Every other week, I meet with one of my favorite people in the world, my thesis advisor, Mary Pat (or MP, as we affectionately call her). At the start of these chats, we often find ourselves sharing humorous anecdotes before getting down to brass tacks.
Speaking of nail-like things, this past week, she shared a little story about growing up Catholic as one of seven siblings. “This wasn’t like growing up in the 80s,” she said. “I mean, we had nuns. Nun nuns.”
“On Good Friday,” MP continued, “from 12 to 3, while Jesus was on the cross, Catholics are supposed to be quiet. Our parents would put all seven of us in our tiny basement and not let us out until we oh-so-silently finished our annual arts and crafts project. Which was,” she paused dramatically, “to make a life-sized Jesus on the cross using brown paper bags, red markers, tape, and scissors. We didn’t have to make the cross, just Jesus — which was a depressing task to say the least, especially with four brothers who loved drawing the gory parts…”
I stared at her, mouth agape. “Go on.”
“Once giant Jesus was complete, my parents hung Him on the wall where He remained for the rest of Good Friday and most of Holy Saturday. Then, Saturday night before bed, we rolled Him up and put Him in a shoebox with a rock on top, like His tomb,” she took a breath. “This isn’t even the best part.”
I pursed my lips. This was already the greatest story I’d ever heard.
“In the morning — on Easter — we would come downstairs to discover that the shoebox was empty, the rock removed! If we wondered where He went, we needed only tip our seven little faces toward the heavens to find Him.”
“The…ceiling?” I could barely get the words out.
“That’s right,” she confirmed. “After we went to bed, my parents would tape Him to the ceiling in the dining room. He had risen!”
Any other horrifying fun family memories you’d like to share?
Everywhere I turn, I hear people say, “How can I be more like Go Jules Go? What’s up with this vegan thing? What do you eat? Do you save money?”
I’ve only been vegan for two years, but I’ve been a foodie for 35 and counting, which means you can be dang sure I’ve found a way to eat fabulous fare even after parting ways with my old standbys, cheese and bacon.
Gettin’ ‘er done in the tiny kitchen.
Whether you’re interested in improving your health, spending less money, or putting your dollars towards preserving the planet and protecting animals, just a few vegan food choices here and there can truly rock (y)our world (and your wallet).
DISCLAIMER: This post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive a small commission if you purchase the linked product, at no additional cost to you. I only ever link to products that I truly love. Like this.
Go Jules Go’s Top 5 Money-Saving Vegan Food Hacks
1. Frozen potato and onion pierogies
Poppy’s brand pierogies are currently EIGHTY CENTS a package at my local New Jersey ShopRite. Caramelize an onion, maybe toss in some bell pepper or spinach, and put your carb-o-phobia on hold while you enjoy this filling meal for two. (I dip mine in ketchup…shhh.)
2. MUNG BEANS (yes, they demand all caps)
I buy these little green gems in bulk from Whole Foods and, when combined with onion, garlic, ginger and coconut milk, you have yourself a fine ass curry. They taste like a delicious split pea-bean hybrid, and they’re a nice change of pace from your standard lentils and legumes. (In fact, Just brand is coming out with a vegan scrambled egg liquid made out of mung beans!)
3. Peanut (satay) sauce
Need I say more? Use some of that leftover fresh garlic and ginger from your mung bean curry, and – bam! Put over pasta, stir fry, rice/grain bowls, even raw cabbage/veggies for a salad… you can’t go wrong. You can prepare ahead of time if you’re entertaining (it’s a major crowd-pleaser) and it even freezes pretty well. My go-to recipe is a lot like this, with some lime juice and cilantro thrown in.
4. Banana ice cream
Do you like watching freezer-burned bananas turn into creamy dog doo deliciousness? This “recipe” is that magical! Peel a couple of ripe bananas, cut them into chunks, and pop them in the freezer for a few hours. (I don’t recommend leaving them in there for more than 24 hours.) Then, put them in a food processor and let it go. Wait at least a minute or two, and you’ll have yourself some silky smooth banana fro-yo. You can add chocolate chips, peanut butter, cocoa, strawberries, your lost dreams of ever working on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, whatever. It’s miraculous! (AND cheap. AND healthy. You’re welcome.)
5. V-Dog kibble
Hear me out. After gobs of research and learning that vets prescribe plant-based kibble to dogs with skin conditions, I switched my 8-year-old pooch, Uncle Jesse, to V-Dog. (Whereupon he immediately rejected the old stuff.) That was over a year ago and he’s crushing it, with a flawless bill of health from his normal vet. While this decision wasn’t financially driven, it turns out V-Dog costs about half of what I was spending on high-end animal-based kibble. (It smells so decent I might actually try it. If I do I promise to blog about it.)
And because I love you – a bonus hack!
6. InstaPot Hummus
If you’re one of the proud new owners of an InstaPot, the countertop multi-cooker on crack and Amazon’s #1 Christmas gift for “The Person You Care About But Also Resent Because They’re Implicitly Forcing You to Feed Into the Consumerist Machine to Prove Your Affection,” this recipe is for you! My manager who totally reads this blog and did I mention she is the cat’s meow? sent me this amazing InstaPot hummus recipe using dried chickpeas (a.k.a. garbanzo beans). The trick is using the warm, cooked beans and cooking liquid to whip ’em into a pillowy bean dream after they’re done in the iPot (I’m trademarking that). Grab a bag of dried chickpeas for about $1.00 and don’t do what I did yesterday, which is cave to convenience.
Have you tried (or would you try) any of these? Have any other plant-based hacks?
Last fall I lost my mind and decided to go back to school. I’m now halfway through my Masters degree in Humane Education a.k.a. Learnin’ How to Save the Planet.
Of course, we all know I really just want some more of those fancy letters to add to my work signature.
Over the past year, I’ve struggled to find humor while bearing witness to the countless atrocities detailed in the coursework. I even considered throwing in the towel on higher learnin’ altogether. But speaking of towels (wait for it) – there’s still hope! On top of the recent move to tiny living, here are some of my favorite ways of ensuring the world’s chipmunks will have many, many years left to thrive:
1. (S)wipe Left on Paper Products
No, no, no. I’m not asking you to trade your TP for twigs. But getting into the habit of using dishtowels as napkins is the gift that keeps on giving! Who wants to dry their hands with 18 pieces of tissue paper anyway?
I love using soft, fluffy hand towels as much as…
2. Bag Lady
I’m obsessed with my reusable bags. Remember this?
No more once you switch to sturdy, waterproof bags!
3. From K-Cups to More-than-OK-Cups
Not only do they make gobs of compostable products for any coffee machine, they also sell reusable Keurig K-Cup pods that you can fill with your own coffee, then compost the grinds, for a totally waste-free caffienating experience.
4. Got milk? Yeah, and it’s nuts!
Swapping out any one dairy (or meat) item at any one meal for a plant-based option instead is a HUGE win for woodland critters and humans alike. I know, I know. “BUT CHEESE,” you’re thinking. Thankfully, the plant-based options for milk and cheese are becoming more convincing than ever – check out Chao cheese if you don’t believe me. (For more on the implications of eating dairy, which I know can be confusing – shoot me a note. And here’s a great article with lots of cool charts emphasizing the impact of small dietary changes.)
Since then, I’ve upgraded to an item that’s marketed as “the most beautiful composter in the world.” By tossing all of my raw produce, coffee grinds and compostable packaging in there, these bad boys have cut down my garbage by a whopping 75%!
6. It’s the Little Things that Count
Plastic straws, paper receipts, those little stickers on your fruits and vegetables – they really add up! Say “no thanks” when you can and hopefully these items, much like Scott Baio, will soon become a thing of the past.
7. This is Us. Not Buying New Sh*t.
Learning about the materials and energy required to produce every single new consumer good was enough for me to reconsider buying that battery operated armpit hair braider. Even recycling itself -turning those plastic Sprite bottles into a rug, for example- can demand intensive resources. Choosing refurbished or borrowed items will make you the Kevin to Mother Nature’s Kate.
8. Do you have your permission slip?
Because it’s field trip time! Visit your local farm sanctuary and be amazed by the animals’ stories. Did you know chickens experience REM sleep and teach calls to their babies before they’re born? They even purr! So cool!
9. Cabbage Patch Pets
Remember how Cabbage Patch dolls came with those nifty adoption papers? There’s a lot to be said for adoption – skip the breeders and pet stores and scoop up a rescue.
10. Fork You
Switching to reusable utensils (and dishware) was a “sacrifice” that played in my favor! I dine like a queen at work:
11. Warm Fuzzies
The best thing you can do for chipmunks? Love. Love them, love yourself, and love the land we share.
I grab my shirt and pull it away from me. The Manhattan skyscrapers have formed a barrier, trapping the early August humidity and dashing any hope that a breeze might dry the sweat running down my back.
“Do you think we’ll get a table?” my sister asks.
It’s 11:45am on Saturday and we’re part of a line snaking down 8th Avenue and 22nd Street. In 15 minutes, they’ll open the doors to Chelsea district’s Momofuku Nishi.
We can already taste the succulent red meat and pan-fried char, our mouths watering at thoughts of the secret-sauce-and-blood-soaked bun.
Today, we would taste the impossible.
That’s right. Today we would sample the acclaimed brainchild of Patrick Brown, founder and CEO of California-based start-up Impossible Foods. According to all accounts, Brown had managed to create a plant-based burger that sizzled, bled and -hopefully- satisfied just like its meat-based counterpart.
Despite enjoying many bacon and cheese-smothered burgers in my day, I’ve always been a fan of veggie burgers. The ones that tasted like vegetables, that is. The more a veggie patty tried to disguise itself as meat, the more it seemed to fail.
Using a combination of science and more science, Impossible Foods attempted a feat no man nor chipmunk had yet mastered: Making vegetables actually mimic meat. How did they do it? Through reverse-engineering taste and including loads of something called heme. Heme is what peanut butter is to Reese’s cups, what cherry Chapstick is to a Katy Perry song, what Miss Piggy is to Kermit.
It’s the stuff that makes something what it is.
Brown combined heme -the thing that gives beef its meaty, bloody flavor- and a number of plant products (namely potatoes, soybeans, and coconut) to achieve the Impossible Burger. A longtime vegan and accomplished biochemist, he wanted to make a veggie burger for people who loved meat. After all, who would forego succulent, savory bovine for lentils and chalky carrots?
And we’re not alone:
Impossible Foods surveyed 600 “hard core middle America burger lovers” about their eating habits and asked them whether they’d choose a plant-based burger if it was identical—in taste and cost—to the beef version. Nearly 70% said they would. –Wall Street Journal
But with production costs still too high to actually offer the Impossible Burger to the masses, you have to wonder: is it worth all of the trouble? I mean, cholesterol aside, is there really anything that bad about sticking to the traditional?
With plans for a slow but powerful movement, Impossible Foods is piloting their burger in limited quantities in places like New York City, and soon, San Francisco. Within five years, we can expect to see some pretty happy cows, but for now, some pretty happy humans:
Do you think the Impossible Burger can do the impossible? Would you try it?