My Vegan Story: Audrey

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My Vegan Story: Audrey

Covered In Piggy Kisses!

I see veganism as a celebration of life. It’s a joyful, loving way to show kindness, generosity and compassion to my brothers and sisters – both human and non-human. Veganism is humility - a declaration that all beings are equal and have an equal right to live their own lives.

​I’ve been vegan for about 18 months. For me it was always an ideal, but something I never thought I’d achieve.

​Then, just before my 50th birthday, I stumbled upon Esther the Wonder Pig’s Facebook page. The commentary from her human “Dads”, the love and support she received from her followers, the ideas and enthusiasm and yes, recipes, shared on her site were enthralling. I wanted to be part of this movement of love and happiness.

​I spent my Christmas holidays watching every Netflix documentary I could on big agriculture, veganism, consumerism, factory farming: Vegucated, Forks Over Knives, Food Matters, Food Inc. and later when it came out Cowspiracy.

Romping With The Piggies At "Happily Ever Esther Farm Sanctuary"!

​Within just two weeks of discovering Esther, I went vegan... just two weeks from being a full-blown carnivore to vegan.

​The first month or so was challenging but exciting. I had only an inkling of what to eat and no clue of any of the other moral and ethical issues that veganism addresses. I was on a steep learning curve, scouring the Internet for new recipes, product information and moral support too. I felt bold and very alone.

​In my experience, vegans are delighted to help newbie vegans be successful. I went to a local vegan restaurant explaining I was a week-old vegan and the servers gave me their email addresses telling me to write if I ever had questions. Esther’s fans and her personal chef were inspiring. The staff at my neighborhood health food store were fabulous at helping me understand how to prepare different foods and even got me products if I requested them. My coworkers were tolerant and patient, listening to my gushing observations and gingerly trying my cooking.

​And boy did I cook! A vegan diet doesn’t close the doors to variety; it flings them wide open!! I’ve tried more cuisines and foods in the last 18 months than probably in my first 50 years. I started posting my creations in a vegan food album on Facebook, as much to remind myself of recipe options as anything. But my friends’ responses were amazing! They asked for recipes. They encouraged me to write a cookbook or at least a blog. They invited themselves to dinner and for cooking lessons. Now I have people asking for particular dishes as birthday treats and for special occasions. No one ever seems to miss eating animal products when they’re in my home.

Awarding Prizes at My Vegan Tasting Buffet!

​Just 10 months after going vegan, I hosted a vegan tasting buffet for 35 people (I do NOT recommend trying to cook for 35 people unless you’re a professional chef in a professional kitchen!). People ate and drank and laughed. I raffled off prizes (vegan cookbooks and pots of fresh herbs) and shared information about veganism. And pretty much every morsel of food was gone.

​In hindsight I see that that buffet was a tiny act of vegan activism. It was my way to encourage people to challenge what they think they know about our society’s food and food production. I guess it worked too. My dear next door neighbor, Laura, who came to the buffet announced to me on the eve of her 76th birthday that she had become a vegan!

​Since then, I’ve gone to a slaughterhouse vigil and written about it, I’ve done chalk-messaging, written and signed many petitions, researched to change laws and practices in my city and I speak up often and loudly on behalf of the animals. Never ever say “bacon” to me and smirk!

​I’ve joined vegan community groups for both socializing and activism and as a way to provide education and moral support for new members. I learn something new from these people every day.

​And Esther the Wonder Pig? I’ve met her several times now and volunteer regularly at the Happily Ever Esther Farm Sanctuary. It’s my happy place where I can be among like-minded people, working hard, breathing fresh air and loving some very lucky animals.

​My only regret has been that I didn’t go vegan so much sooner. Physically I feel better than I have in years. I’m off my blood pressure medication altogether, something my doctor said is pretty much unheard of. When I go for my physical or blood work, everything comes back “perfect” – again pretty much unheard of according to my doctor, especially for a person of my age and weight (I’m undeniably fat – let’s be clear on that). And my clinical depression, which I know is my challenge for life, certainly is more manageable. Other vegans I’ve spoken to have said the same about their mental health challenges. A whole-food, vegan diet makes a world of difference for overall physical health, to which mental wellness is intrinsically tied.

​Most importantly, my heart is at ease. I feel whole, happy and more genuine than I ever have. My life has a deeper purpose and meaning now. I have social connections with like-minded people. I’m being my best self every day and living an authentic life.

Connect With Audrey Here...​


Twitter​... @Audiebods

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5 Vegan Chili Recipes To Make Your Summer Awesome!

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Vegan Chili Recipes

I have discovered something in doing the research for this post, everyone who makes vegan chili recipes thinks theirs is the best.  Proof is in the labeling!  And the top two recipes here are simply were just the ones I decided to plunk in here.  Now, I'm quite sure all these recipes are worthy of their self-commendations.  They sure do look good enough for it!  So, without further ado please go on down and look at all these delicious vegan chili recipes!

Best Damn Vegan Chili Ever

To start us off here, we have The Brand New Vegan's good ol' fashioned Texas chili!  ...Minus the meat, of course.  No, instead if you really want that "meaty texture" he suggests a nice delicious dose of seitan (all hail our dark lord and savior, seitan).  I have to say, this looks and sounds like a delicious vegan chili recipe if ever I saw one.

The Best Vegan Chili Ever

Now, this here second chili recipe from the folks over at Full of Beans is a whole other... can of beans!  Ahah..ha... I'll see myself out now.  Not before I tell you a bit more about this though.  Thick enough to eat with chips and simple to throw together, it's a great thing to bring to potlucks or other family gatherings.  It's sure to be a winner with your friends and family, omni or fellow vegan.

Vegan Chili

Here is a vegan chili recipe that I simply thought looked and sounded good.  And some of the comments left by the people over at Epicurious seem to confirm my suspicions of it being a pretty good recipe!  If any of you guys try this, be sure to let me know how it turns out in the comments below!

Spicy Beanless Garden Vegan Chili

Okay people, I know some of you don't like beans.  Or at least, aren't the biggest fan.  Or maybe you're just looking to avoid the after-bean toots that we've all been afflicted with at some point or other.  Don't worry, there's no shame!  We all have encountered this.  Veggie Inspired Journey has us covered with their delicious and beanless chili!  No more after-bean farts for us! 

Easy 1 Hour Vegan Chili

Vegan Chili Recipes... Easy One Hour Chili!

Last but certainly not least is this lovely and hearty chili from I Love Vegan.  They've made a delicious comfort food that you can top with some vegan cheese, maybe some avocado, cilantro.  All those yummy things.  Its healthy and good and just all around yum.  I hope you guys enjoy it as much as I think you will!

Strut Your Fire Power In Style
('cause you've got the best vegan chili recipe in hand now, right?)

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Vegan On A Budget: How To Grow Sprouts

How To Grow Sprouts: A Vegan On A Budget Tip

OMG learning how to grow sprouts is one of the easiest and best things you can do for yourself and your family.   Not only are they easy to grow, they are just packed with nutrition.  And if being vegan on a budget is important to you then you are in luck.  Because food just doesn't get any cheaper than when you grow sprouts for yourself.

In this post we are going to do something a little different than usual because while I was looking for a cool video to share with you guys I stumbled upon an embarrassment or riches.  Now, don't get me wrong, there was LOTS of dreck to dredge thru (as always on Youtube) but not only did I find a cool video of someone growing sprouts the same way we do it BUT... 

We Found 3 Great Videos Showing You How To Grow Sprouts!​

And the fourth video is amazing for a totally different reason.  You'll see once you get down there.  It's worth the wait, we promise!

Just so ya'll know, until now we have always used the mason jar method of growing sprouts.  We have the mason jar sprouting kit shown down below and we LOVE IT!  But we are so intrigued by these other methods we've decided we just have to give them a try too.  Especially the paper towel method!

We don't mind telling you it always astonishes us how much we learn by putting these instructions together for you guys.  Not to sound conceited or anything, but after sprouting for YEARS we figured there wasn't much we could learn on this particular topic.  BOY WERE WE WRONG!  ​

​Honestly, there's not much involved in growing sprouts.  You get them wet, you keep them wet but not soggy and they grow.  Give them some sun, they turn green. Rinse off the hulls and eat.  But as in many simple things, the devil is in the details.  We are confident you'll enjoy these videos on how to grow sprouts and will find at least one method to fall in love with.

How To Grow Sprouts With Paper Towels...​

Here you are going to see sprouting at it's most basic.  The tools this fellow uses can all be obtained at the dollar store.  Now this method takes up a bit more space on your counter than other methods.  It also isn't the "prettiest" method BUT it is very effective.  And you don't get any more "Vegan On A Budget" than this method for growing sprouts!

How To Grow Sprouts With A Stackable Sprouting System...

This next method is the most high tech of the bunch.  The sprouting trays he is using were all the rage a few years ago and they do work rather well.  The thing we don't care for is how opaque they are.  It's nicer to have a more transparent tray like the ones we share with you down below.  But if you like the green color of these (it is a lovely green) you can find them right here.

How To Grow Sprouts In Mason Jars...

Ok, this is more or less the way we have always grown our sprouts.  With the exception of how she rinses off the hulls.  If you get the sprout topper set they come with different size holes in the top.  This lets you switch to lids with larger openings so you can rinse most of the hulls off and out of the jar during your daily rinsing/wetting of the growing sprouts.

Watch Your Sprouts Grow...

Ok, while we appreciate the ingenuity of making your own sprouting toppers the way this lady does we are not sure how good it is to have your food pressing against that kind of screen.  Perhaps one of you knows if this is dangerous and could share in the comments below so we'll all know if it is Okay to do.  But if you do nothing else be sure to HOP FORWARD TO THE 2 MINUTE MARK and watch the creepy coolness that follows! 

You're Gonna Love These Sprouting Supplies!

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5 Vegan Pasta Recipes You’ll Be Sure To Love!

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Sometimes finding different vegan pasta recipes can feel a little daunting.  We get into a bit of a rut when it comes to recipes we like, which isn't a bad thing.  But there are occasions when you just want to spice things up!  So, I've compiled a nice little list of different vegan pasta recipes for ya'll to look at!  Hope you like them!

Vegan Stuff Shells With Roasted Eggplant

This delicious recipe from The Minimalist Baker is a gem as usual.  Tofu, eggplant and vegan mozzarella make it perfect!  It's the kind of warm deliciousness you expect from vegan pasta recipes!  

Creamy Tomato Pasta

Here's a nice yummy, creamy pasta recipe for you guys from The Inventive Vegan.  It's perfect with sun dried tomatoes, basil and some hot pepper flakes.  It's a nice easy recipe to change up too!  Broccoli, or maybe some steamed brussels sprouts would go rather well in here too!

Broccoli Walnut Pesto

I never would have thought to make BROCCOLI pesto, so I guess it's a goo thing that the folks over here at Produce On Parade did.  This recipe sounds heavenly and I have to say that it looks it too!  If you have a family who needs more healthy vegan pasta recipes in their lives... this is it.

Avocado Pasta

Creamy pasta, fresh ingredients... It doesn't get much better than that.  Damn Delicious have made this recipe to live up to their name.  It's damned delicious.  Honestly, who doesn't love a nice creamy pasta dish?  There's no dairy in this, it's all avocado blended with other delicious whole ingredients!

Creamy Cashew Cream Pasta With Lemon, Spinach & Tempeh Bacon

Of all the vegan pasta recipes I found this one struck me as one of the most family and date night friendly.  Healthy Happy Life really did nail this one in that regard.  The sauce is made up of creamy cashews, and the bacon is just yummy tempeh.  Delicious, smoky tempeh...

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Cedar Row Farm Sanctuary!

Cedar Row Farm Sanctuary has a truly incredible story.  They've been around since 1999, out in Ontario!  Cedar Row Farm Sanctuary didn't start out as a farm sanctuary.  Oh no, they were intently into wildlife rescue and decided a place out in the country would be all the better.

​Shortly after going out there they got contacted by multiple rescue groups looking for a place to put animals in need. Their first rescue?  Goats.  

Who'd have thought, right?  Okay, so, we probably saw it coming... But the young couple certainly didn't at the time! Through some of their early big rescue's, they were juggling helping the animals in need and raising their twin toddlers.  The Poole Family are all seriously dedicated to their cause, and their story is well worth a read on over here.​

Cedar Row Farm Sanctuary has work visits, where you go and help out around the farm as needed and get to enjoy some time with the animals and they all end in a delicious vegan potluck!  So if you are in the area, consider scheduling a work day at the sanctuary, it'll be fun and worth the time!

Want to know even more about these guys?  Go on over to their website here and have a look around!  

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Vegan Cooking 101: How To Dice An Onion

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How To Dice An Onion: Vegan Cooking 101

Here's another in our "Vegan Cooking 101" series it's "How To Dice An Onion".  This is a basic but VERY important skill to have for new cooks because onions are in pretty much everything!  Even if you don't like the taste of raw onion (we despise it) you'll be using onions as a spice in a good chunk of your vegan recipes.

If there are any other vegan "weirdos" out there who don't like onions all that much we'd love to meet you.  Please give us a shout out in the comments below, OK?  Seriously, who decided that everyone in the whole world LOVES onions?  They are in everything!  So much so, that in our family at least, they are treated as a stand alone side dish! YUCK lol Okay okay, enough about our oddball tastes, let's get to work.

How To Dice An Onion... 

I'll walk you thru the steps here then you can watch the video below to really hammer it in.

  • ​Cut off the sprout end of your onion.  Leave the root end alone (the hairy end) you'll need that to hold the onion together while you dice it.
  • Set the onion upright onto the sliced off base you just made and cut the onion in half.
  • ​Remove the papery skin of your onion.  You will probably want to remove the first layer of the actual onion too as this us often tough.
  • If your onion has lots of roots as the one in the image above you can slice them off.  But don't cut into much of the flesh of the onion at this point.  As I already mentioned you are going to use the root ball to hold the onion together while you dice it.
  • Lay your onion half flat onto your cutting board and hold onto it near the roots.  Make a series of cuts perpendicular to the root ball all the way across the onion.
  • Turn your onion and make a series of cuts parallel to the root ball.  You'll be cutting thru or across the slices you already made.  As the onion falls off you'll see it is diced.  If some of the onion layers stick together just rub them with your fingers, a spoon or your knife and they should fall apart.

I learned how to dice an onion & YOU can too! Check out this Vegan Cooking 101 tutorial!

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Watch How To Dice An Onion... 

​NOTE: She mixes up the root end and sprout ends in this demonstration.  Just do what she does and don't worry about what she calls them.

That's not so hard, is it?  We really hope ya'll are finding our "Vegan Cooking 101" series helpful.  Let us know in the comments below what you think of this instruction and any other skills you'd like us to cover in future posts.  Thanks a ton!

Put your new vegan cooking skills to work with these awesome easy vegan recipes...

Oh, and just in case you need to stock up your kitchen we picked out this selection of cool cutting boards and knives for you to drool over.  We really want a new set of bamboo cutting boards and think those colorful knives are to die for!​

Kitchen Tools You'll Need To Dice Onions

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Vegan Makeup Brush Cleaners: A Must Have In Your Cruelty Free Beauty Kit!

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Okay guys and gals, anyone who uses makeup eventually comes to understand the need for vegan makeup brush cleaners.  Who wants to work with a brush full of caked on makeup and who knows what else?  YUCK! That's why we've put together this list of vegan makeup brush cleaners, so that you can be cruelty free and hygienic.  All at once.  What a world we live in 😉

SHANY Detox Professional Brush Cleanser

SHANY seems to have one of the best vegan makeup brush cleaners available.  I've yet to really see a true negative review of it.  It really gets into your brushes and cleans them, even if you've neglected them for awhile.  It'll strip all that caked on makeup off and leave you with a brush that feels like new.  Don't believe me?  Just click on through and read all of those amazon reviews!  

e.l.f. Daily Brush Cleaner

The e.l.f makeup brush cleaner seems to be similarly amazing.  It's reported to work like a charm, whether you are cleaning up regularly or have forgotten to clean them in... uh, well, lets just say a little to long.  As vegan makeup brush cleaners go, e.l.f has done a good job.  The only thing to note is that there's some conflicting opinions about it's scent.  Some people say it's really mild while some say they found it a little too much. 

Imperial Barber 100% Natural Glycerin Bar Soap

I've heard good things about a simply using a bar of natural (non-animal derived) glycerin soap.  So, as far as vegan makeup brush cleaners go... This is probably the most economical and is going to work pretty great for you guys.  This Imperial Barber soap is all vegetable glycerin without moisturizers (if you use a soap with moisturizers on your vegan brushes, it will stick to the bristles and not soak into the nonporous brush making them sticky in the long run.) so it's perfect for you're makeup brushes!

Sigma Beauty Express Brush Cleaning Mat

And last but not least in our little line up of vegan makeup brush cleaners is the Sigma brush cleaning mat.  It's just a little mat with suction cups that you put into the bottom of your sink when you go to clean your brushes.  You put some soap onto the cleaning area, wet your vegan brushes and then go to town.  I found a nice video here of someone demonstrating it's use!

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Winnie The Pooh Vegan Meme

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Winnie The Pooh Vegan Meme

We encourage you to take this Winnie The Pooh vegan meme and use it to help spread the message! Sometimes its the most simple of things that make a difference in peoples perceptions. So, feel free to use the buttons on the left to share this directly from here or you can even download and post it to your own social media that way. Print it out, plunk it on fliers. Whatever you feel comfortable or would like, it's yours to use!

If people were superior to animals, they'd take good care of them. ~Winnie The Pooh

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Vegan Everyday Stories: A Bananatastic Review

posted in: My Vegan Story 2

Today we watched “Vegan Everyday Stories” and we think we have another classic on our hands. Right up there with the likes of Vegucated, Forks Over Knives, and Cowspiracy. It is a masterful blending of many voices to answer the question… “Why Vegan?”

​Note: you may know it as “The Vegan Movie”. Both names have been kicked around the internet as well as on the website!

​Going into this we had one expectation and one … non-expectation. Mom thought it was going to be a collection of people telling us in detail about “their” vegan journeys. This is why we saved one of our “My Vegan Story” slots for this review. I, on the other hand, really had no expectations other than I was pretty sure it was going to be awesome (but decided not to burst mom’s bubble…).

What struck us the most was how this filmmaker used the vegan stories of many different people to tell the one story of veganism. Vegans come from all walks of life. They come in all shapes, colors, sizes, ethnicities, ages, genders, sexualities… Anything you can think of. Yet they found common ground in their veganism. We all find a commonality in our compassion.​

Vegan Everyday Stories

For example, they pair up David Carter “The 300 Pound Vegan” with Genesis Butler “The 75 Pound Vegan” (you’ll get that after you watch the movie!), one is an NFL Defensive End, the other an 8-year-old little girl on a self-assigned mission to save the world. You wouldn’t think these two people would have much in common. You’d be wrong.

Yes, this is an excellent film to introduce people to veganism. It does explain “why vegan”. But more importantly it demonstrates that there is no typical vegan. The days of smelly hippies eating nuts and granola while sitting in the corner weaving baskets and wearing Birkenstocks… are over (sniff sniff). And not just because most Birkenstocks are leather!

​Another thing we like about this film is that you don’t have to be concerned about anything graphic. As Moby so aptly points out, if you make people “shut down” or “tune you out” you can’t get your message across.

​There are no undercover videos from slaughter houses to worry about. The only thing that might distress you is when this one woman shares what she saw when she went into a slaughterhouse to see for herself, first hand, where her food comes from (brave woman!).

​And with that, I have one question for you guys. …Why aren’t you watching “Vegan Everyday Stories” already?! Go on, git!

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Vegan On A Budget? Vegan Freezer Meals Are The Answer

Vegan Freezer Meals

Think vegan food is too expensive? Homemade vegan freezer meals keep your food costs down. They also pump up nutrition and save you lots of time in the kitchen. It is totally possible to be vegan on a budget and eat like a king without spending your life slaving away over the stove.

​These days, we often hear folks bellyache about how expensive it is to "go vegan." And they aren't complaining about the cost of shoes, either. No, I'm sorry to say, they think they can't afford to eat a vegan diet.

​To tell you the truth, there is a nugget of truth in their thinking. It would cost a fortune if all you ever bought was "heat'n eat" vegan convenience foods. There is no way around it, stuff like "Amy's Vegan Burgers" are pricy.

​Luckily, it's really easy to make your own vegan freezer meals! That way you can have ready to serve, healthy vegan meals or snacks on hand all the time. It just takes a little organization and planning.

Let me explain...

​One of the first things I learned when I started cooking is that it's just as easy to whip up a big pot of spaghetti sauce as it is to cook a small one. Let's face it, leftovers are god's gift to busy folks the world over. It's like having the night off cooking while still enjoying a nutritious home cooked meal because all you need to do is heat it up. Right?

​The rub is, most folks don't want to have the same meal night after night. That's where vegan freezer meals come in. Instead of serving up the same thing for dinner three nights in a row freeze them in serving size portions and enjoy them next week or even next month.

Here's How I Make Vegan Freezer Meals...

​When I cook something that can be frozen I make sure there's going to be leftovers. Then after we eat, I pack up the left overs in either single serving or meal size portions and pop them into the freezer.

​Don't stress over this. If you know that your vegan spaghetti recipe will make 6 meals but there are only 4 of you, no worries. Just freeze the two leftover single servings and move on. If you do this every night for a week you'll have 14 vegan freezer meals stored up for later. If you want to get really crazy go ahead and double your recipe and you'll be that much more ahead of the game.

Vegan Freezer Meal ​Pro Tips...

Well there you have it, possibly my best tip for being vegan on a budget. Give this a try and you can't help but save yourself a lot of time and money. When you add to that the better taste and nutrition to vegan freezer meals it really becomes a "no-brainer".

Do you make your own vegan freezer meals? If so, what is your favorite recipe or tip?
Won't you please share in the comments below so we all can get smarter?

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