When I first tell people that I’m a vegan, their response is, “Why?” and, “For how long?” So I have decided to finally write about my vegan journey. It first started freshman year of college in August of 2015 where I needed a change in workout style and what I was eating. The cafeteria food seemed to make me sick and I had never truly enjoyed the taste and texture of meat, fish, and poultry. After talking with my new friend, Faeln who has been vegetarian since she was a baby, I was influenced to cut animal’s out of my food pattern.
When you’ve only had meat all your life, it is hard to think of meals without animal in it. It can seem overwhelming and scary, but all it takes is research and connecting with other vegetarians to find new dishes to make. I have noticed a reoccurring pattern of when I speak with people about my lifestyle that they immediately try to defend the reason why they eat meat. Let me note right now that I do not and will never judge anyone by what they eat. Just because I don’t eat meat doesn’t mean I expect everyone else to cut meat out of their meals.
*** If you are planning on going vegetarian or vegan, make sure that you do it right. There are plenty of people who are vegetarian/vegan that are living unhealthy and not making sure they are keeping a balanced lifestyle. Like what? A vegetarian/vegan can be unhealthy? YES! So please, please, please do your research on processed foods and where to get proper protein, carbs, fats, etc. ***
After a year of being vegetarian, I felt my body becoming lactose intolerant. To avoid becoming sick so often, I chose to try cutting out milk products. This lead to me eventually taking out all products produced from animals (this includes eggs). I instantly felt a change in my health and how I viewed the food I was putting into my body.
However, I am not writing this post to convince you to change your lifestyle or start a new diet. I wanted to share my story, inform people on the difference between a vegetarian and vegan, include some benefits, and hopefully spark conversation. If you have ANY questions about my journey, do not hesitate to email or comment below.
Vegetarian vs. Vegan
VEGETARIAN:No animals like fish, meat, chicken, and shellfish
VEGAN:No animals AS WELL AS nothing produced from an animal like eggs, milk, and honey (Honey is debated in the vegan community, but I chose to eat local honey to help my allergies)
Vegan’s only eat salad – SOOO FALSE!! Vegan’s can still enjoy food, we actually eat a LOT of it. We can also still eat sweets don’t worry.
Being vegan is a diet – It depends. Some people do a vegan diet for a month while other’s consider being vegan as a lifestyle. For myself, being a vegan is a lifestyle since I eat this way every single day rather than just cutting out animals and animal products for a select amount of time.
All vegans are hippies – False. Becoming vegan is actually a rising movement.
Vegan’s only want to talk about being vegan – False. Not every vegan wants to discuss their lifestyle. And those that want to discuss being vegan do it because it’s part of their journey.
Vegan’s hate non-vegans – FALSE FALSE FALSE. This is not true at all! Vegan’s are actually judged by non-vegans more. Becoming a vegan is a personal choice and we do not judge, or want to be judged by others for choosing what we eat.
Vegan food is boring – Uhh heck no. If you’ve seen my vegan Instagram page (katiekimikoeats), you can tell that vegan food is very colorful and flavorful. Don’t knock it till you try it!
Reduced risk of heart disease, Alzheimer’s, and cancer
Help decrease animal cruelty such as small pens and cages that animals are forced to live in and the slaughtering of animals
Reduce the environmental footprint
Lower blood sugar levels and improve kidney function
Can help lose excess weight
And SO MUCH MORE !!!
AGAIN, if you have any questions or comments, do not hesitate to reach out. I would love to share recipes and more of my journey with you.
Feel free to follow my vegan Instagram page: katiekimikoeats, and my fitness Instagram for more updates: katiekimikofitness
Featured Image from: https://www.veganmotivation.com/what-is-a-vegan/
It’s those unexpected life adventures that you will never forget. Soaking in everything around you, taking a deep breath and reminding yourself that this is real.
“Not until we are lost do we being to understand ourselves.”
Henry David Thoreau
Another early morning plane ride to a dream destination. All three alarms went off at four in the morning where we then stumbled out of bed and proceeded to grab our bags and head downstairs, looking similar to zombies. Our fifteen minute Uber ride to the airport was not long enough as we all attempted to take a quick power nap before the long day began. To be honest, it’s hard to remember what exactly happened between getting to the Brussels airport and then entering our Airbnb in Spain, most likely due to sleep depravation and exhaustion, plus, you know the drill. Get to the airport, go through security, find our gate, wait, get on the plane, power nap again, land, get off the plane, and then struggle to figure out public transportation to the Airbnb, the usual.
Continuing on with our day, we finally made it to our new home for the week. Penthouse? I think so! Faeln and Sarah always do an incredible job at finding cute and affordable Airbnbs. Just take a look for yourself! We had the most adorable blue door which opened up to a small room where you could put your shoes and coats. Continuing in, you turn left to a long hallway which the owner made into two living room spaces with white furniture accented with yellow and orange pillows while the rugs were vibrant with all different colors. Walking to the back of the apartment, you’d find the kitchen, bathroom, and two bedrooms. We wandered around the unfamiliar space where something caught my eye. I lifted the screen covering a window to see an ocean of red roof houses and a view that I could look at for hours. The view plus the sunsets here are jaw dropping, but I’ll get to that later.
We laid our heads down, closed our eyes, and didn’t wake up for three hours. The nap was well worth it though. Having more energy now, we unpacked, grabbed our purses and set out to explore Madrid for the first time. I find it incredible how everything seemed so unfamiliar, the fact that we had to use maps at first, and felt so lost. But within a matter of days, we were Madrid pro’s.
The city was more gorgeous than I imaged. We walked down roads surrounded by tall, colorful buildings, people walking everywhere, the sound of music bursting from second floor apartments, the smell of warm Spain food in the air, and this overwhelming feeling that we belonged. It was at this moment that I knew the week to come would be one of the best I’d ever experience.
It then hit all three of us that we hadn’t eaten since last nights dinner. As it was approaching six, we decided to find somewhere to sit down and eat. We wandered around for quite a while, having Sarah translate menus for us and attempting to scout some places with vegan food. We entered the town square where there were small, outdoor restaurants on every corner. We soon noticed that every restaurant had the same food, so we picked the one with the cutest waiter and enjoyed the night. Since we were in Spain, it only felt right to get Paella (For more information on this meal, check out the blog post “Madrid, Spain” in the TRAVELS -> STUDY ABROAD -> FOREIGN EATS sections).
Now in a food coma, we decided to grab some groceries for breakfast and head back to our apartment for a good nights rest.
What’s better than a walk in the park? A walk in the famous El Retiro Park! A twenty-minute walk from our apartment to this gorgeous garden was needed after days in London’s chilly city. The sun was out, people were walking their dogs, eating ice cream, tanning, carrying their babies, and seizing this beautiful day. The city felt so friendly and happy. It’s hard to describe this feeling, but life seemed to be perfect for this moment, as if there wasn’t a care in the world by us, or anyone around us.
We continued our walk through the park where we turned a corner to what seemed like a Disney movie as Fae put it. There was a small pond ahead, people rowing boats, and live music. The trees were a golden orange as the light hit them. We all stood there basking in the sun, taking in everything at this moment, and attempting to grasp the concept that this was real life.
El Retiro Park
We raced to through the park and to the docks to purchase an hour in a boat. We all took turns rowing, and of course, taking lots of photos. There were so many people on the pond, grandparents, adults, teenagers, babies, with wide smiles and happy hearts. This is a day, a moment, that I will keep with me forever. If you’re ever in the area, I highly suggest going to the Estanque Grande del Retiro, renting a boat, and rowing the day away.
Our view of “Monumento a Alfonso XII”
After our time at the park, we walked back towards the Prado where we stopped to grab a bite at “Cafeteria Los Jeronimos” (For more information on this meal, check out the blog post “Madrid, Spain” in the TRAVELS -> STUDY ABROAD -> FOREIGN EATS sections). At lunch, we listened to all the different languages and ascents. I’m getting used to this, hearing all these different forms of communication that I had never experienced before in California. There’s something special about this. About realizing how many different languages, types of people, other cultures there are out in the world. I long to learn about all of them, even if this means traveling more, which is absolutely no problem for me.
Airbnb Sunset View
Remember that sunset with the view I was talking about earlier? Well there it is right above you. When I first laid eyes on it, I was speechless. If you don’t already know, I have a fascinations with sunsets. There’s no way to describe this obsession I have, however, Alicia Cook in her book Stuff I’ve Been Feeling Lately states what I can’t say.
“I find comfort
in the colors of a sunset.
I find a special magic
in the fact
it never photographs
as beautifully as my eyes
can witness it firsthand.
I find a certain peace
in the conclusion of
another day lived.
And I find hope
in the precarious promise
Enough of that emotional stuff and onto the rest of the Madrid stories! We searched for some vegan restaurants for dinner and found the perfect one. A short walk away, we sat down at La Encomidena (For more information on this meal, check out the blog post “Madrid, Spain” in the TRAVELS -> STUDY ABROAD -> FOREIGN EATS sections). Side note, something that I learned very quickly was that the Spanish eat meals a lot later than I’m used to. So, we ate around six and found there to only be a couple other people eating as well, mostly Americans.
After, we rushed to watch some flamenco at one of Madrid’s best live flamenco shows. It was incredible to see and hear so many talented people from singers, to dancers, to a combination of the two. I couldn’t keep my eyes off of them and felt a little sad after the hour and the performance ended. This was something I could watch for hours and hours and probably one of my favorite memories from Spain.
Shopping day! We walked from our apartment to a part of Madrid that we had never been to before. All three of us expected a giant mall, but soon found out there was a street filled with small boutiques instead. This was fine with me, I actually prefer smaller boutiques as I become easily overwhelmed by large stores.
I spotted a sign that said “Donuts” and had to run over to see if vegan options were available. To my surprise, there were! This small little donut and coffee shop was called “The Urban Bites” (For more information on this meal, check out the blog post “Madrid, Spain” in the TRAVELS -> STUDY ABROAD -> FOREIGN EATS sections). Fueled by two small vegan donuts, I was ready to take on the rest of the day.
The Streets of Madrid
We walked up and down the street, buying things like shoes and red leather jackets. It was another warm day filled with bustling streets and happy faces.
A long day of walking called for a delicious lunch. A small outdoor restaurant called “GramaBar” was where we ended up eating (For more information on this meal, check out the blog post “Madrid, Spain” in the TRAVELS -> STUDY ABROAD -> FOREIGN EATS sections). The black bean arepa was warm and satisfying, perfect for when the day began getting chillier.
Our walk home was absolutely stunning. The cotton candy sky, pink and purple streams across the blue backdrop lit up the night and then slowly faded into darkness, indicating that it was time to eat dinner.
Wanting something not too expensive but also yummy, we found and headed to “Walk to Wok” (For more information on this meal, check out the blog post “Madrid, Spain” in the TRAVELS -> STUDY ABROAD -> FOREIGN EATS sections). We ate, laughed, and shared memories from the past twenty-four hours, the perfecting ending to day three in Madrid.
Tourist day as I called it. As seen on Snapchat, today was filled with tourist activities, the “To See” places when searching Madrid on Google, and more good food.
Our first stop included seeing the “Statue of the Bear and the Strawberry Tree”. This sculpture represents the coat of arms of Madrid and can be found in the east side of Puerta Del Sol. The statue’s artist was Antonio Navarro Santafe. The piece was inaugurated in 1967, making this year its fifty year reunion! Want to know what’s funny about this, well we had passed the statue probably ten times already and had no idea that it was significant let alone a “To See” thing in Madrid. But we finally saw it and had to take a photo for proof!
Number two on our tourist spot was the Royal Palace of Madrid. We stared at the building for a few minutes, took a selfie, and continued on. We found a beautiful lookout point (as seen in the far right photo below) that included the palace and the green garden next to it. All three of us ran around the garden like children, admiring the statues and the detail that went into this area.
Campo del Moro Gardens
And we’re off again! We stumbled upon what we learned was Monumento A Cervantes in the Plaza de Espana as seen below. A little bit of history on this includes: the monument was built between 1925 and 1930 but not finished until 1957, sculptor was Lorenzo Coullaut Valera and the two architects include Rafaela Martinez Zapartero and Pedro Muguruza, the tower includes Cervantes overlooking Don Quixote and Sancho Panza. 1 Although we didn’t know this information at the time, we still took in the art before us, captured a selfie, and then headed on our way.
For lunch we ended up back in the same plaza that we pass everyday. Here we found a chain restaurant called Cafe & Tapas (For more information on this meal, check out the blog post “Madrid, Spain” in the TRAVELS -> STUDY ABROAD -> FOREIGN EATS sections). Warning! We were charged an extra 20% for eating in the outdoor patio that technically looked like it was inside. All three of us quickly realized that this was probably happening at every restaurant we went to and didn’t even notice! So when eating in Spain, be aware that eating outside will cost you extra.
Museo Nacional del Prado
Stop three included the famous Prado Museum or Museo Nacional del Prado as they call it. The museum is free for students with a valid ID and student ID so take advantage of this! When inside, we saw pieces from Car Guo-Qiang in a special exhibit. Three stories of rooms filled with paintings, sculptures, and more. It was overwhelming, actually. You would turn a corner and have three different directions you could go.
One well known piece that you have probably heard of it Velazquez’s Las Meninas. A couple fun facts include: the King and Queen are included, Velazquez makes a cameo of his own, only one person in the painting remains unidentified, there is a mystery behind this painting, Las Meninas gives its audience access to the king’s point of view, it’s enormous, it’s name was changed at some point, and more. More information on this famous piece can be found here: http://mentalfloss.com/article/68209/14-things-know-about-velazquezs-las-meninas
Post museum called for some SORBET! We felt like little kids, ordering our ice cream in a cone, eyes lighting up with glee and then licking it all, and of course, spilling on ourselves. I’m thankful for friends who I can act like a child around, who love me for myself and all my imperfections, and take silly photos eating sorbet with. Thank you Fae and Sarah for your friendship.
Sarah, left // Fae, right
Tonight we met up with my friend, Miguel, who was a foreign exchange student at my high school in California. I hadn’t seen him since either my freshman year or sophomore year of high school! Although we were never that close, we met up and could not stop talking about the good old days, our current lives, and our futures. Miguel suggested we meet at Azotea Del Circulo which had amazing views of the city. I couldn’t take my eyes off of the glistening lights and the view of Madrid. After hanging out for an hour, Miguel guided us to grab a quick bite where we continued to catch up on life and talk until the cafe closed. Thank you Miguel for being our guide and coming all the way into the city to meet up and hangout! I appreciate you!
If you’re ever in the Madrid area, but sure to check out Azotea!
The website for the rooftop bar can be found here: http://www.azoteadelcirculo.com
A day filled with walking, vegan food and new friends. We began our morning, or afternoon since we slept in, by journeying to a vegan restaurant. On the way, we got sidetracked by a cute garden with a hidden shop inside. Here I bought my dad one of the best souvenirs yet, although I can’t put what it exactly was on here because I know my dad is probably reading this right now, but trust me, it’s a good one!
lil garden with a shop inside
We continued on, following side streets and tripping over our own feet because our eyes were glued to the architecture, the appealing colors, and the sights of the city. In a few short minutes, we arrived at our destination, Viva Chapata (For more information on this meal, check out the blog post “Madrid, Spain” in the TRAVELS -> STUDY ABROAD -> FOREIGN EATS sections). The three vegan burgers and fries fueled us and set us on our walk back.
This city is filled with beauty. As you can see from the photos above taken on Faeln’s camera, the apartments are covered in yellow and pink paint, making a statement to the world as if they were saying, “Here I am!” My whole camera roll is now filled with photos of buildings, the sky, and food. But hey, I have no problem with that!
Our next mission of the day was finding Sarah the best chocolate churros in all of Madrid. We found the world renown “Chocolateria San Gines” located near Plaza Mayor. (For more information on this meal, check out the blog post “Madrid, Spain” in the TRAVELS -> STUDY ABROAD -> FOREIGN EATS sections). Although they weren’t vegan, we still supported Sarah and made her eat all six churros!
That night, we met up with Miguel at his house where he had invited other friends from his university over. We got to meet so many that night that I hope to stay in contact with. Among this group were a few American boys. We bonded over talking about the differences between America and Spain. It was the perfect way to end our last day in Spain.
Goodbye Madrid. With little sleep, we headed out to the airport and back to London. I’m going to miss this city, the architecture, the warm weather, and the friendly people. I will be back soon though no doubt!
On the plane I began reading the book Words from a Wanderer. This chapter stood out to me and I would like to share it with you. It reads, “Love yourself first. Buy yourself flowers. Tell yourself how beautiful you are. Don’t expect anyone to love you more than you do. When you meet a partner, you shouldn’t have expectations of flattery. The beautiful words and things will be microscopic when you’re already showering yourself with them. Expectations can taint love when you’re seeking to fill a void.”
These words are so true. It is so important to love yourself before you try finding love. This experience of traveling the world and finding out who I truly am is well needed right now. I am glad to learn these lessons so young and work on myself. I encourage you to learn to love yourself first and discover the true you.
Madrid will always have a piece of my heart. In honor of visiting this beautiful city, I wrote a short poem expressing my gratitude for the hospitality that it showed to me. You can find this under the SELF-LOVE section of my blog or at the link https://exploringtheworld.me/2017/10/27/dear-madrid/
When in Paris am I right? I just had to get this famous dish, vegan style of course! Pictured is a vegan croquet monsieur, poireaux vinaigrette, and dou de samoussa. This famous sandwich with ham and tomato on the inside with a slice of cheese on top is pretty common in Paris and tasted similar to a meat grilled cheese. It was delicious and I finished every bite of it! If you’re ever in the area, you HAVE to check out this wonderful vegan restaurant!
They say eating in Spain is difficult for vegans, however, we did a great job of finding amazing food from Madrid. Although it took some research and searching around, we managed to get by. Here are some photos from our eats in Madrid with restaurant names and meal titles included. Enjoy!
This small outdoor restaurant is located in Plaza Mayor. There are several outdoor restaurants in this area that all serve the same meals at the same prices so pick a spot and eat up! This meal was completely vegan with carrots, red peppers, a lemon, lima beans, rice, and artichoke.
This all vegan restaurant has a plethora of options. These four tacos with soy, corn, tomatoes, guac and soy filled me right up! Something I found to be the coolest thing about this restaurant was that all the plates and most of the decoration was hand made with pottery.
4. The Urban Bites
Although you can’t tell by the photo, these donuts are mini and can be eaten in one bite. It’s always a good day when I can also find some vegan donuts!
Noodles, mushrooms, red peppers, sesame seeds, and a delicious teriyaki sauce.
9. Taco Bell
Late nights mean taco bell in Spain. I was surprised when I ordered my Crunch Wrap (substitute the meat with beans, no cheese or sour cream) and it came out with some fries! I also ordered a side of chips, salsa, and guac.
10. Viva Chapata
Vegan burger, mexican style with cheese, guac, and corn paired with some yummy fries!
October 22nd // La Pain Quotidien // Brussels, Belgium
When in Brussels, we visited the first La Pain Quotidien. This restaurant can be found all around the world, but it felt so special to be in the very spot where it started. Along with a latte, I ordered a vegan pot pie that included carrots, greens, and lentils with a side of bread. This restaurant offers an array of vegan and vegetarian options of high quality. Be sure to give it a try!
If you’re ever in Brussels, you HAVE to try this sushi restaurant. You can either chose from the ten most well known rolls or make your own. I decided to make my own unique roll with avocado, yam tempura, green onions, and sesame seeds in a california roll style. Knowing I would still be hungry, I decided to also get bowl of rice with fresh vegetables. Both were absolutely delicious and I can’t wait to visit again! For warning, the line is usually pretty long due to how well known the sushi restaurant is so make sure to prepare for that!
Today’s little lunch include avocado toast, coffee, and the cutest pub with the most comfortable seats. As we sat and ate our delicious meal, Faeln and I caught up on life while people watching out the window. It was a perfect afternoon if you ask me.
Busy days call for some a fast sushi lunch. The photos shown above include the Yasai Roll Set with Brown Rice, inari, carrot, avocado, red pepper, cucumber in one roll, avocado, cucumber, inari and red pepper in another roll with an inari pocket, mixed leaves, fresh beens, and edamame with a ride of soy sauce and wasabi. The soup shown is the miso soup with traditional Japanese soup made with a dash broth, miso paste, and topped with tofu and wakame.
September 20th // Magic Falafel // Camden Market, London
A group of six girls took to London today with bellies empty and no expectations of what tonight would bring. Ash had heard that this falafel stand was to die for, so we decided to go try it before we headed to a Fresher’s Week event in the city. Ash, Syd, and I all got our vegan falafels, which we inhaled in seconds, while Anna and Kaylee split a burrito as well as fish and chips while Rose just ordered a burrito. All the food was filling and delicious. Camden Market is a very famous spot in London known for their history, food, and shopping. We got to see this first hand and let me tell you, this is not my last time there!
September 10th // Hans im Glück // Munich, Germany
Our first and last meal of the day. Fae, Imogen, and myself went to this cute, earthy restaurant tonight where the inside felt as if we were in a treehouse. We all ordered vegan burgers and split a pound of fries. Fae got the Juglans burger (wheat bread with wheat brioche, cranberries, sprout & walnuts), I got the Kutscher burger (wheat bread with piquant brawling, grilled vegetable tatar & rocket), and Imy got the Fabelhafter burger (sour dough bread with wheat, avocado, orange mustard & herb salad). Themeal was absolutely delicious!