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Beyond the Experiment - Brendan's Take on Veganism

It's been 30 days now since my last animal product. I am glad to report that I didn't perish from malnutrition or grow dreadlocks and start using hemp in my everyday life. I did not become a hippie.

They might be vegan, but that doesn't mean they're not weird...

What I have done in the past month is get an enormous amount of information on food, health, the food industry, and how they relate. It's pretty eye-opening to see the process and effects of meeting the demand for the food that we as a nation are consuming in larger quantities. It all really boils down to the average consumer not really caring what's on their plate or where it came from, as long as it tastes good. That's what it seems like to me anyway.

For me, Veganism is a way to get back to the way food should be. It's a crash-course in how to eat like you care. You read so many labels, look at so many ingredients, and interrogate so many waiters, that you start to realize what ELSE is in your food. It makes you think about what you are eating, rather than just chowing down.

So, do I want to continue being a Vegan? Yes, I think that by making myself aware of all the issues of eating the "Standard American Diet", I couldn't just go back. There are some things that I will have to change though.

How will this affect my health?

How will THIS affect my health?

A big part of our trying Veganism was for sustainability reasons. It takes a lot fewer resources to consume a vegan diet than a meat diet. This comes into play with my clothing as well. I have a lot of wool and leather that has been sitting in the back of my closet for a month now. I COULD just get rid of it and buy all new stuff, but that means more resources are consumed to make more clothing and belts. My plan is to wear what I currently own, and to simply replace it with a vegan alternative when it's worn out.

We've also experienced the hard times of being vegan. The parties, BBQ's, dinners out with family, these are all times when it can be very hard to stay true to your lifestyle without affecting others. We both have very understanding families though, and I think that we will approach each situation as it arises. We don't want to force our friends and family to only eat vegan when they are with us, just as I would hope they wouldn't force us to eat meat if we were with them. It's a choice each person has to make on their own.

No, I'm definitely not going to wait until midnight and fry up some bacon. I don't have eggs and sausages waiting for breakfast tomorrow. This experiment has definitely changed my outlook, and I think it's been for the better. If nothing else, it will make me realize how our choices affect much more than ourselves.

I'm toying with the idea of a blog about vegan running. It'd be quite an endeavor, but it could be pretty interesting. I'll keep you informed.

Be Healthy,

Beyond the Experiment - Katie's Take on Veganism

The 30 Day Vegan Experiment is over and it's time to reflect...

The Verdict
So the big question... will I stick with it? You better believe it! I plan to remain a vegan, or"modified vegan" might be more appropriate. The biggest challenges for me have been Sugar and Leather. When cooking with sugar at home I have complete control over my sweeteners and I choose to use Agave Nectar or Turbinado. (Don't even get me started on why everyone's going to die from artificial sweeteners...) The refined sugar comes into play with condiments, sweets, bread, etc. that have vague "sugar" listed on the ingredients. I plan to do my best to keep sugar out of my diet, but I need to have a little wiggle room. I might not be perfect but I can take a stand when it comes to meat, dairy, and eggs.

Leather is the second big issue in my life. I own A LOT of leather shoes that I love and cherish, they are the best part of my wardrobe. Financially and emotionally I cannot justify getting rid of all of these items. I plan on no longer purchasing leather goods, but everything in my closet will be slowly purged from my life. I just don't think I can do it cold turkey.

Favorite Dankos , Favorite Aerosoles

Losing It
When it comes down to it, being Vegan for a month was actually pretty simple for me. I started making small changes to my diet about four months ago which made it a relatively easy transition. I've lost weight, quite a bit actually, but I can't contribute it all to being Vegan. I've been running, watching my portions, and saying no to junk food - it makes a big difference! I've lost about a pound a week for the month of August, which is exactly what I was losing before I made the decision to become Vegan. If you decide to go Vegan for the weight loss you might be making a poor decision. It is easy to be a junk-food Vegan, and on the flip side you can be a healthy meat eater. Veganism is not a miracle diet, its a lifestyle. If you are not dedicated to doing it for the welfare of animals, the environment, and your body, Vegan is not for you.

New Finds
A few things that I'm proud of - I went an entire month without wearing leather. That is surprisingly hard to do when all of my belts, shoes, and purses are leather. This required me to purchase replacements which was fun because shopping always is, and yet really challenging! I've found that most items that aren't leather are just cheap and poor quality. It's sad that high quality equates to leather when there are so many other Eco friendly options out there.

A few of my favorite finds;

Crocs Havana Wedge , J-41 Madrid , Kenneth Cole Reaction Hide N Peek

To be honest I must admit that I knowingly cheated a few times. First of all, we drank a bottle of wine from Brazil in celebration of our move. I'm assuming this was not vegan friendly, but it was a gift! I also ate bread at a BBQ without asking about ingredients, maybe it was vegan, maybe not - I get carb crazy sometimes. Although I nixed the leather, I continued to use my cosmetics, hairstyling products, etc. without really knowing what was in them. I'm working on replacing these slowly. Worst of all...I bought a bag of rawhide chews for the puppy. My dog will probably never be vegan. There, it's out in the open!

The experiment is over and I can finally take a rest from 30 days of blogging. Ive discovered that it takes a lot of effort to blog every day while you're dealing with the challenges of drastically changing your diet, vacationing, moving, and the daily grind. I've never been much of a writer but fortunately Architecture school could care less about your writing skills. Writer or not, I've decided that I LOVE blogging, I love sharing little parts of my life with whoever wants to read it - even if it's only my mom. So thank you Vegan Experiment, you've brought out the blogger in me. You've also convinced me to invest in a nice camera, is it Christmas yet?!

New Inspiration
I've learned to thoroughly inspect every item I put into my body (other than the Soy Joy mistake) and this has made me so much more aware of what I consume. I've started focusing a lot more on where I buy my groceries, where they come from, what chemicals were used to produce them, etc. I want to support local business, I want to be a smart consumer in every way possible. I find it to be interesting most vegan eateries I frequent or products I purchase are by default supporting local business - awesome!

Goodbye 30 Days Vegan blog - Hello new blog! My new blog will be focused on becoming a responsible consumer. This will cover all things that I consume in life - it's so much more than food! It's still in early schematics - check it out! Consumed With Responsibility


Day 30 - Don't Worry Mama

Women are known for two things - loving and worrying about their young'n. Grandmas, Aunts, Moms, Sisters - this one is for you.

Do Vegans get enough protein? Let's look at the protein in the standard American diet vs. a vegan diet. I've included images of the portion sizes to illustrate the point. (I used free portion control website for the images called Figwee check it out!)

Can a vegan diet be too low in protein? Yes, it is possible if the diet is built around soda, chips, and candy. Protein comes from veggies!

Do Vegans get enough calcium? If they focus their diet around the correct foods, they should have no problem getting enough calcium.

Animal Sources
1/2 Cup Milk - 120 grams calcium
3/4 oz Cheese - 152 grams calcium

Vegetable Sources
1/2 Cup Calcium Fortified Soy Milk - 150 grams calcium
1/2 Cup Broccoli - 71 grams calcium
1 Cup White Beans - 220 grams calcium
1/2 Cup Sweet Potatoes - 164 grams calcium

Many soy products such as soy milk are calcium fortified which provides many more sources of calcium. An interesting fact is that consuming meat actually hinders the absorption of calcium because of the protein's acidity. This means that Vegans actually need less calcium in their diet.

Is it safe to be Vegan? Yes, its very safe, but it takes planning to eat a well-balanced diet. The thing is, you can eat bad food as a vegan, omnivore, or whatever it is that you call yourself. The only difference is that if you eat meat, you are eating beef, pork, cheese, and other high-calorie, low-nutrient foods. You will still be undernourished, you're just overfed. Unless you plan out a healthy lifestyle and choose GOOD foods to eat, you'll be lacking in nutrients regardless of whether you eat animal products or not.

The most important part of any diet is making sure you get nutrients. Being vegan doesn't make you automatically healthy, everyone needs to eat fewer chips, drink less soda, and get more exercise.

It's all about what you DO eat, not just what you don't eat.

-Katie & Brendan

Day 29 - Milk, does it do a body good?

America is big on milk. We've been brought up from birth with the belief that you need milk to grow "big and strong" and continue that practice throughout our life. I mean, we are mammals right? Mammals drink milk, so we need milk to live.

Well... not quite.

It is true that humans are mammals. We do drink milk when we are born, which is provided by our (human) mothers. It is nutritious and calorically-dense, which is exactly what you need when you are a tiny little baby that needs to get bigger fast.

There is a catch though. If you look at the animal kingdom, there aren't very many other mammals who drink milk after they are weaned. In fact, there aren't ANY mammals that require milk after they stop drinking it from their mothers. Yeah, cats drink milk, but that's because we provide it for them. My dog eats anything left on the ground for more then 5 seconds... that doesn't mean he SHOULD.

An example of what my dog eats:

After being weaned from their mothers, the ability of mammals to absorb lactose (the main sugar in milk) decreases constantly. Essentially the older you get, the less you are able to digest milk. I'm sure you've heard of lactose-intolerance, which is what happens when you finally realize that milk makes you feel crappy. Everyone is essentially lactose-intolerant when they grow up, but a lot of people drink it so often, they don't realize how it makes them feel.

Maybe part of the reason is that we drink cow's milk. Doesn't it seem weird that we drink milk that isn't meant for us? Cow's milk is made for.... well, cows. They are a lot bigger than us, and a heck of a lot fatter. Their milk contains almost 4% fat while ours is right around 1%. Throw in the lactose aspect, and suddenly cow's milk doesn't look like the best option for people to drink.

You can also look at milk in a different way than health. Cows only produce milk after they have given birth, just like every other mammal. This means that in order to get milk from them, they have to be impregnated, give birth, then separated from the calf and milked daily. They are also given hormones and antibiotics regularly to help them reach maturity quickly and keep producing milk. Seems a little mean doesn't it? You also have the whole factory-farm atmosphere of bad living conditions, dangerous crowding and machinery, and general mistreatment by workers.

Not exactly a great life to be a dairy cow...

Yes, milk does have vitamins and calcium in it. These are important for overall health and wellness. Unlike you might be led to believe, milk is NOT the only way to get vitamins and calcium. Almost every plant-based milk is fortified with nutrients that make it equal to, or better than, regular cow milk. You also are spared the lactose, hormones, and bad karma that comes with factory-farming practices. All that advertising about milk "doing a body good" comes from the dairy industry. It says right there in the advertisement.

You can bet that before cigarette companies were forced to put warnings on their advertisements, they made their product seem like a good thing, maybe even healthy...

You have to check this site out. Seems pretty insane these days, but people do believe a lot of what they read and see without questioning it.

Now I'm not saying milk causes cancer... but it's always good to take things you read and see with a grain of salt. Be informed, figure things out rather than have a billboard tell you what to believe. The internet makes it SO EASY to get real information, there's no excuse to not be informed.

Alright, enough of the heavy stuff! Here's a bad vegan joke to cheer you up...

A guy has a steak sticking out of one ear, a hotdog out of the other, and a chicken wing up his nose.
He goes to the doctor and asks him what's wrong.
The doctor tells him, "Well, for one thing, you're not eating right."

Be Healthy (and tell better jokes than me),

Day 28 - Turned Away


I desperately need a new pair of comfy shoes and a few cosmetics. I'm all about shopping online, but sometimes I prefer to have the good immediately! Ive been doing some very unsuccessful hunting downtown. Here is a quick list of all of the places I was recently "turned away" from because they are not Vegan friendly.

Doc Martins
I'm not crazy - I was told they used to carry Vegan shoes, no longer!

Nordstrom Makeup Department
All product lines at Nordstorm contain animal products or are tested on animals

Nordstrom Shoe Department
One Vegan shoe offered, definitely not work appropriate

No Vegan friendly shoes

Shoe Mill
No Vegan friendly shoes

I need to do some major research on these issues. It's sad that I cant frequent my usual shops, but It sure does save money!

More to come on my consumer behaviors....


Day 27 - Farmers Market

Ive decided that I live in one of the best places possible for having a regular selection of fresh fruit and vegetables. I could pretty much fall out of my second story window and end up at one of three places; Safeway, the PSU farmers Market, or the Downtown Farmers Market.

Saturdays: March 21 - Dec. 19
8:30 am – 2:00 pm
Fall Hours (Nov. & Dec.)
9:00 am – 2:00 pm

Wednesdays: April 29 - Oct. 28
10:00 am – 2:00 pm

I love farmers markets because the produce is fresh , ingredients are listed on all products, and it supports local business! We all know cooking isn't my specialty but I did come up with something yummy Wednesday night after I hit up the market.

Kale Salad w/ Kohlrabi, Beets, Peppers, and Pine nuts

Artichoke w/garlic aioli, Kale Salad, Olive Bread, Zucchini-Kale-Onion-Tofu stir fry

Thanks to farmers market I look like a real cook!


Day 26 - The Final Countdown


We have four days left with the Vegan Experiment and then the truth comes out. Will we stick with it? Are we vegan for life?!

The results will be in August 31st, don't miss the blog!

Day 25 - No joy with the soy


I ate a peanut chocolate chip soy joy today. I bought it last night during our 11pm shopping trip thinking it would be a good snack. I picked it up, thew it in the cart and didn't even glance at the ingredients. That was a big mistake.

I devoured the thing this morning, and then decided to look at the wrapper...

Ingredients: Whole Soybean Powder, Raisin, Butter (from milk), Sugar, Peanuts, Egg, Milk Chocolate Chips (sugar, whole milk powder, cocoa butter, chocolate liquor (with alkali), dextrose, butter oil, soy lecithin, vanilla extract, salt), Dried Pineapple, Maltodextrin (natural fiber source), Natural Flavors, Salt, Parmesan Cheese (from skim milk)

So in one little bar i consumed refined sugar, eggs, milk, butter, and best of all PARMESAN CHEESE. Seriously, Parmesan cheese is just out to get us. By the way, it didn't even taste all that great. Maybe it was all of that CHEESE in my chocolate.

If you're looking for a vegan bar I would recommend Larabar. The Cashew Cookie rocks my world. Its cashewy goodness that I just cant get enough of - and its good for you! I must throw in that Weight Watchers does not support eating large amounts of nuts, but we've all got our indulgences.

Ingredients: Cashews, Dates

That's it! Just cashews and dates. I would much rather put that into my body and sacrifice the extra calories over eating a long list of ingredients that includes ever so vague "natural flavors".

I know that was our first time together SoyJoy, but Im afraid we're through.

Day 24 - Our Vegan Foodcart Experience

Foodcarts are 100% totally awesome.

Portland is dotted all over with these tiny little restaurants that you can walk up to, order, and be on your way with delicious fare in a matter of minutes. Anything from BBQ to soup to tacos can be made in the back of the impossibly small trailers that they somehow fit into.

Visiting a food cart in Portland is a very different experience than a restaurant, especially at lunchtime. You might have a line of people behind you, an over-worked employee in front of you, and a hand-written, semi-legible sign with the daily specials on your side. The idea is that you know what you want, order it efficiently, and are gone as quickly as possible.

This assembly line efficiency isn't really my style, which is why foodcarts are so much better right around 2:00 pm. By that time the lines have cleared out and the cart owners are bored and looking for a customer to please and satiate. This magic hour just so happens to be the time Katie and I took a visit to the India Chaat House, a little trailer of culinary nirvana just off SW 12th and Taylor.

Where else can you get THREE entrees, a bucketful of indian-ized basmati rice and the best naan you will ever eat out of foil for five of your American dollars. That's right, you can buy a lunch special that will easily feed two for five freaking dollars!

Of course it has to be mentioned that this place is 100% vegetarian and anything on the menu can be made vegan. There is no trace of chicken, lamb or beef on the entire menu and I never missed it. Katie and I both got the lunch special, ate until we both felt sick, then had the leftovers for dinner. Katie's planning on taking the leftover-leftovers for lunch tomorrow. That's five meals between the two of us for $10. And while you wait, free chai.


The best part about this foodcart, however, is right next door. There is another cart that serves indian food. This cart doesn't just serve indian food, but has the exact same menu as the India Chaat House, is 100% vegetarian, gives out free chai and is called the Bombay Chaat House.

Sound a little weird? Just check out this article and it will all make sense.

Either way, if you are looking for a HUGE meal right around lunchtime and are in downtown, be sure to hit up the Chaat House corner. You will not be disappointed, and you WILL be full.

So much deliciousness, so little room in my belly!

Be Healthy,

Day 23 - Sloppy Joseph

I've never really been that much a part of the sloppy joe phenomenon. I always figured that if you wanted ground meat and sauce, might as well throw in some pasta and garlic bread. Limiting the sauce/meat concoction to a mere white bread bun seemed like a copout, like you're just settling for a substandard meal.

Even the name grosses me out a little. Who was Joe and what exactly reminded someone of him when they were naming a greasy, meaty, oozing sandwich? Not so pleasant now that I think about it.

Mmmmm, just like Lunchlady used to make

Regardless, we took another expedition into the jungle of vegantown in search of a decent faux-meat meal. Our hunt brought us to a Southeast side classic, Paradox Cafe.

Yes, they have a vegan sloppy joe (Sloppy Joseph) on the menu. Although there were tons of other choices to pick from, my eye kept wandering back to this unlikely and unassuming entree.

What was it about the "meat"/sauce combo that had me hooked this time? I couldn't say what sounded so good, but the sloppy joseph had to be mine.

And so it was. Open-faced, piled high with tomatoes, onions, spices and good ol' TVP all blended and heated into a slag pile of molten vegan goodness. Served up on a plate that looked as if it was subbing in for the first string plate and was not prepared for the line-backer of a portion that body-tackled the unsuspecting dish at a full sprint.

If you want to talk soul food, nothing beats an enormous portion of meat and bread. If you want to talk VEGAN soul food, a little bit (or a lot-a-bit) of TVP can do wonders.

I ate everything, scraped the plate, and spent the rest of the afternoon wondering if my stomach had indeed exploded from the abuse that I willfully forced upon it.

So worth it.

Check out Paradox. Eat a lot or a little, just make sure to go in and order up some awesome food.

Be Healthy (and full!)

Day 22 - Moving Day!


This weekend we uprooted our lives and moved across town to a new place we call home. We are now living in a 650sf studio "loft" in downtown. The good news - I have the privileged of walking to work every morning! The even better news, I have a full hour of free time in the morning after Brendan heads out for work. The best news of all? We are seconds away from a Safeway and walking distance from a New Seasons.

The bad news... we probably should have moved to Alberta if we really wanted to indulge in the vegan lifestyle. This weekend we had the privilege of enjoying Vita Cafe and Pie Footwear. If you're looking for vegan nachos or mac n' cheese - Vita Cafe is the place to go! Need super cute Vegan shoes? - head over to Pie Footwear.

Although we hate moving as much as the next person, the Arts District might just be our next stop when our lease is up. There are so many great places in Portland to live we've got hit them all before we settle down!

Back to food... Food is important to us, if we don't have it we get cranky. Even in the craziness of moving we did a grocery run - Who needs pizza while moving when you can have instant curry from a pouch!? If we've learned anything from this experience its to always be prepared! If you don't have healthy food at your side in times of stress you will definitely cave for that double cheese pizza. Prepare yourselves!


Day 21 - Eating in the real world

Friday afternoon my mom, my sister, my sisters soon-to-be mother-in-law, and I hit the road for a girls weekend in Seattle. I knew this trip would be a test of my willpower and Vegan ethics, I was right.

We started with a pit stop at a mini mart for drinks. My sister came out sweetened ice tea(refined sugar), gardetos (more refined sugar), and worst of all... a big beef stick. Sister can be so mean sometimes! But I guess it was better than a 1/3 pounder.

I tried to do a little research on Vegan restaurants before I left for Seattle, but I really couldn't find many options that would please both parties. I settled for ethnic food where I knew I could find more options. We had dinner that night at a Thai place where I ordered cashew nut tofu. The other members of my party were very considerate and opted for half tofu lettuce wraps as appetizers. As luck would have it when they brought out my order it turned out to be the cashew nut CHICKEN. I quickly returned this to the kitchen. If it was cheese I could probably have picked it off, but chicken?!

The next morning our hotel offered a continental breakfast. I knew I would be in trouble so I brought along my own cereal. I ate a little of the fruit the offered and a bowl full of dry cereal - soy milk would have been a little too perishable for the trip. I thought I might be tempted by the breakfast spread but it really was not an issue. The french toast and sausages looked like it had been delivered fresh from McDonalds - gross!

The trip was a great little break, but luckily not a break from the Vegan diet. Yay for vacation!


Day 20 - Try Vegan Week Potluck

In celebration of Portland's Try Vegan Week we attended a Vegan potluck in Laurelhurst park Thursday night. About thirty people showed up, which meant thirty different vegan dishes to try! I might have tried them all...

The intent of the event was to educate people about becoming vegan, but from the looks of it most of the attendees were not first timers. There were beautiful dishes of bright colored veggies, lentils, mashed potatoes, tabouli, and lots of pasta. As a new vegan I hadn't seen most of these dishes before and I almost needed a guide to figure out what I was eating! Whatever it was that I ate, it was all pretty tasty. To top it off I had a DELICIOUS vegan cupcake made by my coworker, a part-time Vegan and awesome cupcake maker.

I also picked up some free vegan info and purchased a book on vegan friendly places in Portland. We plan on hitting up a restaurant that we found in the guide, Brendan's craving a Vegan Reuben?! The potluck was a pretty good experience but the one thing missing from the event was a BBQ... that's a strange thought.


Day 19 - Nice Guys Eat Cheese

So, I would consider myself to be a fairly decent bloke. Not a saint, my wife would be quick to point out, but I try to get along and not cause trouble for others too often.

One particular setting where I excel at being amicable is the restaurant. Mushrooms still included when I ordered sans fungi? It's all good, I can eat around it. Owing to a good set of genes (thanks mom and dad!) I don't possess any dangerous food allergies, so if there are ingredients not listed in the menu it has never really bothered me.

However, these hidden ingredients make ALL the difference when you are vegan. One leeetle tiny addition to a dish makes it completely non-vegan, whether it's a cream sauce, honey mustard, or even parmesan cheese.

Hey, funny you should mention parmesan. Actually I mentioned it, but anyway...

Kiley and I went out on our first foray of vegan lunches in the greater St. Helens metro area today. This means there are really only three places we can go. After choosing one, a place we both LOVED pre-vegan, we perused the menu.

I guess the "Steak and Pasta" sign could have been a reason to read closely, but I was feeling daring. I didn't ask the waiter for "what's vegan" since I'm new at this and went with the pesto penne. The ingredients listed were pretty innocuous, just some basil, olive oil, garlic, all that good vegan stuff.

We weren't ready for the secret unlisted ingredient:

PARMESAN! The thing was covered in it!

Was it my fault for not asking? Absolutely.
Would they have left the cheese off if I asked? Of course.
Did I return it and ask for a different meal? Nope, I don't think I've ever sent food back. Not my nature.
Did I scrape the parmesan off every single noodle before eating? You betcha.

It was only fair, I guess. If you don't ask, then you'll never know.

I definitely know what I have to work on now. Being upfront and asking for vegan options is a lot easier in the long run than squeegeeing cheese off every one of your penne noodles. I would have felt (and looked) a lot less dumb asking if the pasta came with cheese than I did segregating the dairy in my meal like a lactose-intolerant OCD.

A learning experience to be sure. I imagine there will be plenty more of these as we branch out from "vegan friendly" restaurants and try to live among the normal population once again.

Be Healthy,

p.s. Thanks to Kiley for the picture of the fateful meal.

Day 18 - Booze Part 2 - Wine

This is part two of our vegan booze series. After we covered beer's potential traps, we are going to look at wine and what makes it vegan or not.

Now, I can't claim to be an aficionado of wine. Actually, I know the difference between red and white, and that's about it. Generally wine makes me cringe when I drink it, so I tend to not drink it all that often. This is a shame, because wine is fancy. If I drank wine, maybe I would be more fancy and people would tell me that my shirt is on inside out instead of letting me walk around work all day looking like an idiot.

That's what fancy people get. Respect.

However, I realize that many out there do NOT share my indifference towards grape juice's grown-up brother, so it's worth looking at.

Just like with beer, the problem vegans have with wine is the fining process. Fining is adding a material to the wine to make the tiny particles drop out. The particles can be filtered and the wine is much more clear, which I suppose is a good thing. The material used to clarify wine, again just like beer, is really the make-or-break as far as vegans go.

Some of the non-vegan materials used for fining wines:
- edible gelatins (made from bones)
- isinglass (made from the swim bladders of fish)
- casein and potassium caseinate (milk proteins)
- animal albumin (egg albumin and dried blood powder)

Ok, but really. Blood powder? They use eggs and BLOOD in wine? And you thought it was just grapes. Ha!

If you didn't catch the first edition of our three stop trip through boozeland, the site that we use for finding vegan beverages is Barnivore. They have a HUGE list of wines that are and are not vegan.

An important thing to note. There is a lot more discrepancy about wines being vegan or not. A lot more of them are off-limits when compared to beers, so don't assume that it's ok. That's a tough part about being vegan, you gotta actually look stuff up.

A couple examples of non-vegan wines are the immortal Charles Shaw (red is ok), Columbia Crest Vineyards and Ernest and Julio Gallo. These were just a couple that jumped out at me, so I'm sure that there are many more on the list that are familiar to folks.

Not Two-buck Chuck!!!

Unfortunately, being vegan doesn't mean that the wine will make you feel any less horrible if you partake too strongly. So be smart about it!

The third and final installment will cover hard alcohol in all the many forms it takes. Some might not come as a surprise to you that they aren't vegan (Bailey's, I'm lookin at you).

Be Healthy,

Day 17 - The good and the bad

I always enjoyed donating blood, I feel like I'm doing a good thing - plus saving up to three lives! Ive only been turned away twice in the last 8 years or so. The first time was due to a low iron count, but since then my Iron levels have been fine.

When I went to donate last night I was concerned about meeting the mark on Iron. Ive only been vegan for two weeks and maybe I not sufficiently nourishing my body. I was wrong, my iron count was stellar - yay for me! So after I received the good news of my high iron count, I received the bad - I might have Malaria. Malaria?!

Apparently I was in a "malaria breeding ground" less than a year ago, and they cant take the risk of using my blood. This risky trip I took was to Mexico, Chitzen Itza to be exact. I did have an unpleasant case of heatstroke while touring the ruins, but I'm pretty dang sure I would have contracted Malaria by now.

Silly people at the Red Cross..... thanks for the free iron count!


Day 16 - I found my soapbox

What are the benefits of going Vegan? Why am I suddenly so crazy about cutting animal products out of my diet? This is credible information that was derived from Six Arguments for a Greener Diet - Check it out!

Sustaining our Environment:
I care about the environment, I take the bus to work, I bring my own bags to the grocery store, I recycle recycle recycle, I even rinse out old peanut butter jars when I could easily throw them in the trash - yuck! I want to do what I can to make a difference, but sometimes it feels like I'm not ever doing enough.

Part of the whole Vegan kick was started because I found this as a way of caring for my environment. The more I read about Vegans, the more I must applaud myself! Farming animals consume absurd amounts of farmland both for raising the animals, and for producing their feed.

Most high quality meat in America is grain fed. By feeding grain to animals such as steer they fatten up much more quickly, producing the high fat content meat that Americans desire and a quicker growing animal for the farmer. This whole quick to market process is unnatural, and because of it our environment is suffering in many ways.

Fertilizer used to grow food for animals
1 pound: the amount of fertilizer needed to produce 3 pounds of cooked beef
8,500 square miles: the size of the “dead zone” created in the Gulf of Mexico by fertilizer runoff carried by the Mississippi from the upper Midwest

Manure & Carbon Dioxide
Funny but true, cows off put so much carbon dioxide into the atmosphere its actually a pollutant. Manure also pollutes the air, the waterways, and the vegetables we put into our mouths.

3.3 trillion pounds: the amount of livestock manure produced annually
33 million: the number of cars needed to produce the same level of global warming as is caused by the methane gas emitted by livestock and their manure

5 tons: the soil lost annually to erosion on an average acre of cropland

4,500 gallons: the rain and irrigation water needed to produce a quarter-pound of raw beef

Less Animal Suffering:
I'm not a crazy animal lover who cries every time an animal dies. Humans have consumed meat for thousands of years, and animals provide that for us. What bothers me is the inhumane ways animals are treated when farmed in mass quantities. It is not natural for a newborn cow to never see its mother, for a pig to never see daylight until it is taken to be slaughtered, or for chickens to be raised in such tight quarters that their talons grow over the cage bars. Larger issues include animals not being stunned properly before slaughter to prevent damaging the meat, this oversight so often leaves the animals still alive while being skinned. Cows and chickens are castrated without any anesthetic, chickens have their beaks cut off which is incredibly painful, the list goes on. These are just the mild indecencies that these animals go through and surprisingly these are very accepted practices among meat farms.

A lot of people, myself included, have been proud of themselves for only eating chicken and fish and cutting out the red meat . Poultry farming is actually the least regulated of all factory farming - go figure. The feedlots are not regularly inspected, and many of the disgusting practices are considered part of the culture, and therefore accepted. Chickens live in overcrowded conditions with little to no light at times. Hens can be starved for up to 10 days to encourage them to lay more eggs, and male chicks at birth are simply thrown into bins to die because they are not needed. Did you know that U.S. farm animals are not legally protected as are laboratory animals?

The fishing industry has its own flaws. Billions of pounds of commercially useless fish, turtles, and other sea animals are unintentionally caught as “by catch” and discarded, already dead or dying. It is such a waste.

140 million: the number of cattle, pigs, and sheep slaughtered each year
An 8½-by-11-inch sheet of paper is 0.65 square feet—about 30 percent larger than the space a hen in the United States is now provided.

Is free range any better? Maybe - maybe not, it all comes down to regulation, can you trust the source?

Improving my Health:
Vegetarians and Vegans typically live 3 years longer than non veggie eaters. The argument could almost stop there. I want to live a long healthy life and the food that surrounds me at the grocery store, in a restaurant, and even on TV, does not support that ideal. The Standard American diet is simply not a healthy diet. Less than a quarter of all adults eat the recommended number of daily servings of fruits and vegetables—foods that reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer.

Beyond the fat and cholesterol that comes from animals, antibiotics and hormones also come along with the territory. Because of animals' high grain diets, tight living quarters, and the farmers need for efficiency, animals are given these drugs. Pesticides used are “endocrine disruptors,” which may strengthen or weaken the action of natural hormones in animals and humans. These may affect many aspects of development, but especially sexual development. These are known to decrease sperm production in many animals, including humans. Have you ever wondered why so many young girls are hitting puberty at an earlier age? These hormones and antibiotics are not meant to be in our bodies.

63,000: the number of deaths from coronary heart disease caused annually by the
fat and cholesterol in meat, dairy, poultry, and eggs
Any kind of beef increases the risk of colon cancer.
Diabetes is twice as common in non-vegetarians as in vegetarians, with semi-vegetarians having an intermediate prevalence.
Prostate cancer is 54 percent and colon cancer is 88 percent more common in non-vegetarians

If this interests you I would highly recommend you read Six Arguments for a Greener Diet. The book has an awesome website where you can download the book for FREE, as well as use interactive tools to score your current diet and understand the food chain. This is a great place to start thinking about the impact of your diet.

If you're concerned about animal welfare the simplest thing you could do is eat less (or even cut out) meat and other animal products. That would reduce the number of farm animals and the potential for mistreatment. Consumers also could choose meat and dairy products made from more humanely raised animals (see or

Day 15 - Got Milk?

You wouldn't believe what you can get milk out of these days. There are the obvious places like cows, goats, and other hooved mammals, but there are also TONS of milks that are plant-based.

Since we have gone vegan, all the mammalian milks are definitely off the menu, so we've been testing out the variety of plant milks that we have found. We've got three kinds so far: soymilk, almond milk and hemp milk.


Our personal favorite, you can find it pretty much anywhere. This milk is made from soybeans (thus the name) and is almost always vegan-friendly. Silk makes a rockin' good soymilk in vanilla, chocolate or good ol' regular flavors. You can get fortified or light versions too.

Soymilk is pretty mild and not too crazy-tasting, which makes it a good starting choice for those who are used to the moo juice. I definitely recommend it for those who want to cut out milk but are scared of those "weird" milks.

The Good
Since it's plant based, soymilk is saturated-fat and cholesterol free. There's also no lactose, so those with dairy allergies can have as much as they want! There's also a good amount of protein.

The Bad
Soy has been labeled lately as being unhealthy in large amounts. There are studies that have suggested it can cause low sperm count in men and mess with lady hormones. I don't know about that, but I wouldn't drink gallons of this every day. I mean come on, let's show some restraint!

Hemp milk

That's right, drinkable pot! Ok, so it's really made from pot's wimpy little cousin, hemp. Either way, someone figured out that you can use hemp seeds just like soybeans to make milk from. Milk is just another product of this plant, which is used for rope, clothing and all kinds of other useful things.

The taste of hemp milk is surprisingly creamy. It has a really rich flavor that goes well with coffee and other beverages you'd put richer milk in. We used it with coffee and it works really really well. To note, hemp milk (or the kind we got) tends to separate out really quickly. Make sure you stir it a lot.

The Good
ULTRA-creamy. It's almost suspiciously creamy, but man it was good in our morning coffee!

The Bad
It separates out really fast. After five minutes, we had a layer of watery-looking stuff in our coffee, but it stirred back in just fine. It has the most fat of the milks we tested, which probably explained the creaminess.

Almond Milk

Another choice for those who can't (or don't want to) have soy, hemp, or animal milks. We used a regular almond milk instead of the vanilla versions of the others. Not really fair for comparison, but this isn't science class so we'll just go with it.

It tastes really close to low-fat or skim milk. The texture and creaminess matched up really well with what I remember milk being like (it's been a while, we've been soymilk folks for months). There's a tiny hint of almonds in the taste and scent, but I actually liked that. Almonds smell and taste good, so I didn't mind them in my milk.

The Good
Tastes like milk! Well, milk with almonds in it. We didn't try any other flavors, but I'm going to the store to get chocolate as soon as I finish this post. That's gonna be good!

The Bad
This is pretty much a nut-allergen's worst nightmare. They should stay far far away from these milks. Costs a lot for a little package, so not the best deal for your money.

The Verdict
We only tried three milks during this test, missing out on peanut, oat, rice, hazelnut, and all the other milks out there. We didn't think any of them were BAD, but it is really up to personal preference. It takes experimenting to figure out what is going to work for you. The good news is that you have no shortage of options to try!

Have you tried any other milks? What's your favorite? If you like one that we didn't try, let us know and we'll check it out!

Be Healthy,

Day 14 - Ingredients Exposed!

Many restaurants do not post their ingredients on their menus, most likely because the patrons are better off not knowing what goes into their meal. With making the change to Vegan we have to be very selective when ordering off of a menu and if the ingredients aren't there, its probably not going in our mouth.

Like we've said before, we are so fortunate to live in Portland and have so many Vegan friendly eateries. Friday night we visited Old Wives' Tales on East Burnside. I enjoyed an Indian veggie/curry/yam/sesame dish that hit the spot. Brendan went with a Veggie burrito and bean soup. The best part? They list all of the ingredients on their menu. There are a lot of Vegan options here, all clearly labeled as vegan or simply listing the ingredients - you cant screw up. Even the salad/ soup bar had vegan labels next to the soup and bread, such a help! We ended the meal with a huge snicker doodle. Dang you sweet vegan treats, you keep wining me over!

The more restaurants are willing to share their ingredients, the more tools I have to select a vegan meal, or possibly modify something to become vegan. I don't want to cut certain restaurants out of my options, but if they aren't honest I cant be honest to myself .


Day 13 - Please cater to our every need

We are so fortunate to have such supportive family. We attended two family dinners this week, both on Brendan's side, and both meals were Vegan friendly on our account! Are we spoiled or what?!

The first meal was dinner with Brendan's Mom and step dad. We typically take turns bringing Papa Murphy's pizza to these gatherings, but that would have been a difficult choice with the pounds of cheese they sprinkle on top. In preparation we had even picked out one of Amy's Roasted Vegetable pizzas to bring along, but this wasn't needed. (Don't worry, we ate the pizza over the weekend, highly recommend it if you can afford the calories ). Mom took great care of us serving us brown rice, steamed vegetables, fresh fruit, and veggie burgers I had never tried before - I need to figure out the brand.

Brendan and I brought along chocolate mousse. Did it set up? - not really. Did it taste great - you bet! The mousse was a five minute recipe containing silkin tofu, a food processor, and vegan chocolate syrup. Pulse a few times, place in the fridge for an hour - and tada!I swear to you, it tastes nothing like tofu. As for ours not setting up, Brendan had a little too much fun with the food processor and created somewhat of a soup.

Our other surprise Vegan meal this week was a bounty of delicious Greek food. Brendan's dad, step mom, aunt and uncle made a huge meal of Falafel, pita, hummus, baba ganoush, soup, cucumbers... I'm sure I'm forgetting something. Plus we got a little lesson on frying up Falafel - Don't use olive oil, its not good for frying at high temperatures. Do use grape seed oil.

Our contribution to the meal was Vegan Brownies, salad rolls, and Grand Central Bakery Potato bread. We were way off target with the theme of the meal, but we made what came easy to us. The brownies we made used applesauce as an egg/milk replacement. They came out a little more cake like than I had hoped, next time we will add more applesauce and dark chocolate for a fudgey treat like Ive been craving.

Thank you loving family for filling our bellies!


Day 12 - Garden Greens Galore

With everyone's gardens in full bloom, including our own tiny plot, we've been overloaded with fresh veggies. We've made a couple of noteworthy meals this week.If the photos dont look appetizing, just go with it, we swear to you it was!

Brendan made a delicious curry creation using home grown potatoes, carrots, zucchini, store bought red peppers and asparagus, spiced up with a little curry paste and light coconut milk. He let this simmer for a bit and then spooned it over basmati rice. It was quick, full of great veggies, and had that satisfying creamy texture that is hard to achieve when you cut out dairy. Many flat breads or vegan, so we enjoyed this meal with pita alongside.

Fajitas is our old fall back meal, and we love it! We've made a few modifications to our typical fajita night (no cheese, chicken), and added garden picked zucchini, green beans, and the store bought filler was red peppers and onions. This was spooned onto a bed of black beans on a flax seed tortilla (we'd do whole wheat tortillas next time), and a little guacamole on top.

I have to admit that looking at this photo makes me wonder where the shrimp are? Are they hiding under that big spoonful of guacamole? Dear bag of frozen shrimp in the freezer, you might be waiting there for quite sometime.


Day 11 - A few new ingredients..

When I started thinking about becoming Vegan I was imagining all of things I would be cutting out of my diet - not so much the new additions. So far I've found quite a few new tastes and substitutes that I would eat if I were vegan or not.

Here is a rundown of the new finds;

Nutritional Yeast - Its a source of protein and B12 vitamins, and also tastes quite delicious. I made veggie sausages and added in about half a cup of nutritional yeast. I purchased mine at Food Fight, but I bet you can find it at other stores as well

Sheese - This was one was recommended by Kiley and I must say its an awesome find. It a Vegan cheese that actually tastes like cheese. I'm told it doesn't melt too well, but I crumbled it on a salad with almonds, beans, and sun dried tomatoes - so good!

Tofutti's Better than Cream Cheese - I haven't eaten cream cheese in years because it made me feel so yucky, wish I would have discovered this earlier. Tastes just like cream cheese, but dare I say better?! Add this one to your cart, I found it at Safeway.

Garden Burger Breakfast Sausage - Really good cut up with beans, rice, vegan cheese. The sausage fills that greasy/salty meat craving I sometimes get, but its a thousand times better for you than the real thing.

Items to stay away from;

Vegan Rella - Does not equal good. The cheese melts well, but thats about all it has going for it

Gimee Lean Ground Beef, Tofurkey, etc. etc. Any meat substitute in a tube, box, etc. It's not meat, it's not even close. Use sparingly and do not focus youre whole meal around it.


Day 10 - Try Vegan Week

Did you know... Next week is Try Vegan Week in Portland. I had no idea! Could there be better timing?

There will be a ton of Vegan educational events going on in Portland. Brendan and I will be sure to hit up a few, why don't you do the same? Or better yet - join us!

August 15-22: Try Vegan Week 2009

  • Saturday, August 15th

11 am- Bike rally (Vegan Mini Mall- Se 12th and Stark)

1pm- Mentor meet up (People’s Co-Op: 3029 SE 21st Ave)

2pm- Why Veganism? Veganize your habits. (People’s Co-Op: 3029 SE 21st Ave.)

5pm- Vegan BBQinq 101- you= sides, we’ll provide the rest (Powell Park: SE 26th Ave & Powell Blvd)

7pm- Peaceable Kingdom (People’s Co-Op: 3029 SE 21st)

  • Sunday, August 16th

10am- Brunch from 10-noon (Vita Cafe: 3024 NE Alberta St)

1pm- Veganize your kitchen (IDA house:1732 NE Alberta St)

2pm- Vegan Fitness (IDA house: 1732 NE Alberta St)

5pm- Disease Prevention (Whole Foods Fremont- 3535 NE 15th Ave)

7pm- Fish and Seafood talk (Whole Foods Fremont: 3535 NE 15th Ave)

  • Monday, August 17th

6pm- Cookbook Tour (Herbivore: 1211 SE Stark St)

7pm- Waste of Dairy (Hungry Tiger Too: 207 SE 12th Ave)

8pm- Cooking without dairy (Hungry Tiger Too: 207 SE 12th Ave)

  • Tuesday, August 18th

7pm- Raw Foods (People’s Co-Op: 3029 SE 21st)

8pm- Greens Class (People’s: 3029 SE 21st)

  • Wednesday, August 19th

6pm-6:45- Factory Farms and humane meat (Central Library, US Bank room: 801 S.W. 10th Avenue)

7pm-7:45- The Environment (Central Library, US Bank room: 801 S.W. 10th Avenue)

  • Thursday, August 20th

8pm- Potluck and Trivia Night (Laurelhurst Park: SE 39th Ave & Stark St)

  • Friday, August 21st

7pm- The truth about eggs (Buckman Park: NE 12th Ave & Everett St)

9pm- Bar crawl and late night food cart visit (Start at Ron Tom’s: 600 East Burnside)

  • Saturday, August 22nd

1pm- Vegan Ice Cream Potluck (Colonel Sumners Park: SE 17th and SE Taylor)

9pm- End of week celebration (Report Lounge: 1101 E Burnside St)