Tag Archives: christmas

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I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas or a happy holiday. I hardly consider Christmas a “christian” exclusive holiday since most of the traditions are not rooted in the birth of Christ. And there are many books and articles written about how Christmas is pretty much a bunch of pagen celebrations that no one would give up, so they tacked on the celebration of Jesus Christ part, and made it okay to celebrate.

Now that Christmas is over I have been mulling over a few things. What I want to do with my life, different aspects of veganism, health, and whatever else. And I figured I would share what I have learned this year for Christmas, then eventually my New Years Resolutions/Goals.

1 I need to clear up what vegan means

I noticed what I got for Christmas this year has shifted. Clearly people are getting me things that they thought were vegan, like my sister got me some nice beauty products from a hip brand in Brooklyn called Flynn & King. Most of their products are vegan, except the lip balm (beeswax), which my sister got me (she also got this cool soap, which is vegan). I have also gotten some foods that I think people picked up THINKING it would be vegan, but they weren’t like candy cigarettes. Which is a bit of a bummer since you just check the ingredients it would be quick to see that there is cow gelatin in it. Sadly no chocolate, which can be somewhat easy to find vegan.

So most everyone is starting to understand what vegan means, but it is the uncomfortable transition to non-food items. Leather, fur, suede, beeswax, wool, silk, alpaca, and so on. I am pretty lenient on certain things. Like I am keeping the non-vegan lip balm since I already used it, and they used locally sourced beeswax which is better than nothing. But truthfully now that I am starting to use more vegan products I am learning that beeswax is pretty shitty. 

2 My Family now remembers I am vegan, this is good and bad

I’ve been pretty much vegan for 3 years now. The first year I went back to veganism I let some things slide with family, like my Aunt bought me a special quiche since there wasn’t anything vegetarian, and I felt pretty bad for it. I was still transitioning out of seafood and eggs so I figured I would let it slide. My Grandmother was shocked that I was vegan (or vegetarian) even though I kind-of dabble in and out for a few years before. The next year, I made something, and yet again my Grandma was shocked to find out that I was vegan, even though I was a year ago. At this point I was pretty strict and got my shit together. This year, my Grandma FINALLY remembered, though my Aunt still hasn’t figured out the difference between vegan and vegetarian and I had to decline her special meal she made for me. But now everyone is assuming I am “so healthy.” Which is funny since my husband yells at me when I make some vegan mac and cheese, and how I am always craving ice cream. Health is relative, and I wish people didn’t look at my food as healthy, it isn’t. I use oil and whatever else that most people use.

The other downside is that my Father remembers that I am vegan. That means he doesn’t touch my food anymore. Ugh. I’ve tricked him into eating vegan donuts and vegan lasagna (he had no clue we was eating tofu, his mortal enemy!) Now he introduces my food as “vegan” instead of names. It is also worth noting that my Father has a very weird relationship with food. He eats like a 5 year old, and loves meat and grease. I think he is the main reason why I never liked steak (he did a poor job cooking it.) So I need to be stealthy about my food, maybe hand off to my sisters to bring into houses instead of me so my Father doesn’t know who cooked what. I get a little petty when people don’t eat my awesome food.

3 Vegan food isn’t global and therefore diverse

One thing I thought about a lot was what Jon and I do when we travel abroad. Part of me knew we could be vegan, but I was scared it would mean not being able to try some of the local foods. But over the year I have followed so many different blogs and everyone really has their own local vegan cuisine. There are so many guides on how to eat vegan in certain cities and the food looks truly unique from American food. Heck, I can noticed a different between West Coast veganism and East Coast veganism!

Even countries that I wouldn’t think that would be all that different seem to have their own flair. Like some Australia blogs pop out new recipes I’ve never heard of. There are foods I never thought was particularly American end up being so. And there are some countries that are actually naturally vegan friendly like Taiwan, which is high up on my must visit list now. I think I might make some exceptions if I was in a jam while traveling, but it seems like I could still plan ahead of time and still be pretty darn happy.

4 I really miss spontaneity

I have to admit, I miss not thinking about food all the time. Going to a party? It would be nice to never have to think about what to bring. Going out, it would be nice to just walk into a place and “try it out” rather than looking at what is vegan friendly before hand. Yes, there will always be a way to get a vegan option, but sometimes it is nice to go into a vegan restaurant and know I can try ANYTHING on the menu, and not have to ask no this, sub that, etc.

If someone would ask me what I miss most about going vegan it would be spontaneity. Never having to question your products. And I guess the end goal as a vegan would be that everything would be friendly for the animals. But that isn’t how the world works now. It stinks that I have to think out what I can eat before heading off to a restaurant, or ask a million questions before hand. Things are changing and I know it is much easier now than say 10 years ago.

5 My kids will grow up to be freaks

I was checking my social media feeds since I had the time, and found this picture on Instagram. A kid who is straight up PUMPED about chlorella tablets. I love sea greens, and I know most people don’t love spirulina. It is an acquired taste, and kids that grew up on spirulina loved it (I know my friend Devin loved them when he was a kid). And I know my kid will not be the “norm” if I choose to have one.

But then again my 5 year old niece loves shoes and still freaks out when she gets them for her birthday or Christmas. No joke, this year she opened the gift from Jon and I (these shoes by the way) and proceeded to put them on, and prance around the living room. I also use to love drinking carob soy milk, so I guess every kid will get excited about their own thing.

6 My relationship with desserts is frustrating

No, I am not talking about a fear of eating too much dessert that I will get fat. It is more complicated and annoying. I love dessert, but I need to be in the right mood, and I need the right dessert. I don’t like how most Americans make sweets so sugary. Then there is the whole vegan issue, and I have learned that vegan baking is pretty easy. But no one puts there effort, and I kind-of understand why. Lots of people just buy a pre-baked goods, there are classic family recipes, and people assume that to bake something vegan, you need special “fake” stuff. Which is mostly true.

BUT here is the problem, I like baking, I like certain sweets, but I HATE coming home with a whole cake. I made a whole bunch of cookies, probably gave away 60% of them, but now I have tons of cookies. Not too big of a deal, just send them to work with Jon. Then there is the pudding cake from Oh She Glows. It was pretty good, but no one touched it at the one family Christmas get together. So we have a full cake, and I don’t want it. I am all desserted out. So I think I come off as a “health freak” to family and friends

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7 Boxed Gingerbread Houses suck, but I knew that anyways.

My husband said he never decorated a gingerbread house before and it is kind-of of the things I grew up doing. I know Gingerbread Houses aren’t something most kids do, truthfully. At least to the extent that we did. Yes we did the graham cracker houses when we were low on time, but we have baked our own gingerbread and put together our own houses. Those are the best.

But I haven’t tried making vegan gingerbread yet, so I am a little nervous how it would turn out. So the other day I passed by a Chanukah House and laughed at how little effort was given to hide it’s “stealing” of Christmas traditions. But as I mentioned, Christmas isn’t Christian to me so I am not judging. I bought it since it looked vegan (I am not use to reading labels with so many bi-products and dye names) and we made it. 

Our house looks like shit. Yeah, super horrible. Part of the problem is the garbage frosting. It was way too thick, it wouldn’t stick to the cookie, and the bags were chunky making it impossible to pipe. How do people use these things? Plus everyone has questioned my motives of eating it, because taste isn’t the number one thing with these kits. So now I am not sure what to do with this ugly house…. I don’t even want to eat the much better tasting cake I made let alone crappy cookie. **NOTE I tried the house, it actually was pretty good for a hard biscuit cookie.

8 My Mother is horrible at buying gifts

We aren’t getting any Shamwows from my Mom, she actually is very good at buying thoughtful gifts. She is just bad at communication, and there are almost always doubles at Christmas. In fact, I can’t remember the last time we haven’t gotten duplicates. This year was pretty bad, though some of it was on our end. I got a whopping 3 double gifts! It usually works out fine, like returning the gift, or in this case, giving away the extra copy of Vegan Richa’s Indian Kitchen.

But here is an example of the crazy Mom gift buying escapades. My older sister was trying hard to get this creepy unicorn doll for my niece. It was apparently one of the few things she asked for Christmas. But the doll was backordered and it didn’t look like it would arrive in time for Christmas. In a panic my sister tried to buy the doll from another supplier. Both dolls arrived in time, and SURPRISE! My Mother heard my sister talk about how she was concerned about not getting the doll in time so she bought one too! It is thoughtful, and not totally her fault, but now there are three creepy unicorn dolls.

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9 My Cat is the fuzziest

As a semi gag, I put on the Lil Bub Yule Log video on Christmas morning as we were getting ready to go to my sister’s house. We had a ha ha moments then mostly ignored it. Then we noticed Toulouse started to watch. She jumped on the TV stand at one point and sniffed the TV, looked behind the TV, then eventually sat on her pillow and just watched the TV like we would. It was probably because the video had a loud purring that she must of liked, but it felt a little bit like we helped give a little Christmas gift to her.

10 How did I live so long without a tofu press?

I just got one for Christmas and it was awesome. So many wasted paper towels, and the tofu still didn’t get as pressed as using a special device. Sold!


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Some of the problems with Christmas shopping as a vegan you kind-of get stuck with the issue of how “vegan” does my gift need to be? I am always grappled with the problem of balancing ethics with what other people want. If my sister wants leather shoes, do I get it? What about a BBQ cookbook? I don’t try and SELL veganism with my gifts, but I try and make sure all my gifts are vegan themselves.

Well, I am working on a gift giving guide, and this time I focus on BOOKS! Some books are pretty good for people who aren’t vegan themselves, but may have a little bit of a vegan agenda to them. Hopefully you might end up solving one of your gift problems with this list.

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Do Unto Animals – $14

This is definitely the book for your animal loving friend. When I first heard of this book I knew I had to own it. Your friend might not be vegan, but maybe they work at a stable, take of animals on a farm, volunteer at a shelter, work at a zoo, or is that crazy cat lady. Hopefully these passionate passages will inspire your friend to get rid of meat and dairy from their diet.

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Vegan Tacos – $16

I recommended this book since it actually made it on my sister’s wishlist on it’s own! This is a great way to get people to go vegan since it provides a hearty medium to eat vegan food (a taco shell!). Let’s face it, when people first go vegan, they don’t know what to eat, so they think salads. These tacos are fairly omni-friendly, though there are some recipes for fake meats and cheeses.

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The Taco Cleanse – $13

Got a friend who won’t stop dieting? Well hopefully most of my readers know that diet culture is a sham, and that’s why I LOVE this cookbook poking some fun at this whole detox culture trying to hide healthy with loosing weight. All recipes are vegan and are great for your body. And I can assure you this will be a much more fun detox than a juicing cleanse.

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Eating Animals – $12

Do you have a friend who is waffling between being vegetarian or eating meat? Or maybe your friend has taken up the habit of buying only organic, free-range, ethically killed meat? Well Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer might be the book for them. Jonathan Safran Foer explores the meat industry, but not as much of factory farming as the smaller farms that are trying to treat animals well. It is a great book about veganism, but is written by a fiction writer, giving people the chance to read the book openly.

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Salad Samurai – $13

Omni friends and family will love this book. I originally got this book for my mother who said she wanted to eat more veggies. Being the stealthy vegan me, I got this book thinking “doesn’t have vegan in the title, and Terry Hope Romero is a great cook.” At the time my Mother lived with my sister while relocating for jobs, and my sister liked the book so much she proceeded to buy it for herself. So yeah, Terry knows how to get people pumped for salads.

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The Drunken Botanist – $14

I like to drink, I will admit that. But it actually took awhile for me to get into cocktails, it is so confusing and many places make drinks that taste more sugar than booze. The Drunken Botanist explores cocktails at their root ingredients- plants. Beer, wine, vodka, bourbon, and booze in general doesn’t come off a vegan thing, but this book makes you realize how plants shape our drinks.

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Vegan Richa’s Indian Kitchen – $14

Another cookbook for omni-people. We all know that the vegan lifestyle seems to heavily base itself on the food. It will make a bigger impact overall. But Western cuisine isn’t very vegan friendly. But getting Vegan Richa’s Indian Kitchen helps the transition. For starters, Indian cuisine can be very vegan friendly to begin with, so newbies won’t be weirded out. The food is also packed with flavors, are super easy, and doesn’t have a crazy ingredients list.

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Babe the Gallant Pig – $7

Got some grandkids? Nieces or nephews? Want to slowly brainwash them to join the vegan army? Well you can start with Babe the pig. I remember reading this in grade school and talking about how the author conveys a vegetarian message. You could buy the movie, but kids need to read more anyways, right?

 


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I hope everyone had a good Thanksgiving. I made WAY too much food and had leftovers for the past few days. I was pretty excited when I was able to use my leftovers in a recipe, like mash potatoes and leftover seitan roast for a curry shepherd pot pie (which might be a recipe for the blog!) I already got most of my Christmas shopping done, but I am still looking around for some good stocking stuffers.

If you are vegan trying to give out gifts it can be hard to balance what people want, and what your dollars are going towards. Or perhaps you are a non-vegan trying to figure out what to get for your vegan family/friends? It can be tricky since not everything is vegan when it seems that way. So I plan on making a few little shopping guides on vegan gifts. This post I will covering stocking stuffers. The goal, listing fool proof or almost fool proof vegan gifts. They are also trying to be under $10 per items (preferably closer to $5 and under) and they should fit in a stocking (duh)

Petit Vour/Vegan Cuts

I like getting Vegan boxed sets because you get many small things at a discount. I personally got a few months worth of Petit Vour and plan on dividing it up between my sisters for their stockings. Petit Vour has a $15 monthly subscription box that has super high end beauty products. I like getting this since my sister like higher end beauty products. Vegan Cuts has a more expensive subscription box, but you get more in it. They also have one for beauty products and one for food items. The downside is that the food box tends to have a few foods that might not be a “snackable” or might not fit anyones taste. For example sometimes they give away protein powders, which might only be appealing to someone who is very athletic. But they have many other seasonal boxes that you can get, and you get a full list of packed items so it might be easier to buy one box and divide up between family members.

Magazines

I like buying magazines for everyone’s stockings. Everyone has hobbies right? I’ve gotten knitting magazines for my Mom, literature magazines for my sister, and even special edition Star Wars magazines for my brother in law. Check out a local bookstore and check out their selection. I usually can find something for everyone. 

If you are looking for vegetarian or vegan magazines, there are a good bit in print. I would go in and check out the magazines that are grouped in the cooking section. But if you need to buy something online you can check out VegNews, Vegetarian Times, Vegan Health and Fitness, Chickpea, Driftwood, and Vegan Life.

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The Perfect Nut Butter Scooper

Everyone will love this. I remember getting it in my stocking one year and thinking it was lame. BOY WAS I WRONG. It is just the perfect shape and stiffness to scoop out peanut butter and spread it around. It gets enough suction to make it scoop up every little morsel. After getting this I pretty much was able to get every little gram of peanut butter from the jar. It won’t be a stellar choice at first, but it will be the most memorable gift in the end. Seriously, get it off of Amazon.

Candy

No one likes getting too much candy. So I try and keep it simple- one big candy bar. I personally like Go Max Go Candy Bars. They are all vegan, and are similar to candy bars we grew up eating during halloween and after school. They have a location search engine on their site, so you can see if there any stores near you. Natural Candy Store has a whole section for vegan candy if you want to place an order online. Amy’s Kitchen now has a line of candy bars, two are vegan- the Dreamy Candy Bar and the Sunny Candy Bar. Another easier to find chocolate bar is the Endangered Species Chocolate Bars. Try and stick with dark chocolate and the “creme filled” chocolates. There are lots of chocolate bars that are vegan, just flip to the back and read the ingredients. It the ingredients have milk listed in the allergens, put it back on the shelf. But if it says “may contain traces of milk” then you should be fine since that means it is made in a factory that processes dairy and there may be cross contamination.

Tea and Coffee

This is kind-of fool proof. Aside from that crazy poop coffee, all coffee should be vegan. Try looking around for local coffee shops and roasters for a unique stocking stuffer. Almost all teas are vegan, though occasionally there are non-vegan flavorings added to it. But for 99% of the time you should be safe. Just stay away from bee/honey related products, they tend to be popular with tea drinkers. If possible go to a local tea shop and ask for suggestions and say you need dairy-free and honey-free gifts. Also check out small samples of teas instead of the big bags. Lots of online shops have the option, even small boutiques.

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Novelty Socks and Undies

Okay so this might seem like a weird one, but I love getting socks because I can’t remember the last time I bought socks. lol. Most novelty socks are made from a blend of cotton and synthetic fibers, making them almost always vegan. I quick search on Target gives you lots of ideas of fun socks you can get. Getting goofy boxers and underwear can seem a little too personal, so use your judgment if it seems weird to get that person them. Target makes a lot of crazy looking boxers including Star Wars, sriracha, and surfer santa ones. Apparently women’s underwear is called panties– if you need to find some fun one for your lady.

Small Bottles of Booze

Most liquors are vegan, so buying a fun little exotic liquor can be a nice little stuffer. If you aren’t sure which ones are vegan, download Barnivore to your smart phone and search brands when you go to the liquor store. It isn’t easy to tell which are vegan since most of the time companies use filters that use animal products. But there will still be plenty of different things to choose from. You can even get small bottles of wine or a single bottle of beer. Quick cheat sheet- these are common non-vegan liquors: fireball, baily’s, almost anything with cream in the title, anything with honey in the title, oyster stouts, milk stouts, mead, campari, XO VS & VSOP brandies, eggnog drinks, godiva liquors, pinnacle vodka, pucker vodkas, and svedka. This is just a quick cheaters guide, remember to check barnivore for specific beers, wines, other liquors.

Ornaments

I love have a billion very different ornaments on my Christmas tree. And most are vegan and under $10. What should you look out for? Well you might want to stay away from felted animal ornaments, as there is a good chance they might be made of wool instead of a synthetic fiber. Rarely materials like leather are used in ornaments, but feathers are much more common especially with birds. If your friend/family member really like a rare show, you could always commission Alexa do paint an ornament for you! She has a few examples on her instagram account, but you can purchase it online on her etsy shop.

What do you guys like to put in stockings?


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Today I started to wrap my Christmas gifts and my cat, Toulouse, decided she would help me out. She does this every time I try and wrap gifts. She usually walks on the paper and sits down, watching me.

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But today she thought to inspect inside the wrapping paper, you know just incase there was something good in there. She also bit the paper, just incase it was alive and tasty.

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Then she decided scissors would be a great toy to bat at.

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Which developed into a fearlessness with the pair of scissors. Usually chopping down the paper is enough to send her running. But she has to move eventually right?

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Nope.

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Then the cut paper itself was fun enough to play it. Eventually she got up and left so I could finish the wrapping. But she was pretty darn cute so I couldn’t be mad.

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