RSS Feed

Category Archives: Vegan Lifestyle

Exciting News

Posted on

It has been well over a month since I have posted anything and there’s a good reason.  I am three months pregnant!  Eric and I decided we were ready and succeeded on the first try!  This is our first baby and the first grandchild on both sides, so it’s a very exciting event for everyone.  My first trimester was a little rough.  I had a lot of fatigue, nausea, and heartburn, but I’m starting to feel much better.  I was coming home from work every day, throwing together some kind of meal, then laying down on the couch and staying there pretty much all evening.  I hadn’t felt the drive to write at all, so the blog has been quiet.  I plan to step it up now while I still can, before the third trimester and the arrival of our little munchkin, when I’ll have no time whatsoever.

Oh, and an important note.  When talking with my Certified Nurse Midwife about eating healthy during the pregnancy, I told her I was vegan and she was very pleased to hear it.  She kept saying that I was eating a very healthy diet, so all should be well.  I did admit I had been eating a lot of bread lately, because it helps settle my stomach.  She told me that the first trimester is pretty much a free pass because you eat what you can.  All blood tests so far have come out great – further confirmation that a vegan diet is nothing but healthy.

Anyway, that’s my news!  I’ll report back on being vegan while pregnant!

Viva La Vegan Grocery, Santa Monica

The all-vegan market, Viva La Vegan Grocery opened a new location not long ago in Santa Monica.  Eric and I found ourselves in the area and stopped by to see what interesting new vegan products we could try.  First, I want to point out that this is not really a health foods store.  While there are cooking basics such as different kinds of flour, grains, and different sauces, there aren’t a lot of those things and you could get most of them elsewhere.  Mostly, they had the largest variety of vegan processed foods that I have ever seen.  I was there to buy foods that I don’t usually see at our local grocery stores, so I was okay with that.

The store is tiny and packed with vegan goods.  I definitely recommend you stop in and try something new.

Viva La Vegan | A Vegan in Progress

This was our haul.  It was the most expensive bag of groceries I ever bought.  It was over $60 for the items listed below.  Everything was $5-8 each.

  • Artisan Tofurkey Andouille Sausages
  • Tofurkey Chorizo-style meatless crumbles
  • Starlite Cuisine Santa Fe Style Crispy Rolled Tacos
  • So Good Miso Mayo Spicy Red Pepper Spread
  • Victoria Vegan Alfredo Sauce
  • Uncle Eddie’s Vegan Peanut Butter and Chocolate Chip Cookies
  • Tofurkey Vegan Italian Sausage and Fire Roasted Veggie Pizza
  • Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Sticks (I used these for Thanksgiving stuffing)
  • Nacheez dairy-free nacho sauce
  • Rising Moon Organics Artichoke and Olive Ravioli

I will post about these as I try them, so stay tuned!

Vegan Impulse Buying

Like an adult

When you come across a vegan treat in a store that isn’t usually vegan, do you ever feel like you just have to buy it?  That happened to me last night.  We were at Ralphs for just a couple of items and for some reason I stopped to look at some mini-pies in the bakery section.  They were dutch apple and vegan.  I immediately felt like I had to buy one even though I didn’t really want pie.  I don’t know if I subconsciously worry that I’ll never come across it again or if I feel like I should try every vegan thing I stumble upon.

I didn’t buy it, for the record.  I just thought about it for longer than anyone should have to think about a pie.

Vegan Myths: The “Listening to my Body” Excuse

Posted on

I recently read the post, Can We Please Stop ‘Listening to Our Bodies’? on Huffington Post by Ed Coffin and wanted to share it.  It’s so disappointing to hear a former vegan telling people that they listened to their body telling them that they needed to eat animal products.  If your body needs protein or calcium or whatever you’re using as an excuse, any vegan knows that it is readily available in whole foods.  What’s worse is that anti-vegans use these statements as evidence that vegans are just crazy hippies who haven’t listened to their body’s signals yet.

This happens with simply vegetarians, too, as I found when watching an old episode of the HBO series, Girls.  Lena Dunham’s character, Hannah, tells a guy that she was vegetarian for years, but someone cooked a steak for her, so she ate it and could feel herself getting much needed nourishment from it.  So frustrating to watch.

Anyway, the following post includes a great official statement from the American Dietetic Association about how a balanced vegan diet is perfectly healthy for all stages of life, including pregnancy, which is good to hear.  I also like to see such truthful pro-vegan posts on websites that are not vegetarian-focused.  Way to go, Huffington Post!  Enjoy!

Sure, there are perfectly legitimate reasons to “listen to our bodies.” For example, noticing a sharp chest pain or an allergic reaction (a real, diagnosed one) to food. However, there are many people who make a completely irrational attempt to justify their “need” to consume animal products by using the “listening to my body” argument. As a registered dietitian, this is probably one of the most irksome arguments I hear, because it’s simply untrue.

Thank goodness that we don’t have to rely on mere thoughts and feelings to determine what nutrients humans need to consume to stay healthy. In fact, there’s a thing called the scientific method, and it’s an incredibly precise way of gathering and deciphering information. We have used it to compile decades of nutrition research that have resulted in established recommendations for the nutrients our bodies need to thrive.

We have even been able to use this body of scientific evidence on human nutrition to make the determination that we simply don’t need to consume animal products to survive. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics has put this issue to rest in a single position statement:

It is the position of the American Dietetic Association that appropriately planned vegetarian diets, including total vegetarian or vegan diets, are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases. Well-planned vegetarian diets are appropriate for individuals during all stages of the life cycle, including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, and adolescence, and for athletes.

Evidence-based nutrition recommendations tell us the appropriate amounts of macro and micronutrients the general population needs to stay nourished. How we choose to obtain those nutrients is completely up to us, and there’s certainly no established recommendation for the amount of animal products we need to consume, because they’re not essential. We can get all the nutrients our bodies require while consuming a completely plant-based diet. This isn’t propaganda or zealotry; it’s a simple scientific fact.

So, let’s please stop using the “listening to my body” excuse, because it’s completely false. Let’s just be truthful and say, “I’m not ready or willing to go vegan at the moment.” There are certainly many debates we can have surrounding the vegan lifestyle, but whether or not we need to eat animal products to be healthy isn’t one of them. No one needs to “listen to their body” to decide if they can go vegan or not.

Liebster Award, part 2

Thank you, A Year of Going Vegan, for nominating me for another Liebster Award!  It’s super flattering.  Since, with every nomination come new questions, I decided to do another post on it.

liebster-blog-award

Rules:

  1. Answer the 10 questions that the tagger set for you (see below)
  2. Choose your 10 favorite new bloggers with less than 200 followers (see below)
  3. Create 10 questions for your favorite new bloggers to answer (see below)
  4. Go to their page and tell them
  5. No tag backs

 

 

My answers to the questions posed by A Year of Going Vegan…

  1. What inspired you to begin your blog?

I decided to transition to a vegan lifestyle and thought that if I was going to go to the effort of contacting restaurant headquarters for ingredients in their dishes, I should make it searchable for other vegans.  It also works as a personal log for me.  I write about recipes I have tried and what I would do differently next time.  It’s also nice to have my favorite recipes accessible by smart phone when I’m at the grocery store.

  1. Do you have a pet? Or many pets?

I have two cats: Vito (a tuxedo cat) and Noche (a black smoke tabby).  We adopted them from a shelter in our area a few years ago and they are such a joy.  They have such distinct personalities, it’s crazy.  Noche is crazy for water (he’s a former stray) and once got in the shower with me out of curiosity.  Vito has huge eyes and is named after Vito Andolini/Corleone of the Godfather.  It’s really nice that they have each other for when we aren’t home.

  1. Tropical island or cabin in the mountains?

My family has a cabin in Big Bear.  We went there often as kids.  I love it in the summer and the winter.  However, I haven’t ever been to a tropical island, so I very likely could be swayed on that one.

  1. Can you drive in the snow?

I’ve driven in the snow in Big Bear, but that’s hardly heavy snow.  I can handle it, but it tenses me up.  I wouldn’t like to live in a snowy place.

  1. Do you follow a diet plan or a lifestyle of eating, or do you just eat whatever?

I follow a vegan lifestyle 99% of the time and never eat meat.  I make myself try new things all the time and am slowly discovering that I love things I had previously thought I hated (bell peppers, cauliflower, eggplant).  I allow myself vegan junk food (hello, Oreos!), but I try to limit it.0

  1. Do you incorporate exercise in your weekly activities?

Yes, I love running.  Mainly, I love it because I hate it.  I’m sure this doesn’t make any sense, but, I’ll try.  I generally hate to run, but the mere fact that I can overcome that a few times a week and just will myself to run 5 miles makes me feel incredible.  I like being a person who runs, but I don’t like running.

  1. Do you enjoy alone time?

Yeah, I enjoy having the freedom in my time to do whatever I want.  Generally, though, I would prefer some lazy couch and laptop time with my hubby.  You never laugh as hard when you’re alone.

  1. Wine, beer, or mixed drinks?

I really like white wine, particularly Pinot Grigio.  I’ll drink red wine, but I’m not a big fan.  I hate beer and prefer Cider.  I can take or leave mixed drinks.

  1. Do you have a bucket list?

I have a travel bucket list.  I want to visit the following places, in no particular order: Germany (castles!), Ireland (cliffs!), Amsterdam, Utah National Parks, Montana, Hawaii, Switzerland… and the list goes on.

  1. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you go?

I have been thinking about this a lot lately.  The LA area is just so pricy and the job market is so freaking competitive.  Since he graduated, my husband hasn’t been able to find a job in his field (communications).  I also don’t think we’ll ever be able to afford a home here unless we move to the outskirts (no offense, but I am not interested in moving to Palmdale).  The average home here costs $450,000, way above the national average of just over $200,000.  We are looking strongly at the Pacific Northwest, particularly Portland, Oregon, where housing costs approximately 30% less than it does here.  Once we get an opportunity, we’re going to check it out.  My parents are even interested in relocating for their retirement and it would be really nice to have them nearby.

 

The Nominees Are:

Farmed Animal Welfare League:  My younger sister’s farmed animal advocacy organization

Getting Fit, Sassy, & Beautiful:  My sister in law’s blog on living a balanced, healthy lifestyle

Veganatomy

Vegan Adventures

Hangry Tales

Vegan in VT

Georgia Kate’s Kitchen

Theantiqueappetite

The Cooks Next Door

Just a Thought

 

My questions for the nominees:

1.  In this golden age of television, what’s your favorite show currently airing?

2.  Have you ever won anything (other than an Liebster nomination of course!)?

3.  What is your go-to cookbook?

4.  What is your first ever memory?

5.  If you won the lottery, what would be your first expense?

6.  Where is your happy place?

7.  Where would you next like to travel?

8.  Did you complete any college?  If so, what was your major or emphasis?

9.  What do you feel is the most important issue facing society that is largely being ignored?

10.  What is your favorite kitchen appliance?

Vegan Myths: Canine Teeth = Meat Eater

I recently read the post, 9 Reasons Your Canine Teeth Don’t Make You a Meat-Eater on Free From Harm by Ashley Capps and felt that it was definitely worth sharing.  I have personally heard this argument from many people in just the past year that I have been vegan.

The most compelling part of the following post, for me, was the moral argument.  The idea that we have a right to do harm just because we are capable of it.

What are your feelings on the subject?  People will inevitably feel that your choice to be vegan is a personal attack on their choices and whip out this argument.  How do you respond to them?

One of the most common defenses of meat-eating that vegans encounter is, “If I wasn’t meant to eat meat, then I wouldn’t have these canine teeth!” It’s a comment that’s often tossed out after a meat-eater has been confronted with information about animal farming cruelty, or with the fact that humans have no biological need for meat, milk or eggs. But there are several serious problems with the “canine teeth” argument, the most glaring one being the premise that “the presence of canine teeth = meant to eat meat.” In truth, with the exception of rodents, rabbits, and pikas, nearly all mammals have canine teeth. In fact, several herbivores have ferocious canine teeth, and, as you’ll see in the gallery below, the largest canine teeth of any land animal belong to a true herbivore.

Another problem with the “canine teeth” argument is the idea that, just because we have a physical attribute that enables us to do something harmful, we are morally entitled to perform that activity whenever we want. Humans are physically capable of inflicting all kinds of violence, but our capacity to harm others has nothing to do with whether or not we are right to harm others. Indeed, most people would say it is wrong to cause harm when you can just as easily avoid doing so. And we can drastically reduce the harm and death we cause other animals simply by making different choices at the grocery store.

Marinated Crock Pot Seitan

Posted on

I had some leftover crock pot seitan (from this post) that I thought might taste good in a rice bowl.  This particular seitan recipe from The Vegan Slow Cooker: Simply Set It and Go with 150 Recipes for Intensely Flavorful, Fuss-Free Fare Everyone (Vegan or Not!) Will Devour is meant for use in slow cookers (it’s wetter), so the raw dough had to be cooked a bit before just tossing it into a rice bowl.  I decided to try a double boiler method.  First, I put the seitan slices into an oven-safe bowl, tossed them in Mrs. Dash Spicy Teriyaki Marinade.  Next, I added some water to the crock pot, thinking that, as the water heated up, the heat would transfer to the bowl more effectively and lightly cook the seitan.  I was careful not to add so much water that it would spill over into the bowl.

marinated crock pot seitan | A Vegan in Progress

The seitan came out perfect.  It was a great meat substitute that went very well with some rice and veggies.  It was a delicious and easy lunch (even easier if you have a programmable rice cooker with a steaming basket, like we do).  I will be using this technique again!

Marinated Crock Pot Seitan | A Vegan in Progress

Vegan Camping – Table Mountain Campground

Posted on

As I mentioned before, two of our closest friends are likely to move out of the state this year, so we have lately been making an effort to appreciate and explore LA and the surrounding areas.  Previously, we went on a day trip to Solvang, where I had a surprisingly nice vegan meal at Bit O’Denmark.  This time we planned a camping trip.  We all agreed on woodsy camping and eventually Eric found Table Mountain Campground in Wrightwood, about two hours from our home.  We estimated that the tent, sleeping bags, two coolers, four chairs, personal bags, and other supplies would not all fit in the trunk of a regular car, so we rented a Dodge Ram 1500 Crew Cab extended bed.  This turned out to be a great decision because the truck gave us plenty of room for all of our luggage, but was also super comfortable for the ride to and from the campground.

I put a lot of thought into food that would be easy, filling, and easily made vegan for me.  Before the trip, we bought a Coleman Matchlight 2-Burner Propane Stove.  I thought that this would be really useful because, although each campsite has a grill, the stove allowed us to cook two things at once and allowed us to cook something warm for lunch without setting up the charcoal grill again.

We chose campsite #103, in the Zuni loop.  It had lots of shade and a great view and was spaced pretty far away from the other campsites, giving us privacy.  The only downside was that the bathroom was literally a short hike away.  The hill we had to hike up to get to the bathroom, combined with the 7,500 foot elevation left us huffing and puffing every time we had to make the climb.  Something worth knowing about Table Mountain is that you can reserve a campsite, but once you are there, you can change to any other unreserved site, so if you find one with a better view, you are free to move.  Some sites are first come, first served, so this is a good way to get them.  Overnight camping on a single site is $20 per night.

We left early on Friday afternoon and made it to the site with enough time to set up before making dinner. I knew that we would want something quick and easy for dinner after the drive and all the setting up, so I planned on burgers for everyone and Don Lee Farms Veggie Patties for me.  We cut up tomatoes and onions at home and totally forgot to get them out of the cooler Friday night, so our burgers were pretty plain.  I also cubed up a package of Trader Joe’s Organic Baked Tofu, Teriyaki Flavor, before we left.  I wrapped the cubes in tinfoil and cooked it on the grill.  It was actually a really tasty addition to my veggie burger, all on its own.

The next morning, I woke up really early (to use the restroom) and got a chance to see the sunrise.  I decided to set up the propane stove and make some tea.  I was so glad that we brought the tea kettle, because this was a nice treat.  I then set up breakfast for everyone… we had cereal with soy milk as well as bagels and fruit.  After a simple breakfast, we were ready for the day.

The great thing about camping in the forest is the hiking.  During our two off-trail hiking adventures, we came across beautiful views, steep hills, fallen trees, and fleeting glimpses of deer running deeper in the forest.

Vegan Camping | A Vegan in Progress

Hiking, day one

Vegan Camping | A Vegan in Progress

Hiking, day two

After our hike on day two, we were pretty hungry, so we headed back for hot dogs.  They had kosher dogs and I ate Lightlife Smart Dogs.

They taste exactly how I remember cheap hot dogs tasting.  It was nice to have something quick and easy to grill.  I put spicy mustard and chopped tomatoes on them.

Lightlife Hot Dogs - Vegan Camping | A Vegan in Progress

That night, while they had grilled pollo asada, I had an awesome foil pack meal, grilled corn, and grilled veggies.  Prior to the trip, I had done a lot of searching online for recipe ideas and really liked the idea of foil pack meals.  I adapted this BBQ Party Pack recipe from Vegan Yack Attack.

I just made a few changes, though.  Instead of chopped onion, I threw in some Pearl Onions from a frozen bag that I bought at Trader Joe’s.  I decided to double the spices in the recipe.  I also took Yack Attack’s suggestion and added chickpeas.  I also steamed some tempeh, to get the bitterness out, then cubed it and left it in a container of the following marinade, then spooned out the tempeh pieces and added them to the foil pack right before grilling it.

Tempeh Marinade:

  • 1/4 cup liquid smoke
  • 1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp sesame oil
  • 2 garlic cloves

I was really looking forward to this meal and for good reason, because it turned out delicious.  The bell peppers and the tempeh were the best part.  The only bad thing was that I should have chopped the carrots MUCH smaller because they took so long to cook.  They never softened much and I ended up eating around them, mostly.  The foil pack was simple and a very clever way to have a whole meal without a pot, also effectively keeping my food separate from the meat on the grill.

We all ended up with plenty of food.  Get a load of my full plate!

Vegan Camping | A Vegan in Progress

Dinner, night two

A while after dinner we made s’mores (I used vegan ingredients).

We all got ready for bed and a movie.  We brought a small camping table into the tent, set it up at our feet, and watched The Cabin in the Woods on my laptop.  I thought it would be cute and clever to watch a scary movie set in the woods while we were camping in the woods, but it just made it harder to hike up to the bathroom that night!

The next morning, we expected to have chocolate chip pancakes, but the propane stove heated up so hot that the outside of the pancakes were burning before the inside had cooked.  We abandoned that idea, just packed up early, and stopped for breakfast on our way home.

The lesson for me was that vegan camping is actually quite easy.  Foods that are commonly eaten while camping are easily veganized.

I hope this post helps others plan for a dual dining camping trip!

Vegan Camping | A Vegan in Progress

A few tips for future campers:

  • Definitely bring a tablecloth for your picnic table.  I bought tablecloth fabric from a Joann’s near me that is relocating and liquidating all of their material.
  • Go to a Dollar Tree or 99 cent store for the majority of your supplies.  We found big plastic clips there that held the tablecloth down and attached the trash bag to the side of the table.
  • Bring lots of water.  For the four of us, for essentially two full days, we drank 6 gallons of water.
  • Fill large tupperware bins 1/4 full and freeze in advance of the trip.  Run warm water over the outside of the tupperware containers to release the ice blocks.  They have less surface area than ice cubes and melt slower.  Ours lasted us the whole weekend.
  • Freeze all of your food that can handle it… it will work as ice packs as well.
  • Bring reusable water bottles to drink from since you can also use them on hikes.
  • Bring walkie-talkies for the hike to the bathroom at night – cell phones don’t always work in the forest!

Lightlife Smart Dogs and vegan chili

Posted on

When I was young, our family always had plans for the fourth of July.  Now that those long standing plans have gone by the wayside, we don’t really do anything in particular for the fourth.  This year, our parents had us over for the day.  My mom made chili and Lightlife Smart Dogs.  The homemade chili was nicely spicy and went well with the Fritos  and Daiya cheese sprinkled on top.  Hopefully some day I will get the recipe from my mom to post it for you.

Lightlife Smart Dogs and Chili | A Vegan in Progress

The Lightlife Smart Dogs tasted like the generic cheap hot dogs that I used to eat.  With a toasted bun and spicy brown mustard, it was a pleasing and holiday-appropriate meal.

After we let our lunches digest a bit, my mom brought out some homemade vegan ginger snap ice cream with fresh peach compote, garnished with ginger snaps.  It tasted like a yummy, icy pie.  I am not usually one for non-chocolate ice cream, but this was delicious.  Way to go Mom!

Vegan Graduation Party

Posted on

As I have mentioned a couple of times before, for the last few years I have been very busy, working full time and attending school full time in the evenings.  All of the hard work and years without much free time to speak of came to a close last month when I graduated with my Bachelor’s Degree in Liberal Studies – Teacher Preparation option with a General Science Concentration from California State University, Northridge.

Vegan Graduation Party | A Vegan in Progress

Vegan Graduation Party | A Vegan in Progress

The last two semesters were extremely challenging and equally rewarding.  I graduated with honors, Cum Laude – a personal goal that I had set for myself a couple of years back.  In addition, a paper that I worked very hard on will be submitted for a literary award for the best piece of work on Children’s Literature in an academic year.  All of the trying nights studying and weekends spent in front of my laptop instead of out having fun were totally worth the hassle.  There’s a sense of accomplishment that I can’t really describe and it’s only magnified by the fact that I did it all while working a regular job.

Vegan Graduation Party | A Vegan in Progress

Happy graduate!

To celebrate the event, Eric and I threw a small party for close friends and family at our place after the evening ceremony.  My mom and sister and I planned an all vegan menu, but didn’t make a big deal about it, hoping that our guests would try everything without prejudice.

Vegan Graduation Party | A Vegan in Progress

Vegan Graduation Party | A Vegan in Progress

Just some of the vegan spread

We had stuffed olives, veggies, pita, and homemade hummus, fruit and a thai fruit dip, chips, pico de gallo, and guacamole, stuffed peppers, a three-layer italian dip and crackers, cucumber soup shots, and my mom’s famous meatless meatball sliders.

Vegan Graduation Party | A Vegan in Progress

Meatless Meatball Sliders - Vegan Graduation Party | A Vegan in Progress

Meatless Meatball Sliders with cashew cheese

Vegan Graduation Party | A Vegan in Progress

My mother in law was especially surprised with the tasty food and made a point to try everything.  Our omnivore friends raved about the meatless meatball sliders, their favorite items of the evening.

We ended the night with a toast of Dom Perignon and slices of this delicious vegan chocolate cake from No Udder Desserts.  Everyone went crazy for the cake.  Eric has even said that he wants his 30th birthday cake from the same bakery.

No Udder Desserts Cake - Vegan Graduation Party | A Vegan in Progress