Myths About Being Vegan

Ever since becoming vegan I constantly have people asking me questions about why I choose this lifestyle and what it’s really like. A lot of people can be pretty judgmental because of their preconceived ideas about food and health. Here are some of the most common myths I’ve heard about vegan diets:

  1. All vegan food is expensive

First of all, I’m a broke college student, and I’ve really had no trouble affording vegan foods. Whole foods are already much less expensive than packaged products, and foods like pasta, quinoa, tofu, beans, nuts, and fruits and veggies are very unlikely to break the bank. It’s actually quite easy to find cheap vegan foods, especially when you’re cooking for yourself.

2. Vegans have trouble getting enough protein

There are plenty delicious sources of protein that are vegan. Lentils, tofu, beans, nuts and nut butters, quinoa, green peas, artichokes, oatmeal, tempeh, spinach and chickpeas are just some of these foods that can provide vegans with the protein our bodies need.

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3. Dairy products are necessary for strong bones

This is definitely one of the biggest myths out there. Humans really aren’t even meant to consume cow’s milk- baby cows are! (And we’re meant to consume our mother’s milk when we’re infants) Much of what we have learned about dairy products is from dairy companies who advertise to children in schools. (Remember that milk carton you got every day with your school lunch?) While it’s true that milk and cheese are good sources of calcium, there are plenty of other ways to get this mineral without harming animals or the earth. Foods like kale, spinach, collard greens, broccoli, almonds, calcium-fortified cereals, pinto beans, figs and oranges are high in calcium and can help keep your bones strong and healthy!

4. One person going vegan won’t make a difference

Each day, a person who eats a vegan diet saves:

1,100 gallons of water

45 pounds of grain

30 square feet of forests

20 pounds CO2 equivalent

and the life of one animal.

Not bad, huh?

5. Your body needs meat to be healthy

Eating a plant-based diet can help reduce high blood pressure and high cholesterol as well as your chance of some cancers, obesity, diabetes, heart attack and stroke. Humans actually have no biological or nutritional need for animal products, and in 2016, a study conducted at Oxford University found that by 2050, widespread adoption of plant-based diets could prevent around 8.1 million premature human deaths each year.

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The Hardest Parts About Being Vegan

Becoming vegan has definitely been one of the more difficult things that I have done during my lifetime. The main challenge that I’d say I’ve faced as a vegan so far would be the social stigma that comes along with being vegan. I am often subject to ridicule, and while I don’t mind talking about being vegan at all (I really enjoy it, if you couldn’t already tell), intrusive and prying questions do get quite annoying. Most people aren’t trying to be rude, but it can get tiresome to answer countless questions every day about your eating habits. I’ve learned over time to surround myself with people who support my lifestyle choices, even if they don’t follow them themselves.

Going out to eat out to eat can be a burden at times, as well. There have definitely been a few times when I’ve gone out to eat with friends and realized that there was nearly nothing on the menu that I could order. Luckily I am not very picky, but it’s always nice when my friends keep my dietary restrictions in mind and choose a restaurant at which we can all happily eat.

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Watching your friends eat food that you choose not to can be a bit disheartening at times, which is why I always make sure to have vegan snacks with me and to remind myself that there is some sort of vegan substitute for anything my friends are eating that I think I can’t. Traveling can also be difficult because unfamiliar areas and regional differences can definitely cause some discomfort.

Being vegan is a lifestyle choice that comes with many challenges but, in my opinion, even more rewards. Knowing that there are cruelty-free substitutes for almost every food imaginable makes life as a vegan a lot easier, even though it’s sometimes more work. I have found this to be incredibly rewarding, though, and I would recommend this lifestyle to anyone.

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Vegan Apple Cider Donuts

My favorite foods are the ones that bring back happy memories from my childhood. Whenever I smell apple cider donuts, my mind is immediately brought back to when I lived in Illinois as a young kid and my family would visit a cider mill and pumpkin patch every autumn. It is by far one of my favorite childhood memories, and eating fresh, warm apple cider donuts was the best part of it. This made me want to create a vegan version of this delicious fall treat because what’s better than an amazing fall dessert? An amazing fall dessert that’s cruelty-free, of course!

Ingredients:

  • All-purpose flour
  • Baking powder
  • Baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp allspice
  • Salt
  • Maple syrup
  • Apple cider
  • Applesauce
  • Canola oil
  • Vanilla extract
  • Powdered sugar
  • White sugar

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Instructions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350° Fahrenheit, then coat a donut pan with nonstick spray.

  2. In a small bowl, mix 1 cup flour, 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder, 1/2 tsp. baking soda, all the spices spices and a pinch of salt.

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  1. In a separate bowl, whisk 1/3 cup maple syrup, 1/4 cup apple cider, 1/4 cup applesauce, 1 tbsp. canola oil and 1 tsp. vanilla extract. Mix the wet ingredients with the dry until just combined.
  2. Spoon batter into the donut pan.
  3. Bake for 8-10 minutes then remove from oven and let cool in pan for a few minutes before moving donuts onto a cooling rack to cool completely.
  4. To make glaze, whisk together 1 cup powdered sugar and 2 tbsp. apple cider.
  5. For the cinnamon sugar topping, mix 1/2 cup white sugar, 1 tbsp. cinnamon and 1/4 tsp. nutmeg in a separate bowl.
  6. Once the donuts have cooled, dip the tops of each into the glaze then sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.
  7. Enjoy! 🙂

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What Going Vegan Has Taught Me

I have been vegan for about a year and a half now, and it has completely changed my life. I decided to go vegan the summer after my sophomore year of college. After being vegetarian since the age of nine, I decided that trying to take that extra step and cut out all animal products sounded like a good idea.

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Going vegan has taught me countless things about myself. It has taught me that I am much stronger than I originally thought- veganism is a lifestyle which some may call extreme, and it definitely isn’t easy. I have learned that it’s okay to fail and to live a little sometimes, though. When I first started being vegan, I would get really upset with myself whenever I ate something with any animal products in it, like eggs or cheese. Over time, I have learned that I enjoy life a lot more when eating vegan doesn’t seem like a burden. Now if I really want to eat something with cheese in it, I’ll do it (and won’t hate myself later)! I think that being vegan is about doing the best you can. It’s nearly impossible to be a “perfect” vegan, and I really think that every little bit you can do to help out animals/the planet is very important.

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I have also learned that other people’s opinions really don’t matter at all. Tons of people judge me for being vegan, but I’ve realized that’s mostly because they don’t know much about it. When people judge me for my lifestyle choices I just brush it off and politely move on, because I am proud of my choices and will always stand up for myself. Surround yourself by people who make you feel good about yourself and who support your lifestyle decisions! I am very lucky to have family and friends who are extremely supportive of my veganism.

Becoming a vegan has honestly been no picnic, but I hope that I will remain one for the rest of my life. I am very happy with the way I look and feel due to veganism, and I also feel very good to be helping animals and the earth. Being vegan has taught me so much about what I am truly capable of, and it is a decision that I will always be happy I made.

Vegan Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

One of my favorite breakfast foods growing up was my mom’s banana chocolate chip muffins. She constantly had fresh ones at our house, and it was always one of my favorite snacks even though I don’t really like bananas that much. I decided that vegan banana chocolate chip muffins would probably be pretty easy to make, and delicious too!

Ingredients:

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  • Nonstick spray or vegan butter
  • 1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tbsp. ground cinnamon
  • Salt
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 cup mashed bananas
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened non-dairy milk
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1/2 cup vegan chocolate chips

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350° Fahrenheit.
  2. Coat a muffin tin with non-stick spray or vegan butter. You can also line with paper muffin cups.
  3. Mix the sugar, brown sugar, flour, baking powder, cinnamon, salt and baking soda together in a bowl.

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  1. In a separate, smaller bowl, mix the mashed bananas, non-dairy milk and canola oil together.

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  1. Add the banana puree to the flour mixture and stir until combined. Add vegan chocolate chips.

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  1. Fill muffin cups with the batter.

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  1. Bake for 30-35 minutes.
  2. Enjoy! 🙂

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These vegan banana chocolate chip muffins are a very simple and delicious breakfast and/or snack and are also much healthier than your typical muffins! The fact that they’re also cruelty-free makes them even better, as well!

Vegan Buffalo Dip

It’s football season! A dish everyone seems to love at tailgates is buffalo dip, so I decided to make a vegan version! I don’t want to miss out on all the delicious foods served during football season, so of course this was the only answer!

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For my vegan ranch dressing:

  • 1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/5 cup vegan mayo
  • 1.5 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 3 cloves garlic crushed
  • 1/2 Tbs parsley
  • 1 tsp dill
  • Salt
  • Paprika
  • Pepper

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Buffalo Sauce:
  • ⅔ cup hot sauce
  • ½ cup vegan butter
  • ½ tsp chili powder
  • ½ tsp worcestershire sauce
Vegan Buffalo Jackfruit Dip:
  • 1 can jackfruit in brine
  • ½ cup + 4 tbsp buffalo sauce
  • 1 8oz container vegan cream cheese
  • ¼ cup vegan ranch
  • ⅓ cup vegan shredded cheddar cheese
Instructions:
  1. Simmer all the ingredients for the sauce on medium until the butter melts. Remove it from the stove and set aside.

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2. Preheat the oven to 350.

3. Drain and rinse the jackfruit. Cut off the center core part of the fruit and throw away.

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4. Using your hands, shred the jackfruit until it looks like shredded chicken.

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5. Heat the jackfruit in a pan with 4 tbsp buffalo sauce until it becomes colorful and some pieces become crisp.

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6. Combine the jackfruit in a mixing bowl along with the rest of the ingredients and transfer to a glass baking dish.

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7. Bake for 25 minutes.

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 I served this with tortilla chips, but it’s great with things like celery, carrots and pretzels as well!

How to Camp Sustainably

Going camping is one of the greatest pleasures life can offer, at least in my opinion. This past weekend, a few of my friends and I decided to go on a spontaneous camping trip in Colorado, which inspired me to start thinking about ways to be more environmentally-conscious while camping.



“Leave no trace” is a motto that many campers try to follow, but what can we be doing to make sure that our time spent in nature has as little impact on it as possible?


1. Bring reusable dish ware, utensils, etc.

2. Buy used camping gear

3. Use eco-friendly toiletries (making your own shampoo, deodorant, makeup, etc. is a great way to do this!)

4. Pack vegan snacks and look up vegan recipes you can make over the campfire

5. Use as much solar-powered energy as you can (solar-powered chargers and lanterns are a great way to do this)

6. Try hiking or biking whenever possible instead of driving

7. Use homemade or nontoxic bug spray and sunscreen

8. Use biodegradable toilet paper

9. Use a refillable water bottle and limit plastic use as much as possible

10. Leave nothing but footprints, take nothing but pictures!



Tips on Being Vegan in College

College is one of the most fun times in a person’s life, but it can also be one of the hardest. Being vegan can add to the challenges of college, but here are some helpful tips on how to overcome those challenges.

  1. Always carry snacks in your backpack. This will help prevent you from getting really hungry in a place where you can’t have food or a place that doesn’t offer vegan options.
  2. Search for clubs to join on campus- or even start your own! Your campus probably has some sort of environmental club and maybe even a vegan or vegetarian group! If not, why not start your own?12341387_10208212387812742_3870273043329441010_n.jpg
  3. Check Pinterest for easy recipe ideas. There are thousands on there, and unlike cookbooks it’s free!
  4. See if there’s a grocery store or market (maybe even a farmer’s market) near your campus that offers lots of vegan options. Places like Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s and Sprouts always have great options for vegan diets and lifestyles.
  5. Look for vegan options in dining halls. There are usually plenty, but if you don’t see any just ask! They will probably be more than willing to accommodate your needs. Sandwich stations, salad bars and pasta bars usually have some great vegan choices.
  6. Look up vegan/vegetarian restaurants near your campus. Most college towns are starting to get more and more of these!11667448_10207167847339883_4076838064135210927_n.jpg
  7. Don’t take yourself too seriously! If people make fun of you or judge you for being vegan, just brush it off! Your lifestyle choices are your personal decisions and no one’s business but your own.15286_10205934552388280_223053705026103544_n.jpg

Eating vegan in college can be a challenge, but also extremely rewarding. As a senior in college, I have been vegan since sophomore year and haven’t regretted my decision once. Prepping yourself for success is the best way to stay vegan! If you decide this lifestyle isn’t for you, don’t be too hard on yourself. Being totally vegan is a pretty extreme life choice and isn’t for everyone.

Vegan Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls

Growing up, cinnamon rolls were one of my favorite foods. I have fond memories of my childhood summers when my mom would bake delicious cinnamon rolls before my brother and I headed off to swim team practice. Fall has also always been my favorite season, and nothing excites me more than when pumpkin-flavored food and drinks start to creep into menus. To me, nothing sounds better than vegan pumpkin cinnamon rolls- which is why I decided to make this recipe.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 packet instant yeast
  • Unsweetened almond milk
  • Vegan butter
  • Sea salt
  • Pumpkin pie spice
  • Cinnamon
  • Pumpkin puree
  • Sugar
  • Flour
  • Powdered sugar (for glaze)

Instructions:

1. In a large microwave-safe bowl, heat 1 cup almond milk and 2 tbsp. vegan butter in the microwave for 30 seconds at a time until melted. Let cool a bit until it reaches the temperature like that of warm bath water.
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2. Sprinkle on yeast. Let it activate for 10 minutes, then stir in 1 tbsp. sugar, 1/4 tsp. salt, 1/2 tsp. cinnamon and 1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice. Let it sit for a few minutes then follow by whisking in 1/3 cup of pumpkin puree.
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3. Add flour 1/2 cup at a time, stirring as you go until the dough is sticky and too thick to stir. Move it to a lightly floured surface then knead a bit until it forms a loose ball shape. Add flour as needed.
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4. Coat a mixing bowl with nonstick oil, then roll your dough ball around in it until fully coated. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set in a warm place (I set mine outside) to rise for 45 minutes – 1 hour. The dough ball should have doubled in size.
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5. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough into a thin rectangle shape. Brush with 2.5 tbsp. melted vegan butter.
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6. To make the filling, mix 1/2 cup pumpkin butter, 1 tbsp. cinnamon and 1/2 tbsp. pumpkin pie spice and spread on top of the dough rectangle. Top with 1/3 cup sugar.
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7. Tightly roll the dough into a log then cut with a serrated knife into 1.5 – 2 inch sections. Place in a well-oiled 8×8 glass pan. There should be about 10 rolls.
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8. Brush 2 tbsp. melted vegan butter on top then sprinkle with 1 tbsp. sugar. Cover in plastic wrap, then set on top of the oven to let rise again while you preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
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9. Bake rolls for 30-40 minutes, then let cool.
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10. For the glaze, melt 1 tbsp. vegan butter and whisk in 2 – 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar. Mix then gradually thin with almond milk, 1 tsp. at a time. The mixture should be pourable but still thick. I added a bit of pumpkin pie spice and cinnamon as well for more pumpkin flavor.
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Trying out different vegan recipes is one of my favorite past times, and I plan on making more recipes very soon! These cinnamon rolls are definitely one of my favorite recipes that I have ever made.

Traveling While Vegan

In my opinion, traveling is one of the greatest joys in life. If you’re vegan, though, traveling can pose many challenges that you have to learn to overcome. After living in London for a semester and Los Angeles for a summer and doing lots of traveling while living both places, I had to learn how to eat vegan while also still enjoying myself and not stressing over it. Here are some of my tips for those of you who are trying to eat vegan while traveling.

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1. Download some vegan apps.

Free phone apps such as “Happy Cow” can help you find vegan-friendly restaurants near you, which can make your life much easier. Another cool app is “Is It Vegan?,” which lets you scan barcodes of items to see if the ingredients in them are vegan are not. This is not only great for traveling, but for every day life as well! Grocery shopping just got so much easier.

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2. Consider staying some place with a kitchen.

While this might not be an optimal choice, if you’re really nervous about eating vegan while traveling, staying in a place with a kitchen that you can cook in can help relieve lots of unnecessary stress.

3. Look up restaurants beforehand.

If you know you’re going to be traveling to a new place, do your research and look up places with vegan options that sound good to you. Having a few places to eat in your arsenal is never a bad idea and can make eating out while traveling so much easier!

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4. Carry vegan snacks with you.

I’m a snacker. In my book, few things are worse than being super hungry while out and about and not having anything to tide me over. When you’re traveling, this can be a very common occurrence. Save yourself from being “hangry” by keeping your bag stocked with your favorite vegan treats!

5. Learn useful phrases in the local language, if applicable.

If you’re going to a country that doesn’t speak your language, one of the best things you can do is to Google ways to say that you can’t eat certain things, like eggs or meat. This can make things much easier when you’re at a restaurant struggling to order something that you can eat while in another country!

6. Go with the flow and realize that it’s okay to “fail.”

Don’t beat yourself up if you want to try that cool local dish that’s full of dairy (or even meat). If you really want something, especially something unique or special to that place that you’ll probably never find somewhere else, just have it! Of course, it’s completely up to you, but even though I’m vegan I make sure not to limit myself so much that I’m not enjoying life! There really is no such thing as the perfect vegan, and in my opinion being vegan is really about doing the best you can to help out animals and the earth- it’s not about restricting yourself and being “100 percent perfect” all the time.

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Traveling while vegan can be difficult at times, but if you do your research and prepare yourself then it can become so much easier! When I was traveling around Europe last semester I definitely didn’t eat vegan 100 percent of the time, and I have absolutely no regrets! You just have to do what feels best for you and makes you happy.