it is my hope that it can work for all of you other vegans out there as well. 

When I need a cheap morsel of food in a hurry, I will occasionally go to Taco Bell. For merely two dollars you can get a delicious and moderately healthy little meal! On their menu they offer a very yummy black bean burrito. It does come with cheese on it, but you can ask them to exclude that part. (I have yet to get one that still had cheese as I have with salads.) I also ask them to add guacamole, which is a wonderful replacement. 

Mexican fast food can be a delightful option for vegans trying to get a quick meal. There are only Taco Bell’s near my hometown, but I am sure any such fast food restaurant would have similar options. I hope that this can help some of you out. Now instead of greasy fries or a limp, unappetizing fast food salad, you can get a delicious, nutritious bean burrito!

Enjoy, my vegan darlings. ❤ 

Gardein Fishless Filet Review

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I am not sure if this is a new product or if my little backward, country hick town has just now gotten it in our grocery stores. However, my sister and I seriously had a shameless victory dance in the freezer isle of our super market when we saw this. We pretty much made a scene we were so excited.

One of the hardest parts of veganism for me has been giving up all the different and delicious different types of seafood. Up until now, there wasn’t really any replacement for this type of meat. I had come across a few recipes online for fishy vegan meals, but only one seemed easy enough for me to try and I was not very impressed with the results. I feel like these frozen fish-less filets are a glorious blessing from the universe to thank me and all other vegans for our endeavors. 

These are somewhat more expensive than the things I usually allow myself to buy, but after trying some, I would say that they are well worth it for an occasional treat. They only take 20 minutes to bake. They are also extremely thick, crispy, and tender when finished. The taste is not exactly like fish, but it is pretty darn close. The glorious texture seems to make up for the slight difference in flavor. They are also relatively low-calorie at 180 calories for two pieces (which is more than enough to fill you up.)

Overall, I give this product a big thumbs up. I would also like to profusely thank the fine people of Gardein for gracing the vegan populace with this fish-less delight. If you haven’t tried this yet, go get some! and let me know what you thought of it in the comments below or give me a follow for more vegan posts.

Stay peaceful, lovelies. 

Sausage, Sauerkraut, & Noodles Recipe

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One of my favorite meals when I was growing up was my mom’s sausage, sauerkraut, and noodles dish. After becoming vegan, it was torment to smell her cooking this for my father, knowing that I could not allow myself a single bite. So, I did what any determined vegan does in such a situation. I fashioned a vegan replacement! This recipe is cheap, easy, quick, and even more delicious than the non-vegan version of the dish. Also, you end up with a ton of food!

Ingredients:

  1. Tofurkey Italian Sausage (or any other brand, this is around $4)
  2. 1 can of sauerkraut
  3. Your favorite type of noodles (I usually use spiral ones, but spaghetti is cheaper)

Instructions:

  1. Boil water and start cooking your noodles
  2. Cut up 2 vegan Italian sausages into small pieces
  3. Place Italian sausage into frying pan
  4. Add 1 can of sauerkraut to the pan
  5. Cook until warm and noodles are tender
  6. Mix together
  7. Enjoy!

Note: I realize that my recipes are not very specific when it comes to the amount of different ingredients. However, that is just how simple these recipes are! Using different amounts of ingredients will not alter the outcome very much, except for how much food you end up with, and that is up to you. 

Enjoy, my darlings! 

 

 

Inexpensive Vegan Meal

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Once you become vegan, it may be hard to think of cheap food options. For the most part, fast food is out of the question. Which, in the long run, is a wonderful thing. However, being a college student, I know that sometimes an extremely cheap meal is necessary. Today I would like to share with you one of the cheapest, most delicious vegan meals that I make myself.

This meal consists of only two ingredients, not counting simple household things. Better yet, these ingredients only cost around two to three dollars! And you will be able to make a ton of food! This meal is also extremely simply and quick to make. So here you are, dears.

Vegan Cabbage and Noodles:

Ingredients:

  1. Spaghetti noodles (or whatever noodles you prefer, spaghetti is just the cheapest)
  2. Cabbage
  3. Salt
  4. Pepper
  5. Olive Oil (or any type of cooking oil)

Instructions:

  1. Boil water and begin to cook noodles
  2. While noodles are cooking, put a thin coat of olive oil into a frying pan
  3. Add chopped cabbage
  4. Cook until tender, adding salt and pepper to taste
  5. Mix cooked noodles and cabbage together

I generally don’t measure the exact amount of noodles or cabbage I use. You can make more or less depending on how hungry you are or how many people you are cooking for. I found that this meal can come in very handy for the vegan with not much to spend. It is yummy, filling, quick, cheap, and easy to prepare! I hope that this can help any struggling vegans out there or any that would just like a quick vegan version of an old favorite.

Stay peaceful, my loves.