Friday, December 2, 2011

Apps for Vegans

I've put together a list of a few apps I find handy. I assume many of them are available on the Android Market, but I've only linked them up to the Apple iTunes store here. All of them are free as well.

Vegan Steven
This app is pretty cool, and I imagine it works pretty well in most major cities. It uses your current location to find local restaurants that have veggie/vegan options. It also has user reviews and star ratings all inside the app. Great for traveling or if you just wanna try something new.

Vegan YumYum
I love this cookbook, and amazingly she has all her recipes on the app as well. Plus, each recipe has an interactive checklist for shopping, and of course, the beautiful step-by-step photography.

This app makes it SUPER easy to take action for various causes. Open it up, select a cause you want to help out with, it automatically populates and email with your info and a pre-written letter and you just hit send! Easy as that.

In case you ever want to prove to anyone the horrific conditions that exist in factory farming and puppy mills, etc., this app aggregates all of the great work the Humane Society has done.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Veggie Grill

In case anyone is sleeping on the fast growing chain called Veggie Grill, you have to try it! It's not really advertised as vegan, but all their food is 100% plant-based and vegan. And most of all, yummy! They have great sides like kale salad, mac and cheese, chili and slaw. The chili is my current favorite. And my favorite sandwich? The Bali Bliss with blackened tempeh. For me, the blackened option is key. Here's what it looks like:

Check out their site for a location near you!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Gary Yourofsky's Speech

I finally got around to watching this video. Well, let me be clear. I finally brought myself to watch this video. Lisa's Days was kind enough to leave me an inspirational comment in a previous post, and she said this video turned her from veggie to vegan. I was scared to watch it. I didn't know what to expect. Horrific slaughterhouse scenes? Screaming animals? I've seen so many videos like that, but finally I clicked the link.

It's about an hour long, and i watched the entire thing in one sitting as soon as I clicked it. It's basically a college lecture by an animal rights activist. And I stress the term "activist" because he's actually done things like breaking into labs and freeing animals. But, his rationale on being a vegan, our collective lack of compassion towards animals, and the nutritional realities of veganism are very compelling. It's impossible to argue with his points.

Towards the end of the video, he shows the students some graphic slaughterhouse and factory farm footage, about 3 minutes worth. Since seeing that, I think I've eaten meat or dairy twice. Every time I crave it or think about ordering it those images appear in my mind and I can't go through with it. He reminded me of my own compassion which I lost recently, apparently.

So, I highly recommend watching this if you're on the fence, or are looking for good talking points when discussing veganism with others. Here it is:

Monday, August 8, 2011

It's not easy.

Generally, I try to be fairly positive. But, today, I have to voice a pet peeve of mine. A loud chorus from the vegetarian/vegan community states how "easy" it is to go veg, or vegan. I understand the motivation in saying this - they want to overcome the barrier most people have in changing their diets. Or they're trying to hype themselves up - also understandable. But, the truth is, it's not so easy. It's really not easy. It's actually very difficult. And framing it otherwise does the community a disservice.

In order to get proper nutrition with a vegan diet, I have to be super-on-top-of-it. We're talking daily fortified smoothies, constantly eating snacks like fruits and nuts and seeds, and trying to find things on menus when in a rush or at less-than-friendly restaurants. This is not easy. And if it's not done properly, it results in weakness or fatigue or malnutrition. Plus, regular meat eaters/lovers crave meat. This is a huge barrier to overcome. Overcoming, culture, access to vegan food, and personal discipline are all huge factors.

So, what do I suggest? Truth. If you truly believe it's super easy than by all means keep saying it. But, I say it would help to have empathy for those who struggle (like myself). For example, say someone decides to try and be vegan and they find they're having constant cravings, or difficulty with their families. If they only see and hear from the community how easy it is, it's going to make people feel like failures. That's not cool. I guess that's why I started this blog - to prove it could be done, easy or not.

I still hope it will inspire others to try this vegan thing, even though I'm still struggling.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

"Eco Chef" Bryan Au - Raw Star Recipes

Bryan Au was nice enough to send me a copy of his new raw cookbook entitled "Raw Star Recipes" and I must say it's great. And, he's cool enough that he wrote me personal emails to support and guide my return to veganism. It's the initiative of people like him that make me feel part of a community and inspire me to do better. So, first of all, thanks for that Bryan.

What I like about this cookbook is even though I haven't actually made any of the recipes yet, I've gotten a lot out of it. He spends the first 20 pages or so discussing his reasons for eating raw and vegan, and explaining what his staples are. For example, he cites research that eating miso instead of salty soy products can actually counter the toxins produced in the body that result from radiation (cell phones, etc.)

Now on to the food. I love cookbooks with lots of full color pictures and this one is not lacking there. He's got everything from donuts to pho, salad dressings to gravy, sloppy joe's to sushi, and everything in between. I'm amazed that all of it is RAW!

Bryan dedicates the book to "...everyone and the entire planet because I love you all...".
Thanks for your support.

You can learn more about Bryan's book and how to get a copy here:

Friday, July 8, 2011


So I can't say I'm vegan yet, not really vegetarian either. I'm at about twice a week for meat at this point. For example, I just ate a turkey sandwich for lunch. But, it was on whole wheat, had fresh avocado, no mayo, just mustard, and lettuce. At least it was dairy-free. I'm really getting much better about drinking my green smoothies everyday, and that helps a lot.

I have a new plan though, and it will hopefully ease my anxiety about cutting out meat entirely. What's this plan you ask? Eating slop. I made my first batch o' slop yesterday, and it is surprisingly tasty.  

Here's the theory: Meat is the only way to get the complete protein chain besides quinoa. So, in order to get quinoa in my diet daily, I'll always have a slop concoction in the fridge, and I'll have a scoop or 2 every day, just like I drink a daily green smoothie.

The best part is it's super-easy to make. I throw a bunch of stuff in the crockpot, and 4 hours later it's done! My first slop contained: Quinoa, a little rice, a potato, kidney beans, diced roma tomatoes, canned stewed tomatoes, tomato sauce, and spices. It's a chili-inspired slop. But, who knows, next time it might be a squash slop. Or a mixed veggie noodle slop. The possibilities are endless!

Wish me luck...

Monday, June 20, 2011

Eating out with Dad on Dad's Day

I don't like being preachy about meat-eating to anybody. I do enjoy a good conversation about it when others do, but generally I try to go more subtle. So, when my Dad chose a Lebanese restaurant for a Father's Day dinner, I knew that meat was going to be all over the place. He and his wife are huge meat eaters. My Dad's more open to vegetables and nutritional education, but his wife is very much into meat and doesn't have much of a concern for the effects. I thought I'd use the opportunity to try and slickly order some tasty veggie bits and see what their reaction would be.

The place is called Cleo, on Vine and Hollywood in Los Angeles. It's some celebrity chef's venture, and although I'm not normally big into that kind of stuff, this place was really good! Their vegan options were basically nil. But, the veggie options were good. It works like a tapas bar. There are a bunch of $6 mini-plates everyone shares that come out sporadically, made to order. I ordered artichoke/olive/pepper/cheese flatbread, grilled artichokes (amazing!) and asparagus, and baba ganoush (eggplant). They ordered hummus, kibbeh (ground lamb), lamb shank, lamb kebab, chicken kebab, saffron rice. I had a small bite of each kebab, and they were damn good (sorry, i can't lie about this. Believe me, i would love to hate the taste of meat). My Dad had 1.5 asparagus, a couple artichokes, and a slice of flatbread. The only veggies his wife touched were the dips.

So, I guess the experiment went as expected. They likely would have eaten zero veggie items had I not ordered them, but in the end they only picked at them. And I suppose I did the same with the meat. Next time it's my turn to choose the spot we're going to Real Food Daily (all vegan). I wonder what will happen then? I'll let you know. He lives out of state, so it'll be a while.

Happy Father's Day pops. I plan to slowly get some veggies in you, like it or not!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Walking around like my kitchen don't stink

Well, it doesn't.

One thing I think I neglected to mention since recommitting to being as close to vegan as possible, is that I cook 99% vegan at home. And one of the hugest benefits is that without meats and dairy, my trash and sink do not stink! For the first time in a long time, I cooked chicken at home recently, left the package in a tied up plastic bag for a few hours, stepped out, and when I returned home I was horrified at the awful stench! It seems much cleaner, safer, and fresher being meat-free at home. Also, I can pick up a knife or plate from the counter if I'm running low on dishes, and not worry that there's salmonella or e. coli bacteria on it. My funk-free kitchen is a huge plus.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Which Milk is the best?

Michness made a good comment on my last post, and I thought the answer was worth explaining in detail. Here's my philosophy on dairy milk replacements: Mix it up. I rotate between Rice, Hemp, Soy, Almond, and Oat Milks. Some work better in particular applications. For example, hemp milk is the thickest, most milk-like of them all, so I like to use it make sauces, mac and cheese, and cereal milk. Rice milk is really thin and is best for smoothies since I like them as thin as possible.

The other major reason I mix them up is for nutrition. I'm not big on taking oral vitamins in pill form for various reasons, so fortified milks are a great way to get vitamins. However, for some reason they all have different balances of vitamins. Hemp milk is high in Omega 3s and 6s, Soy Milk is high in vitamin B12, Almond milk has a wider range of fortified vitamins. So, I figure when I mix them up I am more likely to get what I need.

Lastly, I try not to ingest too much soy, so I wanted soy milk alternatives. When I do buy soy, I make sure it's organic, since the majority of soybeans are genetically modified.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Foods I've replaced

Even though I've been eating some meat and dairy, there are foods that have permanently replaced animal products in my kitchen, since they're just as tasty and easily replaced. This is a list of vegan foods I've incorporated into my diet, and the animal products they've replaced. Over time, these small changes I'm sure have added up to a much healthier diet.

1. Earth Balance soy-free spread, replacing butter
2. Almond, Rice, Hemp and Soy Milks, replacing dairy milk
3. Vegan "parmesan", replacing parmesan
4. SO Delicious Coconut milk ice cream, replacing ice cream
5. Vegan vitamins, replacing vitamins
6. Amy's Dairy/Gluten free mac and cheese, replacing Kraft mac and cheese
7. Amy's Dairy free frozen pizzas, replacing frozen pizzas
8. Larabars, replacing various snack bars
9. Nate's Meatless Meatballs, replacing ground turkey

That's all I can think of for now.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Starting over, slower

The reason why I started this blog was to document and share my story, good or bad, as I decided to quit eating meat. That quickly turned into being vegan. I wanted to show that it was possible, even for a naysayer like myself who suddenly decided to make a change. Deep inside I was hoping it might inspire somebody to re-think their diet, but I didn't expect anyone to read it except my Mom. Well, now is a good time to check in, because it hasn't been working out. At least not in black and white terms. However, being vegan for a while, and doing all the research I did, my diet is changed forever, for the better.

Before and after my surgery (9 months ago) I started eating animal products again, mainly for nutritional purposes. I talked about it here. I've pretty much been rolling that way ever since. I've had some fully vegan weeks here and there, but that's it. I'm not fully physically healed, but I'm getting there. My body is still in the rebuilding stage, and it's important I continue to get stronger to protect my back from future injury.

Here's the conundrum. I want to be vegan. I want my body to thrive on a vegan diet. I really do. But, I felt myself lose energy. I couldn't put weight on. I lost weight. I felt weak. All the things that I had convinced myself don't happen to vegans. I don't know if I didn't eat a wide enough variety of foods, or if I didn't eat enough, or if my body genetically wasn't meant for veganism. But whatever the problem, it's a problem. And it's one I'm intent on solving. I want this blog to lead to a happy ending, where I figure out the vegan diet I need and can thrive with. I'm a little afraid that it might not happen.

Now that I've had some time to heal, and to think, I've decided to recommit to being vegan. This time though, I'm taking it slower. Instead of stopping all at once, I'm going to phase out animal products. And I'm really going to listen to my body and watch my weight. I will not compromise my health for this. Hopefully it won't come to that.