Archive for vegetarian

The Difference Between Vegetarian and Vegan

Posted in Recipes, Vegan and Vegetarian Lifestyle with tags , , on August 27, 2013 by Verge

Monika and I buy a lot of groceries.  The reason for this is two fold, I suppose.  Firstly, we struggle to find healthy, vegan options when we dine out, although I can recommend some great places to eat if that’s what you’re looking for.  Secondly, we honestly truly enjoy cooking at home.

When you prepare most of your own meals, at home, you need a lot of raw ingredients.  Other than having ridiculously cheap toilet paper, kitty litter and contact lens solution, BJ’s and Costco also have great deals on raw ingredients.  A short list of them includes:  walnuts, pine nuts, raw sugar, peanut butter, tea, canned beans, artichoke hearts, sun dried tomatoes, olives, pickles, cashews, tomato sauce, canned tomatoes, canned any vegetables, flour, sugar, olive oil, cereal, rice, etc.

Now, I have appreciated these “big box” clubs carrying vegetarian and vegan and low-sodium options.  I’ve even gone as far as sending them letters telling them that every new vegetarian product has indeed been seen, recognized, appreciate and purchased.  And, I truly do appreciate their buyers looking for newer options for those with “dietary needs.”  I do believe in supply and demand, and I do politely demand what I wish a store would supply.  That’s just common sense, even when you’re dealing with a huge company.  Honestly, sometimes they listen to customer feedback.

In any case, asking for vegetarian is a pretty darn big dietary restriction, I suppose, although we don’t really feel like it’s a restriction but more of a liberation, to be honest.  However, I will admit that taking the next step to becoming a vegan is most definitely restrictive.  It’s downright aggravating, in fact.  I just can’t understand why so many companies, with good intentions and good hearts, still insist on adding just a tad of milk or casein or gelatin or egg or butter or fat or any number of other things that can be substituted to their products!!

That is all besides the fact that thousands if not millions of products could easily already be vegetarian but are not.  Honestly, most products add salt and animal fat for flavoring in the US, and it’s absolutely ridiculous.  I understand why chicken soup has chicken broth, and clam chowder has clams in it, but why the hell does vegetable soup has a multitude of animal products in it??  Especially when there are absolutely, positively the same tasting, but vegetarian,  products to flavor soup on the market!???

Here are a few examples from some stores that we shop with that show how difficult it is to find enough products to truly be a vegan.  Obviously some of these can’t be made any other way, but I’m putting them out there just to illustrate how frustrating it can be sometimes to find good food that has no animal products, which is why Monika and I do most of our cooking at home.


Morning Star Farms is a great company that make many delicious products. And, I still enjoy most of them. These breakfast sausage patties are really quite tasty, have a great texture, can be fried, toasted, baked or microwaved and make great little English Muffin sandwiches. Made from organic soy products, they are low in fat compared to the real thing.  Unfortunately, they are also NOT VEGAN. They contain egg whites and milk.


These are one of several vegetarian “burgers” (which kind of sounds like it’s hamburgers made out of vegetarians). The have great flavor, hold together rather well when frying or even grilling, and don’t look like some of the mush some companies put out and call veggie patties. You can actually see the real vegetables in the burgers. You may recognize these as the burgers they use as Burger King Veggie Burger.  The main ingredient is hydrated wheat gluten, but unfortunately also contains egg whites, and calcium caseinate derived from milk. NOT VEGAN


Morning Star Meal Starters Crumbles are a great substitute fro ground beef. The main ingredient is a flavored TVP (textured vegetable protein). For tacos, burritos, and chilli, this products is a great vegetarian substitute. Unfortunately it as also NOT VEGAN as it contains skim milk and egg whites.


Next up, Morning Star Chipolte Black Bean Burgers. These are quite delicious, although a little hard to keep together on the grill. I usually bake these in the toaster over to make them nice and crisp. These are used by many restaurants, including TGI Fridays, as their house bean burger. We’re always happy to find major chain restaurants serving any vegetarian options, but again dining out as a vegan is sometimes impossible. These are also NOT VEGAN as they contain egg whites and calcium caseinate.


Okay, this finally brings us to the last Morning Star product that my local BJs sells, the Grillers Vegan. This product actually is VEGAN, and says so right in its name. And, considering it doesn’t have any of the egg white “binder” included, they hold together and grill up quite well. They stay juicy and are very versatile. I even use them to crumble up and put in my veggie chilli and have used them in tacos before as well. I highly recommend them as a vegan substitute for a burger.


BJ’s, form time to time, carry other brands of Veggie Burgers, I guess to see how they sell. These came from Harvesland.We tried these and actually, they weren’t too bad. Again, you could really see the veggies that made them up. What you couldn’t actually see was the egg whites that make the NOT VEGAN.


These Crispy Tenders made by one of our favorite companies, Gardein, starting showing up about two years ago and quickly became a staple in our house. They bake up beautifully crispy. It’s what I ended up using in this recipe, and we would also just eat them like nuggets with some bbq or ketchup. They are really a quite diverse product and we still buy them when we can. Unfortuantely, BJs stopped carrying them a while back, which was a shame because not only did they come in an extra large package that was a great value, this product is TOTALLY VEGAN.


I’ve been shopping at BJs for years, and I had some perennial favorites that had to go when we went vegan completely. This one barely needs any further explanation since Cheddar Cheese is right in it’s name. I always liked boiling a frying up some of these with some onion late night and having some with a little oil. Oh well…NOT VEGAN.


And these ready to go Eggplant Parms from Michael Angelo’s were awesome to pop in the oven for a full, delicious meal. It’s a shame because not only were they delicious, the company made a product with very little ingredients, and no fillers, additives, or preservatives. The ingredients always tasted fresh and of great quality, including the three varieties of cheeses that they contained, making the NOT VEGAN and off limits.

Next time I stop by Whole Foods, I’ll snap some pictures and update a second page of examples, which will be available here.


You’re Vegan!?!…What do you eat?

Posted in Daily Pictures, Vegan and Vegetarian Lifestyle with tags , , on July 5, 2012 by Verge

Yeah, the vegetarian thing is one thing.  People always ask vegetarians what they eat, especially for protein.  Never seemed to have a problem with that.  Americans seem to be protein obsessed.  Vegetarianism isn’t so extreme.  Plenty of animals in our world are vegetarian.  Sure, I guess I’m still an omnivore because I’m capable of eating plants and animals.  It’s just not really necessary for the human animal to consume large amounts of protein mostly because when I’m hungry, I open my fridge instead of running a few miles across the plains to hunt down some prey to feed my family to survive.

Veganism is pretty tough, though.  It’s hard to find a lot of things you’d consider safe that don’t also contain some form of animal product:  milk, casein, gelatin, butter, fat, chicken lard and flavoring, beef flavoring, whey, etc.  Milk and it’s products can be some pretty nasty stuff.  Adults aren’t even really supposed to drink milk at all if you simply look at the animal kingdom.  Let alone the milk and dairy products on the shelves at your store, which are loaded with hormones, steroids, antibiotics and all kinds of garbage.  Not only are a staggeringly huge percentage of people lactose intolerant to some degree, milk can actually cause osteoporosis.  There are other ways of getting calcium and vitamin D, and milk might be one of the worst.

If you go for a raw diet, then it’s pretty straight forward.  Nuts, fruits and veggies, legumes.  But, Monika and I like to have some good old American-type food, too.  For the 4th of July, we’d still like to have hamburgers and hot-dogs, baked beans, chips and dips, and the like.

Here’s what a vegan can buy at Whole Foods for $192.78.  None of this food contains any animal products, though I will admit, some of them are a bit over-processed, and not as healthy as one would ideally like in a perfect world.

Whole Foods can be expensive, but you can’t be their variety. You still have to search for the vegan stuff, and reading labels carefully has been a habit of ours for years, but certain brands you can pretty much trust. A lot of Whole Foods 365 Brand products carry small icons to tell you whether or not the products are vegetarian, vegan, or gluten-free. I really wish this was a national standard. That, along with non-GMO, Organic, Kosher and Local labels. It’ll never happen until this country demands it. Don’t see that happening any time soon.

Of course, We’re huge fans of the bulk foods section. Great deals on loose ingredients. Lentils, TVP, Nutritional Yeast, Beans, Rices, Teas, Grains.

This is the processed stuff. So, if you’ve ever wondered what a Vegan eats, this is it. At least, this Vegan.  All those containers in the front are vegan yogurt, and on the left is some bulk lentils and wild rice.  Tofurky and Field Roast sausages and meat loaf.  Sprouted whole grain bagels…

Oh yeah, and some veggies thrown into the mix. Celery, peppers, broccoli, carrots, snap peas, cauliflower, onions and organic spring mix and spinach.  We still get a weekly box from Suburban Organics, and now that it’s Summer, we switched over to all fruit. Most of the veggies, like tomatoes and peppers and zucchini, we grow ourselves this time of year…

Vegan burgers, re-fried beans, chicken strips, burgers…

waffles, tofu, more burgers, sauerkraut…

hot-dogs, shredded cheeses, breakfast sausages…

vegan sour cream, cream cheese, lunch meat, sliced cheese, meatballs, waffles, Parmesan cheese, ribs…

Yeah, that’s not all of it, just what we shopped for on the 4th.  We have a ton of other things we eat, and I guess I can post pictures of our panty to prove it.  Plenty of pastas (whole wheat of course), potato products, anti-pastas, breads, crackers, and all kinds of other meat substitutes.  But, when people ask us what we eat because we’re vegans, I usually say, “the same stuff you do, just vegan versions.”  July 4th isn’t the same without burgers, hot-dogs, corn and all the other American foods that we all love.

Robyn O’Brien @ TEDx in Austin

Posted in Cinema Reviews, Vegan and Vegetarian Lifestyle with tags , , , , on May 8, 2012 by Verge

Please take a look at this video.  It’s only 18 minutes long, and explains what’s wrong with the food industry in this country today.  I know I’ve posted movies before.  Some of you might not want to see slaughter houses, or sit through 90 minutes of slanted documentaries.

I can understand why.  But this one is very different.

Robyn O’Brien was just like every ordinary American eater and mother.  She wasn’t a health food nut, or a vegan, or an organic non-GM eater, and never thought there was a problem with food in America.  Then something terrible happened which lead her down a path of discovery about the truth of modern food in America.

I highly encourage all of you, but especially the skeptics who think genetically-modified is fine, organic is expensive and un-needed, and kids with allergies are the result of paranoid parents, to watch this video with an open mind.  It doesn’t come from PETA, but instead, someone just like you.

Please visit her webpage to learn more.

The Eighth of August, Two Thousand and Eleven

Posted in Daily Pictures with tags on August 8, 2011 by Verge

Back to work after a week’s vacation.  Not done blogging about that, but here’s some everyday, normal, not as interesting to anyone but me kind of things.

deposited this check today, fresh off a vacation. It is the entire amount of my former 401k from Sam Ash. It's not a ton, but it's more than I contributed, was 100% vested, and most importantly, got cashed out before the stock market shit it's bed this morning.

we have a fridge full of produce left over from vacation. Marinated portobello caps in Italian dressing for dinner. I fail to see why people thing that because I'm vegetarian, I do not grill, or BBQ for that matter.

It's hard to see, but that's an English Muffin (whole wheat, mind you), with guacamole inderneath the portablello mushrooms, and a side of fresh summer fruits. And it was amazing.

Cape May Continued…Dogfish Head Brewery and Brewpub

Posted in Daily Pictures, Good Times with tags , , , on August 6, 2011 by Verge

Marla and Rob got to leave the kids behind and go for an adult only adventure on Thursday to Delaware

Cape May - Lewes ferry takes your car to Delaware, and has bars on board...and takes credit cards

this is the outside of dogfish head brewery in Milton. It's such a tiny town to have such an awesome place in it. We still hope one day we will get an invite into the treehouse, but I think we'll have to move to Delaware and get a job at the factory, which isn't such a bad idea.

we arrived with no reservation for a tour, but got on the wait list, and had no problem getting in on one of the tours, which is what I kinda expected.

unbeknownst to us, it was International IPA Day. IPA is short for India Pale Ale, my absolute favorite style of beer. It is very hoppy, very bitter, and beautifully delicious.

on tap was 60, 90, and 120 minute IPA, the last of which is extremely rare this year, extremely expensive, and exceptionally tasty. Find some, if you can. Also, they served Burton Baton, poured through Randall the Enamel Animal, which is fresh grown hops, and was also delicious. All for free, too!

the tour of the brewery was just about the same as last time Monika and I visited, but was still pretty interesting. Our tour guide was very animate, and entertaining. This is a shot of the beginning gear of Dogfish Head, and as a home brewer, I really appreciate that this stuff has been saved and turned into a kind of museum at the brewery.

rocked the brewpub in Rehobeth Beach. They have an awesome menu with more vegetarian options that your average brewpub, which we obviously appreciate immensly. And, they have tons of Dogfish Head Beer, which I drank it all!! And we also filled a growler (which I brought from home), and scored a bottle of their Jin and their completey amazing peanut butter Vodka. dropped some cash!

waiting in line for the ride home to Cape May

scored some more beverages on the way home. We went to Delaware on a vassel named the New Jersey, which was relatively ghetto compared to the posh Twin Capes ferry we returned upon.

the top deck was windy and windy, but we got a pretty good view of everything and everyone, including Rob and Marla.

we joined the inside at the bar. An hour and fifteen minutes is a lot of time to party.

which Marla made good use of

but the day came to a close, on our way to Cape May.

Recent Random Pictures

Posted in Daily Pictures with tags , , , , , on April 30, 2011 by Verge

a recent batch of beer chilling off in my kitchen. I can't remember which one this is partially because...

...Kreg and I have been making a lot of beer lately. On the left is Mojoito Wine, Imperial Pale Ale (now on tap at my house) American Ale, Mexican Cerveza. The little guy in front is a yeast starter after I added an air lock.

this is Winston Churchill, my brother's family bunny. He pretty damn cool and I had to pay him a visit the other day when kreg and I stopped by his house.

faux Colosso. this is probably the wild cat that got kreg's cat pregnant last year. If you have one of his kittens, this is the father.

Eno defends his palace! kind of looks like Batman.

a shot of my hops growing like wild fire.

they shot up to 6 feet so quickly I added another 6 feet to the top using the bamboo tomato stakes from last year's garden.

I blogged about this earlier, but seriuosly, what chance did this little girl have when you named her "Misery?"

Recently subscribed to Suburban Organics, who wend you locally grown organic fruits and vegetables on a schedule every week. They are awesome. This was what we got last week for 25 bucks, delivered to our front door.

24, 25, 26 of November, Two Thousand and Ten

Posted in Daily Pictures with tags , , on November 27, 2010 by Verge

Played a show on Wednesday night in Philly. I don't have any pictures of myself on stage yet, so this is a shot of our opening act on stage while I ran the sound.

and the closing band. We played two set in the middle to a crowd of aroudn 150 of our friends. Free draft beer for the bands all night = a great time.

Next day was Thanksgiving at the shore with my family. It's Monika's favorite holiday...she really loves turkey.

drinks are mandatory in our house, and every day is a holiday

the spread before the dinner. We had tofurkey, of course, but everything else was delicious also. It's not really too difficult to do vegetarian Thanksgiving. Most of the food is already vegetarian, if you think about it.

next night we went to Sisters Nightclub for a burlesque show which happened to coincide with the release of the movie.

don't get me wrong, I still love a good strip club outing, but Burlesque is so much more playful, and no one begs you for cash.

we had a great time, did some dancing, got to see some beautiful ladies, and partied till 2 am. tonight, we do it again.

Kat’s Dinner

Posted in Bar and Lounge Reviews, Daily Pictures, Good Times with tags , on October 28, 2010 by Verge

We decided to play it low key for Kat’s birthday, and so just the four us went out.  Kat chose Bar Ferdinand, a fancy little place in Northern Liberties in a newly renovated section of town.  This section is called The Piazza, and it’s pretty damn nice.  It was built on the site of the old Schmidt’s Brewery and includes apartments, restaurants, store and artists’ studios.  At the one end, there’s a huge LED television overlooking the courtyard.  Last night, game 1 of the World Series was on.

This is a view of the Piazza. It's across the street from the restaurant we dined at. It was a damn fine place to sit back with a beer and a cigar, and watch the World Series in beautiful weather.

These are the apartments that overlook the Piazza.

Bar Ferdinand has lots of tapas, which is basically the same as saying “expensive, small appetizers.”  That being said, they were all delicious.  We all shared everything we ordered, and had many drinks as well.  The atmosphere was great, and it was busy but not crowded on a Wednesday night, so it was nearly perfect dining.

The seasonal craft brew list. I had the "Abbey of Christ in the Desert" Belgian Ale that was unmemorable, and the delicious Duck-Rabbit DoppleBock! Highly recommended.

but, the evening was all about a night out with close friends.


The Sixth of August, Two Thousand and Ten (Our Weekend with Sam and Tuk)

Posted in Daily Pictures, Good Times with tags , , , on September 9, 2010 by Verge

So, our last  night in Ohio was spent late night with Tuk’s sister and husband again. The next morning, Sam was off early and Monika, Tuk and I were very hungry.  Only on place to go…

The Wawa of the Western PA...Sheets!

Monika contemplates whether to order or plunder

okay, they had whole wheat rolls for us veggie dorks.

Lunch, a beer and....







...Goodbye Shots!!

so long Tuk, and thanks for all the memories

oh can buy fireworks legally in Ohio

I chose the biggest ones that they had

400 miles home

going through a tunnel or two


Franklin Square, the base of the Ben Franklin Bridge

We love those two, and their friends, and road trips.  And, finally coming back home to see our cats…and friends too.  Next time we see Sam and Tuk, they’ll be in costumes, and the leaves will be red and orange and yellow, and my garden will be dead, and we’ll be sure to have plenty of whiskey when they arrive, and a nice, warm bed for them to sleep in for as long as we can keep them here.

The Fifth of September, Two Thousand and Ten (Our weekend with Sam and Tuk)

Posted in Daily Pictures, Good Times with tags , , , , on September 8, 2010 by Verge

I think at some point the night before, we decided to set up Rock Band.  That was a huge mistake.  I fell asleep on the couch shortly after.

The next morning, we cooked a huge vegetarian breakfast, and it was truly epic delicious.

Monika makes crepe batter, Sam cuts fresh fruit

we ate breakfast in the backyard on a beautiful morning

fresh oranges, plumbs, peaches; vegan fried sausage; pepper, mushroom, mozzarella egg omelet; jam filled crepes!

Tuk enjoys the feast!

Rocky Big Head enjoys the company, or maybe the smell of vegetarian sausage

Sam's eye darkens. Good thing Tuk didn't have to tell her twice.

After a solid breakfast, we went back to Mill Creek Park to go kayaking.  When we got there, though, there were non kayaks, only paddle boats, so we went paddle boating for an hour.  Unfortunately, I didn’t take the camera cause I was thinking we were going in kayaks.  It was a pretty good time that was spent mostly peddling as hard as we could into one anothers boats.

at the flaming ice cube, the girls bought TVP. We used it to make Vegetarian Cheese Steaks for lunch, and it was just as good as always.

The Canfield Fair was in town, and we had to go.

later, we got dressed for an evening at the county Fair

the girls prepare to impress on the drive in.

horses are huge, but very gentle, and very hungry

sometimes they ate, but most of the time, the animals just shat or slept.

don't get me wrong, though, they were all adorable, especially the bunny section

Sam entices a bovine

then off to the carnival side of the fare

to ride some rides. We all enjoy crazy, upside down, rickety carnival rides (except Steve)

a fist full of fun

and another day full of great adventures

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