2015 in review

Thanks everyone for a great year!  3,500 people in 77 countries . . . not a bad start!


The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 3,500 times in 2015. If it were a cable car, it would take about 58 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.


2016 Resolutions

The gifts have been opened, the massive amounts of food have been consumed . . . it is in these last few days of the year people start to think about what can be improved the following year.

My last post was all about what went well in 2015, now it’s time to discuss what can go even better in 2016.    Therefore . . . drum roll please . . . my 2016 resolutions:

  1. Focus on eating whole foods. Probably no shocker here, but eating vegan doesn’t always equate to eating healthy, whole foods.  Fries are vegan.  Oreos are vegan.  As I am typing this, I’m eating a black bean burger from Which Wich.  Probably not the worst thing I could eat but far from a health food either.  In 2016, I plan to cut down on processed faux “meats” and frozen pre-made meals, and get back to eat unprocessed fruits, vegetables, legumes and whole grains.  Of course this doesn’t mean you will never see me shove an entire pizza with soy cheese and veggie sausage crumbles in my face, but it’s about improvement, not perfection.  If I could get my meals to about 90% unprocessed, whole foods, I’d be a happy vegan.

Source: sodahead.com


  1. Cut down on oil. I contemplated putting this under 1, but I think it deserves its own resolution. I did a post about this earlier this year.  Oil truly is a processed food  . . . all of the good parts of the fruit, vegetable or seed are removed and only the fattening part is left behind.  Oil has one of the highest calorie counts of any food out there.  And it is really not necessary for cooking if you know what you are doing.  I have already started cutting out oil in my cooking but still am a slave to oil in the form of condiments –  Earth Balance, Just Mayo and Toffuti Cream Cheese are some of my favorites.  While I probably won’t go so far as to ask restaurants to cut out oil when making my veggies (they are already going out of their way by making me off-menu items and not using butter, and I don’t want them to spit in my food), in 2016 I will cut down on oil and oil-based products at home.


  1. Stop eating chocolate. I’m not talking about the 72% cocoa dark chocolate with the cute picture of an endangered animal on it.  I’m talking about cheap Hershey’s miniatures, M&Ms and all of the other crap left over from Halloween.  I know it isn’t vegan, but chocolate is the one food I struggle with.  When I look at a Hershey’s bar, for some reason I don’t see animal cruelty, I see a delicious way to make my day better for a whole 30 seconds.  There is a size two brunette in my office who always has a full bowl of chocolate candy on her desk (yet I’ve never seen her eat any of it).  I pass her desk at least twenty times a day, and usually by 3:00, the urge to grab a piece of sugary bliss and quickly shove it in my mouth is just too great.  I guess I could bring vegan chocolate to work, but that sort of goes against 1, above.  I just need to work on my willpower.  Or I could get the brunette fired.  Either works.


  1. Stay better educated. When I first started my vegan journey, I read almost any vegan or health book I could get my hands on.  Now, however, my reading preference has gone back to whatever piece of fluff is on the New York Times Bestseller List this week.  In 2016, I want to mix in more non-fiction – under my tree were copies of Dr. Michael Greger’s “How Not to Die,” Dr. Garth Davis’ “Proteinaholic,” and Dr. John McDougall’s “The Start Solution” (the latter is good for resolution 2).

Source:  amazon.com

  1. Running goals. With all of this energy from eating such a healthy diet, I will need to channel it somewhere!  In spring 2016, I’m hoping to run three half marathons in 90 days and qualify for Half Fanatic status.  In the fall, I’d like to attempt one marathon.  My first half is on March 5.  I’ve decided that in order to really commit to my training plan, I am completely giving up alcohol from January 1 through the race (and then the evening of March 5 I’m coming home and drinking like a fish).
  1. Chill out. This seems to contract resolutions 1-5, but not really.  I can’t go through life worried about whether everything little thing I put in or on my body is 100% vegan.  According to the PETA website:

The goal of sticking to a vegetarian or vegan diet is to help animals and reduce suffering; this is done by choosing a bean burrito or a veggie burger over chicken flesh, or choosing tofu scramble over eggs, not by refusing to eat an otherwise vegan food because it has 0.001 grams of monoglycerides that may possibly be animal-derivedWe discourage vegetarians from grilling waiters at restaurants about micro-ingredients in vegetarian foods (e.g., a tiny bit of a dairy product in the bun of a veggie burger). Doing so makes sticking to a vegetarian diet seem difficult and dogmatic to your friends and to restaurant staff, thus discouraging them from giving a vegetarian diet a try (which really hurts animals). And we urge vegetarians not to insist that their food be cooked on equipment separate from that used to cook meat; doing so doesn’t help any additional animals, and it only makes restaurants less inclined to offer vegetarian choices (which, again, hurts animals).

I consider PETA to be one of the most hard core animal activist groups out there.  And if they are telling me not to get my panties in a wad, I think I can relax and focus on the big picture.

  1. Blog more!


So that’s it for me.  Here’s to a happy and healthy 2016!!!



One Year of Being Vegan

January 1, 2016 will mark my one year anniversary as officially “being vegan.”  I was vegetarian for a year before that and had dabbled in veganism prior but never seriously took the plunge until I signed up for the January vegan challenge through a local meet-up group.



All-in-all, it was a pretty good year.  I learned a LOT, made some new friends and tried loads of new foods.  In no particular order, here are what I would consider my top “wins” of 2015:

  1. I lost a fair amount of weight (although with it now being the holidays, the number is starting to creep back up . . .).
  2. My skin is clearer than it has ever been. Prior to eating vegan, I regularly suffered from breakouts on my chin.  I’m pretty sure I haven’t seen a zit all year.
  3. Neither my husband (who also went vegan this year) nor I got our at least annual sinus infection/stuffy nose thing this year.
  4. I have learned to love to eat vegetables any time of the day. Brussel sprouts for breakfast?  Bring it on!  Sweet potato as a snack? Love it!
  5. I have a ton of energy.
  6. I started running again, so far, injury free. 
  7. Despite the warnings of many, I have not died from a protein deficiency.
  8. Thanks to me, approximately 198 animals weren’t slaughtered!
  9. My husband and I influenced the eating behaving of our friends and family, causing several people to either eat less meat or give it up altogether.
  10. My family replaced visits to the zoo with visits to animal sanctuaries.


    My daughter and I befriending a goat at a local farm sanctuary.

  11. Most people have been very understanding and accommodating. Family and friends have regularly made a vegan dish when they knew we were coming.
  12. It’s been easier than I thought it would be. Eating vegan at home has become second nature, and I’ve learn which restaurants are best for vegan eats (Mexican, Italian, Chinese, Indian, just to name a few).  Even if there is nothing on the menu, I’ve found that most restaurants are super accommodating, especially if you call ahead.  For example, at a business dinner at a Kansas City steak house this year, I had the best baked potato and veggie plate a girl could ask for!


I can’t wait to see what next year has in store!   Stay tuned for 2016 resolutions . . . .




Source:  traviswright.com



You Don’t Need Oil!!!

Technically this post has nothing to do with being vegan, but with all of the vegetables I’m now eating, I had to find a healthier way to do it.  When we first went vegan, a stir fry meant loads of healthy vegetables, tofu and brown rice, but tons of oil.  How else could I get my peppers and onions crispy?  If I wanted a big pan of baked cauliflower that meant copious sprays of oil.  And French fries meant deep frying or baking with tons of olive oil.  All of the healthiness of veggies was negated by fat.  Time to fine some healthier options.

Steam sauteing – whenever you are doing veggies on the stove top, water can replace oil.  A hot pan with a quarter cup of water with some garlic or lemon juice mixed in will cook vegetables just as well as oil.  Even better, use vegetable broth in place of the water for extra flavor.  One of my favorite dishes is a huge pan of kale or spinach, cover and steam in vegetable broth for about 10 minutes over medium high heat.  Delicious!

Vegetable broth

My cooking go-to!  Source:  www.wegmans.com

Baking – French fries get a bad reputation, but it’s the oil that makes them unhealthy.  Slice up potatoes, put them on parchment paper or a silicon sheet on 400 degrees for 35-40 minutes, and you have a delicious and healthy side.  In fact, this works for all vegetables – carrots, cauliflower and brussel sprouts are some of my favorites.  Sprinkle with various spices before cooking to add extra flavor.  Old Bay, smoked paprika, dill or cayenne pepper can elevate an otherwise boring vegetable dish into something extraordinary.  And no need to add butter to the finished product!


$13.95 on Amazon for two mats – plus free, 2-day shipping through Prime!


Grilling – Ever since we gave up meat, we don’t fire up the outside grill too much, but the George Foreman grill gets used quite often.  For a great alternative to a fried egg, slice a block of tofu into four slices and stick on the grill for about 10-15 minutes, checking frequently to make sure it isn’t burning (flip halfway through if using a traditional grill).  Serve on toast or a bagel with vegan mayo and cheese for a decadent breakfast sandwich.  Another favorite on the grill is portabella mushroom caps – grill for approximately 10 minutes until crispy, drizzling balsamic vinegar on half way through.  Eat as a burger or slice up and serve on top of pasta.  Finally, vegetable kabobs on the grill make a great entrée or side.


Brussel sprouts . . . . even four year olds love them!

Bottom line?  Cut the oil from your cooking, and save the calories for a delicious slice of vegan cheese cake or a glass of wine.


Runs on Plants*

* I wish I could take credit for this awesome tag line but it belongs to the great guys at NoMeatAthlete.com.  Lately though it has become my personal mantra.

Let me start out this post by stating very clearly that I am not an athlete.  I dreaded PE in junior high.  I was always picked last for teams.  I couldn’t hit a softball, yet always managed to get hit in the head with the volley ball.  When we had to run the mile in school, I was usually the kid who opted to walk it.  (And when they put the hurdles on the track that was practically a Saturday Night Live sketch.)  I was the smart kid, the funny kid, but never in a million years the athletic kid.

I first dabbled in running close to eight years ago.  I was trying to lose weight for my wedding and started taking long walks through the neighborhood after work.  Those one mile walks quickly turned into two miles, and then three and then five.  The fresh air did wonders on calming my pre-wedding stress, and soon the results were noticeable on my waist line.  One day during one of my five mile treks, and little voice inside my head whispered, “Hey, why not trying jogging for a few minutes?”  I laughed at it and kept on my with walk, but the next day when the voice was back, I tentatively quickened my pace into a gentle jog for approximately thirty seconds.  Once I was able to breathe again and my heart rate returned to normal, I realized that that really wasn’t so bad.

Over the next few months, I intermixed short jogs in with my walks, increasing the jogging increments a little more each time until finally I could (slowly) jog for the entire five miles.

After my wedding, I entered into some local 5Ks and one 10K, but then I got cocky and tried for a 20K.  Keep in mind, I was on no official training plan, and now that the wedding was over and the pressure to lose weight was off, I was only running once or twice a week.  I ran/walked the 20K to the end but the dull ache in my left hip that had been left untreated for the last few months had turned into a sharp pain by the finish line.  Not good.  (I found out later that a ridiculously tight IT band had caused me to alter my stride, and I ultimately pulled some muscles and herniated a disc in my back. Yikes!)

My doctor recommended that I take several months off, which somehow turned into over a year.  I briefly contemplated getting back into running again and then immediately got pregnant with my daughter.  She is four and a half now . . . time to lace up my shoes and try again.

I’ll admit, it wasn’t easy at first.  Using the running app Couch25K, I slowly jog/walked around my neighborhood, admonishing myself for taking so much time off.  But then something happened  . . . . things just “clicked” again.  Suddenly, I found myself planning my schedule around my runs and cursing my training plan because I had to take a day off.  Within two months of starting over, I was back to being able to run five miles at a decent clip.

This time around I am smarter.  I foam roll almost daily (goodbye tight IT band!), stretch, do yoga and regularly see a massage therapist.

But, I think my biggest advantage this time around is my diet.  I eat primarily whole foods, with a focus on lots of fruits, vegetables, grains and legumes.  Maybe it is in my head, but I swear my recovery time between runs is much faster than it ever was in the before, and my energy level is astounding.  In the past I would run after work, which often got sidetracked by late nights at the office or happy hours.  Now, I am up at 4:30 and hitting the track at 5:00 because I know that is the only time of the day that is guaranteed “me” time.

Below are some pictures from a local Veteran’s Day 11K I ran this week.  I averaged a 9:38 mile and finished 82 out of 140.  While I won’t win any awards anytime soon, I’m faster than I was eight years ago and I was happy to finish with a smile on my face.

Now it’s time for a 13.1 sticker for my car . . . stay tuned!

Veteran's Day 11K at Burke Lake in Fairfax, Virginia

Veteran’s Day 11K at Burke Lake in Fairfax, Virginia

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The expression is weird but the leg muscle is awesome! Plant-powered, baby!!

A Vegan Diet is Not Going to Kill You!

Someone recently forwarded me the article about the vegan blogger who gave up veganism because it “almost killed her.”  Read the story at the New York Post.

Source:  New York Post

Source: New York Post

Really???  It is people like this who give veganism a bad reputation.  Was it veganism that almost killed you or was it the fact that you were trying to live on an 800 calorie a day juice diet?  If you eat only 800 calories of anything per day, you are going to feel like crap, whether its veggies, bacon or ice cream.  Huh, you ate food again and felt better?  Shocker!

I started out as vegan for ethical reasons, but I do honestly believe it is a healthy, well-balance diet.  I eat between 1500 – 2000 calories a day in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and beans . . . and sometimes unhealthy stuff, like french fries, cookies and wine.  (No would would ever classify me as orthorexic!)  My hair is shiny, my energy level is great, and yes (TMI alert), I have regular periods.

I’m not claiming that a vegan diet is the right choice for everyone, but people who villanize a lifestyle due to their own limited interpretations of it drive me nuts!

Okay, rant over.  Happy Friday everyone!

Checking in . . .

I realized the other day that I hadn’t written anything since April.  Actually, that’s not true, I realized it in June, but as the weeks turned into months, I became increasingly embarrassed to pick this project back up.  And I sort of figured that I didn’t have anything else to add on the subject of veganism.  After all, I’m not a doctor, a licensed nutritionist or an animal rights activist.  I’m just a lawyer, a wife and a mom, trying to do the best I can to eat a healthy vegan diet and maybe make a small difference in the world.

Yesterday while driving to work,  I listened to the most recent No Meat Athlete podcast (I love those guys!) called “How to Start Your Movement.”   Their show was in response to a listener question about how they turned their blogs into a successful business.  Both Matt and Doug started out by writing personal blogs on topics that were important to them.  They stressed not to worry about if you are expert or if your website looks perfect.  The key is just to write.

While I can’t promise I will write frequently and while I certainly don’t plan to quit my day job, I am making an early New Year’s resolution to at least check in more.  (I actually had to look up my Word Press password I had been offline so long!)

As for updates . . . I’ve been vegan now since January 1, 2015 and overall, I think my project has been a success.  I have been far from perfect.  On our recent trip to Mexico, a dish ordered  with “no meat” still managed to have fish in it (something got lost in translation there), and I ate cheese pizza one day when there was nothing else to eat.  On numerous occasions, I have grabbed a handful of M&Ms from the candy bowl at work or taken a bite of my daughter’s mac n cheese.  My sister-in-law keeps chickens, and I had an omelette from the fresh eggs.  I’m sure if anyone from the Vegan Police is reading this, they will assure you I have failed as a vegan.  But this is my journey, and my journey is veganish.  My goal is to get a little bit better every day.

Why I would deem my efforts a success?

  • My weight is down close to ten pounds
  • My skin is super clear
  • I have taken up running again after a five year hiatus, and so far, am injury free
  • I have more energy than I did before
  • I have learned to love vegetables (and without oil, butter, etc).  A big bowl of steamed kale with black beans over brown rice is now a pretty standard dinner for me.
  • My eyes are open about the cruelty and ecological dangers of factory farming
  • I’ve influenced friends to eat less meat

I doubt I will ever be the perfect vegan (and I certainly will never be a card carrying member of the Vegan Police), but I am happy with my choices, and that is enough for me.

A Vegan Birthday Party

A big vegan challenge came earlier this month in the form of my daughter Piper’s fourth birthday party. We are raising Piper somewhat veganish, particularly at home.  Field Roast Chao slices have replaced Kraft slices and Nature’s Balance has replaced butter in Piper’s grilled cheese sandwiches, and we have phased out cow milk in favor of almond milk. (However, I’ve yet to find a vegan mac n cheese product that Piper prefers over the blue box.)  When we are outside the house, Piper is vegetarian.  The wonderful chef at her preschool provides a robust and healthy vegetarian option, but not vegan.  And I am fine with this approach for now.  I have had conveserations with Piper why Mommy and Daddy don’t drink milk or eat meat, and in her words, “Animals are our friends.  We don’t eat our friends!”  But that said, I always let her have cheese pizza and cake at her friends’ parties.  Not everyone will agree with this approach, but it works for us, at least for now.

However, I wanted to be able to enjoy ALL of the food at my daugher’s birthday party, not just the fruit tray, and I wanted to show all of the attendees that eating vegan could be fun.  Control over the food was one of the reasons we decided to have the party at home.

Keeping in the spirit of our love for animals, we decided to have a safari party.  Each child decorated their own explorer hat, grabbed a pair of binocoluars and went on a safari throughout our living room, looking for the zebras, elephants and lions that hid under the throw pillows and behind the curtains.

Piper, John and I, ready to go on safari!

Penny, our golden retriever, got in on the fun too!

The menu was a hit!  We had Wegmans “Don’t Be a Chicken” Chicken-style Nuggets, Ian’s Alphatots, a vegetable sushi platter, avocado quinoa salad with blue corn chips, and a veggie plate with hummus.

Wegmans Sushi Veggie Garden Platter

Beer and wine for the adults, organic juice boxes for the kids.  For dessert, my friend made a three tier vegan safari cake!

It’s vegan!!!

Vegans and Omnivores alike had a blast.  🙂

Quinoa Avocado Salad

I first tasted this salad at one of my favorite vegan restaurants and have been trying to recreate it ever since.  After several attempts, I think I finally nailed it.  I recently served this with tortilla chips at my daughter’s birthday party, but it is great as an entrée.  My husband likes it as a topping on black bean burgers.


Serves 4-6 as an entrée

1 cup of uncooked quinoa
3 ripe avocados
1 can of black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can of corn, drained and rinsed
½ red onion, finely chopped
2-3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
3 tbsp fresh cilantro, finely chopped
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3 tbsp sugar
2-3 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp salt, more to taste
Zest of one lemon

  1. Rinse quinoa in mesh strainer. Bring two cups of water and one cup of quinoa to a boil, and then cover and let simmer for 15 minutes.  Allow quinoa to cool.  (I like to make the quinoa in advance.)
  2. Peel and mash the avocado, and mix in the quinoa.
  3. Add the remaining ingredients, mixing well.
  4. Cover and allow to chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour before serving.


For more veganish fun, please visit my Facebook page, The Veganish Dish.

People are awesome!

I am ashamed to admit that my biggest concerns about going vegan were selfish.   Will people not want to hang out with me?  Will I ever be able to enjoy parties?  Will I starve at work events and conferences?

These last few months have taught me that although not everyone understands or agrees with my ethical and environmental rationales for going vegan, people genuinely want me to feel included and are curious about my new lifestyle.

Case in point – I have traditionally hosted Christmas at my house.  I warned my family this year that I would not be preparing any items with meat, dairy or eggs.  While I kind of thought they might opt out or bring their own food, they were troopers and ate (and enjoyed!) everything I prepared.  My father, a complete meat and potatoes kind of guy, actually admitted to liking the spinach tofu scramble and palms of heart “crab” cakes.

My friends have been fantastic too.  In my book club, one girlfriend ordered a cheese-less veggie pizza and another, who hosted on Saint Patrick’s Day, made vegan shepherd’s pie and soda bread!  At a birthday party last week, the gracious hostess ensured that there were vegan cupcakes for me and my husband.  Is it any surprise that I have put on a few pounds recently?  :-)

Work events have been fine too.  Most caterers and restaurants are happy to accommodate a vegan diet, especially if you give them a head’s up.  At one recent conference, the rest of the attendees, who were eating rubbery chicken, were openly jealous of my grilled portobello mushrooms with marinara sauce, couscous and curried chickpeas.  One woman whispered to me, “I’m going to ask for the vegan option next time.”  At my last board dinner, I called the restaurant ahead of time and a delicious pre-fixed menu of salad, lentil stew with butternut squash, cannellini beans and kale, with sorbet for dessert, awaited me.

Less formal restaurants have been pretty easy too.  My girlfriend and I were out recently at a chain sports bar, and the waitress worked with the kitchen to make me some amazing vegetable tacos with avocado slaw.

It hasn’t all been perfect.  At one conference, while I noted during registration that I was vegan, the make-your-own sandwich bar didn’t have much in the way of vegan options.  I ended up making a lettuce, tomato and mustard sandwich with a side of dry salad (ranch was the only dressing option).  At another meeting, the woman who ordered our lunch tried to select a vegan option for me, but my grilled vegetable sub came smothered in provolone.  I pulled the cheese off the best I could and sucked it up.

The bottom line is that is that eating vegan is not as hard or as socially isolating as you might think it could be.  However, the worst thing you can do is not let people know you are vegan.  While you certainly don’t need to make a big deal about it or preach your values, it will be less awkward to tell your host or co-workers about your dietary restrictions beforehand than to sit there not eating while everyone else chows down.

Remember:  At the end of the day, people are awesome.


Want more veganish awesomeness?  Follow me on Facebook at The Veganish Dish.