VeganMoFo 2019: Something New (Actually Something Old)

I went vegan in October 2009 and kicked off my big lifestyle change here on this bloggo by participating in VeganMoFo — the Vegan Month of Food. Since then, I’ve participated in every. single. MoFo. by posting every. single. day.

That’s 10 years of MoFos. That’s a lot of MoFo. That’s a lot of vegan food.

But truthfully, I haven’t enjoyed MoFo that much during the past few years. Instead of feeling like a joy, a chance to rekindle my old love of blogging and enthusing about vegan food, it’s felt more like a chore, something to tolerate rather than embrace. But I hate breaking a streak, so I slogged through. I found ways to make it easier and more manageable and often, yes, enjoyable. But when I saw that VeganMoFo this year was scheduled to begin in August, I felt… dread. Not excitement, but apprehension. Bad news.

Me when I thought about VeganMoFo 2019.

Because summer is sacred to me. I run cold, so the rest of the year I spend waiting for those 90˚ degree day when I lounge outside and not shiver. (Extremely air conditioned office spaces fill me with a near-murderous rage.) I want to read lots of books and daydream about traveling and go to the pool and putter in my garden and watch my pups frolic. I do not, repeat do not, want to obsess over putting up blog posts and photographing food perfectly and following prompts.

So I started making peace with the idea of not participating in MoFo. You had a good run, I told myself. 10 years! That’s a whole lotta posting!

But. Then I had a thought.

What has become Not Fun about blogging to me lately is the pressure to produce Content That People Want. Posts I can pin on Instagram. Posts with (moderately) well-composed photos and lots of SEO terms thrown in. It’s not that I want my blog to become a business, but I’ve always thought, why not monetize it and make a little bit of money off something I’m doing for fun?

But it’s not really fun anymore, and I have a very sparse posting schedule to show for it (outside of MoFo, of course). I genuinely enjoy writing what I do write, but you know what I miss? The old days of blogging. The 2009 era, when I talked a little bit about my day and a little bit about what I ate. Diary-style, casual conversation. Back then, I followed a bunch of bloggers and we commented on each other’s posts on a near-daily basis. It was a fun little community. I could’ve told you their dogs’ names and where they lived; their favorite Isa Chandra cookbook and probably their PPK username (I lurked and rarely posted, but I followed along!).

I frequently reminisce about how much I miss those old days of blogging. I love reading through my old blog posts because they remind me of my life back in 2009, 2010, 2011. There are details I’d lose if I hadn’t written them down, like how unnecessary/fun/ridiculous it was to take my own photos for Christmas cards multiple years in a row. (I can be very extra.) Like how stressful my previous job could be. Like the joy in trying a new vegan product back in the days before every single company out there was producing plant-based items.  (I ate Rice Dream ice cream, for god’s sake!) Don’t get me wrong; I love the ubiquity of vegan products these days! It just used to be more exciting when new ones hit the shelves. I miss that casual approach to blogging.

You can probably see where this is heading.

Said garden, earlier in the year. It is now fully wild and unruly.

For VeganMoFo 2019, I’m going back to basics, baby. Back to simple, diary-style, here’s-what-I-did-and-ate posts. It’s gonna be a big middle finger to monetizing and SEO and page rankings, but ohhhh well. It’s gonna be fun. There will probably be lots of photos of my garden, and my dogs, and my favorite summertime beers. But there will also be original recipes and reviews, because I do enjoy creating those… only not when I’m forced to do so!

(And if you’re not into old-school blogging and prefer recipes without personality and content that serves a single, utilitarian purpose, I get it. I hear those Twitter hot takes:  “But why do food blogs have three paragraphs of personal details before you get to the actual recipe?! Just give me the recipe; I’m trying to make dinner, not read your autobiography!” My default response is something about SEO and needing to include searchable terms so you can actually FIND that recipe in the first place. But. What about including personal information and a little bit about your day just because… it’s nice and interesting and fun to read about other people’s lives? And maybe you just want to share? What’s so wrong with that?)

So, that’s what to expect. I’m actually excited about VeganMoFo this year. And I haven’t been able to say that in a while. So here’s to 2019, and a more casual, relaxed, old-school blog.

New-to-Me MoFo Bloggers!

VeganMoFo 2015 banner

Day 8: Reach out! Make a new vegan friend & tell us about it.

Whoa, you want me to make a friend in a single day?! That’s crazy talk. Despite my bloggerly loquaciousness, I’m not one to make fast friends. My friendships are more of a slow burn, if you will.

That said, in the eight days of MoFo so far, I’ve encountered a few new-to-me blogs (and bloggers!) that I’ve particularly been enjoying. Here are a few highlights:

I’ve always loved the way Vegan MoFo encourages bloggers to reach out and find new reads, so I love that there’s a prompt devoted to those relationships. In my life — both on- and offline! — I’m lucky to have many dear friends who share my ethics and ideals, and I cherish their company. I can’t imagine how isolating it would be if I didn’t have these relationships to sustain me. If you’re a vegan without a strong support network, don’t be afraid to reach out! My contact info is here if you want to chat. <3

Veg-innovation: Improvisation in the Kitch

Last night, my mom decided to make something to bring on a day trip to visit out-of-state family. She wanted to use up some of the apples we’d picked a few weeks back and came to me for help choosing a recipe. The first thing that popped into my mind was the Apple Pie-Crumb Cake Muffin recipe from VWAV; I’ve never made them before but have wanted to try them for a while now. Mom thought they sounded excellent, but then while she was skimming the ingredient list she noticed that it called for apple cider.

“Oh no! We don’t have any apple cider! My plans are ruined!” she wailed.*

“Mom,” I said, calmly, “We have apples. We have a juicer. Just use fresh apple juice instead.”

“Ah. Well, I suppose I could do that… but apple cider is different than apple juice! It’s tarter! And, um, fermented!”

I sighed. “Yeah, but do you really think the muffins will be utterly ruined and inedible because you substitute one apple-based liquid for another? C’mon now, woman! Don’t be afraid – experiment in the kitchen!”

Experiment she did, and I’m happy to say that Mom’s muffins came out perfectly, as any muffin recipe by Isa is wont to do. But the point here is not that Isa is a muffin goddess but that my forays into vegan cooking have helped me to loosen up when I’m in the kitchen. Yes, it’s true – I used to be like my mother, scared to alter a recipe for fear something awful would happen, oh noez!1!!!11! Having always been a rule-abiding, authority-fearing good little girl, the discovery that I could use my intuition and my creative side in the kitchen was truly a liberating experience.

Today, even though I still love following recipes, I’m much more creative than ever when it comes to cooking. I am learning how to improvise, how to sense which ingredients would pair well with which spice, how to size up the state of my cookie dough and decide that, yes, it needs more flour, and – gasp – even how to eyeball measurements. For an obsessive-compulsive perfectionist, that’s a big step forward, folks. I never thought that I’d be capable of coming up with recipes of my own; somehow, the idea of experimenting with food always scared me a little bit. But how silly is that?! It’s just food! It’s not like I’m going to create Frankenstein’s monster and then have to chase it across the Arctic whilst contemplating nature vs. nurture and the duties of a creator! The worst that can happen is that I come up with an inedible mess that I have to throw in the compost. Big deal.

Nope, I’m not afraid any more, and I have vegan food – and vegan food blogs – to thank for all that. Without having discovered all these amazing veg*n blogs last year, I would never have had the courage to start trying new ingredients and to start experimenting in the kitchen. But I am so, so glad I did. So thank you, veganism, and thank you, vegan bloggers, for helping me to find a new passion and to break out of my rule-abiding, scaredy-cat shell!

…and now I’m off to mess around with a tried-and-true recipe from VWAV. ;)

*I may be exaggerating slightly for effect. Possibly. Just a little bit.