Author Archives: veganzoey

About veganzoey

Currently attending Westminster College in SLC, UT-- Studying Public Health, with minors in Outdoor Education & Leadership and Applied Math-- Avid CrossFitter and Outdoors-woman-- LOVE eating food, watching Food Network, thinking about food, researching food, experimenting with new food, and doing pretty much anything else related to food.-- Looking for my bliss and following where it takes me.-- Striving to live happily and freely.

Hot Day? Cold Soup!

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A few days ago I tried making my first soup out of The Plantpower Way cookbook. I made the cold heirloom tomato soup, since it was both incredibly simple to make and the temperature in Salt Lake has been soaring lately in the 90’s, so anything with “cold” in the title sounds automatically appealing. Ugh. The heat always gets me down, especially when I try to do fun things outside but then end up in a hot, sweaty mess within minutes. This cold soup, however, was just the right thing to finish off another roasting day in the valley: totally quick and totally refreshing!

If you’ve ever had gazpacho, this soup was basically a chunky version. I am hesitant to post the actual recipe here, since it came out of a brand new cookbook. However, the basic idea was to put about 6-7 heirloom tomatoes, celery, cucumber, fresh basil, and fresh mint into a blender/food processor and process until the soup became a lightly chunky gazpacho. So easy!! So if you ever need a simple, light, refreshing, quick dinner, skip the prepackaged stuff and blend up some veggies into a cold soup. You won’t be disappointed! (They also say it is great for your skin, so it’s worth a try).

In other news, I have started my summer job working with the Outdoor Program! Thus far we have been working with a lot of the summer camps that come to campus, mostly just being their belay slaves at the climbing wall. Luckily, I get to go outside tomorrow and take a bunch of young ladies out on a hike up in Big Cottonwood Canyon! Hopefully the mountains will provide a nice outdoor break from the indoor climbing wall, as well as a break from the sweltering heat down in the valley. Also, next week I get to go out on a day-long flyfishing trip! I have never been flyfishing in my entire life, so I really don’t even know how to “lead” a flyfishing trip at all, but it will be an adventurous experience either way. All in all, I can’t complain too much about my summer. If I’m not working (or is it actually playing for pay?) I get to go do fun stuff with Bridger and enjoy all that the SLC area has to offer. Here’s a concluding picture (or two) of Bridger and I on top of Mount Olympus last weekend. It was a hot and sweaty trudge straight uphill, but the view at the top was pretty neat.

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Bumpy Road

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It’s no secret: veganism can be a tough lifestyle to stick to. Recently I have been suffering from a lot of desire for things that I shouldn’t have: going out to pizza with the roommates and having to opt for a cheeseless version as they enjoy their gooey, cheesy pies; walking into our apartment with the smell of fresh-baked, non-vegan cookies thick in the air; wishing for a veggie and egg scramble topped with cheddar on buttered toast instead of my normal oatmeal or brown rice cereal. Let’s face it, non-vegan food is freakin delicious! And sometimes I do give in as I snag a fresh baked cookie off the cooling rack, but I have to remind myself that it is just a little bump in the road.

To cure myself of this bumpy road of vegan depression, I turned to my new vegan bible, The Plantpower Way, hoping they would have a section that would give me a little hope for my future. And they did! First, they have a great section on the protein dilemma that everyone seems to drill vegans with. Where do we get our protein? I have to say I started having my own doubts, thinking that I should perhaps reinstate eggs into my diet so I can get higher levels of protein. But really, there are so many extremely fit people, even international athletes, who eat a plant-based diet with no protein deficiencies. In the book, they claim that only about 10% of your daily calories should be protein to maintain a healthy body, which is pretty easy to accomplish without even focusing on your protein intake. Of course, eating a variety of grains, beans, nuts, veggies, and fruits is the key to maintaining balance, but the point is that protein isn’t really that big of a deal.

Second, one of the authors wrote a great section on how the transition to veganism is really tough, but we need to switch our perception of veganism from one of deprivation to thinking of all of the great culinary opportunities the plant-based diet provides. It is so easy, as I have done myself many a time, to think of all of the things I can’t have: no ice cream, no scrambled eggs, no gourmet cheeses. But it is time to focus on all of the things I get to have: coconut cream ice cream, tofu scrambles and superfood vegan pancakes for breakfast, gourmet nut cheeses that I never would have tried if I still was eating regular parmesan. I am opening doors to a new world of wonderful, nourishing foods that will support my body and help me to maintain a balanced lifestyle.

So yeah, this journey hasn’t been easy. But I guess no journey that is actually worthwhile is ever easy. And I still feel very passionately that it is my duty, as an individual who enjoys so many things that our beautiful planet has to offer, to help protect and conserve the health of our only home.

Loose Ends Before Summer

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Alas, I have come back from the tropical paradise of Hawaii. I had a cup of fruit today with pineapple and it just wasn’t the same as the fresh, super sweet and juicy ones we had in Hawaii. Now we are all back with golden tans and ready to finish up our last assignments for our class. Unfortunately, we can’t get away with simply enjoying a 10 day trip to Hawaii for class credit, so we actually have to do academic things like write a paper and even take a quiz *gasp*. However, once this week is over, I officially begin my summer!

Shortly before I left on my trip, my wonderful parents sent me a copy of the new cookbook called The Plantpower Way. It is written by this awesome couple who are raising 4 kids on a plant-based diet, and the husband is actually an ultra endurance athlete who is in peak physical condition. And it’s not really just a cookbook, it’s more of a life book about the plantpower lifestyle. The recipes are mingled with sections on hot topics like getting enough protein and the environmental impact of eating meat, as well as more spiritual mind-body stuff like finding balance in your life. This book is pretty much all you could ever want in a guide to the vegan lifestyle, and it has become my bible.

Which brings me to my summer project: cook my way through The Plantpower Way. Just flipping through the pages makes my mouth water, and I know I have to try all of these fun recipes. The only downfall with the book is that it is most definitely not written for a college student; some of the ingredients don’t fall within a college budget, and a lot of the recipes seem pretty complex and time consuming. I’m hoping that with a little more free time this summer, I will be able to make a bit of a dent in this feast of recipes, though I may have to forgo a summer shopping spree or two in order to save up for my sea vegetables and weird asian ingredients that I can’t pronounce. Nonetheless, it should be a grand culinary adventure!

Last but not least, here’s a few pictures from Hawaii:

DSCN0339  gecko dropped in for breakfastDSCN0398 strangest flower I’ve ever seenDSCN0410 Kilauea smokin awayDSCN0437 the hot babes of our classDSCN0483  sea turtle!DSCN0492  cool beach angleDSCN0516 top of Mauna Kea, tallest peak from base to summit (13,700 ft above sea level)

Also, I never posted about my trip to Zion with Bridger, which we did the week before I left. It was pretty rainy for the most part, but it was also so lovely hanging out in the desert. Here’s a cool picture from the top of Observation Point, which actually looks down upon Angel’s Landing, which is the most famous hike in the park because of its knife-edge ridge and excellent views. We got the better view from Observation Point in my opinion, but we hiked Angel’s Landing the next day for good measure, and it was still an astounding view.

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Aloha!

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It has been nearly a month since I last wrote a single word on here, and I must say that some of that large time gap was due to pure laziness. Justified laziness though. I finally struggled through all of my final exams and papers in the last week of April and then gleefully indulged in a perfect week off from all things entailing even a inkling of responsibility. I spent the majority of my time sleeping off the immense stress of school in various spots on the lawn with my beach towel, broken only by frequent moments of eating and a little crossfitting as well. On Thursday of last week I packed up for a weekend in Zion National Park with Bridger, and we had a wonderful time doing some road-biking, begging strangers to share their campsite with us, and hiking lots and lots of feet in elevation, all while shrouded in thick, rainy clouds aside from the last day, during which we summited the classic Angel’s Landing. But now I have left behind the desert for something entirely different and exotic: HAWAII!!!!!!!!!

We have this odd thing at Westminster called May Term, which is an optional, month-long “term” in May after Spring semester is over. Classes on campus come at no additional charge, but you also have the option to sign up for classes that include a trip abroad or to some far, cool place in the US. The trip I chose is called the History and Sciences of Hawaii, and yesterday we landed on the Big Island to begin a 10 day trip exploring the ocean, volcanoes, flora, fauna, and historic towns that the island has to offer. Today was spent studying the ocean with a morning visit to a black sand beach and an afternoon spent tidepooling with snorkels. This place is amazing. Everything just grows without even trying!

On a more vegan note, since this is still technically a blog about veganism, although many have noted that it has turned more into a blog about Zoey’s life garnished with a vegan flare, I must describe this incredible place we are staying at for the first half of our trip: Kalani. Kalani is basically this big hippie-dippie, eco-friendly, wierdos-welcome resort. But resort isn’t the right word at all, since it is more like a gorgeous campus with adorable “Hales” or “houses” scattered among lush gardens, swaying palm trees, and open grassy lawns dotted with Buddha statues. One of the other groups staying at Kalani right now is a Tantric Breathing group, and there are buildings with names like “The Rainbow Room” if that gives you a clearer picture. But one of the absolute best parts about Kalani is the kitchen! They serve three, completely homemade from scratch meals every day, and each meal has an equal, if not greater, number of vegan options to omnivore options available. Everything is organic and local, and much of the produce is even grown/picked on Kalani’s grounds. For example, this morning I enjoyed 7-grain hot cereal topped with homemade almond granola, with a side of fresh mango, pineapple, and papaya, and a piece of toast with passion fruit and coconut jams. Lunch consisted of vegan chili, half of a baked potato, a pile of kale-macadamia nut-tomato salad with a refreshing honey-lime dressing, and a blob of homemade hummus and spinach-macadamia nut-basil pesto. Dinner finished off today’s food indulgence with a vegan veggie soup, a giant vegan “patty” full of chickpeas and complex grains, steamed veggies, an interesting potato and brown rice mixture, and a healthy dose of salad with sprouts, artichoke hearts, and olives. I try to tell myself that I won’t eat as much at the next meal, but I have loaded up my plate every time with so much delicious vegan yumminess I think I might pop each time. Totally worth it. Also, the coffee here is out of this world!! Who knew coffee could taste this good? I’m even tempted to try drinking it black, which is something completely unheard of in my normal coffee world. I think I have consumed more coffee over the past 24 hours than I have in the past 3 months combined (which actually wasn’t that much since I ran out of coffee filters at home and pathetically could not bring myself to buy more).

So basically, I am in a tropical paradise full of beautiful and astounding plants and animals and sea creatures and pristine beaches, AND I’m being fed copious amounts of some of the most heavenly, fresh, healthy vegan cuisine I’ve encountered thus far in my vegan adventures. Hawaii, you have delivered.

PS Unfortunately, I haven’t uploaded any pictures to my computer yet, so I don’t have any to share with this post; fear not, they will be coming soon.

Vegan Sins

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Tomorrow I start my last two weeks of my freshman year of college! But with that, I am also completely swamped by homework, final papers, preparing for finals, attending meetings for events next fall (already!), and figuring out my summer work and living plans; I haven’t had a whole lot of extra time, and when I do, I usually spend it napping away my sleep deprivation rather than typing out a nice, thoughtful blog post. That being said, tonight I have a moment as I wait for my laundry to finish drying to revisit my recent trip to Austin, Texas (note to self: never do laundry on Sunday nights ever again since apparently everyone in the entire building also chooses Sunday night to do their laundry).

Last weekend I met up with my parents and my dad’s side of the family for my cousin’s wedding in Austin. I had a little anxiety about the trip, since I knew Texas is the land of cheesy Tex-Mex and meaty BBQ, but I was also excited to see what traveling vegan style would be like. It turns out that traveling vegan is actually pretty easy when going to larger cities, since usually you can find a vegan restaurant in there somewhere. Upon arrival we went to this wonderful vegan place called Counter Culture where I happily devoured a vegan pizza spread with rosemary hummus, sweet potatoes, spinach, and cashew cream. As we left, I noticed a card near the door labeled “Vegan Guide to Austin,” which listed all of the vegan restaurants in town. GENIUS!! Every city needs one of these! We grabbed one on the way out and it turned out to be quite helpful for the rest of the trip. I’m now planning ways to make one of these for Salt Lake, since we have quite the assortment of vegan options.

However, I also sinned: I was not 100% vegan, despite the lovely Vegan Guide and Austin’s array of vegan options. That’s the thing about weddings, they usually aren’t catered to vegans. Luckily, the bride and groom are both vegetarian, so I wasn’t completely stuck, but I still indulged in an impressive amount of dairy with butternut squash ravioli, an avocado bisque soup, and, sad but true, 5 cheese mac ‘n’ cheese. The mac ‘n’ cheese was completely unnecessary since I had the ravioli as well as the soup and some roasted veggies, but honestly I had already accepted my non-veganness for the night and it was just sitting there pleading to me to be eaten, so I could only agree and proceed to pile it on my plate. Also, i indulged in not one, but two, cake pops for dessert (they are so small, one just wouldn’t cut it). Yikes.

But guess what? It’s okay! One day full of some delicious, dairy-laden vegetarian food may have momentarily increased my environmental impact, but it also allowed me to enjoy a wonderful time with my family without freaking out about what I would be able to eat. Veganism is very important to me, but flexibility is also crucial. We are still all humans having a very imperfect human experience, and no matter how set we are on our goals and how perfect we would like to be, we also have to take a step back and appreciate the big picture for a minute. One day sacrificed for a pleasant celebration of love with my family is worth it to me. There will always be a tomorrow to start fresh and get back to that lovely plant diet.

On a completely different note, since I haven’t blogged in forever, here are a few noteworthy moments from the past week or so:

  1. I gave my mini “pitch” of a presentation on veganism for the Westminster Thinks Big coordinators on Thursday! It went very well and it seemed like they were all very excited about my topic, but there are also many students who want to give talks. I should find out by the end of the month.
  2. My summer job with the Outdoor Rec program is in the final stages of planning, so I should hear back this week sometime! I am so excited to get all this good trip leader experience over the summer and get my foot in the door with the program in general. It seems like our directors are pretty stoked about it, so prospects are looking good!
  3. Yesterday I did the SLC Marathon Bike Tour with Bridger and his dad, where we got to ride the SLC marathon course before the runners started. Our start time was 6am, and Bridger and I had to get up at 4:30 so that we had enough time to ride our bikes from campus to the start. It was a really lovely way to see some neighborhoods of SLC that I hadn’t been to before, especially as the sun rose over the mountains. To top it off we went and got an almond milk chai latte and tea afterwards in downtown.
  4. Tonight I went to Evergreen House, which is a bit of a hole in the wall asian food joint. However, they are known for their vegan sushi, so Audrey, Bridger, and I all ordered some rolls to see what the hype was all about. Turns out, the hype is completely justified.

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Vegan Revolution

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Everyone knows “that one vegan” who cannot stop talking about their veganness and who posts incessantly on FaceBook and Instagram about their vegan life. And no one likes that vegan because it gets pretty old pretty fast (although I can totally understand the excitement now that I’m one too). I don’t want to be that vegan, but at the same time, I’m so passionate and excited about it that sometimes it is hard to hold myself back. I am trying to find a balance between taking over my friends’ lives with veganness and functioning as a normal human being, and so far this balance has resulted in me keeping my mouth closed a lot of the time until I can let my vegan thoughts fly free in my vegan friend circles, which mostly consists of me, my roommate Audrey, and my friend Bridger.

However, I recently received two pieces of information that have caused me to decide to open up and start my little part in the vegan revolution:

  1. My mom sent me an email claiming that Tioga Pass (which is an entrance to Yosemite in the Sierras) is at SIX PERCENT of normal snow pack. Six percent, people!
  2. I got an email asking for any students interested in doing a talk for our annual Westminster Thinks BIG event which happens in the fall.

Can you believe that Tioga is at 6% of average? Climate change is real and it is happening now! There is no time for us to sit around twiddling our thumbs and calling climate change a “myth.” Climate change is impacting our lives as we speak, and it is our duty to do what we can to decrease our atrocious impact on Earth and to slow this whole process down.

So, with that alarming kick in the pants, I applied to do a talk at Westminster Thinks BIG, which is basically Westminster’s version of TED Talks, where students and professors and alumni give a short presentation on their big ideas and passions. I am pretty passionate about this whole environmentalism through veganism thing, so I think it is time to start spreading the word as much as I can to at least get people thinking about the consequences of their diet. I can eat a clean vegan diet all I want, but that alone will not return Tioga Pass to average snow pack. This has to be a group effort, and by group I mean a national and international effort, so it’s time to start doing my part right here on my little liberal arts campus in the middle of Utah. Changing the world is a pretty daunting task, but with each new person who cuts back on meat and animal products, we get one step closer to that goal.

Vegan = Healthy?

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Something that has recently been brought to my attention is the misconception that vegan = healthy. One of my friends told me the other day that I’m the healthiest person she knows because I’m vegan, but this got me to thinking, and I realized that veganism does not necessarily mean healthy at all. For some reason, veganism is a very scary thing for people to think about, and they automatically jump to the conclusion that we only eat salads and maybe some nuts and berries that we gather from the forest. Along with this assumption also comes the idea that because we only eat salads, nuts, and berries, we are clearly the healthiest people. However, let’s consider the following list of food items:

  • Oreos
  • Cashew Cheesecake
  • French Fries
  • Garden Burger
  • Vegan Mac n Cheese
  • Sorbet

What do all of these foods have in common? Two things: they are both vegan and also unhealthy to consume regularly. Being vegan is not some insta-health solution. While it does encourage the consumption of natural foods over processed foods more than an omnivore diet, there are clearly many things, both processed or natural and homemade, that are still unhealthy.

What does this mean for me? Up to this point, I have been exploring the vegan diet and lifestyle, trying to figure out what works for me and how I can weave it into my sometimes crazy college life. It has been about two months now, and I am starting to feel pretty darn comfortable with being vegan. The next step is to go back and refocus on health and fitness through my diet, this time only powered by plants rather than by meats and dairy.

Right before going vegan, as I have mentioned before in other posts, I was about a month and a half into a clean eating diet plan that was set up for me by a nutritionist. I had a very specific diet consisting of extremely clean proteins like egg whites and lots and lots of chicken breast, ground turkey, and protein shakes (3 per day!). These proteins were paired with complex starchy carbs, veggies, and some occasional almonds for snack. Absolutely zero sugar was involved besides the fructose from 1/2 cup of blueberries in my morning oatmeal. It was a very difficult diet to stay on, and it became extremely boring because I couldn’t get very creative with my food and make new dishes. But the important parts of the diet were the absence of processed sugar (even a very low fruit intake), the high levels of protein, the complex carbs, and the portion control. Now, I have by no means just been wildly stuffing my face with vegan junk food for the past two months, but I also haven’t made the health factor the most important consideration when choosing foods. Now that I am feeling more comfortable with vegan eating, I think it is time to reevaluate the principles of my old clean diet and turn it into a less strict, more creative, yet still effective, vegan version.

Moral of this story: don’t take veganism as an obvious pathway to better health. Your health is still on you and what you choose to fuel your body with. A healthy, clean diet, especially a vegan one, can give you more energy, help you sleep better, and just make you feel better in general! Who wouldn’t want that?

After all of this health talk, if you happen to be looking for a vegan protein powder, I’ve finally decided that my favorite is Garden of Life’s RAW Protein in vanilla. I tried the VegaSport chocolate flavor for a while, but it has this weird, saltyish taste in it that I cannot stand, even when blended with bananas and blueberries and peanut butter and all other good things. The vanilla RAW powder has a more gritty texture, but the flavor is a lot more mild and easily blends with other yumminess.

If you have no idea how you could incorporate protein powder into your day, here are some ideas:

  • Mix into a bowl of oatmeal along with sliced banana and/or blueberries (LOVE this!)
  • Protein smoothie (my favorite is cashew milk+banana+blueberries+PB2+protein powder)
  • Mix into coffee…? (some people say it’s good but I haven’t had good results)
  • Protein pancakes (thousands of recipes online)
  • Chia seed and protein powder pudding (protein powder, nut milk, and chia seeds, leave it in the fridge until it gets gelatinous; saw this on Pinterest)