Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Vegan Anniversary - Going On Year 8

Last week marked my 7th anniversary of going vegan, so I thought I would reflect on some important developments that have made being vegan even easier.


Cezanne - Antique Garden shoes from Charmone

When I first went vegan, I had my trusty Converse All-Stars and a pair of clunky faux leather dress shoes from Moo Shoes that caused the backs of my heels to develop large blisters if I wore them for more than 10 minutes.

Now, we have our choice of whimsical stilettos from Charmone or trendy pumps from Olsen Haus. Even has its own shoestore ( that tags "vegetarian" shoes for easy searching.


Dr. Cow Aged Cashew and Crystal Algae Cheese

When I first went vegan, my local grocery store sold Veganrella, which had the taste and texture of plastic. At the time, Follow Your Heart soy cheese was so new that my friends and I pooled together to make a bulk order directly from the company. Cheddar, mozzarella and "nacho cheese" were the only commercially available flavors of vegan cheese. I could tell that a restaurant was serving me non-vegan soy cheese (with casein) if the cheese actually melted.

Now, the lines between soy cheese and regular cheese have blurred substantially. Daiya's Italian Blend actually melts! Sheese makes over 10 flavors of vegan cheese, including gouda, blue cheese and smoked cheddar, not to mention a delicious herbed cream cheese spread. Dr. Cow makes a sharp aged nut cheese using the same processes that are used in aging dairy cheese. Now, if only someone would invent vegan manchego...


"Vaute Coat" in Ivory from Vaute Couture

When I first went vegan, I had a hard time finding warm winter coats that weren't made from wool. I compromised and bought used wool coats from secondhand stores or wore a long cotton coat with tons of layers underneath. It used to take me 10 minutes to remove enough layers from my "outdoor outfit" to be able to sit through class in a heated room.

Now, vegans can wear fashionable eco-friendly faux wool coats from Vaute Couture. Even mainstream companies like Anthropologie had faux sheerling and faux fur-trimmed coats this season.

Ice Cream

An ice cream sundae from Stogo

When I first went vegan, there were two dairy-free ice cream brands at my local supermarket - Tofutti and Rice Dream. Rice Dream had a strange consistency and Tofutti had a slight soy aftertaste. Both were only stocked in a few flavors, so I found myself eating flavors that I had never really cared for (like butter pecan) because I couldn't find any mint chocolate chip or chocolate chip cookie dough.

Now, many grocery stores carry Purely Decadent Coconut Milk Ice Cream, which is creamy, has a slight coconut taste and comes in both of my favorite flavors. In major cities, artisan ice cream shops carry exotic dairy-free flavors, like White Russian White Chip (Wheeler's), Black Sesame (Maggie Mudd) and Cardamom Pistachio (Stogo).

Which new products have made being vegan easier for you? Which areas still need improvement?

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