I’ve been wanting to tackle this subject for quite some time now; it’s a running joke in the vegan community that vegans “taste better.” Funny as it may be, it’s also founded on truth. The healthier you eat, the better you feel, look, taste, and smell. Now mind you that vegan is not synonymous with healthy, but if you’re eating a plant-based diet rich in whole grains, legumes, and veggies, and limiting processed foods and artificial fillers, then you’re on the right track.

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So you’re vegan, and your partner isn’t. Or maybe your an omnivore, or a vegetarian, and your partner is a vegan. Or maybe you’re an everything eater and your partner is gluten-free. Or maybe you’re gluten-free and your partner is allergic to nuts, or soy, or dairy, or…

See where I’m going with this? Sometimes our dietary restrictions (and ethical POVs) just don’t match up with the views of the people we like to spend our time with.

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“I want to be inside you! I promise it will feel good.”

“I would eat that,” said my boyfriend, P, nodding over at my vegan burger. We were seated in a Five Guys, eating parallel meals. On our way to a Justice show at Hammerstein Ballroom, we needed something quick. Half cranky from hunger, half rushed, we couldn’t decide on a place that was both vegan and omni friendly. So I grabbed take out from the Loving Hut and met him across the street at the Five Guys, where he was getting meaty. Loving Hut is a chain, and there is some controversy around it’s whacky Taiwanese founder, so it’s not always my first choice, especially when I’m in a city as abuzz with vegan choices as New York. But whatever, that’s a rant for another day.

Now normally, my guy is more than happy to eat vegan with me. But we had just ran a Tough Mudder (cough, humblebrag) and he wasn’t interested in the Loving Hut. When I pointed to the vegan spot, he was probably thinking raw salads. Despite the fact he has seen me scarf down five slices of vegan pizza in one sitting, he opted out because he “wanted something filling.”

Something filling? How is my “crispy burger”—piled with homemade pickles, avocado, lettuce and tomato on a wheat bun—not filling?

What he had meant was something heavy. Something greasy. Although we were eating similar meals, you could see the difference before you even opened the brown take-out bags. His was absolutely spotty with grease. Mine was shine-free. Even though it was pan fried, it was not overly greasy, and served up with a nice green salad, I knew it would leave me feeling full but still energetic—critical, as we were on our way to a freakin’ electronic show, and who wants to be gassy and bloated while they fist pump? I pointed this out, and it got us on the subject of eating for energy.

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Thanks PETA!

So you may have noticed vegan athletes are all up in the news lately, with the Olympics going on.

Vegan Olympians have always been kicking ass. Nine-time Olympic gold medalist Carl Lewis who was munching tofu and killing it on the track when I was running around in diapers. He was often noted saying his vegan diet undoubtably helped his performance.

I did a Tough Mudder earlier this year. I look way more bad ass here than I actually am.

Many people don’t understand how athletes burning hundreds of calories a day and on extremely intense training schedules can get the nutrients they need on a vegan diet. But considering that Olympians have to put all of their faith in their bodies and the way they perform, then the fact that they are choosing veganism should be a testament to how incredible a plant based diet can be when done right.

I’m not an athlete, as I’m about as coordinated as baby giraffe who just lost a game of dizzy bats, but I am a fitness junkie. So keeping my body primed for long runs is important, and as a result, I keep my eye on some vegan beasts.

Here are some of today’s trending vegan athletes, in and out of the Olympics.

Venus Williams

Earlier today, this botanical bad ass began her bid for a record fourth gold medal in Olympic tennis by beating Sara Errani of Italy, 6-3, 6-1.This super star eats not only vegan, but raw vegan! She picked up the diet to battle Sjogren’s Syndrome, an autoimmune disease. She is super fierce and gives me major ass envy Phew! Check out an interview with her personal chef, Lauren Von Der Pool, over at iEatGrass.com. 
Scott Jurek


You guys, Scott Jurek once ran 6.5 marathons IN.ONE.DAY. Plant-based power to the max. He also has a new book, Eat & Run, about his ultramarathon madness and veganism. He is currently the American record holder in 24-hour runs.

Tim Bradley

Holy abs!

In June, this botanical boxer won the welterweight championship. He has an incredible 29-0 record. Seriously…this guy is a freakin’ rhino. I DARE someone to ask him where he gets his protein.

So, any vegan athletes you have your eye on? Who is watching the Olympics?

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This weekend I headed down to Foodswings, Williamsburg’s own vegan comfort food joint. I had been trying to corral my boyfriend into going here with me since before he was my boyfriend, so it had been a long time coming. Although I was able to sample their “chicken” at the Seed Expo a few weeks back, I wanted the entire diner experience. What do I mean? I wanted a burger and a shake, dammit.

Foodswings is not health food, and it doesn’t try to pretend it’s health food. When you think “comfort food,” do you conjure up a raw crudite platter? No. You think creamy, fatty, tastes so good “junk” food. I met a very nice Brooklyn-based vegan couple a few weeks ago, when they came to stay at my mom’s farm. I asked them if they liked Foodswings, and the woman groaned inward and said she thought it was awful. Why? “It’s junk food!” she said. Mmmm. All the better to eat you with, my dear!

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Whaddup, vegan dim sum?!

Last weekend I had the pleasure of checking out a semi-new vegan restaurant in Brandford, Conn., called G-Zen. I went with my friend Hannah and met a new friend there, Paul, who I uhm…may or may not have met on the Internet.

Anyway, let me tell you that my dining experience at G-Zen was probably one of the best I have had at any veg restaurant over the past year, and that’s saying a lot because I’ve been visiting some of the well knowns–in just this month I went to NYC’s vegan babies Blossom and Caravan of Dreams. In my opinion—which is the only one that matters right now because this is MY blog—G-Zen blows them both out of the water.

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On our road trip to Sedona, A and I paid a visit to the town’s well-known vegetarian restaurant. What is interesting about ChocolaTree (pronounced Chuh-cola-tree) is that it is 99 percent vegan (some of their sweets have honey) and mostly raw, yet they don’t announce that—probably to avoid scaring away the tourists. I first heard about the place on XOJane.com, because the cousin of an XOJane writer, Liz Armstrong, founded the place. Liz writes about new agey stuff on XOJane, and the place is pretty new agey—crystals galore, a magical herb garden and patio out back, and the heavenly scent of chocolate all up in your nostrils sending gasmy thoughts all throughout your body. Or at least, that’s what happens when I smell chocolate…

The place makes everything right on site, and they have delicious house-made packaged foods for sale, like dehydrated kale chips…they taste a lot better than they sound, scout’s honor.

A and I split their sampler for two and the Viva Burrito. The sampler had the best raw hummus I have ever tasted, guac, “Nori Nachos” and these amazing chia crackers—all house made, all raw, all coregasmy. We asked for hot sauce because we’re total spice lushes, and their house made hot sauce is probably the best thing I have ever put in my mouth. (Shhh, don’t tell my boyfriend.)

The raw Viva Burrito—stuffed with cabbage, red peppers and tomatoes–had this delicious home-made creamy vegan cheese, but unfortunately there was only a smidge of it inside and as a result A and I were fork-fighting over it like some hungry crows.

But the best part of course was dessert. We eye-f*cked the plates of the women next to us before quizzing them on what the best selection was, so that we could better prepare ourselves. Remember that my mother is a pastry chef and makes the best vegan cakes, so I can be a bit snobby about my sweets. However, they did not let us down.

We ordered a slice of creamy pumpkin pie, with a texture of cheese cake and a crust made of coconut. Upon my first bite, I spurted “THECRUSTISCOCONUTTHECRUSTISCOCONUT” to A, to prepare her…we are both coconut fiends. It was phenomenally subtle, not over-the-top cinnamon-y the way some pumpkin treats can be. And the sweetness wasn’t overwhelming, allowing you to really taste the earthy pumpkin goodness. Bangerang, ChocolaTree.

We also shared some of the best vegan chocolate ganache I have ever had. It was decadent and creamy, intensely bitter, not too sweet, melt in your mouth and left me tonguing my fork like it was going to buy me dinner.

Oh girllll, that's not frosting...

I really loved this place, from the warm inviting atmosphere, to the friendly staff–a pleasant man with a hipster mustachio served us–to the blow-your-brains-out food. For me, raw food can be either bland or intense, but ChocolaTree, you make raw look good. Thanks for getting in me!

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I like to rant about health here on SexyTofu, and one huge health issue in the US is obesity. The typical American diet is high in caloric, cholesterol laden animal products and low in veggies, legumes and high-fiber whole (whole! NON processed) grains. Some have even linked eating  meat to obesity. Obviously there are many thin meat-eaters, and overweight veg-heads, but someone who consumes a high-fiber, nutrient rich diet low in cholesterol–like a vegan diet–is less likely to be obese. Ahh, the word diet. I have a particular issue with this word, or at least the way we view it. It really only means the way in which we eat; unfortunately the mainstream now finds it synonymous with weird restrictive or trendy eating habits. When someone says they are on a diet, it usually means they are following some zany eating plan. So many of us are removed from where our food comes from, and what it does to our body. We categorize foods as “good” (salad, fruit) and “bad” (carbs, sweets, fats). We think solely in terms of calories instead of nutrients. We may watch what we eat to stay thin, but that doesn’t mean we are eating things to nourish our bodies. In college I had a room-mate who ate nothing but pickles and crudités dipped in fat-free ranch dressing because they were low in calories. While she was at a healthy weight, she couldn’t possibly be getting enough nutrient.

If we don’t change out eating habits and our relationship with food, our future looks bleak. I would love to see my grand-children living in a world where they understand exactly where their food came from, BEFORE it made its way to the grocery store. I would love for them to be taught from an early age about the way the food is broken down in the body, and can therefore provide their bodies with what they need for longevity and optimum performance.
However, I worry this will not be the case. Enjoy this startling infographic that tells us tough-love style what the future of our country will look like if we continue on at this rate. It’s not pretty–see the above photo of the futuristic humans frm WallE. Chew on this.

Medical Coding Career Guide
Created by: MedicalCodingCareerGuide.com

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The vegan male has been trending recently. The March/April issue of VegNews is called “The Man Issue,” and the cover is a spin off on Esquire. In fact, the Editor’s Note of the issue is a love letter to the man’s magazine, in which editor Elizabeth Castoria begins by confessing her adoration: “From the rugged jawlines of your studly cover subjects to the whimsy with which you banter, you get so much right.” Castoria then goes on to say the one thing that she doesn’t think Eqsquire gets right—and it’s a pretty big one. Castoria writes “I don’t think you know what a man is.”

The idea of what makes a man is changing, and the newest issue of VegNews is dedicated to just that: the new man. It explores the emphasis our society has always put on meat, and its role in manliness! No more!

In the issue, Joshua Katcher, the founder of the Discerning Brute (who I had the pleasure to meet at the Wildflower Super Bowl party this year!) writes a terrific feature about the stereotypes of men and how they are changing. The feature, located on page 42, is called the evolution of man and discusses how compassionate, inspiring and strong vegan men are redefining our cultural ideals about how a man should look, think and act.

The article also mentions the way society markets meat to men. Examples include the 2011 Wendy’s commercial: “Real Bacon. Only for Real Men.” Or how about the Weight Watcher’s ad geared towards men which reads “Eat like a man. Not Like a Rabbit.” Katcher makes the terrific point that no men would be upset by saying he does it like a rabbit, but “eating a diet that supports that same bountiful virility is the subject of scorn.” Right on, Katcher! I smell what you’re stepping in, and it smells damn good.

There has been a sexy stir in the media following PETA’s violent sexual campaign about how vegan men are better lovers, and a blog post by Jason Mraz stating veganism has helped his sex life. Plus all of the manly male celebs going vegan can’t hurt the cause.

Russell Brand. Even if he does wear more makeup than I do...

 

Joaquin Phoenix!

 

Woody Harrelson is man enough to wear purple

My fav furry funny-man, Robin Williams

But it isn’t just sex or fame that’s selling veganism to men. In 2010, Men’s Journal published “The Rise of the Power Vegans,” which showed powerful, influential men in our society who are choosing to ditch meat and dairy for moral, ethical and health reasons. Bill Clinton, anybody?

And of course, we can’t ignore the athletes. The idea of meat-free men as scrawny, pale, waifish guys growing their own wheat grass and wearing  hemp button-downs is quickly displaced when you take a look at some of today’s most impressive vegan athletes.

Ultraman racer Rich Roll

John Lewis, aka the Bad Ass Vegan

This issue got me thinking about what exactly I think a man is, or what a man should be. I don’t think a man can be made by what he does or doesn’t eat and I don’t think a man needs to be vegan to be a man; to get rid of one (meaty) stereotype just to replace it with another wouldn’t be good. But I do think that there are values an ideal man should possess, and these values also happen to be present in many  vegan men. Here is what I have come up with:

A man is…

Confident: He knows who he is and what he wants.

Hard working: He is ambitious. Don’t you remember that ‘98 hit, “Can I Get A” by Jay Z featuring Amil? “Ambition makes me so horny…”

Strong: Here I am talking about what I like to call soft strength; a strength in character and morals, not chest-banging muscle strength. A man with soft strength stands by his beliefs, and hopefully those beliefs are good ones.

Caring: Toward loved ones and the world around him. He is connected and involved in things outside of himself, but at the same time, he takes care of his own needs.
Emotional: Men are people, and people have feelings. To me, a man feels comfortable talking about their feelings. It doesn’t need to happen ad nauseum, but it does need to happen.

There are many different types of men. But I do think that many vegans (both male and female) choose the lifestyle because they are compassionate and in touch with the world outside of themselves. They can think beyond how good a steak might taste and how their dietary choices will affect the world around them.

Their morals and character are strong, they are caring and they aren’t afraid to show it. Unfortunately, this does not include all vegans. I have met some pretty self-centered, arrogant and elitist vegans. And, again, I am not saying that meat eating men can’t be the above (my boyfriend eats meat, remember?).  But I am happy to see the stereotype that “real men” eat meat is dissolving, and I am excited to see more vegan men sprouting up. Well done, VegNews!

Have you read the VegNews man issue? Who is your fav vegan guy? What is a man, to you? I would love both male and female takes on this.

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