Tag Archives: veganism

My vegan-friendly wedding: Key items

Most people who know me know that I got married earlier this month. It’s been so strange the last few weeks getting used to not thinking about my wedding — even though it was a small event (only 30 people, including Jarrod and I), it was seemingly all that was on my mind, especially for the last two weeks. So not thinking about my wedding has me suddenly a little discombobulated! What do I do with all this space in my head!

JK, work and write, work and write, write and work, work and write! That was a cute little moment where I thought I’d never be stressed again.

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“Everything Good” green smoothie.

everything-good-green-smoothie

New year, new me!

Oh wait, it’s the end of October.

I wrote a few weeks ago about how August was a bit of a nightmare for me. Although the initial panic of Ben’s medical condition did indeed fade as September trudged on, trying so hard to keep my head above water while really started to take its toll.

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Female vegan influencers that I love (and so should you)

Vegan Role Models 3

It’s always important to throw a nod to the masters — and these nine amazing women are currently some of my biggest vegan inspirations.

When I started out as a vegan I only knew of the “big” vegan blogs out there like Oh She Glows and Thug Kitchen. I knew of some vegan YouTubers, but they weren’t my style. So for the most part, veganism was very private and personal — just me and some books.

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Veganism didn’t make me pretty (and I don’t &$^%! care)

yooooo

One time while I was working at my old job and desperate to get out of the office (seriously, I hated it) I volunteered to go pick some supplies up at Walmart. I sped a little bit on the way there and spent the time I saved sauntering around the Markville shopping centre, and was (naturally) lured into Lush by the smell of handmade cosmetics and beautiful, complimentary cashiers. When one of the cashiers recommended a product with honey to me, I quickly said sorry, I was vegan.

She smiled and told me, “I should have known — you know why? The whites of your eyes are so bright. That’s what I find about vegans.”

I smiled, thanked her, paid for my impulse purchase and waited until I was 20 feet away from the store to let my bright white eyes roll into the back of my head.

Bright whites of my eyes? Really? They’re eyes, how much could the shade of white honestly differ? I’ve looked at my eyes against my  boyfriend’s eyes in the mirror when we brush our teeth in the morning and I don’t notice a damn difference in the shade. In fact, just this week after months of increasing irritation with my eyes I finally found an optometrist who gave me some pretty frank news: I have deep scarring in both my eyes and shouldn’t wear contact lenses for the next year (which is why, for those of you who follow me on social media, you’ve been seeing me in my specs lately).

So what I’m saying is, I don’t think there’s a damn thing that’s special about the whites of my eyes.

But that’s not the first thing I’ve been told about my physical appearance that’s  been attributed to my veganism. A few weeks ago, a barista at Starbucks told me I had beautiful skin. My co-worker who was in line with me said “It’s probably because she’s a vegan.” They then both started gushing over my apparently flawless complexion. Joke was on them. First of all, that wasn’t my natural complexion, I was wearing Kat Von D’s tattoo effect foundation, which is basically spraypaint (but, like, awesome, fabulous, cruelty-free spraypaint). Secondly, my skin’s condition is such a roller coaster. My last period, I had zits the size of marbles pop up all over my forehead and chin — and I’m 26.

Dark circles under my eyes? I got ’em. Hair? Comes out in my brush. Only reason I don’t have split ends anymore is because I keep it short. Bloated belly? All the time, man. Dry shins and elbows? Over heeeere. They’re all over here.

Oh, my super white teeth? Been that way since I was a kid. Helps that I don’t smoke and rarely drink coffee. Soft-looking lips? I  keep myself well-hydrated and am addicted to lip balm. Everything else I credit to makeup and genetics. It’s not veganism that did it.

But why is there such a strong connection between veganism and our physical appearance? Plant-based diets have already been zealously embraced as a path to a svelte physique (assuming you also ditch those delicious, delicious grains and survive on a 1000 calorie diet of cucumber juice and plain zoodles). But why don’t we talk about this total myth that veganism makes you pretty?

Books like Eat Pretty make us believe that we can actually become physically flawless specimens from eating the right things and avoiding all the wrong things (yes dear, I eat a ton of avocados, my hair still sucks), and a certain I’m-not-calling-myself-a-vegan-anymore-because-vegans-are-so-mean blogger has basically built her entire brand on pushing a diet that supposedly makes you a radiant child of the Earth.

Look, I’m not going to knock anyone for making steps to improve their lives in ways that they see fit. Even if something turns out to be a placebo at best and a coincidence at worst, we’re all reducing harm, right?

But then again, what’s probably more troubling than the myth itself is this continued emphasis on pretty, that something has to make us thin, clear-skilled and all-around lovely in order to be a good choice.

As much as I was thrilled with Kat Von D’s recent decision to go vegan (largely because I cannot wait to not have to check her brand’s vegan list before plopping down my hard-earned coin for something), the emphasis she placed on being “healthy” (read: thin) but still having boobs and a butt made me uncomfortable. Congratulations, you’re hot, that makes you more valid!

I worry sometimes that when I go on these types of tangents I come off like a bitter ugly girl who hates on the pretty girls. Rest assured, I’ve (for the most part) made peace with my totally average appearance.

The worry is that there’s a lot of ideas floating out there that make it really, really hard for a lot of us to make peace with our appearances.

We often talk about the sources of overt negativity in our online interactions. But a lot of times it’s those seemingly positive sources of light and inspiration that can leave us feeling so empty. We see things that we aspire to be, and in some cases we might make drastic changes to do that (like going vegan — which is great, but let’s not pretend that it’s a simple thing for a lot of people to just do).

It should come as a surprise to no one that most big (and by “big” I mean big enough to have released a book, to have six to seven figures of subscribers, to have struck ANY sponsored content deals) bloggers, YouTubers, Instagrammers and other online influencers aren’t just hanging out making movies in their bedrooms with webcams, even if they’d like you to believe it. Don’t believe me? Should I mention I work in that industry? (Yup, that’s my name on the byline). Again, this isn’t me being pissy over my mid-range income and the fact that influencers are making more money than me (trust me, most of the YouTubers I’ve had the pleasure of speaking to are some of the hardest-working, most business-savvy young people I’ve ever met). But what I am saying is that they are business people. They’re conscious of their brand, they’re paid money to do what they do and they look good because they need to. You can be seen as a Luddite to say anything vaguely critical of social media, but it really needs to be said: stop thinking this shit is real life. It’s no different than other media.

Well, practically 1100 words later and I’m unsure if I’ve really said anything, so if you’re going to look at anything, look at this: I don’t give a shit that veganism didn’t make me pretty. I never went vegan to become pretty. I’m perfectly happy being a normal-lookin’ girl, and if my physical appearance was a factor in changing my diet and lifestyle so drastically, I’d have some other issues to address.

I went vegan because I was sick of being complacent in a system that exploited other living things. Whether you’re the type of vegan who survives off Daiya and Oreos or a kale-and-quinoa type of vegan, compassion and care for our earth (and those we share it with) should always be priority numero uno.

Not the whites of your eyes.


Don’t quit.

Dont Give Up Idiot

Hey you. I’m not sure where you’re reading from, how old you are or whether or not you’re a Taylor Swift fan, but if you’ve ever or are currently having doubts about staying on the vegan train, this is for you.

Maybe you’ve come home wasted and chowed down on your significant other’s pack of turkey slices. Maybe you were out with friends and caved and had a cheese pizza. Maybe that McDonalds over on Pape lights up like a holy church in the middle of the hell that is East York and you can just taste those fries on your tongue.

I’m here to tell you that you can do it. Do not quit. And if you lapsed once, twice, three times, there’s no reason to do it a fourth or fifth time.

I know it’s hard socially. Trust me, we all go through it. It’s a mean eater’s world? But you know what? The more of us there are, the easier it will be, socially. Restaurants and food companies are increasingly making vegan options because there’s now a significant demand for it. There are little steps made every day and it’s because of us (okay, yeah, it’s because people are trying to capitalize on us, but still).

Give that pizza place a reason to start using Daiya. Give Guinness a reason to take the isinglass out of its beer. It’s hard to see your place in the movement when you’re just a small part of it. But as much as it stings or feels embarrassing every time you ask, “Do you have a vegan option?” you’re giving them something to consider. Every time you choose to buy cork leather over real leather, you’re sending a message.

You have to remember why you did it in the first place. You knew there was a point when you couldn’t turn a blind eye to what was really going on anymore. You knew there were injustices in the world and you took a stand for it.

Those injustices didn’t go away. They’re still happening.

I’m not going to say veganism can be easy 100% of the time, because I’ve never thought that there’s a single thing on this earth that is worth fighting for where you’re not likely to encounter, well, a fight. But we can find ways to make it easier. If you’re the type to want to eat your roommate’s Pepperettes while you’re drunk, fill your cupboard up with Oreos and vegan crackers and always have a giant bag of carrot sticks in the fridge.

If people are judging you because you’re a vegan, that’s on them. Why should anyone on this earth have the power to make you feel bad for something that is your choice, a choice that you made because of the morals? It’s like someone making you feel shitty for not smoking. Call those people what they are: mean-spirited losers. Do it to their face. Seriously. How dare they? You rock, even if you don’t think it right now.

You know why you rock?

Because every year, that’s an estimated 30 land animals, 225 fish and 151 shellfish you aren’t eating.

Just by not eating meat for a year, you’re abstaining from releasing 1,600+ lbs of CO2 into the atmosphere.

While you’re at it, you’re also discovering new foods and tastes, saving money on meat and cheese, and of course you’re allowing yourself the opportunity for sweet, sweet moral superiority.

Just kidding.

But not really. You know that what you’re doing is right. If you’re falling off the wagon, first of all, understand that you live in a meat eater’s work and that temptation is always going to be there. You’re not an awful person. Find a supportive community that can give you a boost. Look up some stats on the good that veganism does. Check out those numbers. Have a nice tall glass of almond milk. You’ve got this.


Spread the love: November edition

STL-November

Did you guys really think I’d forget about Spreading the Love? No way, bro! In fact, I’m super excited about everything on this list, so I want to just jump right in! But before I do, since I’ve gained a lot of new readers recently, I wanted to emphasize that none of the products or brands featured in STL are sponsored products or advertisers — just plain ol’ things I like!

  1. I’ve sung the praises of Pacifica Coconut Kiss Lip Butter before (perhaps in my very first “things I’m loving lately” post) but this year I’m drifting back to more natural colours. Lip Butter in Shell is that really nice kind of muted pink, the classic “your lips but better” style that is really understated and goes with everything. The lip butter itself is super moisturizing but not goopy, and best of all, no fucking shimmer. No, seriously, why do lip balms and butters created for women in their 20s still have shimmer?!
  2. Sunflower seed butter. Okay, so I’m a girl who loves her PB. The problem? My editor, who sits right behind me, is allergic (she’s not allergic to tree nuts, but I’m still worried about cross contamination with almond butter). I’ve since come to actually really love sunbutter, and I find its taste really unique and salty (which is awesome for me. Sweet ‘n’ salty? Hell yeah). It’s actually playing a big part in my upcoming recipe, which may or may not be ice cream for breakfast and may or may not be cookies and cream flavoured.
  3. Can we talk about periods? Can we talk about my period? IT’S AWFUL, OKAY?! I’ve recently found out from my doctor that I probably have endometriosis which explains why things are SO AWFUL. But anyway, because of my issues with pain, menstrual cups have never worked for me, and I hate the idea of filling landfills with pads and tampons. I recently started using Thinx period underwear and it’s a way better solution. It feels a little different at first, but puts way less pressure on mah’ stuff. Best of all, Thinx is a totally trans-inclusive company and recently started a campaign to acknowledge trans men and other DFAB people who still get their periods (when I got my shipment they had just made some changes, so one of my pairs said “For women with periods” and another said “For people with periods” — it was awesome). Highly recommend for anyone who has aversions to a menstrual cup but wants a more eco-friendly option.
  4. Because I now have underwear dedicated to soaking up my vaginal castaways, I’ve decided to start hand-washing more. I don’t hand-wash everything (living in a small-ish apartment in the winter, drying is a pain in the ass, but carrying wet laundry down to the dryer 11 floors down is an even bigger pain in the ass) but I do hand-wash underwear and sometimes blouses. My personal favourite soap for hand-washing is Soak, and boy does a little bit go a long way with this thing. Bonus — if you can’t find Soak in stores (it was hard for me until I found it in a tiny shop on the Danforth) my pal Jordanna at House of Muses carries it in her shop)!
  5. Grishko vegan ballet shoes. Yup, they exist! The dance world is one of the hardest to find vegan accommodations for (jury’s still out on a quality tap shoe) but fortunately I’ve found a soft ballet shoe that is completely free of leather, silk and any animal products in the glue or dye. I found the pair I’m currently using through Big Tent Vegan, which details vegan ballet and pointe shoes in this informative posts.
  6. My Vegan Essentials package just came in and it included a product I’ve been wanting to try for ages: Choco No-nos. Needless to say, they did not disappoint. I’ve missed things like Smarties and M&Ms (note to my American followers: “Smarties” in the land of the North does not refer to those chalky sour hard candies — Rockets — but to a bite-sized, candy-coated chocolate candy that’s kind of like an M&M but not at all and I can’t explain it). The one thing about Choco No-nos is that because the dye is all natural, a lot of it is made from fruit juices and so there’s kind of a fruity taste to some of the dyes, but I actually like it that way.
  7. Cork “leather.” Okay, so I don’t actually own any products in this yet, but, you know, Christmas is coming and I need a new messenger bag. Hey guys? Guuuyyys? IT JUST LOOKS SO COOL.
  8. My new Pantone Universe credit and business card holder. I’ve officially abandoned my wallet (too bulky) and have switched to this, which is totally sleek and cool and fits anywhere (even a woman’s pant/jacket pocket, which is a total unicorn). Amazon doesn’t currently have the shade I bought in, but these make great stocking stuffers!
  9. When I first started working at my new office (in early May), I saw that there was a Kupfert & Kim coming to a nearby corner (Spadina and Richmond) “this spring.” Well, after many delays and glancing through the windows literally every day, it’s finally open! K&K has been around in Toronto for awhile but this is its first standalone, sit-down location (its other locations are sprinkled in various buildings throughout the Financial District). The food is amazing (naturally) and the staff is just great — super enthusiastic and kind. Bonus: K&K is also gluten-free, so if you’re avoiding gluten for whatever reason you’re covered! (My personal pick for lunch is the Oaxaca bowl).
  10. K’s NRG Bars. I have been known to wolf down an energy bar at the speed of light when put under the gun. It is, however, difficult to find one that isn’t date-based and wreaks havoc on my digestive system. These are fantastic for that gooey, sticky quality without dates! I can’t eat the cherry kind, but the original rocks my socks, and the chocolate coconut is *kiss* FUCKING AMAZING.

This “Spread the Love” was a lot more vegan-specific than most other ones I’ve done, but  I’m just really feelin’ like a vegan cheerleader these days. Perhaps it’s because the community at Reddit’s r/Vegan has got me so jazzed about it right now.

Just a few notes as well:

A few people have asked me on social media (following my tattoo post) for some info about my tattoo artist. I’ve been going to Darryl Wiebe in Kitchener for two years now and we have a great relationship. He’s done four pieces on me: the CBC logo, the Jack Layton quote, the Grigri and the ballerina. He’s a great guy and a wonderful artist, and I especially love his line-work. He actually recently opened his own shop with the equally talented, kind and amazing Anabela Fansher and can be found at Luz Marina Studios in Kitchener! You should also check him out on Instagram.

My two weeks without Starbucks and my month without buying clothes went fine-diddly-ine. I don’t really drink that much Starbucks anymore, but like I said, it wasn’t so much about breaking an addiction as it was finding more productive things to do with my time. I’ve found a few new lunchtime routines that I like way better. I was going to go two months without clothes, but with the seasonal change that seemed unwise. I’ve just started doing the seasonal change-over for my clothes and am currently evaluating what to donate. It’s a bit hard because I genuinely like all my clothes, I just have too much for one person, so I’ll let you know how that goes.

Also, my hair is back to brown, and thank goodness for that. I look/feel like myself again! Unfortunately I really, really have fried my hair from the experience, so I’m trying really hard to treat my hair’s dryness and frizz. Almond oil? Coconut oil? Whatever, man, throw it at me.

What are some of your best stocking stuffer and gift exchange ideas this season? What’s the one thing a friend could get you that would drive you wild? Let me know in the comments!


10 mistakes I made when I first went vegan (and you might make too)

soy based snack

I’m not a naturally talented person. In fact, almost everything I do, I started out terrible at. I’m not the type of person who adapts to things quickly and I definitely learn through making a lot of mistakes. Veganism is one of those things. I was totally sloppy when I first started — not necessarily in keeping vegan (I’ve never had a voluntary lapse, but I have been tricked), but in how I dealt with others and the world around me.

I want to share this because mistakes are part of what makes us human. I think vegans sometimes feel lonely or like they lack support, because even when they find vegan resources online and in magazines, a lot of those “communities” are quite exclusive and can sometimes not feel accessible to all vegans.

So before you read this list, remember: you’re not a bad person or a bad vegan if you’ve done any of these things! The fact that you’re trying makes you awesome, and the fact that you keep trying makes you brilliant.

Pretending to be apologetic (and getting walked over as a result).

When I first went vegan, I worried that my friends (mostly non-vegans, obviously) would freak out and start to categorize me as “that vegan.” Wanting to avoid this, I pretended to be a lot more moderate in my beliefs and threw a lot of more hardcore, radical vegans under the bus in order to distance myself from the actual ethics of the movement. I’ve since become a lot less apologetic, because I’ve realized that posing as a vegan apologist won’t make anyone more sympathetic toward your choices. It just makes it easier for people to walk over you and invalidate your choices, because you’ve shown that even you won’t stand up for yourself.

Not telling my loved ones sooner.

Though I went vegetarian while I was living with my parents, I went vegan when I was living in Toronto. My parents have always been afraid of me losing weight and questioned my foray into vegetarianism from day one for that reason, so I didn’t bother telling them I was a vegan. I even lied and said I might eat meat during holidays and family gatherings (no, I never went through with this). The problem is lying hurts everyone and fails to make your own intentions clear. When I finally admitted to my parents that I’d been vegan all along, it came across looking like I didn’t really believe in veganism. If I’d let them know earlier, they’d have had time to adjust and learn how to help accommodate my different needs when I came over. It’s been a couple years now, and they’re only just starting to learn to read labels differently and not to buy certain materials of clothing in gifts for me. Don’t be ashamed of your choices — even if your family doesn’t react well to it, the sooner you tell them, the more time they have to adjust (trust me, they will adjust).

Thinking “lactose-free” is the same as “dairy-free.”

Was this just me? I don’t know. I’m stupid. But seriously, some brands make it very difficult to tell the difference — like Veggie Slices, a lactose-free cheese that is soy and dairy-based. Casein/modified milk ingredient can still be found in plenty of foods labelled “lactose-free.” Hell, I’ve even seem a brand that created an almond and dairy milk. What’s the need for that? Fortunately, there’s a lot of dairy-free alternatives found in conventional grocery stores, so look for the actual magic words (“dairy-free”) and assume that “lactose-free” still means “came from a cow.”

(But again… maybe it’s just me and I’m just kinda stupid).

Giving into too many health/superfood trends.

When I first became a vegan kale was just starting to become cool, and boy was I convinced I needed it in everything. A lot of the biggest mainstream vegan food resources in blogs and magazines are more diet-focused than ethics focused, and because you generally help out your ad revenue by capitalizing on trends, they tend to focus (with a bit of hyperbole) on the newest, trendiest “superfood.” I’m not saying those foods aren’t good for you, but when you first delve down the vegan rabbit hole, you’ll probably hear a lot about things like acai bowls and spirulina. Not only will this probably cause a bit of strain on your wallet, it will probably be a little intimidating. These trends can make veganism seem really, really complicated — it isn’t. Don’t eschew a food just because it’s popular, but just know that you can be healthy with veggies, starches, grains and legumes.

Not questioning brands re: their vegan policies and lists.

I still make this mistake — I assume that when a brand tells me something is vegan, they mean vegan, as in no animal testing (including third-party testing) or bi-products. When I first became a vegan I didn’t know that there was a difference between companies that test their final products on animals versus companies that source ingredients that were tested on animals prior. And some brands also advertise their products as “vegan” when they actually still contain animal ingredients — Wet ‘n’ Wild does this, as does my (former) favourite cosmetics line, GOSH. Then there are brands like The Body Shop, which have claimed to not test on animals but have sold their products in China, where animal testing is required by law. It’s always best to keep suspicious in these situations, and go to a third party for your research. My favourite for cosmetics is Logical Harmony, which makes the distinctions between brand policies very clear and helpful.

(But also remember that if you accidentally buy something that isn’t vegan, you’re not a shitty person. People make honest mistakes. That’s what makes us people. Stay true in your intentions and learn from your mistakes).

Trying to find a direct substitution for everything.

I probably spent the first year of my vegan journey trying to find the perfect vegan cheese. Unlike a lot of vegans, I don’t like Daiya, and I find cashew cream to be really hit-and-miss. There are a few that hit it out of the park for me (but like I feel like spending $9.00 on a pack of Chao cheese!) but for the most part I’ve realized that there’s absolutely no need to find a vegan cheese and more need to simply enjoy pizza, burgers and pasta with other toppings, and let the veggies do the topping for you. Or maybe you’re not hip on tofu scramble. So what? You don’t need to directly replace eggs — the same goes for carrot lox, honee and banana ice cream. If you don’t like something, you don’t like it! Look at veganism as a new opportunity to find cool new foods that turn your crank instead of trying to simply replace x with y. You’ll probably find that you save money that way, and you’ll surely open your food horizons.

Planning group outings poorly (and ending up really, really hungry).

I live in Toronto, one of the most diverse food cities in the country, and yet, I still used to panic every time my friends said they wanted to go out. One thing I felt a lot of in the early days was guilt, that if I said, “Hold up guys, I need to know where we’re going so I can check the menu” everyone would hate me and accuse me of being a killjoy. Sometimes, calling restaurants ahead of time (during the day, avoiding the rush when they’ll be more available to help you out) and see what type of vegan options they offer (provided you can’t find anything on the menu online). Sometimes the vegan options aren’t always on the menu! When all else fails, and I’m being completely serious here, remember to always keep an energy bar or something non-perishable (and non-squishy) in your purse or backpack, and don’t drink alcohol if you don’t have any food available.

Not eating enough.

Even though I thought I was eating a really balanced diet when I first eliminated meat from my diet, finding food that was as rich in calories as its animal-based counterpart proved to be a challenge. Beans and chickpeas pack a protein punch and many plants such as broccoli are rich in calcium, but you have to eat a lot more in order to meet the same calorie intake. What I ended up doing when I went vegetarian (and I’d pretty much gotten the routine down by the time I went vegan) was changing up my eating schedule. I have a much larger breakfast now and have medium-sized snacks throughout the day (sometimes I don’t have an actual lunch, but instead have a series of what I guess could be described as small meals that keep me full until dinner. That’s when I pig out).

Only skimming labels.

See: my “lactose-free” confusion. While eggs and dairy are often listed as allergen warnings at the end of every ingredient list, I have come across a small handful of examples where this isn’t the case (and that’s just in Canada. I have no idea about the U.S.). You also have to keep an eye peeled for honey. Also, sometimes it’s easy to be swayed by a label that claims something is “veggie,” like meatless faux-meats, but some still contain eggs and dairy products (the brand Veggie Patch is one of them, and Burger King’s “veggie” burgers are definitely not vegan-friendly). Remember, green-washing is a thing, and you can easily be fooled into thinking something is plant-based. You’d be surprised, once you actually read labels, how much stuff actually has  milk in it.

Convincing myself that I was alone.

I felt incredibly isolated as a vegan for a very long time. I was convinced that I didn’t belong in the vegan “community” because most people who were interested in veganism only seemed to talk about it from a dietary or health point of view, while those who tackled it from an environmental/ethical standpoint seemed shut out to the sides in small, niche groups. Make no mistake: communities like Reddit and Tumblr are filled with every kind of group, and if you just dig a little you’ll find people who are receptive to your questions, fears, curiosities and problems. It isn’t until recently that I’ve found Reddit’s r/Vegan community (yeah, I’m a bit gun-shy with Reddit) which happens to be one of the most welcoming, open and kind-hearted subreddits on the site. I go there for not only intelligent and perceptive-shifting discussion, but also for a sympathetic ear when people are annoying me out here in the non-vegan world. Trust me: there are people who have gone through almost everything you’re going through with regards to your big change. We’re here for you, and we want to support you — because more vegans means more peace and kindness!


Eight things every vegan is sick of hearing

Grass Car

Listen up, non-vegans! Last week I opened up my hearts to vegans, especially new vegans, on how to deal with their non-vegan friends, and it was pretty well-received.

But if you were wondering when I was going to make something for you, unlike my food, yes, I’ve finally made something for you!

Also unlike my food, it isn’t very nice

Hah, just kidding! I can’t keep up the tough-guy act for very long. Look, I love you all. And I even love those of you who eat meat (that doesn’t mean that I like the fact that you eat meat). But for the number of times my lifestyle has suddenly been put on trial with arguments that are never anything new, I’m thinking perhaps a few people need a crash course on how to deal with their friends’ veganism.

I hope you guys read this post as it’s supposed to be: funny. At least, I think I’m funny! Look, I know I, like other online vegans, am supposed to be flowing with love and harmony and oh-so-accepting for fear that I come off as “shoving [my] beliefs down others’ throats.” But you know what? Sometimes it’s hard to be nice! Just picture being asked the same questions or hurled the same accusatory one-liners over and over again — it can get a little frustrating.

Anyway, I’m not the only vegan who goes through this, so here’s a bit of a crash course for you. Consider this:

“Where do you get your protein?”

I could sit here and list off tons of great protein-rich, plant-based foods that you, too, can add to your diet. But you know what’s a more valuable question? If I live in Canada, wherever did I get the guns I’m sporting through each of my sleeves?

“I just know way too many vegans who have gotten really sick.”

And I know a lot of people who drive cars and have gotten into accidents. I know a lot of people who drink alcohol and have gotten dangerously sick from it. Look, not everyone does veganism the right way, and some people are a little too eager to cross over into veganism and don’t transition properly, or don’t understand their body/dietary needs well enough. But I find it concerning that concern for my health only comes up when people find out I don’t eat animals.

“What if you were on a desert island and your only option were—”

I live in Toronto and I’m scared of flying. This situation will literally never happen to me. Hah, okay, but for real though, I’d eat you first.

“I wish you loved the immigrants who pick your vegetables as much as you loved animals.”

Yes, I’ve seen that Reddit/Tumblr/George Takei post too. I guess it’s kind of funny the first time you see it. But can I ask you something? Do you actually care about the immigrants who pick your vegetables? I mean, there’s no way you don’t eat any vegetables? You know what’s kind of shitty? Pretending to care about labourers only to suit your agenda. Personally, I buy local as much as I possibly can when it comes to produce and don’t mind paying an extra couple of bucks for produce that I know was gathered by people who were paid fairly. In some cases, it’s harder to avoid. You know what else is difficult? The lives of slaughterhouse workers. Anyway, I’m not trying to say it’s possible to be perfect, but what I am saying is that feigning moral concerns for the sake of an argument is, well, ridiculous.

“As long as you don’t shove your beliefs down my throat.”

What is your definition of that? Is it me asking you to come to a pig save rally? Or is it just saying something like “almond milk?” Look, I realize that veganism feels really different and it feels like your lifestyle is being put on trial. But I’m not going to let you forget that I’m a vegan because it makes you feel uncomfortable.

“Plants have feelings.”

I’d craft my response to this, but usually all that suffices in person is a blank stare with a disappointed frown.

“Veganism is expensive!”

It can be, but hey, I’m not going without to fund my lifestyle. If you want to give in to every superfood trend (which is not just something some vegans do) or blow all your grocery budget on faux-meat, if you want to live like a food blogger (*sweats nervously*) or sub every former dairy product with cashews (which are, apparently, solid gold) then yeah. It’s going to be expensive. But I spend no more on groceries than I used to. It’s really all about what your priorities are. Meat is expensive, too, y’know.

“Soy tho”

It’s in almost everything you eat, bruh.

Well, that was kind of mean. I feel like going and downing a big jar of chia pudding to calm my angry nerves.

Just kidding! Let’s all take this with a smile and a sense of humour. For every time I’ve had to hear that vegans are soooooOooooOOooo annoying, surely y’all can handle a post like this, right?

(Of course I can. And don’t call my Shirley).

In personal news, my first vacation in more than a year starts today! My last job didn’t really give me vacations, and I’ve never taken time off between jobs. What do I have planned? Well, technically, nothing. I am stay-cationing hard-core. But more accurately, I’ll be living in the gym, going to dance class almost every day, taking long bike rides and, surprise, cooking! You can expect me to create a lot of great recipes and take some great photos over the coming weeks from all I develop on here. As promised, there’s some Christmasy sweets, some great new smoothies, creative breakfast ideas and some more hot drinks. I’m so excited to share everything with you! I’m also awaiting the arrival of my Vegan Egg (!!!!) in the next week or so, so I’ll definitely be posting about my experiences with it.

And here’s some excitement: I’m planning a video! I’m not huge into video creation myself (I do work for a publication that covers the business of online original content, so I write about YouTubers a lot and feel no need to mix my worlds like that) but I thought it would be fun to share my thoughts with you on my favourite vegan mascaras. Yep, I’m becoming a (one-time) beauty vlogger. Good thing my skin cleared up. Heh.

What are some of the most annoying lines you’re used to hearing about veganism? I’m curious to know — I feel like I’ve had it pretty tame compared to what I’ve heard from others!


Light and creamy pasta bowl

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You know how everyone has those little words that freak them out? Like most people can’t stand “moist” (I, on the other hand, don’t see an issue with “moist” and don’t think there is any other word to describe a good chocolate cake). For me, it’s “cream” and/or “creamy.” Perhaps because I’ve only ever been exposed to it used in a really crude, yucky way.

Anyway, I’ve decided lately that it’s time to take back “creamy.” After all, where would my relationship with Oreos be without it? Or a good, smooth chocolate smoothie? (See? I just used “smooth” twice there because I couldn’t use “creamy.” The grammar gods are weeping). Or, well, this pasta dish?

I ate a lot of pasta in university (surprise, no one) and I’ve always tended to prefer light, veggie-ful pasta to overly rich and creamy ones (I’m not an Alfredo kind of girl, sorry). However, as the temperature drops and the wind picks up, hey,  I’m open to a slightly, let’s say, thicker alternative.

Now, I might seem crazy, making a creamy pasta bowl and then creating another dressing to go on top of it. After all, I used to constantly preach to my old roommate about not wanting to over-sauce things, letting the veg do its work.

But dammit, this is one of those peanut butter and jelly-level dream teams. I can’t let it slide. No way, no how.

This pasta actually didn’t even take all that long, because every element is very much a “do the thing while the other thing is cooking” process.

The creamy tomato sauce recipe will actually make enough to serve four, but I only made enough pasta for two, so I saved the rest and used it on lunches.

If you’re wondering what the spice beau monde is, it’s actually a seasoning mix. You can usually find it at indie bulk stores (sorry, my fellow Canucks — I’ve never found it at Bulk Barn). It has a peppery, onion-y, celer-y (heh) taste and goes great in dips, on tofu and anything holiday-inspired (I think it might make a good stuffing seasoning). By all means, if you don’t feel like breaking your neck to find beau monde, you can come up with your own seasoning mix or just use whatever your little heart desires.

Light and creamy pasta bowl

Prep time: <10 minutes
Cook time: 25-30 minutes
Yield: 4 servings, plus two extra servings of tomato sauce and dressing
Vegan, nut-free, refined sugar-free, soy-free and gluten-free options

Creamy tomato sauce ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups tomatoes (any kind, I used cherry), chopped/halved
  • 2 tbsp Earth Balance
  • 1 tbsp vegan cream cheese (I used Daiya, which also happens to be soy-free and gluten-free if that is a concern for you)
  • 1 tsp dried parsley flakes
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 tbsp nutritional yeast, optional

Pasta bowl ingredients

  • 2 cups uncooked fusili or penne noodles (use GF if necessary)
  • 2-4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup tomatoes, chopped/halved
  • A couple handfuls of spinach, arugula and/or kale
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Optional toppings: hemp hearts, sunflower seeds, vegan parm (I used Oh She Glows’ nut and seed parmesan recipe)

Savoury lemon and tahini dressing

  • 1 heaping tsp tahini
  • 3 tbsp lemon juice
  • A small drizzle of olive oil
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp beau monde seasoning
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions

  1. Combine all of the tomato sauce ingredients in a blender and blend on high until smooth. It should turn out that kind of flamingo-pink shade, like salmon mousse.
  2. In a medium saucepan, boil your water and cook your pasta until al dente
  3. While the pasta is cooking, heat a small amount of olive oil in a large skillet on low-medium heat. Add your minced garlic and tomatoes, sauteeing until fragrant (I try to time this step so it syncs up with the pasta finishing up).
  4. When your pasta is done, drain ‘n’ strain, then add to the pan, mixing in the tomatoes and garlic.
  5. Add the creamy tomato sauce and toss in the greens, then cover with a lid and let cook for a few more minutes, until the greens are wilted.
  6. Transfer to bowls and add our toppings, including the dressing. No, really, it’s okay mixing sauces!

So I’m not the only person on the Internet who likes beau monde, right? I just never see it in recipes. I have a few other recipes that I’m working on which incorporate it, so stay tuned for those.

I’ve pumped out quite a few savoury recipes since my relaunch, but I think I need to get into some sweet creation. The good news is, I have a vacation coming up (yay!) so I can get to creating and photographing some exquisite new creations for you to all enjoy. What’s something you’d like me to try and veganize? Butterless butter tarts, perhaps? Okay, I can’t make that promise, but I can try.


A few weekend snaps+happy thoughts

This weekend was one of those weekends that was quiet without being boring, eventful without being stressful. Sometimes it’s really hard for me to strike that balance! Last weekend, I was doored on my bike, and I was so hurt and sore and stressed out from it that I barely left my apartment. This weekend, I was really feelin’ getting out.

One of my best friends, Alex, recently moved away to do a post-graduate program in Peterborough. Even though I’m so happy for him that he loves what he’s doing, I miss him so much. So I was really glad that we got to get together a few times, share a balcony beer and go out to sing karaoke together.

Con los dudes.

A photo posted by Bree Rody-Mantha (@breeganism) on

Ain’t we cute? (Alex is on the left, my dude Corey on the right). For anyone wondering what I dressed as for Halloween…

Throw ’em back ’til I lose count. #halloween #iiiimmmmgonnaswiiiiinnnggg A photo posted by Bree Rody-Mantha (@breeganism) on

I mean, I’m a dancer, c’mon.

Saturday was a wonderful day! We went to Kitchener early in the morning to get my new tattoo — the fourth piece I have by the wonderful Darryl Wiebe. Darryl and his fellow artist Anabella recently opened their own studio, Luz Marina. I’m so happy for them, and I couldn’t be happier with my tattoo!

#sorrymom with @darrylwiebeart

A photo posted by Bree Rody-Mantha (@breeganism) on

#sorrymom

A photo posted by Bree Rody-Mantha (@breeganism) on

Did I mention my hair is pink now? Yup, my hair is pink now.

Even though we jaunted around Kitchener/Waterloo for a little while after that, we still got relatively early and kicked back with some good food. Actually, “good food” is an understatement. What we made was so damn good (HOW GOOD WAS IT?!) it’s going on the blog this coming Wednesday. Hold on to your butts!

A few other positive developments: I finally opened the indoor tomato planter kit I bought last year and set everything up. My tomatoes are already sprouting! It’s so nice that there are now so many options to grow herbs, flowers and veggies indoors.

Jarrod is off this week, and so we’re finally going to make some progress on the last of our big projects: getting our art on the walls and getting the guest bedroom organized. Of course, there are still other “nice to have” projects, but those are down the road — a shelf for our living room (Jarrod wants to make his own), getting a futon for the second room (after the new year) and, of course, Jar setting up his model train layout.

We’re only going to get our futon after the new year because, well, we’re going to New York for Christmas! Both of us are lucky to work at jobs where we are given a little bit of time off around the Christmas holidays, and we thought we’d take just a couple days (27th-29th) to explore my favourite city in the world (and Jar has actually never been there! Can you believe?). We’re still going to visit both our parents (thank goodness they live close together) and Jar’s sister is coming back from Alberta for the first time in years, so we’re, you know, kinda stoked.

I’ve been dancing again. I’m not sure if I mentioned that, and I feel like I kind of glossed over the fact that I’d stopped for awhile. After July I was ready to quit, throw in the towel and just teach until my kids graduated and use that as an excuse to just stop. Now I’m more passionate than ever and I’m back in ballet and jazz every week, occasionally doing contemporary and lyrical classes when I can. I feel like I’m a stronger technical dancer and I’m holding myself to a higher standard. I’m pushing myself harder in every aspect. I’m allowing myself to enjoy it and always remember why I dance: because I love it.

By the way, one week into my “anti-materialism” vow and a few things have arisen: 1) I totally don’t miss Starbucks, 2) walking around Queen West during my lunch breaks and not going into Starbucks, Lush or a clothing store is making my lunches way more fun, 3) no 2048, Sims or The Office is actually forcing me to do different things with my time! I’m writing more (yeee!) and doing more exercises and trying new acro tricks at home. Fun!

That’s it for my weekend recap. I hope you guys had a wonderful weekend too. Did you do anything awesome? What did you dress as for Halloween? Let me know in the comments.