Back to Eden: Hilary Tries Vegan

Okay, so here’s the deal. I am a meat lover. If I had a dating profile it would read something like, “Single white female. Fond of fried foods, steaks, and lattes.” My friends do not recognize me without a cup of coffee in my hand and do not attempt conversation until I’ve downed some caffeine. Well, you get the picture.

But if there’s one thing I’ve learned thus far in my travels, it’s that you have to be ready for anything. The gypsy lifestyle does not cater to preferences or comfort. You learn to be adventurous and enjoy experiencing (and tasting) the unfamiliar. Sometimes this means eating whatever is available, and sometimes it means just trying what’s available because it’s going to be bang-up awesome and you wouldn’t want to miss it. So naturally, as life goes, I was faced with a situation where I had to reevaluate my eating habits.

I took the train from Washington to Oregon to visit a yogi friend of mine who lives in Portland. I had previously met him when he came down to Vegas to teach flying yoga workshops a few months earlier and we developed a fast friendship. Besides yoga, massage, and spiritual well-being, Billy also happens to be fond of raw foods, vegetarianism, and organic eats. I knew I was in for a change in grub but I wasn’t fully prepared for what was in store.

He wanted to take me down to Alberta Street to check out this new vegan bakery, Back to Eden. “I’ve only been here once before but I’ve been pretty impressed with the quality of their food. I think you’ll like it.”

I inwardly balked at this statement. My previous experiences with vegan food had left me sour and I’m convinced butter makes everything better. But I trusted Billy’s judgement (for the moment) and was willing to give anything a try once. Worst case scenario I’d make him stop by the Starbucks I’d scoped out a few blocks away.

He ordered these peanut butter and seed bars that reminded me bird food. He watched me carefully as I broke off a piece to eat. I tried to dissect the ingredients, wondering if this was really meant for human consumption, but eventually gave up and popped it in my mouth.

Have you ever tasted something so delicious that it makes you see colors? Yeah, neither had I. Until this peanut butter bar. Surprised me too.

I literally could not get enough of these tasty morsels. I even had a dream that night about buying out the store and taking boxes of bars back to Vegas with me. It became a quick addiction. I made Billy take me back so I could indulge again and again.

After such a positive experience I let Billy pick the restaurants for the remainder of my stay. My diet consisted of coconut milk soups, fruit and ginger smoothies, organic salads, and goji berries with cashew butter. The worst part? I liked it. I was pretty sure I was coming down with something.

Am I a reformed carnivore? Well, no, but I am facing a dilemma. This Back to Eden bakery has changed my preconceived notions about vegan food standards. And now crazy things are happening; I’m craving vegetables and herbal tea over coffee and carbs.

Oh Portland, what have you done to me?

51 thoughts on “Back to Eden: Hilary Tries Vegan

  1. I’m pretty much a raw vegan with some meat added in once in a while and some cooked vegetables. I enjoy it a lot 🙂 But I would never have turned on this path if not for some digestive issues. I can’t eat grains and stay away from dairy as much as I can. This is problematic when traveling because those are common stable foods. It makes me scared of doing traveling your way. This summer I’m going on interrail and I’m really worried about how the food problem will turn out. If I don’t get the proper food my stomach will get upset and I won’t enjoy the trip at all.

    • You’d be surprised at how health-conscious we’ve become recently. A lot of Americans are having gluten and dairy issues as well, so raw/vegan places are popping up more and more. No, they’re not as easily accessible as burger joints, but you do have options now. California is spearheading that for us and Nevada is slowly but steadily following suit!

      I don’t eat grains if I can help it either, so a lot of times when I travel I just shop at local supermarkets and make my own meals. =)

        • I do when I go out of the country. America is not very ‘hostel’ friendly so when I travel stateside, I normally stay with friends or friends of friends.

          Yeah, the two things I miss most when I’m cooking in hostel kitchens are blenders and coffee makers. They’re never there and for some reason I always need them, haha!

  2. Wow!! Congratulations on becoming a veggie!! I have been a very staunch and proud vegetarian all my life, and I can assure you that you will have a better life now, without the guilt of having something which would have liked to be alive, in your tummy!! 😉
    And love the blog’s title!! 🙂

    • Thank you for your kind words! I’m doing the best that I can, but it’s been a lot harder than I thought! It does help being around other like minded individuals.

      And how awesome are you? Were your parents veggies as well? Do you have a favorite veggie dish?

      • Well, Im not that great as well!! Ive tried becoming a vegan, and I have stopped consuming all animal products except the dairy products. I just cant let go of yougart and ice creams and chocolates and cheese!!
        My mom is a veggie, and my dad wasn’t. But, I convinced my dad to become one, and I am proud to say that he hasn’t touched meat for the last 10 years or so.
        I must say, being a veggie in India is way easier, because we have infinite dishes to choose from. And I just cannot pinpoint a single dish as my favourite. I have a huge list!!
        Try out a few Indian recipes. Maybe they will help you like the greens more, cause spices can really make the difference.

  3. I am definitely a carnivore; but my mom cooks a lot of vegan and vegetarian dishes. Most are so/ so, I would definitely prefer just a nice salad with italian dressing. But some are really good and make me think that if I had to, I could handle being a vegetarian (sorry, I have no idea what they are though). Honestly though, I am not sure I could live without chicken wings and chili and BBQed ribs.

    • Haha, I completely understand! I am a meat lover to the extreme! Since coming back from Portland I’ve found a happy medium with getting my protein and eating lots of veggies. BBQ is definitely one of my favorites too =).

      Thanks so much for commenting! I hope you’ll come back again!

  4. Hahahah! Having been on a limited and organic diet forever I laughed at so many of your “isms” That said, you crack me up with your humor and your delightful way of sharing your inner workings! (Vegan and all!) When you go to other countries I am pretty sure you will find WAY worse than Vegan bean dishes! Thank you for being you, your really quite remarkable!

  5. I am very much like you – meat and fried food all the way! To hear that a fellow meat-eater is enjoying this healthy food gives me hope that I’ll one day broaden my food horizons. However tofu does this notion a disservice.

  6. Going Vegan is hard work. My brother has been one for several years and I went vegetarian for lent. I have found you feel healthier, at least to me, but I will still want to resort back to being a carnivore. Maybe less of one now as I found I like thinking more towards the vegetarian ways, and now that I am starting to like beans I find myself with a whole new list of foods I want to eat. Like how garbanzo beans tasted delicious when I cook them, who knew?
    It keeps you well rounded by trying to explore new appetites. Good luck on going partial vegetarian Hilary!

    • Hi Gayle!

      Thank you so much for taking the time to comment! I think I am experiencing similar benefits and feelings now that I’m on this healthier path. But much like you, I feel if I deny myself meat I will become a very unhappy person.n Maybe one day :). Do you have a favorite dish?

      Best of luck to you as well! Please keep me informed on how your journey progresses!

  7. Vegetables are the true gateway drug. Once you find out that there are people (and ways) to make good food that is good for you and then you start eating it – it has this ability to start making you feel really good. It’s addicting. Vegetables are jerks, really.

    • Also, my advice, don’t set yourself up to never eat meat again if it’s something you enjoy. If you want a burger then, by jove, have one. If you happen to be a non-meateater for ethical reasons and you live on a soap box – that’s the only time I recommend staying the course or live with the shame of your hypocracy.

      • I could not stop laughing when I read this. You are so hilarious. But seriously. Start writing a book. I’ll endorse it. Especially if it talks about mean vegetables.

        Thank you for continuing to read and support me. =)

  8. Hello Hilary,

    Last Summer, I maintain a vegan diet for the entire summer, for the most part it was pretty easy to maintain. I am not an overweight guy by any means but I lost about 20 pounds and felt amazing. I stop during the winter months because I wanted to put some weight on (who am I kidding I wanted a hamburger and a slice a new york style pizza!!!! mmmmm so good.) However, I decided two weeks ago to go back to vegan eating. There is a high possibility that I will maintain a vegan diet this go around. As a side note vegan desserts are the best!!!

    • Hey there!

      Thanks for sharing your story! I hope to feel as healthy and fit as you did. I have high hopes, but my meat cravings are winning out here… One day at a time, making appropriate choices =).

      I wish you best of luck on your venture! Please let me know how it goes!

      • Hi Hillary,
        I have to say at the moment i’m being so lazy with the food I make myself, but It is always such a treat to have a great veggie chef create something special. your post has reminded me that I really need to try harder with my food, or go out and treat myself! 🙂

        • Haha, I understand. Watching my friend cook for three days was exhausting; I can’t imagine what a strain that would be on a daily basis (but I guess I’m going to find out)!

          Always treat yourself! We only live one life, so we might as well enjoy it and be well, yes? =) I’m glad that I could help. Please stay in touch!

  9. Reblogged this on Niklas Holmström and commented:
    Great post on a carnivores experiencing some positive vegan vibes. I don’t expect to ever leave meat and never look back, but I’ll always be open trying any well prepared dish, save the über-spicy and down right rotten products.

  10. Sounds like a fun trip! Seeing colors from eating your food especially!

    I used to work at a place on Alberta St. But not the new and improved part. I was a misplaced cowgirl in the ghetto. Weird.

    This looks like a great place to check out… not because of the Vegan part (I love my steaks!) but I’m sure it’s all sustainable along with being organic. It is possible to have it be tasty too. Starting with good base ingredients seems to make all the difference. Besides, you have me curious about what colors I would see…

    • “Misplaced cowgirl in the ghetto.” Love that. Feels like the story of my life, haha.

      And I’m with you. The best food is all about a strong foundation of ingredients. I am excited to be eating healthier, but as I mentioned, I am quite the meat lover! We’ll see how things go.

      I had my first experience cow herding the other day and thought of you. Thought you would be proud of my cutting skills =). Hope you’re well!

  11. Hey, nothing wrong with Vegan food. If you stay a carnivore, think how much wider your range of choices will be!
    I myself have been known to indulge in the occasional organic carrot. Granted, it’s usually on a plate with chicken wings, but still..

    • Hahaha, yeah. I don’t think I will go full veggie (or vegan). I was a veggie for a number of years, but I just missed meat soooo much. I am excited about turning a new leaf and trying to live a healthier lifestyle, though!

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