Wednesday, October 4, 2017


I don't know about you, but I LOVE LOVE LOVE favorite posts (and videos)!  Not sure why knowing what people like is so interesting, but it just IS.  With that in mind, I thought I would post my own favorites for the past month and I'd love to know what YOUR favorites were, too! Discovering new vegan items is the best thing ever...especially when you're in a slump.   Having something new to enjoy always helps to inspire me when I get into that "eh" zone. we go!


1.  100% Pure Nourishing Body Cream in Vanilla Bean (Omg...the most deliciously warm and sweet smelling lotion in the world!  Not greasy at all...just super moisturizing and lovely.  You won't be able to stop sniffing the top.  Seriously!)

2.  Andalou Naturals Goji Peptide Perfecting Cream (The smell is just amazing...I think it's the orange peel essential oil.  It makes me smile to put a smidge of this on my face every single night.  So cheerful, citrus-y and fruity!)

3.  HURRAW! Balm in Coconut (My fav of all vegan lip balms.  I love the shape of the container, the scents/flavors are just awesome and yummy and the formula is perfect - smooth, lightweight, moisturizing, silky, not too firm and never gritty!)

4.   100% Pure 2nd Skin Foundation (This is the nicest, smoothest, most featherweight, natural looking foundation I've ever used.  It's my go-to for wearing every day and it feels like I have nothing on my face at all.  The only problem I had is finding the right shade.  I'm half Chinese/half Italian and the shade 5 was too light and the shade 6 too dark.  Mixing both works well.)

5.  Andalou Naturals Beauty to Go (These sample/travel sizes of skin care are too amazing for words.  Not only do they work incredibly well, smell so fresh & lovely, but they last a long time!  A single pod of each lasted me at least 3 days of application - I used the Beauty is Sensitive Face Cream for the day and the Resveratrol Q10 Night Repair Cream for at night.  It says single use, but you only need a small amount for each application.)

6.  Pacifica Pink Nudes Mineral Eyeshadow (I don't usually wear eye shadow, but I bought this set to try out for my sister's wedding and the colors are just perfect.  I love that the shadows stay on all day and are really easy to apply with an eyeshadow brush.  I can't say enough about how nice these shades are for all occasions.  Highly recommended!) 

 7.  Red Apple Lipstick in Audrey (Another make up item I don't normally use, but I couldn't resist their creamy, vegan, allergen free formula!  I usually only wear lip balm, but this shade of lipstick just begged to be bought.  I have pinkish-purple lips naturally and it's very hard to find the right shade of "nude" for my lips.  I love the Audrey color so much (and also Audrey Hepburn!) and it goes really well with the lip liner in Natural, too!)


1.  African Peanut Stew by Oh She Glows (Our weekly favorite dinner...yum, yum, YUM!   So creamy, warm and satisfying.  My semi-carnivore hubby actually loves this stew, too!)

2.  Easy Vegan Split Pea Soup by Umami Girl (I added another 4 cups water and used 1/2 the amount of spices, but it is SO good!  Perfect for the fall!)

3.  Biena Chickpeas in Sea Salt (I try not to snack too often, but these crispy, salt chickpeas are heavenly!!  They almost satisfy my potato chip cravings!)

4.  Nourish Bowl with Sesame Sriracha (For a quick lunch, I love to make these!  Crunchy, filling, and delicious.   If you add extra veggies - broccoli or sprouts - and a bit of almond or peanut butter, it's the most delicious and quick meal!  I found the bowls at Hannaford supermarket, but I'm sure you can find it somewhere near you.)

5.  Smoothies!  (These are the recipes that I make every day.  Hope you like them!  So creamy, filling and chock full of healthy, nourishing whole foods!)

Raspberry Green Tea Smoothie:   (1 scoop of Orgain Vanilla Protein Powder, 1 cup baby spinach, 2 tbs. ground flaxseeds, 1/2 cup frozen raspberries, 2 frozen bananas, 1 cup unsweetened plain almond milk and 1 tsp. matcha green tea powder.)

Chocolate Strawberry Smoothie:  (1 scoop of Orgain Vanilla or Chocolate Protein Powder, 1 cup baby spinach, 2 tbs. ground flaxseeds, 1/2 cup frozen strawberries, 2 frozen bananas, 1 cup unsweetened plain almond milk and 1 tbs. raw cacao powder.)

Peanut Butter Cup Smoothie:  (1 scoop of Orgain Vanilla or Chocolate Protein Powder, 1 cup baby spinach, 2 tbs. ground flaxseeds, 1-2 tbs. peanut or other nut butter, 2 frozen bananas, 1 cup unsweetened plain almond milk.)

For each smoothie, blend for 1-2 minutes until smooth and the consistency of a thin, soft serve ice cream.   Drink slowly and enjoy!  (You may substitute kale or other greens for the spinach, chia seeds for the flax or any other plant milk for the almond milk.)


 1.  How Not to Die by Dr. Michael Greger (Not only do I love his short, informational YouTube videos, but this book is really helpful in figuring out which foods are most nutritious and how much of each we should have per day for optimal health.  I love checking things off, so I'm enjoying using the app for Dr. Greger's Daily Dozen.  I know which whole foods to eat during the day to feel healthy and satisfied.)

2.  Crazy Sexy Diet and Crazy Sexy Kitchen by Kris Carr (I love Kris so much!!!  Not only do I love her hilarious, loving, crazy interesting, healthy book, but her attitude and spirit are incredibly positive and inspiring.  Just reading her book makes me feel healthier!  You should follow her Facebook and Instagram, too...they make me smile all day!  I bought her new Self Care for Busy People meditation album and it's changed my life.  The "Pep Talk" meditation is my favorite.  I cried the first time I listened to it.  You will feel loved.  Believe me!)

3.  The Joy of Less, A Minimalist Living Guide by Francine Jay (If you're interested in learning more about minimalism, this is the book for YOU!  So easy and enjoyable to, it's like watching Hoarders in order to get motivated to clean your house.  I like the short sections and practical approach to clearing out your life.  Definitely a must read!)

4.  The Little Book of Mindfulness:  10 Minutes a Day to Less Stress, More Peace by Patrizia Collard (The perfect book to carry around or keep in your purse.  All of the suggestions are not only practical, but also easy to incorporate into your day.  I love that each one takes only 10 minutes or less.  I bought this book in Kindle form, but I'm going to buy it to keep with me.  For someone with anxiety, it truly helps me.)


1.  NutritionFacts (If you like facts and like to keep "in the know" with nutrition information, this channel is for you.  They're short, full of facts and helps me to keep on track with eating healthy, whole foods and less vegan junk food)

2.  Wifelife (I love make up and, even though I'm not super skillful at applying it, I love watching other people show me how!  Rhian is dryly hilarious and she gets me excited to try new vegan, cruelty free beauty products.  I also appreciate her mental health videos - supportive and caring.  Get comfy in your fav chair with a cup of tea and watch lots of videos in a row for fun and relaxation.)

3.  Pick Up Limes (Sadia is amazing.  Lovely and inspiring - her videos are so well made and she packs lots of information into small, easy to digest segments.  Her recipes are yummy and it's as if you have a personal life coach supporting you via video.  I wish I hadn't watched multiple videos a day because it's best to watch them one per day to get you through the week.  Highly recommended!)

4.  World of Vegan  (Michelle is so much fun to watch!  Her smile and enthusiasm are addictive.  She shares videos full of new vegan foods, recipes and products, as well as information on veganism and activism.  If you're new to the vegan world, definitely subscribe to her channel!)

Hope you find some of these favorites interesting and try a few of them!  I'd love to know what your favorites are, too!

Have a wonderful, fantastic day!

Many hugs! :D

Friday, August 4, 2017

One Year Veganniversary! (What, When, Why and How)

It's my one year anniversary of being VEGAN and I am SO happy!

"Never, never be afraid to do what's right, especially if the well-being of a person or animal is at stake.  Society's punishments are small compared to the wounds we inflict on our soul when we look the other way." - Martin Luther King, Jr.

WHAT:  The celebration of one entire year of learning and experiencing being vegan!
WHEN:  August 4, 2016 - August 4, 2017 (to infinity and beyond!)
WHY:  For EVERYTHING - to aid in ending the suffering of innocent animals, to help make less of an impact on our already overburdened, beautiful planet and to find myself eating healthier and feeling better (both emotionally, physically and spiritually)
HOW:  By making more thoughtful and meaningful choices when I am choosing and purchasing food/items that I use every day in my home and in my life.  Also, to learn as much as I can about living a vegan lifestyle so that I can clearly, peacefully and intelligently take action in my life to help end the suffering of animals, our planet and ourselves.

"Do the best you can until you know better.  Then when you know better, you do better." 
- Maya Angelou

CHALLENGES that I faced this year:

  1. Figuring out what to eat and finding easy recipes that I could make every day.
  2. Trying not to let the comments of my family and friends bother me while I worked out how I was going to change my eating habits and other daily choices.
  3. Realizing that so many toiletries and beauty products test on animals or have animal products in them.  (This was almost more difficult than changing my food!)
  4. Deciding what to eat when dining out (ahhh...the stress!) and dealing with the reactions of family and friends when I was dining with them.
  5. Learning to show myself love and kindness on my journey for love and kindness to animals.

HELPFUL ACTIVITIES as I transitioned to being vegan:

1.  Watching videos!

  • Super fun videos on vegan beauty (if you're into that!) will cheer you up and make you feel like you have a new friend to share beauty tips and secrets with - plus these YouTubers just seem like fantastic people, too -  Sunny of Vegan Beauty Review, Rhian HY of WifeLife and Tashina of Logical Harmony.
  • Vegan cooking/recipe videos are extremely helpful in finding new foods and dishes that you might like to eat.  I sometimes find that videos are much easier to follow than written recipes (plus, it's a treat to watch them!), so I subscribe to these fantastic channels - Minimalist Baker, Edgy Veg, and Hot for Food; as well as the channels stated above, which also have great recipes, too.

2.  Following Vegans on Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest!  Join some groups!

  • Seeing daily, positive vegan content really made a big impact on me this year.  Sometimes, just seeing a post from someone who was experiencing a similar issue I was or found a great new product to use (or food to try!) was what kept me going.  I'm going to list my favorite social media pages/people, but there are so many out there, you'll just have to discover the person or group that inspires YOU! :D
  • Follow me on Pinterest and Instagram!  Or at least find out who I follow and see if you want to follow them, too!  I'd love to follow you in return :D
  • Get a Mentor from Vegan Outreach - I was so glad that I reached out to do this.  Vegan Outreach found someone who lived within 20 minutes of my house and it was such a treat to get together for tea and talking.  It was a great experience and it's really nice to know there is someone around to give me advice and offer support when needed!

3.  Reading many books!

4.  Spending time in nature and with animals!

  • I'm not really an outdoors type of person (I am more of a snuggle-up-inside-the-house bookworm), but I love walking on our local rail trail, going to the beach and looking after my small garden and rose bushes.  Every time I take a few minutes to spend time outside or go for a walk around the neighborhood, I'm happier, more grounded and feel less stressed.  Definitely try and make time for nature to soothe or energize each day.

5.  Receiving lots of hugs from family and friends! (if you like that sort of

  • This is essential for me, but if you're not the hugging type, sometimes just connecting with family or friends can lift up your spirits - go out for some drinks, meet at a bookstore, hang out at the local park, see a great movie, etc.  I tend to get into the habit of spending too much time in my head (either journaling, knitting or reading) and then I forget how important connections are between people, especially when you're on a new journey.  You might be focusing too much on trying to "become vegan" and forget to just live and enjoy your life.  Taking a break from the constant focus might be just what you need!

These are the things that worked for me, so use them as a guideline, not a necessity.  Good luck to you and please know that this is a lovely journey to take for yourself, for the animals and for the planet, so be gentle and compassionate with yourself always.  You'll most likely make mistakes, screw up or just make bad choices.  The most important thing is to just pick yourself back up, get re-motivated and inspired through friends/family, videos, books, spending time in nature and with animals.  Don't be afraid to ask for help.  You are a wonderful person for considering to become vegan and I am sending much love and many hugs to you right now :D 

"Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony." 
- Mahatma Gandhi

Monday, July 24, 2017

Best Vegan Tips & Ideas for Beginners

Happy Monday!!!

I don't know about you, but the more I learn on my vegan journey, the more I want to share with others.   It's like I've found the most magical, wonderful thing in the world (and I have!) and all I want to do is share massive amounts pics and posts on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram (while grinning like an idiot and shouting out loud, "Isn't this awesome??!!") :D

Since I don't have a lot of local vegan friends, I find that the internet (Facebook groups, YouTube channels and Instagram accounts) almost fulfills my need for sharing and discovering new and amazing food, recipes, beauty products, clothing, shoes, events, etc.  Not quite the same, but I try and make due.   How about you?  Are you lucky enough to have a great circle of vegan friends (or even non-vegan friends!) to support you and listen to you while you excitedly share your newest discoveries?

So, in the spirit of sharing, I'm super excited to share these tips and tricks that I've learned so far this year and, hopefully, you might have some tips to share with me, too!

*Please remember that these are things that have worked for ME.  I hope they will work for you or help you along on your journey, but everyone is different and something that might work for me might not work for you or someone else.  Use these lists as inspirational guides that you can take or leave or adjust to your own unique lifestyle.  Hugs!*

3 Tips for Transitioning to a Vegan Diet

1.  Take Your Time - Make a plan to start slowly by either adding more plant based foods to each meal in order to gradually push out the meat, dairy and eggs OR by making one meal per day completely vegan and then increasing the number of vegan meals per day as you feel comfortable.  You might even feel motivated to try a combination of both!


  • Ease out of animal products with this system - red meat first, chicken, fish, eggs and then dairy.   Or whatever order seems to make the most sense to you.  Try to have no red meat the first month, then no chicken the next month, etc. until you completely wean yourself off of animal products.  If you don't really eat much fish or red meat, you're almost halfway there!  (Sometimes people have a difficult time giving up cheese because of the addictive nature of casein.)
  • Start with Meatless Mondays for a week or two and then gradually add another meatless day until you're completely meatless!  Yay!
  • Meal Planning - Begin your day with a completely vegan breakfast for a week or two and prepare your other meals as you usually would.  Gradually add snacks to the deal, then lunch and finally dinner.  Take as long as you need for it to feel natural and comfortable to you for greater success!  There's no rush and every small step you take will not only help your body, mind and spirit, but also the welfare of animals and our lovely planet.  No step in this process is too small!  You might feel so good after your meatless meals that you'll be excited to drop yet another meaty meal from your day :D
  • Insert Veggies, Fruits, Nuts, Legumes and Grains into as many meals as possible - Instead of taking foods out when you begin your vegan journey, ADD these in!  You'll be so happy, full and satisfied that you won't even have room for meat, dairy or eggs!  Add tons of berries to your breakfast (or even have a veggie and fruit smoothie!), have a salad with every lunch and either a salad or stir fry veggies with every dinner.  Fruit and nuts for snacks are really yummy, too!

2.  Use Vegan Packaged Foods to Assist You - While it would be amazing if you could quit meat, dairy and eggs all at once and go straight to eating only plant based foods, most people find it easier to start by replacing their favorite meat/dairy foods with vegan substitutes.  This gives a little bit of comfort and eases some of the stress and anxiety people have with the transition.   Buy (and try!) new foods to see what types of foods you like or don't like.  Some people love tofu and some dislike the taste and texture.  It's all personal preference.  Luckily, there are a lot of options available to us in this day and age!


  • Meat Alternatives - Gardein has amazing frozen alternatives to meat and using them is a great way to begin your transition.  I especially like their meatless meatballs (heaven!), chicken tenders, mandarin chicken, spicy wings and pizza pockets.  I've also heard that Tofurky has some tasty sausages and deli meats, too.  
  • Dairy Cheese Alternatives - This is definitely a tough one because some people love vegan cheeses and some really don't like them at all.  I'll list my favorites and you can give them a try.  Take time to try ones that catch your eye (and taste buds!).  Follow Your Heart is my favorite.  I love their parmesan, smoked gouda, american and provolone, but I think they're all really good.  (You could eat them right out of the package and be fooled.  Perfect with fruit, on sandwiches, alone or with any meal in place of dairy cheese.)  Daiya is okay for melting, but the taste sometimes throws me.  I do like it on top of my pizza or nachos (a mix of the mozzarella and cheddar is perfect with veggies!), but I don't think I would eat it (sliced or shredded) alone.   A brand that I'm dying to try but haven't yet is Miyoko's Kitchen.  I've heard ah-mazing things about her mozzarella, butter and cream cheese (though Tofutti has a very good cream cheese, too!)
  • Ice Cream Alternatives - Prepare to be in Non-Dairy Ice Cream Heaven!   There is no lack of incredibly delicious frozen dessert options and I wish I had enough room to list them all!  I have to say that my ultimate favorite is the So Delicious brand.  I could eat any of the flavors (with many different non-dairy milk bases!) at any time!  Sooooo Delicious is right!  (Please, please also try their Cocowhip, which is like CoolWhip, but 100 times better!)   I also love the Trader Joe's (more on that store later!) coconut and soy based frozen desserts - they're all super yummy.  Though, I am partial to the Strawberry Coconut Milk flavor (drool!).  Almost every vegan frozen dessert I've tried has been tasty and now that Ben & Jerry's, Breyer's, and many other dairy companies are coming out with non-dairy alternatives, you're pretty much all set in that department.   (Locally, I love FoMu and will go there whenever I have the urge to go to a "traditional" ice cream place...they serve only plant based desserts.)
  • Dairy Milk Alternatives - Again, almost easy as finding dairy milk now.  Woo-hoo!  My favorite brands are Almond Breeze (almond, coconut almond, chocolate), So Delicious (any kind!), Rice Dream (any flavor!) and Silk (soy milk, dark chocolate almond milk).   I like almond milk for sweet things, soy milk for soups & hot beverages, chocolate milks for snacks, rice milk for cereal and coconut milk for cereal or desserts.  They're all good!
  • Meal Alternatives - Amy's is my go-to for vegan packaged/canned meals.  Some of their meals are not vegan, so make sure that you check.  Here is a list of the vegan meals they offer.  These are my favorites:  Veggie Loaf, Rice Mac & Cheeze, any of their chili bowls, Black Bean Tamale Verde, Vegetable Lasagna and Baked Ziti Bowl.   Having a few of these in your freezer/cupboard to grab for a lunch or dinner will save you in the beginning of your journey.  Trust me.  You may find other favorites, but try a bunch of different kinds and keep the ones you like handy,  just in case!
  • Milk Based Condiment Alternatives - You might think it would be difficult to find these plant based condiments, but it's actually not.  You can find some of them at your local grocery or health food store (definitely at Whole Foods!) or even Walmart (if you shop there).  These are my favorites to use instead of dairy butter and egg filled mayo:  Earth Balance or Miyoko's Kitchen for your butter and Follow Your Heart Vegenaise or Hampton Creek Just Mayo for your mayonnaise.  
  • Accidentally Vegan Junk Food - While these foods are scrumptious and satisfy the pickiest junk food junkie, they aren't exactly healthy options to add to your diet.  Try to limit them to occasional treats.  I like to think of them as emergency foods in case there is no other option and you've been super good all month eating plant based, fiber rich foods. (Click HERE for the list and click on the arrows to get more details under each category.)

3.   Prep Food for the Week Ahead - Though it sounds like a pain in the ass (which it sometimes is!), I think this helps SO much in how well you do and how successful you are.  I fight it and I fight it, but even the smallest amount of food prep (peeling and chopping veggies, cutting up fruit, making homemade crackers or beans, etc.) will be much appreciated (by you!) during the next week.  On the weekend (or whatever day works best for you), make a list of the meals you want to have every day for the coming week.  Breakfasts, lunches, dinner and snacks...and, of course, you can eat whatever food you want at whatever meal you want.  Right? :D

  1. Think of Ideas
  2. Create weekly meal plan
  3. Make a shopping list
  4. Go grocery shopping
  5. Prep your food!

Suggestions for Breakfast:  
  • Overnight Oats with fruit and nuts
  • Chia Pudding
  • Whole grain toast with vegan butter, nut butter and/or jam
  • Tofu Scramble
  • Roasted Sweet Potato Hash
  • Whole grain cereal with plant milk
  • Brown Rice with Veggies
  • Smoothie or Smoothie Bowl (with fruit, veggies, seeds, and water or plant milk)
  • Raw Juice (freshly made)
  • Breakfast burrito with salsa and avocado
  • Sweet Potato Toast with Avocado
  • Sweet Potato with Black beans and spinach salad
  • Bagel with Vegan cream cheese
  • Leftovers
Suggestions for Lunch:
  • Hummus with veggies
  • Chickpea "Tuna" Salad on whole grain bread or over greens
  • Large Salad with beans, veggies, fruit and nuts
  • Baked sweet or white potato with steamed veggies 
  • Burrito or taco filled with beans, veggies, salsa and guacamole
  • Veggie burger with toasted whole grain bun and a salad
  • Smoothie or Smoothie Bowl
  • Leftovers
Suggestions for Snacks:
  • Raw nuts and dried fruit
  • Apple with nut butter
  • Fruit Salad with seeds
  • Hummus with veggies
  • Roasted chickpeas (Biena is my favorite packaged brand!)
  • Baked sweet potato
  • Tortilla chips with salsa and/or guacamole
  • Small salad with nuts and favorite vegan dressing
  • Vegan Granola/Protein bars (Luna, Cliff, Larabar, Bobo's, Go Macro, Health Warrior, Nature's Bakery Fig Bars, Vega, etc.)
  • Berries and plant milk yogurt (Love the Forager and Silk brand yogurts!)
  • Banana "Nice" Cream
  • Leftovers
Suggestions for Dinner:
  • Veggie Bean Chili and tortilla chips (preferably homemade!)
  • African Sweet Potato Stew with whole grain bread and vegan butter or homemade crackers
  • Large Salad with beans and nuts (whatever you like!)
  • Soups (split pea, tomato, veggie, minestrone, black bean, etc)
  • Veggie Burger with whole grain bun and large salad or steamed veggies
  • Super Veggie Stir Fry with Quinoa or Brown Rice
  • Spaghetti (or Spaghetti Squash!) with Marinara Sauce, garlic bread and salad
  • Homemade Veggie Pizza with or without vegan cheese
  • Veggie Lasagna with salad
  • Mac and Cheez with salad or steamed veggies
  • Veggie Loaf with mashed potatoes (with soy milk and vegan butter) and steamed veggies
Search Pinterest, the Minimalist Baker, Oh She Glows, Hot for Food, World of Vegan and other vegan cooking channels/blogs for more ideas and recipes!

Vegan Meal Planning Ideas and Favorites 

1.  Beginner Meal Ideas

Before I share some links to help you along, here is a list of common meals you already may be eating that are vegan or can be made vegan very easily.

  • Whole Grain Pasta with Marinara Sauce (Add some vegan meatballs or sausage, tons of veggies or a salad and a loaf of homemade bread with vegan butter or olive oil to make the perfect simple dinner.  These recipes by I Heart Eating and Minimalist Baker are very good!)
  •  Nut Butter and Jam on Whole Grain Bread (Choose your fav nut butter and fav fruit jam - try Gluten Free Vegan Pantry's Strawberry Chia Seed Jam - and you can either have it as is or toasted/grill it for a warm sandwich.  Add some fresh fruit, cut up veggies, or a salad and you're good to go!)
  • Big Salad (Place all of your favorite greens, veggies, fruit, nuts, seeds and beans together and add your favorite dressing - here's a huge list of yummy salads for you.)
  • Hummus with Veggies (Grab your favorite hummus & veggies and chomp away!)
  • Pizza ( can make your own vegan crust or use a pre-made crust, like Boboli.  Add fresh tomatoes and/or pizza sauce, tons of veggies and your favorite vegan cheese.  I even like mine with no cheese at all with a liberal topping of red & green peppers, crushed red pepper, pineapple, red onion and hot you can see, I like  Here are a few recipes that I've liked from the Minimalist Baker, and Vegan Richa.
  • Veggie Stir Fry with Rice or Quinoa (It's so easy to throw your fav veggies together - I love broccoli, bell peppers, green beans, carrots, scallions and snow peas - with a homemade vegan stir fry sauce.  Add some brown rice or quinoa - or tofu if you prefer - to your plate and you've got a warm, satisfying meal!  Search Pinterest for some fantastic stir fry ideas.)

2.  Links to Helpful Shopping/Store Lists

You can easily shop at your favorite supermarkets if you know what options you have.  Print these lists out and keep them with you when you go to grab your groceries.  

3.  Quick Label Reading - Ingredients to Avoid

These ingredients are usually hidden in various everyday products or food and some of them I didn't even realize were animal based.  Click on the two articles below to learn more!
  • Beeswax and bee products
  • Casein
  • Confectioner's Glaze
  • Gelatin
  • Islinglass
  • L. Cysteine
  • Whey
  • Carmine or cochineal
  • Shellac
  • Refined sugar
  • BEST article by Vegan Food and Living for ingredients to avoid
  • Helpful article by "The Spruce" with more details

4.  My Essential Pantry and Staple Foods 

With these essentials (which are usually pretty inexpensive), you can make the most amazingly healthy and delicious meals.  If your kitchen is stocked, your belly will be full and happy!  (Use organic and locally grown food as often as you are able.)
  • Nutritional Yeast (So yummy on and in everything!  Bragg's is my fav brand)
  • Raw almonds and cashews (you can lightly toast them yourself if you wish)
  • Raw sesame seeds, flaxseeds (I grind mine up as needed to use in recipes), chia seeds
  • Fresh fruit (berries, apples, bananas, melons, lemons), fresh veggies (green beans, broccoli, sugar snap or snow peas, carrots, celery, onions, garlic, cherry tomatoes), fresh greens (spinach, romaine and sometimes kale)
  • Almond flour and sometimes unbleached flour (I love Bob's Red Mill for all pantry staples)
  • Arrowroot powder, baking powder, baking soda
  • Apple Cider Vinegar (Bragg's!)
  • Extra virgin olive oil, toasted sesame oil and unrefined, organic coconut oil 
  • Dry and/or canned black beans, red beans, chickpeas, split peas and white beans
  • Spices (sea salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, paprika, smoked paprika, basil, oregano, tumeric, thyme, rosemary, parsley, celery seed, ground mustard, etc)
  • Plant Milks (unsweetened, plain almond, coconut and rice)
  • Cans of  crushed tomatoes, tomato paste and diced tomatoes (Muir Glen and Pastene as my favorites)
  • Spaghetti Squash, sweet potatoes and Yukon Gold potatoes (always great to make a quick meal with, especially if you have an Instant Pot!)
  • Frozen bags of fruit, veggies, veggie burgers and whole grain, sprouted bread
  • Good quality vegetable broth (Aldi has a good one, but my favorite is the Imagine brand)
  • Whole grain pasta (just in case)
  • Herbal teas and green teas 

5.  My Favorite Cruelty-Free Brands for Home Cleaners

If you don't enjoy concocting your own recipes for home cleaners (I do!), then you should look into these companies who offer marvelous products to make your life easier when tackling weekly chores.  Most of them are also available online at Amazon, Thrive Market and Vitacost.

6.  My Favorite Cruelty-Free Beauty Brands

I had no idea how much cruelty and how many chemicals went into making beauty products.  This was one of the first things that I changed after becoming vegan.  It hurt me deeply to know that little animals went through such pain for my beauty routine.  Now that there are a large number of cruelty-free, vegan beauty brands, I can rest easy and enjoy buying makeup again!
  • Pacifica - 100% vegan ("Everything is awesome!", as the song goes...and so easily found at online, at Target, TJMaxx and other stores)
  • 100% Pure (I think they're transitioning to a fully vegan line, but I love everything vegan from this company, especially their 2nd Skin foundation, Vanilla body cream, face brush, all eye and face masks, coffee eye cream, eyebrow filler, bb cream and lip balms/lipsticks.)
  • Beauty Without Cruelty - 100% vegan  (Generally great makeup line)
  • Andalou Naturals (Love their rose face cream and night creams!)
  • Box Naturals - 100% vegan (Fantastic wipes on the go)
  • Derma-E - 100% vegan (Lovely cleansing oils and serums)
  • EcoTools - 100% vegan (Terrific makeup brushes)
  • Hurraw Lip Balm - 100% vegan (BEST lip balm in the world!)
  • Crazy Rumors Lip Balm - 100% vegan (Super awesome choices in flavors, nice consistency)
  • Mad Hippie - 100% vegan (Really nice creams, serums and cleansers)
  • Lunette - 100% vegan (Love their moon cups!)
  • Lush (Shampoo bars, perfumes, lip scrubs, facial scrubs and bath bombs are sooo wonderful)
  • Consult Logical Harmony's amazing list for more options

7.  My Favorite Vegan Deodorant Brands

I have very sensitive skin under my arms and baking soda based deodorants really irritate my skin.  Fortunately, I found some incredible vegan and cruelty-free deos that work well for me.  I hope you'll give them a try!

8.  My Favorite Vegan Nail Polishes/Remover

I've only tried a few brands and I don't use nail polish or remover often, but I do love these four!
  • Pacifica - 100% vegan (My favorite!  Excellent color selection, so smooth and dries easily.  Staying power is awesome!)
  • Little Ondine - (In love with the unique and sparkly options.  So nice that they peel off easily when you want to change colors!) 
  • NCLA  - 100% vegan (Adorable nail wraps and colors...definitely worth it!)
  • Karma Naturals Nail Polish Remover  - 100% vegan (Smells incredibly nice and works really well, even though you might think it wouldn't)

9.  My Favorite Vegan Perfumes

I'm almost as addicted to perfumes as I am to lip balms!  I love experimenting with my making my own scents using a base of coconut or almond oil and blends of essential oils, but I always make sure I have some of my favorite commercially made, vegan, cruelty-free perfumes on hand.  These are all amazing, will make you smell delicious and give a boost to your self esteem.
  • Pacifica - 100% vegan (Such a fun and fantastic perfume collection that is packaged in a variety of containers...spray, roll on or tin.  My suggestion is to go to Ulta or Whole Foods Market to experience the scents in person.  The descriptions are pretty accurate, but the scents that I liked the best were ones that I don't think I would have chosen by just the description.  My favs are the French Lilac, Persian Rose, Tahitian Gardenia and Island Vanilla.)
  • Pinrose - 100% vegan (My suggestion is to take the QUIZ and then either purchase the Starter Kit, the World's Best Perfume travel kit or the customized petal pack set. Their perfumes are gorgeous and sophisticated.  Love that you can easily travel with them!)
  • Define Me - 100% vegan (Also, take their adorable quiz and then you can choose a Besties set with your two fav scents or buy the one that defines you!  The fragrances come in either a mist or an oil.  So cute and lovely!)
10.  My Favorite Misc Toiletries

It's sad to think that so many items we use every day are tested on animals or have animal products in them.  I'm still working on replacing my old toiletries with vegan and cruelty-free items, but I don't want to create more waste by throwing them out half used.  Give yourself permission to finish the items you have (especially concerning beauty and skin care products) before buying something new.   Check out these helpful videos on minimalism and creating less waste by Sustainably Vegan.

(For all items listed below, check Amazon, iHerb, Vitacost, Thrive Market and Grove Collaborative for competitive prices)

Ever wonder what the difference is between vegan and cruelty-free?   Logical Harmony explains the difference HERE and Vegan Beauty Review explains it HERE :)

And, of course, please check out the right sidebar for more of my favorite links to movies, cookbooks, youtube channels (Vegan Beauty Review, Rhian HY and Logical Harmony are 3 channels you have to watch for anything vegan/cruelty-free beauty!) and also eco living/minimalism.  

This is just a very basic list and there is so much more to share with you, but I wanted to start you off with a limited list so you aren't overwhelmed with all the choices.  Ask vegan friends, check out vegan websites and youtube videos and try some of these things yourself.  I'm sure you'll find the perfect choices for your taste buds and your budget!  Good luck (and many supportive hugs!) and I'm always here if you want to ask questions or share YOUR favorite foods, recipes, lifestyle tips and newly discovered vegan products with me!  

Gina :)

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

My Daily Routine

Before I get into the WHEN, WHY and HOWs of my meat eater to vegan lifestyle change, I wanted to share this with you.  (And while I'm motivated to type it! lol)

You know what?  I love routines!  I love lists!  And, so far, I LOVE being vegan!

I feel energetic, happier, more peaceful and more accepting of myself.

Living this new lifestyle is more helpful (to me!) with some sort of structure.   At least, at first.

I wanted to share with you what I'm aiming for each day.  I don't want to say that I'm following this routine strictly is not the same every day.  Things come up, right?  In the past, I would have quit immediately (or felt terrible about myself) if I wasn't able to PERFECTLY follow my routine or schedule or reach a goal that I was trying so hard to achieve.

Since I am trying to love myself and accept myself more, I've decided to give up being perfect (Screw you, Perfection!) and to be happy with whatever effort I've made (or could make) during each day.  Some days I might do a "better" job, while on other days, just getting up in the morning might be the best I can do.  Either way, I am accepting my limitations and embracing my intention or effort.

Below are my daily routines and I hope you might find some inspiration from them to create your own.  Make sure they are routines that bring you joy or health or relaxation - please do not follow my routine if it is not right for you.  We are all unique in the world (yay!) and we all have different needs, joys and loves - which is AWESOME!


  • Wake up at 6 am (stretch a little!)
  • 16 oz. of fresh, filtered water with the juice of 1/2 lemon or acv (organic, if possible)
  • Brush Teeth and tongue scraping (definitely helps with bad breath)
  • Dry Brushing Body (if you love having your back scratched, you'll love this!)
  • Shower (so nice!)
  • Probiotics on an empty stomach (I keep mine in the fridge.)
  • Breakfast - Smoothie with 1 cup frozen fruit, 2 scoops Orgain protein powder, 1 cup water, 2 tbs. ground flaxseeds, 1 tsp. powdered Matcha green tea (yummy!)
  • Vitamins/Herbs (I'm currently taking Vit D, C, E, Vit B Complex and Tumeric)
  • Go to work! 


  • Drink 16 oz. tea at my desk (Currently, I love a mix of Oolong and Peach Herbal!)
  • Healthy Snacks (almonds, fruit, crunchy veggies, rice cakes with almond butter, etc)
  • Get up as often as possible to walk around (a challenge at my job!)
  • Lunch - Leftover vegan dinner or vegan frozen meal (try not to have more than 1/week) with a large salad and nuts
  • Drink 16 oz. water (I love my glass water bottle!)
  • Work, work, work!


  • Small snack while waiting for dinner (fruit and some unsalted nuts)
  • Drink a cup of tea in my favorite comfy chair and read a book (so lovely!)
  • 10 minutes of breathing (either listening to a relaxing music or a guided meditation app)
  • Make, eat and clean up dinner  (this is where vegan cookbooks shine!)
  • Take a 30 minute walk outside or do some sort of exercise/activity (I also like watching an inspirational or funny show while exercising)


  • Yoga Poses (especially after a long day of sitting at work!)
  • 8 oz. of water (refreshing!)
  • Wash face, brush teeth, etc. (do whatever you need to...)
  • Rub feet with a few drops of sesame oil mixed with essential oils (I love using some lavender, sandalwood, bergamot, vetiver or cedarwood and chamomile!)
  • Write in my gratitude journal (at least 10 things I am thankful for during the day)
  • Read an inspiring or relaxing book in bed (nothing too exciting or stressful)
  • Lights out at 10 pm (this is a hard one for me!)
  • Optional (though exciting!) - talking with your partner...and, hopefully, sex! (lol)

OTHER ACTIVITIES (that I try to add in during the week or weekend when I can)

  • Dancing
  • Singing
  • Journaling
  • Archery
  • Knitting
  • Trying new vegan recipes
  • Trying new DIY beauty recipes
  • Rebounding
  • Weight Lifting
  • HUGS, HUGS and MORE HUGS (*grin*)


What are YOUR favorite routines?  Favorite activities?  What helps you to stay on track with your vegan lifestyle?  Do you have books or movies that you like to read or watch to keep you inspired and motivated?    Websites that you like to visit?  I would love to hear some of your suggestions!

On the right sidebar, I've added MY favorite books and movie links.  I hope some of them might help you :D

Have a wonderful night and, very soon, I'll share my reasons for going vegan.  If you want to comment below with your reasons for going vegan, I would love to hear about your experience!

Goodbye for now!! xoxo

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Hello Stranger!

Why, hello there! Thank you for visiting my new blog!

I've just started out on an awesomely amazing adventure - the slow, steady path from meat eater to vegan (one month in!) and I'm anxious to share some of my newbie experiences with you.

I can't promise excitement. I can't promise suspense.  I can't promise popcorn.  But, I CAN promise that everything you read will be heartfelt, honest and, sometimes, hilarious.  (crossing fingers)

As a recovering perfectionist, I know that my journey won't always be smooth sailing.  I'll probably stumble along the way and, even more likely, FREAK THE HELL OUT.  (Advanced apologizes to all.)

BUT, I am eager (like Spongebob Squarepants) to try and experience all that this wonderful, topsy turvy adventure has to offer me.  I am lucky to have the most wonderful veggie friends to help & encourage me along the way and I hope to find new friends, too (like you!)

Are you with me??

Infinite hugs to all and (as Arnold S. declares in Terminator 2), "I'll be back." :D