Sunday, October 4, 2015

Vegans in (and around!) Bellingham: Kymi Aeschliman

I am kicking off this new series about local vegans by shining a spotlight on someone whom I have grown quite fond of over these past months. Her name is Kymi and rarely ( if ever) have I met anyone who possesses such a phenomenal sense of humor combined with a such a beautifully compassionate nature. She is truly one-of-a kind and the world is a better place because she is in it. It is my great pleasure to introduce her to you now.

Kymi Aeschliman is a hair stylist at The Grotto Hair Studio and has been happily doing hair there for over 5 years. She has her hands full with her 3 dogs: Olive, Kingsly, and Caper, and two sugar gliders: Opal and Pearl. She enjoys vintage fashion and very large tiaras. She is very passionate about the vegan lifestyle and has been vegan about a year and a half. How wonderful we can help animals, ourselves and the environment simply by changing our routine a bit? When she's not cooing over cute pig pictures on Instagram you can find her tormenting her husband Richie for food (he's the better cook) or watching Disney movie's with her bestie while drinking all the vegan beer.

One of the first things you may notice about Kymi when you meet her in person is her extraordinary sense of fashion and style.

 “I'm very into fashion, but not really current up to date fashions. I really like shopping around for vintage clothes at thrift shops or antique shops,” explains Kymi. Her other interests include: hairstyling, “smothering my pets with affection, taking long, beer-fueled walks around town with Richie (my husband), and eating vegan grilled cheez while watching Disney movies with my best friend Kelsey.”

Something Kymi has in common with a number of us vegans is her fondness for pigs, and she describes the day she visited to the Pigs Peace Sanctuary as “the best day EVER.” Another thing she has in common with every vegan I have ever met is her love of food. I often say that vegans are typically the most food-obsessed people in the world (myself obviously included!) which of course, I think is a very good thing. And in keeping with that mindset, Kymi says one of the things she enjoys most is food. She enjoys helping her husband cook amazing vegan food for them to eat, as well as going out to eat, and also just thinking about food. The vegan comfort food Kymi craves most is homemade vegan mac and cheez or vegan mashed potatoes with her husband’s mushroom gravy.

Her favorite local restaurant is El Gitano, but she is quick to add that Soy House is a strong second. Among her favorite dishes are the veggie fajitas (vegan style) with extra guacamole from El Gitano, and she also loves tofu pho with extra veggies from the Soy House. (Which reminds me, something else I should let you know about Kymi is that she has a real talent for creating pretty amazing portraits from her veggie pho!)

 I charged Kymi with the ever-difficult task of naming three adjectives to describe herself and she offered: extroverted, loyal, and kind, which indeed fit her very well. When it comes to being vegan, she explains how she originally decided to become vegan for ethical reasons, but adds that the health benefits and weight loss were an extra bonus. One thing she wishes people understood about being vegan is how easy it is.

“You aren't living a life of deprivation. Yes, we can live without bacon. Yes we get enough protein.” She explains that dealing with criticism from people who are not vegan can be difficult, and is probably the hardest thing about being vegan. But the thing she likes the most about being vegan is “The beautiful peace that comes from knowing I am doing my best to prevent harm to animals.”

I ask Kymi what she loves most about Bellingham and she responds with how “It's big enough to be a little fun but small enough to be a little quiet,” which I think is a perfect description, and something I also love about this wonderful city. As for the one thing about Bellingham that she would change if she could, “Well, a vegan restaurant of some sort would be nice. Am I right?!”

If you are someone who is interested in being featured as a local vegan on this site, please email me at My special thanks go out to Kymi for agreeing to kick off this series with me!

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Vegan News & Updates

So much to say I am not sure where to start! I guess I will just dive in and hope you read through this post to the end since there are a number of things I want to share with you.


Cowspiracy is now available to watch via streaming Netflix. If you haven't seen it yet I encourage you to watch it and I have to say I am really glad I did. I hope more and more people will check it out. If you are interested in doing what you can to positively influence the environment and to ensure there is enough water and food for everyone, this film is something I hope you will consider watching. (***Spoiler alert--there is one scene in particular I did fast-forward through because I couldn't have made it through it. I am just going to call it "the duck scene" and I think that's enough of a hint in case you are like me and need the warning.***)

This movie also raises some really important points about the extreme influence of corporate money and power on our government and mainstream communication. (On a related note, these emails that were recently released about the Egg Board's targeting of the company Hampton Creek for their "Just Mayo" product are also definitely worth a read.)


The winners of this year's Bite of Bellingham were announced last week, and guess what? The winning "Best Bite" in this year's Judge's Choice category were the veggie fritters from Simmering Tava! How cool is that??? A completely vegan dish won Judge's Choice for Best Bite!!!  I can't tell you how excited I am about this. And a very well-deserved "Congratulations!" goes out to Simmering Tava!


My second guest post for the Downtown Bellingham Partnership blog was published on September 18th, this time with a focus on vegan dessert options. Please check it out and if you think of any place I missed, feel free to leave a comment on that site.


Mark your calendars! I have reserved the downtown Community Food Co op's Connections room for our vegan Thanksgiving-themed potluck! (In planning ahead, please review this room use policy and keep in mind you will need to park somewhere other than the co op parking lot if you are driving to this event). More details coming soon, but for the time being, I hoe you will plan on joining me on Saturday, November 14th from 4pm to 6pm to celebrate vegan food and all that we are thankful for!


Something else in Bellingham vegan news to be excited about, one of my favorite local vegans, the lovely Ali, has started an awesome Meetup group for vegetarians and vegans that is planing all kinds of great meetups and get-togethers. I haven't yet been able to make it to an event, but I have signed up on the site and I hope to be able to attend something soon. There are some fun activities planned and I encourage you to check it out!


And speaking of favorite local vegans, I will finally be kicking off my feature series spotlighting vegans in and around Bellingham with next week's post, which is about someone who I have grown quite fond of as I have gotten to know her over the past months. I am excited to introduce her to the rest of you, and I thank those of you who have reached out to me and expressed interest in participating in this series. I look forward to getting to know more of you soon as things progress.


This site is finally back on track for new posts and updates! I expect to regularly add to it (at least once a month) as time allows. Plans for upcoming posts include reviews of:

1) Cuisine Cube's vegan subscription option
2) The new-ish Daiya Cheezy Mac
3) Our favorite Hampton Creek's Just Mayo products
4) The sinfully delicious Salted Caramel Cluster ice cream made from cashew milk by So Delicious that has almost every vegan obsessed
5) Affordable cruelty-free makeup options (yes, I am talking about E.L.F products),
6) And my favorite moisturizing shampoo and conditioner (made by Hempz).

That about wraps it up for tonight. I hope you have had a lovely weekend and that some of the updates I have included in this post make you as happy as they make me!

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Being Vegan @the Bite of Bellingham (Part 2)

Amazing Vegan Brownie from The Black Drop Coffeehouse

Today was that special day, that day when people gathered together in the rain in Bellingham to sample local food and talk about what they liked best. I am really grateful to the Downtown Bellingham Partnership for inviting me to be a a guest judge, and I did enjoy talking to vendors and the challenge of trying to find vegan food at this year's 10th annual Bite of Bellingham event. I also really enjoyed meeting the other judges, and finally having the chance to talk with people I had met online face to face for the first time!

Judges were instructed to try and sample something from every vendor, and so to be fair, I stopped by as many booths as I could (excluding the barbecue places where it seemed pretty obvious there would be nothing for me) to say hello and ask if they had any vegan options. Generally people were pretty nice, but it was kind of sad repeatedly hearing: "Vegan? Uh...No. We don't have anything vegan at all. Oh, this must be really hard for you," in response to my question.

Luckily, there were a few vegan-friendly vendors at this year's Bite of Bellingham. 
Out of the 25 or so vendors at the Bite of Bellingham, one had something they said they thought *might* be vegan but they weren't completely sure (and the description on the menu said it had cheese in it so I decided not to try it), four had something vegan for me to sample, and a few others had no food but beverages I could try (like rootbeer, kombucha, coffee, or lemonade.) Some of my usual go-to places that are normally pretty vegan-friendly, (like Casa Que Pasa, Boundary Bay, Pure Bliss, and Leaf & Ladle) surprised me by having no vegan food options whatsoever. I will admit this did bum me out more than a little. :(

Delicious treats from Electric Beet Juice Company
But, on the plus side, Simmering Tava, the Electric Beet Juice Company, Trapeze, and The Black Drop Coffeehouse were all very-friendly, both in terms of  food options and in terms of actual friendliness. Not only were the people working those particular booths able to offer me vegan food, they also seemed genuinely excited about being at the event and they were happy to talk with anyone and everyone, even me, the lone vegan judge...

I have to say whenever I am in the Public Market, I usually head straight to Mulu's so, I am happy that today's event presented me with the perfect opportunity to try out both Trapeze and the Electric Beet Juice Company. I am a fan of both places now! 

Tasty vegan options from Trapeze
Simmering Tava wins my vote for best vegan meal options at the Bite of Bellingham (If only this had been an actual category! I can live in hope...) Their vegan fritters and flavorful chutneys are fantastic, and I also sampled two different kinds of bean dishes, both wonderful. I am pleased to see Simmering Tava will be at the Bellingham Night Market again, and I think I may have to make a special trip to check it out this Friday just because they are there!

YUMMY YUMMY vegan veggie fritters with chutneys from Simmering Tava

My vote for Best Coffeehouse  in the annual contest held by Cascadia Weekly is always The Black Drop Coffeehouse, but now I have even another reason to love them--their AMAZINGLY delicious rich and tasty vegan brownie (see photo at the top of this post). YUM! This was definitely a highlight from today's event, one that I hope to eat again someday.

Awesome entrees from Simmering Tava - 2 kinds of bean dishes with rice and a spicy sauce!
I guess that about wraps up my experience with being vegan at Bite of Bellingham 2015. I hope if some of you attended that you were able to find the vegan-friendly vendors and that you enjoyed yourselves. I will continue to be optimistic that as Bellingham grows even more vegan-friendly, then this awesome local event will become more vegan-friendly too!