Happy Herbivore Blog

What is Vegan

Posted by: Lindsay S. Nixon |

Category: FAQGuests

A few weeks ago on Facebook, I asked people to share what "vegan" means to them -- to answer the question what is vegan? There were so many answers; so many different viewpoints. A real reminder that the vegan community is just as diverse as any other community.

What brought us to a vegan (or plant-based) diet is unique for each of us. What it means to us, how it is interwoven in our lives -- we all are walking our own vegan line.

Over the next week we'll be sharing what vegan means from a variety of people and perspectives and introduce you to a few new faces from the vegan blogging world --- but for today, we'll start with me.

What is vegan? What does vegan mean to me?

My veganism started out from an ethical and moral standpoint. I was moved by the plight of farm animals. I went vegan to make a difference, save lives and practice compassion.

But after a while my veganism started to shift. It was still grounded in my love for animals, but as I started learning about the health benefits of a plant-based diet, and the negative health effects of eating animal products, my veganism became about my health, too.

And still there was more change. I always considered myself an environmentalist -- a real tree hugger, and when Iearned about what the animal agriculture business and fishing industry was doing to our land and oceans, my veganism also became something I did for environmental reasons.

I look at my veganism now as a three-legged stool that can't stand upright without one of its legs. My motivations are always in play, always working together in my life.

For example, I was visiting a friend of mine that lives way out in the country on a beautiful and large piece of land with his dog, wife and pet chickens. He loves his chickens the way most people love their cats or dogs. They are his babies. During one visit my friend said to me, "Lindsay, I know why you don't eat eggs at the store -- because of the cruelty. But you know me. You know I love my chickens. They have a good life. They are going to lay eggs anyway, and they're just going to go to waste. You sure you don't want some?"

It caught me off guard, really. I'd never really thought about this scenario before...

My friend had a good point... and if my only objection to eating eggs was cruelty, I wouldn't have a reason to say no... but because my veganism is rooted and interwoven with so many beliefs, I declined.

I declined because putting the cruelty and moral issues aside, I don't think eggs are healthy. In fact, I think they're unhealthy given their cholesterol (read more about that here.)

But the point is, why you come to a vegan or plant-based diet, or why you stay with it, or what it means for you may change over time. It certainly has for me. My veganism continues to be an evolving journey and the best decision I have ever made.

Happy Herbivore in Europe: Innsbruck, Austria

Posted by: Lindsay S. Nixon |

Category: Travel

Mountains, mountains, everywhere!

Innsbruck is such a pretty town with beautiful snow capped mountains in all directions! It also had a lot of veg options!

We got in late in the afternoon and settled into an Italian bistro for dinner. Scott ordered his classic cheeseless veg pizza while I was all over the vegetable soup and salad.

The next afternoon we wandered into a street fair and were over the moon to find a vegetarian stand with many vegan specialties. Including a sweet "samosa" Scott tried -- it was sugar coated pastry with homemade jam stuffed inside. I, however, went for the vegetable lentil curry which was outstanding.

Another interesting thing we learned, plastic is banned in Austria--so our "to go" plate is 100% biodegradable and made from grass!

23 Quick, No Fuss Meals

Posted by: Andrea Dermos |

Category: Holiday

23 Quick, No-Fuss Meals: Still crave the ease and simplicity of a ham and cheese sandwich? No problem! Make any of these fast and almost instant meals!

Simple Stir-Fry: Combine equal parts soy sauce with sugar and set aside. Cook frozen mixed stir-fry vegetables according to packaging instructions (microwave!). Toss with soy sauce mixture and serve over a plate of cooked rice or quinoa. Edamame (soybeans) and/or tofu chunks make a nice addition.

Blissful Burrito: Spread a thin layer of vegetarian refried beans (or regular cooked beans) into a tortilla or wrap. Add salsa and any leftovers you have such as rice, quinoa, vegetables or greens. Roll up and voila!

Penny-Pinching Pad Thai: Toss cooked (and still hot!) rice noodles or pasta with 2 tbsp smooth or crunchy peanut butter and a dash of hot sauce. Cook frozen mixed stir-fry vegetables according to packaging instructions (microwave!) and toss with noodles. Garnish with crushed peanuts if desired.

Fast Fajitas: Mix fajita seasoning packet with water as directed. Cook fresh or frozen bell peppers until cooked, but still crisp. Toss with fajita mixture and cook as directed. Slap into tortillas and voila!

In a Hurry Curry: Mix 1 tsp curry paste with 1 cup coconut milk or non-dairy milk over medium heat to form a sauce, whisking in more paste if desired. Cook frozen mixed vegetables according to packaging instructions (microwave!) and smother with curry sauce. Tofu chunks and/or a side of rice make a nice addition.

Tasty Tofu Scramble: Break a block of firm tofu into chunks. Mix with 3 tbsp nutritional yeast, 1 big squirt Dijon mustard, 1 tsp garlic powder, 1 tsp onion powder, ¼ tsp turmeric and ½ tsp cumin and cook until warm, stirring frequently. Add a splash of non-dairy milk if it starts to stick. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add salsa, leftover veggies or beans to expand this dish. (video on happyherbivore.com/courses)

Pita Pizza: Spread a thin layer of marinara sauce or pizza sauce on a pita. Add any toppings you like: vegetables, faux cheese, faux meat — even leftovers. Bake 5–10 minutes at 350 F. Don’t be afraid to try crazy combinations!

Smashing Smoothies: Blend 2 cups frozen fruit with 1 cup non-dairy milk or juice, or a combination of liquids. Add oats, ground flax seeds or a fresh banana for a fuller meal. Great combos: pineapple chunks with non-dairy milk and OJ; strawberries and vanilla non-dairy milk; banana, strawberries and chocolate non-dairy milk. Mixed berries, plain non-dairy milk and flax seeds.

Quickie Quesadilla: Smash a cooked sweet potato into a tortilla or wrap. Add beans, cooked greens and/or corn and fold over. Heat each side in a skillet if desired. Serve with vegan sour cream and/or fruit-flavored salsa over top.

Crazy Corn Soup: Cook 1 lb. frozen corn according to directions (microwave!). Blend into a creamy soup with 1/4 cup non-dairy milk and voila! Chipotle powder or hot sauce takes this soup to a fiery new level! (Recipe from happyherbivore.com)

Sassy Salsa Soup: Place 1 cup black beans, 1 cup salsa and 1½ cups vegetable broth in a blender, pureeing until smooth. Transfer to a saucepan, add 1 cup frozen corn, more black beans as desired, 1/2 tsp cumin and hot sauce to taste. Cook until thoroughly warm. Crumble tortilla chips over top and serve. Fresh avocado and/or cilantro also make a nice addition.

Mama’s Mexi- Dip: Combine vegan sour cream (or silken tofu blended with a few drops of lemon or lime juice) with ⅓ cup salsa or 1 packet taco seasoning. Serve with refried beans and tortilla chips. Guacamole also makes a nice addition. If you have extra time, make a layered dip.

Better BLT: Combine vegan bacon with lettuce, tomato and vegan mayo, avocado slices or hummus between two slices of bread or toast. You can also use a wrap.

Ancient Aztec Salad: Combine 1 cup corn with ½ cup black beans, ¼ cup cooked quinoa and fresh tomatoes. Squeeze lime juice over top. Serve warm or chilled. This can also be served over lettuce with tempeh slices or in a wrap. (Recipe from happyherbivore.com).

Terrific Teriyaki: Combine 1 can chickpeas with ¼ cup teriyaki sauce, 1 tbsp hot sauce and 1 tbsp sugar (optional) cook over medium heat until the chickpeas turn brown and the liquid absorb. Serve over greens or rice with fresh pineapple or mango salsa. (Recipe from happyherbivore.com).

Sensational Salsa Chickpeas: Combine 1 can chickpeas with 8 ounces of salsa. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until liquid has absorbed. Eat with lettuce wraps and sliced veggies. (Recipe from happyherbivore.com).

Cha-Cha Chili Macaroni: Combine 1 can of vegetarian chili with cooked pasta and a little tomato sauce if desired. Corn and/or fresh avocado slices make a nice addition. You can also add hot sauce to spice it up.

Outstanding Oatmeal: Cook 1 serving plain oatmeal according to directions. Mix with 4 to 8 ounces of plain soy yogurt. Add fresh fruit such as berries or banana slices and nuts, such as sliced raw almonds, on top. Drizzle with agave nectar or pure maple syrup. You can also add seeds, dried fruits or ground flax seeds.

BBQ’ed Baked Potato: Slice baked potato in half and smother with vegetarian baked beans. Serve with a side of frozen greens cooked according to package (microwave!).

Two-Minute Tacos: Combine 2 cups TVP with 2 cups hot water and 1 packet taco seasoning, stirring to incorporate. Once TVP has reconstituted (all water has been absorbed), make tacos or a taco salad.

Nice Rice Nori Rolls: Place chopped raw vegetables, such as bell peppers, cucumbers and carrots, with sliced apples or avocado, plus cooked rice or quinoa in the center of a nori sheet and roll up. Dip in soy sauce if desired.

Tangy Tempeh: Cut tempeh in half. Boil in water for 10 minutes. Drain, pat dry and smother in a tangy barbecue sauce. Serve on a bun with pickle slices and a side of cooked mixed vegetables.

Happy Hummus Wrap: Line a tortilla or wrap with red pepper hummus. Pile in fresh veggies such as sprouts, cucumbers, carrots, bell peppers, celery and white mushrooms, all sliced thin. Roll up and enjoy.