Happy VeganMoFo day 1, everyone! Blogging regularly is not my strong point, but I’m sure going to try. I’ve got a lot of things I want to talk about pertaining to veganism (what got me here, what’s keeping me still, the support system, eating out, etc.) so hopefully I can keep it up!
The question I get asked most when I tell people I’m vegan is the ever-annoying “but.. but.. what do you eat?!” and I start listing things like “oh, lots of veggies, fresh fruit, beans, grains, tofu, tempeh, seitan, pasta, lots of stuff!” People often ask me if I miss cheese or ice cream and really, I don’t. People often seem perplexed by the fact that I am so happy about being vegan and that I don’t feel deprived in the slightest. I know that it’s different for everyone, but the moment I made the decision to cut out all animal products from my life, I knew that it was the best choice I could possibly ever make for myself. I knew that doing this for myself, my health and mental clarity, the animals, the environment — I could never go back to eating all that crap, knowing where it comes from.
With that said, it isn’t that easy for everyone. You have to know how to cook, where to shop, what you can eat at restaurants, how to scour an ingredient list, don’t be afraid to ask questions. As for me, living in central Florida is not always the best place for a vegetarian or vegan, but I know my resources and use them quite often. Here are some of my recommendations for Orlando-area vegans/vegetarians.
Ethos Vegan Kitchen — Orlando has its own vegan restaurant! The restaurant is located on the adorable strip on S. Orange Ave, near all the fun antique shops. They have a great welcoming staff, a delicious (but small–though I hope they start expanding!) menu, good prices, and delicious food. My personal favorites are the “What’s the Dilly, Philly?” (sauteed seitan, onions, peppers, Vegenaise, FYH mozz, served on bread of your choice) and 10″ personal pizza with 3 toppings of your choice and FYH mozz. They also serve brunch exclusively on Sundays — the pancakes and biscuits & gravy are the best ever.
Woodlands Vegetarian South Indian food — this place is so good. Everything is 100% vegetarian and the staff is very helpful when it comes to deciphering ingredients. Masala dosais for the win!
Garden Cafe — vegetarian chinese at its finest. I could live off of their Sweet & Sour Chicken!
Whole Foods – Obviously, one of the world’s largest all natural chain. Obviously they have plenty of non-vegetarian and vegan items here, but they also have a store brand of wonderful essential ingredients, like tofu, soymilk, canned beans, pastas, and of course – the bulk bins! The store in Winter Park off of Aloma will always be my favorite, but the new location in the Dr. Phillips area has their own nut butter churner! You can get fresh peanut butter and cashew butter for $4.99/lb, and almond butter for $8.99/lb. This stuff is AMAZING! They also have a hot/cold salad bar that has many labeled vegan/vegetarian items for $7.99/lb. Yes, it’s pretty pricy, but worth the splurge every once in awhile. I indulged last week:
(in no particular order: baba ganoush w/naan, chinese style seitan & vegetables, corn/edamame/tomato salad, oriental tofu and udon noodle pasta salad, Morroccan cucumber salad, shiitake mushroom & tofu scramble)
Chamberlin’s Market & Cafe – another great grocery store that central Florida has. Some of their stuff is a little too high for my price range, but they have bulk bins, fresh homemade bread, a salad bar, and the best wall of non-dairy milks I’ve ever seen.
I wrote that in caps because I truly believe that farmer’s markets are the most important part of it all. Fresh vegetables and fruit are some of the most delicious things that nature has to offer us, and I couldn’t imagine a diet of faux-meats and pastas with no fresh stuff. When you shop at a farmer’s market, it ensures that your food is not only fresh, but local. Would you rather buy the tomatoes from the grocery store that traveled thousands of miles away or would you rather buy the ones that were picked from vines just a few days ago? If you’ve never had a fresh picked vine ripe tomato, please run–don’t walk–to your local farmer’s market and eat one by itself. You can visit Local Harvest to find out where to find a farmer’s market or CSA’s in your area.
There’s probably a lot more I can add, but my dinner is almost finished, so I’ll leave you all with that. Tomorrow I’ve got a post ready for mini peanut butter cheesecakes with peanut butter caramel and chocolate drizzle – oh my!