It’s been a few months since I’ve written a Queer Vegan Food blog post. There are several reasons for this. First, I’ve become a lot more active on my social networks. (FYI, you can catch me on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter). I love the ease of sharing pictures, musings and updates and the real-time feedback we get from these platforms.

Second, my life has changed a lot since I began this blog in 2011. I’ve grown a lot in many ways since I started Queer Vegan Food; after all, I was a raw foodist when I originally started this (!). I’ve struggled at times to figure out how to adapt and evolve this blog as so much in my life changes. I’ve even considered retiring it. Is Queer Vegan Food still relevant for me? For anyone else? I’ve had this conversation a few times recently with my partner and with friends. And I keep coming back to the feeling that this blog does still feel relevant for me and (I hope) maybe for others, and it does feel like it’s still a useful space to share information, ideas, experiences and queer vegan food–at least for now.

With that, here’s some updates and a snapshot into some of the things I’ve been up to and thinking aboutthese past few months.

Celebrating My 10-Year-Veganniversary

A decade as a vegan. Wow. It’s still easy. I love Mark Hawthorne’s post about his recent vegan anniversary, saying “I’m still waiting for this to get hard.” That’s how I feel. Being vegan has only enriched and improved my life, but even if it didn’t, I’d probably still do it, because exploiting and killing animals is wrong. I’d be a vegan even if it were really difficult. Luckily, though, it’s super easy, and that’s really nice.

Settling Into Boulder, CO…And Reconnecting With The Bay Area

Boulder, CO on Queer Vegan FoodSince moving to Boulder with my partner in 2013, I have recently put down some roots in this beautiful mountain town. While finding footing in Boulder, I’ve simultaneously connected again with the SF Bay Area. Earlier this spring I started a remote job for a Bay Area-based software company that has me traveling to the Bay every few months. I love the company and my role, and Ihave also really enjoyed spending more time in the Bay Area.

The Bay has its share of major problems (have you read Sistah Vegan’s heartbreaking blogs recently? Check them out to get a taste of how challenging it is to live in the Bay these days) but I still think it’s a really special special place. I love visiting and getting to enjoy amazing vegan food with people like Lara Yaz, my dear friend from high school Alana, my good friend Andrea from the East Coast who lives in Berkeley, and more. Current Bay Area favorite: Shizen. Really great vegan Japanese food. I’d say just as good or even better than Shojin in LA. Pics, for reference:

Lara Yaz at Shizen in SF!

Lara Yaz at Shizen in SF!

Shizen ramen in SFVegan roll at Shizen

Seaweed Salad at Shizen in SF

Lara Yaz with yummy rolls at Zhizen

Lara Yaz with yummy rolls at Shizen in SF!

The Bay Area is near to my heart. I moved there right after college and it’s where I got my start in vegan food blogging through then-Bay Area-based but now national Vegansaurus, which adopted me in 2009 as one of their writers. It’s been an incredible journey ever since. I’ve met more amazing people through vegan blogging than I could have imaged. Shout-out to local Boulderite vegan Rachel Zurer, who edits Backpacker magazine and contributes to Vegansaurus. Rachel lives several blocks from us here in Boulder and she and her awesome vegan lawyer hubby Danny have become great friends. Vegansaurus continues to be amazing, and I am so inspired by the writers, editors and readers of the pub.

Feelings About Fishing As A Hobby

Around Boulder, many people casually fish in the creek. Seeing someone recreationally and casually torturing fish (I have no idea if they eat the fish or just throw them back…which is just as bad, of course) always puts me in a sour mood. These people usually smile at me when I pass, and sometimes say hi. I haven’t figured out what to say to these people, especially the “nice” ones. Because torturing fish is anything but nice. Can’t they just enjoy the creek without exploiting innocent creatures?

Side note: I think it’s often seen in our culture as less than “masculine” to enjoy nature (especially enjoy being alone in nature with other men) without doing something “masculine” like dominating animals to compensate. I’m clearly channeling Carol J. Adams here. Alas. Any advice for this?

Things I’m Excited To Get Into

Cuisinart on Queer Vegan Food

My mom gifted me my first Cuisinart this week and I’m so excited to use it. Any tips or recipes for me to try?

Thanks for reading. xo

As I’ve been a Boulderite for nearly two years now, it’s about time I put together a roundup of my favorite vegan eats in this town by the Rocky Mountain Front Range. Boulder is renowned for being a foodie (and beer-centric) city, but to be frank, that reputation skews heavily towards omnivorous fare. Still, there’s plenty of gems for us herbivores including two all-vegan restaurants (Native Foods and Julia’s Kitchen) and one all-vegetarian restaurant with plenty of vegan options (Leaf Restaurant). There are also plenty of places that do stellar vegan options.

So, without further adieu, here are my favorite vegan dishes in Boulder, CO. I highly recommend seeking them out if you’re traveling through this beautiful mountain town and are looking for a quality bite.

Kale Chips from Kitchen Next Door

Kale Chips From Kitchen Next Door Featured on Queer Vegan Food


These fried homemade kale chips are amazing. They’re just the right amount of crunchy greasy goodness to pair with a tall glass of local beer. Or not. Get a window seat in this restaurant and view the Flatiron Mountains while you munch these.

Kitchen Next Door is located at 1035 Pearl Street, Boulder, CO 80302

Gluten-Free Vegan Dumplings from Zoe Ma Ma

Vegan dumplings from Zoe Ma Ma in Boulder, CO featured on Queer Vegan Food

These delicious potstickers come with a variety of dipping sauces, and are sure to please. Zoe Ma Ma is located right off Pearl St, so you can enjoy these on a nearby bench or outdoor seating area in the warmer seasons.

Zoe Ma Ma is located at 2010 10th Street, Boulder, CO 80302

Beet Pierogis From Leaf Vegetarian Restaurant

Beet Perogis from Leaf in Boulder

There’s plenty to enjoy on Leaf’s all-veg menu, but I have to call your attention to this rockstar dish: Beet Pierogis. The flavor combination of the sweet beet pure inside the savory outer shell plus cole slaw side is delectable.

Leaf Vegetarian Restaurant is located at 2010 16th Street, Boulder, CO 80302

Make-Your-Own Veggie Bowl With Cauliflower Rice from Zeal

Veggies and tofu bowl from Zeal in Boulder

Zeal’s menu is hit-or-miss, but this customizable dish is a winner. You can customize the sauce, veg protein (tempeh or tofu) and it will taste great regardless of what you choose. The real star of this offering is the cauliflower rice (note: you can sub out for noodles or brown rice, but that’s not as innovative, IMO). The big veggies are also amazing and cooked just the right amount to retain their crunch (dare I say their zeal?)

Zeal is located at 1710 Pearl Street, Boulder, CO 80302

Vegan Tempeh Burger From Shine 

Vegan tempeh burger from Shine in Boulder, CO

Shine is an entirely gluten-free restaurant, but not everything is vegan. But the vibe is the closest thing we have to Cafe Gratitude out here, so it’s worth it to sift through the menu to find the veg gems. If you go (which you should!) you’ve got to try the tempeh burger with a homemade gluten-free bun. Get it with a side salad (featured here) or sweet potato fries, and perhaps wash it down with a beer brewed in house or one of their non-alcoholic elixirs or potions.

Shine is located at 2027 13th St, Boulder, CO 80302.

Gluten-Free Vegan Cupcakes From Tee & Cakes

Vegan gluten-free cupcakes from Tee & Cakes in Boulder, CO

The best cupcakes in Boulder, CO, period. These are fluffy and sweet and come in fun flavors like Birthday Cake. They don’t always have vegan cupcakes in stock, so call ahead, but when they do, it’s magic.

Tee & Cakes is located at 1932 14th Street, Boulder, CO 80302

Upstart Kombucha From Various Locations

Upstart Lemon Ginger Kombucha on Queer Vegan Food in Boulder, CO

This is the perfect booch! Just the right amount of sparkling-tangy-sweet. Grab it from Laughing Goat, Ozo, and many other places around town.

Available at: Alfalfa’s Market, Ozo, Laughing Goat and more local retailers.

The Veggie Special From Sushi Zanmai

The veggie special from Zanmai in Boulder

This is the best veg Japanese special in town: get Oshinko, avocado, cucumber, garlic, mushroom, and many other fun pieces. You can order it without the miso soup and salad, which contain animal products.

Sushi Zainmai is located at 1221 Spruce Street, Boulder, CO 80302

Matcha Latte With Almond Milk and Boba From Ku Cha House of Tea

Matcha Latte With Asher Brown in Boulder, CO

The best bubble tea in Boulder! This place does tea so beautifully, and their matcha latte is a standout. Pictured here with my favorite brother Asher.

Ku Cha House of Tea is located at 1141 Pearl Street, Boulder, CO 80302

Yo Amigo Taco Salad From Native Foods

Yo Amigo Taco Salad From Native Foods in Boulder, CO

Native Foods is an all-vegan chain, so you really can’t go wrong with anything here, but I’m a big fan of the Yo Amigo Taco Salad. I usually sub out tempeh for the seitan taco meat. This salad features warm tempeh (or taco meat if you don’t sub it out) atop romaine, corn, tortillas, salsa fresca and black beans topped with a savory-sweet dressing. So good.

Native Foods is located a 1675 29th Street #1272, Boulder, CO 80301

Vegan Lunch Buffet Monday At Nepal Cuisine

Nepal Cuisine Vegan Buffet in Boulder, CO featured on Queer Vegan FoodAn all-vegan Nepalese lunch buffet happens every Monday at Nepal Cuisine. If you’re in town on a Monday and can slip away to Table Mesa (just a few minutes from downtown Boulder), you’ll be very glad you did. Momos, samosas, okra dishes, and plenty of greens, plus a homemade almond milk rice pudding are all 100% vegan and the same percentage delicious.

Nepal Cuisine is located at 4720 Table Mesa Drive C100, Boulder, CO 80305

Vegan Lunch Buffet Friday At Jill’s Restaurant

Vegan Buffet At Jill's In Boulder CO

This Vegan Buffet on Fridays is amazing. It’s gourmet, extremely reasonably priced at around $14/person, and even features a complimentary glass of wine. If you want to do Fridays like a Boulderite (aka start the weekend early), mozy over to Jill’s and enjoy this. They always feature paninis, pizzas, innovative and unique salads, homemade dips and soups, gluten-free desserts and much more. Trust me, you’ll be glad you checked this out! Make a reservation in advance.

Jill’s Restaurant is located at the St. Julien Hotel 900 Walnut Street, Boulder, CO 80302

Hope this list of my favorite vegan dishes helps as you plan your culinary excursions in Boulder, CO! There’s plenty of other good vegan food in Boulder, but these are my personal faves at the moment. What did I leave out on this list? 


This guest post by Dr. A Breeze Harper originally appeared on SistahVegan.com and is re-posted with permission.

Over the past week, I have directed much of my social justice work, within the Black Women’s Lives Matter movement, towards Marissa Alexander’s case. Yesterday, I went to an East Bay area meeting for Free Marissa Now. Several awesome things took place, including activists organizing to create a Berkeley to Florida caravan that will arrive on the day of Marissa’s court day at the end of January 2015.

For me, two things stand out with this case that yes, are infuriating: (1) The ridiculousness that Angela Corey, Prosecutor of Zimmerman and Dunn, is making Marissa’s life hell for protecting herself from a husband who was beating her and has done so (on record) previously; (2) It says a lot that a significant number of male, mostly white policeman and vigilantes can get away with killing Black people because a [white dominated] jury ‘naturally’ sympathizes with the defendant’s ‘negrophobia’ but; (3) a Black woman standing her ground against her abusive husband needs to “know her place” as woman in a misogynistic hetero patriarchal society and know her place as a Black person in an anti-Black society. She should “let” white racism and abusive men beat her down and never fight back. If she does not, she must be made as an example to all those other Black women (and Black transwomen, remember CeCe McDonald?) to know their place. 

See below as two of the folk from this past weekend’s Free Marissa Now East Bay area meeting, Nell and LaJuana, discuss who Marissa is. After, we took selfies of ourselves with the Free Marissa sign. We are hoping that you will take selfies of yourselves, with similar messages and signs to Free Marissa, post to your social media networks, and then have people go to the FreeMarissaNow.org link to learn more about how ALL OF US can help her be free. 


Courtney Pool and Sarah E. Brown in Iceland

Greetings, Queer Vegan Food readers! It’s been a little while since I’ve published a blog, and I couldn’t be more excited to share today’s update with you. In this post, I’ll share a bit about the places, foods and adventures I’ve enjoyed recently, including some cool vegan products I’ve fallen in love with, activities I’m up to, and some pics from a recent trip to Iceland.

Traveling To Iceland

Perhaps the coolest thing I’ve been up to since my last post was taking an anniversary trip in late October to Iceland with my partner, Courtney. We loved the trip; the scenery was gorgeous and we got in plenty of nature and hiking, and, as two vegans, were definitely able to make it work during week we were there. We flew in to Reykjavik (there’s miraculously direct flights to the capital city of Iceland from Denver, CO–we live in Boulder, CO, so this was a breeze) and if you at least stop there before visiting other, more remote parts of the country, I’d recommend stocking up on harder to find vegan items. Courtney wrote a spectacular, comprehensive post about eating vegan in Iceland, which I highly recommend reading. Here are a few pics from the trip:

Hveragerði, Iceland featured on Queer Vegan Food

Hot springs area in Hveragerði, Iceland

A hot river in Hveragerði, Iceland

A hot river in Hveragerði, Iceland. We went swimming in it!

Gullfoss in Iceland

Gullfoss, Iceland

Jökulsárlón, Iceland, about 4 1/2 hours drive from Reykjavík

Jökulsárlón, Iceland, about 4 1/2 hours drive from Reykjavík

Blue Lagoon in Iceland featured on Queer Vegan Food

Blue Lagoon in Iceland

A view of downtown Reykjavík, Iceland

A view of downtown Reykjavík, Iceland

The vegan special from Gló Restaurant in Reykjavík. A nut pate wrap, broccoli, cole slaw, hummus and cauliflower. The best meal we had in Iceland, hands down.

The vegan special from Gló Restaurant in Reykjavík. A nut pate wrap, broccoli, cole slaw, hummus and cauliflower. The best meal we had in Iceland, hands down.

A health food store in downtown Reykjavík stocked more Tofurkey than one could imagine. Perfect for stocking up if you're traveling to more remote place in Iceland.

A health food store in downtown Reykjavík stocked hella Tofurky.

The gay bar, Kiki's, was located blocks from two veg-friendly restaurants in Reykjavík.

Courtney in front of the gay bar, Kiki’s, which is located blocks from several veg-friendly restaurants in Reykjavík.

A beautiful, simple meal (lentil soup, salad, and homemade bread and hummus) from Cafe Garðurinn in Reykjavík.

A beautiful, simple meal: (lentil soup, salad, and homemade bread and hummus). From Cafe Garðurinn in Reykjavík.

A typical spread of food we'd pack with us for day trips to places outside of Reykjavík. Most of these items were purchased at the health food store chain, Heilsuhúsið, and the greens were from a local big chain grocery.

A typical spread of food we’d pack with us for day trips to places outside of Reykjavík. Most of these items were purchased at the health food store chain, Heilsuhúsið, and the greens and carrots were from a local big chain grocery.

European plant milk spread

The plant milk spread at an organic grocery chain in Iceland.

Trying Great New (Or New To Me!) Vegan Products

I've been cooking with the Massel vegan bouillon a lot.

I’ve been cooking with the Massel vegan bouillon a lot.

Massel’s Vegan Boullion collection is my new favorite go-to option for steaming vegetables and making warming soups to get through the cold Boulder winter. I made a vegan chicken noodle with quinoa pasta, and love to steam broccoli with the vegetable cubes.

Rubbermaid BPA Free Shaker Bottle

I’ve been loving the Rubbermaid Shaker Bottle for bringing smoothies with me to the office. It’s BPA Free, and contains this adorable little mixer device that ensures your smoothie doesn’t get stuck to the bottom of your bottle. Brilliant.

Chao Vegan Cheese

I wrote about the launch of Chao Vegan Slices from Field Roast on Vegansaurusand now that my local Whole Foods in Boulder has Chao in stock, finally got to try them for the first time. The original is amazing on salads and stand-alone with crackers and baby carrots. Really cheese-like in texture and taste; I’m a fan!

Buying A Rice Cooker

Rice Cooker from Zojirushi on Queer Vegan FoodI’ve never owned a rice cooker before, and kept hearing about how awesome they were, so, after a lot of research, decided to invest in a high-end rice cooker. I went with the Zojirushi NS-VGC05 Micom 3-Cup (Uncooked) Electric Rice Cooker and Warmer, and have only used it a couple times, but I already really like it! It’s very convenient not to have to attend to a pot while the rice cooks, and the rice tastes great. I also appreciate the minimal cleanup needed after you’ve made a batch. I’ve made short grain brown rice and wild rice in it so far, and look forward to trying out other kinds.

Taking A Break From Coffee

Taking a break from coffee

I’ve gone through periods of my life when I don’t imbibe much caffeine, and recently had been feeling like my daily cup of joe had snowballed into multiple cups and maybe even a dependency. While I’m not opposed to drinking coffee moderately, and the mountains of research done on coffee seem to suggest it’s safe in reasonable amounts, I’d been personally feeling like my body and mind could use a break for a while. I’m about 2 weeks off coffee (I went cold tofu–and, not gonna lie, the first few days were pretty difficult) and am feeling pretty great. I’m not sure how long I’ll go completely off the stuff (and, to be fair, I still am drinking a cup or two of green tea per day), but for now it’s felt like a really solid, balancing decision for me personally. To be clear: I think it’s rad if you’re drinking coffee, and I don’t mean to try to persuade anyone into taking my non-java path. This is just something I’m feeling like I need right now.

Organizing Intersectional Events

My day job is doing marketing for software companies, and earlier this year, I created a group in Boulder to help promote LGBTQ diversity in tech (and diversity in tech in general).  We’ve been putting on a lot of amazing events and I’ve been so inspired by the support of so many great LGBTQ people and allies in the community. If you’re interested, you can check out what we’re doing on meetup.

Registering To Attend Vida Vegan Con

Vida Vegan Con in Austin, TX

I’m super stoked to be participating in Vida Vegan Con for the first time! I felt a rush of excitement while registering for the 2015 conference in Austin, TX. I’ll be staying at the official conference center, and hope to learn a lot from the talented presenters as well as shmooze with new and longtime vegan friends. Are you going?

Thanks for reading! xo

Visiting a goat friend at Peaceful Prairie Sanctuary in Deer Trail, CO.

Visiting a goat friend last year at Peaceful Prairie Sanctuary in Deer Trail, CO.

There are a lot of causes, organizations, and nonprofits out there doing amazing work for non-human animals. While many of us in the vegan/animal welfare movement know of some of the “big names” like Farm Sanctuary, Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary, etc., many sanctuaries doing wonderful work fly under the radar.

Some reasons why some sanctuaries become more famous than others include: geography (whether or not the sanctuary is centrally located or near a major city or hub), celebrity endorsements (or lack thereof), funding (not to be ironic given that we’re talking about places that take care of chickens, but it’s a “chicken and the egg” issue, as well; sometimes better known organizations get more funding, and then have the resources to invest in marketing/PR and become better known, etc.), marketing and PR skills of the founders or staff (again, this goes back to resources), the “quality” of the visitor facilities (do they have a guest house for high-end donors to stay in, should they want to visit? Do they have personable folks available to run the tours?) and more.

I absolutely love one particular “famous” sanctuary: Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary. I’m proud that 100% of the proceeds of The Queer Vegan Food Cookbook will support WFAS now, and forever (or as long as folks wish to pick up a virtual copy). I don’t believe that sanctuaries should have to “compete” for our support; I believe in an abundance in the movement where we can support multiple organizations (including supporting in non-monetary ways such as donating our volunteer time, which is wonderful, too).

As a movement, we could do a better job with supporting sanctuaries who may not have the marketing muscle or visitor facilities or restaurant partnerships that other “better known” sanctuaries have. I believe there is room for us to concurrently support sanctuaries of all statuses, as long as we feel they are doing amazing work, are treating their human- and non-human animals well, and stand for the values we believe in.

With all this in mind, I’m thrilled to be putting the spotlight on two animal sanctuaries that are dear to me: VINE in Springfield, VT and Peaceful Prairie in Deer Trail, CO.

Pattrice Jones of VINE Sanctuary.

pattrice jones with a member of VINE Sanctuary.

Name: Veganism Is The Next Evolution (VINE) Sanctuary

Year Founded: 2000

Founders: Miriam and pattrice jones

Location: Springfield, VT

Website: http://vine.bravebirds.org/

Mission: VINE Sanctuary provides a haven for animals who have escaped or been rescued from the meat, dairy and egg industries or other abusive circumstances, such as cockfights or pigeon-shoots. Sanctuary residents include chickens, cows, ducks, doves, geese, pigeons, sheep, emus, and even a few parakeets. In addition to sheltering and advocating for animals, they conduct research and education aimed at creating systemic changes in agriculture, trade, and consumption as well as human attitudes about animals and the environment. VINE works within an ecofeminist understanding of the interconnection of all life and the intersection of all forms of oppression. Thus VINE welcomes and works to facilitate alliances among animal, environmental, and social justice activists. (Source: http://vine.bravebirds.org/about-us/)

Sharkey of VINE Sanctuary

Sharkey of VINE Sanctuary

Why I Love VINE: Since getting to know VINE, I’ve really appreciated their approach to queering vegan and animal welfare issues. Their intersectional work to support human- and non-human animals concurrently is something with which I completely agree. I love that they are queer-run, and when they have difficult decisions to make, they have them in the barn near the animals (how cool is that?).

I haven’t visited yet, but I love their adorable status updates about the sanctuary and animals on VINE’s Facebook page. I’m proud to know and support them.

Donate To VINE Sanctuary

Donate To VINE Sanctuary



Peaceful Prairie SanctuaryName: Peaceful Prairie Sanctuary

Year Founded: 1997

Founders: Michele and Chris Alley-Grubb

Location: Deer Trail, CO


Website: http://www.peacefulprairie.org/


Mission: The mission at Peaceful Prairie Sanctuary is to provide a safe, loving and permanent home for rescued farmed animals – not accepted at most shelters. In addition to providing life-long care for the animals, Peaceful Prairie is dedicated to promoting vegan living as the only way to end the suffering and exploitation of animals (Source: http://www.peacefulprairie.org/about.html)


Why I Love Peaceful Prairie: After visiting Peaceful Prairie in 2013, I fell in love. Read a bit about my experience in my blog post recounting my visit. Peaceful Prairie isn’t a “glamorous” sanctuary, but the staff work tirelessly to create a loving and peaceful rescue for non-human animals. This sanctuary is also located in a very rancher-run rural part of Colorado, and the sanctuary receives threats from local farms who don’t want their animal-loving presence near their animal-killing and abusing industries. It’s a miracle that Peaceful Prairie exists, and an honor to support them.

Donate to Peaceful Prairie Sanctuary.

Donate to Peaceful Prairie Sanctuary.

Thanks so much for reading! In the comments, I’d love to hear about the sanctuaries you love and support which aren’t featured as often in the media. xo


vegan anniversaryAs of this week, I’ve now been vegan for nine years! In late August 2005, I transitioned from being vegetarian (I’d gone veg at age 12), to being fully vegan. (Note: You can read more about my transition to veganism and the ethical, emotional and spiritual reasons behind it in my essay in Defiant Daughters).

This morning, reflecting on my veganism, I decided to put together a list of nine things I’ve learned since going vegan nine years ago:

1. Going vegan means becoming part of a very special community of human animals.

When I first went vegan, I was an assistant counselor teaching sailing at a summer camp on the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland. I was surrounded by hot dogs, burgers, mystery meat, chicken wings…typical stuff they serve at summer camps. I knew one or two other vegetarians, but I didn’t have any vegan friends. It was lonely and confusing to try to navigate going vegan by myself, but as soon as I got to college, I instantly joined vegan communities. It felt amazing to spend time learning from and spending time with other like-minded people. Now, I spend time with other vegans (one of whom is my partner) every day. Over time, this sense of community has only grown, and it’s one of my favorite things about being vegan.

2. The vegan movement still needs a lot of work.

There’s a whole lot of sexism, racism, homophobia, body shaming, and other crap in the vegan movement that shouldn’t be there. I’ve seen it from various perspectives over nine years, and what I’ve come to recognize is that not everyone approaches veganism from the same angle of trying to move away from all forms of oppression. The HSUS “hoofin’ it” hypocrisy is just another example of a mainstream “animal welfare” organization that takes a different approach to veganism than I (and many other vegans) do.

3. Veganism can be really, really easy.

I’ve been surprised by how easy it is to live as a vegan, in every way.  I really don’t think about how to be vegan. It’s so second nature to me, I don’t even remember what it felt like not to be vegan. I understand and empathize with new vegans, or those who struggle to make compassionate choices in our non-vegan world, but to be honest, I really don’t struggle at all anymore. It’s like breathing. I think that’s amazing.

4. Ex-vegans may be difficult to understand, but we have to be compassionate towards them.

I’m learning to be more compassionate towards ex-vegans, including those who find it necessary to broadcast their “change of heart” over social networks, blogs, and sometimes mainstream media. I feel a lot of sadness and grief about those who no longer wish to live their ideals, or whose ideals have somehow changed to condone cruelty and oppression towards other living beings. On some level, it just makes no sense to me. Still, as a vegan movement, we really need to figure out how to stay compassionate towards non-human and human animals, and find ways to keep the door open for any who may one day choose a vegan lifestyle again.

5. Going vegan for health reasons alone usually isn’t enough to keep someone vegan.

I used to work at a raw vegan holistic retreat center, and every week I’d see a new “vegan” who did it by going fully raw or just for the health benefits. A week later, they heard about new health benefits from eating raw goat cheese or some tiny fish ground up into capsules, and they’d jettison their veganism for the latest health trend. True, there’s health benefits associated with removing animal protein from your diet, but if the only reason someone is vegan is health, that probably won’t last long. We need to be honest about the fact that you can be pretty healthy on a non-vegan or vegan diet, so if that’s the determining factor, it’s usually not enough to keep someone eating plant-based for long. As a vegan movement, we’ve got to emphasize health benefits as well as the moral, environmental, and ethical reasons.

6. A lot of people feel threatened by vegans–including vegetarians, pescatarians, paleo folks and so-called meat-eating “environmentalists”.

This is something that surprised me. I try not to push my veganism on anyone, in great part because it isn’t effective, but I won’t hide my values. It’s really hard for me to listen to high-minded talk about being paleo or a meat-eating environmentalist or vegetarian, when I know that these things still contribute to animal suffering. But I’ve also found that a lot of people who fit into the above categories just don’t want to be shown their hypocricies. They feel threatened by veganism, or just not ready to embrace it. It’s weird, but it something we need to recognize and tailor our activism to address.

7. Random people will be very supportive of veganism, even if they’re not vegan, and that’s wonderful.

I’ve been so surprised and humbled by how many people have supported my veganism, even if they aren’t vegan themselves. In my day job, I do marketing for tech startups, and a few weeks ago had lunch with an amazing CEO who suggested we eat at a local vegetarian place for our team’s group lunch meeting. He’s not vegetarian, and I didn’t even know he remembered I was vegan (I may have mentioned it once, but again, it’s like breathing to me, so I don’t even notice anymore when I’m outing myself as veg). I was the only veg person who attended the lunch, but everyone went for it because they wanted to be supportive of my lifestyle. It was incredible, and completely unexpected. My non-vegan family has been also incredibly supportive, as have non-vegan friends. It makes me feel really lucky and grateful.

8. Having a vegan partner is really, really nice.

I know there are amazing vegan-omnivore relationships. I believe it can work, as long as you share other values. Truly, I have no judgement about this. But for me personally, it’s just been so unbelievably nice to have a partner who is vegan. (Side note: You should read her blog!)

9. Being vegan means constantly learning and improving.

lauren Ornelas, Mark Hawthorne, Food Empowerment Project, and others have helped me see that being vegan means constantly improving and learning. It’s not ok to be a vegan who consumes products that perpetuate cruelty towards nonhuman or human animals (like chocolate created through slave labor, or palm oil that contributes to destroying orangutan habitats, for instance). I want to be a better vegan in great part due to those who challenge me to grow. I thank them, and humbly accept that I need to continue researching and learning and adapting my lifestyle to be as compassionate as possible, knowing I won’t be “perfect” but can always strive to do my best.

Thanks for reading! I’d love to hear what you’ve learned since going vegan in the comments.


How To Be Vegan By Elizabeth Castoria

I’ve been vegan for nearly nine years now. I remember when I first went vegan, there wasn’t as much awareness about veganism as there is now. There certainly weren’t super famous vegan celebs gracing every magazine, and we vegans had to pave our own path in many ways. Though it was harder when I was a teen, I should note I can’t really compare my relatively cushy early years as a vegan (after all, soy dogs were available at my local non-foodie supermarket!) to the 70s vegetarians who had to make their own soy milk and veggie burgers from scratch.

Thanks to the explosion of ethical food and lifestyle companies and increased awareness thanks to many tireless activists, making compassionate food and lifestyle choices is now easier than ever. Still, it isn’t something you pick up right away, unfortunately, given how non-vegan our world is. Typically, going vegan takes myriad hours of internet sleuthing, talks with friends/coaches, obsessive package reading syndrome, falling back on trial and error, etc. I think more people would go vegan if it were naturalized into our culture (aka the norm), but the next best thing to growing up vegan or living in a vegan world is getting How To Be Vegan by Elizabeth Castoria.

How To Be Vegan is the essential modern day guidebook for anyone who wants to go partly or all vegan. I would have paid good money to get this when I was a teenager stumbling into veganism.

Here’s why Castoria’s book is a game-changer: Without dogma, she lays out the exact action steps necessary to becoming vegan, from stocking your pantry, to traveling as a vegan, to dealing with non-vegan family members, to dating–it’s literally all here. You can even use this book to plan your ethical vegan wedding! Castoria comes from a magazine editorial background, and there’s enough eye-catching infographics and features in here to satisfy anyone with a taste for design. The sleek designs are just another example of the extremely thoughtful approach Castoria took while crafting this book.

There’s 50 recipes in here (I can’t wait to try the Portobello and Cremini Stroganoff) and lots of really useful tips for being vegan during international travel in many countries. I am now craving Piadina, toasty flatbread street food from Italy, Bibimbap, a Korean dish containing blends of rice with steamed, sautéed and pickled vegetables tossed with rice wine sauce, and Dosa, crispy lentil-based pancake from India. Of course, many of these foods are available throughout the United States, but it’s tempting to plan trips abroad just to try the dishes Castoria describes.

Elizabeth Castoria

In addition to the “how” theme that runs throughout, this book answers the “whys” as well, offering just the right amount of detail to whet readers’ appetites to learn more about the cruelty behind animal product consumption but not too much to cause overwhelm leading to stagnation.

I absolutely plan to share this book with non-vegan friends who have been curious about how to make it happen but have never taken the plunge.

Buy How To Be Vegan here.



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