Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Why Veg?

The reasons that people have for becoming vegetarian or vegan are as numerous and as varied as the growing number of people who have decided to make that leap.

Some people have "light-bulb" moments when it comes to veganism. They may have been diagnosed with a life-threatening illness, or visited a slaughterhouse, or even read a book or seen a movie that opened up their eyes to animal suffering.

Others meet vegetarianism slowly. They may have friends or family members who are veg; they might have gone veg to save money; or they might have dabbled in vegetarianism in order to prevent health problems like high-blood pressure and heart disease.

Still, others become veg due to what seems like a natural progression in their lives. Maybe they've always enjoyed eating grains and produce more than animal products; maybe they were already vegetarian and veganism seemed like the logical next step; or maybe their idea of "going green" included doing less harm to animals, the planet, and themselves.

All of these are great reasons to adopt a vegetarian/vegan lifestyle. And, FYI, you don't have to be an animal rights activist, "yoga freak," liberal, health fanatic, environmentalist, hippy, millionaire, arugula-lover, or even a finger-wagger to go veg (although all are welcome). The only thing that matters is that you come to it with an open heart and mind.

Become an expert on what your body needs. Decide what your priorities are. Determine what's driving you to make a change in your life. Are you concerned about your health? The environment? The ethical treatment of animals? Or something else?

Even if you're not ready to become vegan/vegetarian, that doesn't mean you shouldn't start scaling back the amount of animal products you consume. You might want to begin by cutting certain types of meat/dairy out of your diet. Or try eating one completely veg meal every day, eating exclusively vegetarian meals on the weekends or during one weekday, or even taking the 30-Day Veg Pledge. Another great way to start is by preparing veggie versions of things that you typically eat (ex: veggie pizza, spaghetti with marinara sauce, veggie burgers, etc.) Alternatively, you could eat veg while cooking at home, but continue eating non-veg meals while out at restaurants.

The bottom line is this: no matter how small of a step you take towards vegetarianism, you're taking a huge step towards better health for you, the animals, and our environment.

Need some encouragement? Try these articles on for size...

Your Health

"I don't understand why asking people to eat a well-balanced vegetarian diet is considered drastic, while it is medically conservative to cut people open."
-Dr. Dean Ornish

The Animals

"You have just dined, and however scrupulously the slaughterhouse is concealed in the graceful distance of miles, there is complicity."
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

Our Environment

"Refusing meat is the single most effective thing you can do to reduce your carbon footprint."
-David de Rothschild, Live Earth
A Parting Thought:

"At the moment our human world is based on the suffering
and destruction of millions of non-humans. To perceive this and to do something to change it in personal and public ways is to undergo a change of perception akin to a religious conversion. Nothing can ever be seen in quite the same way again because once you have admitted the terror and pain of other species you will, unless you resist conversion, be always aware of the endless permutations of suffering that support our society."
-Arthur Conan Doyle

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Veg Restaurant Guides

Veggie Terrain Restaurant Guides:
  • VT's "Veggie Eats" in Portland, Oregon: click here and here
  • JD's Yelp page, which includes veg-friendly restaurant reviews
Other Veg Restaurant Resources:

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Vegan + Vegetarian Resources

Vegan Food Pyramid courtesy of www.veganfoodpyramid.com

Veggie Terrain Guides:
Cookbooks, Podcasts, & More:
Additional Cooking, Shopping, & Nutritional Guides:

Vegetarian Food for Thought

I truly can't say enough great things about the vegetarian podcast that I've been (religiously) listening to for the past year or so...

It's called "Vegetarian Food for Thought," and it's geared towards vegetarians and vegans - old and new, alike. It's hosted by the affable Colleen Patrick-Goudreau, who is really well-versed in a wide variety of veg-related issues. Aside from hosting the podcast, Colleen also teaches vegetarian cooking and nutrition classes, which adds even more credibility to her comments and suggestions.

So, I like this podcast for several reasons. Chiefly, however, I love it because of the wealth of information that I take away from each episode. Even though I consider myself to be a pretty well-informed vegetarian, I always learn something new or gain a deeper understanding of a topic that I thought I was already an expert in - which is a great and humbling feeling.

As for the subject-matter of the podcast, it covers everything from how to address social/dining situations in which you're the only vegetarian, to the health implications of consuming animal products. It also deals with topics such as: vegetarian pets; being a "joyful vegan;" responding to questions about your veg lifestyle; and getting proper vitamins and nutrients from your diet.

The practical advice and sort of "camaraderie" that I feel while listening to each episode is really great. It's especially refreshing to feel validated in my choice to be a vegetarian, and to be reminded that I'm not the only one who has that occasional "caught off-guard" or "confused" feeling when someone I barely know reacts negatively toward that choice. Likewise, I really appreciate the fact that the podcast has given me the knowledge and encouragement to continue inching toward veganism...

Overall, "Vegetarian Food for Thought" is a great companion for anyone who is thinking about becoming a vegetarian, wants to transition to veganism, or is just plain curious about how to live a healthier lifestyle. It's also a fantastic resource for the parents/significant others of vegetarians/vegans as well.

FYI: You can find this podcast through the link below, or through Apple iTunes. The best part is that it's free to listen, download, and subscribe.

Listen here.


You might also these links helpful:

Chickpeas with Potatoes + Tomatoes

Wow. Seriously, wow. This is the first recipe that I've made from my new Deborah Madison Cookbook, and if they're all this good, I'm in big, BIG trouble.

This beautiful dish is deceptively delicious, especially considering how few ingredients it has. I had a feeling that I'd like it, specifically because it contains two of my favorite ingredients: chickpeas and potatoes. 

However, I had no idea I'd love it so much that I'd eat it twice in one day!

Friday, September 21, 2007

Fruit Blast Smoothie

My love for smoothies began ages ago, long before shops like Jamba Juice were seemingly popping up everywhere. However, I always had a tough time drinking them because my teeth just didn't agree with their achingly cold temperature.
Luckily though, several years and a few root canals later, I can finally enjoy a smoothie with the best of 'em.

Following is my super-healthy, breakfast smoothie recipe. Please be sure to use frozen fruit without any added sugar/syrup when you make it - the fruit is definitely sweet enough on its own. Also, I like to include "nutritional add-ons" like flax seeds (for the Omega 3s), psyllium husks (for extra fiber), and soy protein powder (for an added boost), but you don't have to, of course. I've marked the optional add-ons with an asterisk, in case you want to keep things simple. This smoothie tastes great either way!

Recipe: Fruit Blast Smoothie
(printer-friendly version)
(makes 2 gigantic servings)

10 frozen strawberries
12 frozen cherries
1 cup frozen raspberries
1 cup frozen blueberries
1 ripe banana (broken into 3 pieces)
1/2 cup quick-cooking oatmeal (non-cooked)
1 Tbsp. ground flax seeds*
1 scoop vanilla-flavored soy protein powder*
1 tsp. psyllium husks*
1 3/4 cups vanilla soy milk

1.) First, place all of the frozen ingredients in the blender, followed by the banana, oatmeal, add-ons (if using), & soy milk.
2.) Press the smoothie/blend button on your blender, & allow the frozen ingredients to break down & mix with the rest of the ingredients.
3.) Remove the top from the blender periodically, & use a spatula to scrape the ingredients down the sides.
4.) Continue blending until the mixture is as smooth as you'd like. Add additional soy milk, if needed.

Tip: Allow frozen fruit to sit at room temperature for a few mins before starting, which helps the smoothie blend more quickly.
vegan fruit smoothie

Monday, September 17, 2007

Lentil + Veggie Bowl

This is a meal that I like to throw together when I'm completely ravenous and don't feel like doing a lot of work. It's quick, healthy, and filling - which is definitely a convenient combination.

The base for this dish is 1/2 bag of Trader Joe's "Potato Medley," which contains frozen potatoes, carrots, tomatoes, onions, broccoli, snow peas, and red peppers. I cook it per the directions on the bag (sautéed in a pan with some olive oil for about 10 mins), and add some frozen corn and steamed brown lentils while the whole meal cooks. I also throw in some garlic, cumin, and a splash of vegetable broth for extra flavor.

The Lentil + Veggie Bowl is best served over brown rice, but is equally as good on its own, or as a side dish.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

C's Fruit-Fest

This delicious, healthy breakfast was invented by my lovably cheap boyfriend, CH.

When you live with just one other person, who also happens to love food as much as you do, the inevitable line in the sand is typically drawn over perishable food. I'm one of those people who won't even blink at food that's considering becoming moldy (see: things I despise). My bf, on the other hand, will eat questionable fruits, veggies, and cheeses without even thinking twice (read: stinky moldy cheese; black bananas).

As such, CH put this breakfast together simply to prevent my bi-monthly raid through the refrigerator for "food gone bad." The nicest thing is that when CH makes this breakfast for me, he gives me all of the "good" berries, and saves the "iffy" ones for himself. Love that.

Recipe: C's Fruit-Fest
(printer-friendly version)
(serves one)

1 banana
8 strawberries
1 handful raspberries
1 handful blueberries
1 tsp. flax seeds
1/2 cup vanilla soy milk

1.) Slice the banana into rounds, dropping them into a bowl as you go along.
2.) Rinse the strawberries, slice off the tops, & cut into halves & then quarters. Add these to the bowl of bananas.
3.) Rinse the raspberries & blueberries. Continue adding the berries to the bowl.
4.) Pour the soy milk over the fruit, add more/less, depending upon your preference.
5.) Sprinkle the flax seeds on top of the dish.
6.) Serve with a spoon, & enjoy!

Tip: Wait to rinse the berries until right before serving, as they will turn mushy if you complete this step ahead of time. Also, feel free to vary the types/amounts of berries that you use. Surprisingly, the bananas are actually what make this such a decadent breakfast!
breakfast fruit bowl

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Scrumptious Vegetarian Chili

I'm completely aware that there're some people who don't appreciate a big bowl of chili during the summer. "It's really a cold weather food," they argue, "why would you want something hot when it's already so damn hot outside?" These are typically the same people who refuse to eat cold pizza for breakfast and eschew having pancakes for dinner.

In fact, a family member of mine used to scowl at anyone who dared to drink a glass of orange juice after 10am. She thought it was a Cardinal Sin to consume "breakfast items" at an "inappropriate time" of day.


Friday, September 07, 2007

Iced Vanilla Black Tea

Sometimes, when I'm craving a $$ drink from the 'Bucks, my frugal side actually gets the best of me. The evidence of that fact is my "Iced Vanilla Black Tea."

This simple drink is made with only 3 ingredients, and takes about 2 minutes to make (if you already have iced tea on hand). The measurements are based on whatever sized glass you decide to use. I suppose it would've been easier to suggest using a 3 to 1 ration of tea to soy milk, but fractions just look so much more professional...

Recipe: Iced Vanilla Black Tea
(serves one)

3/4 glass iced black tea
1/4 glass vanilla soy milk
2 splashes vanilla-flavored syrup*
5 or so cubes of ice

1.) Pour tea, soy milk, & vanilla syrup into a glass.
2.) Add ice, stir, & enjoy!

*Variation: You can use any kind of flavored syrup that you like - or just stick with plain old sugar.

Cream Cheese + Veggie Sandwich

This was inspired by a tasty sandwich that I had nearly 10 years ago in a busy, little, independent sandwich shop. It's pretty quick to throw together and doesn't involve a lot of prep work, which is nice. Plus, the sunflower seeds add an interesting layer of texture and an unexpected, but delicious, bit of crunch.

Recipe: Cream Cheese + Veggie Sandwich
(serves one)

2 slices bread
Cream cheese or Toufutti Better Than Cream Cheese
Cucumber, thinly sliced
Tomato, sliced
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
Mixed lettuce
Alfalfa sprouts
Sunflower seeds, small handful

1.) Spread a generous layer of cream cheese on each slice
of bread.
2.) Place the cucumber slices on the bottom slice of bread, followed by the lettuce, tomato, red onion, and sprouts.
3.) Sprinkle the sunflower seeds on top of the cream cheese on the other slice of bread.
4.) Close the sandwich, & viola, you're done!

*Optional: sprinkle some fresh herbs, like dill, on top of the cream cheese; you may also toast the bread, if you wish

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Potato + Black Bean Hash

Ah, here's one of those "I-can't decide-what-I-want-for-breakfast" kinda meals. Unfortunately, since I made it up as I went along, I don't really have a specific recipe (with cooking time/spice amounts) to post. However, I'd definitely suggest playing around with the following ingredients and adding whatever spices you happen to be digging right now.

Ingredients: Potato + Black Bean Hash

1/2 Yukon Gold potato, thinly sliced
1/2 can black beans, rinsed & drained
1/3 red onion, diced
1/2 green pepper, seeded & diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 jalapeño pepper, minced
ground cumin (to taste)
chili powder (to taste)
salt & freshly ground pepper
1-1 1/2 Tbsp. olive oil (for cooking)
fresh parsley, roughly chopped (for garnish)
organic ketchup (as a condiment)

Pasta + Marinara

Believe it or not, despite being a HUGE pasta lover, this was my first attempt at making completely home-made marinara sauce. As such, I'm going to wait to post a recipe until I perfect it a little more.

However, I will share the fact that I found an awesome new type of pasta, which I used in this dish. Although it looks a lot like spaghetti, it's actually called Bucatini. It has small ridges on the outside of it and is hollow in the middle. It's also about the same thickness of spaghetti. Truthfully, it kinda reminds me of a thick version of one of those coffee stirrer straws.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

How, Now, Brown Cow?

Even if you're not a vegan, you might still be interested in replacing some of the dairy products in your diet with healthier, non-animal based alternatives. If you're leaning toward veganism, want to avoid contributing to the dairy industry, or have simply run out of an ingredient that you'd normally use in a recipe, help is on the way!

Note: Most of these products can be found at grocery stores such as Trader Joe's or Whole Foods. Likewise, many health food stores and some of the major grocery chains carry them as well.

Milk Substitutes:
Because milk provides flavor, moisture, and thickness in cooking, it's usually not a good idea to use water in its place. Fortunately, to that end, a huge variety of plant- and nut-based milks are widely available on the market.
  • Soy Milk:
    • Soy milk is probably one of the most commonly used alternatives to cow's milk (hereinafter, "c.m."). It comes in a variety of flavors (unsweetened/plain, chocolate, vanilla, low-fat, etc.), and can be used in virtually any recipe as a direct c.m. substitute.
    • Organic WestSoy and TJ's brand are my favorites because they're inexpensive and are available non-refrigerated. Soy milk that hasn't been refrigerated doesn't have to be kept cold until after it's opened, so it can be stored in the cupboard for months without taking up valuable real estate in your fridge. After it's opened, soy milk has a shelf-life of about 10 days.
  • Other Non-Dairy Alternatives:
  • Almond Milk (Almond Breeze), Oat Milk, Rice Milk (Rice Dream), and Hemp Milk:
    • These types of milk tend to be different in texture and thickness than the more typical soy milk, although they can also be used as a direct replacement for c.m. 
    • Due to those differences, however, it's best to become familiar with the flavor of each milk before using it in a recipe. Out of the four kinds, rice milk is probably the most adaptable, although almond milk is becomming widely popular.
  • Buttermilk:
    • Instead of using c.m.-based buttermilk, you can easily make your own.
    • Start with 1 cup of soy or rice milk, & stir in 1 Tbsp. of lemon juice or white vinegar.
    • Allow the mixture to sit for 10 mins.
  • Cream:
    • Silk makes a great substitute for cream (Silk Creamer), which comes in several flavors. It can be used in recipes that call for cream, or in place of creamer in coffee. Soy milk (or another c.m. alternative) also works well as an alternative to dairy-based coffee creamers.
Other Dairy-Based Alternatives:
  • Butter:
    • Earth Balance  is a great, easy-to-find brand of vegan "butter," which comes in spreadable tub form, or as sticks for baking. It can be used as a direct substitute for c.m. butter in baking and cooking, and as a spread/topping for things like toast or baked potatoes.
  • Butter Substitutes For Use in Baking Only:
    • Applesauce:
      • Simply use the same amount as you would for butter, by replacing up to 3/4 of the butter with applesauce. Replace the rest of the butter with a vegan butter substitute (see previous listing).
      • Note: applesauce should only be used when baking "sweet" goods
    • Canola Oil:
      • In your recipe, use 1/3 cup of oil in place of one stick (1/2 cup) of butter.
    • Yogurt:
      • Soy yogurt is a fantastic alternative for dairy-based yogurt, and it is made by several companies. Some popular brands are: Silk, Stonyfield Farms O'Soy, Trader Joe's brand, and WholeSoy & Co.

  • Mayonnaise:
    • Two great brands of vegan mayo are Follow Your Heart Veganaise (I prefer the "original" flavor) and  Nayonaise. They can be used as a direct substitute for mayonnaise in any recipe.
  • Sour Cream:
    • Plain soy yogurt can be used in place of sour cream, or non-dairy sour cream products such as Tofutti Sour Supreme can be used instead.
  • Cream Cheese:
  • Cheese:
    • There are tons of non-c.m. based cheeses on the market, which are typically made of soy, rice, or nuts. Be careful though, because several soy cheeses contain animal-derived casein, making them unvegan-friendly. Note, also, that the complaints about vegan cheese substitutes (the taste, texture, lack of melt-ability, etc.) are numerous. Accordingly, this is one of those products that requires a bit of patience, and some trial and error.
  • Daiya is the current darling of the vegan cheese world. It comes shredded and in wedge form, and its claim to fame its superior melt-ability, particularly when it comes to making pizza and macaroni and cheese.  (edit added 4.24.12

  • Nutritional Yeast:
    • Nutritional yeast is yellowish in color and is sold in a granulated/powder-like form (which appears similar to cornmeal) or in a flaky form. It's very high in vitamin B-12, and although some might call it an acquired taste, once you've learned to appreciate it, nutritional yeast can be a vegan's best friend.  It's often used in place of parmesan cheese, or in any recipe that calls for a savory, cheesy taste.  Bonus tip: it also tastes great sprinkled over popcorn!

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Eggs? Not for This Chick.

Eggs often play a structural role in cooking and baking. They act as a leavening agent, are used to add volume, and are added to help bind ingredients together. Accordingly, the type of dish that you're preparing will often determine what type of egg substitute (if any) is appropriate to use.

As such, working with egg-substitutes sometimes seems like an even bigger challenge than replacing the dairy products in one's diet. However, with a little creativity and some practice, you'll quickly find that it's easy to enjoy healthy and delicious egg-free baking and cooking!

Note: Most of these products can be found at your local grocery store. They can also be found at stores like Trader Joe's and Whole Foods, and might even be sitting in your kitchen right now!

Egg-Free Baking:

Not surprisingly, most people instinctively associate eggs with baked goods. And since those of us who like baking typically love to share the fruits of our labor, it's common for egg-laden foods to take center-stage at holidays and other celebrations.

(For example, eggs often pop up in birthday/wedding cakes, holiday cupcakes, bake-sale cookies, and Thanksgiving rolls.)

This means that baking without eggs often presents a great opportunity to expose others to delicious vegan (or simply egg-free) goods. Since people are generally willing to try all types of desserts, those who might not give other vegan dishes a chance are likely to taste (and find that they enjoy!) vegan sweets.

Substitutions for Baking with Eggs:
  • The following substitutions will replace one whole egg -
    • Mix 1 1/2 tsp of Ener-G Egg Replacer with 2 Tbs of warm water; use as a direct substitute in baking. Ener-G works for all types of baked goods. It is powdery in texture, and white in color.
      • Tip: An easy way to prepare Ener-G is to place the egg substitute in a small dish, add the water, and then whisk both ingredients with a fork until they become frothy.  

    • 2 Tbsp of cornstarch beaten with 2 Tbsp of water
      • This mixture is similar to Ener-G, and is equally as versatile.
    • 1 Tbsp ground flaxseeds, whipped with 1/4 cup of water
      • Again, this works similarly to Ener-G (and the cornstarch mixture), it also gives a healthy boost of Omega 3s to whatever you're making!
    • 1 tsp baking powder, 1/2 tsp baking soda, 2 Tbsp flour, and 3 Tbsp water, whisked together
      • This mixture is convenient to use because it consists of things that people probably already have in their cupboards.
    • 1/4 cup of applesauce or pureed prunes
      • 1/2 tsp of baking powder may also be added to maintain the "lightness" of your finished recipe
    • Applesauce and prunes work well in cakes, brownies, and muffins.
      • Note: fruit-based substitutions might add a bit of flavor to your recipe, so don't forget to consider that when using them.

    • 1/2 of a small, ripe, mashed banana
    • Bananas work well in cookies, muffins, pancakes, and quick breads. They are also good for "browning" purposes.
    • 1/4 cup plain soy yogurt
      • Yogurt works well in cakes, muffins, and quick breads.
Egg-free Cooking:

Recipes often include eggs because they require an ingredient that acts as a binder, in order to keep other ingredients in the dish together. Some examples of these types of foods are: burger patties; casseroles; "meat" balls; and veggie loaves.

As a result, the type of egg-substitute that you use should be determined by the type of dish that you're cooking, the amount of "stick" that you need, and the flavor that the replacement product will add to your particular recipe.

(For example, while mashed potatoes work well in burger patties, you might prefer not to use them in "meat" balls, due to the way that the taste/texture interacts with the burgers as opposed to the "meat" balls.)

Substitutions for Cooking with Eggs:
  • Typically, 2 - 3 Tbsp of a single one of the following ingredients will replace one whole egg in a recipe. Keep in mind that just as when working with dairy substitutes, a little experimentation goes a long way toward perfection!
    • Cornstarch
    • Potato starch
    • Oat or bean flour
    • Whole-wheat or unbleached, white flour
    • Breadcrumbs, finely crushed
      • Breadcrumbs work well in most recipes
    • Cooked oatmeal or quick-cooking rolled oats
      • Oatmeal works well in burger patties and "meat" balls
    • Cooked rice
      • Rice works well in burger patties
    • Instant potato flakes
    • Mashed white or sweet potatoes
      • Mashed potatoes work well in veggie loaves and burger patties
    • Tomato paste
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The 800 lb. Gorilla in the Room

"Where do you get your protein from?"
Ah, the great Protein Question. It's a query that's put to all vegetarians/vegans at one time or another. It's a question that's often posited because people honestly want to learn. It's a question that can open people's eyes to a world of incredible food options.
It's also a question that's occasionally asked simply to challenge your authority.

Sensibly, it's a question that you may have even asked, yourself.

That's the thing about vegetarians and vegans - we tend to be a curious lot. Most of us have put a lot of thought into our decisions to forgo the consumption of animals. We've scoured the internet, checked out library books, read stacks of nutritional pamphlets, and devoured the scintilla of veg information made available through alternative sources. We've even learned how to cook (which is fun), how to substitute ingredients (which is healthier), and how to navigate through nutrition labels and restaurant menus alike (which can be tough).

Basically, we've done our homework.

That, however, does not mean that we've finished learning...

New studies supporting diets devoid of meat are being released on a regular basis, and more people are coming together to educate one another about the benefits of becoming compassionate consumers. Moreover, what we've known for quite a long time is that fruit and vegetable-based diets innately provide the proper tools for complete and balanced nutrition.

Oh, and we also know that vegetarian/vegan diets contain just the right amount of that "protein stuff," too.
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An Introduction + Some FAQs


My name is JD, and I'd like to welcome you to Veggie Terrain, a vegetarian + mostly vegan blog that chronicles my adventures (and misadventures) in veg cookery!

I'm a young attorney who's passionate about food, living "green," and inspiring others to explore their own cruelty-free lifestyles. I'm currently living near Chicago in Brooklyn, NYC, where I share an apartment with my amazing boyfriend, CH.

Veggie Terrain represents my attempt at creating a veg-based food blog that's accessible to, and useful for, veggie and non-veggie readers, alike. As a result, I've packed it with tons of tasty recipes, mouth-watering food pictures, helpful cooking hints and tips, and a variety of in-depth culinary articles.

My genuine hope is that you'll enjoy reading Veggie Terrain as much as I've continued to enjoy publishing it...

Please feel free to ask questions/contact me by leaving a comment (which is always appreciated!) or simply by dropping me an email. I can be reached at: veggieterrain [AT] gmail [DOT] com.

Thanks for visiting my blog!



So, how long have you been a vegetarian? Or are you a vegan?
Actually, I've disliked & avoided eating meat for most of my life, & have been leaning towards vegetarianism since I was really young. However, it wasn't until 10 years ago that I made the switch from limiting the amount/type of meat that I ate, to eliminating it from my diet altogether.

Also, while I don't use eggs or cow's milk, I do occassionally eat cheese & am not 100% strict about egg or milk ingredients when purchasing packaged food. So, although I'm not quite vegan yet, I'm proudly getting there.

Update: I officially went vegan in March 2009, & have never felt better!
Alright, so why did you want to start this blog?
Truthfully, I wanted to start this blog because I was tired of feeling like a lonely vegetarian. Although I've discovered tons of fantastic veg-related sites over the years, sometimes simply reading the words on a web page didn't quite give me what I was looking for. Sometimes I just felt a need to talk to other people about the great recipes that they made, or their favorite veg restaurants, or the completely ridiculous "protein/calcium" questions that they inevitably fielded. Sometimes I just wanted to touch base with like-minded people; people who were as passionate about food & living a compassionate lifestyle as I am.

Thus, my very own food blog, Veggie Terrain, was born.
Do you have a few favorite and least favorite cooking ingredients?
Well, I definitely have to give a gigantic "no thanks" to saffron, chipotle peppers, mushrooms, eggplant, & most "mock" meat products. However, my favorite ingredients are cumin, garlic, avocados, beans (especially black beans & chickpeas), edamame (which is also a bean!), & pasta.
What about cooking habits or rituals? Do you have any of those?
Hmmm... Well, I have a Williams-Sonoma pink and white striped apron that I like to wear, & I love listening to music while I'm cooking (lately I've been on an old school Pearl Jam kick). I also have a specific knife that I love using. It fits in my hand comfortably & is just the right size. Oh, & the fact that the handle is red (instead of plain old black) is pretty cool, too.

Other than that, I always try to do as much prep-work as possible before I even begin cooking, & to organize my ingredients according to when they'll be needed during cooking. This technique is referred to as "mise en place" in French, and it's extremely helpful. Being able to quickly grab a small bowl of pre-measured spices or diced vegetables - instead of interrupting the flow of cooking to peel a bunch of carrots - definitely helps the whole process run much more smoothly.