Daily Vegan Eats
"How to bulk up without meat?"

Question: “Hey, what’s a good way to bulk up without meat? Vegetarian or vegan options, it doesn’t matter.

Answer: That’s a great question. There’s a huge misconception that vegetarians and vegans are unable to bulk up because they don’t consume meat, and that’s just incorrect. Since this is a vegan blog, I will only provide vegan answers.

Image of Rayshon Manley from veganbodybuilding.com’s Profiles page.

Whether you’re a vegetarian or vegan, bulking up is the same as being an omnivore. Your bulking ingredients: 

1. A proper workout designed to increase muscle size.

2. A proper bulking diet (a shit ton of food).

3. Proper rest (both between gym days and sleep at night).

I don’t know how much you know about bulking workouts, so I’ll leave that out for now. If you want help with it, I’m happy to do so…just ask. 

A proper bulking diet is one where you consume high calories. That’s it. Now, there’s “dirty bulking” and “clean bulking”, which just refer to the types of calories you consume. A good visual example is professional bodybuilder Lee Priest:

He does a dirty bulk, which just causes him to consume a shit ton of calories in any form. Muscle loves calories. Then he does a “cutting cycle” where his goal is to cut fat, so it’s a huge diet change with some change to workouts as well. This does cause a loss of muscle mass, which is why the bulking cycle is so important.

However, if you’re like me, you just want to eat all the things and you don’t want to have to pay for it with a huge fat gain. Folks like me do clean bulking. This is where we eat a lot of food from healthy, natural sources prepared in a healthy way. Dirty bulkers include things like fast food, fried foods and pizza into their diet, while clean bulkers avoid this. We tend towards things that are baked, broiled, boiled or pan-fried with little to no oil (hooray for nonstick cookware). This is not a high protein, low carb diet, but instead a high protein and high carb diet. If you find yourself gaining a significant amount of fat, I would play with the types and amounts of carbohydrates you take in, or cut down your overall calorie count for the day.

Clean or dirty bulking, you’re going to want to eat at least every 2 hours. This isn’t “three moderate meals with three snacks” or “six small meals throughout the day” like you may have heard recommended for people when they’re told to eat often. This is eating several meals throughout the day. Since you’re looking for meat-free, here are some classic tasty meals from my super bulking days (I can’t do them anymore due to my medical issues):

-1 block tofu cooked with onions, broccoli and spinach 

-2 cups of vegan yogurt (no sugar added) + 1 papaya (or 1/2 papaya, 1/2 pineapple)

-2 cups of meatless chili (you can use veggie crumbles in this) + 2 cups steamed vegetables + 1 baked potato (no butter, but pepper, salsa, and vegan sour cream are fine)

-Quesadilla made with Ezekiel wraps (or other sprouted grain tortillas), vegan cheese (I prefer Daiya brand), vegan chik’n, tomatoes, onions + salad + rice and beans

-Homemade falafel (baked) served with homemade vegan tzatziki sauce (find a recipe, it’s stupid easy to make) and/or hummus, cucumber slices, raw spinach and raw tomatoes on pita bread + side of rice cooked with vegetables and some Mediterranean seasoning (I usually opted for something Egyptian)

-16oz non-dairy milk (I prefer hemp milk) + 1-2 cups of cooked oatmeal + 1 sliced banana + 1 tablespoon PB (stirred into hot oatmeal) + drizzle of natural maple syrup (optional)

-Open-face vegetarian BLT with 1 slice of Ezekiel bread (or other sprouted grain bread) and topped with tons of veggies (spinach, tomato, sliced carrots, sprouts, cucumber, minced garlic) and a little mayo for flavor (I prefer Vegenaise by Follow Your Heart brand), topped with several slices of vegan bacon (including homemade vegan bacon from tempeh…so good)

-2 cups homemade potato soup loaded with vegetables (for creamy consistency, puree cooked veggies + potatoes using a blender, or mash together) + 1 slice Ezekiel bread (or other sprouted grain bread) toasted and served with herbed olive oil for dipping + salad

-A large bowl of chopped fruit topped with 1-2 cups vegan yogurt (no sugar added), cinnamon, 1-2 handfuls of crushed nuts, 1-2 handfuls of uncooked oatmeal + 1 teaspoon of chia seeds if you have them

-Double burger (I like Boca brand, or you can get crazy and use one “beef” patty and one chik’n patty) made with plenty of vegetables (sauteed onions and mushrooms, sliced cucumber, sprouts of your choice, broccoli slaw minus the dressing [they sell it in bags at the store], tomatoes) and sliced avocado. You can serve this with two slices of Ezekiel bread (or other sprouted grain bread) or you can cook yourself some home fries in the oven (chop potatoes, season, bake until cooked through)…I don’t like doing both because it bloats me up on all the starch. Serve with a side of salad.

Those are just some ideas to get you started. Yes, I know this sounds like a lot of food and that’s the point. Paired with a proper workout to add mass, you will need this to repair the damage to your muscle tissue and prevent you from feeling too tired/fatigued to workout or do your daily activities. You’re not only fueling your body’s normal processes (which eat through 1600-2500 calories for the average person per day doing things like cell repair and maintaining brain function), but you’re also going above and beyond by demanding your body perform well and repair successfully. It’s not just about the protein content but about a well-rounded diet complete with protein, natural carbohydrates and healthy fats to ensure you’re getting all the nutrients you need. 

In a pinch, yes, you can do something like grab a bag of nuts and a couple fresh fruits from the gas station or convenience store and a jug of non-dairy milk or juice to mix up a protein shake (always carry protein powder with you, have some at work, in your car, in a bag if you carry one). Or you can throw together a quickie peanut butter sandwich using Ezekiel bread (or other sprouted grain bread), 2-3 tablespoons natural peanut butter, sliced bananas (1-2), a dusting of cinnamon and try tossing some tasty sesame seeds on there and have it with a glass of water or non-dairy milk of your choice. It’s not ideal, but it gets the job done. You can do the same thing with scrambled or sliced tofu and veggie bacon and make a sandwich that way (add in some vegetables, though) if that’s more portable for you. Some people prefer sandwiches and that can be fine. 

I hope this helps.

How To Make: Salsa Stir Fry

I had a bunch of leftover odds and ends so I threw this together. 

You’ll Need

-thinly-sliced seitan (or other protein, such as tofu, black beans or other veg*n meat replacement)

-garlic cloves

-broccoli

-bell pepper (diced)

-rice or other grain (I used quinoa I cooked with a 15-grain rice blend in my rice cooker)

-salsa

-water

-other spices (I used coriander, red pepper powder, cracked peppercorns and lemon juice), to taste (optional)

To Do

Step 1: combine seitan (or other protein of your choice), salsa and vegetables in a pot or deep skillet. Add in enough water to just coat the ingredients and simmer on medium low heat until cooked through.

Step 2: add in grains and season to taste. Cook until heated through and serve. 

How To Make: Bibimbap

According to a local rumor, bibimbap was created during the war when food was scarce. The very poor would get a bowl and some rice and wander to homes, asking for scraps of food to donate to the bowl. After finding some, they would mix it and eat it. Bibimbap literally means “mixed rice” and if you like fried rice then you can enjoy this lower-fat version. 

You cannot fuck up bibimbap. You can literally put into it whatever you want, though there are a few “traditional” styles of it depending on what city you visit in Korea. Other than some local versions and the inclusion of rice, there are absolutely no rules to this. Some of the ingredients can be cooked, or they can be served raw, fermented or marinated. It’s up to you. For the picture, here is the recipe. 

You’ll Need

-1 or 2 scoops of cooked rice

-Crumbled tofu (about 1/2 cup), heated through

-1 green onion, sliced

-3 mushrooms, sliced and cooked

-5 cherry tomatoes, chopped

-half a spicy pepper, sliced (optional)

-1 spoonful of gochujang (Korean spicy pepper paste)

-sesame seeds and sesame oil, to taste 

To Do

Step 1: Put all ingredients in a bowl, arranging however you like. 

Step 2: Mix and eat. 

Notes

-Bibimbap can be served hot if you have a stone pot/bowl. I like this version because it makes the rice crispy. If you don’t have a stone pot or bowl, use a nonstick pan/pot on medium-low heat (no oil) and let the rice crisp up at the bottom. Bibimbap served in this style typically has a single egg cracked over it, which cooks up when mixed with the hot rice. Obviously, you want to omit the egg but the hot, crispy rice is definitely awesome!

-Scrambled, cubed or fried tofu makes a great protein here, but so do beans. 

-White rice was used here, but any blend of rice or other grains will also work. Quinoa or oats can also be used. 

-Because it is served cold (with the exception of the version from the first note), bibimbap is a great dish to take with you as a packed lunch. It is a complete meal in a single bowl, with whole grains, vegetables and protein. 

-Some recipes for bibimbap call for sliced roasted seaweed. I personally find this to be delicious, but didn’t have any on-hand. 

For the Vegan Athlete - Creatine

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Behind protein, creatine is the most researched supplement on the market. Despite this research, its proven safety and effectiveness, creatine still has a bad reputation. The purpose of this blog post is to clear up any misconceptions on the product. 

What is Creatine?

Creatine is found in all vertebrates, with 95% being located in the skeletal muscle. Creatine’s role is to help fuel adenosine triphosphate (ATP) for energy in your cells, including your muscles and brain. The synthesis of creatine in the body can be done using L-arginine, glycine, and L-methionine, which come from the diet. In addition to this, creatine is consumed whenever meat is eaten, as creatine is found largely in skeletal muscle. Because of this, vegetarians and vegans have a reduced amount of creatine in their systems [1].

In other words, you need it and you make it in your own body. 

Is Creatine Safe?

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Creatine is not an illegal substance by any means. Contrary to popular belief, creatine is not a steroid, nor is it banned by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) [2]. It is non-addictive and studies repeatedly show the safety of creatine. Among such safety concerns include the debunking of creatine as a facilitator for dehydration [3] or that it causes damage to the liver and kidneys, but it is advised that persons already suffering from kidney or liver illnesses avoid creatine. If you are taking a drug that may harm your kidneys, you should avoid creatine [7]. For a list of those drugs, click here

Isn’t It Just Water Weight?

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Well, yes and no. Creatine does help cells retain water [4]. As an athlete or person interested in fitness, this is a good thing unless you’re trying to make it into a weight class for a competition. The problem is that this myth suggests that the only gains with creatine are an illusion from stored water, which is not the case. You can absolutely make muscle gains while taking creatine — in fact, that’s really the point of taking it in the first place. It allows you to have more energy during your workouts and helps you repair faster as well [5]. This all equates to muscle gain.

Of course, this depends on your workouts and diet. If you are training to just sculpt and improve muscle tone, then creatine helps with that. You aren’t going to just suddenly explode with muscles by taking it. Like any supplement, it serves to enhance what you’re doing…it doesn’t create magical results or changes. 

Why Supplement with Creatine?

Due to the nature of creatine and some illnesses, it is being used therapeutically to help the treatment of disorders of the neurological or muscular nature. Some of these include arthritis, Parkinson’s Disease and even depression. Vegetarians and vegans can benefit from creatine supplementation due to a lower concentration from a lack of meat consumption (creatine supplements are vegan-friendly, but vegans and vegetarians should note other ingredients in a given product, as well as the equipment on which the creatine was manufactured).

That’s probably not what you’re here for, though. The most popular use of creatine supplementation is in athletes. Due to its use in the body, creatine supplementation is for persons doing high intensity, short duration exercises, such as sprinting or weight lifting. Those doing longer, aerobic exercises will not see benefit from creatine as fuel during those exercises comes mainly from glycogen (stored sugars) and oxygen as opposed to the creation and use of ATP.

How to Supplement

Those interested in creatine supplementation may hear about a “loading phase”. The idea here is to increase the amount of creatine in the system and then switch to maintenance, which continues to “top off” the loaded creatine. Studies show this is unnecessary for people who wish to use creatine long-term [6]. While the average amount recommended is a 5g per day across the board, taking it based on body weight can be more beneficial. 

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Creatine has been shown to be more effective when taken with carbohydrates [8], so you may consider taking it with a carb-heavy meal or with a juice. 

Which Supplement to Choose

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There are many types of creatine on the market and you can take them in pill or powder form. Choose what’s right for you. Creatine monohydrate is the cheapest and most readily available, but other kinds of creatine claim to be taken up quicker or cause less of a bloated feeling (some people may encounter this). It’s up to you. From my experience, I prefer powders of everything and powdered creatine won’t mix. It settles quickly and has a fine sand consistency. I still prefer powders so I just shake it up and drink what is suspended in the water, repeat until done. 

There are flavored creatine products, but due to the carb-phobia of many folk they tend to be artificially sweetened. Considering creatine is best taken with carbohydrates, if you are looking for a flavored creatine product then find one with carbohydrates as opposed to artificial sweeteners (if you are diabetic, take this advice with caution). 

Conclusion

Creatine has been a long-studied supplement with no shown serious side effects. It can be added into almost any workout routine to provide help in hitting new goals and breaking through plateaus. 

Sources

1. Wikipedia. ”Creatine”: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Creatine

2. NCAA. “2012-13 NCAA Banned Drugs”: http://www.iupui.edu/~jagsncaa/_Assets/docs/rules_ed/NCAA_Banned_Drugs_Educational_2012_13.pdf

3. Journal of Athletic Training. “Creatine Use and Exercise Heat Tolerance in Dehydrated Men”: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1421496/

4. bodybuilding.com. “Supplement Science - Creatine Q&A”: http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/creatine-q-and-a-top-17-questions-answered.html

5. bodybuilding.com. “Creatine FAQ”: http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/dimaggio2.htm

6. Journal of Athletic Training. “The Effects of Low-Dose Creatine Supplementation Versus Creatine Loading in Collegiate Football Players”: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC155521/

7. Medline Plus. “Creatine”: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/873.html#DrugInteractions

8. Nutrition Express. “When to Take Creatine and How Much to Take" (adapted from Creatine: Nature’s Muscle Builder by Ray Sahelian, MD, p. 49, 53): http://www.nutritionexpress.com/showarticle.aspx?articleid=61

This article comes from my (mostly) fitness blog

I was wondering if you could help out with what to eat and what supplements to take. I have asked a couple others and they never responded. I have tried this diet recently and feel that I was very deficient in vitamins b/c my hair started to fall out really bad after a month of eating no meat. I am just confused on what to eat for breakfast , lunch and dinner so I have a balanced diet. Also is there an alternative to fish oil? Thanks fior taking the time to do this blog!
Anonymous

People take fish oil for the omega 3’s (as well as omegas 6 and 9), so I would recommend flax seed, flax seed oil, hemp seed, hemp oil, and/or chia seeds. Personally, I like to do a mix of everything. 

Veganism in and of itself shouldn’t make your hair fall out. If you are having this issue, it points to a nutrient deficiency. I recommend padding out your diet with a liquid multivitamin until you can figure out how to get all your nutrients from food. You need to eat a wide variety of foods, all kinds of nuts, fruits, vegetables, legumes and grains. 

This isn't a question rely. I figured that I would let you know (just in case you didn't already) that a lot of people think seaweed is not vegan. You can Google the issue and decide for yourself. :) I love your plating b.t.w. your recipes look delicious.

That’s really odd, I’ve never heard anyone suggest that seaweed is not vegan. It doesn’t appear to be a creature! Thanks for your comments ^_^

HI! I read something you wrote on a social networking page for veganism and kids. You mentioned that you would never give a child a multivitamin. Just wanted to know how come? I have a one year old who I have been raising vegetarian and I started giving her a liquid version of multivitamin in order to meet her vitamin needs, since off formula. I have been doing research and was just curious as to your comments. Thanks Kim
Anonymous

Hi Kim! The reason is that if you are going to resort to a multivitamin for a child, it means you aren’t feeding them properly. Multivitamins are good for people with medical issues (such as problems absorbing a certain nutrient) or athletes who require more nutrients to meet the demands they put on their bodies. Everyone else should be getting their nutrition from food. I hope this answers your question. 

The background of your blog looks like hair. Great for a hair salon blog, maybe not so great for a Vegan Eats Blog. Just an opinion.
Anonymous

Your opinion has been noted ^_^

Thank you Thank you Thank you Thank you for existing. You're a life saver!

You are very welcome! Feel free to ask for recipes if you want them!

Long Time No See

Hi again! The biggest problem I’ve had with this account was remembering my password to access the email associated with it. I finally was able to login and will be happy to post some tasty eats. 

Hey! :)
My veganism is going well!
But i need some advise…

My mum is not to keen on the hole thing and if i tell her about vegan antibiotics she’ll just be more annoyed at all the things i need.
So i was wondering if you need paracetamol should you just take it? i took some today as i’ve had a headache for the past couple of days! Also i cant afford new clothes and all the vegan clothes, so im still wearing leather shoes and cotton clothes and i know it causes animals stress and sometimes even death by getting the fur for clothes but i can’t afford to spend extra on vegan clothes, does that make me a bad vegan?

My make up, its maybeline is that vegan friendly? i bloody hope so! i have no time to go out and buy make up, i have prom in 8 days.
Another thing.. my prom dress; its silky and i know vegans dont wear silk but i can’t say to my mum now to take it back!, plus i like the dress.

people are going to give me hate i can tell

How many of you vegans actually wear the right clothes? seriously?

Also i am getting a lot of negative comments from my mums friends about it, srsly just shut up.

Once i get a job and my money is coming through i’ll get new clothes and shoes but for now i will have to wear my normal clothes.

Thanks for the long question! Hopefully I can answer everything you’re asking…if not, just ask some more :)

Question: What about vegan pharmaceuticals? 

Answer: I know many vegans who are adverse to taking drugs that have been tested on animals or use animal products. For me, I am vegan first for the health reasons and second for the animals. I believe that as long as there is no reason to resort to animals then they should not be used. That being said implies that I feel my own self-preservation is more important than that of another living creature, and I will say that I do feel that way. I would much rather take an antibiotic than have an infection that I may die from. As I said, if I can avoid it I absolutely do. You can always ask for your drugs to come in different forms so you can avoid things like gelatin, but depending on which country you live in all your drugs may have been tested on animals and some drugs do contain animal products. I avoid it as much as I can but I will not put my health in danger. 

You do say that you’ve had a headache for the past couple days, so I’m curious if you’re still sick, are worrying about it to the point of headache, or if you’re having an adverse reaction to the medication.

Question: What about vegan clothes?

Answer: I personally never liked leather so it wasn’t an issue for me when I went vegan. I personally would not like to wear anything that is made from animals because it’s pretty nasty of an idea…wearing someone’s skin or hair is a creepy thought! But no one says that you have to ditch your clothes and spend money you don’t have when you go vegan. Don’t buy it anymore and transition when you can. 

Also, cotton comes from trees…cotton is perfectly vegan. Wool is what you’re probably thinking of, which comes from sheep and is not vegan-friendly.

Question: Is Maybelline vegan-friendly?

Answer: You don’t need to ask me…you can find this out online by typing “Is [make-up brand] vegan friendly?” into Google. I don’t know these off-hand so I have to look them up. *looks it up* According to this site, Maybelline is definitely not vegan-friendly. You say that you don’t have time to go buy make-up because you have prom in eight days…eight days sounds like plenty of time to snag new make-up if you’d like to. Like I mentioned earlier, you don’t need to blow a bunch of money you don’t have, but you’ll start to realize that having that stuff on your skin or on your body just feels…gross knowing the cost.

Question: You like your silk dress and you can’t tell your mum to take it back.

Answer: Okay, it’s not really a question but it’s one thing to say “I don’t have the money” and another to say, “I know it’s not vegan and it kills living creatures, but I don’t want to ask my mum a question and I just like how it looks.” If you like how the dress looks and think that means you should wear silk, you may need to re-evaluate your reasons for being vegan. 

Question: How many of you vegans actually wear the right clothes? Seriously?

Answer: Well, first, you seem to be thinking that if other people call themselves vegan and don’t wear vegan-friendly clothes then somehow that’s okay for you to wear a product literally harvested from the death of living creatures (silk). Second, I wear vegan clothes and use vegan skin/hair products. It’s cheaper, leaves me with a clean conscience, doesn’t feel weird (like I said, wearing skin is pretty messed up), and the hair/skin products are almost always better since they aren’t loaded with weird chemicals that had to be tested on animals in order to ensure safety. 

Question: You’re getting negative comments about it.

Answer: You should be doing this because it fits with your morals and views of the world…not because of what other people think. 

Why on earth would you recommend Taco Bell to vegans?? YUM! Brands owns Taco Bell and KFC (Kentucky Fried Cruelty). They fuel the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of animals daily all around the world. Not to mention how they treat the workers who grow the food, or the environment, etc. etc. Check out their track record.

Definitely a fair question!

I’ve always hated hearing “Kentucky Fried Cruelty” for three reasons. First, it implies that KFC has chickens in the store that it encourages employees to kick around, and that’s not the case. KFC gets its chicken from a supplier, namely Tyson. Second, it implies that only KFC cooks chicken that was tortured (tortured by Tyson, not KFC), which also isn’t the case. Tyson not only supplies large grocery chains, but also supplies McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Burger King and the same Taco Bell that I mentioned. In other words, if you think Taco Bell is bad because it is part of a larger company that also owns/licenses KFC and you think KFC is bad because it gets its chicken from Tyson, you can ditch the KFC argument and just say that Tyson is bad, Tyson supplies Taco Bell, and therefore Taco Bell is bad. Third and lastly, calling KFC cruel because they use Tyson chicken (Tyson being pretty popular for some instances of torturing their chickens) implies that the act of killing and eating an animal in and of itself is not cruel and it is only cruel if that animal was tortured first. Of course, this is not the vegan mentality. In other words, I’m really curious why you felt the need to bring KFC into this at all. :)

All of the above just underscores why I think “Kentucky Fried Cruelty” is more of a sensationalist play on the KFC acronym and really is meaningless in substance. To answer your question on why I posted about Taco Bell and veganism, it’s only to give people something to eat that is found widely (depending on what country they live in) when they’re out driving and hungry that has no animal products in it. That’s all. People are vegan for different reasons and while I don’t think anyone hates animals, not everyone is vegan for the animals first and foremost. I absolutely realize that veganism is not a diet but instead a lifestyle, but some people are willing to make compromises because they aren’t doing it for the animals first and foremost. And, again, if you are doing it for the animals first and foremost, I don’t understand why you’d feel the need to make a KFC argument when Taco Bell serves the same chicken, plus beef and shrimp. 

Because you were concerned, however, I figure others may also be so I added a note explaining that the review is for the food only, not the business practices of a particular company or parent company. Thanks for your question!

Eating out Vegan: Taco Bell

The Venue

Created by a WWII Marine Corps veteran, Taco Bell serves Mexican food adapted for the tastes of the country it’s located in (the US, India, etc.). It was founded in 1946 in the United States. For the time, it was a pretty bold move to make a fast food restaurant, especially one that offered a food still considered exotic by most of the country…but then again, he was in WWII and a Marine, so it made sense that he had balls. Today, Taco Bell is found in many countries, including Mexico, which confuses the hell out of everyone I’ve met.

Vegan Eats

Taco Bell has limited already-vegan foods on the menu, like a side of rice, side of chips (tortilla chips) or French fries (though French fries are not located in all locations). That doesn’t mean vegan eats cannot be had, though! Unlike most other refried beans, Taco Bell’s do not come with lard so they are vegan-friendly, as are their tortillas. This means that you can order pretty much anything on the menu, make a couple substitutions, and you’re golden. All you need to do is order an item, remove the meat and any dairy products and sauces…then just substitute them for rice, beans, guacamole, potato bites, whatever you’d like. My stand-by is the 7-Layer Burrito, minus sour cream and cheese, add extra rice and beans. I also like the Pintos & Cheese (minus cheese) combined with a side of rice. You can easily veganize tacos, burritos, crunchwraps, grilled stuft burritos, taco salads and chalupas. Even their special drinks, like their To read it for yourself, here are the ingredient lists:

-Canada (click the Food Allergies/Sensitivities tab)

-United Kingdom (under construction as of the date of this post, but their FAQ says anything can be made vegetarian without meat, implying that none of the shells or tortillas contain meat products)

-United States (everything is listed, even regional offerings)

You’ll notice many locations are missing. If you’re from Cyprus, Greece, Iceland, India, Mexico, the Philippines, Spain, South Korea or the United Arab Emirates, you’ll have to ask for an ingredient list in person as I could find no information on their websites…if they even had a website. Considering fast food chains make minor variations based on country but their basic stuff is the same, I would imagine the tortillas would still be the same vegan-friendly ones. I was able to email folks in Cyprus so when I get that back, I’ll post it :)

The Review

Okay, Taco Bell isn’t “real” Mexican food, but so what? While I hear jokes about how their food gives people a hard time in the bathroom, I’ve never actually experienced this nor has anyone I know. They offer a wider variety of sauces now (used to only be mild, medium and hot, now they also have fire roasted and salsa verde), which can definitely add a lot of flavour. Considering Taco Bell is found around other fast food restaurants, it’s nice to be able to go to a restaurant area with friends and they can grab food somewhere and so can you. 

The food itself is also pretty tasty, I’m going to go ahead and say it. Have I had better? Of course. Have I had better fast food Mexican food? Yes, I sure have. Will I eat at Taco Bell again? Absolutely. I think some people are far too picky. Just because it’s not authentic doesn’t mean it’s automatically bad. I think it’s a fine, easy-to-find (depending on the country you live in) fast food. 

Price: 5/5…I would love to give it a 6/5, actually. Taco Bell has to be the cheapest fast food available!

Food Quality: 3/5…as I said, I’ve had better and you can definitely tell that this stuff is pretty damn processed. I’m giving it a three instead of less because I’ve never had stuff that was rotten, wilted or low-quality. 

Taste: 3.5/5…I personally like it but like I said, I’ve had better. That just means if I’m in the mood for Mexican, I won’t go to Taco Bell but I definitely do sometimes get in the mood for Taco Bell!

Ease of Acquisition: 5/5…depending on where you live, it may be a 1/5. 

Note: This review is for people looking to eat food sans animal products and does not guarantee that the company or its parent company/companies employ environmentally-friendly or animal-friendly practices.

How To Make…Starfish Salad (GF, SF)

I originally wanted to use the portabello mushroom slices as a wrap but that didn’t work out. This is what happened instead. 

You’ll Need

-6 slices of portabello mushroom, raw or grilled (mine are raw)

-Creamy Corn & Bean Salad (recipe) or other creamy salad (try macaroni salad or potato salad)

-Sriracha (optional)

To Do

Step 1: Lay the portabello slices on a plate to mimic a six-pointed star.

Step 2: Place the creamy salad of your choice in the center. This also hides any imperfections as the mushrooms layer atop each other. 

Step 3: If using Sriracha, trace around one side of each mushroom slice. This looks pretty and adds flavour and a spicy kick. Serve!

Variations

-For a different look, after step 2 bring up the ends of each mushroom slice into the middle and then secure with a toothpick for a neat food “basket.” 

How To Make…Pepper Rolls (GF, SF)

I came up with these out of necessity. I intended to create a lovely, mostly-raw puree to top some mushrooms with but the blender where I’m staying was pretty gnarly so I opted out. Here’s what I came up with instead!

You’ll Need

-2 small, sweet peppers per person (or more if you’re doing this as a bigger part of a meal instead of appetizers)

-Creamy Corn & Bean Salad (recipe)

To Do

Step 1: Slice stem off of sweet peppers and remove any ribs or seeds (or leave them in, I kinda like them myself). This turns your sweet peppers into a “pocket.”

Step 2: Fill the sweet pepper pockets with the corn & bean salad, packing gently as you go.

Step 3: Using a very sharp knife, slice the peppers to resemble the picture above and serve. 

Notes

-Because the filling isn’t solid, you may need to gently hold the open end of the pocket when you cut into the sweet pepper. They hold together surprisingly well after that, though.

Variations

-A sauce or topping here would be just fine if you want to add an extra layer of flavor. I ended up using more of one of the components of the Creamy Corn & Bean Salad that made it creamy as a topping and dabbed some Sriracha onto it for extra heat and color. 

-While I used my Creamy Corn & Bean Salad, you really can use any filling. If you don’t have a soy allergy, try using a soy cream cheese that’s heavily seasoned and see how that works out for you!