Since October is vegan month of food, I thought I would talk about being a vegan.  Well, as most of you know, and I am sure have experienced, unless you’re a vegetarian or non-vegan; we ALL get asked the same questions.  Society is unfortunately very brainwashed on what they ‘should’ eat.  Heck, so was I!  I never questioned the need for a ‘glass of milk every day,’ or eating chicken because it was ‘healthy and full of protein.’  Why did I never question it?  Because the media, our parents (for the most part,) and everyone we know is like minded. 

I went through a phase in high school when I was a ‘goth girl’ and I ate as a vegetarian.  But man did I pack on the cheese!  I remember it being pretty easy to eat that way.  All until one day that I was working as a volunteer for a camp and they brought McDonald’s (aka McCruelty) hamburgers & cheeseburgers for EVERYONE.  There were no salads, heck this was like 1992 or 1993 in Florida, being vegetarian was weird as it was to people.  So…me as a starving teenager ate a cheeseburger and never looked back. 

Until many years later when I started thinking about changing my eating habits and going back vegetarian.  I was fine doing that, but I still wanted to eat fish, so I became a pescetarian.  That is someone who only eats fish.  Not a tough challenge either…since I still ate dairy.  And in FL, the land of seafood is plentiful.  I found that super easy.  Then someone I worked with talked to me about Skinny Bitch. They said don’t read it or you will become a vegan.  I said HA HA!!! I wanted to wait until I was 35, and then I was going to go ‘vegan’ for 5 years and then go back to my ways of cheese, meats, etc.  Well, at 32 2/3 I read Skinny Bitch…on 7/3/10 and just like I was told, I went COLD TURKEY.  Let me tell you…fun times because I suddenly felt like I couldn’t eat ANYTHING.  I didn’t know what to do, I had no resources, I didn’t know where I could get PROTEIN!!!!  (duhn duhn DAAAHHHH!) 

Being fairly into Twitter at the time I started finding vegans on twitter.  People who had been doing it a lot longer than me.  I started to realize that PLANTS had really great sources of protein.  AND that nearly everything had been veganized including melty, yummie, cheese by Daiya.  Like many vegans before, I assume, I went to Soy Milk, soy yogurts, etc.  I still didn’t eat a great diet by any means. 

In November of 2012 a little book called Engine 2 Diet, and a man named Rip Esselstyn changed my life.  E2 showed me that I could eat an entirely plant based diet and be totally healthy!  We did E2 hardcore, no oils, no alcohol, just plant strong.  Both my husband and I lost weight, and our taste buds were forever changed.

In the 2 years and nearly 3 months since I have been vegan, I have gone from eating mostly processed, still highly sugary, highly fattening items, to more natural plant based nutrition.  Honestly, if I pack in some quinoa, beans and kale for lunch I have SO much energy to hit the gym.  I have never looked better, or felt better in my life.  I still have weight to lose, as I struggled with weight my whole life, but eating vegan I feel great.  I don’t have lethargy or ‘food ick’ anymore.  I have energy because of my food.  I love vegetables and fruit and whole grains.  My husband is not a full vegan, meaning that if he is at work, he still goes for Pizza on Fridays, but at home he eats strictly vegan.  And he is 100% on board with raising plant strong kids because I don’t want my kids brainwashed by the American Agricultural system telling them that Kale isn’t good enough for them and they need beef and chicken.  The only beef and chicken you’ll see at our house is Bessie the cow and Betsy the pig outside living the life they deserve. 

It’s all about choices and education.  I can never imagine going back to eating the way that I ate.  I have accidentally received egg coated bread when I was told it was vegan, or regular milk at Starbucks when I ordered Soy.  Every instance, I felt like I was horribly sick within hours.  It went right through me.  I have no desire to consume animal products and I have every desire to save a life, animal or human, if I can.  This is our planet, we need to make a difference, and the first place you can start is on your plate.  I encourage you to visit some of these fantastic vegan bloggers and TRY veganism, even if it is one day per week…you are dramatically reducing your carbon footprint.

Feel like you still want ‘meaty’ foods and textures?  Try some of my favorite vegan alternatives are:

  • Gardein & Field Roast Grain Meat Company for truly amazing ‘meats’
  • Daiya for cheese, can’t live without the occassional grilled cheese & Daiya makes it yummie!
  • So Delicious for their coconut milk line of yogurts and ice creams & Turtle Mountain Ice creams!!  TO DIE FOR!
  • Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods are my go to stores for vegan products that are cheaper, as they make many on their own label (Trader Joe’s and 365 brand)
  • Amy’s Kitchen is my absolute FAVORITE Frozen food/microwave meal.  They also have my favorite vegan pizza which is their roasted veggie no cheese pizza.  The crust is amazing and the flavor is awesome!  And they label ALL their ingredient labels with (VEGAN:) right after the word INGREDIENTS so you know without hunting if it’s vegan.
  • If I lived in Portland, OR all I would eat is Dave’s Killer Bread but here in FL I love the 365 brand whole wheat pitas, Ezekial bread of any kind.  In fact, I eat their Flourless Tortilla every weekday for breakfast…a few tablespoons of Almond Butter (365 brand of course,) and a banana and that is my breakfast!

So it’s easy to get a jump start just with this information.  Educate yourself, learn and go try something meat and dairy free!!!


Today is officially the start of Vegan MoFo…i.e. Vegan Month of Food, for Blog-tober.  I am already finding some great new bloggers to follow, one of whom is right in my own corner of the world St. Pete Vegan Food Swap.  Now ‘Vegan Food Swap’ in the title as a vendor at Tampa Bay VegFest on 10/13/12 got my attention.  Yes please to local vegans, and YES please to a Vegan food swap!!!  I am thoroughly interested and committing myself now, via an internet blogging pledge, to partake in the next swap this local group does.

See, neat little things you can find when you go searching out that internet kids! 

I haven’t yet decided if I would head out to VegFest, since I just attended Portland (OR) VegFest on 9/24 and let me tell you people, this was NOT for the faint of heart.  We were FULL on samples.  That’s right, between the ice’cream’ from Vitamix, the Lara Bars, BOLD Organics Pizza, Dave’s Killer Bread, etc.  I was DONE.  But there was a local BBQ place, Homegrown Smoker, we caved in and had to try their ‘pulled pork’ with ‘mac and cheez’ and while I never was a real fan of BBQ, my hubby was and still is…the humane BBQ mind you, I have totally gotten him to stop eating piggies, as they are my favorite former meat, now favorite animal to love and adore and post cute pics of on Pinterest.  So I only had a bite of the sandwich, but I downed that mac n cheez…it was yummers people! 

So vegan or not, if you care about the planet, and want to help educate yourself a little more on vegan food, jump on the bandwagon and start following some awesome Vegan Bloggers!  A few of my favorites are: Quarry Girl & Vegan Heartland.  And my absolute favorite, and a superhero to many, Annie Shannon.  Get down on it people…get blogging and mingling and sharing!

For my Mom’s birthday we decided to make Pecan Crusted Seitan from the Kind Life cookbook.  Since we also intended to try to make Seitan from the Sarah Kramer cookbook ‘La Dolce Vegan!: Vegan Livin’ Made Easy,’ and we had some time I dug in and determined to do it ourselves!  Seitan is a great meat alternative, and we like to use it to replace chicken in a lot of dishes.  Don’t get me wrong, the West Soy ‘Chicken Flavored’ seitan is absolutely awesome, but it’s also pricey, and it comes in small pieces and odd shaped pieces.  For this particular recipe, we thought it would be better to have small ‘cutlet’ shaped or filet type pieces of seitan versus the odd shaped ones we get in the premade seitan.  So we pulled out the recipe and got to it.  The recipe is essentially just wheat gluten and water.  You can boil it in a mixture of water and spices or flavors that you choose in order to season it more.  We chose not to add some of the spices recommended and just boiled it in nutritional yeast, water and soy sauce.  After that we baked it for about 15 minutes to get it a bit more solid.

It was more spongy than chewy, but it was still very very good.  And a lot cheaper to make than to purchase!  It’s $4.99 for a pound at Whole Foods, versus probably $1 or less to make.

I am going to post the recipe as found in Sarah Kramer’s La Dolce Vegan! But we adjusted the water and flavor recipes to our liking, I suggest you do the same J

Basic Instant Gluten:

½ cup instant vital wheat gluten flour
½ cup water

*it is suggested that it makes 2 large or 4 small servings

Faux Chicken:

2 cups water
¼ cup nutritional yeast
2 tbsp tamari (soy sauce)
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp dried sage
½ tsp dried thyme
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp celery seed

*you are to bring this to a boil and slice the gluten into steaks or slices and drop it into the broth.  Then you simmer for 50-60 minutes and either use it immediately or feeze for use up to 6 months; via fridge it suggests its good for 6 days.

**we did use the onion powder, and I always replace salt with garlic salt, as I am a garlic fanatic; and I did not use the sage or thyme or celery seed.  I hate celery for some reason so we left that totally out.  And we at least doubled the nutritional yeast.  It was quite tasty!