Happy Herbivore Blog

A Vegan Taste of Nice, France & Monaco (South of France)

Posted by: Lindsay S. Nixon |

Category: Travel

As you may have heard, I'm in France this summer.

We flew to Nice after a quick excursion in Boston and brief layover in Montreal.

When I tell people I'm going to France or living in France (or doing anything that involves France) the first response is: "You can't be vegan there", which is simply untrue.

There's a growing "counter culture" (If I can call it that) in Paris -- a strong, growing group of vegans... along with wonderful vegan eats... there's even an elaborate vegan fest in Paris each year. These French vegans are... well... vegan! in France! ;)

Truthfully, I've never had a hard time in France (or anywhere in Europe) and I lived on a small French island for a year (where I wrote EHH) with no problem.

Point is, you can eat vegan and be vegan in France. As with traveling anywhere, you do need to have a little patience, and doing a tiny bit of research before you go can make a stunning difference!! (See my Guide for more travel tips and help -- there's a huge chapter!) But even if you wing it, you'll be okay.

"Italian" restaurants are all over France (I use quotes because they serve your stereotypical "Italian" dishes, not the more lesser known ones that are celebrated off the beaten path in Italy) -- plenty of salads and pizza (sans fromage) to go around! You can also find vegetable plates, salads, and pasta at other restaurants. I won't lie, it does help that I speak French, but only because I can go the extra mile with ditching oil and removing allergens like broccoli.

Speaking of which, tourist books will tell you it's considered very rude and disrespectful of the chef to "customize" a meal in France... whether that's true I'm unsure (the few French chefs I know don't care) BUT most chefs will be over the moon accommodating if you are allergic. SO if you want to "play it safe", be allergic ;) and explain your reasoning for customization.

The word for vegan in French is "végétalien" Change the "L" to an "R" for vegetarian (végétarien)

Moving along...

In Nice I found an all vegan restaurant, Le Speakeasy, which is run by an American ex-pat.

The owner is a sweet lady and eating in her restaurant feels more like you're eating in her kitchen (a la you've been invited for dinner). The food is fresh, healthy, and delicious! The menu also changes daily and I have a soft spot for restaurants with true du jour menus. (The prices are also very reasonable.)

We went two nights in a row because it was easy, but also because it was delicious.

This was the gratin du jour (grain dish of the day) -- brown rice and zucchini (or courgettesas they call them in France). Exceptional! The owner also sprinkled a little soy cheese on Scott's portion. I was thrilled to hear they sell vegan cheese in France!

This was the Tourte du jour (day 1) potato and leek -- exceptional.

This was the Tourte du jour (day 2) a sweet potato and regular potato torte. I loved this even more than the first one. Also, the crust is always GF.

She also has daily tarts. We tried one each night -- first the apple and then the orange/peach marmalade. So good! (Also GF)

After dinner we wandered around the city for a while and around 11pm called it a night. When I returned to my room, I saw a message from my mom (who is back in the States). I have no idea how she uncovered a place in Nice that sold vegan gelato, but one quick look on the map revealed it was only a few blocks away. It was so close it was stupid.... BUT it was almost midnight.... Still, I had to try!

With a little luck, the place was still open!

Gelateria Meraviglia sells both vegan and non-vegan gelato, but after a quick "qui sont végétalien? sont sans lait?" the French guy smiled and pointed to 6 options. Three were indeed gelato, three more sorbet.

It's not healthy, but when in Rome.. err....

I ordered the Hazelnut, and Scott, the Pistachio. Chocolate was also available, along with three fruit/sorbet flavors.

Another thing I love about the French -- they get portions. Although the picture is a bit deceiving, these were small -- tres petite! Think "kiddie" size in America -- which was perfect. (I need not be left to my own demise).

Sorbet, btw, is all over France and just fruit + sugar... no milk.

Grocery stores are always a herbie's travel bestie, but the ones in France were phenomenal!

The marche (grocery store) by our place is tiny -- I mean, some gas station markets in America are bigger. There are maybe three aisles in the entire store and they have SIX (6!!) flavors of vegan yogurt. (On my first day there were 5, but then they restocked and there were 6).

Here is a picture from my little bodega:

The bigger supermarket has a section that is easily 15x the size of the Whole Foods section in LA! WTG France!

The larger store also had another big isle with soy, rice, and almond milks....even organic vegan cookies!

I also am a sucker for fresh produce stands like this one in Monaco and am happy to say they tend to exist all around Europe.

Oh, right. We also took a day trip to Monaco ;)

While we didn't eat when we were there (I'd packed us a picnic lunch--I love me some baguettes) I browsed several menus and was delighted to see how many establishments not only had vegetarian dishes, but marked them as vegetarian.

Finally, who knew the south of France had rocky beaches... literally?

While other beaches in the area, such as Villefranche-sur-Mer have sand, it's still pretty rocky in this region. Perhaps that's why the water is sooo blue. The sand isn't mucking it up.

I've been to beaches all over Europe... the States... Hawaii.... I even lived in the Caribbean and I have never, ever, seen water this color of blue. It's brillant. Truly brillant.

...and if you're looking for French recipes see HH Abroad.

Summer Pasta Salad, Creamy Thai Quinoa Salad, Mediterranean Wraps & More!

Posted by: Lindsay S. Nixon |

Category: MealPlan

Enjoy the many tastes of summer with this week's meal plan!

Start your morning off with a refreshing Mango-Peach Smoothie (NEW!), chill out in the afternoon with the Summer Pasta Salad (NEW!), Creamy Thai Quinoa Salad (NEW!), or Mediterranean Wraps (NEW!), and end the day by diving into the Grilled Sweet Potato Salad (NEW!).

Summer Pasta Salad

Individual Highlights

  • Grilled Sweet Potato Salad (NEW!)
  • Mango-Peach Smoothie (NEW!)
  • Mexican Broccoli & Potato Bowl
  • Mediterranean Wraps (NEW!)
  • Black Bean Tostadas with Crema
  • Summer Pasta Salad (NEW!)
  • Creamy Thai Quinoa Salad (NEW!)

Get this meal plan now.

Mediterranean Wraps

Family Highlights

  • Mediterranean Wraps (NEW!)
  • Mushroom & Olive Mini Pizzas
  • Crock-Pot Mexican Casserole
  • Creamy Thai Quinoa Salad (NEW!)
  • Summer Pasta Salad (NEW!)
  • Easy Greens
  • Grilled Sweet Potato Salad (NEW!)

Get this meal plan now.

Grilled Sweet Potato Salad

Testimonials

"The meal plans have really transformed our mealtimes. I used to spend around $300 on groceries each week, now I spend half that and I know exactly what I am cooking every night. I hated cooking, and would dread the moment when the kids would say "I'm hungry", but now mealtimes are so much easier! I feel like a new woman!" -Leesa C

"I love how simpleandquick the meal plan recipes are to make!" - Joyce H

Get the current meal plan now.

Herbies of the Week: Cat & Shelton (They've Lost Over 190lbs Together!)

Posted by: Lindsay S. Nixon |

Category: Herbies

Meet our Herbies of the Week: Cat & Shelton!

Even though they came to the idea of going plant-based separately, this brother and sister team have been each other's cheerleader the entire time.

When they started their plant-based journey, Shelton weighed nearly 500lbs, but has lost over 130lbs and Cat is down more than 55lbs!!!

Amazing! Read on for their inspirational story!

I can’t relay my plant-based journey without including my brother, Shelton. We have always been very close. We are 7½ years apart, with a younger sister (who has NEVER had weight issues!) As children, Shelton and I sought comfort in food. Between the two of us, we never met a food we didn’t like! Our weight issues followed us into adulthood, although we each sporadically managed to lose (and regain!) significant amounts of weight.

Fast forward to about 2011: Shelton lived and worked with our dad, who has severe arthritis and needs a walker or scooter chair to get around. I lived about an hour away with my husband and young daughter. We came to the idea of plant-based eating separately, but around the same time. We both watched “Forks Over Knives,” we read “The Engine 2 Diet,” we both read “Eat To Live.” I had already given up eating meat (but made up for it with LOTS of sugar, so – no weight loss, and ever-increasing health problems.) Shelton was struggling with adult-onset diabetes, but began incorporating healthy changes slowly.

In 2012, I moved 500 miles away when my husband took a job in Florida. Working from home, without the support of friends or family, my weight hit an all-time high of 249 pounds. Even though I knew all about plant-based living, I wasn’t putting those principles into practice. One day, I made a special trip to the grocery store just to buy a box of Little Debbie cakes for a snack (I could eat an entire box of them in one sitting). I knew it was time to make a serious change. I cracked open my Happy Herbivore Cookbook, found HH online, and got to work. Lindsay’s practical, real-life information helped us move from knowledge to action.

Shelton had already started implementing healthy changes, and we started to regularly share tips (Like HH’s “5 ingredient rule”); recipes (HH Mushroom Burgers!) and revelations (I can carry around baked potatoes as snacks? That’s life-changing!) These days, Shelton and I regularly share information on substitutions, recipes we’ve tried, and vegan products: what tastes good, and what doesn’t. (One text from Shelton showed a container of vegan yogurt with the message: “Tastes like cough syrup. Avoid!”)

In the last year, we have both made a serious commitment to living the plant-based lifestyle. We talk or text almost every day, and we frequently text each other pictures of what we’re eating for lunch or dinner. Are we perfect? NO! Looking through our text messages, I found one from me: “A pretty good day – HH Scramble for breakfast, HH Hippie Loaf for lunch, but then: pizza for dinner. And cinnamon sticks. Tomorrow is another day!” The concept of “progress, not perfection” has really resonated with us. If I get stuck somewhere and cheese pizza is my only option, I now know that I won’t die if I eat it, nor will I be kicked out of the HH group. We do our best and keep trying!

Our family has been, for the most part, supportive. They have not offered to get on board with us, though. Shelton lives with my dad, who is NOT plant-based – Shelton plans, shops, and cooks two different sets of meals – I do, too, because my husband and daughter are not (yet!) on the Herbie plan. This is where the pre-prep really comes in handy for me. When I have cooked and frozen something like Hippie Loaf or have the menu plan components assembled or otherwise ready, it takes me 5 minutes to prep and plate my meal, so we can all sit down and eat together.

When we began our respective journeys, Shelton weighed in at 495 pounds. To date, he has lost 138 pounds. I weighed 249, and now weigh 192. So – 195 pounds between the two of us!

The biggest components of our journey: The meal plans, the cookbooks, the blog posts and support – all of these things set us up for success. We plan, we shop (once I was loading frozen vegetables into my cart with such zeal that a woman ran up to the freezer case and said “Are they on SALE?” My daughter said “Nope! My mom’s a HERBIVORE!”) we cook (and freeze). I cook for a couple of hours one Sunday each month to load the freezer with chili, soup, and HH Hippie Loaf. That way, there is always something on hand. We keep healthy snacks or bowl components on hand so we’re never at a loss for what we can eat. We have been inspired to whip up our own creations and share the recipes with each other.

We have learned how to plug in what we know when functioning in the “real world.” Shelton and his friends participate in pirate fests, singing sea shanties and enjoying the festival atmosphere. (Shelton’s before and after pics are in his pirate garb. The vest now buttons all the way up!) Shelton has learned how to make wise choices on these trips, and that it’s okay to let go sometimes and indulge. My daughter takes karate and frequently travels to tournaments. I keep HH-approved snacks in the travel bag for those days when she’s at the tournament all day and the only food choices are “snack bar” choices like hot dogs and potato chips.

If we were to give one bit of advice to someone struggling to make the plant-based leap, there are two important things:

1. BE PREPARED – set yourself up for success by keeping healthy foods on hand. Learn to make bowls, salads, wraps, and make them your “go-to” meals when you don’t have time or energy to be in the kitchen.

2. DON’T QUIT! As human beings, we strive for perfection and think our efforts don’t count when we don’t hit all our goals. But every effort to go plant-based counts. It really does get easier! You can eat satisfying, complete meals and get healthy. YOU CAN DO THIS!

Thanks so much for sharing your plant-based journey with us Cat & Shelton!