Who am I?
My name is Karie Fraley. I became a vegetarian in 2012 during a group assignment in college: How will the growing trend of vegan kids effect the restaurant and hotel industry? I admittedly had no idea why anyone wouldn’t want to eat meat. I was working as a Sous Chef at an organic grocery store. A fellow coworker, once vegan, volunteered to teach me about vegetarianism. Little did I know, that this project would change the course of my life.
Back at my coworkers house, we started our introduction into vegetarianism with videos from PETA. “Who are they?” I remember asking, “People for the ethical treatment of animals,” he replied, so of course I responded, “Is that really necessary?!”. After watching the videos I quickly learned why anyone would become a vegetarian. He told me that he’d been a vegan for 6 years, but had gone back to eating meat. I couldn’t imagine why, after the videos I was pretty much convinced. But as a chef I asked myself, do we really need animal protein to feel satiated? He then lent me the book that pushed me over the vegetarian edge, Eating Animals. Soon thereafter, I stopped eating meat all together. I initially followed a pescatarian diet for 6 months before making the complete transition off meat, which I’ll always credit for my full transition into a then vegetarian, and now vegan.
I started making vegetarian dishes at work and customers began requesting them. Vegetarian food made me fall in love with cooking all over again. I learned how to feel satiated as a vegetarian, and then as a vegan. The new challenge of making food delicious without relying on cream, butter, cheese, and animal protein made cooking exciting all over again. I loved every minute of it and still do! Switching to a plant based diet was the best thing that ever happened to me for so many reasons, but most importantly it brought me to my new home in California.
I now work as an instructor for cooking classes and blog in my free time.
Because vegans aren’t rich.
I created Affordable Vegan Food for people who want to eat more vegan food, but don’t want to spend all their money on goji berries and antioxidant rich foods, what are antioxidants good for again…? We live in a health obsessed culture, overstuffing ourselves with antioxidants, while simultaneously failing ourselves by eating out of season and out of country. This is food for everyone, not just vegans. My recipe don’t rely on heavily processed (and expensive!) vegan products: ice creams, cheese, fake meats, and pre-made sauces and dressings. I focus on creating recipes that use inexpensive whole foods. I encourage you to shop at a farmer’s market, go this weekend! It’ll last longer and taste better.
Superfoods, nuts, and vegan speciality products make a great addition to dishes, but they’re also pricey! Speciality vegan products in excess, disillusion us into becoming even less connected to our food. Occasionally you will find recipes with these ingredients, but more often I rely on basic ingredients that are accessible to everyone.
Because vegans are busy too.
How do we get stuck making overly complicated and complex recipes? Food should be simple, delicious, and quick. My ability to eat healthy and save money has always relied on my ability to prepare food quickly. It’s no coincidence that I never gained weight in college or fell into debt. Culinary school gave me the most valuable life skill: how to cook for yourself. Now, I want to share that skill with you! But, if you ever have an opportunity to take any type of cooking class, do it! I still take cooking classes to keep my skills fresh and learn new ones too. If you can’t afford the occasional cooking class, check out my Youtube channel or any Youtube videos. I’ve learned so many unique tricks watching quick videos like: choosing a ripe pineapple, cracking open a coconut, and preparing fresh lemongrass.
Most of my recipes are also large batch recipes, which helps to save even more time. If you have a hard time eating the same thing for dinner five days in a row, try freezing leftovers. Freezing food is a common practice in restaurants and catering companies, just be sure to eat in within 6 months. If you’re discouraged about eating frozen food, invite your friends over for dinner. You’ll be surprised by how quickly people respond to free food, especially if it’s homemade.
If you follow Instagram you will notice my love for cheap seasonal fruit.
These recipes prove that you don’t have to be rich to enjoy healthy food- Welcome to Affordable Vegan Food!