Boston Veggie


Boston Vegetarian Food Festival!
October 29, 2009, 3:10 pm
Filed under: Veg Events

For all you veggies or veg-curious out there, the Boston Vegetarian Food Festival is this weekend! It will be held at the Reggie Lewis Athletic Center at 1350 Tremont Street this Saturday October 31 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday November 1 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Parking is free and it is definitely T accessible.

I’ve been feeling a little under the weather lately, but I hope to attend and have a post at a later time. But for now, you can get all the info at The Boston Vegetarian Society’s website.

http://bostonveg.org/foodfest/index.html

or

http://bostonveg.org/foodfest/foodfest.html

I went last year, and there is plenty of free food (95% vegan) and tons of cool demonstrations and cook books, etc. It is the one time a year we Veggies can be surrounded by our own. Hope to see you there!

Advertisements


Silverstone dishes on Veganism
October 29, 2009, 9:43 am
Filed under: Veg News

Alicia Silverstone, once voted PETA’s sexiest vegetarian was in Boston this weekend promoting her vegan book. Check out the article here!



Beet Burgers
October 28, 2009, 6:35 pm
Filed under: Recipes
beet-burger

Photo by SusanV of blog.fatfreevegan.com

A friend and I tried a recipe from one of my favorite vegan blogs Fatfree Vegan Kitchen last week. These beet burgers were so good and so good for you too. I didn’t bring my camera along with me, so alas there are no images from me, but they did look similar to the ones she made. Yes, I am plagiarizing this recipe, but trust me you’ll be glad I did. Definitely give them a try!

What you’ll need:
2 medium beets
1 medium onion
6-10 garlic cloves (or as many as you like)
14 ounces extra-firm tofu (not silken)
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/2 – 1 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
2 tablespoons ground flax seeds
1/4-1/2 teaspoon chipotle chile powder or smoked paprika (optional, to taste)

Instructions:
1. Preheat oven to 350F. Wash and trim the beets, and wrap each one in foil. Trim the onion and wrap it in foil. Wrap the unpeeled garlic in foil (or trim the top of an entire head of garlic and wrap it).
2. Place all on a baking sheet and roast for 50-60 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool until vegetables are easy to handle. (You can do this step ahead of time, if you wish; just keep the roasted vegetables in the refrigerator until you’re ready to make the burgers.)
3. While the vegetables are cooling, mash the tofu and stir in the remaining ingredients.
4. When the onions and garlic are cool enough, peel the onion and chop finely (I used a food processor). Squeeze the garlic from the cloves. Add both to the tofu and mix well.
5. Peel the skins from the beets under running water, and shred. Add the shredded beets to the tofu, stirring until the mixture is a uniform, bright color.
6. Shape into patties about 3 inches wide and 1 inch thick. Place on a cookie sheet covered with parchment paper or silicon baking mat. Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to stand for a few minutes before removing with a spatula and serving.
7. Enjoy!

We served these with whole wheat English muffins, but any old bread or if you’re lucky to find some whole wheat hamburger buns would also work.

 



Ciao Bella
October 28, 2009, 6:18 pm
Filed under: Restaurant reviews

Sometimes when you go out to eat, you want to do something a little classier than some chain restaurant. In Boston, Newbury Street provides some of the finest dining around. One restaurant I love to go to is Ciao Bella, located at 240 Newbury Street. If the name didn’t imply it already, Ciao Bella is Italian themed and has a few delicious things vegans can get. Here is what you can have at Ciao Bella in Boston!

Antipasti

Bruschetta di Pomodori
Description: Tomatoes, garlic, fresh basil tossed with extra-virgin olive oil, and fresh mozzarella, served over crostini
How to make it vegan: Just ask for no cheese and this bruschetta is deeeeelish! Aside from the cheese, it is veg all the way.

Funghi Portobello
Description: portobello mushroom sautéed, olive oil, garlic, lemon and white wine, roasted peppers, over fresh spinach
How to make it vegan: You don’t have to do a thing! It is vegan all by itself! Who knew?

Insalate

Insalata della Casa
Description: Romaine, vine-ripe tomato, cucumbers, carrots, house dressing
How to make it vegan: Nothing!

Insalata di Spinaci
Description: Fresh baby spinach with bell pepper, tomatoes, walnuts, bleu cheese, lemon juice, and extra virgin olive oil
How to make it vegan: No cheese please.

Pasta

Pasta Primavera with whole wheat penne
Description: Pepper, mushrooms, zucchini and summer squash with cream, parmigiano and pecorino romano cheese
How to make it vegan: Say you have a dairy allergy, so you can’t have cheese or cream. Substitute the creamy, artery killing sauce with a delightful marinera instead. This is what I get every time, it is oh so good.

Linguini Aglio, Olio e Olive nere
Description: Extra virgin olive oil, Italian black olives, basil, garlic, tomatoes
How to make it vegan: All you have to do is substitute the linguini for whole wheat penne. Unfortunately, the regular pasta at Ciao Bella has eggs in it. But if you’re a real Veggie like me, you want the whole wheat anyway because it is just so gosh darn good for ya! Also, just say no cheese for good measure. Though it isn’t an ingredient listed, many times Italian restaurants will throw on a splash of parmesean.

Though there aren’t scores of things to choose from, you have plenty of appetizers and entree’s available. I get the bruschetta and penne primavera and I NEVER leave hungry. Truly one of my favorite spots in Boston!



Tofu Scramble
October 22, 2009, 6:07 pm
Filed under: Recipes

scram 019

Many would think that the hardest thing to give up in a vegan lifestyle is cheese. And for some, that may be true. But for me, EGGS were the hardest thing to give up. I miss waking up on a Sunday morning and sitting down to a delicious omelet, or eggs benedict, or just plain old sunny-side-up. And while there isn’t any magical egg substitute out there for vegans, a tofu scramble does the job just fine. It looks and tastes just like an egg white scramble! And of course, I pack it with veggies to make it the perfect start to any day.

The one I’m making today is just what I had in my fridge. It’s got sort of a “Florentine” feel (the Italian in me loves garlic and basil), but really whatever vegetable combination you like will work!

(Disclaimer: I know most people don’t “like” tofu. Even to this day I don’t consider myself a big “tofu fan.” But tofu really just takes on the flavors of whatever you put around it, so in this case it ends up tasting like the spices and veggies I put into it.)

What you will need:

2 cups of spinach, chopped
½ of a small zucchini, sliced and quartered
½ cup of mushrooms, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
¼ cup of basil
¼ tub of firm or extra firm tofu
a handful of grape or cherry tomatoes, sliced
and if you so dare, Vegan Gourmet Cheddar cheese, grated
½ tablespoon of oil, canola, vegetable or olive oil are fine.
Salt and pepper
A touch of oregano

scram 007

Instructions:

1. Using a fork, mash up the tofu, like this:
scram 005

So that in the end, it looks like this:
scram 006

2. Heat oil in a non-stick pan.
scram 011

3. Once oil is heated, add garlic, zucchini, basil and mushrooms. Sauté until soft.
scram 013

4. Add spinach and tomatoes. Cook until the spinach has cooked down.
scram 014 scram 016

5.  Add mashed tofu. Cook until heated and ingredients have bound together.
scram 017

6. Add soy cheese. Cook until melted.
scram 018

7. Salt, pepper and oregano to taste.
8. Enjoy!
scram 019

Nutritional value of this meal: Vitamin K, A, C, B2, B 6, E, B1, B3, Manganese, Folate, Magnesium, Iron, Calcium, Potassium, Tryptophan, Dietary Fiber, Copper, Protein, Phosphorous, Zinc, Omega 3 Fatty Acids, Selenium, lycopene, riboflavin, niacin, iodine, folic acid, mono and polyunsaturated fat.



Dining out- Prudential Center
October 13, 2009, 2:11 pm
Filed under: Restaurant reviews

Dining Out: The Prudential Center

PrudentialSo you’ve got friends coming into town and you’re trying to plan a nice dinner for everyone. You’re vegan, you have 1 other vegan friend, and the rest eat whatever they want. Where should you go to dinner?

While Boston is severely lacking in strictly vegan restaurants, it does have plenty of veg-friendly options in non-veg settings. Our first stop will be at the Prudential Center.

If you’ve ever been to the Pru, you know that it consists of mostly chain restaurants, making it even easier to look up a menu and plan your meal. The Cheesecake Factory, P.F. Changs, California Pizza Kitchen, Legal Sea Foods, and the new Wagamama’s all have vegan friendly options. Who knew? (I should disclose now, I have no ties to these corporations. None of them are paying me, though if anyone from these restaurants would like to start paying me, I will gladly accept and disclose my relationship with them at that time… until then I’m just recommending what I like).

*Note: anything I recommend is not cooked with meat, dairy or eggs. However, many vegans also exclude honey from their diet. I don’t. So some of these things may have honey in the ingredients.

The Cheesecake Factory

Appetizers

Thai Lettuce wraps– no chicken
Description (without chicken): Carrots, Bean Sprouts, Coconut Curry Noodles and Lettuce Leaves with three delicious Spicy Thai Sauces – Peanut, Sweet Red Chili and Tamarind-Cashew.

Guacamole Made-to-Order– no sour cream
Description (no sour cream): Ripe Avocado, Onion, Tomato, Chiles, Cilantro and Fresh Lime. Served with Tortilla Chips, and Salsa. Soooo good!

Edamame
Description: A Bowl of Soy Beans Steamed in their Pods.

Not vegan, even though they sound like they could be: Avacado Egg rolls (Contains eggs), Sweet Corn Tomales (Even if you say “no sour cream,” they are cooked with both milk and eggs).

Entrée’s

All salads can be ordered with no meat or cheese. But some of them would just be lettuce after that, so my favorite is the Fresh Vegetable Salad. Just order it with no cheese and you’ll have to get a different dressing.
Description: Asparagus, Green Beans, Tomato, Cucumber, Roasted Beets, Apple, Edamame, Radicchio, Romaine and White Cheddar with Pomegranate Vinaigrette

Vegan dressings at Cheesecake Factory: Chinese, Cilantro, Citrus Vinaigrette, Japanese, Vinaigrette, Lime Vinaigrette, Peanut Vinaigrette, Shallot Vinaigrette, Asian Vinaigrette, Sheila’s Vinaigrette. All others either contain dairy or eggs or both.

IMPORTANT: I just recently found out that the Balsamic Vinaigrette at Cheesecake Factory has BEEF BROTH IN IT. So gross since I’ve totally eaten it before.

The Incredible Grilled Eggplant Sandwich with no cheese or garlic aioli on whole wheat instead of the bun it comes with. The bun contains eggs and milk, so if you don’t want whole wheat bread that’s fine but beware the bun’s contents.
Description: Grilled Japanese Eggplant, Roasted Red Peppers, Red Onion, Melted Mozzarella and Garlic Aioli on Our Toasted Bun. Served with French Fries or Green Salad.

*isn’t it great that most French Fries are vegan? Mmmmm.

Grilled Portabella Sandwich is my personal favorite thing on the menu. It is DELICIOUS. I used to get it even when I wasn’t veg, so now that I am a simple switch to no cheese and no mayo allows me to still get my favorite thing post-veg.
Description: A Giant Portabella Mushroom Served on a Bun with Lettuce, Tomato, Grilled Red Onion, Melted Cheese and Spicy Mayonnaise. Served with French Fries or Green Salad. Just order no cheese, no mayo, and a different bun and you’re good to go. I always bring Veganaise from home and even my organic ketchup because I love condiments and I will NOT live without them. Just have to be prepared!

Pasta
A good vegan cop-out is usually pasta. If you’re vegetarian, there are plenty to choose from. Unfortunately all of the pasta noodles at Cheesecake Factory contain milk and eggs. Which I don’t mind at all because I loooove the Portobello.

Desserts
Unfortunately no desserts are vegan either, but if you’ve ever been to Cheesecake Factory you know that their portions are massive and even the non-vegs might not be able to fit in a slice of cheesecake.

PF Changs
PF is great because they have an entirely vegetarian menu, all of which happen to be vegan as well.

Appetizers
Chang’s Vegetarian Lettuce Wraps
Description: Vegetables and tofu.

Spring Rolls– Vegan whether you like it or not!
Description: Vegetables including carrots and cabbage fried.

Vegetable Dumplings

Entrée’s
Buddha’s Feast

Description: Vegetable medley with five-spice tofu served steamed or stir fried

Coconut Curry Vegetables
Description: Stir Fried mixed vegetables, crispy silken tofu, and peanuts in a vegetarian coconut curry sauce.

Stir Fried Eggplant
Description: Tossed with scallions in a savory pepper sauce.

Ma Po Tofu
Description: Sichuan’s famous dish of crispy silken tofu in a vegetarian sauce with steamed broccoli

Vegetable Chow Fun
Description: Soft, wide rice noodles and vegetables in a vegetarian sauce.

Side Dishes
Spinach stir-fried with garlic

Garlic snap peas

Spicy green beans

Wok-seared mushrooms

Sichuan-style asparagus

My personal favorites are the lettuce wraps, the spring rolls, the Vegetable Chow Fun, the Ma Po Tofu, and all of the sides. All vegan!

Desserts
No vegan desserts.

*Important: Don’t be tricked into ordering the vegetable lo mein. Lo mein noodles always have eggs in them, and this specific dish is cooked with chicken broth. Unfortunately they are not available at PF Changs, but Soba noodles are available at many other Asian restaurants, have a similar consistency to lo mein noodles and are completely vegan (and made of buckwheat, which is so much better for you!)

California Pizza Kitchen
CPK as I like to abbreviate it is a treasure trove of vegan options. And no one would have ever guessed because pizza automatically conjures images of cheesey meaty goodness. And there is plenty of that on the menu, definitely. But wait until you see what good stuff is here for Veggies too!

Appetizers
Lettuce Wraps– no chicken
Description (without meat): Shiitake mushrooms, water chestnuts and green onions in a soy ginger sauce. Served on a bed of crispy rice noodles with a side of spicy chili-ginger sauce.

Herb-Onion Focaccia with Checca
Description: Italian-style herb-onion pizza bread hearth baked and served with a fresh combination of Roma tomatoes, basil, garlic, and extra-virgin olive oil.

Tuscan Hummus– the hummus here is amaaazzzing. I’ve had a zillion hummuses before and this one is by far the best. Ever. So good!
Description: Our original recipe of Tuscan white beans puréed with sesame, garlic, lemon and spices. Garnished with fresh Roma tomatoes, basil and garlic. Served with warm pizza-pita bread. You can even order whole wheat pita bread for extra nutrition.

Asparagus soup– no croutons
Description: A creamless vegetarian soup.

Dakota Smashed Pea and Barley Soup
Description: Hearty, vegetarian split pea with barley, carrots, onions and savory herbs. Garnished with chopped green onions.

Salads
Grilled Vegetable Salad
– this salad is great because you don’t have to say “no cheese or no meat.” Literally, it is innately vegan. So you can just say “Grilled Vegetable salad please,” and you’re done!
Description: Grilled asparagus, Japanese eggplant, zucchini, green onions and roasted corn served warm over a bed of chilled Romaine lettuce, fresh avocado and sun-dried tomatoes in a Dijon balsamic vinaigrette. Tossed upon request.

Field Greens Salad– no candied walnuts
Description: A delicious blend of field greens, pears and candied walnuts tossed in Dijon balsamic vinaigrette

Pizzas

Vegetarian with Japanese Eggplant– no cheese on honey wheat dough (contains honey)
Description (with no cheese): baby broccoli, grilled Japanese eggplant, roasted corn, sliced red onions, mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes and our tomato sauce. My favorite. SO good.

Goat Cheese with Roasted Red Peppers– no cheese or bacon.
Description (cheese and bacon omitted): Roasted red & yellow peppers, grilled Japanese eggplant, caramelized onions, Italian parsley and our tomato sauce.

Pastas

Asparagus and Spinach Spaghettini– No cheese
Description (without cheese): A light pasta with sautéed asparagus, spinach, fresh tomatoes, basil and garlic.

Broccoli Sun-Dried Tomato Fusilli– No cheese
Description (without cheese): Fusilli with fresh baby broccoli, garlic, sun-dried and fresh tomatoes, and fresh thyme.

Desserts

Fresh Fruit

Legal Sea Foods
While this menu’s vegan options are not as extensive, they still exist. If your friends are forcing you to go to Legal Sea Foods, at least you know you have an option. It isn’t ideal, but it is something.

Appetizers
Edamame

Dinner
Vegetarian box
Description: Asian flavored stir-fried vegetables, Thai red coconut curry sauce, cashews, tofu and brown rice

Yes, I agree these options are boring. But like I mentioned, if you are stuck with people from work or clients or friends who just really, really want Legal Sea Foods, fear not. You won’t starve!

Wagamama
Wagamama is an Asian restaurant with plenty of vegan options. Here’s what you can get:

Appetizers
Edamame
Description: Freshly steamed green soy beans, the perfect complement to drinks. hold up to your mouth and squeeze the succulent beans from the pod. choose sprinkled with either salt or chili garlic salt

Grilled Asparagus
Description: Asparagus spears grilled with chili garlic salt and glazed with a citrus yakitori sauce. Garnished with black and white sesame seeds.

Miso Soup and Japanese style pickles
Description: A light dashi soup flavored with white miso paste, wakame, tofu and thin sliced scallion. Served with traditional pickles

Raw Salad
Description: A combination of mixed leaves, thin cut daikon, red onion, scallion and carrot. Served with wagamama house dressing and garnished with fried shallots.

Salad
Marinated Yasai noodle salad
Description: Marinated and grilled eggplant, portabella mushroom and zucchini, combined with caramelized red onion, roasted sweet potato, asparagus, diced tomato and mixed leaves. Served with wagamama house dressing and garnished with pickled red ginger and sesame seeds.

Soup
Moyashi Soba

Description: Whole wheat noodles in a vegetable soup topped with stir-fried tofu, button mushroom, squash, snow peas, leek, bean sprouts and garlic. Garnished with sliced scallion.

Noodle Dish
Yasai Chili Men- MY FAVORITE.
Description: Stir-fried shiitake and button mushrooms, fried tofu, squash, red onion, peppers, snow peas and scallion. Served with whole wheat noodles in a chili sauce made from chilies, ginger, garlic, onion, lemongrass, sweet red pepper and tomato.

Yasai Yaki Soba– order with  no eggs
Description: Teppan-fried whole wheat noodles with egg, red onion, scallion, garlic, button and shiitake mushroom, butternut squash, bean sprouts, and peppers. Garnished with black and white sesame seeds, fried shallots, pickled red ginger and spicy cilantro.

Rice Dish
Yasai cha han- order with no eggs
Description: Stir-fried rice with egg, butternut squash, snow peas, sweet corn, fried tofu, button and shiitake mushroom and scallion. Accompanied by a bowl of vegetarian miso soup and japanese style pickles.

Dessert
Sorbet

I will not be reviewing Prudential restaurants in the food court, or restaurants: Top of the Hub, Sel de la terre, the Daily Grill, L’Espalier, Tossed or Haru because I’ve never been to these places and their websites did not give me a better understanding of what vegetarian options are available. But with the restaurants I have reviewed, you have plenty of options!



Coming Out
October 7, 2009, 2:00 pm
Filed under: Personal

When I first went Vegan, I thought I had discovered a secret that everyone would want to know. I had always tried to pursue a healthy lifestyle, and to find out how incredibly wrong I was made me think others wanted to be equally inspired.

I finally knew the truth about food. And they were things you knew all along, but you never wanted to admit. I always knew that fruits, vegetables and whole grains were the way, but now I had no choice but to face the facts. Dead, decaying animal carcasses full of hormones, pesticides, and steroids are DISGUSTING. And so are the fat laden, equally poisonous “food products” they produce such as milk and eggs.

I thought everyone would want to know about this new truth I had discovered. WOW I WAS WRONG. People haaaaaaaate hearing about it. I just tried to think about it from my perspective. When my friend told me she was vegan, I was curious, not scornful. Well, not everyone is as curious as I was.

A week after I went vegan, I had to go home for a family function. When I told my parents my news, they actually seemed insulted. And of course they asked “Well how are you going to get your protein blalala” like everyone else. I was prepared for that, but what I wasn’t prepared for was the literal torture that ensued.

My brother ran around the house carrying milk cartons and screaming “AAAH ITS MILK RUN AWAY AAHHH SO SCARY,” as if being vegan meant I was afraid of animal products (He’s 23, I should add). I expected him to act like an idiot, because he has always been an idiot (Oh sibling rivalry, how fun).

But what I didn’t expect was the general reaction from my parents. It’s an odd thing when your parents stop encouraging you to eat vegetables and start telling you to eat junk food. It seems like even now two years later they’ll still say things like “But you don’t eat eggs?” It really isn’t that hard to cook vegan food. IT’S JUST VEGETABLES.

But my mom, who is an amazing cook, acted like a monkey trying to put together a jigsaw puzzle. She had no idea what to make for me. At first, I tried to be understanding. I’d be like “Oh mom that recipe you always make, just use vegetable stock instead of chicken stock.” And this woman who has cooked for 30 years would ask me to come look step by step like “Is this okay? Is this okay? Am I doing it right?”It’s not because she was trying to be nice. Believe me I would be ecstatic if she was trying to be understanding and supportive. It’s because she’s pointing out that I’m weird now. She wants me to say “Oh don’t worry about it Mom, I know it’s sooo hard to cook vegetables, throw the crap in there, you’re right. I’m wrong. What on earth was I thinking?” IT’S A RECIPE SHE HAS MADE FOR TWENTY YEARS AND ALL THAT WAS DIFFERENT WAS THE STOCK. THAT’S IT.

But I’d still try to be understanding. Until it got insulting. On Easter, I was at school and I made a “Vegan Easter” for a friend and myself. My mother called to say Happy Easter, and I told her I had cooked dinner for my friends. She said “Oh what did you make?” and I said peas, mashed potatoes with mushroom gravy, roasted vegetables, and some type of pasta. AND SHE SAID “Oh, that’s too bad…”

THAT’S TOO BAD?! I was ecstatic to eat this delicious meal I had prepared! My omnivorous guest loved everything I made! But to my mom, eating that many vegetables in one meal was just a shame. Too bad there’s no crap in it!

There’s like a zillion instances I can mention about my mom being a crazy anti-veg, but this isn’t a therapy session so I’ll continue.

On Thanksgiving, I tried to research a bunch of recipes to bring to my family gathering. I didn’t try to force them to eat tofurkey, I made peas, mashed potatoes, and a green bean casserole with soy milk. There wasn’t a single fake thing in the meal (except the soy milk), and they all avoided it like the plague. You could have saved yourself 1,000 calories by eating my mashed potatoes, but heaven forbid we try to be healthy during the holidays!

I made chocolate covered strawberries for desert. My family didn’t know I was the one who made them. They started scarfing them down, talking about how good they were, until I smiled and told them they were vegan. My dad spit his out. He spit it out of his mouth. As if before, when he thought there was stuff that would clog his artery, that was totally cool. But to find out that it was pure cocoa from the plant, the kind that happens to be full of antioxidants and doesn’t happen to be bad for you, it was disgusting.

Getting it from my crazy obese Italian family made sense, I knew that my 50 something year old parents and my ADHD brother wouldn’t understand. And you should be prepared in the same way. I know vegans who thought “my family will be different,” but they never are. They are just so misinformed and so conditioned to the American lifestyle that any stray from the norm is scary. It was the reaction from my peers that really sucked.

“That’s sooo bad for you.” “I love eating dead animals.” “Humans have evolved to eat meat.” (If only people knew we’ve evolved not to eat meat!).

These are just a few quotes that stick out in my brain. Even one of my best friends in the world told me that my vegan brain was smaller than hers. (P.S., she’s vegan now).

I couldn’t understand! Why do people hate me so much for not eating meat?! I realize it is really hard to talk about it without sounding incredibly uppity. I can’t help it that when you order your steak and cheese and I order my veggie sub, you are clogging your arteries while I’m nourishing my body. But regardless, it comes across that way.

So my number one tip to give to people about veganism: Just tell them you love animals. Maybe that’s the case. Most vegans are in it for the animals. If I had known to just say “I LOVE ANIMALS” whenever anyone asked, instead of spewing off all the nutritional pitfalls of meat, I would have avoided many an awkward conversation.

People find that an acceptable answer. Not that their meat is laden with crap. I’m not the one saying it either! If cheesey meaty eggs were good for you, I’d eat them everyday! But they’re just not. It’s not my fault. Want to hear it from a source other than me? Click here. And here. And here.

Anyway, there were some people that reacted positively. Two of my best friends went vegan instantly. Another went within a year. It just seems like anyone who puts any research into it at all comes to the same conclusion.

So now that you’re vegan and you’ve told people it’s because of animal abuse instead of all the zillions of other reasons you could choose, now what? As I’ve said, my family apparently doesn’t know how to make fruits or vegetables without drowning them with butter or cheese.

So my best advice? Be prepared. Don’t expect anyone to do you any favors. In my experience, they don’t care about supporting your choice. Going out to a restaurant with the family? Look up the website and make sure there’s something you can eat. I always try to make sure the things I can have aren’t just salad, because that’s what people expect you to eat, as if you eat twigs and grass all day.

Family function? Bring your own meal. I will eat whatever someone serves one night a year, and that is Christmas Eve. I just love the food my family serves, and for that one night I feel like I am an acceptable member of the Spoleti clan. But Thanksgiving, Easter, birthdays, they just aren’t worth putting my body through eating animal products. Because once you go vegan, it isn’t easy to go back. My body literally hurts when I eat cheese. I’m constipated for days. I have cramps. I’m in a bad mood. So only one night a year, when I’m good and drunk, can I manage to slip dead animals down my throat. Every other holiday, I go prepared.

Cook! Experiment with recipes and find ones you think other people will try! I tried that on Thanksgiving, and to my chagrin it did not work. But that doesn’t mean your family isn’t more open minded.

If you have to, trick them. I should never have told anyone about the chocolate covered strawberries. They would have been none the wiser. As long as I don’t put the word “vegan” on something, they’ll eat it. I mean carrots are vegan! Apples are vegan! But if I gave my mom an apple and said “This is vegan,” she probably wouldn’t eat it.

And don’t judge people for what they eat. I certainly don’t. I was once you, Mr. “Extra cheese please.” I know that you are hopelessly addicted to that food, because the food industry wants you to be. Who do you think pays for “Got Milk?” commercials? It isn’t the Department of Health and Human Services, it is the Dairy Council of America. They want you to think these things are good for you so they can profit off of your obesity.

I don’t judge people for eating meat, so I can tell them not to judge me because I don’t. It would be nice if all the world were Veggies, but alas the heart disease and obesity rates speak to the contrary.

Tell them you just love animals, go prepared, trick ‘um if you have to, and don’t judge.