All Your Favorite Foods Can Be Made Vegan, And They Are Very Very Good

When I finally became vegan a few years ago, it was easier than I thought it would be. The things I thought I would miss, I didn’t miss as much, and the things I do miss, I just find a way to make vegan. And I think I went vegan at the perfect time because new vegan products are hitting shelves all the time. Since I became vegan, Field Roast started making an amazing sliced cheese for sandwiches, Daiya put out a boxed mac n cheese meal, Beyond Meat became a major grocery staple, and Follow Your Heart made the VeganEgg. And that is just scratching the surface. Ben & Jerry’s, Haagen-Dazs and even Breyer’s are making their own vegan ice creams, Coffee-Mate makes a vegan creamer and pea protein is a revolutionary addition to the plant milk lineup. It just keeps getting better and better.

Anyway, thanks to VeganEgg, breakfast is my favorite meal of the day (on the days I eat breakfast). Back in my non-vegan days, I really loved making quiche. I considered myself something of a quiche-master, if you will. And with VeganEgg, I discovered early this year that I can continue pursuing the art of the quiche without any real differences. Now, I have only made three vegan quiches, and they have all been basically the same variety of quiche, but I must say, this quiche is as good as any other quiche I have had in my life and I plan to make this quiche for all my friends and family over the course of my lifetime. Successfully cooking something that exceeds my expectations is one of the most pleasurable parts of life, and every day that I put effort into a good meal are my most mentally and emotionally rewarding days. This feels odd to say being that I am a feminist, but as someone who has spent my entire adult life struggling with depression and anxiety, I have to be honest: If I didn’t have to go to work and could just spend my days arranging breakfast, lunch and dinner for myself and my loved ones, I would probably never feel impatient for my life to finally be over. I’d probably feel this way about any of my other passions if I were as good at them as I am at cooking (or even just organizing) a meal.

But enough about me! I’ll bet you’re just here so you can get that sweet sweet quiche recipe.

Perfect VeganEgg Quiche

6 tbsp Follow Your Heart VeganEgg
1 1/2 cup Ice Cold Water
1/2 cup Ice Cold Unsweetened Almond Milk
3/4 package (about 5 oz.) Parmela Creamery Sharp Cheddar Shreds (use another brand at your own risk)
1 tbsp Corn Starch
1 tsp All-Purpose Flour
1 tbsp Nutritional Yeast Flakes
1/4 tsp Salt
Pepper to taste
1/2 tsp Onion Powder
1 tsp Parsley Flakes
1/2 cup chopped Baby Bella Mushrooms
1/4 cup chopped Red Pepper
1/4 cup chopped Green Pepper
2 Boca Sausage Links, thawed and chopped (optional)
1 cup chopped Baby Spinach
1 storebought Pie Crust
1/2 tsp Olive Oil

Preheat oven to 425F. Grease 9-inch round pie pan with olive oil and line with pie crust. Mix about 3 1/2 oz. of your cheese shreds with flour over bottom of pie crust. In a bowl, whisk VeganEgg and water until fully blended. Add almond milk, nutritional yeast, corn starch, salt, pepper, onion powder and parsley. Mix again until smooth. Stir in remaining cheese shreds. Place spinach evenly in pie crust over cheese/flour mixture. Fill with remaining veggies and optional sausage. Use spatula to pour VeganEgg mixture into pan and smooth top to distribute evenly. Bake at 425F for 30-40 mins. Let cool on counter for about 5 minutes and then slice into eighths. Serves 1, unless you are a sucker and feel like sharing.


A realization

At this point I’ve come to realize that veganism, for me, is not a choice. When I first considered becoming vegan, I thought it was. But when I actually became vegan, I had no choice. I’d read enough and seen enough that no matter what it takes, it is my absolute duty to be vegan. I could not possibly choose to be anything else.

Why I talk about it

I recently went from vegetarian to vegan. It only makes sense, because I came to realize that all the reasons I don’t eat meat are the same exact reasons I should not consume any other animal products. As someone who didn’t always know that, as someone who used to eat meat even, I understand why some people have not reached the same conclusion.

But I think that makes it all the more important that as vegans, as vegetarians, people do speak out about what they know. I am sure that most people hate my vegan posts, but I hate that they remain partially responsible for the abuse and suffering of animals worldwide. If people fully understood what they were supporting every time they put butter on their baked potato or shoveled chicken alfredo into their mouths, I would desperately hope they feel outraged.

There are multiple reasons I became vegan. There are valid health and environmental reasons for it. However, it is not really my place to tell anyone what to do for their health. For me, being vocal about veganism isn’t about health, though anyone who cares about their health should consider the ramifications of animal proteins. Being vocal about veganism is sometimes environmental, because the state of our environment affects every living being on this planet. We should all be concerned about what factory farming is doing to our climate, our soil, and our resources. Most of all, however, being vocal about veganism is about the precious lives of all the animals who experience abuse every day, who die violent deaths after a lifetime of mistreatment, of being violated, of being held captive, of being put in pain and in fear by people who have no compassion for them.

The only way to stop this from happening is if everyone stops eating them, stops wearing them, stops using them. And this is why I continue to talk about it and continue to encourage people to look inside their hearts and examine what kind of person they are. Because these animals do not deserve to live and die the way they do, and any good-hearted person should understand that.

A New Routine

Depression is hard, you guys.

I know, way to state the obvious, but even when it’s something you’ve lived with for more than half your life, it’s still something you have to face every day, to some degree or another. Some times are harder than others. It’s worst for me in the spring, after Daylight Savings Time fucks my sleep schedule all up, and then in August when I’m officially fed up with summer and just want my sweet sweet sweater weather to come back.

All fall and winter long, I was waking up at 6 or 7 a.m. feeling refreshed and ready to exist. Now I’m lucky to drag my ass up at 8 a.m. because somehow a tiny one-hour time change has thrown everything out of whack. It’ll take me a month or two to adjust, and at least I’ve been through it enough times that I know that, and I know things will even back out, and I just have to deal until then.

At my age, depression has become not so much a mental and emotional thing as it is a physical thing. I don’t experience severe thoughts of worthlessness and I don’t feel like everything is hopeless. I mean, yes, I do have to work to convince myself that I’m not terrible at everything I do, but while once those thoughts were what made me hide under my covers and curse my life, they are now just things that I acknowledge and say “Nah, I’m pretty okay.” That’s not to say I don’t get overwhelmed anymore. I get overwhelmed all the time. I get hypomanic late at night but am so overcome by all my racing thoughts that I can’t. I just can’t. I sit there doing exactly nothing even while my brain is saying “DO EVERYTHING THIS VERY INSTANT.” Like, the overwhelm of everything is actually a thing that often just renders me still. I’m drowning too much to function, so I just don’t do anything at all, and think about how much I’m not doing anything.

The great news here is that I have a job that I love, I have activities that I love, I have a home that I love, I have a life that I love. I am really happy with the way everything is, even usually pretty happy with the way I am. I want my life to keep being exactly what it is, except with me functioning through it all. That’s the thing that needs to change. That’s the thing that I will have to work at every day of my life so I can actually enjoy my great life.

Which is why I’m deciding to implement a really simple, real straightforward daily routine, to keep my life on track, no matter how much it feels like it’s veering off the rails.

to do

Basically, no matter what else I do that day (go to work, use the Internet, watch TV, whatevs) I just have to make sure that before I go to bed, I’ve done at least these things. It’s a lot of things, but it doesn’t have to be much. Like, for “create 1 art,” I can just do a portion of a project I’m working on. I just have to make sure that I’ve made SOME kind of progress. I look at this list and think these are realistic goals, and these will help me maintain a decent level of function in my life.

This starts today. I’ve already done a chore and eaten a food. Does this post count as art? Because then I’ve done that! And guess what, I can decide for myself what counts as art, and I think this does, because I’m writing a thing! That just leaves me with one chapter of my book, which I’m sure I’ll pound out during downtime at the job, and then an exercise. I just found a bunch of yoga vids on Hulu, so I think that will be a great way to power down this evening.

Am I going to beat myself up if I somehow don’t manage to do this every day? Well, yes, yes I really will. Should I? No, probably not, because at least I’m trying. Feel free to try along with me.

Something I Feel Is Important

There is this wonderful section of Herman Hesse’s Steppenwolf about how no person is just defined by a single quality. How inside every person are dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of different people. Everyone is so multifaceted that even though they may identify or be associated with only some particular ones, there is so much more there.

I remember reading that and thinking “YES, I know exactly what you mean!” because, perhaps unlike most people, I am so deeply aware of all that is within me, many often conflicting with one another, but they are all there regardless, and making up one complete person.

It is so complicated to be all these people at once, because you’re left having to choose which ones you will be. One person, one lifetime, millions of choices to make. This is a thought that requires a lot more writing and I will probably spend the rest of my lifetime trying to write about it.

But my point here is that I find the older I get, the more I feel certain about where my path is leading, despite whatever conflicts I have about it. What I really want to do is live simply, minimally. There are so many things I will have to give up to achieve this, and it’s not going to be easy. It’s going to take a long time to get there, but I’ll get there.

This all sounds a bit vague, I know. I’m not sure how to explain it all yet, exactly, I guess. That’s another thing I’ll get to in time. For now, all I can say for sure is that, in the upcoming years, I will try to rid myself of things I don’t need, no matter how much I love them and want them. I picture myself, 10 year from now, living in a tiny house near civilization, but not right in the middle of it, with limited amenities. Meaning: No television, no Internet, not a whole lot to distract me, so when I am at home I will be forced to do the things my soul feels driven to do, like reading and writing and gardening and yoga. I will learn to spend very little money, and be mostly self-sufficient. I’m already a vegetarian, but I may try to, at least most of the time, subsist on a vegan diet.

I will still keep my laptop computer and use free wifi when I go to town for work or whatever, to help me stay in touch with people, and also so I can maintain access to new music, which is a thing I don’t think I could ever choose to give up. However, otherwise, my time will be spent just trying to get all the stuff that’s in my head out on paper. Because I want to use it to try to change the world for the better. I want to be an example of my values, and right now, the way I am living, I don’t think I am. There are things I believe in, there are ways to live that I support and encourage, and yet I live like a middle class citizen with luxuries I don’t need and that are possibly even damaging to the world. And it’s all because of fear, because I’m afraid to let go of it all to do what I feel is right. Because change is scary, even when it’s something you really want.

Which is why I’m not doing it all at once, but I will get there. And when I do, I can’t wait to tell the world what it’s like, and that it’s okay, and that we can all live like that, and be peaceful and happy and charitable, and spend our lives helping others instead of hurting them with selfishness. That people who choose greed have no power over us because we don’t want what they take from us anyway. We can live without it, and we will.

Always be the best driver you can be

Here is the thing: Being a good driver is important. Not being able to impress people with how fast you can go, or how well you can multitask while you’re behind the wheel, or whatever it is you think impresses people (because trust me, it impresses exactly nobody).

Driving is a privilege that shouldn’t be taken for granted. You can’t just do what you know you’re supposed to do during the licensing test and then go on to fool around and do whatever is convenient for you. It is serious, and you have a responsibility to yourself, to the people around you, to future licensed drivers, to your community, to everybody. When you are given that license, you are entrusted with something very powerful, and it’s necessary to understand if you are really to be worthy of that card.

There is a reason I don’t use my phone when I am driving. Because I AM DRIVING, and when I am driving, that is my first priority is to focus on that exact task. If someone calls me or texts me while I’m driving, I don’t care because I can get back to them later. If I think that what they’re saying is really something that cannot wait, if I must take that call or respond to that text immediately, then I will find a place to pull my car over, so my attention won’t be divided. But honestly, how often is a text ever that important?

Here is the thing: None of this is news. None of this is stuff that all people issued driver’s licenses haven’t heard already. “Don’t text and drive” is as common a phrase anymore as “Don’t drink and drive” and “Buckle up!” You don’t have an excuse to ignore it. Even since this video has been up online, it’s been shared vastly, and including it in this post and writing what I’m writing feels redundant to me. But I am posting it because it’s important.

This is bigger than texting and driving though. This is, first and foremost, about respecting the responsibility that’s given to you when you are legally permitted to drive a vehicle. Every sign that’s up, every signal, every rule, every speed limit, is there for a reason. They are there to ensure the safety of everyone who could be affected by any one person’s privilege to drive. Instead of thinking you’re above that, just be glad for the opportunity to drive at all, and try to be the best example you can be so you are deserving of that opportunity and so everyone else can continue to be, as well.

So I guess this is a thing I do now

I’ll be posting these as regularly as I make them over at my Tumblr.