Back Twice Over

Long time no see, right?

Despite the craziness of the holiday season and everything else going on, I’ve decided to pick up the blog again. And before we dive in here, I have a confession to make:

I stopped being vegan.

And when I say I stopped, I mean, good god did I ever stop. There was no “Well I’ll just eat dairy and eggs” phase. I went straight from hugging cows and petting chickens to literally gnawing on them. Steak, man. Steak is really good, and that is really unfortunate on so many levels.

I couldn’t give you an exact date when I fell off the wagon, broke it into a thousand tiny pieces, and then set those on fire. It was in August some time. I think I know some factors that contributed to it though. See, I had to spend a week going into the office and thus packing lunch. That’s tricky enough for me, since I don’t do mornings and trips into the office often involve getting up while it’s still dark outside. Additionally, my doctor started me on some new birth control that made me feel like I was going to throw up anytime I ate.

What that turned into was eating nothing but crackers and bread with vegan cheese on it. By the end of the week, I snapped. I think I was just so nutriet deficient that my body nagged at me to eat the most nutrient-dense food it could come up with. It wasn’t steak that broke me. Or cheeseburgers or chicken wings, although all those things followed not too long after.

It was eggs. I was constantly daydreaming about fried, sunny-side-up eggs. Like, all the time. A few days into these vivid daydreams about delicious egg yokes the crispy egg white edges and fantasizing about eating that by itself or on toast with butter that I caved. I bought a dozen eggs and ate them all inside a week.

That same week, after my first eggy breakfast, I also ate steak and a bacon cheeseburger and I don’t even know what all else. Like, I said–I fell off the wagon and just started running.

Are you still reading? I feel like saying “Forgive me Father, for I have sinned,” except I’m an atheist, and apart from poetic value, those words don’t mean much to me. I will tell you this though–for my entire time as an omnivore again, I still ate at least one vegan meal a day. I still 100% agreed with veganism; I was just a fat chick with no self-restraint.

Here are some observations I made during that time. One, almost nothing that I daydreamed about tasted as good as I’d built it up to be in my head. The eggs were good, but they weren’t that good. Same with bacon, and real butter, and even cheese. (I’ll be fair though. Steak is still that good. And some cheeses are too. I did say “almost” nothing.)

Secondly, every time I ate meat, I felt grossly full, even when I didn’t eat that much of it. Sometimes that feeling of discomfort would stick with me for hours. I didn’t like it, but it was just such a damn commitment to go vegan again.

It’s easy enough to choose to eat beans or tofu instead of chicken for the span of a meal, even several meals, but to swear it off forever is intimidating as hell. I totally understand why people say “I could never be vegan.” I’ve said it. I think most people who are vegan have said it.

I did it again though, and once again, it was a pretty spontaneous decision. I watched a documentary and then immediately went into my kitchen and threw away every non-vegan item in there. I filled a huge garbage bag with frozen chicken breasts, sliced cheeses, rolled butter, eggs, bacon, and all sorts of other stuff. I wanted it out of my house.

Extreme? Maybe.

The documentary was “What the Health?” For those who aren’t familiar with it, the documentary exposes just how corrupt the meat industry really is. And by that, I don’t mean how they exploit workers or abuse animals or anything like that. It was way more simple than that. It’s about the lengths the meat industry goes to in order to hide how unhealthy meat actually is. In watching this documentary, I didn’t really learn much that I didn’t already know, but the information was presented in such a way that it really struck a chord in me.

Let me try to elucidate why:

I quit smoking about five years ago now. I don’t need to tell you why I quit smoking, because you know what cigarettes are and you know the effects they have on the human body. Anytime you tell anybody that you quit smoking, literally no one says “Why?” unless they’re being a smart ass.

One of the new bits of information I gained from “What the Health?” was the knowledge that processed meats (such as bacon, lunchmeat, sausages, etc) are considered Group 1 carcinogens, according to the World Health Organization, which is the same classification as cigarette smoke and asbestos.

Now, if I quit smoking–not that there haven’t been hitches along the way for that particular vice as well–but didn’t quit eating meat, what was the point of quitting smoking in the first place? I liked smoking, and I like bacon, but I’ve always been an all-or-nothing sort of person.

So, I pieced together an entirely new wagon and hopped back on it.

This was about a month ago, a couple weeks before Thanksgiving actually, and while you could easily make the argument that my timing is awful, I’d contend that it couldn’t have been better. What better time to change my eating habits than during the time of the year when it’s typical to make frequent unhealthy choices? And you know what? Since going back to veganism, I feel so very much better. Not just mentally and all that from not killing things just for food and lessening my carbon footprint, but also physically. Eating plant-based meals doesn’t make me feel bogged down and gross the way meat does.

That said, I will totally be making vegan Christmas cookies. You can’t eat healthy foods all the time, right? I sure can’t.

I will say this though: remember how whiny I was when I first attempted veganism? I missed cheese so so so much and I whined about it constantly. I didn’t like vegan dairy replacements, and I flat-out cheated more than once. This time around, it’s shocking to me how easy it is. I think it may be because I at least know what I can and can’t eat to a reasonable degree and I know of quite a few vegan alternatives that are pretty delicious and close to the real thing. (Violife cheese and literally anything made by Gardein, for instance!)

And now for some pictures of yummy things I’ve eaten in the last month because why not?


Friends, Not Food

I’m sorry to say that my posts for the next month or two are likely going to be far more sporadic than they already are. I’m going to try not to let that happen, but a few things have changed since my last post.

Firstly, while I’ve been lucky at work to only have to cover a specific type of sales chat, of which there are usually only a dozen or two spread out over the fifteen hours that we’re open for chats, that is on hiatus until July or August. Or, to put it another way, I actually have to do real work again until that’s reinstated. I was using my downtime at work to blog, but I don’t have downtime anymore.

That’s the first reason why the posts may slow down.

The other reason is a lot more exciting and way more adorable:

I GOT A PUPPY! (Like my cats, she’s also not a vegan.)

Her name is Morgan and she’s an eight(ish) week old pit bull, black lab mix. Since we’re in the middle of potty training, most of my free time goes to her. My cats are not at all pleased with this squirmy little ball of energy, and because she is currently the size of a small rabbit, two of my cats (namely Kitten and Geno) could literally kill her. So, constant vigilance is required.

Other than puppy news, I’ve been a vegan for just shy of two months now and have only deliberately eaten non-vegan foods once. Prior to picking up the puppy, I even trusted myself to go to Moe’s Southwest Grill on Saturday and not get their liquid crack otherwise known as queso dip.


Instead I got a burrito bowl with cilantro lime rice, black beans, pico de gallo, seasoned tofu, and guac. Plus the chips, more guac (instead of queso) and literally the best tomatillo salsa I’ve ever had in life.

Since Saturday, it’s been ridiculously hot, and since I don’t have central air, I haven’t been doing any cooking beyond that which can be done in a microwave. I did have my second salad ever since becoming a vegan, with some vegan steak strips I found at Walmart of all places, plus some leftover Hardee’s French fries, grape tomatoes, scallions, chow mein noodles and vegan ranch.


In fact, I’ll probably have the exact same thing for dinner today because it’s still hot and I still have leftover fries.

Anyways, blog friends, please forgive my absence for a little while. Much like Arnold, I’ll be back.

Additions–Both to the Blog and to my Belly

I finally decided to stop thinking about adding a Recipes section of the blog and actually follow through on it. You can find it over there on the right side of the page. The plan is to add to that one lonely recipe there, both in future posts and by going back to some previous ones where I talked about yummy foods.

I said it before and I’ll say it again: Sharing is caring. Plus, a lot of vegan food is really freaking good.

Sidenote: Don’t feel left out, omnivores. Since I live with and cook for someone who eats meat and cheese n’at, I may include a note at the end of the recipes on good ways to incorporate tasty animal flesh.

Side-sidenote: If I ever become the kind of militant vegan that goes around saying “Everyone should be vegan!” or, to put it another way, “My lifestyle choices are better than yours so be like me!” someone, please, hit me with something.

Anywho, let’s move on to the yummy-in-my-tummy stuff!

I literally just finished eating some of what I’m going to call “Beany Quinoa” and I liked it so much I decided I had to share this one. You’ve heard of red beans and rice? This is basically that, only without the sausage and, you know, the rice.


I’ve been vegan for about two months now and this is actually the first time in life that I’ve tried quinoa. Take that stereotypes! That said, I’m a fan. I’ll be enjoying more of it now that I know what I’ve been missing.

Speaking of other things I’ve been missing, let’s talk about cheese again, eh?

I know what you’re thinking. “Oh sweet lord, please, don’t let her whine about cheese more. Either eat some or get over it by now!”

Well, I kind of did both! See, I went on Vegan Essentials to order a specific brand of vegan cheese, which they happened to be out of at the time. Being somewhat of an online-shopping addict, I glanced over the other vegan cheeses and ended up ordering a “smoked gouda” which cost way too much money and then required two-day shipping on top of it.

Totes worth it! I had me some cheese and crackers for lunch today.


The texture is more like that of a spreadable cheese, which we all know that gouda is not. Also, it doesn’t actually taste anything like gouda–smoked or otherwise. That’s not the point though. The point is that it is vegan cheese and it is yummy.

Last but not least here, sometimes you just want a good cheeseburger, and sometimes, even though you’re vegan, you can have one. Observe!



It’s a black bean patty made by Lightlife foods and it was so good I’ll be getting more of them when I get groceries this weekend. The cheese-like yummy gooeyness on top is another product I got from Vegan Essentials. I don’t remember the official name but it was basically smoked cheddar cheese in a jar, much like queso dip.

Granted, it doesn’t taste like queso dip, and honestly, on its own it doesn’t even taste very good. However, on a burger, it is marvelous because it adds both cheesy texture and smoky flavor.

So much yum!

Wheat Meat and Chik’n


I mentioned in my last post that seitan experiments would once again take place in my kitchen despite previously swearing it off.

Incentive: I still have some leftover tzatziki sauce my aunt made and what better use for it than to make a gyro?

With Google’s help, I found a seitan recipe that called itself “vegan gyro meat” and then I found two others just to see what the differences were. Then, using good old fashioned ingenuity, I took the best things about each of them and made yet another attempt at homemade seitan.


I’ll say it again. Eureka!

This log of  wheat meat doesn’t have that wheaty, gluteny taste I’ve previously complained about, and once you take those slices there and cook them in a little bit of oil and some more spices, you get something a lot like gyro meat. And then, if you’re really lucky, you have some actual awesome sauce leftover and you can make yourself a vegan gyro!


Stuff like this, ladies and gentlemen, makes being a vegan really easy and really delightful.

Unfortunately, while I still have more seitan and tzatziki sauce, I am out of pita bread. I see a trip to the grocery store in my future.

Speaking of the grocery store, I bought a bunch of different faux meats a few weeks ago and most of them are kind of icky, for lack of a better word. However, because my kitchen is bereft of pita bread or, for that matter, any other type of bread, I decided to make a wrap today with some MorningStar vegan chik’n strips.

I have some other MorningStar faux meats shoved in the freezer and based on my experience with them up till now, I wasn’t exactly excited to try these.

Let me just say that I should have been. Get a load of this:


I took one bite of this, yelled “How is this not chicken?!” and then immediately pulled the bag out of the freezer to re-read it and make sure I hadn’t accidentally bought actual chicken strips.

Sure enough, it’s soy. It’s actually, for realz, soy. But soy oh boy my friends (he he!), it’s basically chicken minus the death. Now I want to find an omnivorous friend, make them this exact wrap, tell them it’s chicken, and see if they can tell. My guess is that they couldn’t.

Thirty-One Years Alive

My birthday was Friday, so I’m officially “in my thirties” now. No more of the “I just turned 30” crap. (Boo.)

Instead of relaxing, I spent my birthday getting sunburnt by pulling weeds and planting flowers, and I have to say: I definitely underestimated my flower gardens in a big way. After three hours of blood, sweat, and tears, I still didn’t get all the flowers in the ground. I may even have to admit defeat and make a couple of DIY baskets and just put mulch down because I had no idea there were going to be so many freaking rocks in the ground.

I’d post a picture so you could see all the pretty petunias in my back yard now, but owing to some lawnmower trouble, the boyfriend didn’t get the backyard mowed.

Sidenote: By “lawnmower trouble” I mean that we don’t have one, so you can see the trouble. We do have an electric weedwacker, but we didn’t acquire a long enough extension cord before it started raining.

After earning sunburn and almost heat stroke, we ventured forth in part to get an extension cord and also to get dinner. We went to a place in Cranberry Township called Double Wide Grill. The ambience of said place is a little horrifying because if you hadn’t guessed based on the name, they’re going for “Hick Chiq” which is just weird. I guess it’s what the yuppy rich folks of Cranberry Township call “slummin’ it.”

But the food. Oh my goodness the food.

First of all, while I had eaten there before back in my om-nom-nomivore days, I didn’t actually pay any attention to the vegan and vegetarian options this place offers.


That’s right, folks. Two pages of deliciousness. I’m so used to having to make due with a black bean burger or, failing that, some form of potato when we eat out that I literally couldn’t contain my excitement.

We started with some honey garlic seitan “wings”:


There were more than this on the plate, I promise, but I was too excited about it to remember to take a picture before we ate half of them.

Sidenote: I know honey isn’t vegan, but I’ve decided that I’m going to ignore that rule. The reason is that I can’t stomach the hypocrisy of “but the bees!” and then pointedly and deliberately murder any stink bugs I find in my house.

After we shared that appetizer (which the boyfriend said was weird but fine), then came the main course:


Vegan Philly Cheesesteak with fries!

Now, I don’t know in what world a cheesesteak is swimming in barbecue sauce, but I also don’t really care. That bun was overflowing with seitan steak, vegan cheese sauce, peppers, and onions, and I ate every single scrap of it, plus all the fries.

That makes twice in one day that I had seitan so I now I know it can be freaking yummy. There will be further seitan experiments in my kitchen now.

Moving on to Saturday, after I put in six hours of overtime in the home office, I headed up north to my home town for a cookout with some friends and family. I took my vegan cookies, and while I knew that there would be veggie burgers for me to eat (while everyone else ate fifty dead chickens worth of wings), I decided I wanted to be able to eat more than just a burger, so I made some vegan potato salad and brought that with me. Not only that but one of my friends made vegan stuffed mushrooms as well.

The end result was that while the veggie burgers weren’t very good (but the potato salad and the mushrooms were), there was enough food for me to resist the tantalizing smell of fried chicken wings.

Not going to lie; I was proud of myself. Also, the vegan cookies were a hit. So were my friend’s mushrooms, for that matter. Everybody had a good time and went home with a full belly.

Then came Sunday. What? Your birthday celebrations don’t span three straight days? You’re doing it wrong, I tell you!

On Sunday, my aunt, who traditionally cooks me a birthday dinner every year because she’s awesome like that, made me a vegan dinner, which makes her even more awesome.

We started out with falafel and vegan tzatziki sauce (which, by the way, is literally awesome sauce).


Now, I’ve had falafel before and I’ve never been super impressed with it. This, however, this is the stuff dreams are made of. Up until that point, it was the best thing I’d eaten since that mushroom pot pie in my previous post.

Next came the main course, somen noodles with veggies and a very spicy peanut sauce.


Fun fact: This one was actually hers because my over-eager self had already dug into mine and completely forgot to take a picture. I’d been planning on making this myself but she beat me to it. Plus, she sent me home with leftovers to boot!

Last, but certainly not least was dessert: Dark chocolate sorbet.


Take a moment and just look at that. I’ll wait.

I’m serious. It deserves a moment of appreciation.

Are you drooling yet? I am.

If you had asked me after the falafel if there was any possible way that whatever dessert was forthcoming could possibly compete with the falafel as my favorite dish of the meal, I’d have said heck no. I’m not really a sweet-loving kind of gal and while I certainly do like me some chocolate, I would never call myself a chocoholic.

This, though–this sorbet, this godly concoction of cocoa and Kalua and cinnamon and whatever else, this was literally divine. Like, if Heaven could be said to have a taste, it would taste like this.

It was so delicious that I don’t even have a witty or eloquent way to wrap up this blog post because I’m so lost in the memory of that literal scoop of heaven.

Just look at that picture some more and dream.

So Much Foods!

My duct taped wagon seems to be holding, which proves that duct tape can fix anything! Even metaphorical duct tape and a metaphorical wagon.

I’ve done a crazy amount of cooking and even baking over the weekend, mostly to avoid having to do so during the week while I’m working and so that I have food to eat.


This was dinner on Sunday. Spinach and mushroom pot pie with phyllo/filo dough to top it. This was super delicious and even though the boyfriend didn’t touch it (he hates mushrooms), there are no leftovers because OM NOM NOM!

Sidenote: I posted this picture in the Facebook group What FAT Vegans Eat and people are apparently really adamant about their particular spelling of phyllo or filo.

Anyways, I felt like baking yesterday, so I made my first attempt at vegan cookies. I made chocolate chip and double chocolate chunk ones. The texture is more cake-like, but the taste is fantastic!

Sidenote: Egg-free cookie dough is a guilt-free indulgence on more than one level! Also, licking the beaters is still the best part!

Also, made bread yesterday, as you can see it cooling next to the cookies. That’s less interesting. I bake bread every week now that I have a bread machine.

Lastly, for the pièce de résistance: MAC N CHEEZE!!! Also chick’n nuggets which weren’t great, but who cares. Mac n cheeze!


Of course it’s not real cheese. It was actually a sauce made with potatoes, carrots, onion, garlic, cashews, and a few spices all thrown into a blender along with some water and oil. I even found milk-free bread crumbs to make it look all authentic and stuff! Sure, it doesn’t taste like cheese, but it is freaking yummy! I think next time I make it, I’m going to add some nutritional yeast as well.

The chick’n nuggets (TVP, chickpea flour, flax eggs) were a little disappointing. I didn’t add enough seasonings so they didn’t taste like much. Plus, the texture was too goopy on the inside for chicken nuggets. Oh well! The mac n cheeze more than made up for it!

Another challenge looms, however. Friday is my birthday. It’s supposed to thunderstorm. Otherwise, I’d be posting my excitement for my plans to visit Phipps Conservatory with the boyfriend and then grab dinner at a trendy vegan place on the south side of Pittsburgh called “The Zenith.”

However, if the weather forecast remains the same, I can’t very well go to an outdoor garden. Those plans will happen eventually, but maybe not on my birthday itself like I’d hoped. The challenge, however, is for the day after my birthday.

I’m headed back up to New Castle to hang with some friends and have a barbecue-picnic thing. I froze most of my vegan cookies to bring with me so I’ll at least have sweet-tooth snacking satisfaction. Also, they were cool enough to acquire some form of vegan burger product for me to content myself with and even went so far as to ask about vegan buns to boot.

But the challenge is that they are going to be enjoying chicken wings and jello shots. Here’s hoping that duct tape keeps holding strong!

The Wagon

I want to talk a little bit today about the wagon. And by that, I mean veganism. Brace yourselves; this one will probably be a lengthy one.

My cousin got married yesterday. Despite having to work my full shift in order to get eight hours of free money for Memorial Day tomorrow, I was able to make it up to my hometown for the reception.


Doesn’t she look gorgeous? The reception hall was beautiful and everyone was occupied stuffing their faces when I got there.

This reception was incredibly non-vegan, by way the, complete with at least three tables full of cookies (because that’s how we celebrate weddings in western PA–with literally enough cookies to kill you), as well as chicken, meatballs, Italian sausage, butter-drenched potatoes, butter-drenched green beans, and penne covered in parmesan cheese.

There was nothing I could eat, but I left as soon as my shift had ended and I was hungry. So, I ate. I had some potatoes (and told myself it might be margarine) and some beans (and told myself it also might be margarine) and I dug under the layer of parmesan on the penne and had some of that too. Also, some cookies, but there was no lie I could tell myself that would convince me that there weren’t eggs and butter in them.

Again, this is a western Pennsylvanian wedding, and you eat cookies. It’s what you do. People–particularly the people who spent a small fortune and about 84 hours of their lives making all these cookies–get offended if you don’t.

That’s not why I ate them though. I ate cookies because I wanted to. I kept it vegetarian though, which was not a total relapse, I suppose.

It wasn’t until some hours later that the wheels came off the wagon.

After leaving the reception, the boyfriend and I went to hang out with some other friends in town and eventually everybody got hungry. I’m reasonably sure that there are no vegan-friendly places in the dank hole in the world that is New Castle, Pennsylvania, so after some discussion wherein everybody tried to accommodate me and felt bad because my only option literally everywhere was some form of fried potato product, we eventually decided to go to a Chinese buffet we lovingly refer to as China B.

China B

What vegan options does China B offer? White rice and fried potato wedges. What did I eat at China B?

A couple chicken wings, some pork on a stick, crab rangoon, rice noodles with veggies and egg, mussels with cheese, some sushi with veggies and cream cheese, and I did actually have some fried potato wedges as well.

Did you hear that? It was the sound of the wagon bursting into flames.

We have a tendency, in these days of Instagram and Facebook, to only show off our good side. You see it all the time. People post selfies of their perfectly beach-blown hair while they’re on vacation, and of their newly planted herb garden. They don’t post pictures of five days worth of dirty dishes piled in their kitchen sink and they don’t post selfies of when they’ve spent two straight days on the couch wearing the same pajamas with their greasy, unwashed hair pulled up.

It’s so easy now to only show the world the moments you want them to see, and I could easily adopt that tendency with this blog as well. I’m certainly guilty of it on Facebook, but that’s not what this blog is for. That’s expressly why I choose “A Carnivore Experimenting with Veganism” as my subtitle. I have every intention of talking about it when I screw it up.

I do actually feel guilty, and none of it (with the sole exception being the mussels with cheese) was as good as I’d hoped. Here’s the thing though: The guilt comes from feeling like I cheated on a diet I was on and not so much from the fact that several animals had to be mistreated and killed for me to stuff my face yesterday. I’m still processing the implications of that, to be honest.

In the meantime though, just because the wagon fell apart doesn’t mean I can’t slap some duct tape on it and continue meandering down the road.

That’s what I’m going to do. I told myself I was going to write my blog confession first, as punishment, before I was allowed to eat breakfast. Now, I’m going to head downstairs and make some vegan blueberry waffles to enjoy with some vegan sausage.