Life more sweet when both are vegan

Valentines Day, although a bit commercial now and based on the tragic life of a third century Christian martyr is still considered a day of romance. Feelings of love, friendship and connection seem to visit us this time of year, and there is nothing wrong with a little love and affection, right?

In honor of this ardent holiday that falls on the 14th day of this shortened month of February, I’d like to share a love story. I’ve titled it “My Vegan Valentine.”

Once my vegan journey began, I knew that life as I had known it had forever changed. When I discovered what was actually happening behind the scenes in the meat and dairy industries (yes, even with the “free-range,” “cage free,” “hormone free,” “grass fed” and “humanely raised” labels that are neatly placed on the wrappers to make us feel better about our choices) things changed … fast. I did my research. (If you are ready to do yours, start here: The “wizard” behind the curtain was revealed to me. No more mystery – I completely understood. Most of us are too busy or too content with the way things are, or have always been, to truly understand the darkest side of animal cruelty … and that it is on our plates, three times a day. But when you do learn the truth, there is no going back. You cannot un-ring a bell.

The most dangerous phrase in the language is, ‘We’ve always done it this way
— Admiral Grace Hopper

So there I was, in my kitchen, having made this major lifestyle commitment to myself and to the animals. It was a spiritual turning point in my life, a new path to health and wellness, and without doubt, one of the most important decisions I have ever made. Yet, there was another person in my kitchen, waiting for dinner. There he was — my partner, my husband, my love and best friend — a meat eater! <Insert scream here!>

In addition to altering my lifestyle in accordance with my values of kindness and compassion, I now had a dilemma, as I was in charge of all the shopping and cooking. Would I now have to prepare two different meals each time we ate together? Would I have to go to the store and buy animal products? I guess I would. Every trip to the grocery store became oppressive to me. I was seeing with new eyes.

My husband supported my decision to live vegan, but was not yet ready to jump on board my vegan peace train. I shopped and cooked for him separately for as long as I was able, but soon, as I gradually shared the information that I’ve come to learn and that nobody wants to hear, he began to understand why I am so passionate about veganism and all that embracing a vegan lifestyle can do for our bodies, our minds and our spirits — and especially for what it does to end the suffering of others. He made the decision on his own and for himself. He actually spoke the words, “I am not doing this because I love you (and I do)...I am doing this because it is the right thing to do.”  A heavy weight was now lifted from my heart, as we could now continue our life together on the same compassionate page. I was elated.

Kathy Stevens, founder of the Catskill Farm Animal Sanctuary in Saugerties, featured our story in her Huffington Post Article, “How Going Vegan Changed My Life: Three Real-Life Stories for World Vegan Month.”

When my partner, my husband, my love decided to join me in the most fulfilling way I can ever imagine living life out on this crazy planet, our marriage was catapulted into a new level of wonderful. We love animals — all animals — and now we can say that with conviction and with absolute honesty. Our Karuna Kitchen is completely vegan, and we are healthier and happier than ever before.

I am now creatively challenged in the most amazing way, to come up with delicious, healthful, cruelty-free vegan meals — and if you ask my husband, he’ll tell you that “I do.”

To show my love on Valentines Day, I’m baking him some scrumptious vegan chocolate cupcakes. I am including the recipe from “The Oh She Glows” Cookbook by Angela Liddon.

Love the animals, the earth and each other — and give these cupcakes a try!

Happy Valentines Day!

Chocolate Fudge Vegan Cupcake Recipe

Recipe adapted from “The Oh She Glows Cookbook” by Angela Liddon

Prep time: 30 minutes; cook time: 25 minutes; makes 24 cupcakes

For the cupcakes:

2 cups non-dairy milk (I use almond milk)

2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar

1 1/2 cups of natural cane sugar (I used organic coconut sugar, and although it was not recommended, they came out great)

2/3 cup melted coconut oil

2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract (yes, that’s correct: 2 tablespoons)

1 cup of whole wheat pastry flour

2 cups of all-purpose flour

2/3 cup cocoa powder, sifted

2 teaspoons of baking soda

(I omitted the extra salt the recipe called for, because baking soda is salty enough, and my first batch tasted a little too salty)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a cupcake tin with paper cupcake liners.

In a medium bowl, stir together the vegan milk and vinegar. Set it aside for a minute or two. (You have just made vegan buttermilk!)

Add the sugar, oil and vanilla to the bowl with the milk. Whisk to combine.

In a large bowl whisk together the pastry flour, all-purpose flour, cocoa powder and baking soda until combined.

Pour the milk mixture over the flour mixture and beat with a mixer until smooth. (I used my Kitchenaid mixer with this recipe)

Pour the mixture into the paper liners in the cupcake tin. Bake the cupcakes for 21-25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean and the cupcakes spring back slowly when touched. Allow the cupcakes to cool completely before frosting.

For the Chocolate Buttercream Frosting (makes 2 cups):

2 1/2 cups of confectioner’s sugar, sifted

3/4 cups cocoa powder, sifted

1/2 cup vegan butter (Earth Balance)

Pinch of fine-grain sea salt

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

3 1/2-4 tablespoons of non-dairy milk (as needed.) I used almond milk.

With a hand mixer (or in the Kitchenaid mixer) beat all the ingredients together except the vegan milk. Add the milk gradually. You want the texture to be thick, but not so thick that it won’t spread, and not runny either. You may need to use more or less milk than stated, but 3 1/2 tablespoons was perfect for me.

Spread generously on completely cooled cupcakes and ENJOY!

Sande NosonowitzComment