The Ghosts In Our Machine

Samantha and Chris’ Ghost-Free Journey: Day 1

Photos courtesy of Rosemary Tarentino-Foos

We welcome Samantha and Chris Beeney from Rochester, New York as our next participants in the Ghost-Free Journey.  They have been married for 5 1/2 years – we have never had a couple take the Journey together and we are very excited about this.

Samantha has been a vegetarian off and on since she was 16 and she became a vegan in April of 2012. Chris became a vegetarian in the fall of 2006 and has been vegan since this past September. Like most new vegans, they have a number of issues that they are still learning about. In their own words “We would like to do this Ghost Free Journey for a lot of reasons. Firstly,the GFJ seems like a great source of support and information as we are still new to being vegan. Secondly, we feel that every journey that is completed brings more awareness to the Ghost-Free way to the world as a whole. Thirdly, I know that in Rochester it is sometimes a struggle as the vegan life is not one that people understand as well as they should”.

We are starting Day1 with a focus on vegan comfort/convenience foods. Both Samantha and Chris are often on the go and encounter difficulties when they are craving something like a cupcake or looking for quick/inexpensive food on the go.

Samantha and Chris – could you  tell us a bit about what you have been doing so far when you have been in these situations? This has been a common issue for many people. We’re looking forward to exploring this with you and would love to have others join in, too.

Coach Donna and Coach Rosemary

The opinions we express as GFJ Coaches are ours personally. We are not professional health practitioners.  Neither are we treating a specific health care issue.  That means we are not offering advice on health-care problems. If you  are experiencing a health-care problem, it is important to seek the advice of a health professional. However we are experienced, practicing vegans and we look forward to coaching you on your journey..

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75 Comments

  1. Samantha Beeney January 7, 2013 at 8:50 am

    For me when school is in session, I spend generally 10 hour days at college. I do not have use of a car while there or use of a fridge. I usually bring my lunch and have to buy my dinner at the cafeteria there. Within the last couple weeks, I have started drinking a vegan protein shake for breakfast because I do not usually have the time to do much else. I am lucky that the college cafeteria is flexible with their menu and label everything with ingredients. They offer a veggie burger, salads, burritos, and soy milk for my coffee or cereal. Sometimes they even offer a Vegan Veggie soup. 🙂
    When I want a cupcake or cookie at school I usually end up settling for some “accidentally vegan” candy from a vending machine. It isn’t the same but at least it is something.

    • Adrienne January 10, 2013 at 11:54 am

      Hi Samantha and Chris! I’m a little late posting, but I think I have something to offer to this conversation, so I’ll share…

      As a professional student (7 years and counting), I have some tips for navigating the university, as well as budgeting and time-saving.

      University survival:
      -Bring lots of snacks as other people have posted (carrots, fruit, nuts, etc.)
      -If you want something warm and don’t have access to a microwave (look for one in the student union, staff lounge, or ask in the cafeteria), bring instant oatmeal or dry soups and add hot water to them from the cafe
      -Make offerings at the cafeteria more substantial by adding your own ingredients to the meals (couscous, canned beans, etc.)
      -Ask them to consider offering more variety- they may not know there is a demand

      Budget:
      -Dried beans and grains are your best friends. Buy in bulk.
      -Visit farmer’s markets for cheap produce
      -Buy in season- it’s usually cheaper than buying produce out of season
      -Buy produce in its most raw form (i.e. not baby carrots or pre-washed/chopped produce) and spend one day a week washing and chopping them
      -Make big batches and freeze
      -Buy a couple of nice, re-usable water bottles and bring them everywhere (no more buying expensive drinks in plastic bottles)
      -Although processed vegan foods help with the transition and are a good treat once in a while, try to reduce your use of them- they are more expensive than whole foods

      Time-saving:
      -Buy beans and grains that cook quickly, such as lentils and couscous
      -Have other quick-cooking/long shelf life items on hand to use in a pinch, such as sweet potatoes, canned beans, frozen veggies, and instant brown rice
      -I make lots of one-pot meals, because I hate doing lots of dishes (no dishwasher) after a long day at school- chili, soup, ratatouille, dal. Consider buying a crock-pot or kettle for boiling water
      -Cook 4-5 portions of brown rice ahead of time and put in the fridge for easy additions to stir fries (tofu, veggies, soy sauce, done!)

      Hope this is helpful 🙂

      • Samantha Beeney January 11, 2013 at 3:15 pm

        That is very helpful. Thank You! I am very lucky that my college does have a microwave for student use, it really opens up my options.

        Even though we have a relatively small cafeteria (Community College) there are a wide variety of vegan offerings. Usually towards the end of the semester I get sick of all of it, but when I come back from break it is all exciting again.

        For breakfast there is oatmeal, hashbrowns, english muffins, bagels, cereals, juices, and two kinds of soy milk for coffee and cereals. (I checked ingredient listings on everything to verify). They offer jam and peanut butter as toppings.

        For Lunch and Dinner. They sell vegan veggie burgers, bean tacos, bean burritos, pre-made salads, PB&J, fruit salad, usually have a vegan soup of some sort, veggie wraps or paninis, and a make your own salad bar. The salad bar offers 4 vegan dressings, vegan bacon bits, olives, artichoke heart, and chickpeas in addition to traditional salad bar offerings. Their fries are even cooked in a separate fryer than the chicken.

        The long and short of it is they offer more than a vegan gal can hope for in a community college cafeteria in the middle of hunting country. It is actually more than a LOT of restaurants have for me.

        I try to pack my lunch (I tend to bring leftovers or Indian food) and bring a protein shake for breakfast. I DO need to buy cookies before the semester starts again 🙂

  2. Chris Beeney January 7, 2013 at 9:04 am

    For me, comfort food is most difficult at work. My team likes to do a lot of social events, and those revolve around food 99% of the time. Donuts and cookies are the most common treat brought in (neither of which I can/am willing to eat anymore) — if I want something out of the vending machine, I have to trust my past experience because you can’t always see the ingredient list. I did start keeping a list of vegan items available at my work’s vending machine because I picked something healthy looking the first week I became vegan and it included dairy. As far as cookies go, luckily Oreos are vegan, but sometime I just want a nice white chocolate chip macadamia nut. I will say that I dropped a lot of weight going “cold turkey” on the overabundance of cookies and donuts. If I’m in a situation in which I’m craving something sugary and have a plethora of dairy laden sweets in front of me, I’ll usually substitute those sugary baked goods for skittles or soft mints, but sometimes all I have to go on is the thought that one of these days we may be able to bake something at home.

    • Coach Donna January 7, 2013 at 12:08 pm

      Chris – are the other members of your work team aware of/supportive of your veganism?

      • Chris Beeney January 7, 2013 at 5:36 pm

        I’m very vocal about my veganism because I’m expected to participate in food days but I want to make sure there’s something I can eat. My boss is trying to accomodate and I appreciate that. Usually there’s cheese pizza though and I would have to pull the cheese off to eat it. When he orders subs, however, he gets me one special so I actually get more food than the others. When I ask someone who brought in baked goods if it’s something I can eat, it’s usually replied with sorry… But on the whole they treat me as eccentric. It should be said that one of my co-workers is allergic to chocolate and strawberries but they rarely receive consideration either so it’s really more of an abundance of apathy or self centered thinking that’s so common in society these days.

  3. Samantha Beeney January 7, 2013 at 9:10 am

    Sadly, my baking skills are not so great and our kitchen closely resembles one you would find in a college dormitory. Chris is a lot less likely to succumb to a non-vegan cookie or cupcake than me. I am unsure as to why, since he is the one with the sweet tooth.

    We both greatly mourned the loss of the only vegan bakery in town (EcoBella) and have not been able to locate another one nearby. We have been known to drive to Syracuse JUST to go to Strong Hearts for “milkshakes” and baked goods.

  4. Coach Rosemary January 7, 2013 at 9:25 am

    Welcome Samantha and Chris to the GFJ!

    It sounds like you both have busy schedules and are looking for ways to include some sweets into a vegan diet. I am from Rochester also, and sad to hear EcoBella is no longer in business. There are a few places that you can check out, and hopefully are still in business!

    http://www.smallworldfood.com/blog/2012/03/15/vegan-cake/

    http://www.elliesglutenfreebakery.com/faq.html (may have some vegan goods)

    Donna and I will also include a few simple recipes for cookies that you can make and freeze. I’m sure others who join in the discussion will have great suggestions!

  5. Coach Donna January 7, 2013 at 9:39 am

    Good Moring Chris and Samantha!

    There are some wonderful vegan baked goods out there that you might want to try. It is hard to think of any pre-packaged cupcakes, although there are several vegan bakeries who ship (I will ceck on some websites for you). As far as cookies are concerned, have you tried Liz Lovely, Nana’s, Uncle Eddie’s or even some of the Paul Newman cookies that are vegan (the Hermits are truly delicious!!). These cookies are substantial and could easliy be packed with your lunch.
    Chris – vegan white chocolate is much harder to find. I know of a vegan chocolatier who makes some delicious white choclates but not cupcakes. This is something that I need to research.

  6. Samantha Beeney January 7, 2013 at 9:41 am

    We will have to try Ellie’s for some upcoming birthdays. Baking recipes will be delegated to Chris, as he seems to understand the ‘chemistry of baking’ better than I.
    When I am in the kitchen, I measure nothing which leads to baking issues 🙂

    When we need quick food on the go, we usually end up at Taco Bell or Wegmans. I usually prefer to cook because I don’t tend to find a lot of vegan options that are exciting or different. One can only eat so many salads. I am also about at that point that I do not want to see another veggie burger as long as I live…lol.

  7. Chris Beeney January 7, 2013 at 9:56 am

    It’s more difficult for me as I’ve always been a picky eater (even before going vegetarian). I take issue with many veggies and as far as baked goods, raisins are on my bad side. I also only like my chocolate in certain things. Though I’ll eat a chocolate (cup)cake, it isn’t all that great tasting to me. Brownies, however, are awesome. Dark chocolate is too bitter for me, and so is chocolate icecream… so I rarely eat chocolate now unless I can get my hands on a Mahalo bar or something similar. Comfort foods for me also include a bread bowl of macaroni & cheese or broccoli cheddar soup (both of which I’ve been lacking in for some months now). We have had the Paul Newman oreos before, but I prefer the taste of Oreos (though supporting a large corporation like Nabisco has its drawbacks in other areas of the vegan lifestyle). The Paul Newman figs, however, are quite good and I’ll happily eat those over the “name-brand”. I also take issue with the price of most vegan sweets being quite a bit more than the “name-brand” but I do realize the reasons behind the price difference.

  8. Coach Donna January 7, 2013 at 9:59 am

    I know what you mean about veggie burgers!!!! It sounds like a big part of your challenge is having very little time at hom to cook/prepare meals. You definitely have a very long day at school. Have you ever gone to some ethnic restaurants to pick up smaller appetizer types of dishes that you could have for lunch – such as cold sesame noodles from a Chinese restaurant ?

  9. Samantha Beeney January 7, 2013 at 10:00 am

    I will honestly say that sometimes that only thing that keeps me from eating a cupcake, in a moment of weakness, is the somewhat comical image of my vegan guide repelling from the ceiling in ninja gear.

  10. Samantha Beeney January 7, 2013 at 10:03 am

    We sometimes go to Indian or Chinese restaurants (very carefully of course) and I tend to enjoy those. They usually end up being more of something we would do on the weekend because of time and money restrictions.

  11. Coach Rosemary January 7, 2013 at 10:23 am

    What would be most helpful to you, Samantha and Chris? Would it be helpful to have more resources to buy prepared foods, or include some easy vegan recipes for sweets?

    At some point, we all come to a turning point…realizing that this is not only about vegan food choices, availability and substitutions, but also coming to a point of embracing the motivation and consciousness behind the shift. Where are you in this process?

  12. Samantha Beeney January 7, 2013 at 11:18 am

    It would probably be most helpful to have information on buying prepared foods (like cupcakes etc since I mostly have cooking under control). With taking 20 credit hours next semester, tutoring/work for me and full-time work and a big commute for Chris (as well as caring for the house and fur-kids for us both), I do not feel like we will generally have the time to bake. We have had “Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World” for over a year and have only used it once.
    When it comes to most things, our tastes have changed to the point where we could not go back to eating things that we once did. I do cook (and enjoy it) and am good at swapping ingredients or making it up as I go along. I do cook on the weekends or days I am home. We make our own vegan pizza (typically) and do not put any vegan cheese on it at all and do not often use vegan sour cream or Earth Balance.
    For me, the motivation behind becoming vegan is ethical. I am very much against using animals for food, skins, and test subjects. I grew up with a house full of pets (including a pot-bellied pig) and see no difference between companion animals and the ones used in these cruel practices. What most people would call my “pets” are my kids to me and I cannot fathom them being used in such a manner.
    To me, it is a secondary benefit that my health has also improved since becoming vegan and that it is a more “earth-friendly” practice.
    I did not become Vegan earlier because there where things that I had absolutely no idea about. I didn’t know that there really is no such thing as humanely raised animals for dairy/eggs. Danielle was the one who explained it to me, and I was horrified. The point of no return for me was my trip to Farm Sanctuary.
    Usually my moments when I become tempted are when I let myself get too hungry (such as skipping breakfast & lunch). I am trying to eat 5-6 small meals instead of 3 normal ones to avoid this in the future.

    • Coach Donna January 7, 2013 at 12:05 pm

      How wonderful that you were able to make a trip to Farm Sanctuary – an experience like that certainly seems to be a common turning point for many. Putting a face to a living creature who is normally only experienced as a commodity in a store is truly enlighening.

      Wiithout a doubt, skipping meals leads to all kinds of temptations! You mentioned that you sometimes drink smoothies in the morning – that sounds like a great way to start the day.I find it helpful to keep snacks in my handbag – things like energy bars – some of the Larabar ones taste very much like cookies!.I have found a number of vegan bakeries who ship cookies, brownies, fruit bars, etc. – but for whatever reason, finding ones that ship cupcakes is proving to be difficut. Perhaps because the other items stay fresh much longer. I will continue to look. I have found some packaged vegan cake mixes – these would require minimal baking effort – but still requires some time. I don’t know if that type of product would be of interest to you: Babycakes has some which I am linking to. I have also found others that are more modestly priced which I will also post about.
      http://www.babycakesnycshop.com/collections/frontpage

    • Coach Rosemary January 7, 2013 at 12:23 pm

      The Farm Sanctuary was also a major contributor to me going from vegetarian to vegan. Donna is so right, for so many people it’s the connection to a non-human animal that we’ve been brainwashed to accept as a commodity that moves us to a tipping point.
      And…of course, you were Danielle-d~ 🙂 She has a way of convincing that no one else does, right?

      • Samantha Beeney January 7, 2013 at 3:01 pm

        I love Danielle! She has a very unique style all her own. By the way, she is the one I imagine repelling from the ceiling ninja-style if I look at something I shouldn’t be eating for too long. Just that little friendly reminder I need from time to time.
        My inner vegan conscience sounds a lot like Danielle…lol!

        • Coach Donna January 7, 2013 at 4:03 pm

          Danielle is AMAZING!!! And I could picture her jumping down from the ceiling – with Arcot at her side ofcourse :-).

          • Danielle Legg January 7, 2013 at 11:26 pm

            Bahahaha! I wish you could all hear me laughing, and now I’ve imagined Arcot and I in ninja get up and I can barely breath!

            Admittedly, I may have brought Sam to Farm Sanctuary, along with our friend Francesca, to shove them, I mean, gently guide them, into vegan 😀

    • Coach Donna January 7, 2013 at 12:25 pm

      Here is an article that lists vegan bakeries – and some of them do ship cupcakes – yay!!!
      http://www.peta2.com/blog/vegan-bakeries-galore/

  13. Coach Rosemary January 7, 2013 at 12:15 pm

    We will keep searching and finding resources for you regarding prepared food. Your schedules are extremely busy, so cooking on the weekend seems to be a feat in itself! My only other suggestion is to cook in bulk on the weekend so that you have your favorites, or staple foods available during your busy work/school week.
    I often roast veggies, make a basic soup, cook some quinoa or other grain in bulk, so I can mix up various ingredients and alternate sauces to make up recipes. This way, it’s not so boring, but the ingredients are right there.
    It may be helpful to think about what your motivation is during those times that you’re tempted or frustrated. We have all experienced this, and sometimes still do! I keep nuts and the best quality vegan protein bar at work, simple to eat fruit, like bananas and clementines right in my desk. Cliff bars are vegan, and although they aren’t the most nutritious snack, they might be handy when you need something sweet and quick.
    Thank you for sharing your experience about what motivated you to become vegan. You’re intentions and actions are helping the animals, the earth, and your health….how wonderful~~

  14. Debra Roppolo January 7, 2013 at 1:04 pm

    These are good suggestions and I wish I had more to offer you. The only new one I can think of is to check at your grocery store (especially if there’s a “natural” one in your area, or Whole Foods) for vegan frozen dinners. (Amy’s and Sol make some good ones, as does Gardein.)

    Other than that, it’s carrying food with you (hummus and veggies, fruit, granola bars and the like) and, as Rosemary suggested, making larger batches of things on weekends or when time permits. It takes very little effort to make a big pot of rice, and then you’ll have leftover rice for other meals — use for stir frys or add steamed veggies and a favourite sauce. Ditto with other grains. And soup is dead easy to make (just needs time for veggie chopping!) Also, if you like soy-based meats and the like, something like Gardein Riblets with some rice and veggies makes a fine dinner (or lunch, if you have access to a microwave).

    • Coach Donna January 7, 2013 at 2:31 pm

      Debra – your suggestion of soups is a great one. They are super easy and doubling or even tripling the recipe can mean a lot of frozen entrees in reserve. I find that one of the most important things is to have plenty of containers on hand – I really like the glass ones that are microwavable – serve in them, freeze in them, reheat in them. Anything that helps us to save time.
      Stephanie – it sounds like you have a good handle on cooking (as opposed to baking) – do you have any special recipes that you make in bulk?

      • Samantha Beeney January 7, 2013 at 2:58 pm

        I tend to make soups and chili in large batches. They are easy, fast, and filling. Sometimes I even ‘cheat’ and use frozen organic veggies so I don’t have to wash or cut them.
        Yesterday, Chris and I actually made a large batch of tofu scramble so we could but it in breakfast burritos. I love having a prepared breakfast in the morning (versus a shake or cereal) and making that or large batches of pancakes in advance is the only way that can happen when I am busy.
        We always have large cans of tomatoes, beans, and huge bags of rice on hand so we can throw things together quickly. I also don’t like being without the shelf-stable boxes of almond milk (unsweetened original and vanilla), jars of pasta sauce and boxes of noodles. You never know when those might come in handy.

  15. Diane L January 7, 2013 at 1:33 pm

    Hello Samantha and Chris! As far as baked goods go, have you checked out the ‘Freshly baked goods’ category at Veganessentials.com? They have many items to choose from. Also, Veganstore.com carries cake type goodies too. I always add my email to their mailing lists so I receive discounts/free shipping offers. It can be costly to ship, so the discounts certainly help. I would also check out their Facebook pages for additional discounts.

    • Coach Donna January 7, 2013 at 2:38 pm

      Great points about discounts, Diane! Stephanie and Chris, have you signed up for Vegan Cuts? You can get great deals on products ranging from footwear to personal care products to yummy food items.
      http://www.vegancuts.com/

      • Samantha Beeney January 7, 2013 at 2:42 pm

        I don’t know about Stephanie, but Chris and I haven’t signed up yet. We will check it out now!

        • Coach Donna January 7, 2013 at 2:49 pm

          oy!!! sorry about that Samantha! I have a dear friend named Stephanie who I love – so I hope that you will not be offended by my slip 😉

        • Samantha Beeney January 7, 2013 at 2:49 pm

          That website is AWESOME! I wish I had known about it sooner. I used to be a member of all those deal websites until I realized that there was almost nothing on there that I could use anymore.

          • Samantha Beeney January 7, 2013 at 2:51 pm

            Oh no that’s ok. It happens a lot. As long as I know that you are talking to me it is okay 😀 I was getting confused…lol

          • Coach Donna January 7, 2013 at 3:03 pm

            Yes – isn’t it great!! There are a few other discount websites out there – not all products are vegan but you never know what you might find – Pure Citizen, Ethical Ocean are a few. Diane has made a great suggestion – if you like somebody’s products – always sign up to be on their e-mail list and follow them on FB. You will know about special deals that way – and save money!

    • Samantha Beeney January 7, 2013 at 3:07 pm

      I really like veganstore.com. A very supportive non-vegan friend of ours actually sent us a gift basket from them for Christmas. It was lovely. I really like that they are also concerned about cruelty to humans as well, not buying from countries that offer protection for their workers.

      • Coach Donna January 7, 2013 at 4:01 pm

        I think one of the great things about many vegan businesses is the concern for the planet and all of it’s inhabitants. More and more are starting to focus on fair-labor issues.
        How absolutely lovely that it was a non-vegan friend who gave you the gift basket.

  16. Samantha Beeney January 7, 2013 at 2:38 pm

    Thank you to everyone for the great web links! I am bookmarking all of them. There do seem to be some places I can get vegan cupcakes we want 🙂
    I do some batch cooking but not too much since our freezer is the size of a men’s boot box. (Ah the joys of a teeny-tiny kitchen).
    I will have to try out the Larabars and other vegan protein-type bars. I try not to bring too many frozen things in my bag to college as the condensation from them melting affects the contents of my backpack or laptop bag. I may be able to try this on some of my shorter class days though 🙂
    Chris will be jumping back on here soon, when he gets a break at work.

  17. Chris Beeney January 7, 2013 at 3:06 pm

    We have bought cake mixes from Trader Joe’s as they tend to be vegan, and we’re no strangers to (cup)cake mixes in the store that are vegan and just require egg substitute and milk substitute. The main issue we are having is those pre-baked ready to eat goods. I always eye the ingredients on the various baked goods in Trader Joe’s even though they aren’t on their vegan list… Just hoping a vegan baked good came in that was overlooked. I appreciate the links to places that deliver pre-baked items.
    As for the origins of my vegan-ness… I’ve never been a big meat eater. My parents raised me omniverous but I hardly ate anything other than chicken and carbs/grains… I refused to cook meat ans even eggs put me off though I ate them anyway. I went vegetarian with Samantha because of my love for animals and I didn’t find it hard to do because I ate very nearly vegetarian anyway. Veganism was much harder, because dairy is in so much of the comfort foods I love. I would gladly take a .69 cent Kit Kat over an expensive Lindt or Godiva chocolate. But I think of the animals whenever I feel like having a cookie and tell myself I’m not eating that. If my co-workers taunt me about it I’ve pretty much boiled down my response to “dead baby cows” and they leave me alone.

    • Samantha Beeney January 7, 2013 at 3:13 pm

      Yeah his co-workers know he is vegan but don’t really respect it and continually try to push non-vegan food on him.

      I am lucky that my co-workers understand (many are vegetarians or vegans) and respect me for it even if they do not always agree with me. I actually have a couple friends who made resolutions this year to eat vegan diets. My mother actually as well.

      • Coach Rosemary January 7, 2013 at 5:27 pm

        Chris, I think it’s great that you just tell your co-workers to back off. I hope more people will understand and recognize this as not some far-out idea as living vegan becomes more mainstream. However, living in Rochester, I know what you mean…and I think it’s generally more difficult for men. A few months back, we had Davis Dunavin as our GFJ participant. He spoke about this experience and how he deals with it. If you have a chance, check out his journey entries. I think it was Day 3 that this issue was discussed. Hang in there!

    • Coach Donna January 7, 2013 at 4:14 pm

      Chris and Samantha – I love how you have begun your vegan journey around the same time. Having such support in your immediate family – with the person who is closest to you is a beautiful bond. Samantha, it sounds like you are surrounded by lots of understanding people – and how fantastic that even your mom is eating vegan!!! How is that going for her?

      Chris – your experiences with your co-workers is unfortunate. You are indeed a very strong person to keep to your ethics and more than that – tell them why! Are they curious about what you mean by “dead baby cows” when you are referring to dairy products? What kinds of foods do they usually bring in/provide when you have these team luncheons?

      I know what you mean about the .69 cent candy bar – I keep wishing that a vegan version of 5’th Avenue Bars would magically come onto the market. I would prefer that to some of the fancier sweets!
      It is good to continue to read ingredients in your search at Trader Joe’s- so many items that are vegan (“accidentally” in many cases) are not marked as such. I have found that Pepperidge Farm frozen Apple Turnovers are vegan! Have you tried these – I know that you are looking for ready to eat – but you could pop these in the oven to heat while you’re eating dinner.

      • Chris Beeney January 7, 2013 at 5:20 pm

        I did receive the question, what does milk have to do with harm to animals and I gave them the rundown of how dairy contributes to the veal market, hence “dead baby cows.” though this deters them from all but the comments about wasting my time reading labels, it does not, however, deter them frim bringing in a plethora of dairy laden cookies, donuts, cakes, brownies, as well as cheese pizza, meat pizza, venison chili, etc. Actually they just formed a “waffle club” but when I requested vegan ingredients before my participation ($10 buy in to the club) I was told BYOVW (bring your own vegan waffles). Usually I can drink the soda and eat some of the chips, plus whatever I bring because they tend not to touch my contribution.

        • Coach Donna January 7, 2013 at 5:56 pm

          Chris, I also live in an area where hunting is a big thing as well as animal agriculture (I actually hate phrasing it that way as it makes the animals sound as if they are something that gets planted). Although your co-workers are not being accomodating, you have become a presence in their midst for the animals. They might not be ready to acknowledge the truth of what you tell them, but somewhere inside it is there for them. I truly admire you and your steadfast convictions.
          Perhaps you can start to keep a supply of packaged vegan cookies at work – even Oreos. You know that they will dig into those – the might be surprised to learn that there are a number of sweets that are vegan. Of course, if you can get your hands on some Uncle Eddies cookies, they will go so fast that you will have to hide some for yourself!

          • Samantha Beeney January 7, 2013 at 6:06 pm

            I think they ate my chili when Chris brought it in. (Or you ate the whole 6qt crockpot full). Chris made really nice Lime & Coconut mini cupcakes for them not too long ago and they hardly touched them. We were eating cupcakes for weeks. We brought a vegan taco salad to the company picnic and they ignored it altogether.

            Maybe next week I can bake those cookies I made over Christmas for Chris to bring in. Since I am mainly the one who cooks, I tend to get irritated when people don’t even bother to try things I make so I stop bothering to make anything.

            • Coach Donna January 7, 2013 at 6:20 pm

              How frustrating!!! I wonder what woul happen if they thought that the foods weren’t vegan?
              Some people can’t seem to get past that word – they expect cardboard tasting foods, plastic ugly footwear and nothing at all fun.
              Maybe if you make the cookies, Chris could just leave them out somewhere without anyone knowing who put them there – it would be interesting to see what happened. 🙂

      • Chris Beeney January 7, 2013 at 5:22 pm

        I did recently notice that apple pie is vegan, but my favorites were always coconut cream and key lime.

        • Samantha Beeney January 7, 2013 at 5:27 pm

          It would probably be easy to make a vegan coconut cream pie..perhaps we can try to make one. You would need to help as baking and gardening, as you know, are not talents of mine.

          • Coach Donna January 7, 2013 at 6:23 pm

            sounds like you and Chris have a fun project to tackle together!! Coconut Cream Pie – yum!!! I have been looking for some recipes – many of them are raw and have some ingredients that might not be so easy to find. I will keep searching.

      • Samantha Beeney January 7, 2013 at 6:10 pm

        I made an all vegan thanksgiving lunch on Black Friday for the girls at my work and even the non-veg(an) people loved it. At least I know it isn’t my cooking that is the problem…lol.

  18. Diane L January 7, 2013 at 4:45 pm

    Candy bars! ‘http://gomaxgofoods.com/index.htm’

    • Samantha Beeney January 7, 2013 at 4:50 pm

      Those are Chris & I’s favorite vegan candy bars! My favorite are the Cleo’s peanut butter cups (which is hilarious because I hate peanut butter) and Chris loves the Mahalo bar.
      They are like the improved versions of the candy bars we grew up with.

  19. Samantha Beeney January 7, 2013 at 4:45 pm

    My mom’s vegan journey is going ok. She tried before when I had been vegan for only a couple months but without much success.
    She has the same issue with baked goods as Chris and I do. Until January 1st she was living by “vegan at home but vegetarian when out to eat”. She is trying to go all the way this year, and I try to help by going shopping with her and helping her cook when I can.
    When I was vegan for those few months and Chris was vegetarian, we had a no animal products in the house rule and he was very supportive of me.
    I tell my friends that if I can be vegan, anyone can. We are on a tight budget, have no time, have a dorm-style kitchen, and grew up in a very ‘meat and potatoes’ family.
    I try to remind new vegans that being vegan isn’t about being perfect and never making mistakes. We learn from our mistakes and try to not make them again. To me being vegan is about doing everything that you can to reduce the cruelty in the world. Nobody is perfect. All that we can do is our best.

    • Diane L January 7, 2013 at 4:50 pm

      So true Samantha!

    • Coach Donna January 7, 2013 at 6:14 pm

      I love what you said about doing everything you can to reduce the cruelty in the world!! Imagine if everyone had that approach.

    • Danielle Legg January 7, 2013 at 11:38 pm

      It’s so exciting that your mom is going vegan too! Your family is changing the world for animals!!!

  20. Diane L January 7, 2013 at 4:48 pm

    And there is Lagusta’s Luscious. Here is a version of a Butterfinger bar: http://www.lagustasluscious.com/shop/bars-andamp-barks/august-2012-peanut-butter-toffee-crunch-bar

  21. Samantha Beeney January 7, 2013 at 5:00 pm

    In spite of being rather inept at baking, I managed to make some great holiday cookies. My non-veg friends and family even loved them.
    I used (and followed) the following recipe. I iced them with the vegan royal icing recipe on this same site.

    http://www.chezbettay.com/pages/desserts1/drts_sugarcookie1.html

  22. Samantha Beeney January 7, 2013 at 7:00 pm

    Has anyone tried any of those “fancy” vegan cheeses? The ones like you would eat plain or with crackers and olives. I have been thinking about trying one (or two or five) but I was wondering if there are some that are better than others?

  23. Coach Donna January 7, 2013 at 7:09 pm

    I know that lots of people really like Dr. Cow – there is also a new vegan cheese from a company called Treeline wich is supposed to be incredible.I haven’t tried it yet – but it was served at this year’s Thanksliving event at the Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary. I know that Danielle was there so I am hoping that she can weigh in on this.
    http://treelinecheese.com/

    • Coach Rosemary January 7, 2013 at 7:52 pm

      I wrote to Treeline about supplying some of their products to a Rochester retailer. They said they would contact local stores and see if there was interest. I haven’t tried Treeline, but heard great things about their product. Aren’t they nut based cheeses, Donna? I think Diane L. has tried them, as well as Danielle.

    • Danielle Legg January 7, 2013 at 11:43 pm

      I ate that cheese!!! Donna, how did you know that?! I may have tried many pieces, just to make sure I liked it, and by golly, I did! Due to my sleepiness I can’t think of another cheese I love, but holy, Dr. Cow is wonderful!!! pfft, sleepy, I couldn’t even rest until I found this: http://www.veganstore.com/product/vegcuisine-soy-blue-cheese/vegan-cheese-and-dairy-alternatives Full Disclosure: I hate blue cheese, but THIS. Oh lord this. It’s amazing. It’s delicious. And I think it’s so darn good because it’s vegan! (think un-chicken finger wrap with crisp lettuce, and this blue cheese) yeah, I’m drooling too.

      • Coach Donna January 8, 2013 at 8:29 am

        Danielle – I knew that you were at that event and I knew that they served it there 😉
        I will have to check out the other cheese that you just wrote about.

  24. Coach Donna January 7, 2013 at 8:07 pm

    Yes, Rosemary – they are nut based. I would love to try them and I believe that Lagusta sells them at her shop.
    Samantha – I am always raving about the cashew based vegan ricotta from the Veganomicon cookbook (you can use it to make vegan lasagna). You can also make it to use as a spread on crackers or a nice crusty baguette – YUM!

    Cashew Ricotta (from Veganomicon)
    ½ cup raw cashew pieces (approx 4 ounces)
    ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
    2 tablespoons olive oil
    2 cloves garlic
    1 pound firm tofu, drained and crumbled
    1 ½ teaspoons dried basil
    1 ½ teaspoons salt

    In a food processor, blend together the cashews, lemon juice, olive oil and garlic until a thick creamy paste forms. Add the crumbled tofu to the processor and mix until the mixture is thick and well blended. Add basil and salt and blend.

    If you are going to use this for lasagna, double the recipe.

    • Coach Rosemary January 7, 2013 at 8:44 pm

      Donna, I made this for Christmas and is was so relish! Thanks for the encouragement to make it.

      • Coach Donna January 7, 2013 at 9:07 pm

        so glad that you tried it and liked it, Rosemary!! I feel like I am always raving about this – but it is SO easy and so delicious!

  25. Samantha Beeney January 7, 2013 at 8:36 pm

    I will have to grab the ingredients for the ‘ricotta’ next time I go to the store. I see a lasagna in our future. I have been on this kick lately where I am making vegan versions of a lot of the food that I ate growing up. Last night was battered buffalo seitan and tonight is tofu pups in blankets. Not particularly healthy but tasty.

    I have been playing around with recipes I don’t normally have time for once classes start.

    • Coach Rosemary January 7, 2013 at 8:42 pm

      Samantha, not sure you saw my post above with Rochester area veg social groups? Sometimes I miss comments if I don’t go through all posts…. Just checking 🙂

      • Samantha Beeney January 7, 2013 at 9:04 pm

        I saw it but it was very small on my phone, so had to wait until I got back to my computer to look at them 🙂
        I am not sure if I can make it to RAVS on the 20th, I give college orientations that day and am not quite sure what time I will be done at. Chris works until 8pm so he wouldn’t be able to make it on a weeknight. I will take a look at those other groups too. Thanks for the info! 😀

  26. Kelly January 7, 2013 at 11:48 pm

    Wow! So much information today!! Of course, I ended up doing some shopping on vegancuts.com – there is an adorable Cruelty Free Bunny necklace coming my way!!

    Welcome to the ghost free team! It really does take a village. I took the Ghost Free Journey in July and after some slips back to vegetarian moments, am committed to my vegan lifestyle.

    I look forward to gaining more confidence and momentum vicariously through your journey!

    :)Kelly

    • Coach Donna January 8, 2013 at 8:37 am

      Hi Kelly!! Thank you for joining in – it is always so great to have a previous participant offering support and suggestions. You will have to post a picture of you wearing your Cruelty Free Bunny when you get it – is it one of the necklaces by Christy Robinson?
      So glad that you got some new information from today’s discussions.

    • Samantha Beeney January 8, 2013 at 10:41 am

      Kelly, aren’t you also a Lushie?
      I am in need of that necklace too 🙂

    • Coach Rosemary January 8, 2013 at 4:20 pm

      So glad to hear from you again, Kelly! It does take a village and we are all in this together!

  27. Kelly January 8, 2013 at 12:10 pm

    I am indeed a Lushie! 🙂 When I saw the necklace I knew I needed it!! Yes, it’s one of the Christy Robinson ones, I really wanted the “not a nugget” chick too but it was sold out!