A New Journey: Big Kitchen Tiny House

Tatiana and I are excited to announce our new endeavor: Big Kitchen Tiny House

For the past year VeganVanLife has been a place for us to contemplate how we wanted to live in this world. It led us down a path, and the end of that path is the beginning of a new one.

In part due to my work with VeganVanLife, I accepted an opportunity in March of 2016 to be a trip advisor for an Alternative Break trip at Bowling Green State University. That led me to Woodland Harvest Mountain Farm in North Carolina.

My time at Woodland Harvest was amazing, and the family that runs the farm – Lisa, Elizabeth, Aydan and Landrum – were all just incredible people who I couldn’t very well never see again!

20160522_134552And so, in May Tatiana and I, along with some of the people who visited the farm with me in March and a few other new people, all traveled back to Woodland Harvest to build a tree house!

That adventure led Tatiana and I to discuss tiny houses, and even stay in a tiny house in Asheville, NC for a night.

It was at that point that we made our decision: next Summer we would build a Tiny House on Wheels! Lisa and Elizabeth were particularly encouraging, offering their land and resources to aid in construction.

And so, Big Kitchen Tiny House was born. For the next year we will be researching everything we can about building tiny homes, discovering inspiration in houses already built, and hopefully uncovering like-minded people who can offer advice and insight for our journey.

While our focus there will be on the tiny house, as the name of the site makes clear, the kitchen is a big part of our focus. And that is because we love to cook, and so we will work to provide a good number of recipes (vegan of course!).

We hope you will join us on this new adventure!

The Lost Art of Home Cooking

I started living on my own when I turned 18, but I didn’t learn to cook until the age of 24. For six years I ate mostly ready-made, ultra-processed foods like frozen taquitos, mac & cheese, dollar-menu burgers, instant ramen, and a lot of Little Caesar’s pizza. Occasionally I’d try my hand at Hamburger Helper, but even then, there wasn’t much food in my food.

This was a big change from the home-cooking I had grown up on, and I didn’t just put on the “freshman 15”; I put on the “college 35.” Sure, weight doesn’t necessarily correspond to health, but given what I was eating it was precisely my health that I was neglecting.

Left: Age 18                                              Right: Age 22

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You say ‘beegan’, I say ‘vegan’ – Let’s call the whole thing off!

What do broccoli, almonds, lettuce, avocados, tomatoes, cucumbers, and honey all have in common? Each of these relies upon the agricultural use of honey bees.

During the holidays I often travel home to spend time with my family, and this year I ended up at a New Years party with a few old acquaintances. Given my particular proclivities the conversation naturally turned toward food, and I was asked if I was a ‘beegan’ or a ‘true vegan.’ Having never heard the term ‘beegan’ before, I wasn’t aware that these were considered mutually exclusive, and simply responded with ‘both.’

Despite being vegan, I’ve only recently become aware of an ongoing and contentious debate within the vegan community regarding the moral status of honey. Then just yesterday, I received a comment on a previous post that simply stated “honey isn’t vegan.” The simplicity of that statement is what sparked my interest. What’s the basis for this claim? Initially, most honey-concerned-vegans are quick to point out that “honey isn’t vegan by definition,” but let’s be honest, this isn’t really an argument. By definition a bachelor isn’t married, but that tells me nothing about the moral lives of bachelors. Though presumably what these individuals are suggesting is that because vegans profess to abstain from using animal products, and honey is clearly an animal product, they therefore ought to avoid honey by their own lights.

vegan honey

I don’t intend to argue the fact that bees are animals, or that honey is thereby an animal product (though I will point out that the acquisition of honey is vastly different in nature than the production of meat which requires the death of the animal, or the production of dairy which requires procuring the product directly from the animal itself). What I want to explore are the possible reasons one may have for morally objecting to the acquisition and consumption of honey, and the further implications of accepting those arguments.

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Faux-Meat Can’t Be Beat!

When you imagine the perfect burger you think juicy on the inside, nicely charred on the outside, and bursting with rich flavor. Each year GQ Magazine searches high and low for The Best Burger of the Year, and the most recent burger to win the crown is not what you’d expect.  Superiority Burger, located in NYC, won the title by serving up everything you’d expect in the perfect burger, everything except for the meat that is. That’s right, GQ crowned a meatless burger as The Best Burger of the Year! Shocked? Well don’t be.

Superiority Burger

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Mom’s Recipe for a Good Life

Parents sacrifice all the different lives they could have lived, so that their children can have the best opportunities to thrive. Yet it’s not until we’re adults ourselves that we can really come to appreciate this fact. Growing up, I remember rolling my eyes at my Mother’s advice more than heeding it. Now that I’ve reached my late 20’s, I can finally say with confidence “Mom, you were right.” As a teenager, I just couldn’t grasp the importance of what she was telling me. Nonetheless, her advice has hung in the back of my mind like a recipe I might one day try out. Now looking back, I realize I’ve already put that recipe to use in constructing a happy life:


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Wayward Cats Part 2: Meeting Max

Max is a dog; Plato and Hippo are cats. Max lives with my parents in the Great North (imagine someplace like Halifax). We’re staying with my parents for the Holiday season, meaning the cats and Max just had their first meeting.

So you’re now wondering, how do you introduce cats to a strange dog? The answer is – very, very slowly.

Dogs tend to be excitable, exuberant, foolhardy, and friendly. Cats are often cautions and contemptuous, despite being quite curious.

2015-12-28 19.12.32

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Wandering Westward with Wayward Cats

Here at VeganVanLife, you’ve likely noticed a common theme underlying all our posts: Committing to love animals means committing to making hard choices.

Simple as this sounds, this statement permeates and complicates every aspect of our lives. We often focus our posts around the choices we make regarding the animals we will never meet, demonstrated in our commitment to a vegan and cruelty-free lifestyle. But this sentiment also includes the  animals we have chosen to bring into our lives, namely our cats.

As you may remember from my post ‘You Know, For the Cats,’ traveling is difficult when you’re the proud caretaker of a furry (or not so furry) critter. Even with the best pet-sitters friendship can afford, something always seems to go awry when you’re away. Last time we left town for a weekend, Little Hippo managed to sneak outside for a day-long adventure roaming the wild outback of Ohio. Though she arrived home from her adventure unscathed, knowing that your cat has gone missing while you’re half-way across the country makes you feel utterly helpless and ruins the occasion. So this time, we decided to try something new…

We decided to bring the cats with us on our Holiday travels!

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