I have been beyond heartwarming that so many people have asked me about veganism and have expressed an interest in trying it. I have been a vegetarian since my teen years, and a vegan since December 31, 2017. If you know me, then you know that I do not push my eating and lifestyle choices on anyone. I strive to live with compassion towards all beings, hurt no one for the sake of my appetite, advocate for the welfare of animals, and do it without judgment. Maybe that’s what has appealed to the many friends, family, and strangers who have asked me for information and tips on how to try a plant-based diet and how to go vegan.
This page will be a living and growing resource to share my best vegan finds, recipes, products, and even some education and deep thoughts on how we can all grow and evolve with compassion, awareness, and love.
Why I went vegan? In short—I became vegan for the animals. (Of course, there are health and fitness benefits, too.) The more that I learned about how animals are treated, particularly in factory farms, the more that I could no longer live like I didn’t know. Being a vegetarian was not enough. Sadly, the modern dairy industry is one of the cruelest industries on Earth. You might not know this, however, in order for people to use the milk of a cow (or goat etc.) that momma has to give birth. Just like with humans, you don’t lactate if you’re not pregnant or a new mother. Dairy farms are no longer the idyllic scene of rolling pastures, and there is no such thing as a happy dairy cow—no matter what the pretty packages and marketing would have you believe. Since the industrial revolution, humanity has invented the mass production of milk/cream/cheese. We are not in Kansas anymore; millions of baby cows are born and just as quickly die so that people can eat animal milk cheese and other dairy products. (And, why when we can make delicious cheeses from almond and cashew and other nut milks?)
Yes, you can make a difference. Sure, it can be overwhelming to think of the abuse of farm animals. Sometimes, people ask me if I really think that I can make a difference when the way that people currently produce food is a global machine. The answer is, yes, I can make a difference, and so can you. Did you know that today vegans are the largest growing population in the human race? It’s catching on, and quickly! I have inspired many, many people to try veganism. And, once you have awareness about the truth of factory farming, you simply cannot un-know or unsee it. So one person becomes 10 people or 20 people. Compassion is growing.
Do it for your health. Eating a vegetable and plant-based diet just feels amazing. If you try it, you will see a miracle in your life and your overall energy, fitness, and wellness.
What about protein? Yes, what about protein. Of course, you know about nuts and beans and lentils. But did you know that many vegetables are very high in protein? Yep! Check out this article for a quick list of vegan proteins. Also, if you want to be sure that you’re getting your daily protein—take Spirulina (blue-green microalgae) tablets. There are numerous great brands sold through Amazon. This is the one that I order; I take four per day. (Or, purchase in powder form and add Spirulina to your smoothies.)
An Average Day In My (Vegan Food) Life
Breakfast: My go-to easy breakfast is rice with salt, pepper, and sauteed mushrooms or mixed vegetables. Or, a protein shake made of unsweetened almond milk, pea protein powder, and frozen strawberries or bananas. Of course, you might like toast (most breads do not have eggs or milk; though bagels have eggs) and peanut butter, or cereal.
Lunch: Salad with walnuts or pecans; vegan soup; PB&J; vegan hotdog (I like Lightlife brand Smart Dogs sold at Publix and other stores). A fabulous high-protein meal is “wieners and beans” made with Smart Dogs and kidney beans—just sautee in a pan on your stove top, and add a little Refined Coconut oil. (“Refined” coconut oil does not taste like coconut, whereas “Virgin” coconut oil does.)
Dinner: We love stirfry! Just rice and your favorite vegetables, like mushrooms, asparagus, peas, broccoli, carrots, and cubed potatoes. I make a delicious “peanut sauce” with tahini, grapeseed oil, a drizzle of real maple syrup, lemon pepper spice, and garlic powder. And, there are a hundred different salads that will make a great dinner. Yet, for other meal ideas, that taste and satisfy like your old meaty favorites, try some of the many vegan burgers, meatless meatballs, tender strips, and more, from brands like Gardein. These are readily available at Target, Publix, and many grocery stores.
Snacks: Hummus is a go-to for us. With vegan crackers or baby carrots. Or, try any of the yummy snacks from Vegan Cuts Snack Box!
Dessert: Mmmmm, made with almond milk, Ben & Jerry’s Non-Dairy pints are fabulous! Sold at Target, Publix, and most grocery stores.
My Favorite Vegan Food Products
Meatless Meatballs: We really like vegan burgers, too. Yet, my fav meatless product at the moment is Gardein’s Meatless Meatballs. I’ve cooked these in my homemade pasta sauce for my family and friends, and everyone thought that they were delicious! (And they didn’t know they were meatless until they saw me eating them!) Tip: For the best meatless meatballs, cook them inside your sauce.
Cheese Available At The Grocery Store: I love, love, love Kite Hill cream cheeses (especially the chive flavor), Also, Follow Your Heart brand Smoked Gouda Slices, or Pepper Jack. Many grocery store vegan cheese brands are less than desirable. This brand (however, just their sliced, not shredded) are quite good. Nice on sandwiches, salads, and melted on vegan burgers.
Gourmet and Artisan Nutmilk Cheese: Miyoko’s Kitchen cheese wheels delivered to you directly from wine country, California. (Shipping is pricey, so I order for two months.)
Butter: Well, hands down the best butter on the planet—vegan or not—is Miyoko’s butter!
However, let me give you a BIG vegan tip: Just “butter” your bread and toast with REFINED COCONUT OIL and a sprinkle of iodized salt! In fact, make your mashed potatoes with a scoop of refined coconut oil, too. Add a little salt, and you won’t miss butter made from milk-intended-for-baby-cows.
My Favorite Recipe: “Pen’s Vegan Cream Sauce”
This single recipe is my base for cream sauces and soups of all kinds!
- 4 cups water
- 3 tablespoons of vegetable broth powder (or if liquid broth, replace water with broth)
- 4 tablespoons of Italian breadcrumbs
- 2 tablespoons of Bragg’s Nutritional Yeast Seasoning
- Heavy swirl of olive oil
- 2 tablespoons of tahini
- 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder
- Iodized salt to taste
…Double the recipe for more.
Delicious on risotto, pasta, or vegetables!
To make soup, simply make more, then precook and puree in a food processor your favorite vegetable, mix together and simmer for 10 minutes. Enjoy creamy mushroom soup, carrot soup, butternut squash soup, and more.
My Average Grocery List Must-Haves
- Veggies and Greens Of All Kinds
- Fruit and Berries
- Potatoes (We like fingerlings: nice as a side, in stirfry, and cold on a salad. Plus very filling!)
- Gardein Meatless Products (To make burgers, tacos, spaghetti with Italian balls, and more.)
- Kidney Beans, Chick Peas, Lentils
- Pecans, Walnuts
- Refined Coconut Oil
- Peanut Butter
*Rice: There’s nothing wrong with eating rice. I’m vegan for the animals, yet many people also like veganism for the health and fitness benefits. So, forget the hype about carbs—the bad carbs are the refined sugars and refined wheat. Rice is a great base in any meal because it’s filling while having low calories. (Ask any contestant from CBS’s Survivor about the weight loss benefits of a rice-based diet.) White rice is high in minerals such as calcium and iron; it is also rich in vitamins, such as niacin, vitamin D, thiamine and riboflavin. Brown rice is a good source of fiber and therefore, improves digestion. Rice contains a very low amount of saturated fats and cholesterol making it a healthful food for your heart. (Source: 7 Amazing Health Benefits Of Eating Rice.) Tip: For rice that helps you shed even more unwanted pounds, add Refined Coconut Oil to the boiling water, just before you drop the rice. We make large batches using “Mahatma Extra Long Grain Enriched” white rice, bought in the 20-pound bag. Recipe: Bring 12 cups water to a boil. Then add a teaspoon of iodized salt and 1/2 cup of refined coconut oil to the boiling water. Add 6 cups of rice and turn the temperature down until you see just a gentle rolling boil. Cover for 20 minutes. Now, you have rice for two people for a week or two. (We freeze half until needed.)
Vegan Recipe Resources
Food Network — Vegan
This Savory Vegan: Includes Holiday Cooking & Video How-Tos
Well Vegan Recipes & Tips
My Darling Vegan Recipes & Resources
Vegan Chef At Home Programs
Google “Vegan Recipes”
Free Vegan Starter Kit
Educational Information Resources
Farm Animal Welfare & Animal Rights Groups—Here are a few informative organizations to follow on social media or visit their website for education and updates on progress within the animal compassion movement:
PETA: Animals Used For Food (Warning: PETA does not hold back and is a solid resource to show you the truth about factory farming. The images are very disturbing, and yet, this is the truth of what is endured by animals used for food.)
Dodo – On The Farm Tons of feel-good stories about animals and the people who love them! Sample view…
Award Winning Documentaries
Farm To Fridge (11-Minute Mini-Doc)
Going Veg (20-Minute Short Documentary)
Meat The End (18-Minute Short Documentary)
Dominion (2018) (MOVIE: Watch Full Feature Length Film Here, Free)
Earthling (2005) (MOVIE: Watch Full Feature Length Film Here, Free)
These films are graphic. And yet, this is what farm animals endure for our appetites. Watch sparingly for your education only. Do not binge watch or over-saturate yourself with this or any other violence.
Be brave. Be informed. Be a beacon of light.
Eating out at a restaurant can be challenging if you don’t live in an area with a plethora of vegan eateries. At many restaurants, you can ask the Chef to prepare you some easy grilled vegetables brushed in olive oil and seasoned with salt and pepper, such as portobello mushroom, asparagus, broccoli, potatoes, or whatever they have seasonally in the kitchen.
Tip: Happy Cow is an excellent source to find a vegan restaurant near you and while traveling!
Photo: October 2018, Rosemary Beach, FL—Burton and I enjoying several vegan appetizer options at a non-vegan restaurant with dear friends Glenda and Jane (left).
Vegan Recipes and Groceries Delivered
Now, my husband and I get all of the ingredients for four meals per week, through Purple Carrot, delivered right to our door! BEST THING EVER!!! We didn’t think we would like getting a meal service, but we LOVE it, it’s like eating at a restaurant—variety, plus we are learning how to cook vegan as we make each high-protein vegan recipe!
We are super busy and travel a lot, so we also love Veestro for pre-made frozen, yet freshly made organic vegan meals. It’s sooo easy to eat well!
Vegan Trivia & Facts
- Did you know that Austin, Texas; Las Vegas; Orlando; and New York City are among the Top 10 cities for vegan dining? Check out: Best Cities In America For Vegan Restaurants.
- You probably know that Joaquin Phoenix and Stella McCartney are vegans. But, did you know that Brad Pitt, Beyoncé, and Liam Hemsworth are vegans, too? Take a look at these articles and the growing number of celebrities who have turned vegan: Good Housekeeping | Glamour | Women’s Health Magazine.
- A lamb is a baby sheep. (Yes, a lot of people don’t know that a lamb is a baby.)