vegan DYNAMITE

food ➕ activism ➕ lifestyle

The past few weeks have found a lot of YouTubers I’ve never heard of getting a lot of attention by announcing they’re not vegan anymore!  That’s cool, but I’d much rather give the spotlight to folks who are still creating entertaining, informative content to help animals and make the vegan lifestyle more accessible.  Here are a few of my favorites:

1:  the vegan zombie

This was probably the first vegan YouTube channel I ever watched (because, duh, zombies), and they just celebrated their 10 year anniversary!  The Vegan Zombie features host Chris Cooney, with pop-ins from co-creator Jon Tedd and other guests.  Content includes easy to follow recipes, vegan product reviews, event coverage across the country, and more.

2:  no egg craig

I found No Egg Craig through his crossovers with The Vegan Zombie, which usually involve cooking a meal on Chris’ channel and then Craig’s family mukbangs it.  Although the channel primarily revolves around food, Craig also talks openly about living with an autoimmune disease, and his personal experience using a vegan diet to manage symptoms.  His grocery shopping videos with mom are definitely one of my favorite things on the internet, and if you need more mom jokes in your life you’ll definitely want to subscribe to this channel.

3:  sweet simple vegan

So many recipes!  Jasmine & Chris produce a ton of recipes to help you create some pretty impressive meals, even if you’re short on time or working with a tight budget.  They also do a great job of incorporating lifestyle and behind the scenes content, which sets them apart from a lot of other recipe channels.  I like to get to know the people behind the brand, and Sweet Simple Vegan definitely has that personal touch.

4:  happiest vegan on earth

Lisa at Happiest Vegan on Earth mainly focuses on Disney and Disneyland related content, and has created comprehensive guides to all the vegan options across the California parks.  (I always have her website open in my browser on my Disneyland days!)  I also love seeing her Disney movie reviews and trailer reactions from a vegan perspective, since Disney movies absolutely changed the way I saw animals, and made me start thinking about animal rights at a young age.  This channel is fairly new compared to the others, but I can’t wait to see where it goes!

5:  the cranky vegan

I love a good foodie channel as much as the next guy, but it’s great to have a channel focused solely on activism.  Jake Conroy at The Cranky Vegan covers animal rights news, trends, and history.  He also talks strategy and offers unsolicited but constructive criticism for campaigns that could be more effective.  His 3 minute thursdays are a quick and entertaining way to stay caught up with what’s been going on in the movement this week.

6:  cheap lazy vegan

Definitely need to start by saying I LOVE HER BUDGET MEAL PREP VIDEOS!  I’m always busy and on a pretty strict budget, so thinking about cooking and meal planning can feel pretty overwhelming.  (Anyone else regularly buy takeout while the groceries you bought are spoiling in the fridge?  Yeahhh.. me neither.)  Rose at Cheap Lazy Vegan shows that vegan meal planning on a budget is totally possible, and I love that she finds different ways to use ingredients a lot of people already have in their pantries.

7:  brown vegan

I originally found Monique Koch of Brown Vegan through her podcast, where she covers veganism from the perspective of a mom, a business owner, and a woman of color.  Her YouTube channel is more food-centered, which creates an awesome visual to go along with the podcast episodes I’ve been listening to.  I love Monique’s non-judgemental approach to promoting a vegan lifestyle, and her content will be valuable to seasoned vegans and newbies alike.

8:  pick up limes

This is a beautiful channel by Sadia Badiei covering all kinds of vegan meals, from fancy to the everyday.  Sadia has a degree in dietetics, and makes even basic, easy-to-make meals seem special.  “Pick Up Limes was created as a medium to share uncomplicated vegan recipes that are nutritious, delicious and visually appealing. It’s as easy as that.”  Watch:  5 meals I eat each week.

9:  farm sanctuary

After I went vegan, one of the first things I did was visit Farm Sanctuary in Acton, CA.  Connecting with these animals really made my decision more concrete for me, and I highly recommend it to anyone who might be questioning why they should go vegan, or struggling with their commitment.  If you’re unable to make the trip to a sanctuary, Farm Sanctuary’s YouTube channel is a great place to start.

[Note:  The video below isn’t graphic, but does contain a few seconds of upsetting audio.  It tells the story of Julia’s life, before and after Farm Sanctuary.]


I hope this post introduced you to some new content creators to add to your rotation!  Who are your favorite vegan YouTubers?  Let me know, and I will check them out!

This year I became a Disneyland Annual Passholder for the first time, and have spent the past three months eating my way through the parks!  There is a bit of a learning curve to eating vegan at Disneyland, but once you’ve got it down it’s pretty easy – and also kind of amazing.  Before you dive into my guide, here are a few things you should know:

  • Some Disney restaurants require reservations on busy days, but for the sake of convenience and spontaneity I’ve only included quick service options in this post – no reservations required!
  • All prices listed are before AP discount and before tax.
  • Please note the MODIFICATIONS bullet point below each item before you order.
  • Lastly, don’t be afraid to talk to the cast member who takes your order and let them know you’re vegan.  Sometimes I’ll give them my modifications and ask, “that makes it vegan, right?”  In my experience the cashier usually knows what that means, but if they don’t there’s someone nearby to confirm.

Please let me know if you have comments or questions, and have a great time in the parks!

 1. frontierland – rancho del zocalo | veggie tostada salad – $12.49*

  • Modifications:  This isn’t officially on the menu, so just ask for a veggie tostada with no cheese or sour cream.  You can also add rice, which is vegan.

This was the first vegan meal I had at Disneyland, and it’s still one of my favorites.  It’s hearty, flavorful, and loaded with veggies.  I think the only downside to having so many vegan options elsewhere is that I don’t get to come to Rancho more often!  *The price given is for the meat-based option; believe it or not, your veggie will actually be cheaper.

2.  paradise garden park [DCA] – paradise garden grill | seasonal vegan item

  • Modifications:  This will vary by item, but the last three seasonal items have been labeled vegan as-is.

So, I don’t even know what the next seasonal item at Paradise Garden Grill is going to be, but the last three have been so great that I had to include it on my list.  For Festival of the Holidays they had a vegan chile relleno, at Lunar New year it was a vegan orange tempeh bowl, and currently for Food & Wine Festival they’re featuring this Impossible meatball sub ($11.99).  These have all been clearly labeled as vegan, and a quick glance around the dining area proves they’re a huge hit with vegans and meat-eaters alike!  You definitely don’t want to miss this option – I would recommend putting it near the top of your list.

3. critter country – hungry bear restaurant | messy melvin’s vegan burger – $13.49

  • Modifications: As you might have guessed from the name, this meal is vegan as-is!  I definitely prefer the standard burger bun over the hard ciabatta this comes on, so you can double check with a cast member that it’s vegan (it usually is) and make that substitution if you like.

When they named this burger messy, they weren’t lyin’.  You might not start with chili fries, but you’ll end up with them.  The patty is from Beyond Burger so you can’t go wrong there, and Hungry Bear is one of my favorite restaurants for atmosphere and escaping crowds.  Look out onto the Rivers of America, watch the Mark Twain go by, and try not to drop chili on yourself.

4. various locations | mickey pretzel & dole whip – $5.25 + 5.69

  • Modifications:  None.

Um, is this a meal?!  A lot of things revert back to a childhood when I’m in Disneyland: my imagination, my sense of wonder.. my appetite.  I don’t see any parents anywhere telling me it can’t be a meal, do you?  My favorite place to get a pretzel is Tomorrowland because the seating is usually less crowded (plus who doesn’t love that futuristic beep boop music from 2004).  But if you’re trying to hit up both of these at once, I recommend the pretzel cart across from The Golden Horseshoe, and Tropical Hideaway for your Dole Whip.  You can also get a Dole Whip Float ($6.49, vegan as-is), or Loaded Whip ($7.99, order with no cookie sticks).  Now, go spoil your dinner.

5. fantasyland – red rose taverne | enchanted samosa sandwich – $11.29

  • Modifications: Order with no fried green beans, and ask for fries or apple slices instead of pommes frites.

I didn’t list these in any particular order (it would be too hard!), but this sandwich is definitely in my top 3.  It’s pretty big and super filling, so you’re definitely getting your money’s worth.  It also has a great samosa flavor, and I loved every bite!  Red Rose Taverne is a cute little Beauty and the Beast themed restaurant, which makes it a hit in my book.

6. tomorrowland – alien pizza planet | gluten-free vegan cheese pizza – $6.79

  • Modifications:  For this you’ll actually need to place your order with a chef – which actually makes things really easy, because you can confirm you ordered correctly right with the source.  Just let them know you want a vegan cheese pizza, and your wait will be about 10 minutes.  This option is also gluten-free!

This doesn’t look like much, but the crust had a little herb thing goin’ on and was actually more flavorful than I expected.  Plus, it’s only $6.79!  If you’d like more toppings on your pizza, you’ll have to go over to Boardwalk Pizza & Pasta at DCA and ask for a vegan pizza with sauteed veggies.

7. disneyland hotel – tangaroa terrace | lentil garden bowl – $11

  • Modifications:  None.

Did I feel like a rich witch eating this spa food overlooking the Disneyland Hotel pool or what?  This bowl was really delicious, and as you can see from the bottom photo it’s full of hidden yellow curry sauce.  This is a great spot to escape the crowds, and eat something different from your typical park food.  You can also get Dole Whips here, or a cocktail from Trader Sam’s next door.

8. new orleans square – royal street veranda | vegetable gumbo – $11.49

  • Modifications:  None, but I still got nervous and said no cheese.. even after they told me none of the soups come with cheese.

I finally tried the infamous Disneyland bread bowl gumbo!  It was everything I dreamed of and more.  The dining area at Royal Street Veranda is pretty small and often full, so I took mine over to the French Market and ate there – just follow the trail of beignet dust and you’ll find it.  They also have a stage at French Market, and it’s likely you’ll catch live music there or coming from the river.

9. pacific wharf [DCA] – lucky fortune cookery | asian rice bowl w/ tofu – $12.49

  • Modification:  Not really a modification as this is a build-your-bowl kind of vibe, but thai coconut curry is the only vegan sauce and tofu is the vegan protein option.

It took me a while to come here because the option looked like a lot of veggies and rice, but it turned out to be really good and very filling.  The tofu is soft, which isn’t what I’m used to, but it totally worked.  They’ll give you a fortune cookie with your bowl which is sometimes vegan and sometimes not, but you can ask them to check if you’re really jonesing for one.

10. downtown disney – earl of sandwich | veggie sub – $8.99

  • Modifications: No feta, no dressing.  Add mustard or balsamic glaze.

This has been my go-to when I’ve had too much fun in the parks and haven’t stopped to eat, but now it’s time to go home and I’m starving.  It’s a pretty basic veggie sandwich, but toasting it and adding balsamic glaze is what makes it awesome.  If your feet are tired, take the Monorail from Tomorrowland to Downtown Disney, and it’ll drop you off just a couple doors down from Earl of Sandwich.


There you have it!  Did I include any of your favorites, or miss one of your must-eats?  If you try any of these options, I’d love to hear what you think!

On Saturday, March 2, I joined a small group of guests to celebrate SunCafe and learn the details of their highly anticipated second location.

This event also marked the launch of their KickStarter campaign, which will help them secure a great new space in Santa Monica offering ample parking, a full bar, a banquet room for community and private events, and even a dog-friendly patio.  Did I mention they plan to stay open until 2 a.m.?

If you’ve not yet had the privilege of dining at SunCafe’s Studio City location, you’ve been missing out.  Any time I go, I know I’m guaranteed a special meal no matter what I order (although I tend to be pretty loyal to those nachos).  If I had the power to move any of LA’s vegan restaurants closer to my house, SunCafe would be it!

Super Sun Nachos / Blueberry Swirl Cheesecake (both gluten-free)

In addition to their amazing food, SunCafe is a restaurant with a lot of history and heart.  Throughout the event, owners Ron Russell and Rebecca Smith shared stories of their experience as new restaurant owners working 16-hour days, and how it was the positive feedback from their guests that kept them focused.  Russell mentioned one customer in particular who told him how plant-based eating had greatly improved his health, making it clear the positive impact this restaurant was destined to have.  Over the past ten years, several of LA’s top vegan chefs have called SunCafe home, and it’s not uncommon to find them on food critics’ “best of” lists.

One of my favorite things about SunCafe is that they’ve always been open and authentic about why they run a vegan restaurant — for animal rights, for the environment, and for human health.  The food is impressive enough on its own, but a business with a purpose I believe in is one I’ll gladly support.

SunCafe’s Kickstarter will run through the end of March, and offers exciting perks including food, merchandise, cooking classes, and special events.  Be sure to check it out, donate, and share to help make this new location a reality.

If you’ve been to Disneyland, you know the smell.  A kind of smelly smell.  A smelly smell that smells.. like churros.

Now, imagine being vegan and having that warm, sugary, pastry smell wafting into your nostrils literally all day long, with no way to sate your cravings.  If you understand this feeling, you’ll understand why I was so excited to learn that there is a food truck serving up sweet vegan crepes at the west end of Downtown Disney.

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Crepes Bonaparte is a Food-Network-featured truck that once appeared on The Great Food Truck Race, and is now appearing in a temporary residency in between The Lego Store and Earl of Sandwich.  They’re not exclusively vegan, but they do offer a vegan batter and an extensive list of vegan toppings:

– apples
– avocado
– bananas
– bell peppers
– blackberries
– onions
– strawberries
– tomatoes
– walnuts
– chocolate
– cinnamon & sugar
– granulated sugar
– dairy-free whipped cream **
– lemon juice
– dijon mustard
– cookie butter
– peanut butter

** A note about the whipped cream:  I was told they do sometimes have a vegan version, but their standard whipped cream is not vegan although it is labeled “non-dairy.”  Employees were happy to let me peek at the ingredients to confirm for myself.  They did not have the vegan whip when I was there, but if they had I would have ordered it!

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I ordered mine with strawberries, bananas, chocolate & powdered sugar.  It was great, and my first crepe in at least 9 years!  Next time I would probably add cinnamon & sugar and/or cookie butter, because that’s just how I live my best life.

The truck at Downtown Disney typically opens at 3pm, but be sure to check their posted schedule if you’re planning a visit.  I’ve also been told that the truck will only be at it’s Disney location until construction wraps up and new restaurants open — there’s no official date yet, but it’s estimated they’ll be moving out of Disney by early summer.

If you miss them, you can still get your fix at the Crepes Bonaparte restaurant located at 115 S Harbor Boulevard in Fullerton.  And the two trucks, known as Pierre and Gaston, will continue to make the rounds in Los Angeles and Orange County.  Bon appétit!

So… here’s what happened.

Last month I started noticing a funny feeling in my chest that I definitely wouldn’t call pain, it wasn’t even really discomfort, it just didn’t feel quite right.  I thought maybe it was from stress, or too much caffeine, or I don’t know.. not taking my b-12?  I did all of the things and made small lifestyle corrections to see if it would go away.  It did not.

After a week or so of wondering about this, I realized this feeling was familiar.  I had felt it before when I was a teenager, when I was about 60 pounds heavier.

Out of curiosity I grabbed my scale and was surprised to find that I had gained about 20 pounds in 2018.  (Later I plugged this number into a health app and learned it was actually more like 30 pounds, and also that I can’t be trusted to do math on my own.)

Even though I’m lucky to have access to workout and nutrition programs that I love, last year I lost touch with my community, and lost my motivation.  I also really struggled to navigate the fitness world on my own with a body positive mindset — I found that most of the time, those two things didn’t overlap even though I thought they needed to.  Following fitness accounts on Instagram meant seeing one progress photo after another, with women nitpicking their own perceived flaws, projecting those flaws onto unsuspecting viewers; body positive accounts claimed that any type of diet plan was toxic, anyone talking about fitness was evil, and that loving your body meant that there was no valid reason to lose weight, period.

I was desperately looking for a middle ground.  I stopped talking about fitness because I couldn’t really figure out the right way, and I didn’t want to offend anybody.

I unfollowed all of those accounts, to try and find my voice again.

I figured that if I was having trouble finding a leader who shared my values, other women might be having that problem as well.  I promised myself I would recommit in 2019, and that once I made some traction on my own journey, I would start talking about it.

The goals I set in January were pretty simple.

increased activity

One of my New Year’s resolutions was to get more active, but ONLY in ways that felt good and made me really happy.  I started a 3-week home workout program that I had done in the past and enjoyed.  I got a Disneyland Annual Pass, and walk about 7 miles every time I go — sorry, calves!  (I was about to say that my AP is probably cheaper than a gym membership, but then I Googled it, so now I have to stop telling myself that lie.  More fun than a gym membership, though?)

meal prep

I also set a goal to cook at home more to save money, and started doing weekly meal prep.  Although I plan to get a little more structured next month, this month I didn’t measure or count anything, or follow any kind of meal plan.  If you follow my IG you know I definitely still did partake in some Disney food, I just tried to make sure that if I did go to a restaurant it was because I really wanted to, not out of habit or convenience.  Plus, all that walking will make a bitch hungry.

DietBet

I almost didn’t mention this one because there’s a lot to unpack with dietbets!  I think this topic probably deserves its own post entirely.  I’ve done three over the last few years and this is the first one I’ve won, but even the two I lost were positive experiences for me because they served as reminders to stay focused on my habits.  I did not care about winning, and if you think losing a dietbet will make you feel bad in any way, definitely do not do it.  If getting on the scale influences how you’re going to feel about yourself that day, don’t do it.


That’s all!  I plan on repeating the same 3-week home workout program in February and would love some pals to do it with me.  If that interests you, please reach out!  Otherwise, look for another update this time next month!