Vegging Out

It doesn’t feel like 3.5 years have past but that’s when I first started my vegan life. I spent most of December 2013 and January 2014 watching documentaries about food and it really got me thinking about what was on my plate and going into my body. It wasn’t just all slaughterhouse documentaries. I grew up in a family where food was very important culturally, but somehow over the years it lost it’s importance on me. I was eating a lot of processed foods and had no idea what was on my plate or how it even made it’s way there. What was the story behind this meal? I think that question is how veganism made its way into my life. The more I thought about the “story” of my food, the more I didn’t want to have formerly living animals on my plate. Some vegans have labelled this as becoming conscious of your choices. By the end of that January, I made up my mind that the only way I could be truly satisfied with my meals and food choices was to become a vegan. At that time, I was also getting ready to move into my first “big boy” apartment so it was nice to have this change also be part of my new beginnings.

The last week in January while finishing packing my belongings, I made a little outline for how I would start this vegan journey. I did research a bit into it and also watched even more documentaries about it. Some people may see a vegan diet & lifestyle as restrictive but that couldn’t be further from the truth. I was making a willing and positive change to my lifestyle and I think this also helped with my thought process along the way (and shut down the skeptics). Over the course of February, I was going to eliminate one type of meat from my diet and would be eating fully vegan by the end of the month. I also allowed myself one non-vegan meal per day but tried to eat vegan whenever possible. I decided to make it a point when buying groceries to buy only vegan items.

 

My transition plan
-Feb wk 1: no red meats or pork
-Feb wk 2: no chicken/poultry
-Feb wk 3: no fish/seafood
-Feb wk 4: no dairy/eggs or other animal byproducts

 

At the start, the hardest part wasn’t actually trying to eat vegan, it was more so trying to blocking out the negative feedback from family and friends. Suddenly everyone cared and had an opinion about what I was eating. I truly believe that becoming a vegan made be more resilient to negative. At the same, to be going against the norm and eating food that made me feel good was empowering. I began to win over family and friends when they noticed that my food was not bland and had plenty of colour and variety. I was also still able to indulge in my food favourites such as cupcakes, cookies, ice cream and chips in a vegan way. There are also so many “accidentally vegan” foods around that most people don’t even recognise that they are eating vegan food.

 

My vegan path has changed quite a bit compared to when I started 3 and a half years ago. I have posted over 100 photos to Instagram using my hashtag #cookingwithdoryane in an effort to document the foods I personally make. I also have hosted plenty of family dinners and holiday parties for friends featuring a fully vegan and down right delicious menu. It’s also been exciting to see new vegan friendly spots in Toronto and exploring some of the older ones I didn’t know existed.

 

If I were to give advice to a new vegan, the veg-curious and omnivores would be this: you do you. It’s your decision what gets put on your plate and goes into your body… at least it should be. I never try to push “vegan propaganda” onto my loved ones, but at the same time they’ve come to an understanding that they should not push a pro-meat stance onto me. I’ve made myself open to questions and answer them as positively as I can to the best of my abilities because I know that I would want that person to make an informed decision too… even if it ends up that that still consume animal products. It’s also important to say that adopting a vegan lifestyle may not be for everyone. Culture, social pressures, accessibility, food security, lifestyle… these are all major factors that influence someone’s diet and no one should be shamed for choosing and having what they do.

mmmmm… Zzaaaaaaa!

 

Let me just start by saying vegans can love pizza too!

It’s true that I do not eat dairy products out of personal choice. And some people think not having cheese on pizza is not pizza but meh… works for me (and many other vegans).

This pizza is from Pizzaolo. It’s topped with so many veggies, garlic olive oil (instead of tomato sauce) and no cheese. So delish!

Pizza!

Pizza!

Bright & Comfy

I haven’t bought new shoes in a very long time… mostly because I’m cheap and picky. HA! But my family and friends will tell you how much I really do love shoes. A nice pair of does a whole lot to complete the look of an outfit.

One of my favourite pairs is a set of Vans Surf SF. It’s a great pair for spring/summer to slip on and go. They are also so unbelievably comfortable too! I ended up buying two pairs in different colours a couple of summers ago.

Now that I’ve been shopping to amp up my wardrobe, I find myself thinking about replacing these Vans. Although I’ve seen the model in stores, I can’t seem to find the right colour. I decided to check out the Vans website to see what’s available and found these gems!

image

I am madly in love with the bold and bright colours. I also love the striping and prints. The only issue is that I can’t find them in Canada in my size… *insert crying emoji here*. I even checked the Vans store here in downtown Toronto but they did not have this print in this style. And naturally, the Vans website was sold out when I checked.

Maybe it’s not meant to be but a guy can dream, right?

More Layers Than Cake…

I’ve lived in Canada all my life and I still don’t know how to dress for the weather. I think spring in Toronto is the hardest season out of all of them as well. You wake up, it’s a crisp and windy morning, so you bundle up. By the time lunch rolls around, it’s a balmy and humid sun-filled day. And then the next day… it snows.

Bring on the layers! Since I work early in the morning, it’s necessary to wear a sweater or light jacket. I’ve also made it a habit of wearing a tank or t-shirt under a long sleeve button-down. This way when it warms up in the afternoon, I can tie the long sleeve around my waist and be oh so trendy (HA!).

This is the outfit I wore today… I was totally feeling myself too. I recently bought a pair of Nike Free Hypervenom 2. They’re the most expensive sneakers I’ve purchased in a very long time but they’re super comfortable.

 

 

 

May 18, 2016 at 1003AM

Cooking with D. O’Ryane… post #3

I’ve been thinking a lot about tofu lately. Since I’m a vegan and not allergic to soy, I eat tofu all the time. That being said, I never actually sat down and thought about tofu until now.

Because the typical North American diet does not contain tofu in its many glorious forms, most people just view it as a white tasteless block and are not a fan. But! I’m a firm believer that tofu can taste amazing all the time. Most often, the person preparing the tofu has not done anything except chop it up and put it on top of a salad which is instantly unsatisfying.

So, here is a post with some of my tried and true tofu tips. I often make tofu dishes and find that these simple things can take your kitchen cred to the next level.

1) use the good stuff: Soy is the one the top genetically modified crops in the entire world. If you haven’t heard the term GMO, I strongly encourage you to read up on it! Look for tofu that says ‘non-GMO’ on the label.

2) check the firmness: The firmness is almost always labelled on the pack for tofu. Medium-Firm is a good all-around choice and absorbing spices/marinades. Firm is great for being grilled or BBQ’d. Extra/Super firm is perfect for frying (my favourite). The soft and silky tofus are best saved for desserts and baking.

3) press your tofu: Wrap the tofu in a few pieces of paper towel, place on a plate, and put a bowl on top for about 10-15 minutes. Instead of using paper towel, you can also use a cheese cloth. Another super cool and nerdy way is putting the tofu in hot and heavily salted water (osmosis!). Having tofu with the water squeezed out from it makes a big difference. Tofu is like a sponge, so pressing out the water means it will now better soak up whatever sauce or spices you use. It also makes tofu the perfect texture for frying.

4) SEASON IT!: It baffles me when how some people think it’s okay to serve and eat plain tofu. The power to absorb spices/sauces/rubs/marinades is definitely one of the top features of tofu. A few of my favourite combinations?
– agave + chilli flakes + sriracha for a quick sweet n’ spicy dipping sauce with fried tofu
– Jamaican jerk rub + soy sauce + garlic + onions on your sautéed tofu
– vegan butter + lots of garlic + dried oregano + dried parsley compliment seared tofu slices really well

5) be creative: Some of my best food moments have featured tofu in a method or flavour I never would have expected until I tried it. A favourite of my friends & family is a chocolate cheesecake I made and is primarily made with silken tofu.

I hope this helps you out 🙂

Fried tofu with asparagus and red peppers.

Fried tofu with asparagus and red peppers.

Denim in Distress

I have this chronic problem with jeans. It feels weird saying it publicly but here I go… I always get holes in the crotch of my jeans. Seriously, without fail, I will wear a pair of jeans for a year or two and then notice that a the seams and fabric are being eroded away. It also doesn’t matter what style/fabric blend/brand the jeans are, I’ve tried them all. I’m not exactly sure of the reason but my guess is that I’m rough on my clothing and my thighs rub together (awkward to say out loud). It is what it is though….

Over the past few months, I’ve developed a new plan to deal with this problem. I got tired of trying to patch the holes and being self-conscious. Therefore, I decided to embrace it and make even more holes in my jeans. The distressed denim look is very trendy right now. Also, restyling my jeans means I don’t have to spend money for a new pair. I have been getting quite a few compliments on my jeans and people wondering where I bought them. It’s definitely a ego boost when I say I did it myself.

 

Flying Solo

I am going on my first major solo vacation! I’m heading to Puerto Rico which I’m confident that will be a good time. But I can’t lie, I’m also a bit nervous. Although I’ve travelled alone before, this is my first time travelling alone outside of Canada and not staying with someone I know.

This summer I discovered the joys of going alone when I spent some time in Montreal and Quebec City. It was nice to have my own room, see what I wanted to see and do everything in my own time. I’ve been to both these places before so I felt comfortable doing my daily activities on a whim. And since it was within Canada and not far from home, I knew I could always go back if I felt I missed something to visit there.

Puerto Rico for me is a bit different. I have the feeling that I won’t be back there again (or at least for a really long time), so I need to make the most of it! The other issue is that I’m a broke ass indebted student who has to pay bills.  There more I think about the trip, the more I want to do in PR but my wallet forces me to stay realistic. 

I’m curious what the culture is like there. My family is from the Caribbean so I know it will be laid back. But at the same, none of my close family or friends have been before so my expectations are just being built up from the internet which I feel is just not the same.

I’m the end, I know this will be a great experience. Fate also has it that I have friends happen to be in PR at the same time so hopefully we can meet up!

Stay tuned to see how it goes…