Category Archives: My Journey

Native Foods Cafe

With a menu that boasts of Native Chicken, Spicy Meatball Pizza, and cheesecake, Santa Monica’s Native Foods Cafe doesn’t sound like an all-vegan casual restaurant.  But after reading about it online, I had to try it out.  Two friends from out of town wanted to meet up for dinner, so I suggested the cafe, giving them fair warning.

“They have burgers, tacos, pizza, etc.  BUT it’s all vegan, so uh, if you and your friend want real meat, I’ll look up a different place,” I texted my friend.

“Wait, but this sounds awesome.  I’m vegetarian anyway.  Let’s do it,” was the response.

I remember talking to this friend about vegetarianism, but I had no idea he had actually embraced it since I had last seen him.


Entering Native Foods Cafe, the only indicators that this was a vegan restaurant were the cute, and sometimes sassy, slogans on employees’ shirts.  A standout?  “Eat sunshine.”

Rockin’ Moroccan Bowl

I wanted to try everything on the menu, but I settled on the Rockin’ Moroccan Bowl, a quinoa dish with grilled veggies and Native Chicken, their original chicken-flavored mixture of soy, wheat, and pea protein.  My friends both ordered the Portobello and Sausage Burger.

“We didn’t ruin our streak,” one of the boys commented to the other through a bite of his burger.

“Absolutely not,” my other friend responded.

“What streak?” I asked.

“Well, since we got off the plane, we’ve had amazing food.”


Of course, I had to sample the native desserts, especially after having so many “eh” vegan baking experiences recently.  I am a passionate chocolate lover, so I ordered their chocolate cupcake.  I even generously shared a bite with each of my friends.

As an added bonus, an employee came by and offered us samples of their carrot cake cupcake.  Every bite melted in my mouth, giving us all a sweet finish to a satisfying meal.

For a complete list of Native Foods Cafe, sprawling across California and the U.S., visit their site.


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Filed under My Journey, Pit Stops - Eating Out

Volunteer Day at Farm Sanctuary

The cloud which had provided shade for the other volunteers and myself had finally receded, and my shirt clung to the sweat on my body.  I paused from shoveling cow patties – a more polite name for cow dung – to slowly approach the beautiful animal pictured below.

I scratched his head and then massaged his neck, enjoying being in the presence of such a calm, powerful creature.  In response, he licked my leg with his sandpaper tongue, and then proceeded to douse my shirt in a generous amount of cow saliva.

Saturday, I had the privilege of volunteering at Farm Sanctuary’s Animal Acres in Acton, California.  Although the weatherman had threatened us with a heatwave, the sky remained overcast until lunch.

I hadn’t been sure what to expect.  My family and I visited Farm Sanctuary a few months earlier, at my request, and when I heard they organized volunteer days, I quickly signed up.  Sadly, the volunteer party days are only once a month, so I had a two month wait before I returned to the sanctuary as a volunteer.

A broad spectrum of people came together to form the group of twenty-two volunteers for that day.  A couple wearing shirts with loud vegan slogans, a trio of friends, a quieter pair around my age who was seeing the sanctuary for their first time, and plenty of individuals like myself, people who came simply to make a difference and spend some quality time with animals that you don’t get to see every day.

Peeking out from his freshly cleaned barn

We spent the first few hours cleaning out the cows’ and pigs’ barns (above).  Using shovels and rakes, and protected from the dust and smell with thick face masks, we emptied the two barns and refilled them with clean hay.  Then we repeated the task with the goats’ and sheep’s barn.  For safety reasons, the cows and pigs had to leave the barns before we cleaned them, but the goats and sheep were free to roam around.  They interrupted our work to beg for some pets, they wandered in and out while we shoveled, or they stared at us as we spread clean hay throughout their home.

Afterwards, it was time to set up the potluck lunch.  One requirement for volunteering at Farm Sanctuary was to bring a vegan potluck dish.  As one volunteer commented, “It’s nice to know that you can eat everything without worrying.”

Apart from spending time with the animals, being a part of this (mostly) vegan community was great.  Usually I’m the lone vegan, and suddenly I felt like a part of a group.  No worry, no judgment, and a sense of support.  I’ve found similar qualities in the online blogging world, but experiencing it in my real, physical day, having people sitting next to me who wanted to talk about vegan foods, politics, etc., was amazing.  If you have any suggestions for how to find vegan communities in the non-virtual world, I’m all ears.

A restful hour later, we turned to our final task: picking up the cow patties.  When I toured Farm Sanctuary, this cow pasture was one of the areas the tour group wasn’t allowed in because there was a chance that Mr. Ed, the largest bull and protector of the herd, would charge.  However, as a volunteer, I was allowed to carefully make my way out into the field and work around Mr. Ed.  He calmly lounged as us volunteers moved around, and he let us pet the other cows.

Mr. Ed

Volunteering at Farm Sanctuary allowed me to get dirty and reconnect with nature after a week of sitting at an office desk.  I bonded with a lovely goat named Maria, felt connected to a vegan community around me, and got up-close with animals that some people never see in a lifetime.  While I began eating a vegan diet for health reasons, developing a deeper sense of respect for animals has been a welcome and inspiring side effect.



Filed under Big Issues, My Journey

Computer and Cake

I accidentally murdered my poor computer last week by knocking over an exceptionally tall glass of water.  I immediately placed it in an airtight container full of brown rice and left it for two days.  Amazingly, it turned on!  But I soon found out that, in spite of its brightly smiling screen, half of my logic board was destroyed, and water had caused corrosion in every part of my baby.

So I write this post from my newest darling, also called a $1199 setback.


On a happier note, I followed through and made my own Mosaicake from Veggiewitch’s site.  However, I didn’t use unbleached flour, since I was trying my best to make the cake from things I already had in the cupboard.

My mom and I each filled a cake pan with pastel-colored batter.

And thank goodness, they turned out pretty darn beautiful.

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My only issue is that the cakes turned out very dense, and I’m not exactly sure why.  Delicious, but not quite as light and fluffy as I was hoping.  But since this was my first time making any cake from scratch, let alone a vegan cake, I was very happy with the results.


The day after baking this cake, I killed my computer.  So this cake was the best way to console me.  7 pieces of it, to be exact.  Whoops.

The only solution for accidentally murdering your laptop.


Filed under Baking, My Journey

Chocolate Chip Cookies!

After my previous vegan baking fiasco, I thought that perhaps I should take baby steps: veganize a recipe I was already familiar with.

Growing up, baking chocolate chip cookies was a weekly event, as my mom always brought cookies to work on Fridays.  My brother and I would help measure and pour, and then were rewarded with a beater loaded with cookie dough.  We always used the Nestle Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe listed on the back of the chocolate chip bag, although we omitted the salt and nuts.

I knew how to make these cookies, and making it vegan-friendly only required three substitutions: egg replacer for two eggs (Bob’s Red Mill Egg Replacer), butter substitute (Earth Balance Buttery Sticks), and vegan chocolate chips.  So after a quick trip to Whole Foods, I was ready.

The dough was almost the exact same consistency as the non-vegan version, and the vegan chocolate chips were definitely as good as the Nestle ones I had previously used.

Because my grandparents were visiting, they served as my taste testers.  And the cookies passed with flying colors!

My first bite of my cookie disappointed me at first, as it wasn’t the cookie I had expected from my childhood.  Instead, it was its own unique texture, and while it wasn’t what I was expecting, it was still delicious.  I fell into the trap – I can’t, and shouldn’t, compare new, vegan foods to their non-vegan counterparts that I may have been used to.  It’s not fair.  In no way was my vegan cookie worse than the chocolate chip cookie I knew; I just had to remind myself that this cookie needs to stand alone, not be a “replacement” for a cookie that I no longer choose to eat.

Following in my mom’s footsteps, I brought a plate of cookies into work on show day, and a few fake fights broke out over them.  Everyone loved them, and some people even ate two or three of them.


-The egg replacement called for two tablespoons of the replacement powder mixed with six tablespoons of water.  To be on the safe side, I mixed it in a separate container before adding it to dough. **As vegrything notes, for best results, mix the powder and water in a food processor.

-While the original recipe suggests 9-11 minutes as the cook time, I found that 9 minutes was sometimes too much.  I don’t know if this change is due to the substitutions, but I would aim for 8 minutes to avoid burning the cookies.

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Filed under Baking, My Journey

First Attempt at Baking – Snickerdoodles

In preparation for a family 4th of July party, I was supposed to make cookies.  Except that I had just cut out all animal products from my diet and hadn’t yet started exploring vegan baking.  For help, I turned to the Internet.  The party was mere hours away, so I wanted a recipe that wouldn’t require any additional shopping.  A Google search led me to Post Punk Kitchen’s Mexican Hot Chocolate Snickerdoodle recipe, which not only used ingredients I already had, but also featured a lovely how-to video.

Since this was my first dabbling in vegan baking, I worried about how the cookies would taste.  But when I popped the cookies out of the oven, they looked gorgeous; they crackled just like the cookies in the picture, and even glistened with a hint of sugar on top.

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Ready for some vegan goodness, I crunched into a cookie.  Yes, I tasted the chocolate, and it was generally sweet, but damn, the thing was spicy!  I’ve never been one for spiciness, though, so I solicited another opinion.

“Come try the cookies I made!” I yelled at my brother.  He examined the cookie, took a bite, and gave me his notes.

“Crunchy.”  Another bite.  Silence.  Another bite.

“They’re a bit spicy,” I offered.

“Too spicy,” he replied, disgust scrunching up his face.

“So we shouldn’t bring them tonight?”


How quickly my hope for bringing wonderful vegan cookies – to lessen some of the scrutiny I would inevitably receive for my new diet – died.  I finished cooking the rest of the dough and was left with a whopping two plates of mediocre cookies.


I picked up a box of sugar-frosted cookies from Ralph’s that my mom loves on the way to the party for everyone else to enjoy, and with that I became determined to become a vegan baking queen.


As a side note, this is the only recipe I’ve ever tried from Post Punk Kitchen, and I’m looking forward to exploring other recipes their site has to offer.  However, in the future, I’ll look for recipes that don’t use cayenne pepper.  Their Just Chocolate Cake looks very promising.  Suggestions?

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Filed under Baking, My Journey

My Inappropriate Blog Title

Three weeks ago my blog title and WordPress handle, iwishiwerevegan, became a reality.

Having been a vegetarian for about seven months, I had slowly been pushing myself to incorporate more plant-based substitutions – little changes, like Silk’s Vanilla Almond Milk for cow’s milk, Earth Balance for butter – all of which have been easy.  Then one day, I decided to go the whole day on just  plants.  And why not another?  And why not…

Mirroring my transition to a vegetarian diet, months of piecemeal thoughts and reading up finally allowed me make an overnight switch to a vegan diet.

I’ve realized that I enjoy writing about my experiences, reading about the food journeys of other bloggers, and above all, researching more about agriculture, food, and health.  Sorry for the absence, but I know you’ll forgive me – please keep this conversation about food going, and I look forward to being a part of it.

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Filed under My Journey, Uncategorized

Hello Again



My Firefox browser taunted me, promising that WordPress would appear, but never followed through.  Frustrated, I abandoned my blog for a while.  Which turned into months.  Almost 4 months.

But now I have things to say, so I opened Safari – not my first web browsing chioce – but this change turned “Loading…” into a beautiful array of pictures and seductive taglines of blogs WordPress wanted me to read.

I’m back.

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Filed under My Journey