Happy Friday, Everyone!!! I had the pleasure of interviewing Brandi, the brains behind The Vegan 8, for this week’s post. With each recipe Brandi creates, my admiration grows – her passion for health and the use of just a few ingredients is very appealing. The Vegan 8 blog is proof that vegan is nowhere near boring or bland. Without further ado, let’s learn more about Brandi & The Vegan 8….
INTERVIEW WITH THE VEGAN 8
Tell us a little bit about yourself…where you’re from, family, hobbies/interests, or anything you feel like sharing?
“My name is Brandi and I live in Texas with my husband and daughter, who is almost 3 years old. They are my greatest joys and my life truly became complete once my daughter was born. My favorite things to do in my spare time are baking, creating recipes, photography, sewing and painting. My daughter also now loves those things too, and it is so amazing to be able to teach and share her all these things and watch her own creativity flourish. I also love that she is being raised with a vegan lifestyle and to be able to teach her some very different things about compassion and life in general, that I believe will really mold her to go down a different path than I did when I was younger. Everything I do, I try to do better, so that I am a wonderful example and role model to her. She keeps me on my toes and I never realized how flawed of a human I was, until I became a parent.”
When did you go vegan and what was your ‘AHA’ moment?
“I went vegetarian in July 2012 and by October 2012, I was committed to the vegan diet. It is ironic though, because the reasons were for health benefits, but soon after, I discovered the truths of factory farming and what animals are put through before they would end up on my plate, that was it for me. Ethics took over and that is what will keep me vegan. I can no longer pretend that animal cruelty isn’t a very real thing.
Perhaps the biggest “aha” moment was discovering that the dairy industry is the absolute cruelest industry. People don’t realize (just as I didn’t) the very dark truths of the dairy industry. The dairy ads with pictures of happy cows or talking cows is all lies and gimmicks to sell and make money. I discovered that cows are not just happily sitting in barns being milked. It is far, far worse than that with the mother’s young taken from them at birth. The mother cows weep for their babies, the babies are sick and hurting and are mistreated or killed. They are put through complete torture. Plus, now it all seems so awkward and foreign to me that I drank milk from a cow! It is amazing how normal things are to us because we are taught certain ways, but I really do see things very differently and clearly now. Not to mention, my health and husband’s health have drastically changed for the better, since eliminating dairy. It really is the very last thing I would ever want to consume now, which is crazy! It is so terribly acidic and can cause a ridiculous amount of health problems. I, personally, no longer have ANY digestion problems, sinus problems, not even colds, congestion, tummy aches, nothing. It all vanished after cutting out dairy. It really is amazing that I have not gotten sick ONCE since going vegan, not even so much as a sniffle!”
What’s the hardest part about being vegan?
“I don’t know if I would say it’s hard as much as I would say it’s disturbing, but people have misconceptions about what veganism is. People think you can only get protein from meat and calcium from dairy. It is quite comical, because dairy is the last place we should rely on for calcium because of the acidity it causes in the body. There are so many other and better choices that are good for us. There is nothing healthy about dairy. It is understandable though, I didn’t know this either, but am so thankful I do now. People also tag a bunch of whole other meanings to what veganism actually is. The definition is simply refraining from the use of animal products, it’s actually really quite simple. I simply just eat all whole foods that come from the earth and no longer eat animal products. The food I eat is more natural and unprocessed and I enjoy food so much more now. Also, when people try to convince me that eating meat is “normal” is bothersome. I have to remember, they just have not made the connection yet. I used to be there myself, but thankfully, I’m not. I have also found it more difficult to eat anywhere, other than my home. Nobody around me is vegan and there are hardly any vegan restaurants, so I always have to pack my own food or have very limited options. I am thrilled to see so many vegan choices and restaurants popping up around the country and even sections in the grocery stores! It is wonderful to see.”
Can you tell us about your blog and how it got started, what inspired you, goals?
“The whole reason my blog got started was due to my husband. He has a severe form of arthritis called gout. It is the worst kind and is very crippling, living on crutches, to be exact. I have watched him suffer our entire marriage be in excruciating pain on and off. After years of research and trying several different foods and eliminating certain foods, I finally discovered that gout is best treated and prevented through a proper plant-based diet. Meat and dairy are the main culprits because they cause acidity in the body. They cause acidity in anybody’s body, but with somebody like my husband, it was much worse. So, I decided vegetarian would be best. Then by October of 2012, we went fully vegan. No more meat, not even fish and no more dairy or eggs. It all needed to be eliminated for the best chance at his health. The changes were almost immediate, for both him and I. He started to heal and I started to feel better too. Because of our new diet, I had to learn how to be really creative in the kitchen, which turned into a major passion. I wanted to share all the amazing food I was coming up with and so I became a blogger! It has grown more than I imagined and when people message me telling me that I’ve changed their family’s lives and I inspire them to love cooking again, I know I made the right choice. It has been such a wonderful experience so far.
In addition to starting a blog, in the first place, to share my ideas in the kitchen, the whole reason I started “The Vegan 8” was because I wanted a blog that reached more people and made a difference and stood out. My first blog was called “The Healthy Flavor” and it was vegan, but after about a year, I felt I needed a change and a more specific niche and concept. I started doing some blog searching and found that my most popular and repeatedly made recipes were 8 ingredients or less (not necessarily including salt or water). Concept being, you only will need to purchase 8 ingredients to make each individual recipe. Therefore, that became my new concept and dedication to my readers! In today’s world, most people are going to gravitate towards easy recipes that don’t take forever or require 10-20 ingredients. I personally am attracted to recipes that I see and know will be easy. I took a little poll among people and everybody said what attracted them most to actually make a recipe was that it needed to be easy and not too many ingredients. That was the premise for “The Vegan 8″ and to my amazement, it has taken off and given me so much joy and I couldn’t be more grateful. My vision has become my reality and it is wonderful to be helping so many people.”
***You can find the recipe for No-Bake “Nutella” Zucchini Pie Bars HERE
***You can find the recipe for Brandi’s 5 Ingredient Granola HERE
What’s your favorite go-to meal?
“I guess I would say anything with pasta or I can always eat a huge taco bowl of sweet potatoes, black beans, avocado and some chili powder with lime juice.”
*** You can find the recipe for The Vegan 8’s Garlic Alfredo Sauce HERE
A kitchen tool you couldn’t live without?!
“Food processor, I use it daily for making nut butters, my desserts, pudding, etc.”
What’s your favorite cruelty-free product (cleaning, personal care, etc.)?
“I absolutely love Eminence Skincare and Desert Essence lotions. I use no other skincare anymore. Both work wonders on my skin, the best I’ve used, and no animals were harmed to make them. Win win!”
Cooking inspiration? Any foodie idols?
“Without a doubt, my favorite is Giada De Laurentiis. No, she isn’t vegan, but I have watched and admired her passion for cooking and baking for many years. She is one of the sweetest most positive people out there and her love for cooking is what inspires me. Plus, she has a new restaurant now in Vegas and it has a whole vegan menu!! She is onto something and actually told me personally on Twitter about her vegan menu. Just love her even more now!”
What’s a “cheat” meal for you?
“I don’t really do or believe in the whole “cheat” meal philosophy, because it usually means binging out on junk food. I don’t eat junk food anymore. It literally makes me ill. I make all my own food homemade, desserts included, so I actually crave those and they don’t make me sick and I know the quality ingredients in them. I guess the better answer would be, I crave my desserts as my “cheat” meal, but I try not to eat them too often, because they are still sweets. A cheat meal will always be a dessert for me. My favorite dessert I make is probably either my Pecan Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies or my Double Chocolate Espresso Almond Cookies. Everybody absolutely raves about them and they are a favorite among friends and family.”
What are three of your favorite ingredients? And are there any ingredients that you avoid (besides the obvious dairy, meat, eggs)?
“Nutritional yeast, almond flour, maple syrup. I think I’d lose my mind if I ran out of any of those in my house. I am well stocked! Anything I avoid is probably corn for the most part, processed foods and junk food. I have found they just make me feel sick and I just can’t get past the artificial taste, since I make everything homemade now.
THANK YOU, BRANDI!!! It was so much fun getting to know more about you and your journey to veganism. I look forward to your future blog posts and seeing what you come up with next!
If you’re interested in following Brandi on Instagram, you can find her @thevegan8
Link to her blog The Vegan 8
Thanks for stopping by!