Posts filed under ‘Vegan Thoughts’

Don’t worry; be happy!

Looking back on recent posts, there’s been a bit too much negativity! Yikes, let’s reverse that, shall we?

There are those people who like to say that it’s so much easier to be positive than hold onto the anger, the hate, the resentment – the negativity. They usually follow up with how many muscles it takes to smile versus how many muscles it takes to frown, which is, of course, exorbitantly more than it takes to smile. I like to be honest on this blog though, so let’s get real. It’s way freaking easier to just be grumpy! When life hands you lemons, I’d rather just sit with the lemons all pissy than get off my butt and go through the tedious job of making lemonade.

But in the end, it’s not better for us to hold on to that negativity. And I truly do believe that. As a female, I believe in releasing the emotions. Sometimes I’ll put on a song that I know will make me bawl and just let go. There’s nothing wrong with that. The key, though, is truly letting go. That’s the hard part, and it’s the reason that positivity is so much harder than negativity.

Say a girl walks by and you think she looks bad in her outfit. It’s easier to just blurt out “Look at that hot mess!” than it is to shut your mouth. You have to hold it in. You have to let that urge to be ugly (if you’re not in the South, it’s another word for bratty) pass. Is that difficult? When it’s not what you’re accustomed to, absolutely! Reacting negatively to a situation that doesn’t please you is just what you do. So it’s an active, conscious choice to think the opposite.

So, along with the many other life changes I’m working on, I’m working to be more positive. To wake up a half an hour early and start my day with yoga. It’ll set my brain in the right direction and I won’t be rushing around like I usually am when I jump out of bed with barely fifteen minutes to get ready. When things aren’t going my way, I have to remember to just take a step back. There are times when I will misstep because we can’t be on our game all the time. The important thing is to not let it defeat me.

What are your tips and tricks to staying positive?

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September 15, 2012 at 1:21 am Leave a comment

A Letter to Tofu

Dear Tofu,

I have one question for you. When will we be friends? I have tried many times and no matter what I do, you just won’t be my friend! Why? WHY?!

Love, Briana

You might have guessed that I tried another tofu recipe and it didn’t quite go as planned. I got the recipe through Pinterest. It is well documented that I am obsessed with Pinterest and I try several recipes found through it; despite the fact that these recipes sometimes fail miserably, I keep trying. That seems to be a pattern. I’m obviously a glutton for failure. Still, I’m determined to make tofu work because it’s so easy to make flavorful and so many vegan dishes use it.

I blame my inability to cook tofu on the fact that I don’t have a tofu press. I know you can stack books and bricks and plates on top of tofu to smoosh it, but that didn’t work in the past. On Tuesday, I attempted to just smoosh it with my hands, which just smooshed the tofu. This made it super difficult to cut into the neat little strips that it was supposed to be cut. So right out of the package, this was already going wrong. In short, feel free to buy me a tofu press.

Saturday, I’ll be using the left over tofu in a scramble and I honestly (somehow) believe that this cannot go wrong! I mean, how simple can it be? Break it up, add in spices and veggies..BOOM scramble. Just everyone do me one favor: Friday night when you’re cuddled in bed, say a prayer for me to vegan gods. “Dear Vegan God(dess), please let Briana enjoy tomorrow’s breakfast so she doesn’t have to turn her back on tofu forever.” I’ll appreciate your thoughts!

September 14, 2012 at 3:13 am Leave a comment

Football Season with Non-Vegans

First, I’ll start off by saying I still consider myself to be non-vegan, as I have not fully made the switch. Maybe I should refer to myself as exploratory vegan, instead? I like the sound of that. So I’m explatory vegan while everyone I know and see on a daily basis is non-vegan. It’s not a big deal, really. But I deal with plenty of comments. The comments and digs are multiplied when I’m at a gathering and I bring a dish. Everyone wants to know what it is. It’s football season, so I’ll be dealing with this every single Sunday!

Yesterday, for the first Patriot’s game of the season (or, official season, right?) I brought over chili and Oreo Cheesecake Cookies. Everyone is familiar with the chili, as I made it several times last season, but there were still questions. “What is it?” I replied with, “It’s the same chili it always is. If you liked it last year, you’ll like it this year.” Naturally, I would scoop out my serving, take a bite and look to the other person in the room eating the chili (who also happens to be the one most known for making comments). “This doesn’t taste the same,” I say. And he says “No…it doesn’t.” Now, he’s a spicy food addict, so he went into the kitchen, added a dash of super spicy Thai spice and devoured the bowl. I was left wondering why the hell it wasn’t the same.

I decided it was the fact that I had gone to a different supermarket, which meant I had different store-brand tomatoes, I used 3 different brands of beans, Boca crumbles (which have egg whites in them, BOOOO) instead of MorningStar, and I had added flaxseed oil. Eating it leftover today for lunch, it tasted better, but I guess those changes were enough to make it totally different from last year.

The cookies, however, were a hit. I got asked the “What are these?” question and I answered “Oreo Cheesecake cookies.” Of course, the mention of cheese meant another, “Yeah, but what is it really?” “Well, it’s vegan cream cheese and Oreos are already vegan.” Then there were the questions about what vegan cream cheese could possibly even mean because there’s no cheese if the word vegan is in front of it. More digs.

I can take the digs when the dish is a crowd pleasure. It’s when something goes awry, that the digs kind of suck. To me, it’s just another reminder that I’m still not that good at cooking. And I feel like it doesn’t put vegan cuisine in a positive light. I could look at my mistakes as challenges to get better, and I suppose that’s exactly what I should do. Football gatherings are going to be every single Sunday for the next few months, so I have plenty of chances to prove them all wrong.

The Oreo Cheesecake Cookies recipe came from This Can’t Be Vegan. They are sweet and soft and defintely a crowd-pleaser. I found the recipe via Pinterest, which is how I find pretty much every recipe these days. Some are knockouts and some are complete disasters. Thankfully, these were a knockout. I think there were two left out of twenty-four by the end of the night.   I take that as a success.

For next week’s gathering, I think I’ll tap into the flavors of Fall. I’m feeling very pumpkin-y these days.

September 10, 2012 at 6:40 pm Leave a comment

Fak’n Bac’n: to Eat or Not to Eat

It’s a big question in the vegan community. Are we screwing “the cause” by eating vegan meat-like products?

I read a blog  a couple months ago and, unfortunately, I cannot find it to post. The entry discussed that very question. After finishing the article, I commented with my most immediate reaction. A good life tip: that’s usually not a good idea. Take a moment and really think about it.

My first reaction to this was go ahead and eat fake meat! It’s a substitution for all the vegans of the world who weren’t born vegan and it eases the switch. More importantly, fake meat is just that – fake! Not one single animal suffers for the production of vegan fake meat. How does this harm our cause at all??

Weeks later, I’ve got to thinking. A couple days ago, I stumbled upon another blog (which, of course, I also can’t remember) that posted a video from Gary Yourofsky. If you’ve never heard of him, he’s a HUGE animal activist and vegan. He started ADAPTT – Animals Deserve Absolute Protection Today & Tomorrow. Among other things, he did a college lecture tour. He’s a fantastic lecturer and I’m sure he convinced many, many students to make the switch. His presentation included two videos: one of a slaughterhouse and the second at a dairy farm. If you’re wondering which was worse for me it was the dairy farm. Seeing the animals get slaughtered was brutal and disgusting, but at a dairy farm in Ohio, workers were literally BEATING defenseless animals for absolutely NO reason. One actually said, “I don’t think it hurts ’em. I just keep going until I hear [moaning cow noise impersonation].” How stupid do you have to be to think that, nevermind actually say it out loud? Let me kick YOU in the head and ribs and we’ll see if it hurts. It amazes me that someone would actually think that an animal wouldn’t feel pain. I mean, we all know animals feel pain. Have you ever stepped on your cats paw? They freak out because they feel PAIN just like us.

Moving on, Gary does a LOT of promotion of several different fake meats, milks, and cheeses, stating that he’s tried all of these products and more and the products he discusses are what he enjoys most. His lectures are done in front of college students, most of which are unlikely to be vegans, so this is a great way to get them to see the options that they may not have known existed. My issue was when he said that these products have the same (or similar) taste and texture as meat. I haven’t tried ALL of the products, but for what I’ve tasted, that’s simply not true. And I think it’s more of a turn off to walk into veganism thinking nothing will change only to find that everything has changed and nothing tastes the same. That would send me right back on the path to Meatville. And it has, multiple times.

Now, back to the question – does fake meat harm the cause? Gary is deep into the cause. He’s been arrested several times and is banned from multiple countries all in the name of animal rights. And here he is fully promoting fake meat products. I honestly don’t believe that consuming fake meat products hurts what vegans are trying to do.

Lately, the vegan movement has become a health movement because that is what people want to hear. “This is healthy and better for your body, and by the way, you’ll be helping the world, too!” People are selfish and want to hear how something benefits themselves first. Well, veganism is the opposite of selfishness; it’s a sacrifice. “I’m choosing to give up foods that I love and traditions that I hold dear to help the animals of the world.” That might be what encourages vegans to not partake in the fake meat industry. They don’t even want to substitute meat. And, truth be told, fake meat isn’t the healthiest stuff you can eat. It’s loaded with sodium and can include preservatives. Some are better for you than others, but nothing beats full on whole foods made in your kitchen.

I think there’s a compromise here, though. Variety. Most of the time, you should be eating whole foods, but sometimes, you can include fake meats. Honestly, I think they are good for meat eaters to get a glance into the vegan world. Tacos with Fieldroast Mexican sausage or with meat crumbles are delicious and the meat eaters in my family enjoyed the sausage more than I did! The important thing is not to take a bite of a chik’n nugget and think it’s going to be identical to a chicken nugget. As for that question you may get from an omnivore, “Why do you eat fake meat if you don’t want to eat meat?” you have the answer: “No animals were harmed in the making of this meat.”

August 17, 2012 at 1:42 pm Leave a comment

Triumphant Return

Well, a lot has changed since my last post! I started and quit a new job and have really begun the path to a healthier lifestyle. There have already been several up’s and down’s in a very short period of time, but it’s just the beginning and hopefully things will get easier. Just tell me it will, okay?

My shortlived new job was at an eating disorder center and, wow, was it eye opening. The first day I started was cupcake night. Like me and the other residential counselors, you might be saying “WAHOO!” but for the patients, it was like we were asking them to walk into the pits of Hell. And, really, we were. Everyday was such a struggle for them. Each and every moment was a conscious effort to not think something awful about themselves, to not look in a mirror, to not look at other patients and compare, to put an entire plate of food into their mouth and to keep it there until nature took it’s course.  By the end of my shift, I had realized that while I may not have a perfect relationship with food, I don’t ever want it to be that torturous. And just like the patients made the decision to get help, I made the decision to go to the gym.

I work Tuesday-Friday, so with Monday’s off, I decided to take a private class at the gym in the morning. This was done for 2 reasons. 1. I don’t want to pretend like I’m in high school on summer vacation and sleep until noon. I mean, I do, but I don’t…because I’m 26 and that’s just (sadly) not okay anymore. 2. It’s really awesome to start the day off with a workout because you feel motivated all day. Not to mention it’s great to have accomplished something productive before 10am on a day off. I also make sure to go to the gym Tuesday-Thursday and Saturday. Lately, I’ve been missing Wednesdays. Wednesday is the day that I take two classes from 6-8. The problem is that I get out of work at 4:30. This means I have an hour to kill at home. In that hour, I quickly decide that King of Queens reruns on TBS beats working out. So, my next step is just go straight to the gym after work and either hang out or maybe even run (gasp!) on the treadmill.

Another step I’ve taken is to start writing down everything that I eat. I think it’s great to do this because it’s good to have a track record of what you’re eating. When something is off in my body, I’m learning to look to food as the reason. With the log, I can look back and say “Oh, it was probably those pieces of pizza I had for lunch today.” Which I did have for lunch today, by the way. Oops. Another reason it’s great is because it gives you accountability. Do I want to eat that brownie? Hell yes. Do I want to write it down? No, I don’t. Honestly, today I thought “I’m just going to write down 1 piece of pizza.” Um, hello? What is the point? The book is for me and I know that I ate 2! Who am I lying to? And there it was. The fact that I (probably we) lie to myself about food all the time in so many different ways. Another great reason for writing it down is it gave me an excuse to buy a new notebook. I went to Barnes and Noble and bought a small red notebook (so it could fit in my purse) that had that ever-so-popular British phrase “Keep Calm and Carry On.” Obviously it’s awesome because it’s British, but I thought the phrase really applied to the situation. Don’t panic over every mistake. Take a breath and move on!

This past weekend I watched Food, Inc. and Forks Over Knives. I’m currently reading Eating Animals. Twas a very food centered weekend. And I’ve decided (AGAIN) to step back forward into veg land. I could tell you that I’m going about it differently and that it’s hopefully going to work this time, but I’m not going to say that. Because who the hell really knows what is going to happen? I’m just going to try my best and to make a conscious effort about every bite that goes into my mouth. We’ll see where it gets me.

July 18, 2012 at 7:57 pm 4 comments

Vegan in Newburyport

Last week was unseasonably warm in New England. It was in the 80’s for most of the week, and then Mother Nature hits us with rainy weather in the 30’s for this week. She just doesn’t quit.

Since it was so beautiful and I have two days off during the week, I had to do something. Having never been to Newburyport, I decided to visit. A cute seaside town with adorable local shops and even an organic, gluten-free, vegan cafe!

After strolling about, stopping in whatever store caught my fancy (including one called Best of British. The entire country might as well been in there because everything British is the best!), I found Revitalive Cafe. It was small, with no seating in the downstairs. There was an upstairs, but I didn’t venture up to find seating, since there was seating outside and I wanted to enjoy the sun.

Having looked at the menu the night before, I decided to order the Un-Tuna Wrap, which came with a side of their homemade kale chips. I have been wanting to try some “tuna” since the beginning of this vegan journey and I figured having it at a restaurant was a safe bet. It’s described on the menu as seed-based and mixed with romaine lettuce, pickles, tomatoes, and onions. I found that the pickles overpowered the rest of the flavors in the tuna, but I like pickles, so I didn’t mind. The gluten-free  coconut flax wrap had an interesting texture and flavor. It was my first taste of gluten-free bread and I’m not sure that I liked it. It was slightly sweet (from the coconut flavoring, I assume) and it kind of just fell apart in my mouth immediately. It’s something I would have to get used to, but I’m willing to give it another try. I was very excited to try the kale chips, since I’ve seen tons of different recipes. I found these to be too salty and cheesy. If I ever make them, I’ll definitely use more garlic flavors over cheesy flavors.

Revitalive had a great menu with a ton of choices. They had a whole section of quinoa bowls, which I really wanted to try, but opted out since I’ve been eating a lot of quinoa lately. They also had a ton of very appetizing treats. There were even shelves with bags of their homemade kale chips and raw granola, raw crackers, and more. Overall, the food was not bad – it was just flavors that are still new to me. I would definitely love to go back to try something else, maybe a fresh-made smoothie, fresh-pressed juice, or quinoa bowl.

March 29, 2012 at 3:27 pm 3 comments

Staples: Nutritional Yeast

Going vegan has been quite the journey. A lot of flip-flopping and a lot of reading. A lot of saying “Okay, let’s do this!” and then not doing it. I’m not vegan yet. I’m not even fully vegetarian. I’m experimenting. I’m looking up recipes and trying them. I’m finding out what I like and how to make it. It’s going to be a long process, but I’m okay with that.

Blogging has also been a learning process. I’ve found a lot of recipes off of some really fantastic blogs (to name a few: Clean Eating Chelsey, Chocolate Covered Katie, and Running off the Reeses – that last one isn’t really for recipes, but she’s hilarious). A lot of the blogs I’ve been reading have segments or themes, so they post on the same days and each post has a general topic or idea. Springing off of that, my newest segment is Staples. Staples posts will discuss vegan staples – ingredients, nutrients, etc that are essential to a vegan diet. As I said, I’m still learning and I’m certainly not a nutritionist, so this is just what I have learned are important to include in a vegan diet.

My first Staple post is all about nutritional yeast. First, I’d like to say it’s difficult to find, at least in my area. I don’t have a Whole Foods close and Trader Joe’s isn’t close either. There are a couple stores like Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s, but I’m not really satisfied with them. I’ve been finding a LOT of ingredients in my local supermarkets, specifically Market Basket and Hannaford; however, nutritional yeast does not exist at either store. Market Basket has employees who literally know where every single products exists. “Hi, I’m looking for ___” and they’ll find it for you. Whatever you can think of, guys. And if they don’t have it, they know they don’t have it. This was the case with nutritional yeast. I did find it at the Vitamin Shoppe! In fact, I took the last tub, and had this panicky feeling as I left that they’d never restock it.

So every blog you’ll ever read that discusses nutritional yeast will tell you that it has a nutty smell and a cheesy flavor. I’m going to tell you the same thing…because it really does. The color is not attractive. It’s yellow, but not a bright, happy, let’s-paint-the-baby-room-in-it yellow. I guess you could call it mustard. The first thing I did when I opened the container was smell it. Yep, nutty! The first recipe I used it in was the Quinoa Pizza Casserole, but it was mixed in, so I couldn’t taste it at all.

With the snow day last week and having absolutely nothing to eat, I decided to make macaroni (or pasta, for all of you that aren’t from New England) and butter. Pasta, Earth Balance, Garlic. YUM! And then I remembered every vegan blog I’ve ever read says that they sprinkle it on top of food for a parmesan flavor (and inspiration from Clean Eating Chelsey’s recent post on it). Hot diggity! Poured on a scoop, mixed it in and, yes, cheesy flavor! It was actually really tasty and I know it’ll be something I use often. Below is the exact brand I used – yum!

The reason it’s a staple is because it’s contains protein and is fortified with tons of vitamins, especially B12. It’s the one nutrient that vegans can’t get from other foods because it only comes from animal products, so it’s important to either take a supplement or eat foods that are fortified with B12. I really enjoyed the flavor and can’t wait to use it again.

March 5, 2012 at 7:44 pm Leave a comment

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