Tuesday, January 18, 2011

6 Months in Review...

I've been reflecting a lot lately about veganism and why I decided to take on the lifestyle. It's been 6 months since the official start date and I have to say that I've grown and learned quite a few things in a short period of time.

Lesson #1: Not everyone will become vegan because I did.

This was a hard lesson for me to learn. When I first became vegan I assumed everyone around me had attained the same knowledge and awareness that I had. And surely if they didn't alls I would have to do would be to educate them. Wrong! Just like I was blind and unaware of the animal death, environmental impact and health consequences for a majority of my life; other people are blind to it too. And unfortunately because veganism/vegetarianism is more than a simple choice but an acceptance of suffering and death; most people go will go about their day ignoring it. 

Lesson #2: The majority of the world does not cater to vegans.

This was a lesson I learned while traveling to Greece. Although there are many cultures where meat does not play a huge role; it is not the same for animal products. In Greece, had I been vegetarian I would have lots of options  but because I don't consume any animal products it was very difficult. Greece like many mediterranean countries love cheese, milk and eggs. I also learned that the standard American diet (SAD) is becoming more and more common all around the world. 

Lesson #3: In everyday life in Seattle; veganism is easy.

This is one of the many reasons why I love Seattle. Although vegans are still in the minority; they definitely have a presence in Seattle. I have many favorite restaurants that cater specifically to vegans. And most places if they are not solely vegetarian/vegan are very knowledgeable about what is in their food. Seattle is one of many cities around the country and the world that are increasingly becoming aware of the benefits of a vegan diet. I would imagine that vegan options will become more standard as the awareness continues to grow.

Lesson #4: 6 months done and the rest of my life to go.

Although I feel like 6 months is a milestone; it's only the beginning. I will continue to educate and spread awareness of the benefits of a vegan diet. I will continue to ask the waiter a million questions. And I will still be frustrated when I'm traveling. But at the end of the day; I am happy about my choice. I am a better person for becoming aware of my individual choices; to spare innocent animals from the suffering and death that humans have placed on them. And that's really my outlook; saving one animal at a time.

Thanks for reading and sharing this milestone with me. My hope is that I can inspire you all to look into veganism or vegetarianism as a way to make a difference in the animals that are spared, in the world and in your health. My next milestone will be in six months from now. I will be having a full set of blood work done to see what changes, if any, have been made to my health.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Vegan Thanksgiving!!

My first vegan Thanksgiving!

I used this as an opportunity to make a huge dinner. I scoured the Internet for easy, Thanksgiving-style recipes. Most of the recipes are very typical of many Thanksgiving dishes. Only minor alterations were made to make them vegan friendly. This is just an example of how a festive dinner that typically features dead animals and animal products can be transformed into a plant-based, vegan dinner that still retains it's festive Thanksgiving roots.

I am very thankful to have recently witnessed what a typical Thanksgiving meal looks like. None of the typical fare looked remotely edible or tasty. Now I can enjoy my dinner knowing that mine is probably the best tasting (and cruelty-free).  Nothing like staring at a turkey carcass thinking WTF! "This what people call a meal!"

I hope this full-feature extensive Thanksgiving feast is able to open your minds of what is possible.

  • Fresh Corn Soup
  • Sweet Potato Biscuits
  • Cranberry Sauce
  • Garlic Mashed Potatoes with Brown Gravy
  • Sticky Sweet Cranberry Tofu
  • Rustic Stuffing with Pecans
  • Green Bean Casserole with a French Onion Crust
  • Field Roast Stuffed Hazelnut Cranberry En Croute
  • Roasted White Turnips, Celery Root, and Carrots
  • Pumpkin Pie with Soy Whipped Cream

FYI - When you blend boiling hot soup, make sure you are holding the lid very tight. Unfortunately I learned this the hard way and ended up wearing some of the soup and gave myself 1st degree burns.

Cranberry Sauce

Sticky Sweet Cranberry Tofu

Green Bean Casserole

Mashed Potatoes and Brown Gravy

(from top to right) Rustic Stuffing w/ Pecans,
Field Roasted Stuffed Hazelnut Cranberry En Croute,
Sweet Potato Biscuit & Mashed Potatoes and Gravy

Pumpkin Pie w/ Soy Whipped Cream

Rustic Stuffing w/ Pecans

Sweet Potato Biscuits

Roasted Turnips, Celery Root and Carrots

Fresh Corn Soup & a (veggie) buttered Sweet Potato Biscuit

Friday, November 19, 2010

Book Review: Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs, and Wear Cows: An Introduction to Carnism by Melanie Joy, PhD

How many of you enjoy bacon? But did you ever want to eat dog? Or whale? Or what about squirrel? I'm sure most of the readers of this blog would have no problem eating bacon (pig), and most would have to be on a stranded island to eat a dog. Why is that? Why as humans have we selectively decided which animals were edible or non-edible? Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs and Wear Cows explores this very idea. 

The book also creates a relatively new term to describe meat-eaters. Here is a passage from the book that describes carnism and carnists.

"Carnism is the belief system in which eating certain animals is considered ethical and appropriate. Carnists, people who eat meat, are not the same as carnivores. Carnivores are animals that are dependent on meat to survive. Carnists are also not merely omnivores. An omnivore is an animal, human or nonhuman, that has the physiological ability to ingest both plants and meat. But, like "carnivore," "omnivore" is a term that describes one's biological constitution, not one's philosophical choice. Carnists eat meat not because they need to, but because they choose to, and choices always stem from beliefs."

The book also helped me to understand why my friends and family continue to eat meat; even after I've bull-dozed them with vegan/vegetarian propaganda. Although it is still frustrating; I'm not holding on to the guilt that I once did because the people around me continue to practice beliefs that cause suffering and death to living animals. Veganism is a choice I have made, and Carnism is a choice they have made. The quote, "I realize that animals will continue to suffer and die, but not because of me," by Eddie Lama really helped me come to terms that I will not be able to convert everyone to vegetarians or vegans and I shouldn't feel bad about that. Having said that, I am still trying to enlighten and educate my friends and family in the hopes that they will at least trend towards less meat.

Overall, this book is interesting and easy to read. Unlike "The China Health Study," you won't be confused with statistics and numbers. I always find it interesting to read books based on human psychology because it offers insight into the human mind. It is more about examination of the psychology as opposed to trying to influence the reader to adopt the author's views.

Take a chance and read this book. If anything you will have an appreciation for the complexities of the human decision making process. And just maybe you'll make a conscious decision to avoid eating dead animals. After all; they are living, sentient creatures, just like you and me.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Chocolate Peanut Butter Brownie Sundae

Once again I've let the cold, rainy weather of Seattle inspire me to bake some delicious vegan comfort food. This time I decided to go all out and have dessert for dinner. I finally found a good vegan brownie recipe. I've included recipe I used.

Chocolate Fudge Brownie

2 C Organic Unbleached Flour
2 C Organic Evaporated Cane Juice
3/4 C Organic Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
1 tsp Baking Powder
1 tsp Salt
1/2 C Water
1/2 C Organic Unsweetened Soy Milk
1/4 C Organic Canola Oil
1 tsp Organic Vanilla Extract
1 C Organic Semi-sweet Chocolate Chips

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 9 x 13 in. baking pan.

2. Combine all dry ingredients except semi-sweet chocolate chips.

3. Add liquid ingredients to dry mixture and mix until well blended.

4. Add semi-sweet chocolate chips.

5. Bake 30-35 minutes.

(Chocolate Fudge Brownie recipe adapted from The Vegan Scoop by Wheeler Del Torro)

Chocolate Fudge Brownie

Chocolate Peanut Butter Brownie Sundae

  1. Chocolate Fudge Brownie (recipe above)
  2. Chunky Peanut Butter
  3. Purely Decadent Vanilla Bean Coconut Milk Ice Cream
  4. Soy Whip
  5. Chocolate Syrup

Chocolate Peanut Butter Brownie Sundae

Friday, November 12, 2010

Vegan Meal Ideas

Here is a collection of meals that I have made within the past two months. Most of these meals were created from local, organic vegetables. I hope that it will inspire and give people ideas about creating vegan meals at home. I am not the best cook in the world; so if I can cook vegan, anyone can.

Muesli and kamut w/ flaxseed, strawberries, and dates
Whole Grain Toast w/ Nut butter and no sugar added jam and crumble pecans
Mango Banana Smoothie

Portobello mushroom soup
Roasted red pepper vinaigrette baby spinach and turnip greens salad with pecans and squash seeds
Broccoli Soup
African Kale & Yam Soup
Creamy Harvest Corn Soup

Broccoli and cauliflower casserole with paprika parsley cornmeal crust
Saffron-infused israeli couscous with sauteed onions and crimini mushrooms
Baked fusili w/ sun-dried tomatoes, mushrooms and spinach
Sauteed collard greens w/ cashews
Turnips and leek olive oil sauté
Tofu, Red Pepper and Broccoli with Almond Sauce and Brown Rice
Masala fried cucumbers
Roasted Acorn Squash with Chile Vinaigrette
Cavatappi w/ Fennel, Shallots and Olives in a Crushed Garlic Tomato Sauce
Roasted White Acorn Squash with Chile Vinaigrette
Brown Rice w/ Black Beans and Zaatar
Celeriac sauteed with chardonnay and garlic
Saffron-infused Cauliflower and Romanesco Broccoli
Stuffed Green Peppers
Creamy Pumpkin Whole Wheat Penne with Pecans and Sage
Brussel Sprouts with Pecans and Sage
Bok Choy, Mushroom, and Cashew Stir-fry with Brown Garlic Sauce and Brown Rice
Turnip and Radish Basil Roast

Banana foster w/ vanilla bean coconut milk ice cream
Vanilla bean coconut milk ice cream w/ chocolate tahini and pomegranate
Lemon sorbet with shredded coconut
Vanilla bean coconut milk ice cream with maple syrup and pecans
Vanilla Agave Cupcakes with Vanilla Bean Buttercream
Chocolate Cupcakes with Tahini Buttercream
Cinnamon Apple Stuffed Acorn Squash
Lemon Sorbet with Pomegranate and Coconut Cream
Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups

Just made these great Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups! They are so delicious, easy to make and no baking required. What more could you ask for in a rich, decadent dessert? If you are having a craving for Reese's Peanut Cups; this will do the trick (and it's not as processed).  Just be careful, because one of these tasty treats will set you back 230 calories.  

Makes: 12 


1⁄2 cup Earth Balance butter
3⁄4 cup crunchy peanut butter 
3⁄4 cup graham cracker crumbs
1⁄4 cup evaporated cane juice
1 cup semi-sweet vegan chocolate
1⁄4 cup unsweetened soy milk
1⁄4 cup peanuts


1. Line cupcake pan with liners.
2. Melt butter in saucepan. Once melted; combine peanut butter, graham cracker crumbs and evaporated cane juice.
3. Place peanut butter mixture into cupcake liners, approximately 2 TBSP per cup.
4. Place in fridge and allow to cool at least 2 hours.
5. Add nondairy chocolate chips and soy milk to saucepan. Heat until combined & smooth.
6. Layer each peanut butter cup with the chocolate mixture.
7. Sprinkle with peanuts and place back into refrigerator until chocolate peanut butter cup is completely set.
8. Keep refrigerated until ready to serve. At room temperature will get a little soft set, but still tasty.

(original recipe adapted from http://www.thekindlife.com/post/chocolate-peanut-butter-cups#)

Monday, November 1, 2010

Book Review - The China Study by Dr. T. Colin Campbell and Thomas M. Campbell II

The China Study is an eye-opening book that everyone should be reading! It presents the idea that cancer, diabetes, heart disease and obesity are caused by our consumption of animal products. Could it be true that most our chronic diseases stem from animal products? Who knows, I'll let you be the judge of that. But whether you believe it or not, the book sure makes a compelling argument. The book has been based on one of the largest studies in the world that has studied the relationship between diet and disease.

I was absolutely stunned when I was reading this book. The information it presents is truly mind-boggling and will get you thinking about everything that you are eating. I am disappointed that our government and health officials are not taking a stand against animal products. They have an obligation to the people to educate them about good nutrition. It just shows how much the meat and dairy industries have  brain washed people into thinking that animal products are a good source of nutrition; when in fact they are making us sick. I think that if you give this book a chance; you will think twice about eating that steak or drinking that glass of milk.

Read this book for yourself, for your family and your friends. You might just learn something and want to pass it on.