Transitions, Veganism

5 Reasons a Plant Based Diet is the Most Nutritious Diet

I think that as a society, we are quite aware of the health problems in westernized countries. We are suffering from diseases of indulgence. Diseases that were once only found in the wealthiest people of society. Look around your circle of friends and family, and I bet you know at least one person suffering with one or more of these diseases. High blood pressure, high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, and gout, just to name a few.

I’m not here to lecture you about these diseases. I just want to share a few of the reasons that eating more of a whole food plant based diet can give you the nutrition that your body needs to avoid diseases of excess and to thrive. So let’s get right into it.

  1. Micronutrients – think vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. The more colorful your food is, the more micronutrients you’ll be taking in. These are essential to normal bodily functions, immune system function, digestion, and overall health. Want to look young? Eat the rainbow!
  2. Lower in fat – dietary saturated fat and cholesterol are a recipe for heart disease. Saturated fat and cholesterol are only found in animal products and processed foods. Sure, you can eat nuts, nut butters, and avocados which are all high in fat but those have one thing animal products don’t have: fiber. Your body digests whole plant foods with higher fat differently than it digests processed or animal foods that have higher fat and cholesterol content.
  3. No chemical shit storm – let’s not fool ourselves on this one. Any packaged food has some sort of chemicals in it. Take a look at the ingredient list on the package of pretzels in your cabinet or hummus in your refrigerator (both of which are staples in my kitchen). There’s bound to be an ingredient or two in there you can’t pronounce. While some of these chemicals mimic natural ingredients that help to extend shelf life or enhance color, it doesn’t change the fact that the chemicals in processed, packaged foods are not meant to be processed by our bodies.
  4. Less Exposure to Hormones – Kids are currently going through puberty at incredibly young ages. This can be attributed in part to the amount of meat and dairy those children are consuming. Animal flesh is full of hormones, just as your body is full of hormones. Dairy is also full of hormones. Think about milk for a moment. Cow’s milk is designed to fatten up a young calf into a fully grown adult cow. Of course it’s packed with growth hormones. When you eliminate dairy and meat from your diet, you also eliminate the hormones that they sneak into your diet.
  5. Fiber – Fiber is a wonderful thing. Only produced by plants and not readily digested by the body. Think of fiber as the street sweeper for your insides. You know what they say about fiber – it keeps you regular. Keep the waste moving. There’s no need for it to linger! Fiber is also critical for countless other functions and is best consumed in it’s whole form from plants, not from supplements.

I’d like to make the disclaimer that yes, a plant based diet is lacking in B12. If you begin eating a fully plant based diet, it’s important to take a B12 supplement regularly. I’d also like to point out that B12 is found in animal products only because those animals are also fed B12 supplements and when you consume animal flesh, you also consume whatever they have eaten. B12 is produced by bacteria in the soil. Many moons ago we would have ingested B12 through fruits and vegetables. However, in our highly sanitized world, B12 is no longer readily available from the dirt leftover on your lettuce and strawberries.

So there you have it. 5 reasons a plant based diet is the most nutritious diet.

You don’t have to go plant based over night. You can make the transition slowly by replacing one or two meals each week with plant based options. Over time, those plant based meals will crowd out the animal and processed foods.

Transitions, Veganism

Top 5 Tips to Slowly Transition to Veganism

As I’ve shared more of my story, I’m approached by people who are interested in trying some new recipes and experimenting with a more plant-based diet. When I share recommendations based on my own research and experiences, the same thing always comes up: There’s no way I can be fully vegan.

Truth is, you can, but you don’t have to eat a 100% plant based diet. It’s okay to make slow changes towards eating more whole, plant foods. I personally believe that when you take the pressure off by removing the vegan label, it’s actually easier to eat more like a vegan. When you intentionally make plant-based choices and you take your time, you’re more likely to create maintainable habits.

There are some instances where an immediate transition to a plant-based diet is necessary. Your doctor may have recommended a dramatic change of your diet to help improve your health. Or maybe you’ve witnessed the realities of factory farming and slaughtering and are unable to eat animal products again.

But honestly, the rate at which you transition to a whole food plant based diet really depends on what you want and what you’re willing to do to change your habits.

That being said, if you choose to transition slowly, here are my top 5 recommendations:

  1. Focus on the things that you are adding to your diet, not the things you’re giving up. Try new foods. You may be surprised at how your tastebuds now enjoy foods you once thought you didn’t like.
  2. Try one new plant-based recipe per week. A quick Google search of your favorite recipe plus the word vegan will likely yield thousands of results. For example, search ‘vegan shepherd’s pie’ and you’ll find dozens of tasty recipes like this one and this one.
  3. Explore your local produce stand. I recently discovered that I love going to the little produce market next to my gym. They have the most beautiful produce, some of which isn’t carried in my grocery store. The prices are often much cheaper and there are likely to be more local choices. They also sell pantry staples, like oatmeal, flour, quinoa, beans, etc. It’s a great little one stop shop.
  4. Read and watch documentaries about veganism. The more you know, the easier the choice to eat more plant food becomes. If you’re transitioning because of health, read books like How Not to Die or The China Study. If you’re interested in the environmental side, try watching Cowspiracy. If you’re interested in the ethical side, watch Earthlings. There’s also a ridiculous amount of resources available on YouTube. Again, a quick search will yield more results than you can imagine.
  5. Don’t beat yourself up. If you’re craving a burger, eat the damn burger and jump back on the plant-train tomorrow (and tomorrow you can look up my black bean and sweet potato burger recipe for the next time you’re craving that burger). Making this change requires a huge shift in your thinking about food and it’s okay to not be 100% on point. Make the changes at a rate that’s sustainable for your life. Slowly crowd out the animal products with plant food and eventually you’ll get there.

Bonus tip:

  • Include satiating foods in your diet. Don’t think that you’ll be able to survive on just salads and apples. While eating your dark green leafy veggies and fruits are important if that’s all you eat, you will feel hungry! Try whole grains like, oats, whole wheat pasta and bread, brown rice, quinoa, etc. Legumes are another important addition to your diet. Some of my favorites include black beans, lentils, and cannellini beans. Starchy vegetables like potatoes and corn are also extremely satiating.

So that’s it. My top 5 (plus a bonus) tips for slowly adopting more of a plant based diet. If you have any other suggestions, please leave them in the comments for others to read. 💚

Recipes, Veganism

Black Bean and Sweet Potato Veggie Burgers

I love a good veggie burger. Anytime Kyle and I go out to dinner, that’s the first thing I look for on a menu. Now that we live in a new town, it’s like a game trying to find the best veggie burgers. The problem is, very few of the restaurants (only 2 so far) even carry a veggie burger on the menu.

So, I’ve been making these little (actually, they’re quite large) patties quite frequently! I was initially inspired by this recipe and have adjusted it to suit my taste. They’re completely nutritious, boasting 5 checks on Dr.Gregor’s Daily Dozen checklist.

These burgers are pretty easy to make, but do require a bit of prep work with having to cook the quinoa and sweet potato.

So let’s get right into it – the most delicious black bean and sweet potato burger you’ll ever try!

Start by preparing 1/2 cup of dry quinoa according to the package directions. You can cook the quinoa in vegetable broth for added flavor. This is totally not necessary, but does add a nice depth to the flavor of the burgers. While the quinoa is cooking, wash and dice a large sweet potato. Boil the sweet potato until fork tender.

Next, drain and rinse a can of black beans and add to a bowl with the prepared quinoa.

Then, use the back of a fork to smash the black beans. I don’t like to “oversmash” because I enjoy the texture of the beans.

Add in about 3/4 cup of frozen (or fresh) corn. Keep mixin’!!!

After that sweet potato has finished cooking, smash the potato in the pot before mixing in with all of the other ingredients.

Add the sweet potato to the mixing bowl. You guessed it, keep mixing!

The final ingredients are 1/2 cup whole wheat flour, salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, smoked paprika, and dried cilantro. If you have fresh cilantro, add that instead of the dried cilantro – it tastes amazing!

Divide the burger mixture into 6 parts and form into patty shapes. Cook these in a nonstick pan over medium heat for 8-10 minutes on each side. I haven’t tried it, but I’m sure you could freeze them between parchment paper and thaw before cooking.

Serve these burgers on whole wheat buns with spinach, tomato, and onion or whatever other toppings you prefer.

If you try these burgers, please take a photo and tag me on Instagram @confessionsofaveganmeathead . I love to see your version of my recipes!

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Burgers

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: Medium
  • Print

The best veggie burger this side of the Mississippi!

Author: Brianna Wright


  • 1/2 cup dry quinoa, prepared according to package directions
  • 1 15 ounce can of black beans, rinsed, drained, and smashed with the back of a fork
  • 3/4 cup frozen or fresh corn
  • 1 large sweet potato, diced and boiled
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 t salt (omit if quinoa was cooked with vegetable broth)
  • 1/2 t pepper
  • 1 t onion powder
  • 1 t garlic powder
  • 1 t smoked paprika
  • 1 T dried cilantro or a handful of fresh cilantro finely chopped


  1. Cook quinoa according to package directions.
  2. Wash and dice sweet potato and boil until fork tender. Drain and mash well.
  3. Mix together cooked quinoa, smashed black beans, corn, mashed sweet potato, flour, and spices well.
  4. Divide the burger mixture into 6 parts and form into patty shapes.
  5. Cook these in a nonstick pan over medium heat for 8-10 minutes on each side.


Baked Oatmeal Varieties

A few weeks back I posted this recipe for Baked Berry Oatmeal. I am mildly obsessed with this baked oatmeal and have made it every Sunday for the last four weeks. No joke. It’s that good. This oatmeal is the perfect make-ahead breakfast. I bake one batch on Sunday and that’s enough to get me through the week. It tastes great, is filling, and each serving earns 4 checks on Dr. Gregor’s Daily Dozen. Winning!

While the original recipe is certainly delicious, I was starting to get bored with it. I love oatmeal and berries, but struggle to eat the exact same meal every day for weeks on end. So this weekend, I got creative with some of my favorite flavor combinations to jazz up the Baked Oatmeal recipe. These three variations won’t leave you bored or disappointed.

Starting from left to right, we have Blueberry Lemon, Banana Bread, and Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip.

The beauty in this recipe is it’s versatility. We now have four different versions of baked oatmeal with only minor changes to the ingredients. That being said, if you prefer more of a lemony taste when making the Baked Lemon and Blueberry Oatmeal, then by all means, add more lemon juice! You can even taste the batter before baking since there are no eggs in this recipe.

If you make any of these varieties, please take a photo and tag me on Instagram @confessionsofaveganmeathead .

Baked Blueberry Lemon Oatmeal

A tangy twist on my healthy baked berry oatmeal.

Author: Brianna Wright


  • 2 cups old fashioned oats
  • 1 1/2 cups unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 t vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 T ground flaxseed
  • 3/4 cup plant milk
  • 1 cup frozen blueberries
  • 1 t fresh lemon juice
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • Optional: 1/4 cup maple syrup or 1-2 T sugar for sweetness


  1. Preheat oven to 400*.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients well.
  3. Transfer mixture to a lightly greased 8×8 baking dish or into lightly greased muffin tin.
  4. Bake for 40 minutes (8×8 baking dish) or 25-30 minutes (muffin tins).
  5. Allow to cool completely before cutting into 6 bars.
  6. Serve room temperature or microwave for 15 seconds to enjoy warm.
  7. Store in the refrigerator.

Baked Banana Bread Oatmeal

Author: Brianna Wright


  • 2 cups old fashioned oats
  • 1 1/2 cups unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 t vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 T ground flaxseed
  • 3/4 cup plant milk
  • 1 T cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 very ripe bananas, smashed
  • 1 ounce chopped walnuts
  • Because the bananas are so sweet, this version of baked oatmeal truly doesn’t need any additional sweetener.


  1. Preheat oven to 400*.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients well.
  3. Transfer mixture to a lightly greased 8×8 baking dish or into lightly greased muffin tin.
  4. Bake for 40 minutes (8×8 baking dish) or 25-30 minutes (muffin tins).
  5. Allow to cool completely before cutting into 6 bars.
  6. Serve room temperature or microwave for 15 seconds to enjoy warm.
  7. Store in the refrigerator.

Baked Peanut Butter and Chocolate Chip Oatmeal

The most decadent of baked oatmeal recipes.

Author: Brianna Wright


  • 2 cups old fashioned oats
  • 1 1/2 cups unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 t vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 T ground flaxseed
  • 3/4 cup plant milk
  • 3 T PB Fit or other powdered peanut butter
  • 1-2 T Enjoy Life Brand Chocolate Chips
  • Optional: 1/4 cup maple syrup or 1-2 T sugar for sweetness


  1. Preheat oven to 400*.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients well.
  3. Transfer mixture to a lightly greased 8×8 baking dish or into lightly greased muffin tin.
  4. Bake for 40 minutes (8×8 baking dish) or 25-30 minutes (muffin tins).
  5. Allow to cool completely before cutting into 6 bars.
  6. Serve room temperature or microwave for 15 seconds to enjoy warm.
  7. Store in the refrigerator.

Vegan School Lunch Choices

I could not be more excited to share this news with you all… my school is now offering not one, but TWO vegan lunch options!!!

Okay, I know it’s not that exciting, but as a teacher, I feel it’s my duty to plant the seeds of healthy eating in my students. Now our cafeteria is supporting that effort and that’s what excites me!

Many of my students don’t eat fruit or vegetables regularly. Their tastebuds are so accustomed to overly sweetened snacks and salty chips, that fresh fruit and vegetables just aren’t palatable for them. However, there are quite a few children in my class though who are willing to try anything, especially if their teacher encourages them.

So this week, when the February lunch menu was announced, I decided to buy school lunch for the first time in my teaching career. I was actually impressed.

The option I sampled first was the Mediterranean Voyage Hummus and Veggie Stuffed Pita. It was quite tasty! Three of my students also tried the meal with me and their reviews were absolutely adorable: “This is AMAZING Mrs. Wright!” And “Wow! I didn’t know I like hummus!”

The other option was a salad with spinach, kidney beans, dried cranberries, and pita wedges. It also looked quite tasty. One of my students tried it and he liked it too, especially the beans! So, I told him that based on his review, it would be the next school lunch option I try.

I’ve felt frustrated for a long time about the quality of the food that has been served in our cafeterias. So, I’m just thrilled that plant based options are being offered to our students, FINALLY. While I know that not every child will choose those meals, it is a step in the right directions toward crowding out the corn dogs and chicken drumsticks to make room for truly nutritious, whole food.

Fitness, Transitions


Confidence is a fleeting feeling. Sometimes you get on a roll and confidence is limitless. Other times, confidence wavers.

In the last few years, my confidence has been pretty consistent. How did I build that? How do I regularly feel confident?

It’s because I keep the promises I make to myself.

If it sounds simple, it’s because it is simple.

Recently I was reading through all of the notes stored on my iPhone and found the goals I had written for 2017. The two big goals I made were to compete in 2 NPC shows and to buy a home on a nice lot and an open kitchen. I even had strategies for reaching those goal written down, which I did.

I accomplished both of those things in 2017. I busted my ass to keep those promises I made to myself.

It scared me to death to get back on that stage twice last year, but it was a goal I knew I wanted to accomplish, so I put in the work day in and day out and I did compete twice. Shoot, I even won an overall title.

It scared me to death to sign those mortgage documents, but it was a goal I knew was right for my husband and me. So we saved like crazy, moved in with my parents for a few months, and made our dream a reality.

The confidence I’ve built is a result of the promises I’ve made to myself and I’ve kept regardless of any excuses I could come up with.

Does the confidence sometimes still waver? Of course it does. But I know the choices I need to make to feel that limitless confidence and am self-aware enough to know when I haven’t been making them.

Do you want that kind of confidence? Make some promises to yourself and do the little and big things it takes every day to keep those promises.


Vegan Broccoli and Cheese Soup

One of my favorite things to order at Panera before going vegan was their broccoli and cheese soup in a bread bowl. What wasn’t to love about it? The soup was creamy and hearty and that bread bowl was fantastic.

It’s definitely a meal that I’ve missed since eliminating dairy from my diet.

This recipe has been a work in progress for quite some time. Ever since I perfected the Beer Mac and Cheese, I knew I was close to perfecting Broccoli and Cheese Soup.

This soup uses the cheese sauce from Beer Mac and Cheese to add the creamy, cheesiness. It’s base is cashews, potatoes, and carrots all blended with spices, nooch, lemon juice, and tapioca starch.

While the potatoes and carrots are boiling, you can start preparing the soup veggies. Start by sautéing the onions and carrots I. A bit of Earth Balance Vegan Butter. Then, add in a clove of minced garlic.

When the onions and carrots are tender, add in the veggie broth, bay leaf, and potatoes and bring to a boil. Once the potatoes are fork tender, add in the chopped broccoli.

It will seem like there’s not enough liquid, but you’ll be adding the cheese sauce from the blender once all of your veggies are soft.

The tapioca starch will thicken as the soup heats up. If you don’t have tapioca starch or it doesn’t seem thick enough after heating for 10 minutes, you can add a cornstarch slurry to thicken the soup even more. I would add a tablespoon of cornstarch mixed with a tablespoon of water at a time. The key during this process is to stir well and be patient!

Just look at that creamy, cheesy soup! You can serve it in a regular bowl or in a sour dough bread bowl if you’re feeling extra fancy.

Please tag me on instagram if you try this recipe! I’d love to see your version!


Vegan Broccoli and Cheese Soup

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: Medium
  • Print

A plant based twist on a classic, creamy soup.

Author: Brianna Wright


For the Cheesy Sauce:

  • 1/2 cup (60 grams) raw, unsalted cashews soaked and drained
  • 1 cup (150 grams) red potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 1/2 cup (75 grams) carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 3/4 cup vegetable broth
  • 1 cup cashew milk
  • 1 t salt
  • 1 t onion powder
  • 1 t garlic powder
  • 1/2 t smoked paprika
  • 1/2 t ground mustard powder
  • 1/3 cup nutritional yeast
  • 2 1/2 T tapioca starch
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon

For the Soup:

  • 1 T Earth Balance Vegan Butter
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and cut into bite size pieces
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 4 cups of vegetable broth
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 – 1 1/2 cups potato, cut into bite size pieces
  • 2-3 heads broccoli, chopped into bite size pieces


  1. Soak cashews for 4 hours or more in water.*
  2. Peel and chop the potato and carrot. Add to boiling water for 8-10 minutes, until just tender.* Drain.
  3. While the carrots and potatoes are boiling, add cashews, broth, cashew milk, seasonings, nutritional yeast, tapioca starch, and lemon juice to a blender.
  4. Add carrots and potatoes to the blender and blend until smooth.
  5. Sauté onions and carrots in butter 3-5 minutes, until soft and fragrant.
  6. Add garlic and sauté for another minute.
  7. Add vegetable broth, bay leaf, and potatoes. Adjust heat to bring to a gentle boil.
  8. Boil 8-10 minutes, until the potatoes are fork tender. Then add the broccoli and boil until that is just tender, another 3-5 minutes.
  9. Add cheese sauce from blender and mix well, allowing the soup to heat all the way through.
  10. The soup should thicken as it heats up from the tapioca starch. If it is not thick enough for your preference, you can add a cornstarch slurry (equal parts cornstarch and water) to thicken. start with 1 or 2 tablespoons at a time to prevent it getting too thick.

*If you haven’t soaked the cashews, you can boil them for 10-15 minutes but that won’t produce as smooth and creamy of a sauce as cashews that have been soaked for 4 or more hours.

*It is critical to not overcook the potatoes. If you do, the sauce will have a more gritty texture. I’ve found adding the chopped potato and carrot to boiling water for 10 minutes to work best.

Recipes, Veganism

Meal Preparation- Setting Yourself up for success

It’s no secret that I love to cook. There’s just something about taking ingredients and combining them in ways that make delicious meals that soothes my soul. It’s therapeutic for me and it’s also the way I show those that I cook for that I care.

What can I say? I’m Italian. Feeding people is in my blood.

As much as I love to cook every day, I do prepare meals ahead of time for convenience. I typically just prepare meals and snacks for the next day while I’m cooking dinner. I put all of my little Pyrex containers on a shelf in the fridge and then pack my lunchbox just before I go to the gym in the morning.

This week I tried something a little different though and I think I kind of love it. This week, I made a baked oatmeal on Sunday (while the pasta was cooking) and split the finished product into 6 bars for breakfast for the week.

Having those meals already prepped made packing my lunch each night that much easier. If you struggle with packing meals to take to work or school, give this recipe a try. It only takes a few minutes to throw all of the ingredients together. While it bakes for 40 minutes, you can prep other meals or catch up on laundry, etc.

This recipe is really tasty and convenient. It’s also packed full of nutrition. This recipe is also versatile. So, I’ll share the basic recipe that I used and as I try other variations, I’ll add the recipes for those to the site.

If you try this or any other of my recipes, please take a photo and tag me on Instagram @confessionsofaveganmeathead . I would love to see your creation!

Baked Oatmeal

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

A basic recipe for baked oatmeal that can be added to or changed to fit your taste.

Credit: @engine2diet


2 cups old fashioned oats

1 1/2 cups unsweetened applesauce

1 t vanilla extract

1 T cinnamon

1 1/2 T ground flaxseed

3/4 cup plant milk* or water

1-1/2 cups frozen berries

Optional: 1/4 cup maple syrup for sweetness


  1. Preheat oven to 400*.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients well.
  3. Transfer mixture to a lightly greased 8×8 baking dish.
  4. Bake for 40 minutes.
  5. Allow to cool completely before cutting into 6 bars.
  6. Serve room temperature or microwave for 15 seconds to enjoy warm.
  7. Store in the refrigerator.
  8. *In the photos, I show the Bolthouse Farms plant protein milk. I’ve also tested this recipe with plain, unsweetened cashew milk and there’s really not much of a difference. Use what you have or prefer to use.

Nutritional information

Per 1/6 of baked oatmeal recipe above:

Calories: 172

Fat: 3.2 grams

Carbs: 31.8 grams

Protein: 5.3 grams

*using Bolthouse Farms plant protein milk

Fitness, Recipes, Transitions, Veganism

Cold weather meals ~ Vegan Jambalaya

I live in Florida. I love living in Florida. Especially when it’s literally freezing everywhere else and it’s in the 70s here. I do not love cold weather. I do not love the layers and the constant battle against the frozen nose and toes. I do however, enjoy stews, chili, and jambalaya which this ridiculously cold Florida weather (lows in the 30s) is perfect for.

Because of our recent cold-snap, I’ve decided to share my veganized twist on jambalaya. I initially made this recipe based on this one that is from The Plant Pure Nation Cookbook and was shared on . This meal has become a staple in our house for rainy or chilly days. Enjoy!

The key to any great jambalaya is the base ~The Holy Trinity of Cajun cooking~ equal parts of onion, bell peppers, and celery. Roughly chop these three veggies and steam sauté in your favorite veggie broth. This time, I also had some bell peppers from my parents’ garden, so I was able to use those tasty little peppers. If you’re a garlic lover, you can add a clove or two of minced garlic 3-5 minutes into sautéing.

Once the onions become translucent, you can add in a large can of fire roasted diced tomatoes, 2-3 tablespoons of tomato paste, liquid smoke, frozen okra, parsley, thyme, salt, pepper, and a bay leaf. Allow those to simmer over low heat, while stirring occasionally for at least 30 minutes, but an hour or more is best. Really let those flavors come together.

While the jambalaya is simmering, cook up a pot of rice. I usually serve jambalaya with regular old brown rice, but lately I’ve been loving the Royal Blend from Rice Select. It’s got white, brown, wild, and red rice in it. Again, this part is totally up to you!

After the jambalaya has simmered long enough, add in whatever meaty substitute you desire. For the healthiest version, add in cubed tempeh – as much or as little as you like. Some people recommend pre-cooking the tempeh to get rid of the bitter taste, but I’ve never done that and have had no problems. I’ve also used the Field Roast sausage links in this recipe before. While it’s not the healthiest option, it certainly is tasty. You can also add beans at this point if you like. Although, when you add beans, does that technically make this a chili or a gumbo?

Once you’ve added in your meaty alternative, allow the jambalaya to continue simmering until everything is heated through.

Serve up your veganized jambalaya with the cooked rice on the side or you can choose to mix the rice you’ve already cooked right into the jambalaya.

I wasn’t totally sure what the difference between jambalaya, gumbo, and chili is so, I got on the ole Google machine to find out. I was curious, so I know someone reading this is probably curious too!

Jambalaya is more of a rice based dish typically with andouille sausage and shrimp or other shellfish. Gumbo is a roux-thickened stew with poultry, sausage, and/or shellfish that is typically served over rice. Chili is made from tomatoes, meat, and a source of heat (ie. chili powder). Funny, no beans mentioned in the jambalaya or gumbo, but the jury is still out regarding beans in chili. So it’s tough to say that this recipe is truly a jambalaya or a gumbo or a chili. All I know is that it is delicious and warms me right up on a chilly Florida night.

Vegan Jambalaya

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

A hearty veganized version of jambalaya sure to warm you up on a chili night.


  • 1/2 cup of vegetable broth
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 green or red bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 large can of fire roasted diced tomatoes
  • 2-3 T. tomato paste
  • 1 t. Liquid smoke
  • 1/2 c. Frozen okra (optional)
  • 1 T. Dried parsley
  • 1 t. Dried Thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • Your choice of rice, cooked according to package directions.
  • Your choice of meat substitutes such as, tempeh, Field Roast Vegan Sausage Links, etc.


  1. Roughly chop the onion, bell pepper, and celery. Mince the garlic and set aside.
  2. In a large stock pot, bring vegetable broth to a simmer and add the onion, bell pepper, and celery. Steam sauté for 3-5 minutes.
  3. When onion is translucent, add in minced garlic and sauté form2-4 minutes longer.
  4. Add in diced tomatoes, tomato paste, liquid smoke, okra (if using), parsley, thyme, and bay leaf. Stir well and allow to simmer over low heat for 30 minutes to an hour, stirring occasionally.
  5. While jambalaya is simmer, prepare rice in a separate pot or a rice cooker.
  6. Just before serving, add in meat substitute and allow to simmer long enough to heat through.
  7. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  8. Serve with prepared rice.

Fitness, Transitions, Veganism

Why does going vegan seem so hard?

I was recently approached by a gym friend about the fact that I’m vegan. He had no idea that I was until he saw my Instagram page (which makes sense since we usually just have the cordial, ‘Hey! How’s it going?’ chat). As we were talking, he kept mentioning how hard it must be to be vegan and I kept reassuring him that it eventually became my new normal and it’s really not that difficult. But the conversation got me thinking, why does it seem so hard to be vegan?

Like most changes we make, it may seem daunting when you first consider going vegan. If you’re like me, then you grew up eating meat, dairy, and eggs. What the hell are you going to eat if you aren’t going to eat those things? It took me an entire year of being flexible with my diet and indulging in meat and dairy (mostly dairy) before I felt confident enough to eliminate animal products completely. The key for me was actually not placing that ‘vegan’ label on myself until I felt completely ready. And even still, I don’t feel guilty about a tiny bit of dairy creeping into my meal if Kyle and I choose to eat dinner anywhere but at home.

Another thing that helped to make the change easier was having a purpose beyond just losing weight. Yes, the weight loss was an amazing bonus, but I was truly focused on regaining my health. I mean, at 24 years old my doctor was talking to me about having high blood pressure. She even reassured me that it was to be expected since I have a family history of high blood pressure. That’s not normal for any healthy 24 year old. My blood pressure is now 108/73 in case you’re wondering. But I digress. If you’re truly interested in eating a plant based diet, you need to have a purpose that is meaningful to you for making such a dramatic shift.

For me it was my health. I witnessed my Papa suffer for the last few years of his life with poor health. I also saw how that impacted our entire family and how it still does to this day, 10 years after his passing. I just do not want to ever have to endure the doctors visits, treatments, and surgeries that he went through.

The three most common reasons people begin a plant based journey are: health, environment and ethics. There are numerous documentaries widely available that address all three of these reasons for switching to a plant based diet. Forks Over Knives, Cowspiracy, and Earthlings are just a few I would recommend.

So back to my original question, why does it seem so difficult to go vegan? I honestly think that it’s the fact that you are going to do something so different from what you grew up doing and likely so different from what your friends and family are currently doing that it feels impossible. But I promise, it’s not.

Have the courage to be different, give yourself some room for trial and error, and be open minded about how eating a plant based diet can improve the quality of your life. 🌱