Dear New Vegan

In 2013 I responded to a call for letters to new vegans. What did I wish others had shared with me when I began my vegan journey? Originally my letter was accepted into the now published book, but later dropped. I’m guessing because other more famous vegans submitted awesome letters. Since my letter was not published, I still own the rights to it and thought you might enjoy reading.

Dear New Vegan,

You have embarked on an inspiring journey of love. Love for yourself, animals, and the environment that enriches and sustains all life. Never forget this. No matter the bumps in the road you will inevitably encounter, your commitment to love will guide you to always making the best decision for yourself.

I wish someone had told me this journey was about love. My journey started from a place of intolerance. Intolerance for how animals are treated, intolerance for how we think animals make a meal, and a biological intolerance of animal proteins. If I had known how much love I could share with the world by not eating sentient beings, my journey would have been easier.

As a child, I had very little. It’s safe to say that humble is where I began. Thus, I ate whatever I could because I had no idea when I would be able to eat again. Choices based on ideals, emotions, or taste buds were not an option. When I was older and circumstances changed, I had little guidance on how animals did not have to be part of my diet. Today this idea seems absurd. My nephews make food choices from their taste buds every day. By seeing my veganism and love, they have clear ideas of what is possible.

What can I tell you that you don’t already know? Nothing. Your decision has already been made and changed many lives. What I can tell you is that you are not alone. There are lots of people near you who have made or are making the same decision. The easy part is finding them. Explore your local vegan friendly restaurant and talk with the wait staff. They already know who is vegan. Go online and find local vegan and vegetarian groups in your community. Start a Vegan Drinks group if one is not already organized and meet new people in a very casual way. Your support team is out there waiting to be part of your journey.

I encourage a support team because being vegan is still not easy. You may find lots of people who feel you have made a terrible decision. I know I did and still do. If you let them, they will argue you away from the love you are growing. Some will even feel offended by your decision. This is okay. Please know that they are only struggling with their choices, not yours. They may never change their minds and that is okay too. But, you can use your new strength from this love to stay on your path and show through your actions how easy and healthy veganism is. And you can use your support team to help spend less time on the negative.

A support team can also help you find new foods, new recipes, and new restaurants. If beginning their vegan journey at the same time as you, there is so much you can explore together. If vegan has been part of their lives for a while, they can help you leap over some of the initial hurtles of your new lifestyle. Hurtles such as the yummiest vegan brands and where to find them cheapest, or where to find the best veggie burger in town.

Please don’t be discouraged if finding a support team takes a little time. The internet is always available with blogs, websites, forums, and social networks to find like-minded friends and ideas. Lots of people are happily vegan and ready to share online.

The only other thing I can share is that all changes toward veganism are important. Even the little ones. It may take a little time to become fully vegan. I spent several months transitioning. It was the best approach for me. Everyone is different and it’s okay if a little time is needed. Please don’t think less of yourself if time is needed or if there is a moment of “cheating.” You know what is best for you and your new support team will help you get back to where you want to be.

New vegan, I hope you can follow all the joy, happiness, and love you are creating for yourself and trust that your world just got a lot better.


Cinnamon Snail in NYC

I didn’t think I was going to get to try the Cinnamon Snail. Everyone has been talking with gusto about this food truck. It has gotten so popular that the truck mostly shows up for catering and events and is no longer just hanging out in midtown like it used to.

Well, I made it to my first Vegan Shop-Up in Brooklyn today and there it was! Magically calling me with minimal line. I started jumping up and down, I was so excited! I immediately got into the small line and ignored the other vendors. Oops. I will have to catch them next time.

Beastmode Burger Delux and a s’more donut passed through my pie hole and thrilled my tastebuds. Seriously, the burger is spicy and yummy. The donut has what tastes like chocolate pudding and a marshmallow. Mmm…

Both super yummy. Cinnamon Snail gets five out of five vegan cupcakes for being awesome. Yummy, fun, and off the wall fast food. If the truck even crosses my path again, my tummy will be full.


Lasagna In A Pot

Raise you hand if you love lasagna. (Me! Me! Pick me!)

Now, raise your hand if you don’t always have time to make lasagna. (MEEE!!)

Here’s an easy option to enjoy lasagna without needing as much time to make it. I made up this recipe years ago when I was missing meals in a box. We all get weird cravings. What you will need:

1 box pasta, I used gluten free

1 medium onion, diced

1 green bell pepper, diced

1 cup fresh basil, stems removed and coarsely chopped

1 tsp avocado oil

2 TBS minced garlic

1 cup diced mushrooms

1 can black olives, sliced into circles

1 can black beans, drained and rinsed

1 can crushed fire roasted tomatoes

1 can diced fire roasted tomatoes with green chili

1 tsp liquid aminoes

1/2 tsp black pepper 

1 cup mozerella cheese

Cook pasta according to directions. Place all chopped veggies and oil in large pot to sauté. Once onions are desired consistency, add tomatoes, beans, olives, and spices. Let heat. Add cooked pasta and cheese. Stir. Serve warm. Yummers!!

Asparagus and Arugula Salad

Seriously, cold pasta salads are fabulous in the summer. As always, this is easy and delicious. What you will need:

1 bunch fresh asparagus, ends twisted off (discard) and stems broken into desired size – steam to desired softness

1 package pasta, I used a gluten-free pasta – cook with salt to give a salty flavor to dish

1/3 cup toasted pine nuts – if you buy raw pine nuts like I do, quickly toast in a pan (they burn easily)

Juice and zest from 1 medium lemon

1 TBS olive oil 

1 TBS rice vinegar 

2 generous handfuls fresh baby arugula 

2/3 cup Daiya shredded mozzarella

2 bunches fresh basil, large leaves torn into smaller pieces

Black pepper to taste

Place the lemon zest and juice, olive oil, rice vinegar, and pepper in a large bowl. Stir. Add everything but the cheese and stir. If the pasta is still warm, the arugula will wilt, which is a wonderful texture change in the dish. Chill at least an hour and stir in cheese just before serving. Yummers!