Plantiful Health LLC – Plant Based Health Coaching Plant-Based Nutrition & Coaching Thu, 27 Jul 2017 01:11:45 +0000 en-US hourly 1 76354142 An Open Letter to All Restauranteurs, from a Vegan. Wed, 26 Jul 2017 03:58:47 +0000

July 25th, 2017

To Whom It May Concern,


I’m Devin. I’m a vegan. We probably haven’t met, but I bet you already have a lot of preconceived notions about who I am or how I’d dine in your restaurant. I just want to say right off the bat, I’m one of the less annoying ones (at least I’d like to think).

I’m not writing you to yell, or castigate you for serving meat in your restaurant, or because I’m planning some demonstration in your dining room.

No, I am simply writing you to ask that you please include just ONE vegan option on your menu, and that you label it as such. That would do me a real solid ūüôā

Let me explain.

See, most vegans, despite all the jokes, actually just want to live a normal life. And a BIG part of normal life, for many people at least, is the ability to dine out with friends, family, and coworkers.

But you are making that very hard for me. Let me share an example.

For work, my team and I are often in situations of dining out together. It might be on a work trip, or when the other half of my team is in town for an offsite together.

Quite often the task of finding a restaurant comes down to either myself or my coworker (who is not vegan). Today I had the task of picking a restaurant for our next offsite, held near HQ, in San Francisco.

When most people find out I am vegan and live in San Francisco they ask, “is SF just the best place ever for vegans?!”

I used to say yes, because we¬†do have a lot of dedicated vegan restaurants. Which is GREAT. Seriously, as a vegan the joy of going to a restaurant where I can order anything off the menu and don’t have to ask ANY follow up questions is like, unreal.

But after searching for nearly an hour today for a restaurant that just had vegan options I decided this city sucks for vegans and is no better than any other. It was nearly impossible to find a single restaurant with a vegan item on the menu!

There were plenty of places with veggie based side dishes, but cmon — I’m like,¬†6 feet tall. I’m supes tall. Sides won’t cut it.¬†Plus, nearly all of the veggie sides have cheese!

Ok, no big deal, just say “no cheese please.” But then they might be cooked in butter, so you have to say “how is that prepared?” and cross your fingers they say it’s cooked with oil. If they say “saut√©ed in butter” then you have to say “can you please cook that in oil?”

Now you’ve had to have a significant back and forth and look like a complete weirdo, all just to get a stupid SIDE of vegetables. Hardly a meal.

“Well how about the salad?” you say. Most places have a salad on the menu.

True, but nearly all of them come with meat. So then you have to say “no meat please.” Oh and they have cheese, like, ALL OF THEM. This is America, what’s a salad without meat and cheese?

“No cheese please.”

“Ok anything else sir?”

“Yeah… I see you have a nice fancy dressing on that… how is that prepared?”

“Well we start with full fat yogurt –”

“Ok, no dressing.”

So now you have a plate of raw, undressed vegetables, and a side dish of oily sauteed vegetables, and you had to WORK FOR IT. And did I mention I’m like,¬†really tall?

While all of this has been going on, your dining partners have been¬†sitting there rolling their eyes thinking “there goes the vegan, gawd they just¬†can’t shut up about it can they??”

Or, potentially worse, they are doting on your every need, desperately making sure you have something to eat. A nice sentiment but all the more embarrassing as a fully grown adult who made a choice to eat this way anyway.

“Yes, I have something to eat. No, I don’t need your help or attention. I’M SO TALL I’M LIKE A REAL ADULT.”

[In my experience, most people want to talk about me being vegan way more than I want to talk about me being vegan! I actually really dislike talking about it unless the person is genuinely interested in trying it themselves.]

So your menu that you thought was accommodating to vegans is actually a lot of work and leaves me, a real live grown adult human with a plate of raw leaves and a few asparagus spears.

You’ve made me feel like an outcast, and required me to make a million special requests just to try to feel some semblance of normalcy in the dining out process. Everyone else just got to say “that. I’ll have that.” I had to have a lengthy conversation to get my rabbit food.

We¬†could just pick a 100% vegan restaurant, and, bless their hearts, my coworkers often choose that for me. But it always makes me feel uncomfortable too! (Not to mention my coworkers will smile and say “it was great,” and then go order 20 chicken wings and eat them in their hotel room, making me feel terrible)

It makes me feel like I am forcing my choices on someone else just because of you, yes YOU restauranteurs that can’t just HOOK ME UP and put ONE ITEM on your menu with a little (v) next to it so I can rest easy, ask your waitstaff ZERO questions, and move onto the real point of getting together at a table over food with other humans: conversing.

The thing is most restaurants WILL accommodate a vegan if you just ask. Most chefs will happily prepare you something vegan if you ask. Please just save us all that step and write it on your menu so I can just say “that. I’ll have that.”

And hey, with the growing trend toward more plant-based eating you may just be surprised at how often it gets ordered!


Devin the Vegan

What It’s Like To Have Vegan Friends Wed, 25 May 2016 13:05:40 +0000

You may or may not know that I just recently moved to San Francisco, California from Washington, D.C. I made the drive with my Dad last week and you can read about what I ate on the road as a vegan.

What you probably don’t realize is that I now officially have my first two vegan friends living in¬†the same place I live!

While I have a few vegan friends and family members in other parts of the country, none of them lived in DC with me.

That’s ok, I’m used to being the only one refraining from eating meat.

But I didn’t really consider what it was like to have friends that ate the way I did too.

This past weekend me and some of my friends here in Cali rented a car and drove up to Santa Rosa, CA to watch the Tour of California bike race and do a hike. It was me, my buddy, his girlfriend, and his roommate.

My buddy and his girlfriend are both vegan, which means that we actually outnumbered his non-vegan roommate 3-1. I have never experienced that before. I’m always the 1, never the 3.

So we looked up a vegan plant-based cafe in Santa Rosa and had an amazing lunch. We stopped at a vegan Chinese restaurant back in San Francisco for dinner. And even dropped by a soft serve ice cream shop with vegan flavors for dessert!

It was great that we just did these things and didn’t have to worry. It was funny — my friend and his gf were constantly checking with his roommate to see if he was OK with where we were grabbing food, another role reversal, as most people usually have to check with me to make sure I can eat!

Of course he isn’t a carnivore so he found plenty ūüėČ

It was funny how totally normal it felt to have a full menu at my disposal TWICE in one day and have friends eating the same type of food as me.

It was only in retrospect that I remembered that as a vegan my life isn’t usually like that anymore, and it was reminiscent of what it was like to be an omnivore.

If you are vegan, seek out other vegans. Of course don’t¬†only hang out with other vegans. But¬†do find them. Do yourself a favor and make some like minded friends, it goes a long way. is a great place to start. Search for vegan groups in your area. You’ll be sure to meet some good folks that don’t think it’s strange when you order the tofu bowl ūüėČ

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What It’s Like To Drive Across The South As A Vegan Tue, 17 May 2016 13:05:57 +0000

Memphis has great vegan food.

Seven days ago my father and I loaded up a Dodge Minivan with all of my worldly possessions and we set off across the country, driving from Washington, D.C. to San Francisco, California.

There are several routes you can take, the most common (and quickest according to Google Maps) is the northern route — through Chicago, then Nebraska and Utah and eventually to California.

I’ve driven several stretches of this route many, many times, so we opted to go the slightly longer Southern route.

This took us through the great state of Tennessee, across Arkansas, through Oklahoma, and criss-crossing the hot desert heat of New Mexico and Arizona.

While this route took us to states I’d never been and places I’d never seen, one thing I didn’t consider was that it was likely the far less “vegan friendly” route.

I mean — the South isn’t exactly known for their plant-based cuisine.

So how’d we do?

Let me just say that 2016 is a great time to be vegan. Through the assistance of the app Happy Cow, we had little trouble finding vegan food in any of the major cities we passed through. The smaller towns were tougher, however we got a nice assist from Yelp. So let’s take a look at what we were able to find out there on the open road:

Day 1: Washington, DC to Nashville, TN

Our first stop was a Greek cafe in Lexington, VA called “Niko’s Grille.” We found this spot with the Happy Cow app and it was a great first meal! They had listed on the menu a vegan sandwich that was super tasty. I always appreciate when a menu flat out labels something as vegan, no need to ask for special requests or how it was prepared!

For dinner we stopped in a tiny little Tennessee town, also at a place we found on the app. They had a separate vegan menu, a surprise for a town of less than 5,000 people! Delicious food too.

Day 2: Nashville, TN to Oklahoma City, OK


Imagine Cafe

For lunch we stopped in Memphis, Tennessee, a town known for their barbecue. Finding a vegan option felt like a tall order, but we ended up finding what was, for me at least, my favorite meal (and restaurant) of the entire trip!


The menu

I cannot recommend highly enough Imagine Cafe in Memphis, TN. A fully¬†vegan¬†restaurant, they made a¬†killer vegan barbecue sandwich platter, and the atmosphere of the whole place was just awesome! This was the only fully vegan restaurant we found on the entire trip, and I can’t tell you how nice it is to have an¬†entire menu to choose from. Definitely check this place out if you’re ever on your way through Memphis.

For dinner we leaned on Yelp to find us Happy Cafe in tiny little Henryetta, OK. I
ordered the orange tofu and the cook who made it personally came out to ask me how it was, I suspect because not many people in small town Oklahoma are ordering the tofu dish! Well she was pleased to learn that it was delicious!

Day 3: Oklahoma City, OK to Holbrook, AZ

We stopped in Amarillo, TX for lunch on day 3, and Happy Cow couldn’t find much for us, so we went with the old reliable, Chipotle, for lunch. One of my favorite restaurants, because not only is it delicious, but it’s uber easy to order vegan!

For dinner we stopped in Gallup, NM for our most interesting restaurant of the trip — an Indian restaurant at a truck stop! Not what I expected to find at a truck stop, but they were more than happy to make me a vegan chickpea dish that was delicious! We found this hidden gem with Happy Cow as well.

Day 4: Holbrook, AZ to Bakersfield, CA

Since we were making such good time and were ahead of schedule we decided to take a few hours off driving and go for a hike in Flagstaff, AZ. We bought some PB&J supplies and had a picnic on the trail. PB&J is one of those meals everyone forgets is vegan when they say “I don’t like¬†any vegan food!”

And for dinner we stopped in Barstow, CA at an authentic Mexican place! Happy Cow gave us no listings, so I had to rely on a trick with Yelp that’s helped me out many times in a bind. For any restaurant you can search keywords in their reviews. I knew we wanted to find authentic Mexican, so I picked a few spots and searched for the word “vegan.” For Lola’s I found a review that someone had posted about how they were more than happy to accommodate and make her a vegan meal, so I walked up confidently to order, and voila — a vegan burrito was delivered and it was delicious!

Day 5: Bakersfield, CA to San Francisco, CA

We routed through Mountain View, CA for lunch so we could stop at Veggie Grill — the all vegan fast food chain! It’s always fantastic — I can’t wait for it to expand nationwide.

And for dinner we ate at Plant Cafe on the Embarcadero, right next to San Francisco Bay, a perfect end to a wonderful (vegan friendly) road trip through the south!

Download Happy Cow today, and don’t forget that Yelp trick! If I could find a tofu dish in Henryetta, OK, you truly can eat vegan anywhere in the country! You just have to be willing to put in a little research ūüôā

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Low-Carb is Healthy? Low-Fat is Unhealthy?? Thu, 05 May 2016 16:05:34 +0000 Talking about diets in terms of their macronutrient ratios is very popular. It’s also popular in scientific studies. I can’t tell you how many diet studies I read where they list the macro ratios of the diets in their methods, but tell you NOTHING about the type of food that made up those diets! Without that information these studies are worthless, because trust me — you can design diets of all different types of macro ratios that are healthy and unhealthy. Macro ratio is worthless! Focus on the QUALITY of those foods, and make your diet mostly plants!

3 Super Cheap Vegan Meals Easy Prep Tue, 03 May 2016 14:05:26 +0000

I’ve gone through periods of my life where I haven’t had the best or most reliable access to a kitchen. Sometimes — like when I was climbing Mount Chirripo in Costa Rica — I had no kitchen at all. Other times I may be staying with a friend for a few weeks and don’t have access to my full array of kitchen supplies.

Likewise, I’m always thinking about how to do vegan on the cheap, and it’s especially helpful when I’m traveling.

So I’ve had to adapt and come up with a few easy, go-to meals that I can rely on. Meals that are easy to shop for, easy to prep, and are tasty and healthy!

Here are three that I rely on regularly:

Bean Burritos

This is the best one for traveling. I brought this meal on my hike up the mountain because it packed a lot of calories in a small package, required no cooking, and was delicious and nutritious!

Here’s what you need:

Whole Wheat Tortillas

Can of Refried Beans (I like black beans)

Hot Sauce

Potatoes (optional)


I roast up the potatoes in little cubes and find that their addition adds some nice texture to the burrito, but if you are traveling or don’t have access to an oven obviously you can leave those out. Otherwise just combine some of the refried beans in a tortilla with some hot sauce and it’s a satisfying meal on the go!


Whole Wheat Pasta with Kale

This one requires some cooking. Essentially it just requires boiling water.

What you need:

Whole Wheat Pasta


Nutritional Yeast



Just chop up the kale, cook the pasta, add the kale at the last minute, strain, and combine with the marinara and nutritional yeast. I make this meal a lot actually, even when I do have my full kitchen. It’s just so darn easy, is tasty, and takes almost zero thought to prepare. It’s a nice option to have in my pantry on nights when I don’t feel like cooking.


Chickpeas and Rice with Carrots and Kale

This is another go-to meal even when I am home, and it’s so cheap and easy to make ahead of time in big batches that it’s great when you are crashing on a friend’s couch or traveling the world.

What you need:

Brown Rice

Cans of Chickpeas



Nutritional Yeast

Soy Sauce (optional)


Just cook the rice first. Make a big batch and you can keep leftovers in the fridge for easy meals. Chop carrots and kale, cook, add chickpeas, combine with rice, add nutritional yeast, and, if you want, low-sodium soy sauce. The nutritional yeast-soy sauce combo gives it a cheesy taste. It’s uber healthy, ridiculously cheap, and pretty easy. The longest step is cooking the rice so just cook a big batch ahead of time!


So there you have it — three super easy, delicious, healthy vegan meals you can have in your arsenal for traveling or couch surfing. What are your go-to easy vegan meals?

Bonus: When I hiked Chirripo I also brought a jar of peanut butter and some jelly and used the tortillas to make quick PB&J while on the mountain! It gave me variety that was sorely needed!

What I brought on my hike up Chirripo in Costa Rica!

What I brought on my hike up Chirripo in Costa Rica!

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What Does A Sustainable Food System Look Like? — The Problem With The Term “Organic” Tue, 26 Apr 2016 14:05:31 +0000

What if I told you there was a single word that could encapsulate the entire production method of a product?

This word was so descriptive and ironclad in its definition that a product, once graced with its letters, would immediately be elevated to a more optimal choice.

What’s better — this term could be applied to products that were made not only in your community or region, but all over the country and even the world, by big companies and tiny mom & pop shops, mass produced and artisanally created.

Essentially, this term would tell you that a product made by your local shop AND by a Fortune 500 company were equally valuable and worthy of your purchase.

Think that’s possible?

Probably not.

Why? Because the manner in which a product is produced matters. And it’s incredibly complex.

How a Fortune 500 company — let’s say Target — makes a shirt, will be vastly different than a shirt¬†you might find at your local farmers market. The former might use methods and labor that you would find¬†appalling. The latter likely crafted their product themselves with care.

Now I am not saying either product is better than the other, I am simply trying to point out that in both cases the shirt-maker has the right to use a particular term that is quite popular these days: organic.

If Target used organic cotton, they get to use that label, even if they used cheap foreign labor to produce it. Likewise, your local shirtmaker can use the term organic too if they used an organically grown textile to make the shirt.

Two wildly different processes, same exact term.

Does organic sufficiently describe the value of the good, then, in this case?

The same holds true for food.

Organic food sales are booming across the country. And while there may certainly be some merits to some of the practices used by these farms, it is equally true that not every organic farm uses every best practice or sustainable method.

Some organic farms are simply behemoths — giant corporate run industrial farms that can use the term organic because they fit the label.

But those giant farms resemble a conventional farm more than they do the image you have in your head when you think “organic.” They’re typically not your small, local, diversified farm run by a nice family with a dog.

They are monocultures.

Organic is just a word, and it tells you very little about the type of system in which your food was grown.


Ok so maybe local food is the answer.

The benefit of local food is that it is produced in your community, typically speaking. The actual definition of local food can vary depending on who you ask.

Here in D.C. we have a “local” grocery store that attempts to only carry locally grown or produced products. They define local as anything grown or produced in the states of the Chesapeake watershed.

In practice this means something grown as far away as Massena, NY (529 miles from D.C.) can be sold at their store as a “local” product. Half a thousand miles doesn’t¬†feel too local…

Now I’m not at all knocking their definition¬†of local food — I am simply pointing out that this term, like “organic,” is a bit loosely defined. Local does not necessarily mean the farm 30 miles down the road that you can visit on the weekend. It may be much further away than you think.

Similarly to the word “organic,” something labeled as “local” doesn’t¬†actually tell you¬†anything about the production methods. The¬†only thing it tells you (and this is even debatable) is that the product likely didn’t travel as far to get to you,¬†compared to other products in the store.

That’s it.

It doesn’t tell you anything about how the food was produced. In a post from several years ago I joked about the fact that if you happened to live in a town with a Coca Cola bottling plant that you could sit back and enjoy a “local Coke.”

Including where ingredients were assembled in the definition of “local food” is a bit dubious. At best, the benefit is keeping money in the local economy. “At least Martha down the street is getting my chocolate chip cookie money instead of Nabisco!”

Is that a benefit? Absolutely. But was the cacao in the chocolate chips grown locally? Unless you live in the tropics, probably not. So assembling products from around the planet down the block is hardly a local food, in my opinion.

The point of all of this is not to disparage “organic” and “local” food. It is more to point out that both of these terms probably mean a bit less than you realize.

I think the hope is that each of these words are¬†synonymous with “sustainable.” But when corporate mega-farms can technically use both of these words without issue, I think we’ve elevated them a bit more than they deserve.

What should we eat, then?

It’s at least partially due to these issues that I’ve firmly planted my flag in the vegan and plant-based movement. If we want to work toward a more sustainable food system we have to take the 30,000 foot view.

Sure organic and local food have their place and their benefits. But the far bigger line must be drawn between plant foods and animal foods.

It is simply a law of thermodynamics that growing plant foods for human consumption will ALWAYS be more efficient than raising animals for food.

We can either go

Plants -> Humans, or

Plants -> Animals -> Humans.

When we insert animals into the middle of our food chains we lose A TON of energy in the process. That is inefficiency. That is the reason animal agriculture currently uses more than 50% of ALL land in the contiguous United States. That is the reason you can feed a vegan for a year on just 1/16th of an acre of land while a meat-eater needs¬†18 times as much land. That is the reason the carbon footprint of a vegan is half that of an omnivore. And that is the reason for 91% of Amazon deforestation — clearing land to feed animals and then us, instead of us directly.

Organic and Local may have their place in a sustainable food system. I am not here to say they are worthless terms. But make no mistake about it — if you want to make a real, measurable impact on the planet and create a new sustainable food system for the future, EAT MORE PLANTS (and less meat).

That’s where the clearest line must be drawn.

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Go Vegan This Friday for Earth Day! Tue, 19 Apr 2016 13:05:27 +0000

Friday is Earth Day.

I say it every single year.

I say it every single year because it is that important, that staggering, and sadly still that unknown.

Going vegan is by far the most important choice you can make to reduce your greenhouse gas emissions and improve the health of the planet.

Animal agriculture accounts for anywhere between 18-51% of total greenhouse gas emissions — ALL transportation combined accounts for 13%.

So you could NEVER take another plane, train, bus, boat, or taxi again in your life.

Or you could just eat plants for the rest of your life.

One is completely unfathomable. The other is a nice way to live. It’s healthier. It doesn’t harm animals. And the impact of the going vegan would be far greater anyway.

If you still need convincing on the environmental benefits of a vegan diet, watch the documentary Cowspiracy. It’s streaming on Netflix right now. It’s amazing. When you’re done, sign up for their Thunderclap campaign to promote the message to your social network online.

So drive less, use less water, buy solar panels, plant a garden. All great things to do for the environment this year. Just know that what’s on your plate is and will always be the most important choice you make for the environment. So choose plants.

Happy Earth Week!

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Grass-Fed Cows WORSE for Environment than Industrial Tue, 12 Apr 2016 13:05:25 +0000

Let’s do a quick thought experiment.

Why do two different products have different prices? What determines the price of a thing?

How about we make it more specific. Take chocolate.

You may have noticed that there is a difference between a Hershey Bar and that $4 artisanal bar of organic fair trade dark chocolate that supports Amazon Rainforest protection.

Not only is there a difference in quality, but there is a BIG difference in price. That Hershey Bar is made in a factory, in an industrial process that has used every modern tool to create efficiencies and reduce costs. The least amount of resources are used to maximize profit.

That artisanal $4 bar was likely made my hand in a much more traditional, lower tech way. It was less efficient to produce and thus costs waaaay more.

What does this have to do with cows?

Well there is this notion that many environmentalists have that grass-fed beef is somehow better for the environment than industrial beef.

Now before I go any further let me be clear: I am not saying anything about the ethical or nutrient differences between the two products. Those can be discussed in later posts.

Why was industrial animal agriculture created? Why has it done so well to the point where 99% of animals raised for food in the United States are raised on industrial farms?

If it’s one thing industrial agriculture does well it’s efficiency.

It treats the farm like a factory.

That certainly leads to some pretty nasty unintended consequences (this is where the ethical conversation applies), but treating animals like inputs and outputs in a factory has created a very efficient system.

Meat can be delivered for cheap.

That’s why you get 12 nuggets for $0.99 or two burgers for $1.49.

Use pasture raised chickens and grass-fed beef for those items and you’d be paying 5-10 times as much for your lunch!

So what does this have to do with the environment?

In terms of the environment efficiency is usually a good thing. A more fuel-efficient car saves you money and also emits fewer greenhouse gases per mile on the road.

A more efficient air-conditioner does the same, just like a more efficient thermostat, heater, laptop, or refrigerator.

Well from a greenhouse gas perspective cows are no different, and in this analogy believe it or not, industrial cows are the hybrids.

They use fewer inputs (energy) to produce the same output as a grass-fed cow.

That’s why it’s cheaper.

Grass-fed cows also need far more land than industrial corn-fed cows. It’s another inefficiency of grass-fed cattle, and another reason why their meat costs more.

This means that most people cannot afford grass-fed meat, making it a less viable solution for meeting current demand for meat. There’s no question that switching to only grass-fed animals would have some benefits, but one outcome would be far reduced meat consumption.

Don’t get me wrong — neither are a good way of feeding 8 billion humans and growing. Cows are inherently inefficient converters of solar energy. Solar energy converted to plant energy can feed billions of humans.

In fact, the food fed to the world’s cattle would feed an¬†additional 8.7 billion humans if we fed people directly instead of through a cow first.

But at least when it comes to greenhouse gas emissions, the grass-fed cow is more like the Cadillac than the Prius.

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How To Be A Good Vegan Thu, 07 Apr 2016 17:16:21 +0000 Let’s talk about how to be a good vegan. The other night I was talking with a friend who is a manager at a restaurant. This place serves traditional French cuisine, so it is not particularly vegan friendly (think: butter in everything.)

Even given the constraints of a French menu, they have several vegan options and many who work there are vegan. Upon request they can accommodate a vegan with many delicious meals.

That wasn’t enough to stop one particular vegan from tearing into them with everything he had the other day. While dining with some friends, this vegan was hurt and offended that they couldn’t make him the precise meal he was looking for and weren’t “quote” sensitive to his dietary needs.

It sounded like the dude had a straight up temper tantrum, causing a scene, and writing a scathing review on the restaurant’s Facebook page demanding an apology.

Vegans — this is NOT the way to act.

Fake Cheese: Your Last Hold Out is Crumbling Tue, 05 Apr 2016 18:48:02 +0000

Years before I went vegan I was vegetarian, and for the longest time my last major holdout was cheese.

The stuff is admittedly delicious.

And even though I knew it was horrible for my health, the environment, and the cows, I felt as though I was addicted.

Knowing this and¬†wanting to be vegan, I tried to find good substitutes. After all, veggie burgers weaned me off beef, almond milk was more delicious to me than cow’s milk, and even other fake meats sufficed in times when I was really jonesing.

So one summer on Cape Cod, my friends and I picked up a package of “rice cheese.” This was 6 or 7 years ago and this seemed to be the best available option on the shelf.

We took it back to our house and opened up a few slices to try.

And it. was. disgusting.

Truly gross. Terrible flavor, awful texture. Just unpalatable.

We tossed the slice out onto a trail in the woods (we lived on a nature sanctuary). Over the next few days I’d pass this slice everyday on my walk to work, and after a week it hadn’t been touched.

Not one bite, nibble. No insect or ants swarming. Nothing.

It was clear. Nature had decided. THIS IS NOT FOOD.

In that moment I declared “I guess cheese is just the one thing they can’t replicate.”

I resigned myself to needing to simply give up that flavor altogether in order to be vegan, and it took me a few years before I could finally let it go.

Well, the funny thing is a lot has changed in the last 6 or 7 years. Not only have meat substitutes become so good they trick meat eaters (I just tricked an entire Final Four party with Gardein Chik’n Tenders — no one could tell they weren’t meat!), but cheese substitutes have officially arrived.

There are a few brands I’ve tried and actually enjoy. Daiya was the original brand where I started to think “ok maybe they’re onto something…”Screenshot 2016-04-05 13.42.37

The latest is Follow Your Heart. My parents love this stuff and while I’m staying with them I have to say I indulge as well. The flavor and texture is spot on.

More artisanal options are popping up everyday as well. In Minneapolis the world’s first vegan butcher shop, The Herbivorous Butcher, sells incredible vegan cheeses that I promise you would fool your most diehard cheese addict.

And in New York and L.A. vegan cheese shops are popping up everywhere.

It appears 2016 is the year to surrender to vegan cheese.

As an illustration of just how good these alternatives are, I present the case of my father.

Growing up he and I shared a Sunday afternoon tradition where we would make what he dubbed the “perfect lunch,” which was a grilled cheese sandwich and tomato soup.

Long after I went vegan he kept this tradition alive, and I was bummed I could no longer participate.

Those days are over.

Today his perfect lunches are entirely vegan! He’s switched to Annie’s vegan tomato soup (which he claims is¬†better than his beloved Campbell’s!) and his grilled cheese sandwiches are now¬†entirely made with Follow Your Heart vegan cheeses!



If he’s making vegan grilled cheese sandwiches and still calling in the “perfect lunch,” you can bet this stuff is good.

If cheese is your last holdout before going vegan, or maybe ditching dairy is your first step into veganism, explore the world of vegan cheeses. We are lightyears away from the days of rice cheese rotting on a wooded trail. This stuff is good.

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