The perfect guide to being vegan

During our family’s path through veganism, we’ve read our fair share of cookbooks, recipes, magazines and blogs. Heck, we’ve even sat through several documentaries and cooking shows.

When I was pregnant with Braeburn, Chubby Vegan Dad got me the Vegan Pregnancy Survival Guide. It was one of the first non cookbooks we purchased that was designed for vegans. And while it was wonderful, it doesn’t really appeal to the non-pregnant, vegan me.

Slowly, but surely, our bookshelves and tablets are being stocked with more and more options at our disposal. Gone are the days of perusing barren bookshelves looking for a good tofu scramble recipe, now, we’ve got piles of books to choose from. Thanks to vegan pioneers like Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero, our shelves are now decorated with a variety of culinary tastes and treats.

But there has always been a large hole when it comes to vegan living. Because veganism isn’t just a diet, it’s a lifestyle, there are so many gray areas it can be hard to field it alone when you’re vegan. And although veganism and cruelty-free living are up and coming, a lot of vegans probably only have a handful of friends (if even that many) who adhere to the same lifestyle.

It can be a lonely, confusing path to trek sometimes.

But now, thanks to Elizabeth Castoria, we don’t have to go it alone any longer. Her book, How to Be Vegan, tackles any and all matters when it comes to vegan living.

And not only does it tackle them, it takes them head-on, turns them upside down, puts them out to dry and then does a few more cycles just to be certain all the bases are covered.

This is literally, like everything you could ever want, need or dream of in a vegan guide.

The best part? It’s compact, precise, humorous and easy to drag with you wherever you want! I found it particularly helpful to bring it along during a work trip, as it helped me navigate not-so-vegan-friendly airports and any sticky dinner situations I might run into along the way.

Sure, I’m more than a few years deep into my veganism, but that doesn’t mean I’ve got it all figured out, especially when it comes to taking me out of my comfy, well-mapped-out city element and throwing me into a new city, a business experience and awkward menu situations.

In addition to fielding the basic «why go vegan» and where our food and all that cruel jazz comes from, there are a few really awesome sections in this book that help approach hard-to-talk-about subjects: mainly, relationships.

From a rundown on how to handle overly protective (and at times, critical) parents and their concerns about your protein intake, to figuring out whether or not your blind date spells romance for your lifestyle, this book has not only an awesome amount of information, but it’s presented in a conversational tone that makes you want to keep reading. It doesn’t feel like Castoria is nagging or lecturing you, it feels like she’s hanging out in the room with you dishing the vegan lowdown.

My favorite section, by far, is the «Manners» chapter, where Castoria discusses how to handle loaded questions, pesky coworkers and how to spread the vegan message without biting people’s heads off OR compromising your beliefs.

Take for example this excerpt: «When we are nice, decent humans who happen to forgo animal products, people think vegans are nice, decent humans. It’s nutty how that works, right?»

I found myself thinking «Oh my gosh, she took the words right out of my mouth» so often that I’m basically convinced Castoria is my sister from another mister or something.

Additionally, there’s a section of straight-forward vegan recipes, not to mention a listing of products that make clean and cruelty-free living easier.

With mini profiles on other vegans around the globe, this book has something for everyone. I really cannot rave about it enough. If you buy one book related to veganism or cruelty-free living this year, make it this one!

All and all this is a no-frills, kickass, simple guide to getting through the day-to-day scenarios and situations. Treat yourself to this eccentric guide, because trust me, you’re not only going to love it, you’re going to wonder how you functioned without it!

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A pretty pink princess party for Pearyn

A little over a week ago we threw our daughter her fourth birthday party.

It’s absolutely mind blowing, amazing, heart breaking, tear-inducing and an entire assortment of feelings I can’t even begin to put into words. 

How is my baby girl already four?

There are days I’m ready to pull my hair out because my brain is so fried from answering the constant stream of questions my inquisitive daughter. There are moments that I find myself teetering on the brink of a breakdown, because the mental and physical demands of motherhood are all encompassing and never ending. 

Except, one day, they will end.

Sure, I’ll always be the mother to these darling kiddos, but one day, they won’t need me anymore. That’s not to say when they’re full-fledged adults they won’t still need a hug from their mom time to time, but they won’t need it as much. And that’s fine, that’s the way it should be.

But I have a feeling when that time comes, I’ll yearn for these days back. I’ll long for my daughter to follow me from room to room, asking what the tiny fuzzies floating in the air are and why she can’t have a stink bug collection. I’ll wish my son was climbing all over me and squishing every body part just so he can nuzzle his little head into my neck and bury his body into mine.

I know that these days will come to an end sooner than later, which is probably why I find myself grasping for straws every time a birthday rolls around. 

So we go all out. We buy ridiculous decorations, spend too much on food, invite too many people, buy too many gifts and bake way, way too many cupcakes. Just kidding, there’s no such thing as too many cupcakes! There’s going to come a birthday when my beautiful little girl won’t want me to make her a princess cake with pink sprinkles and a castle, a day when she won’t care that her two great aunts and second cousins have attended nearly every milestone in her life, from her first birthday party to her first dance recital. 

So while I have the power to be everything and do everything for my little girl, then that’s exactly what we’re going to do. 

Pearyn decided for her fourth birthday party that she wanted princess anything and everything! From balloons, streamers and door signs, to magic fruit wands and a queens confections stand, we threw one heck of a pink, princess-palooza for our little gal. 

 

In terms of food, we had chips, pretzels, magic fruit wands (a personal favorite of mine), meat(less) balls, roasted veggie and hummus flatbread pinwheels, pasta salad, princess peanut butter and jelly sandwiches (for the kiddos!), plus strawberry and white cupcakes for dessert! There was also a side stand loaded with sugary goodies the kids could scoop out themselves! 

 

It rained and poured all day, so our backyard plan was quickly moved into the basement. It wasn’t ideal, but it was sufficient, and the kiddos were able to run around with each other. We were blessed to have a large amount of family in attendance, friends that have become family and a handful of kids from Pearyn’s preschool class. 

It was stressful party planning, but at the end of the day, it was more than worth it for our little girl. The smile on her face when her friends arrived and she got to instantly capture photos with her new camera (an AWESOME gift, I can recommend the Fuijifilm Instant Mini enough) made all those fruit wands and flatbread rolls ups MORE than worth it. 

After all, there’s going to come a time when she won’t believe in magic wands and princesses anymore. 

At least not for a while. If we have anything to do with it.

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