Hi, I’m Nikki. I live in Brooklyn with my husband and three cats, but I don’t consider this to be a blog about being vegan in New York. You won’t find me at the newest vegan hot spots all that often, partly because I’m a homebody but mostly because I’ve got student loans to pay off and my disposable income goes more towards travel than food. When I’m there, I’ll write about it. But most of the time I’m cooking in my own kitchen. Speaking of my kitchen, it’s tiny. My cats are probably sitting on the counters right this second. I only own one skillet. I bought a wok with the intention of whipping up a mean stir fry, but our biggest kitty climbed into it the moment I took it out of the bag and he owns it now. It’s the most expensive kitty bed I’ve ever bought. I love to bake. I don’t particularly love to cook but I find that chopping up a few bell peppers at the end of a stressful day can be very therapeutic. I like simple recipes with accessible ingredients. If a recipe includes an expensive, exotic spice or more than six steps, then I’m probably not going to make it.

I like to dance. I like snowy mountains. I like to eat an entire jar of pickles in one sitting and then drink the juice. I like to watch hockey. I like yoga and cartwheels. I like stationery. Sometimes I’m crafty. I like to travel and I always have a trip or two in the works. I like tomatoes and cinnamon rolls, though not together (but hey, never say never, right?).

I named this site The Tolerant Vegan because I am trying to be just that. I had a really hard time when I made the decision to be vegan. Wouldn’t it be great to say that I just woke up one day and said, “I have zero desire to eat cheese! Ice cream is so super gross! No more warm, gooey peach cobbler or red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting or dense, rich chocolate cake with…” oh wait, sorry, got carried away there….so yeah, that didn’t happen. Obviously. Deciding to be vegan was hard. I’d say it is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Harder than school or work or beating Oregon Trail that summer between the fifth and sixth grades. I’m happier and healthier since I made that choice, but it took a long time to get here. I tried it once when I was 20 and that lasted about two months. I just didn’t have the willpower and my intentions were misguided. My main line of thinking was, “vegans are skinny, right?” Ugh. Sometimes I just want to go back and a have sit down with my 20-year-old self, don’t you? Anyway, I’ve been vegetarian for over a decade. I’ve always wanted to adopt a vegan lifestyle, but I made up so many excuses not to. I’ll never find foods to eat! (wrong) I’ll be malnourished! (wrong again). My friends and family won’t accept my change (wow Nikki, you’re pretty self-centered to think that people are going to care that much about what you’re eating). It’s just so haaaaaaaard! (okay, that’s a valid statement, but please stop with the whining, you sound like your 20-year-old self again!)

I made my final, honest decision to adopt a vegan lifestyle three years ago, at age 30. A lot of factors came into play and I’ve stumbled several times along the way. Even after finding dairy alternatives I still craved the real thing and there were several days when I said, “I can’t do it, I’m not strong enough to be vegan.” Each time I slipped up and ate pizza or sampled ice cream, I really hated myself. I was so angry with myself and I kept saying, “okay, time to start over.” Then a week or two would go by and I’d be the perfect vegan, until someone would offer me a piece of birthday cake, and then off the wagon I fell.

 After a few months, I realized that I was looking at veganism in the wrong way. I was setting myself up to fail. I was demanding perfection from myself when I’d never ask the same of anyone else. So I decided to get a grip, lighten up and accept that doing my best was good enough. I’m doing the best I can, and that’s what this blog is about. Nobody is perfect and we shouldn’t demand perfection from ourselves or from anyone else around us.

 
I have started this blog as a way to share my life as a vegan. I’m not going to use it to push my beliefs. It doesn’t matter why I’m vegan or if/why you’re vegan. It doesn’t matter to me if you’re fully vegan or most-of-the-time vegan or sometimes vegan or if you’re just thinking about it. What matters is that you’re here and so am I, so let’s do this together. Let’s respect one another and the world around us. Change is hard. Life is hard. Let’s love our bodies and our souls, and for pete’s sake, let’s cut ourselves some slack.

 
Most of my posts will be about food because I feel that embracing a vegan diet is the most difficult part of a vegan lifestyle. But sometimes I’ll talk about shopping, or travel or whatever happens to be on my mind. I hope you’ll stick around and join in the conversation.

 
 

Disclaimer:
Clearly, I’m no expert on veganism. I’m constantly trying to educate myself but I’m not a nutritionist, scientist or psychiatrist. I’m just a person who happens to enjoy sharing my experiences being vegan.

71 thoughts on “about me

  1. Pingback: hello from the tolerant vegan — the tolerant vegan

  2. I LOVE THIS BLOG! Not because I am your mother but because I love the way you describe things. Being happy with who you are. I could not be more proud of the woman you have become.When you fall off that wagon get back on and go again.

  3. This is cool! I like your writing too and I can’t wait to read more of your posts! I’ve been a pesco-vegetarian for 14 yrs and have recently stopped making eggs for breakfast (since I watched some video of what happens to the male baby chick not needed by the egg industry-yikes) which is big for me, so i’m moving more and more toward vegan. I just bought Veganomicon and Vegan with a Vengance. I am making progress. We will do this together. Thanks!

  4. As I was reading your story I realized how you put every word in right place. You described it so well. My mother is vegan and I can’t understand why since she started 6 months ago (at age of 49).. because she was meat eater all her life, but I also support her because that is her life and her lifestyle. I really enjoy your blog and will explore more..

  5. I relate so much to your ‘about me.’ My sister and I often debate the vegan label … I feel that it’s laden with so much weight that I just do not feel comfortable fully endorsing and yet there is so much that I laud. Sigh. My personal resolution was to approach eating and food like other domains of my life — adhering to ‘the Middle Way,’ recognizing that how I define the ‘middle’ may change with time and my mental space…

    Thank you so much for sharing your story (and food!)

  6. Pingback: vegan cookie brownies — the tolerant vegan

  7. Nikki, I am not vegan, or even a vegetarian, but I am close to people who are both & I can understand what a struggle it must be. I really like & respect your approach to the whole thing. (I also love your mom’s comment above, how cute! I started my blog after my mom passed away, but if she were here I think she’d write something similar :)) AND I am intrigued by some of your cakes, they look so delicious! My stepsister-in-law is vegan and her kids’ birthday cakes are usually… interesting :) Thanks for sharing your experiences & recipes!

  8. This is quite funny to read, as you sound quite like me. We’re always trying our best, right ?
    I’m glad I found your blog, I think it might help me on my veggie journey. Thank you.

  9. I cannot believe that I haven’t seen this before! It seems like I vaguely remember something being said about it but when AJ mentioned it to me again yesterday….I finally took a look. I LOVE it! Not as much from the VEGAN perspective but from the YOU perspective :) I will now be a “follower” of your blog. Isn’t it funny that it in an opportunity for me to get to know you better? My own SISTER????!!!! XOXO And p.s. banana cake looks delicious and my nephew is adorable <3

  10. I can relate to so much you say about being vegan in this post- I have been vegan for about 2 years now, vegetarian for 16. It is a hard transition, and your honesty is refreshing. I look forward to reading more of your blog! thanks!!!

  11. I don’t demand perfection, from you…I’ve just learned to accept it (yes, I expect you to start a cookie brownie points tab, for me). I’m sorry that I’ve taken so long, to visit your blog; though I will prolly not be making much of the recipes (your six steps limit is about 4 1/2 more than mine), I look forward to reading more about all the rascalian hijinks you kids get yourselves into. My purpose is no to adopt veganism, but to embrace it. I have nothing against vegetarians, some of my best friends are vegetarian ;). Dairy alternatives, eh? It might be time to look into such options…and I have you, to thank.
    “Thank you”

  12. Hi Nikki! I just stumbled across your blog and love it! I, too, am a Brooklyn vegan. Well, a new vegan (since October), so I can relate to your feeling that veganism is hard. It totally is! I love it, but it’s not always easy. I love your writing style and will definitely be stopping by again. Glad I found you :)

  13. You are so cute! You bio really made me giggle:-) I am so excited to connect with you, and look forward to reading you beautiful recipes. I basically try to make meals for everyone in mind, so I try to learn about vegan and gluten free. I actually love the recipes too, and find myself wanting to eat more vegetarian, vegan, or gluten free dishes:-)

    My animals take over many things in my home too, not a stir-fry pan, but lots of stuff, LOL! love love the animal love, then are my babies here:-)
    Hugs, Terra

  14. I love your blog and the fact that you are being tolerant with yourself…more people need to be :-)

    Veganism is definitely a process…I look forward to watching your progress.

  15. Thanks for your post about ‘Court’ kitty. I just lost my Sunny girl to complications with hyperthyroidism and your pictures lifted my spirits.

    ‘Sunny’ was one of 14 rescues I took care of for 14 years. I had to re-home 3 of my guys to a friends property when we moved (now renting) from our 5 1/2 acre property 2 years ago. It was heart-breaking for me. I was able to negotiate bringing 3 of my guys here (2 outdoor, 1 indoor/outdoor). I lost one of them within a few months to unknown circumstances. I have one of my buddies left. They’ve all added more to my life than I could express in words.

    I look forward to more of your posts ~

  16. Pingback: Brazil Nut Cupcakes ~ A Guest Post by The Tolerant Vegan — The Kitchenarian

  17. So, I am curious as to why you are vegan and what does that mean, exactly? Why is ice cream or milk gross? Your page looks really interesting, I’m sure I’ll learn a lot!

    • Hi Lorie! Welcome to my part of the world! To answer your questions, being vegan means that I don’t eat anything made with animal products including but not limited to meat, dairy, eggs and honey. I also try my best to eliminate animal products from every area of my life, including clothing, beauty supplies, etc. I am vegan for several reasons, including my love of animals and my health. I actually just wrote a post about my health issues here:

      http://www.thekitchenarian.com/brazil-nut-cupcakes-a-guest-post-by-the-tolerant-vegan.html

      And as for the ice cream and milk comment…I was just kidding :) I loved milk and ice cream and I’m so happy that I’ve found delicious vegan substitutions for both.

  18. Finally!!!! I have found (thanks to Food Gawker) a vegan food blog that is neither preachy or pretentious. I will visit often. Thank you for a being real person and allow others to see it.

  19. I love your blog! I can absolutely relate to living in a tiny apartment with a tiny kitchen. I also have 2 rescue cats who take over pretty much everything :) I am a vegetarian-converting-to-vegan, and I really like your approach to veganism. I look forward to your future posts!

  20. Hello, just wanted to say thank you for your blog and your great attitude! I adopted a “mostly vegan” lifestyle last September, and feel the same way about it. It’s been challenging, and identifying myself as a vegan made me really head-trippy for a while. I was very fretful of any kind of exception I made, feeling like a hypocrite but then resenting the feeling. I’ve found a lot of intolerance and cultish attitudes on the vegan forums I follow. As much as I love the ideal, this makes it challenging. Making this choice is a sacrifice, it’s our attempt to do something good, so yeah – let’s respect each other and celebrate! Love it!

    • Hi Jen! Welcome to the blog, I’m so glad you found me! Thank you so much for your comment. I no longer feel that being vegan is a sacrifice, though in the beginning I did feel that way. I kept focusing on what I was giving up in terms of food and convenience. Without sounding too hippie chick, I no longer see it as giving anything up, but instead I see it as a gift I give myself every single day. I hope you feel the same way soon, too. Just changing a couple words when you talk to yourself can make all the difference in your outlook, whether you’re vegan every day or just once in a blue moon. Oh and yeah, totally stay off the mean vegan boards. There is too much judgment out there. Can’t we all just eat a cupcake?

  21. Hi Nikki, my Mom just forwarded your blog to me and I never do this, but I just have to tell you how much I enjoyed reading about you. We would definitely be friends if we ever met. My husband and I also have cats (2) and I laughed out loud when you said your cats are all over the counters and took over the wok. Sounds like my kitchen.
    My parents, husband and I are Pescatarians who try to eat Vegan as much as possible. We throw around the idea of going completely Vegan so who knows what the future holds. I do appreciate your honesty that it isn’t always easy to turn down that Birthday Cake or cheese. It wouldn’t be easy for me!
    If you are ever in the Philadelphia area you HAVE to go eat at one of my favorite restaurants, Vedge. It is simply one of the best vegan restaurants in the country.
    Post a pic of your cat in the Wok, I would love to see that!
    Your newest fan,
    Megan

    • Hi Megan! I have Vedge on my “must try” list! My husband and I find ourselves in Philly often because he is a Flyers fan and we like to go to games when we can. I can’t wait to go there! I love Philly. And I’m so happy that you found my blog. You are right, we’d definitely be friends and our kitties could all lie in a big floof pile together and sleep while we eat cupcakes!

  22. I just clicked by from a pin on Pinterest.. SO glad I did! Your blog is awesome. I love the way you describe your venture into veganism! I will have to remember to stop by your blog to check your posts since I don’t have access to a feed on the work computer. Your butter pecan cupcake.. killer looking and can’t wait to make it!

    I hope your kitty likes his wok-home!

  23. Love the blog! I agree so much about just being as vegan as you can manage. I say this all the time — I’m happy if people will just be as vegan as they can manage to be. There’s no reason to be judgmental of not doing it 100% when doing it 90% or 75% or even 50% is better than what MOST people do, which is NEVER eat vegan. Harm reduction, you know?

  24. Pingback: More Legend of Watermelon We Missed | vivacova.com

  25. Hi There,
    MeatOutMondays just posted your Maple Pecan Sweet Potato Burgers (yum) & I followed the trail. I like this approach. Kathy Freston’s term ‘Veganist’ fits well too. I try to eat & prepare vegan but because the rest of my family (and world for that matter) is not, but have greatly reduced their animal product intake because of my input , I’m happy to be known as a ‘flexitarian’. Not my term either but I like it.
    I am interested in sharing the journey.

    • Welcome to the blog, Lynda! I’m so glad you found my tiny little corner of the internet. Thank you so much for taking the time to introduce yourself. I welcome vegans, veganists, flexitarians, people who eat meat and dairy 24/7, and everyone in between! There is always something to be learned from one another :)

  26. My 11 year old vegetarian turning vegan daughter asked me yesterday for a vegan chicken pot pie…I found one and your blog. You are a breath of fresh air!! My daughter and I have been on this journey all year and it is a harder transition than I anticipated. I worry about her more, trying to make sure she is eating properly. (In case you are wondering, it was her idea to start this and I totally support her but will also support her if she realizes this might not be for her right now.). I will definitely have her join me following your blog so she knows not to be too hard on herself. Can’t wait to read more! Love the kitty stories!

  27. Ive been vegetarian for nearly 2 years now at 38 yrs old err I mean young ;0) I happenened along this lifestyle sure to my health. It has been one crazy journey and in my research or education whichever you like to call it, Ive been trying to go began totally. I happened along your bloc from one green planets pinterest and we are such kindred spirits! I love what I see so far and will definatelu be looking forward to reading your future post and getting caught up on the back post! Thanks a fellow tolerent began in Wc :0)

    • Hi Kim! Thank you so much for leaving a comment. It really means a lot to me that you took time out of your day to say hello. I’m so happy that you found me :)

  28. Wow, im in love with your blog!! i have jst adopted the vegan lifestyle. and I’m makeing the change at the age of 30 as well :) …only been doing it for a few weeks and its def hard but im so excited i found your blog and recipes, i think it will help me alot …..thanks so much

  29. I can’t even begin to tell you how refreshing your blog is! While not a Vegan, I have been dancing around the thought of it for a while now. Unfortunately, every time I’ve tried to research it, I’ve been freaked out by all of the really aggressive, angry commenters. (I don’t like stuff like that … too much angst and I run away.)

    All of that just to say that I really appreciate your approach and how pleasant your readers are. Thank you for creating a safe, happy place where people can learn more about becoming a Vegan without feeling attacked or like a total failure. :)

    • Hi Steph! Thank you so much for your kind words. Veganism can be daunting and I really wish that everyone would be warm and inviting so more people will hop aboard the vegan train. Please come back by and, if you’re into tweeting, you can find me here too https://twitter.com/tolerantvegan

  30. Hi Nikki,
    I just stumbled on your blog after digging around the internet for vegan recipes. I’ve been doing this for a while but am struggling with getting enough protein so have succumbed to supplementing with protein shakes (Garden of Life Raw Vanilla is one of my favs). Vegetarianism started for me in college as I had friends who worked at a meat processing plant (horrible awful things happened there), then was solidified with my current volunteer work at The Wild Animal Sanctuary (http://www.wildanimalsanctuary.org/ in case you are curious) where seeing a lot of raw meat when doing food preparation for the animals is common. No longer do I crave cow’s milk or eggs, but cheese is still the issue. Am giving Daiya another try even though first try was really bad.
    Thank you for your fabulous blog – informative, encouraging and positive!! It will be a great resource for me to get through the tough cheese craving times. Thanks again!!

    • Hi Jen! Thank you so much for leaving your comment. Like you, cheese was the issue with me for a long time. The truth is that you’ll never be able to replace cheese. I have grown to love Daiya and cashew spreads. I now love and crave pizza without any type of cheese at all. But nothing tastes just like cheese. However, I no longer feel that it’s a bad thing. Even if you never find a replacement, you’re tastebuds will change and the cravings will disappear. I can promise you this. It doesn’t appeal to me anymore, but it took time. I’m so happy to be off the cheese wagon now, though. Happy Herbivore has a great little write-up about going dairy-free here. As for protein, I love the info that No Meat Athlete has. It focuses on vegetarianism, but the vegan food sources on the list are great. Eat as many whole foods as possible. Devour plants like a hungry little bunny! Of course, I’m not a doctor, but these are resources that I like to suggest. Kathy Patalsky has great recipes that are packed with nutrients and I can’t say enough about drinking your vegetables. It’s such an easy way to devour a ton of vitamins at once. Oh, and don’t forget your B12 vitamin :)

      Food talk aside – the organization that you volunteer for seems truly amazing. Spending time with any animals, but especially those that need us most, is so rewarding. I admire you for what you do and I know that those animals are truly grateful to you for sharing your days with them. It’s wonderful to virtually meet you and I hope I hear from you more :)

  31. Just wanted to let you know how much I loved your intro, especially the “tolerant” part. Hooray to you for being so kind and gentle with yourself and those around you. I’m very new to exploring veganism, and plan on creating my own plan that works for my life — “Homestead Vegan,” meaning I won’t eat any animal products except the eggs and dairy from my beloved backyard chickens and dwarf dairy goats. I wish you were on FB because that’s my main way to stay up on things, but I will check your site and look forward to following your adventures!

  32. Hi Nikki! Delighted to discover your blog :) I love the name. Also, those socks are freaking awesome. I live in Alaska and so obviously I must have them! We don’t cook with a lot of exotic fancy things either because frankly…Alaska is lacking in said items! Thanks for sharing so many lovely, vegan recipes. Your friendly vegan food blogger pal, Katie.

  33. Hi Nikki, I just stumbled across your blog. I’m so happy that I found it. I was just having a conversation this morning about being a tolerant vegan. We just set these strict rules and guidelines on ourselves and often times forget the bigger picture that being vegan should make you a more tolerant and compassionate person. I haven’t met too many tolerant vegans yet which can be discouraging but I have hope! So thank you for being tolerant and having an awesome blog!

    • Hi Krystle! Thank you so much for taking the time to leave your note on the blog. I feel like vegans are becoming more and more tolerant as the years go by and as the rest of the world gets on board. “Vegan” isn’t such a strange word anymore and I hope that the changes all around us will make us all relax a little more :)

  34. I just found your blog. I love it. I will visit often. It’s hard to believe you are from NY. I am from the south and there is a decided southern quality to your recipes!

  35. Hello Nikki! I just found you and am enjoying everything about your blog. I’m moving towards a plant-based diet at the age of 47 and embracing the challenges. Fortunately my carnivorous husband is (mostly) supportive as he does the bulk of the cooking! My reasons are compassionate more than healthy, and I wonder if you feed your cats vegan pet food? We have 3 cats and 2 dogs, and I do struggle with being complicit in the pet food industriy’ practices, but am unsure of switching to (very pricey) vegan food for my picky/food allergic animals.

    Your cats are delightful and your prose is entertaining, but the recipes rock the most.

    Thank you – I look forward to following you. :)

    • Hi Amy! Thanks so much for commenting and congrats on embracing a vegan lifestyle! You know it’s funny, in all these years of posting cat photo after cat photo, no one has ever asked me what we feed those furry faces. The honest answer is – we don’t feed them vegan food yet. It’s one of the things I have to be “tolerant” with myself about, because so far, I haven’t figured out the best way to do it. Feeding cats a vegan diet is more complicated than feeding dogs, since they break down nutrients differently and require a more careful balance. There are synthetic sources of taurine and other necessary vitamins and nutrients out there, but we’re still trying to find the best one for our furry family. Lately I’ve been looking at Evolution canned food and VegeCat Mix from Hoana. The mix is a supplement that you add to home cooked meals, and it comes with a pdf of recipes to try out. It’s not cheap, though, especially when you have three mouths to feed. And making recipes will be time consuming, but we’re considering giving it a try. I would love to have more control over what goes into their bodies, especially as our oldest guy ages. We don’t have any dogs yet, so I can’t really speak to a vegan dog diet, but it seems that the consensus is that dogs are easier to feed than cats. As soon as we live in an apartment that allows us to adopt a pooch (or two or five) I’m sure I’ll be posting more dog food and treat recipes than human recipes on the blog. Sorry I feel like I wasn’t very helpful, but the honest answer is, we’re trying but we’re not there yet. I’d love to hear if you find any solutions for your fur babies.

      • Thanks Nikki! That is actually quite helpful. :) In all reality we probably won’t go to vegan food until we have new animals. Our current “set” is getting on in years and many have diet issues we have finally gotten stabilized – it seems counter productive to change that up.
        Fortunately there are new resources coming to market all of the time, so when we are able to make that change it will be a bit easier!

  36. Awesome blog; and like your mother, I love the way you describe things ….and your feelings. I didn’t have time to read everything, but I will come back for sure!

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