So Long, Farewell…For Now

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First off, I want to thank everyone who has not only helped me in the process of maintaining this blog, but to everyone who has ever read it, period.

At the beginning of this year I decided to go vegetarian. Why? Because my body, the environment, and all animals are so important to me that I wanted to contribute to making the world a healthier place.

When I was told that I would be starting and maintaining a blog through my last semester at university, I knew I wanted to focus on something that was, and still is, important to me, hence the beat of VegetERINism. By the way, it’s spelled wrong on purpose – I tried to be witty with my name.

Through the semester I got the opportunity to meet people who shared the same ideals as me, and I can honestly say I wouldn’t have met them otherwise. Through these individuals, I learned more about the lifestyle I was living, and how to improve the way I was going about it. I even was welcomed with open arms into an online community of South Jersey vegetarians.

As far as the future of this blog goes, I’ll be taking a break to enjoy the graduate life, but because this topic is such a big part of my life I can definitely see myself continuing to contribute – just maybe not on a weekly basis. VegetERINism definitely made me want to get more involved in the vegetarian community, and spread the benefits of not consuming meat/fish products.

 

 

A Look Into Sweet Freedom Bakery and Heart Beet Kitchen in South Jersey

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Assorted treats available at Sweet Freedom Bakery located in Collingwood, NJ (photo: Erin Lafferty).

Are you in the South Jersey area and on the prowl for some vegetarian and vegan options? Look no farther than Haddon Ave where both a Sweet Freedom Bakery shop, and Heart Beet Kitchen are located. The street stretched between both Collingswood, N.J. and Haddon Township, N.J. allowing these two locations to both be on the same street, but in different towns. Luckily, though, they’re only a few minutes apart.

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Located on an old-timey downtown street in Collingswood, N.J. is the health-conscious Sweet Freedom Bakery. Aesthetically, this bakery is completely in its own category, and even more so with the treats they provide. On a large chalkboard sign it reads, “everything  is free of: gluten, dairy, egg, corn, wheat, soy, peanut, casein, and refined sugar.”

Jen Kremer, manager, describes the bakery as an “allergy free bakery” as the lack of traditional ingredients may suggest. Alongside that she adds, “We don’t allow any animal products in the bakeries at all. We are a certified Kosher, gluten-free and vegan bakery and refuse to use any of the top allergens.”

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As I walk into the bakery I am hit by a sudden, overwhelming smell of freshly baked goods, and greeted by the friendly employee behind the display case of treats. The details in the shop, such as the individually written chalk boards and aerial decorations, confirms that this bakery is someone’s pride and joy, and that someone is Allison Lubert.

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According to Kremer, Lubert “was the mastermind behind all of our amazing recipes” after suffering from “dietary restrictions and food sensitivities.” As a way to deal with these issues she began experimenting with recipes, and eventually established the menu for Sweet Freedom Bakery. Her recipes even landed her the opportunity to write a cookbook titled, Baking You Happy.

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Allison Lubert’s cookbook, Baking You Happy, based off of the same ideals are her line of bakeries (photo: Erin Lafferty).

Not only is Sweet Freedom Bakery free of “top allergens,” but their goodies are delicious. I was fortunate enough to try their brownie, and can honest say it was the best brownie I have ever tasted in my life. Even better, I didn’t feel guilty after eating it because I knew it was vegan and not made with processed ingredients.

Sweet Freedom Bakery has been featured on shows such Cupcake Wars, Unique Sweets, and The Price is Right as well as a variety of online journalistic platforms. It has two other locations aside from Collingswood: Philadelphia, P.a., and Bryn Mawr, P.a.

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Down the street, quite literally, in Haddon Township, N.J. is Heart Beet Kitchen, a plant-based restaurant that opened in December of 2015. Ashely Coyne, owner, assures that all food served at the eating establishment is also “100 percent gluten free” and “dairy free.” She adds that “everyone is safe here!”

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After leaving her job with the Philadelphia Wings, a local professional lacrosse team, Coyne used her free time to play around with the idea of creating a cafe that fit her “cute, healthy, and gluten-free” standard. She began “mocking up a menu, driving up and down Haddon Ave on a daily basis, and waiting for the perfect store front to open.” Eventually, a location opened, and the journey officially had begun.

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“We made money the first day of opening and never looked back,” says Coyne. “In the real restaurant world you usually don’t make money for a couple years, so I assumed the rest of South Jersey was looking for the same cute, little, healthy cafe vibe I was.”

All-in-all, if you’re in the area and looking for some delicious food and goodies, take a look at these two businesses. Not only are their selection of food health-conscious, but the incredible flavors might surprise you.

Special thanks to both Jennifer Kremer and Ashley Coyne for allowing me to interview them and take pictures inside the businesses. Also, thanks to the friendly employees at both locations who made me feel comfortable. 

Karen Burzichelli Talks Holistic Health Coaching and Plant-Based Diets

Karen Burzichelli, local registered nurse and health coach, sat down with me to discuss her reasoning for becoming a health coach, what she does with her clients, and her perspective on what food to put into your body.

After years of experiencing a number of health concerns, Burzichelli transitioned into a plant-based diet and uses her experience and knowledge to teach others on how to do the same. Her dietary change has significantly benefited her medically and improved her overall health. Watch the video below to learn more about Burzichelli and what she has to offer.

Vegetarian Options at Rowan University with Melissa Hudock

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Melissa Hudock poses in front of wall art in the MarketPlace at Rowan University’s Student Center. (Photo/Erin Lafferty)

If you are a student at Rowan University, you might have heard of Melissa Hudock, the campus’ registered dietitian nutritionist in part with Gourmet Dining. In the audio interview below she explains both the health benefits and drawbacks to being a vegetarian, and the options available for Rowan students who follow a plant-based diet.

Gabriela Lupu: Blogging without Limits

From the town of Gura Humorului, Romania, Gabriela Lupu, 39, started the blog, Cooking without Limits, in 2012. Five years later her blog would have over 25,000 followers.

It all began when Lupu’s son was born.

“When my little boy was born, I started cooking again – easy and healthy recipes. I knew that would be an adventure, so I decided to share it. We all have something to learn each day, and this blog was my way of learning about my mistakes in the kitchen.”

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Additionally, Cooking without Limits is also known for Lupu’s exceptional food photography, which she was receiving a lot of questions on at the time and therefore decided to use her blog as a medium to answer them.

After half a decade, Lupu’s biggest challenge maintaining her blog revolves around time.

“I don’t always have time to write a beautiful post,” she says. “I love when I lay my soul out in the open and talk about something personal. I know I connect with people reading it and that feels so good.”

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When asked about who and/or what inspires Lupu in regards to Cooking with Limits, she responded with, “I need a book to write about that.”

From chefs to photographers, inspiration comes in so many ways and so often,” Lupu states.

On her list of inspirational photographers, she marks Penny De Los Santos as “the first photographer that really made me find ‘my style’” She describes De Los Santos as “one of the best food photographers that I know.” Also on the list is Keiko Oikawa, Lara Ferroni, Beatrice Peltre, Aya Nishimura and Anders Schonnemann.

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When it comes to support, Lupu says both her mother and husband read her blog, “They don’t comment on the blog, but they tell me to my face what they think about my recipes,” she says. “I am happy that I manage to teach my mom something about food, because she taught me the basics when I was a little girl.”

According to Lupu, blogging “will play a very important role” in the future of online journalism since most journalists have a blog themselves.

Lupu compares Cooking without Limits to a baby.

“With every post it grows, I grow. I am always happy to write about a good recipe that I did or explain about food photography.”

She continues to add, “At the end of the day, getting people response is the most exciting thing. When you have followers happy and satisfied you know you did a good job.”

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Through her blog, Lupu has been about to “teach bloggers about food photography” and “show them beautiful photos.” She believes she has “rediscovered herself” by writing her blog.

Lupu’s advice for individuals new to blogging is as follows: “Be yourself! Write about something you like and makes you happy.”

With so many followers, Lupu has realized the true power of not only blogging, but online journalism in general: communication.

“I started this blog for me, but now is a blog for a lot of people. We created a community with bloggers from around the world sharing information and advices.”

 

All photos courtesy of Gabriela Lupu. 

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The main entrance of the Williamstown Farmer’s market along with snow blowing by (Photo/Erin Lafferty).

On a snowy March day, in the late afternoon, the Williamstown Farmer’s Market (commonly referred to as just the “Amish Market” by locals) is crowded with individuals of all ages browsing. What are they browsing exactly? The answer: a whole multitude of items from fresh produce to used books to puppies. Here you have the opportunity to purchase a wicker chair for your patio, a a stuffed animal for your nephew, and finish the visit off with a haircut at the salon. With all of these options, specifically those edible, being a vegetarian in South Jersey has never been easier.

Upon arriving at the Amish Market and walking through the main entrance, you are greeted by a world of food. Freshly baked soft pretzels fill the air with their aroma, and a wall of colorful candy line the shelves. In the first 20 feet of visiting, you’ll find the spice and nut/seed section – a section great for vegetarians with the goal of adding additional protein to their diet.

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A panoramic of the numerous amount of nuts and seeds offered at the Williamstown Amish Market (Photo/Erin Lafferty).

Walk a little further, and you’ll enter the produce section where you will find fresh vegetables and fruits in pristine condition awaiting your selection. High protein produce is essential for a vegetarian diet in order to maintain a healthy body inside and out.

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One of the most interesting stores within the market is The Gluten-Free Grocer which has not only gluten-free options available but vegetarian-friendly ones as well.

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The Gluten-Free Grocer located within the Shoppes portion of the Williamstown Farmer’s Market. The sign, seen above, is located above one of two entrances into the store.

Browsing this “specialty food market” proved to be an interesting adventure and I was able to find many high protein options (as seen below) from pasta to protein shakes to snack bars.

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All-in-all, it’s safe to assume that there are several unique vegetarian options available for individuals in the South Jersey area. If you’re interested in visiting the Williamstown Farmer’s market click here.

 

 

FAQ from Non-Vegetarians

 

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Photo courtesy of Pexels.com.

Last week we learned about vegetarianism through the perspective of Widener student, Serena Turco. This week, in honor of that article, I will share with you my most frequently asked questions and answers that I receive from non-vegetarians.

Why?

Well, every vegetarian’s answer will be different regarding this answer, but mine is a combination of moral, health, and logical reasoning.

Moral: I started to realize that the chicken on my plate was a life, and not just dinner. I began watching documentaries about the meat industry which revealed the cruel treatment of the animals that are slaughtered. Even as a meat-eater, you should be concerned about these conditions that your food is subject too: crowded, filthy housing, hormone additives, etc. The more I let my mind wander, the more I thought deeply about which animals we choose to consume, and which we choose to invite into our homes as companions. Where do we draw the line and why?

Health: I found myself gaining a lot of weight solely from going to fast-food restaurants. I knew this was extremely unhealthy for me, and decided to find a loophole that would keep me from eating fast-food and force me to eat healthier. For me, vegetarianism was the best option. I still go to McDonald’s for an order of fries from time-to-time because I don’t believe it’s effective to completely go cold-turkey, but since making this change I have significantly reduced my fast-food consumption.

Logical: As a society, we do not dietarily need meat to survive; there are plenty of other methods of obtaining protein. Additionally, there is extensive research on the positive worldly effects that come from living a vegetarian lifestyle such as lowering methane production therefore decreasing the rate of global warming, conservation of water, and freeing up land reserved for livestock.

So, you just eat greens now?

Well, I ate greens before converting to vegetarianism, but I also eat a fair amount of grains, fruits, dairy, sweets, etc. As long as it doesn’t contain meat, then theres a chance I will eat it (that is if I find said food tasty). There is an untrue assumption that in order to be a vegetarian you must eat like a rabbit. While there are vegetarians that choose to eat this way, there are plenty of others, like me, who indulge in pasta, candy, fries, pizza, etc. from time-to-time.

How do you get protein if you don’t eat meat?

Contrary to popular belief, protein is found in a variety of foods from vegetables to dairy to nuts to meat alternatives. If you’re curious, check out this article I wrote a few weeks back discussing what foods to eat to obtain protein.

For me personally, I try to eat at least one meat alternative a day. My favorites are “chicken” nuggets and “chicken” sliders. I also eat a lot of almonds (these are my favorite), peanut butter, and dairy products such as cheese sticks and milk.

Along with protein, it’s important to remember to get your daily intake of vitamin B12. These are typically found in animal products such as meat and dairy, but you can also find it in vitamins such as these.

So, are you vegan too?

Nope, just vegetarian. Vegans are individuals who choose not to use any products that involve animals in the process of creating. This includes foods like milk, eggs, cheese, etc. as well as items such as fur clothing, makeup that has been tested on animals, specific shampoo and conditioners, and even some brands of toothpaste. Veganism requires a lot more knowledge on the ingredients of products and how they are made, whereas vegetarianism is simpler: just don’t eat meat.

But you still eat meat sometimes, right? You have to crave it!

Surprisingly, I haven’t craved meat since the first week I decided to go vegetarian. Once I replaced my daily meat intake with meat alternatives, I never craved meat again. While the difference in taste for some meat alternatives is noticeable at first, after eating it once or twice you become adjusted to the taste and crave that instead.

Will you make your children be vegetarians?

I would never make my children be anything they didn’t want to be. In the first few years of life, before a child can make decisions for themselves, I would choose to feed my children a vegetarian or mostly vegetarian diet. Once my children have the consciousness to make their own decisions, I will not stop them from eating meat if they wanted to. Vegetarianism is a choice an individual will need to make on their own, for their own reasons.

How do you afford it?

Vegetarianism is actually not as expensive as some might assume. I go grocery shopping probably twice to three times a month and spend about $30-$40 each time. This is hardly 20% of my monthly income, leaving me with more than enough money to pay my bills, save, and treat myself.

Do you ever get tired of answering these questions?

Yes, and no. Some questions I really enjoy answering because they allow me to inform others of the benefits of a vegetarian lifestyle, but others are just, in simple terms, annoying to answer repeatedly again and again.