One of the hardest parts of being a new vegan (or even an old seasoned vegan) is trying to keep up with all the new products out there. I must have spent over $50 looking for the "right" vegan cheese my first year being a vegan and I have over 50 vegan/vegetarian cookbooks in my arsenal but not all the recipes are the greatest. I’m the first born so I’m used to being a Guinea Pig and now I’m your Vegan Guinea Pig. So here are my recommendations and critiques. Let me know what you think!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

How to Make A Vegan Part 4: The Way We Eat: Why Our Food Chocies Matter

Peter Singer might be a controversial figure within the AR movement but there is one thing for sure, Peter Singer (along with co-author Jim Mason) solidified my position as a life-long vegan. Vegan Freak's helped me realize that being vegan was more than just an extremely healthy choice but an ethical one as well. The Way We Eat made veganism more than about just being good for my health, but good for the earth, animals and the globe. Arden's Garden laid the foundation, PPK gave me the materials to build the house, Vegan Freak built the house and The Way We Eat put a roof on it .

Peter and Jim delve into the kitchens of 3 families. A family eating the Standard American Diet (SAD), The "conscientious" omnivore and a vegan family. They spend a day in the life of each family, delve into their shopping baskets and then even farther to where exactly the food comes from that each family buys. It's an incredibly insightful look into how our food choices affect a large global conscientious and how the little things we do each day have such a big effect. More importantly it empowers the reader to know exactly where their food comes from and what all the labels and claims such as "all natural" and "free range" really mean.

At the end of the book it became clear to me that being vegan was more than just a healthy or ethical choice but a vote that I am making to corporations, elected officials, and so on about what I do and don't like and what I will and won't accept. I've sworn off a lot of companies that pose an ethical dilemma for me and do my best to support local, organic, ethical and vegan companies and individuals whenever possible.

The Way We Eat by Peter Singer and Jim Mason is a must read for anyone who eats, it's even on audiobook if you don't have time to read it.

And that, my friends. Is HOW TO MAKE A VEGAN!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

How to Make A Vegan Part 3: Vegan Freak

I’m a happy healthy vegan, running around the streets of Atlanta in my happy little vegan bubble. Then come the nay-sayers, the vegan haters, the meat lovers (you would think these people were having a torrid affair with meat and cheese or something), and I just wanted to scream.

One day, in the middle of one of my “I hate omni’s” moods while looking up some vegan cookbooks I came across Vegan Freak by Bob & Jenna Torres. The book summary made it seem like an all encompassing guide on how to maintain sanity in a non-vegan world. The books is that and more. I became a vegan for health reasons and although I was always taught that animal cruelty was wrong I never really thought of it in terms of the animals that are raised for human consumption. Vegan Freak made the connection for me. How could I be completely and totally against animal cruelty and at the same time support, in anyway, the factory farming industry? I couldn’t, and from the day I turned the last page of this book I was not only a vegan but an ethical vegan.

Bob & Jenna also take a realistic view of everyday vegan issues. They anticipate the questions of a new vegan and pretty much cover the majority of them. My big question was, “What do I do with all this leather stuff I have, including my couches, loveseats, etc.?” Bob & Jenna already had the answer. Transition slowly and when you can. So when I say I’m vegan and the vegan police do their “leather scan” I’m no longer afraid (mostly because I’m probably wearing pleather).

My favorite parts of the book: Perfection & the Vegan Police, Speciesism, and basically all of Chapter 3 (titled “Hell is Other People”)

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

How to Make A Vegan Part 2: The & Vegan with A Vengeance

So now I’m a vegan. I became a member of the local vegetarian co-op and I suddenly realized there is a whole vegan hot bar at Wholefoods (I have since realized this is not the case everywhere). I start to veganize all my favorite recipes and then I run into a little snag. What do I use instead of eggs? Isa to the rescue! On the (that’s post punk kitchen for you newbie’s) I found answers to that question and then some, and there forum’s are sooooo helpful! It seems like they are just full of people waiting to talk about whatever is going on in your vegan brain. So, of course, after practically printing out every page of the website I had to get Vegan with a Vengeance, which should basically be handed to every new vegan. It wasn’t my first vegan cookbook but it was the first vegan cookbook I actually cooked out of (I tend to be a bit of cookbook collector). I knew that Isa and I must be a match made in heaven when her carrot raisin muffin recipe almost mirrored my own. My all time favorite recipe of Isa’s is her Mango Ginger Tofu.

It’s definitely a recipe for people who love to cook, it has a lot of moving parts but it also was my confirmation that vegan food is good food not just tofu in a box. I’ve subsequently bought all of Isa’s books and still lean on her forum’s for support when I need it (ok, I’m on them everyday, I’m addicted!)

You can also watch her show, The Post Punk Kitchen on the website or from Isa’s myspace page. Other highlights of the PPK are: vegan ice cream (ridiculously easy), vegan sushi, and of course there’s a blog on the PPK too.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

How to Make A Vegan Part 1: Arden’s Garden

This is where it really all began in a little juice & smoothie shop in East Point, GA. There was a sign hanging in the window for fasting classes with Arden Zinn the namesake of Arden’s Garden. Arden’s fasting classes came highly recommended to me and so I thought “why not, I’ll give it a try”, never knowing the experience would change my life.

July 8th, the night before my first fasting class. I had no idea what to prepare for. I thought I’d be starving for the next 21 days. One thing I knew for certain was that I wouldn’t taste my beloved cheese for almost a month. So my last meal that night was Cheese Enchiladas, my all time favorite dish. The next morning I met with Arden and 2 other eager soon-to-be-fasters.

After I told Arden that my last meal was Cheese Enchiladas she said this “Milk is not for humans. Cow Milk is to grow calves into 2,000 pound cows.” I don’t know what it was about her statement but it immediately resonated with me. After 21 days of juice and raw foods fasting with Arden my allergies to mold, cats and dogs disappeared, it was so unbelievable that I had it confirmed by an allergist by skin allergy testing to be sure they were really gone. All my life I suffered with allergies to a variety things and I had been on every allergy medication every made. My allergist shared with me that he believed my recovery from my allergies was because I’d cleansed my body of dairy products, which can throw off the immune system creating allergic responses to seemingly normal things around us. That solidified my decision, I was now a vegan.

Arden’s Garden is a local fresh juices and smoothie shop with 5 locations throughout the Atlanta area. All their juices are made from freshly pressed fruits and vegetables and their smoothies are all natural just fresh fruit juice and your choice of fruit. Learn more at

I thank you Arden for being a powerful mentor, friend and guide to my journey for better health and the best quality of life available to us all!

How to make a vegan…

I became a vegetarian for no good reason really. I just started eliminating meat slowly but surely (and by slowly I mean once every 6 or 7 years) and then one day I woke up and I was a vegetarian. I became a vegan, and have remained a vegan, for very purposeful reasons. I didn’t do it on my own (and I don’t know if I ever would have, but let my mother tell it she knew I would be a vegan all along). I had a great mentor, read some incredible books, tried some amazing recipes in equally amazing cookbooks, and had (and still have) an extremely supportive family, even if they do think I’m crazy sometimes.

My next 4 blogs will be homage’s to all the things that have made me into the happy and healthy vegan I am today.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Let's go milk an Oat!

When you first go vegan everything is soy. Soy milk, soy yogurt, soy ice cream, soy chicken, soy hot dogs, the list goes on forever. One day I looked up and I realized I was having something soy at nearly every meal. Variety is the spice of life and my diet definitely needed some spice.

Although I've found a ton of alternatives to soy out there I couldn't seem to find one that really worked well as a full time soy milk alternative. I tried almond milk which is WONDERFUL but it didn't have the protein content I was looking for. I tried hemp milk (and still keep my pantry stocked with it) but it's extremely high in sugar and the nutty flavor doesn't lend well to baking. Then Oat Milk went on sale at my co-op and I thought, why not?!

Who would've thunk it! Oat milk is amazing. Oats are actually a natural source of calcium and oat milk provides slightly more calcium than cow's milk without all the fat, cholesterol, puss and cruelty. The brand I've been using (Pacific Natural) has also been fortified with vitamin D and riboflavin. Oat milk works everywhere soy milk does including baking (which is where I usually use it). So take a pause from your soy or rice milk and try something new! It has protein, calcium, riboflavin, vitamin A, iron, vitamin D and a phenomenal taste.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Vegan Citus Sparerib Cutlets (Vegeusa)

I've been sitting at the computer for 5 minutes trying to figure out how to describe VegeUSA's Vegan Citrus Sparerib Cutlets. The problem is that every time I start thinking about them I want to start eating them, so I'm going to make this quick or I'll end up drooling all over my new computer.

These "spareribs" are 100% omnivore and herbivore approved (hence a perfect dish to introduce your omni friends to the wonderful of Vegan!). They have a sweet citrus flavor that is at the same time spicy. And the plum vinegar sauce...there just are no words. Not only that but the texture is perfect and it cooks very quickly on the stove top, the oven (or toaster oven) and microwave.

On the back of the box it says that this is VegeUSA's best selling dish, and there is no doubt in my mind why. The taste and texture are amazing and the ingredients are simple and uncomplicated with no high fructose corn syrup in sight. If you're grocery store or co-op doesn't carry these you need to demand them immediately.

If you happen to be in the area try Cosmo's Vegan Shoppe (672 Highland Avenue NE, Atlanta, GA 30312). They have this, the Black Pepper Steak (a little too close to the real thing for me), and Orange Chicken (not my favorite but will do in a pinch). Some Asian grocers will also carry this brand but make sure it's vegan, VegeUSA has a vegan and a vegetarian line.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Evolution Vegan Cat Food

Helen's Kitchen Tofu Steaks were so horrible that I had to quickly follow up my last blog with a happier blog. I am writing to you on behalf of my big happy 7 year old SPCA cat Johnathan. I would just like to add that even people who hate cats love my Jonathan.

But back to the subject at hand. About 6 months ago, after experiencing some of the most mind-numbing smells from his litter box, I decided that it was time that my cat go vegan. Jonathan pretty much eats anything so I knew it wouldn't be a difficult job switching him over. What I didn't anticipate was how much my dogs would love the food too. It's been fun trying to keep them away from his food. It's finally gotten to the point where they just sneak it when I'm not looking instead of just outright eating it in front of me.

Possibly the fact that Evolution Vegan Cat Food taste like cheese is the reason for the mass hysteria around the house amongst the animals. Whatever it is, my cat is in love with this food. The only downside to it is that I have to order it online from so I really have to stay on top of the amount of food that's left so I can order in time. (Just an FYI vegan essentials can usually get you what you need in about 2-3 business days so that should help you plan your ordering schedule).

According to Jonathan, Evolution is the best. I got really busy one week and didn't notice that the cat food supply was running dangerously low. I called around town to every health food store and finally one stocked a vegan cat food from this company called Wysong. Jonathan, who will literally eat anything, went on a hunger strike. He would not eat for days! At first I thought he was getting sick because he was losing weight so rapidly then one night I heard a rumbling in the kitchen and there was Jonathan. He ripped open the bag of Evolution Cat Food I just got in the mail that afternoon and was devouring it. Like lion on the Serengeti devouring it. I switched his food back to Evolution and he was a happy healthy eating machine from that day forward.

Here's the particulars. I get my cat food from It's available in 1lb bags for $2.95, 8 lbs for $22.95 and 40 lbs for $78.95. I know the prices seem steep but a little of this food goes a long way and it can be used wet or dry. also has it available a bit cheaper 8 lbs for $20.95 and 40lb for $69.95. It also comes in a gourmet pasta flavor. But after the Wysong fiasco I'm going to stick with the cheese.

Helen's HORRIBLE Kitchen Vegetarian Chicken Tofu Steaks

I knew this streak of good vegan vittles was bound to come to an end. Thanks to Helen's Kitchen Vegetarian Chicken Tofu Steaks it has.

I was wandering through the freezer section of my co-op and the picture on the box looked so delicious that I just had to try it. It's been sitting in my freezer waiting for that perfect moment when I was just too tired to cook and needed good food fast. Helen offers three different ways to cook these monstrosities. In the skillet, the grill or the microwave. My first turn off was that it says in bold letters do not cook in the toaster oven. I hate the microwave and didn't feel like dragging out the the indoor grill so the skillet was my last choice.

I can't imagine how this stuff would ever cook on a grill because the second I flipped it over it began to crumble. But, it still smelled fairly promising so i just pushed all the crumbles together and kept on cooking.

I was all ready for it. I was going to have a divine "chicken" sandwich. Spelt bread, sprouts, the whole nine. I took my hot crumbled tofu and tried to get it on the bread without it completely disintegrating. I took a bite and IMMEDIATELY spit it out. I think I also made some funny noises because even my cat raised an eyebrow at me. Honestly, plain uncooked tofu straight out the package would've been better than these chicken tofu steaks. There's no way you could dress these little nuggets of horror up to make them even kind of decent.

My recommendation: STAY AWAY! STAY FAR AWAY!
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