Is It Vegan?


If I had $1 for every time I asked this question, I would be a rich, rich lady! Thankfully, so many companies are catching on and adding plant-based items to their list of available products! But how do you make sure?

Read Your Labels!

When I first started out, I would carry around a little cheat sheet with me:


The star beside vitamin D3 is because sometimes vitamin D3 CAN be derived from plants, however most of the time it is from animals. Most companies will let you know if it is derived from plants, otherwise assume it is an animal product. Now here is the difficulty...this list is always changing. Companies are constantly coming up with new names for animal derived products...and it drives me nuts! Red #5 is another one to add to this list, and there are definitely more, these are just the ones I had a hard time remembering all the time. For a more exhaustive list and a description of what each item is, check out this resource from PETA

Use Available Resources!

There is literally an app called "Is It Vegan?" - I don't use this much anymore, but I used to use it a lot to double check myself. Check it out here for your IPhone and here for Android.

PETA also has a great resource on their website to help you find cruelty free companies and products!

Stick with Fresh Ingredients!



When possible, cook with whole, unprocessed foods. I know we all are busy and oftentimes do not have the ability to spend a lot of time cooking or prepping...I get it! However, the easiest way to ensure you are not eating animal products is to cook everything yourself and not rely on companies to process your foods in a healthy or humane way. The best example I can think of is packaged guacamole - you'd think it was full of avocado, onion, lime juice, tomatoes, right? Wrong! Some companies add milk to their guacamole..WHY? Why? Make things yourself when you can!

Be Patient with Yourself

If you discover that maybe a product you have bought 100 times just changed ingredients, or maybe you forgot to read a label, know that it is okay! We all make mistakes! Just the other day I went to Olive Garden (for some reason my family loves it...I personally think anyone could cook pasta better but, to each their own!) and did a great job making sure they brought me butter-free bread sticks and gluten free vegan pasta with plane tomato sauce (ick), BUT I asked for fat free dressing with my salad. Normally I ask for oil and vinegar to be safe, but I wasn't thinking and totally forgot that they put eggs AND milk in their "Italian" salad dressing...COME...ON..PEOPLE! So I ate it, noticed I was feeling a little off and double checked the ingredients and sure enough, the salad dressing was the culprit. Instead of beating myself up about it, I noted it in my brain and took a probiotic when I got home and called it a day.  Sadly it is nearly impossible to live a truly 100% vegan lifestyle and we just have to forgive ourselves and try to do better next time. 


Must Have's in the Kitchen

Basic Groceries


  • Lettuce / kale / spring greens / arugula
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Red and orange pepper
  • Bananas
  • Jalapenos
  • Green onions
  • Yellow onion
  • Zucchini
  • Avocado
  • Potatoes
  • Apples
  • Mangos
  • Peaches
  • Watermelon
  • Carrots
  • Strawberries
  • Blueberries

Everything Else

  • Sour dough bread
  • Tortillas
  • Black beans
  • Tofu
  • Tempeh
  • Trader Joe's Soy Chorizo
  • Almonds
  • Cashews
  • Almond Milk
  • Almond Milk Creamer
  • Vital Wheat Gluten

Spices & Flavorings

  • Trader Joe's Everything Bagel Seasoning
  • Trader Joe's Onion Salt
  • Black Salt
  • Curry
  • Cayenne
  • Garlic Powder
  • Onion Powder
  • Cumin
  • Frank's Red Hot
  • Turmeric
  • Paprika
  • Liquid Smoke
  • Jada's Vegan Chicken Salt
  • Nutritional Yeast

Gadgets / Tools

  • Nutri Bullet
  • Food Processor
  • Food Dehydrator
  • Coffee / Spice Grinder
  • Garlic Mincer
  • Sharp Knives
  • Collander 
  • Mason Jars

Changing Your Lifestyle


I get a lot of questions about how I transitioned to being vegan, and how you should transition to being vegan. The answer is...I am happy to share my story, AND, your story will likely be different. My journey began as a vegetarian and I just stopped eating meat overnight. The first 2 weeks were really difficult, because I, like so many Americans, was so used to eating meat with nearly every meal. I started off buying a lot of veggie burgers, veggie sausage, eggs, and cheese and I stuck to a pretty boring diet. I literally had an egg sandwich everyday for breakfast, and a veggie burger and a salad every night for dinner. I lost a bunch of weight during this time - cutting out fatty meat and exercising regularly goes a long way :) see my About Me page for more. Then I spent about 6 months being vegan and I stopped because I fell into the thought trap that giving up eggs and cheese was just "too hard".  I also got a lot of pressure from friends that this was too inconvenient and not a realistic lifestyle for my job (I travel a lot). I decided I would go back to just being a vegetarian and incorporated cheese and eggs back into my life. Over the course of the next few years, however, I got REALLY good at being a vegetarian. Meaning, I could make any item on a menu vegetarian and I would eat it - didn't matter if it was loaded with cheese or heavy cream, as long as it was vegetarian I didn't mind eating it. You can guess where this is going...

After losing a ton of weight, I gained about 20 of it back, started to feel lethargic everyday, couldn't convince myself to go to the gym regularly, and I was just VERY unhappy with myself. Knowing what I know today, that was because of the animal-product-heavy diet I was consuming. So I decided to jump back on the vegan train! I knew it would be difficult...anyone who regularly consumes cheese is likely addicted to casein, I didn't know what I would make for breakfasts without eggs, and when I looked up vegan-friendly restaurants around me my husband and I both panicked (we go out to eat several times a week).  

So how did I do it? Similarly to how I transitioned to being a vegetarian, I bought a lot of substitutes, but this time I got creative! I dove in deep, teaching myself how to make vegan cheeses, I tried a million different ways to make a sweet potato, I spent a ridiculous amount of money at Whole Foods, and I loved (and love!) every second of it! I feel healthy, I have so much energy, my skin looks great, my hair looks great, and I am having fun doing it!

So what would I recommend you do?

  • Be mentally prepared for some push-back from friends and family
  • Remember that soon reading labels will be second nature - it gets easier!
  • Learn how other people do it, and why they do it! There are TONS of great documentaries out there that are really encouraging and show you how truly important this lifestyle is...for your health, for the planet, and for the animals.
  • Read up on non-vegan ingredients that companies tend to sneak into foods
  • Find yummy substitutions!
  • Experiment with new foods
  • Find some vegan foodies and try out their recipes
  • Introduce your family and friends to the food you create
  • Get yourself a B12 vitamin (there is a lot of debate as to whether or not vegans need more...I will just say that this is all I take)
  • Join vegan Facebook groups!
  • Know that you will probably make mistakes, you will probably buy products you are used to and then realize when you get home they have milk or eggs or something else in them...that's okay! It happens to all of us!
  • Ask questions!