Plant-Based Lunchboxes: 5 Tips to Get Organized!

Update: I just found some practical, well-design water bottles – at Winners! I’ve updated the image and linked to the amazon page.

I’ve shared some posts with my top baking recipes for back-to-school, and also my go-to foods and tips for packing plant-powered lunches. Today, I’ve decided to help you with the logistics of packing lunches, from kitchen gear to organization.

Packing lunches seems to strike either anxiety or grief with parents – or a bit of both. It’s understandable, between school allergy issues, eating a vegan diet, and individual weegan food preferences, it can feel like all too much. A little planning goes a very long way.

5 Tips to Get Organized for Packing Healthy School Lunches #plantbased #lunches #backtoschool #healthy #kids #vegan

So, here are my 5 tips to help get you 0rganized to pack plant-powered lunches:

1. Batch Cooking and Baking. I talk about batch cooking in some detail in Plant-Powered Families. It’s not just helpful for planning dinners, but also for packing lunches. The benefits apply to both ingredients/individual foods and specific recipes. Are you…

Baking potatoes? Bake another 5-6 spuds. You can use them in lunches – sliced in sandwiches, cubed to dip in hummus, mixed with veggies or beans as a salad, added to a thermos soup, etc.

Making hummus? Do at least a double batch. Refrigerate and freeze portions so you don’t have to make it every week.

Cooking pasta for dinner? Make extra and use another day in a lunch (many ideas in PPF).

Making snack cookies or muffins? Double batch and freeze some for next week. This will save you time in the long run, and you’ll get into a groove with some regular lunch fixes that your kiddos love.

Red Lentil Hummus #vegan #glutenfree #nutfree #dairyfree

Red Lentil Hummus – a reader fave from Plant-Powered Families!

2. Lunchbox Picks. What will work best for you to pack lunches? We’ve had some discussion on this in our PPF FB group. Some of us mamas love the bento style boxes. I recently got a PlanetBox, and while it’s a little pricier than some other lunchboxes, I think it’s worth the price.

PlanetBox Rover #backtoschool #lunch #healthy #lunches #lunchbox

PlanetBox Rover

It’s stainless steel, very durable, and with a smart design. In the past I’ve used boxes with lidded containers, and the girls often lost components. It’s a bit of a nuisance to replace those pieces, so that’s something to consider. For another option, choose the widely available ziploc or glad containers. They are BPA-free now, and come in many different sizes. I’ve found that useful for the past number of years packing for bigger and smaller appetites. I also pack hubby’s lunch, and send him off with 5 or 6 containers. I also re-use containers from vegan yogurt and dips for things like grapes, crackers, segmented oranges, and other small lunch items.


Copco BPA-free water bottles

Copco BPA-free water bottles

Having two or three BPA-free water bottles per kiddo is also very helpful. Many times bottles are left behind in the classroom. I like to fill the girls’ water bottles the night before. It saves just another few minutes in a frantic school morning! *After writing this post I stumbled on the coolest water bottles – at Winners. Actually, Charlotte found them. She’s at that age where some water bottles are just ‘not cool’… anything with patterns or worse, flowers! What I like about these copco bottles is that they are compact, fit in backpack side pouches easily, and yep, they are BPA-free. Also, they unscrew about 1/3 of the way down for easy cleaning, and also to add ice cubes or citrus slices! And the attached cap is brilliant. 

3. Keep It Simple. Kids love their favorite foods, and lunch times at school are not the time I “experiment” with new foods. Unless the girls ask to try something in their lunches, I stick to the foods I know they’ll love and eat. Why? Because they have very little time to eat (about 10-15 minutes), and I want them to actually eat! I prefer to use dinner hour and weekends as times to work in some new food choices or work on those picky food tendencies. So, keep it simple for yourself and your kiddos. You’ll save yourself some money – and a lot of stress.

4. Rotate Key Recipes. On that note of keeping it simple, make a list (either on paper or mental notes) of some key recipes to rotate week to week. As the school year progresses, you may want to freshen up the recipes with some new ones you’ve discovered and the kids really enjoy. But start now with a list of some favorites. For us, it’s Chickpea Nibbles (PPF, recipe also here), Simplest Marinated Tofu (PPF, recipe also here), muffins and snack bars, Super Cheesy Sprinkle (PPF) and plenty of hummus recipes!

Simplest Marinated Tofu #vegan #glutenfree #nutfree #kids #lunches

Simplest Marinated Tofu

"Cinnabon" Muffins by Dreena Burton #vegan #nutfree #wholefoods

Also don’t hesitate to rely on some quick fixes for weekly rotation. Some of ours: *Amy’s Baked Beans (stir in another cup or more of cooked beans, stretch that sauce!), whole-grain fig/fruit bars, and nut-free veggie burgers. (*As a side, I often make sandwiches with the Amy’s Baked Beans (+extra beans). Put a layer between whole-grain bread, add a slice of Daiya cheese if you like, voila! Baked bean sandwich.)

Chickpea Nibbles #vegan #wfpb #glutenfree #nutfree

A weegan favorite: Chickpea Nibbles!

5. Kitchen Gadgets and Appliances. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again and again… there are a couple of kitchen appliances that make my food prep a lot easier. First, a large capacity food processor. I have a Breville, it’s 16-cup and BPA-free. I don’t think you need a 16-cup, but at least a 12-cup (and preferably 14). This is how I triple, and even quadruple, batches of hummus. I also make double batches of veggie burgers and protein power balls (also from PPF, nut-free for school!). Second, a very good blender. Preferably high-speed. I use a Blendtec. and I’ve had it for about 8 years now. Yes, it’s more expensive than a standard blender. But, it does a heck of a lot more! I use mine daily (usually 2-3 times a day), for morning smoothies. Then, I use the twister jar for things like sauces, salad dressings, chia puddings, nut butters, and the nut-free super cheesy sprinkle the girls love so much. We lost power recently for a full day, and I felt lost without my Blendtec! I use it in many recipes throughout PPF, as well as here on the blog. If you don’t yet have a Blendtec, stay tuned – giveaway coming up! :)

Blendtec blender - stay tuned for giveaway!

Blendtec blender – stay tuned for giveaway!

I hope these tips help you get a little more organized for the school year. Please share any tips that you think might help others reading – and me too! 


Back with more soon…

x Dreena

Why We Shouldn’t Eat Meat and Dairy: From 10 Year-Old

Why We Shouldn't Eat Meat Or Dairy - from a 10 year old

With school coming to a close this week, I want to share something pretty remarkable that took place this year.

In the spring, our 10 year old, Bridget, came to me after school about speeches taking place in her class. The conversation went something like this:

B: Mom, we are doing speeches in our class and get to pick our own topic.

Me: Ok, well, what do you think you’d like to talk about?

B: I already know. I want to talk about why people shouldn’t eat meat and dairy.

I paused for a minute. Then I replied “Are you sure?? We can think of other ideas?

In other words, I wasn’t sure. While we talk about many aspects of food at home, I don’t expect our girls to be activists in school or with their friends. I don’t ask them to preach the values of a plant-based diet. But this came up entirely organically for her. Despite my questioning her readiness, she was certain. She was passionate to share why she felt, in her heart, why people shouldn’t eat meat and dairy.

She presented her speech to her class, and was then chosen to present her speech to the school and parents.

I’m posting her speech for you to read and share:

Good morning / afternoon teachers and fellow students!

Raise your hand if you eat meat or dairy. Raise your hand if you think you have to eat meat and dairy to be healthy.

My name is Bridget, and today I’m going to share 3 important reasons not to eat meat and dairy: our health, the environment, and animals.

Meat and dairy are not good for us like people think. Studies have shown that our biggest health problems are linked to eating meat and dairy – including heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers. We don’t need to eat meat or dairy, we can get all the nutrition we need in other foods like vegetables, fruits, beans, and grains. Not only can you be healthier without eating meat and dairy, it is also better for our environment, and kinder to animals that share our world.

In order for us to eat meat and dairy, animals have to be raised in factory farms. These are not farms with grass and sunshine. Instead, animals are kept in buildings that are factories, and people are cruel to the animals. Animals suffer and are tortured every day of their lives on these farms. On milk farms, baby cows are even torn away from their moms so the mommy cows can produce milk. If they don’t produce enough milk they kill the cows. The baby cows never see their mothers again.

Eating meat and milk products is also bad for our environment. We all want to do things like recycle, and use less water to help our environment. But, the one thing that makes the MOST difference? How much meat and dairy we eat. Consider this: skipping just one burger saves enough water to drink for 3 months!

Chickens, pigs, and cows feel and love just the same as animals like cats and dogs. They bond with other animals, and with people too. They value their lives just as much as we do, and they feel pain just as we do. If people treated our cats and dogs the way cows and chickens are treated on factory farms, they would be arrested! Yet, we eat these animals every day, but we would never imagine eating our dog or cat.

I have been raised without meat and dairy. I’m healthy, happy, and just like other kids. I eat pizza, hot dogs, burgers, ice cream, and so many other delicious foods, without any meat or milk! Every time we make a choice not to eat animals, it helps our health, our planet, and the animals. Please think about this. Thank you.

She asked if she could wear the “Plant-Powered” t-shirt for her speech. I didn’t encourage that one, either! Here she is on her way out the door that morning…


…and here she is delivering her speech to the school (see the raised hands?)



As a parent, we wonder whether our children are receiving the lessons and messages we are communicating. When days are tough, we feel our efforts are wasted, or that we are doing a terrible job as a mother or father. Then, we have moments where we see our children blossoming, developing into their own person. We see their heart, their courage, their care, their beautiful spirit.

This was one of those moments for me. Bridget feels more compassion about animals than any of our daughters. It’s just “in” her. She wants to free every bug or fly that enters our home, and she wants to start an animal rescue this summer… at our house! (We’ll talk about that one, lol.) But, this child has a heart for animals. More than I ever impressed upon her or ever expected. She was proud to present this speech, and I was beyond proud to listen to her.

Who knows, next year we may revolutionize hot lunch. Baby steps. :)

Feel free to share this speech! 

x Dreena

Plant-Powered t-shirts, “weegan” onesies, and more!


Do you have a “weegan”? Are you a plant-powered cook? Do you want spread the word about eating vegan and Living plant-powered?

Now you can… with these energetic, bright t-shirts, totes, and aprons. Yes, even onesies!

Since I started writing Plant-Powered Families two years ago, I’ve wanted to bring out some feel-good vegan t-shirts and items. So, a couple of months ago I hired a designer and an assistant to help out with these designs. I’m really pleased with them, and hope you like them too. Here’s just a few of the items (link through to see ALL).

"Plant-Powered" t-shirts and more! via Dreena Burton #vegan

"Weegan onesie! via Dreena Burton #vegan



My favorite so far is this bamboo tank! Yep, I ordered one for myself (and an apron, and kiddo tee, etc). And, if I had still had a wee babe, I’d have defintiely ordered that onesie too!

It’s almost cute enough to try for a 4th. Almost. 😉

These items and more (including mugs and aprons) are now available through this page. Just in time for Mother’s Day!

Also, remember you have a chance to win a selection of these goodies! Check out my post for details.

Stay tuned, next week I have a wicked giveaway for Mother’s Day… and a site makeover!

Plant-Powered shirts, totes, mugs, and aprons for the whole family! #vegan

Please tell me… do you like the designs? What else would you like to see down the road? More quotes? Different items? Please send along your feedback so I can create more designs for your plant-powered self and loved ones! 


This post contains affiliate links. Your support allows me to create more great content. Thank you.

Plant-Powered Families is HERE! (+ bonus ebook and giveaway)


Plant-Powered Families is here! I’ve mentioned this new cookbook a few times, and today I can officially announce that it releases on May 12th! In this cookbook, I share over 100 recipes, plus insights and tips from my 14 years of raising 3 “weegans”.

NEW! Plant-Powered Families cookbook by Dreena Burton

This is my fifth cookbook, but my first cookbook with full-color design and photographs for every recipe (taken by my friend and colleague, Nicole Axworthy). Cover photo credit: Lindsay Faber.

All the recipes are vegan, whole foods plant-based, and many with allergy-friendly options to make them nut-free or gluten-free. This is collection of both new recipes along with selected “tried and true” dishes. I have revised some old favourites, making them easier, more nutritious, and also with some allergy-friendly alternatives. Of course, there are many new food creations, including:

  • Sunday Morning Pancakes
  • Cinnamon French Toast
  • Blueberry Lassy Muffins
  • No-Bake Granola Bars
  • Green Superhero Dressing
  • Cheesy Caesar Dressing
  • Potato-Meets-Egg-Salad
  • ‘Baconut’
  • Red Lentil Hummus
  • Vegan Feta
  • Motsa’ Dip
  • Ultimate Cashew Cheese
  • Cream of Cauliflower Soup
  • Smoky Bean Chili
  • Smashing Squash Soup
  • Thick ‘n Hearty Tomato Sauce
  • Polenta Pizza Crust
  • Artichoke Sunflower Burgers
  • Ta-Quinos!
  • Autumn Dinner Loaf with Homestyle Gravy
  • Saucy BBQ Chickpeas and Green Beans
  • Creamy Fettucine
  • “ShipShape” Joe’s
  • Balsamic-Glazed Sweet Potato Fries
  • Peanut Butter Pudding with Berrylicious Swirl
  • Fudgesicles
  • Vanilla Bean Chocolate Chip Cookies
  • Crazy Brownies
  • Apple Spice Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
  • Protein Power Balls
  • Apple Nachos Supreme… and more!
Cinnamon French Toast from "Plant-Powered Families" cookbook by Dreena Burton

Cinnamon French Toast

Artichoke Sunflower Burgers from "Plant-Powered Families" cookbook by Dreena Burton

Artichoke Sunflower Burgers

Red Lentil Hummus from "Plant-Powered Families" cookbook by Dreena Burton

Red Lentil Hummus

Vegan Feta from "Plant-Powered Families" by Dreena Burton

Vegan Feta

Cream of Cauliflower Soup from "Plant-Powered Families" by Dreena Burton

Cream of Cauliflower Soup (with Seasoned Polenta Croutons)

Autumn Dinner Loaf from "Plant-Powered Families" cookbook by Dreena Burton

Autumn Dinner Loaf with Homestyle Gravy

Saucy BBQ Chickpeas and Green Beans from "Plant-Powered Families"

Saucy BBQ Chickpeas and Green Beans

Crazy Brownies from "Plant-Powered Families" cookbook by Dreena Burton

CRAZY Brownies with Chocolate Ganache

Apple Spice Cake with "Cream Cheese" Frosting

Apple Spice Cake with “Cream Cheese” Frosting

Apple Nachos Supreme from "Plant-Powered Families" by Dreena Burton

Apple Nachos Supreme

Beyond the recipes, this is where you will find my vegan mama insights and food tips… answering the questions I hear from readers so often, including:

  • What do you pack in your kids’ school lunches? How do you make them nut-free?
  • What do you serve at birthday parties? Do you send your children to non-vegan parties and social events?
  • How do you handle weekly food preparation? What do you batch-cook/freeze?
  • … and the ever-popular: HELP! I have a picky eater!

I answer all these questions — and more — sharing what I’ve learned and as a mom of three for the past 14 years. I’ve also included a nutritional FAQ section, with help from my friend and colleague Heather Nicholds.

Plant-Powered Families releases on May 12th (perfect for Mother’s Day)! I encourage you to pre-order now and receive a special early order gift, a bonus ebook with 15 NEW plant-powered, family-friendly recipes. (If you have already pre-ordered, yes, you are still eligible to receive the pre-order bonus.) Your 15 bonus ebook recipes include… Lemon Coconut Muffins, Amaranth Porridge, Soy-Free Vegan Feta, Roasted Red Pepper Dip, Greek Lentil and White Bean Soup, Pumpkin Seed Poppers, Banana Chocolate Chip Cake with Chocolate Mousse Frosting, and more!

Lemon Cranberry Coconut Muffins from bonus "Plant-Powered Families" ebook by Dreena Burton

Lemon Cranberry Coconut Muffins

Mango Hemp Dressing from "Plant-Powered Families" bonus ebook

Mango Hemp Dressing

Pumpkin Seed Poppers from "Plant-Powered Families" bonus ebook!

Pumpkin Seed Poppers

Soy-Free Vegan Feta from "Plant-Powered Families" bonus ebook!

Soy-Free Vegan Feta

Banana Chocolate Chip Cake with Chocolate Mousse Frosting from bonus Plant-Powered Families ebooks by Dreena Burton

Banana Chocolate Chip Cake with Chocolate Mousse Frosting

To receive this bonus ebook:

  1. Order Plant-Powered Families (Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-A-Million | IndieBound | Indigo) before May 12th.
  2. Email your proof of purchase to

That’s it! PLUS…

I know many of you will be sharing news of this book via social media, so I’m offering a special giveaway. To enter the giveaway:

  1. share this post on social media (Facebook, twitter, IG, etc) using the hashtags  #plantpoweredfamilies
  2. then leave a comment with rafflecopter (below), and you will be entered to win ALL of these prizes…

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Protein-Rich Foods Kids Will Love: Today’s Parent

As parents raising children on a plant-based diet, the question of protein is always present. At first we question ourselves. After researching we come to understand how a whole-foods vegan diet provides ample protein, and are (usually!) at ease with the issue. Yet, the question remains, as we are often asked about protein by friends, family, and also new vegetarians and vegans.

12 Protein-Rich Foods Veg Kids Will Love - Plant-Powered Kitchen via Today's Parent

Other than recipe emails, protein for kids is the question I receive most from readers.

What are some protein-rich foods I cam give my kids? What are recipes kids will love? What foods do your kids like most, Dreena?

"Instant" Chocolate Chia Pudding

So, you will enjoy this special post that I’ve written for Today’s Parent:

Protein-Rich Foods Vegetarian Kids Will LOVE!

I’ve shared 12 kid-tested, mom-approved recipes in this piece – including a couple of new recipes!

Hempanana Smoothie

photo credit:

I ask that you please support this article. Comment on the post, and share it through your social media networks. I was thrilled to have the opportunity to write this piece for Today’s Parent. We can encourage mainstream media to include more vegetarian lifestyle pieces through our support. So, please share this piece through facebook, pinterest, twitter, Google+, etc. Thank you!

Read on at Today’s Parent, and please share your thoughts here, as well as there. Enjoy!

p.s. Special thanks to Sarah Wise for cheerleading my work and helping make this article happen!

Other photos credit to Nicole Axworthy.

Top 10 Recipes for Back-To-School and Tips for Packing School Lunches


Post Update: If you have Plant-Powered Families, these tips and MORE are now in the packing lunches section. Flip to page 233… and breathe easy! :)

We are full swing with back-to-school now, and many of us moms and dads are scrambling to get organized with activities, schedules, and – lunches. Dun-dun-DUUN! Does the thought of packing lunches again make you cringe? It can be frustrating to plan and pack school lunches, and that can feel even more overwhelming when eating vegan or plant-strong.

Top 10 recipes for back-to-school and tips for packing healthy lunches!

I’m here to take some of that stress away today. I’ve been packing lunches for our girls (and my hubby) for about ten years now, so I’ve learned some tricks and definitely have a school-year system.

One of my tricks is to rely on some key recipes. Ones that are easy, quick, that my kids love, and that pack well for school lunches. I’m sharing them with you today, along with some other tips for school-lunch success.

Ready to take notes? Class begins, now:

1. Tamari Roasted Chickpeas

So, I only make a quadruple batch of these now. Seriously, my kiddos eat one batch in one sitting – easily. So, at least once a week, these get tripled or quadrupled! What to do with them? Add them as a side snack in lunches, or mix into pasta, or rice/quinoa. Mash into a sandwich with your kiddos’ fave condiments. FYI, the school kids may also want them. I’ve had requests.

Tamari Roasted Chickpeas - Plant-Powered Kitchen

photo credit: lilveggiepatch

2. Creamy Hummus

It’s official, #hummusisafoodgroup.

Hummus is a Food Group - with Simple Reminders

Now that the hummus food group movement has officially begun (thank you Simple Reminders), get started with my Creamy Hummus! But don’t stop there. Try these other varieties. And, you know you can FREEZE hummus, right? Yes, double or triple batch, then freeze in about 2-cup portions. It thaws beautifully, take it out the night before and pop in the fridge. How to use? In sandwiches, slathered in wraps, as a dip for veg and rice crackers or pitas, on pizzas, as a spread for bagels or on pizzas, thinned out and mixed into pasta!

3. Easy, nut-free Baked Goods

It’s just impossible for me to narrow this down to one recipe. But, I can narrow it down to 5 or so recipes that I make every week through the school year. These recipes are staples to pack in lunches for recess, and also for hubby’s lunch: (1) Maple Banana Bread, (2) Pumpkin Seed and Chocolate Chip Oat Bars (now 25% off my ebook with code PP15school), (3) Banana Oat Bundles, (4) Snackles (original and pumpkin!), (5) Apple-Hemp Muffins. Put those 5-6 baked goods in rotation, double-batch and freeze some if needed. Your kids will thank you. Then you can thank me. 😉

Pumpkin Seed Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Bars - Plant-Powered Kitchen

4. Lemon-Herb Tofu

Or, Balsamic-Tamari Tofu (read on). This recipe originates from Vive le Vegan, and has been a staple recipe for me – and many of my readers – for years. I used to make it with the herbs all the time, but noticed once we had the girls, they were a little fussy about all that herb-age! So, now, I do a most simplified marinade of tamari and either lemon juice or balsamic (usually balsamic because it is quicker) and a touch of maple syrup. Those modifications are in the recipe, which I’ve just posted. How to use it in lunches? Keep sliced for sandwiches, crumble and use in wraps, cut in squares and mix into quinoa or leftover pasta, add to soup, or let them eat it on the side with a sandwich. Many possibilities with this recipe, and lunch prep will be easy-breezy!

Lemon-Herb Tofu - Plant-Powered Kitchen

Lemon Herb Tofu; photo credit:

5. Smoothies

Either before school or after school, they are a brilliant way to nourish and sustain your kiddos in a nutrient-dense drink. Don’t just fill them up with fruit, balance with some greens and veggies if you can, and also add nutrient-rich hemp seeds, chia seeds, goji berries, or nut butters. Our eldest now loves green smoothies, and the trick for me was adding frozen pineapple. I’d used it before in green smoothies, but didn’t always want it myself. Yet, it is one of the best tricks for balancing any ‘green’ flavor tones. You can get the full green smoothie tutorial here. Also try the Acai Antioxidant Smoothie and Strawberry Goji Smoothies (in first smoothie link).

Strawberry-Goji Smoothie - Plant-Powered Kitchen

Strawberry Goji Smoothie Photo credit:

6. Cocoa Cookie Dough Balls

Make ’em soon, and make ’em often! There is a nut-free option in the recipe, so you can make these for school lunches. If you don’t want to roll into balls, you can also press into a small pan and cut into squares. I often double the batch (you need a larger processor to do so), and freeze half. They pack perfectly for lunches, and school parties (being nut-free, dairy-free, and also gluten-free) and also terrific when running out to activities.

Cocoa Cookie Dough Balls - Plant-Powered Kitchen

7. Mellow Lentil Sniffle Soup

This is one of our girls’ favorite soups. The recipe is in eat, drink & be vegan, but I have just posted it for you. Make it for dinner one evening, and send it to school in a thermos for the kiddos another day. Or, just keep the leftovers for a quick dinner another night. Some other soups my girls love include this White Bean Soup and Sweet Potato Lentil Chili.

Mellow Lentil "Sniffle" Soup - Plant-Powered Kitchen

8. Cheesy Sprinkle

This unassuming little recipe with nutritional yeast transforms many of our school lunches from drab to fab. I add it to pasta, and “ta-dah!”, kiddos love it. Sometimes I’ll use a basic marinara sauce, but more often I’ll do a simple slurry of apple cider vinegar, tamari, and maple syrup (just a touch) – mix it up to taste, toss into pasta, then mix in the cheesy sprinkle. Kids LOVE this for lunch. Add in some veg or beans (there’s those tamari roasted chickpeas again!), cubed tofu or tempeh, and it’s a very satisfying lunch. I also sprinkle it into wraps for the girls, with things like cubed potatoes and hummus, and into quinoa bowls. Many possibilities! Note that the original version is nut-based, but I offer a nut-free alternative in the recipe. This is the one I use for school lunches, and the girls really haven’t noticed the difference.

Cheesy Sprinkle - Plant-Powered Kitchen

9. Chia Puddings

This may not be something you pack into lunches – though you certainly could, they are both nut-free – but your kiddos will love coming home to it! I have Chocolate and Pumpkin Chia Puddings posted, and in my upcoming cookbook (details soon), I have an Apple Pie Chia Pudding (plus a Bananascotch Pudding and  PB Pudding with Fresh Berry Swirl, it’s going to be a fun book)!

Chocolate Chia Pudding - Plant-Powered Kitchen


10. Homestyle Chocolate Chip Cookies

With the school year comes school parties. Halloween, Christmas, birthdays… someone lost a tooth, someone has a new baby sister, it’s “party day”! Yeah, I’m exaggerating. But not much, us parents know the school party scene. Always a reason for a party – and junky treats. Most of the treats we see going in and out of schools are pretty crummy. So, get a healthier – but DELICIOUS – dairy-free, egg-free chocolate chip cookie recipe in your arsenal! My Homestyle Chocolate Chip Cookies are a classic, and have almost 250K YouTube views. These are your go-to vegan cookie.

Homestyle Chocolate Chip Cookies - Plant-Powered Kitchen

photo credit:


Other Tips for Smart and Plant-Powered Lunches

– Pack lunches the day before. There is already enough chaos in the morning, so pack the lunches during lunch the day before, or the evening before.

– Also fill water bottles! Have them ready in the fridge ready to tote.

 Cook things in batches through the week and weekend. Hummus, tamari roasted chickpeas, muffins, as mentioned above. But also batch-cook potatoes, sweet potatoes, rice, quinoa, beans, etc. All those staples can be used in wraps, sandwiches, added to soups, pastas, and more.

– Pack plenty of fresh fruit and make it EASY for them to eat. Yes, it feels a nuisance sometimes to peel those mandarins or cut oranges into bite-size pieces and pop into a container. Why not just pack the whole fruit? Because kids have very little time to eat in school, that’s why. So, make it easy for them to eat that fruit. Peel or slice or cut into small pieces and pack in a container along with a fork. They are far more likely to eat it.

– Pack occasional treats – seaweed snacks, baked chips, cookies, a few vegan gummy worms. They have very healthy lunches, let them find a treat once in a while!

– Have stock of different size containers (scroll down to ‘kitchen gear for kids and lunches). I have an entire cupboard with different sizes of containers. Some are ziploc, others are reused containers from nondairy yogurt or store-bought dips, etc. The smaller ones are great for fruit and snacky items, the larger ones for pasta, sandwiches, etc. One day I may reveal my crazy cupboard of containers and lids! If you prefer a bento box, this Planetbox gets top reviews.

– We all need shortcuts. You may not always get to making marinated tofu, making soup, or baking muffins. Get some Amy’s burgers or other veg burgers that you can easily heat and put in a sandwich, and pick up healthier granola bars or snack cookies. Try Amy’s baked beans in a wrap with rice (I always add about 1 cup or more of black or kidney beans to stretch it out) or Amy’s alphabet soup – amp up the nutritional profile by adding beans, cubed potatoes or sweet potatoes, or cubed tofu. Try a pre-marinated tofu which simply needs to be sliced or lightly heated. Keep some quick fixes on hand to avoid mama (or papa) food-prep burnout!

Next, here are some examples of lunches I’ve packed for our girls (photo quality not stellar, but sure to give you the idea):

packing school lunches - plant-powered kitchen

Hummus sandwiches with carrot sticks, fruit cut in containers, maple banana bread (not yet sliced, pack in a little plastic wrap).

Quinoa mixed with tamari roasted chickpeas, tamari/vinegar slurry and cheesy sprinkle, and peas, pineapple-carrot cake (new recipe, not posted yet, sorry!), and fruit.

Leftover pizza + tamari roasted chickpeas + carrot sticks, oranges and grapes, "Banana Oat Bundles".

Leftover pizza + tamari roasted chickpeas + carrot sticks, oranges and grapes, “Banana Oat Bundles”.

Pasta with cubed tofu, Maple Banana Muffins, fresh fruit

Pasta with cubed tofu, Maple Banana Muffins, fresh fruit

Couple of news-y bits before I sign off:

First, PCRM has launched their September kickstart. I’ve been following PCRM from their early days, and am extremely proud to be partnered with them for this month’s kickstart. Not only are quite a few of my recipes in their 21-day plan, I am their “featured partner” for September. If you sign up and mention my name as the referral, you have the chance to win one of my books at the end of the programplus you will be eligible to purchase the PP15 at a discounted rate. I don’t discount the Plant-Powered 15 ebook anywhere else, this is a special PCRM initiative. If you are new to the kickstart program, it is completely free to register. Every day you receive emails with recipe highlights, tips from celebrities, and more. There is also a community forum. In fact, I have met some very special readers here from the kickstart program! So, it’s a very cool way to network and also, obviously, get immersed in a healthy plant-strong dietary plan.

Second, I have just launched my Plant-Powered 15 on amazon. You can still order through my site, but now you have the option to order via amazon on your kindle. Since many of you already have the PP15, I am asking a wee favor: If you have and love this ebook, can you leave a short review on amazon? Would really help establish its presence. On the topic of reviews, I would also deeply appreciate extra reviews of LTEV. As I work to finish this next cookbook, it is helpful to build the reviews and profile on amazon. I sure appreciate any help. Thank you.

With that, I hope you enjoy these school lunch tips. PLEASE share some of your own! What recipes do you rely on regularly? And, what are your go-to snacks and meals to pack into lunches. Any terrific quick-fixes to share? 


am I vegan enough? am I eating healthy enough?

eat, drink, & BE vegan!

Are you vegan – enough?

Are you eating healthy – enough?

This topic has been brewing in my heart and mind for a while. After returning from Vida Vegan Con, I thought it was a good time to open up this discussion.

You see, before leaving for VVC, I had some trepidation. I’ve been vegan almost 20 years, and yet had never been to an event that signified and exemplified veganism in its entirety like VVC. As most of you know, I came to veganism through my health, and later learned and integrated the animal ethics rooted in the word and movement. Talking with some colleagues before VVC, I was concerned that I wasn’t “vegan enough”.

Recently someone asked me on twitter why I never use the word vegan in my tweets. I was quite surprised. While I know I use the terms plant-powered and plant-based in my work, my cookbooks all have the the word vegan in their titles. I always shop for vegan shoes, clothes, and cosmetics, and choose the same options for my family wherever possible. Yet, in that moment I felt I wasn’t vegan enough.

One morning at the VVC conference, I was working out at the hotel fitness room while listening to Our Hen House. Who should walk in? Jasmin Singer. There were only three people in this fitness room. I laughed at myself, that here I was listening to her podcast with Mariann – and there Jasmin was, a few feet away. Yet I felt completely awkward to interrupt and introduce myself. Perhaps because I felt most of us don’t want to be bothered with introductions while working out. Or, perhaps because I felt I fell short in my vegan-ness. That might sound silly, but truthfully I have much gratitude and respect for people like Jasmin and Mariann, Victoria Moran, Jonathan Balcombe, and Gene Baur. They are the educators about veganism at its core, covering a breadth of vegan living topics including, but not limited to, the vegan diet.

I focus my time where I know I’m most effective – creating recipes and sharing food inspiration. I try to keep abreast of current issues surrounding animal rights and vegan activism, but often fall behind. My work has always teetered between the vegan and plant-based realm, so I guess I have felt connected to both without being attached to one exclusively. Alas, my work is an expression and reflection of being a Libra!

Backtrack to twitter. Shortly after receiving the question about my vegan-ness, I receive another addressing a nutritional issue with my recipes. I’ve always thought my work was healthy, and it certainly has evolved through my books and years of recipe development. Yet in this moment I felt it was not healthy enough.

I realize some of this is social media, and we need to temper the feedback we get and remain grounded in what we do. Yet, after my VVC trip, I realized that I am not the only one that has these insecurities about vegan and health absolution. I talked to some other bloggers that were also concerned that didn’t feel educated and informed enough for the vegan community, and likewise bloggers that felt they were committing health crimes in the plant-based community.

Vegans that aren’t healthy enough. Plant-based people that aren’t vegan enough.

I returned from VVC invigorated and feeling renewed in my connections to veganism. Yet, I wondered if many of us in the community are having these thoughts (myself included), are we alienating those new to the plant-based diet or vegan lifestyle with notions of impossible perfection?

I’ve heard from many that eat plant-based but don’t want to identify with the word vegan for this very reason, because they are afraid they will be judged for not doing enough, not being vegan enough. And, I understand that, because the word encompasses far more than our diet. It is a life philosophy, a full belief system and change of consciousness. But if I sometimes feel not vegan enough… do you feel the same? Are you discouraged from making worthwhile changes in their lives and diets for fear of being judged that you aren’t entirely there?

I hope not.

But, let me return to the health component of eating vegan. Healthy vegan eating does matter in the long-term, because it is the only way to sustain and uplift the vegan movement. And, it matters even more when raising children. Yes, more. When you have children, those little lives become paramount in your life. Your compassion can extend to all living beings, but not at the expense of your own children. So, there is no point in discussing the welfare of pigs or chickens or dairy cows if a parent cannot believe that this way of eating can be optimally healthy for their child.

That in itself is entirely ironic when we look at the nutritional standards of the standard diet. But, as parents, we have believed that this is the cornerstone of health for our families – forever. As Dr. T. Colin Campbell writes in Whole:

Our society believes so passionately in the health value of milk and meat that it is hard for us to conceive that we might be wrong – that these foods might, in fact, be very unhealthy. It is too far outside of what we have been taught for decades for us to believe it easily, no matter how true it may be.

We have a lot of work ahead, to demonstrate to parents that a vegan or plant-based diet IS indeed healthy – the very understanding of healthy foods needs to change. Our food choices as a larger population will not change until we have a new definition of “healthy”, one that does not include meat and dairy.

Eating healthy is not about perfection, it's about practice!

So, we work to educate about the nutritional excellence of whole plant foods. Do our efforts communicate a standard of purity, leaving others to feel not healthy enough? We are so passionate about the nutritional beauty of our whole foods like beans and whole grains and leafy greens that we may very well communicate a message of perfectionism. There is no perfection in any diet. There is practice. If we are losing readers because of perceived notions of perfection, then we are failing our causes for improved health and animal welfare.

What also matters is helping people sustain this vegan lifestyle through beautiful, appetizing, sensory-pleasing – and healthy – vegan food. Not every food boasting a V is healthy! Doesn’t mean we cannot eat it, but it does mean we should know the difference. One of my personal food mantras is to focus on eating 90% whole and minimally processed foods. We have room for the treats, sure. Yet, we need to fuel and nourish our bodies for long-term connection and vitality with our vegan diet. I have noticed the more I eat lesser processed and whole plant foods… the more I want them! It might feel a chore at first to move away from the processed choices and make that big salad with beans and leafy greens and veggies for lunch. But not for long! Our bodies adapt and respond. The more we choose healthy foods – foods that ARE ingredients, not FULL of ingredients – the more we enjoy them, and the better we feel. We even begin to crave them.

Here’s what I realized after reflection on my week at VVC. It doesn’t matter that I am not the most educated about vegan activism. What matters is knowing that animal agriculture is warped and cruel. What matters is that eating animals is not necessary. What matters is choosing not to eat meat and dairy every meal of every day. And finally, what matters is helping to show others the same. 

Vegan food is my activism. My goal is to share whole-foods recipes that will excite you – treats included! And to share messages about real, clean foods to inspire you to grow and thrive in this beautiful diet. Not to be perfect. But to come to understand and love the vegan basics – beans, grains, veg, fruit, nuts and seeds, and greens. To show you how they are the heart of the vegan diet. Whether you come to that diet from an ethical place, or for health reasons.

Is it naive, idealistic, and simplistic to think there is a place we can connect and support one another? That we can find common ground and build on that foundation for the greater good of better human health and also animal welfare?

Probably so. Here’s the thing. My heart is in both places. So, I will continue to reach out to you from both perspectives, with optimism.

That is vegan enough for me. And healthy enough for me. How about you? 

Do you feel these dietary and ethical pressures? How do you resolve them? Please share your insights with others.

Raw Lemon-Lime Cheesecake with Fresh Mango Sauce (vegan and gluten-free) – Easter Menu and Tips, Part One

This post is “part 1” of an Easter post. I was going to give you savory and sweet recipes all in one post – plus Easter Egg Hunt ideas, but it was shaping up to be far too long.  So, today we talk about dessert recipes for Easter, as well as ideas for your vegan Easter Egg Hunt! Before the weekend, I will bring you another post with some savory dishes that I think are perfect for Easter and welcoming Spring!

Mention “dessert” and I think of chocolate. Wait, ice cream. Yes, definitely ice cream. Because chocolate is my afternoon treat. 😉 Who says we can’t enjoy both? As much as I love chocolate, I often prefer a lighter dessert or evening treat, especially now that the weather is warming up and the days are brighter. With Easter this weekend, I thought I’d share a dessert that is just perfect for a special occasion – not to mention sunnier days (rejoicing here on the “wet” coast)!


This is my Raw Lemon-Lime Cheesecake with Fresh Mango Sauce from LTEV. While many raw cheesecakes use coconut oil, this one doesn’t. My version uses coconut butter, which is similar to nut butter – it is the whole coconut meat pureed into butter. It makes the magic in this recipe (and in many dessert recipes, imho).  I discovered Artisana Coconut Butter about 5-6 years ago, and have loved it ever since. Slowly it has become more available in stores (I used to order it online), and slightly more affordable.  It’s not cheap, but it’s worth every penny (er, should I now say nickel?) for a homemade, delicious, healthy dessert!

Raw Lemon-Lime Cheesecake with Coconut Nut Crust and Fresh Mango Sauce gluten-free, raw, oil-free link to RECIpage to print/share

Raw cheesecakes trump any tofu or soy cream cheese version (at least for me)! I wanted to come up with my own signature raw cheesecake. This one combines the tang and flavor of both lemon and lime juice, and has a tropical twist with coconut in the crust and a fresh mango sauce for serving. The recipe makes a fairly large batch of mango sauce. You can halve the batch or save the extra to top other foods, such as yogurt or waffles. You can also try the Fresh Strawberry Sauce as a switch from the mango puree. Regardless of the sauce you choose, this dessert is heavenly.


1 cup raw almonds (soaked preferably, this is about ¾ cup raw, unsoaked almonds, see note)

1 cup pecans (soaking not necessary)

¾ cup pitted medjool dates

¼ cup unsweetened shredded coconut

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

1/8 tsp sea salt


3 1/4 cups soaked raw cashews (soak first, then measure – this is about 2 ½ cups unsoaked)

¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

¼ cup freshly squeezed lime juice

1 tsp lemon zest

¼ tsp sea salt

½ cup + 1 tbsp raw agave nectar (little generous; can substitute maple syrup but the cheesecake will be darker in color)

1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped out

1/2 cup coconut butter, packed (I use Artisana)

Mango Sauce: (see note)

1 1/2 cups frozen mango chunks

1/2 cup water

2 tbsp freshly squeezed orange juice

¼ cup raw agave nectar (or pure maple syrup)

½ tsp orange zest

Pinch sea salt

Wipe the bottom and sides of a 9-inch springform pan to lightly oil (can use coconut butter or oil). Prepare the crust: Place the almonds and pecans in a food processor. Pulse until very crumbly, then add the remaining ingredients and process until the mixture will hold together when pressed. Transfer the mixture to the prepared springform pan. To prepare the filling, place all the filling ingredients in a high-powered blender (see note). Puree until very, very smooth and lightened in color. Pour the mixture over the crust and tip the pan back and forth to distribute evenly. Cover the pan with foil and pop into the freezer to set (you can freeze overnight, if you like, but freeze at least 3 to 4 hours so it can become firmer). Serves 6-8.

To prepare the mango sauce: Combine all the sauce ingredients in a blender and puree until smooth; refrigerate in a covered container until ready to serve.  To serve, remove the cake from the freezer for 30 minutes to 1 hour to soften slightly before slicing. Serve with the sauce.

If This Apron Could Talk: It’s helpful to make the crust a day ahead if you have the time; it spreads out the preparation work and makes for easier cleanup!

If you don’t want cheesecake, what other desserts would be great for Easter?

Banana Butter Pie – p.253 Let Them Eat Vegan. I don’t have a photo of this recipe, and don’t have it posted. But it is AMAZING! It doesn’t have butter in it, rather NUT butter! So, if anyone wants to take a pretty pic of this pie, I’ll post it asap! (Deal?!) 😉

Fresh Orange Cake with Fluffy Macadamia FrostingFrosting recipe is here, both recipes from LTEV.

Gluten-Free Apple-of-my-Eye Pie – Recipe also from Let Them Eat Vegan.  Even if you don’t need a gf crust, MAKE THIS PIE!

Raw Raspberry Pudding – light, easy, bright and fresh – and can be made very last-minute.

Snifferdoodle Ice Cream Sandwiches – I had to sneak in ice cream somewhere! Recipe for Snifferdoodles also from Let Them Eat Vegan.

Hello Vegan Bars – Ditto, from LTEV – these are decadent and moreish!!

Raw Chocolate Dream Mousse Pie – Forget dessert, I’d have this for breakfast! 😉 Another LTEV dessert (just realizing how many desserts I have in that book)!

Now, let’s share ideas for Easter morning!

What do you do with your kiddos? What vegan Easter treats do you buy/hide?  I do a couple of things. I have a bunch of plastic eggs and I fill those with inexpensive, small surprises – stickers, vegan gummies, foil-wrapped dark chocolate eggs, erasers, key chain, etc. I hide those along with some extra foil-wrapped dark chocolate eggs around the house (some years it’s been nice enough outside to hide in the garden, but often it’s wet). Other years, I give them each a small stuffy (they can never have enough stuffies, geez!) and do less ‘little’ treats, hiding mostly the gummies and chocolate eggs.




School can be tricky, however. Several years they dyed eggs in their classes. One year, our daughter’s class needed SIX eggs. I was stumped initially, realizing that plastic eggs wouldn’t work for dyeing -styrofoam eggs might have worked but I couldn’t find them. Then, I thought about it and realized that many craft stores carry wooden items for painting. I managed to pick up six wooden eggs, plus a few more. They did not dye as well as I thought they might, but they were still pretty and the girls had fun.  And, many years later we still have the eggs!

So, let’s share our experiences as vegan parents. What are your Easter traditions? What vegan treats do you buy and hide? And, do you have any other alternatives to wooden eggs for class projects? Also, please share any favorite Easter dessert recipes!

Everyday Superhero: A book for kids of ALL abilities

I have something special to share with you today.  A children’s book that is particularly unique and heartfelt, and written by a fellow Canadian mom, Stefania Moffatt.  I have known Stefania for quite a few years.  She was one of my readers of my blog and books early on in my career.  She was one of the recipe testers for Let Them Eat Vegan.  In fact, one of her daughters helped name one of my recipes that I had no idea would become such a sensation – “No-fu Love Loaf”.  

Recently, Stefania wrote and self-published a children’s book, called “Everyday Superhero”, featuring Kat – a spunky, eight-year-old girl who has cerebral palsy (CP). Kat likes dancing, rollercoasters and driving her parents crazy with all her talking. Everyday Superhero documents Kat’s fun experiences such as dance class and explains how CP doesn’t slow Kat down. While the main character of Everyday Superhero has CP the book is aimed for kids of ALL abilities. The book can be read by kids, but Stefania encourages parents and those who work with children (e.g., teachers, daycare workers, social workers, physiotherapists, etc.) to read the book together and discuss the topic since it teaches kids about sensitivity towards others and overcoming adversity.  Stefania had a special and personal inspiration writing this book.  Her own strong and spirited niece, Katrina, lives with cerebral palsy.

Since being published in August 2012, Everyday Superhero has received much success and support. It was featured in The Ottawa Citizen, newsletters, blogs and made an appearance on TV.  An excerpt from the Citizen article:

Reading a work of fiction that closely mirrors your own life can be a great source of inspiration, particularly when you see yourself reflected in a spunky, upbeat protagonist who has overcome adversity through sheer will and an uber-positive attitude.  That’s just what happened to 13-year-old Holly George; she says that she caught a strong glimpse of herself in the pages of the new book, Everyday Superhero.  Holly, who was born nearly four months premature and was diagnosed with CP at age one, says that the book sends a very positive message about kids living with a disability.

“I think the book reminds kids with disabilities that even though you might be a little bit different, you’re not alone,” says George. … “Sometimes kids will come up to me and abruptly ask, ‘What’s on your legs?’” she says. “I always try to answer their questions so that I’m not viewed as ‘scary.’  “Perhaps, with the help of increased awareness through books like Everyday Superhero, more people will grow to understand Holly’s simple message. “Just because I have this disability doesn’t mean I can’t do everything you can do — I just do it a little differently.”

Everyday Superhero will also soon be available through the Ottawa Library (and please ask YOUR local library to carry it, you can do so!), children’s hospitals across Canada, daycares and many other kid-friendly places.

photo of Stefania Moffatt (right) and Holly George. Photo credit: The Ottawa Citizen.

About Stefania Moffatt, the author: After a successful but brief career in communications, Stefania traded in her office suits for aprons and slippers. As a stay-at-home mom, writer and nutritionist, she often think of stories while cleaning up after my two senior dogs and cooking and baking for two beautiful children and a multi-talented husband. During her spare time, which consists of a few blissful hours when the children are tucked in bed, Stefania indulges in reading, watching the “occasional” reality show and planning parties and travel. She’s a graduate of Carleton University with a bachelor of journalism and political science and also holds a diploma in holistic nutrition.  You can follow Stefania on twitter, read her blog and contact her by email at

Everyday Superhero can be purchased for $15 (inc shipping) through Stefania’s site via PayPal.  She also accept cheques and e-mail bank transfers (email her to arrange that form of payment).  I have purchased two copies of Everyday Superhero.  I am keeping one copy for our girls, and the other I plan to give away to another family.  Please consider supporting this beautiful book, message, and author.  

Reasons to Stop Eating Dairy

For 2013, why not do the one single thing that can have a huge impact on your health – DITCH dairy!

When I got dairy out of my diet, it made the biggest difference in how I felt.  At twenty my joints hurt, and my knees in particular were so stiff some days that it hurt to sit and stand.  My digestion was sluggish, and my body felt ‘slow’.  In my twenties.  That’s pretty darn young to feel slow and uncomfortable.  When I got dairy out of my diet, I felt profoundly better.  It didn’t happen overnight for me, because some things were hard to ‘ditch’ (like cheese).  As you will soon see, I later learned that was because of the highly addictive quality of cheese.  But, once the dairy products were gone for good – my body felt renewed.

I talk about dairy far more than any other animal ‘food’.  I think we consume so much of it without even realizing, and unlike meat products which we know we should reduce or eliminate… most of us truly believe that dairy is good for us.  I want to change that.  Last year I created a list of 12 reasons to dump the dairy, many very important issues summarized in one post.  I’ve updated it this year, and of course, added another VERY good reason, so here you have it folks…

13 Reasons to Ditch Dairy in 2013

13.  There have never been more – or better – dairy alternatives.  I became vegan almost 20 years ago.  Our alternatives for non-dairy milks were: bad-tasting soy milk and bad-tasting rice milk.  That was it.  Vegan cheeses?  Forget it!  Vegan ice creams?  Uh, if you want to call a rice-based icy concoction with a weird oily aftertaste ‘ice cream’, I guess it counts – I just never ate it.  And, that was a big deal for this ice-cream loving vegan!  Now?  You are spoiled, people! 😉  Have a look at just some of the dairy-free options available:

Milks: Coconut milks, Almond Milks, Rice Milks, Soy milks (always organic, please), Hemp, Flax, Oat, and blends like Almond-Coconut. Really – there isn’t ONE option in all of these that is at least as good as – or better than – cow milk?

photo credit:

Cheeses: Daiya shreds and Daiya wedges probably earn top spot here for commercial cheeses.  But, there are many more recipes available too.  Try my two vegan parmesan alternatives, my ‘Truffled Cashew Cheese’ (pictured below, from LTEV, and recipe coming soon).  And, have you seen Miyoko Schinner’s new Artisan Vegan Cheese cookbook? WOW!

Truffled Cashew Cheese

Yogurts: Coconut yogurts and greek yogurts, Organic Soy, Almond.

Ice Creams:  Oh, you guys are lucky!  Coconut ice creams from Coconut Bliss (my FAVE!) and So Delicious, Rice ice creams by Good Karma, soy ice creams, and then many nut and seed based ice creams like almond creams, hemp, and cashew.  Or, make your own with my “Dreena Dazs” recipes!

Seriously, I haven’t even exhausted all the brands and options here – we are lucky to have so many delicious options – no excuses.

12.  Cancer Prevention.  Prostate, breast, and ovarian cancers have been linked to dairy consumption.  And, if you’ve read The China Study, you’re aware of the link between casein (the main protein in milk) and cancer.  If not, READ it!  Dr. T. Colin Campbell, professor emeritus of nutritional biochemistry at Cornell University and author of The China Study, says casein is one of the most significant cancer promoters ever discovered.  Think about how often children are pushed to eat milk, yogurt, and cheese. Childhood diets rich in dairy products are associated with cancer in adulthood.  For more, watch this video from Dr. Colin Campbell.

11.  Cheese is addictive.  That’s why it’s so darn hard to stop eating the stuff.  But, as you’ll learn in Julieanna’s brief video (and through this list), it’s best to kick the cheese (and dairy) habit.

reasons to stop eating dairy #vegan

10.  Osteoporosis.  Seems counterintuitive.  We’re supposed to drink milk to protect against osteoporosis, right?  So why do the countries that guzzle the most dairy have the highest osteoporosis rates?  We now know that it’s not just calcium intake, but absorption and loss.  When we eat diets high in animal protein (milk included), our bodies become acidic and calcium is drawn from our bones to neutralize that acidic environment – cheese is particularly acidic.  Ditch the dairy (and the meat) to help maintain a more alkaline state in your body.

9. Plant-Based Calcium.  Last year, the “Healthy Eating Plate” food guide pushed dairy off the plate, based on Harvard’s assessment that high intake can increase the risk of prostate cancer and possibly ovarian cancer, and also suggesting that foods like collards, bok choy, and baked beans are safer choices than dairy for obtaining calcium.  Speaking of calcium sources and absorption, did you know that kale contains more calcium per calorie than milk (90 grams per serving) and is also better absorbed by the body than dairy?  And that’s just ONE plant food you can eat.  Other plant-foods boosting calcium include: beans, nuts like almonds and seeds like sesame, broccoli, collards, whole-grains, and tofu.  (And if you think eating leafy greens is hard, I have a leafy-greens post coming up, stay tuned!)

reasons not to eat dairy #vegan


8. Heart Disease.  All that cheese and milk (and other dairy products) pack a wallop of cholesterol and saturated fat to one’s diet.  A low-fat plant-based diet has been shown not only to prevent heart disease, but also reverse it.  And, before you think low-fat dairy is okay, it has been linked not only to increases in allergies, but also type 1 (childhood-onset) diabetes.

7. Constipation.  Milk and cheese have no fiber.  (Neither does meat.)  Dairy is constipating for children.  Our children have never been constipated, yet I have heard parents talk about poo problems over and over.  And, grownups, if the kiddos get constipated from dairy, you will too (maybe you are right now).  There’s no need for laxatives.  Eat a plant-based diet (rich in whole foods), and you’ll poop easy.  There, I said it.

6. It stinks.  Okay, there is nothing scientifically or even ethically sound about this argument.  But, have you ever just smelled milk?  Put aside the fact that you’ve been drinking it since your wee years.  Take a glass and smell it.  It has a stink.  I guarantee that if you grew up drinking almond or coconut milk and you tasted COW milk, you would immediately say “peeU”!  It is what we are conditioned to drink, and cow milk is – well – stinky…  and, that’s even before it goes sour.

5. Antibiotics and hormones.  The mass production of milk requires cows being stressed to unnatural levels.  This stress results in mastitis in the cows, which requires antibiotics, which make their way into the milk in our markets.  As well, synthetic hormones such as recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH) are commonly used in dairy cows to increase the production of milk.  Do you want to drink growth hormones and antibiotics?  Do you want your children to?  You may bypass this one point by choosing organic milk products – but that doesn’t change the composition of milk…

4. Saturated Fats, Cholesterol, and Hormones.  Skim milk is marketed for lower fat content, yet a 2011 Harvard study of 12,829 children showed that the milk sugar in skim milk may make you fatter than whole milk. And, all milk products (as with ALL animal products) contain cholesterol.  And, we have been sold the line that “organic” milk is the solution.  But as explained in The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Plant-Based Nutritionjust because you pay more for the ‘organic’ label doesn’t mean you’re getting a safe, toin-free product. Milk products are inundated with steroids and hormones (both naturally occurring and production-induced… and microbiological contaminants (think bacteria, viruses, parasites and mycotoxins) can also find their way into your dairy products.

3. Animal cruelty.  Dairy production might be the most offensive and heinous of all animal farming.  Baby calves are pulled from their mothers at birth. Mother cows will bellow and search after being separated from their young. While female calves are slaughtered or kept alive to produce milk, male calves are taken, chained in tiny stalls and raised for veal. And, since is unprofitable to keep dairy cows alive once their milk production declines, they are usually killed at 5 to 6 years of age (though their normal life span exceeds 20).

2. Lactose Intolerance.  I would guess that if any of us were tested, we would be deemed ‘lactose intolerant’.  It is estimated that about 75 percent of the world’s population are ‘lactose intolerant’, and those that aren’t (primarily Caucasians) tolerate milk sugar because of an inherited genetic mutation.  That’s because the milk is meant for cows, not people…

1. It’s COW milk.  Again: milk. from. a. cow!  Why are we all drinking milk from a cow when we wouldn’t drink the milk from our lactating dog or cat… or milk from a horse, pig, or racoon?!

We are the ONLY species that drinks the milk of another species, consuming it long after weaning.  Would you go out into a field and suckle from a cow?!  I don’t think so.  Think about that connection.  Just think about it.

Have you already given up dairy?  If so, what have you noticed?  (Please share your experiences for other readers.)

If not, what is YOUR reason to dump dairy in 2013?