Post Surf-Trip Adventures

Back to Eden: Hilary Tries Vegan

Okay, so here’s the deal. I am a meat lover. If I had a dating profile it would read something like, “Single white female. Fond of fried foods, steaks, and lattes.” My friends do not recognize me without a cup of coffee in my hand and do not attempt conversation until I’ve downed some caffeine. Well, you get the picture.

But if there’s one thing I’ve learned thus far in my travels, it’s that you have to be ready for anything. The gypsy lifestyle does not cater to preferences or comfort. You learn to be adventurous and enjoy experiencing (and tasting) the unfamiliar. Sometimes this means eating whatever is available, and sometimes it means just trying what’s available because it’s going to be bang-up awesome and you wouldn’t want to miss it. So naturally, as life goes, I was faced with a situation where I had to reevaluate my eating habits.

I took the train from Washington to Oregon to visit a yogi friend of mine who lives in Portland. I had previously met him when he came down to Vegas to teach flying yoga workshops a few months earlier and we developed a fast friendship. Besides yoga, massage, and spiritual well-being, Billy also happens to be fond of raw foods, vegetarianism, and organic eats. I knew I was in for a change in grub but I wasn’t fully prepared for what was in store.

He wanted to take me down to Alberta Street to check out this new vegan bakery, Back to Eden. “I’ve only been here once before but I’ve been pretty impressed with the quality of their food. I think you’ll like it.”

I inwardly balked at this statement. My previous experiences with vegan food had left me sour and I’m convinced butter makes everything better. But I trusted Billy’s judgement (for the moment) and was willing to give anything a try once. Worst case scenario I’d make him stop by the Starbucks I’d scoped out a few blocks away.

He ordered these peanut butter and seed bars that reminded me bird food. He watched me carefully as I broke off a piece to eat. I tried to dissect the ingredients, wondering if this was really meant for human consumption, but eventually gave up and popped it in my mouth.

Have you ever tasted something so delicious that it makes you see colors? Yeah, neither had I. Until this peanut butter bar. Surprised me too.

I literally could not get enough of these tasty morsels. I even had a dream that night about buying out the store and taking boxes of bars back to Vegas with me. It became a quick addiction. I made Billy take me back so I could indulge again and again.

After such a positive experience I let Billy pick the restaurants for the remainder of my stay. My diet consisted of coconut milk soups, fruit and ginger smoothies, organic salads, and goji berries with cashew butter. The worst part? I liked it. I was pretty sure I was coming down with something.

Am I a reformed carnivore? Well, no, but I am facing a dilemma. This Back to Eden bakery has changed my preconceived notions about vegan food standards. And now crazy things are happening; I’m craving vegetables and herbal tea over coffee and carbs.

Oh Portland, what have you done to me?

47 Comments

  • Reply

    mlhouse

    March 19, 2012

    Love it! Can’t wait to follow you on your veggie journey! :)

    • Reply

      Hilary Billings

      March 19, 2012

      Thank you so much! While I don’t know if I will ever become a true vegan, I am looking forward to working on making healthier choices.

      Do you have a favorite veggie dish? Or words of wisdom for a novice?

      • Reply

        mlhouse

        March 20, 2012

        My absolute favorite vegetarian dish is lentil stew. I got the recipe from Alicia Silverstone’s book “The Kind Diet”. It is super-yummy! I am going to post it later this week. Give it a try. :)

  • Reply

    El Guapo

    March 19, 2012

    Hey, nothing wrong with Vegan food. If you stay a carnivore, think how much wider your range of choices will be!
    I myself have been known to indulge in the occasional organic carrot. Granted, it’s usually on a plate with chicken wings, but still..

    • Reply

      Hilary Billings

      March 20, 2012

      Hahaha, yeah. I don’t think I will go full veggie (or vegan). I was a veggie for a number of years, but I just missed meat soooo much. I am excited about turning a new leaf and trying to live a healthier lifestyle, though!

  • Reply

    cowgirliz

    March 19, 2012

    Sounds like a fun trip! Seeing colors from eating your food especially!

    I used to work at a place on Alberta St. But not the new and improved part. I was a misplaced cowgirl in the ghetto. Weird.

    This looks like a great place to check out… not because of the Vegan part (I love my steaks!) but I’m sure it’s all sustainable along with being organic. It is possible to have it be tasty too. Starting with good base ingredients seems to make all the difference. Besides, you have me curious about what colors I would see…

    • Reply

      Hilary Billings

      March 20, 2012

      “Misplaced cowgirl in the ghetto.” Love that. Feels like the story of my life, haha.

      And I’m with you. The best food is all about a strong foundation of ingredients. I am excited to be eating healthier, but as I mentioned, I am quite the meat lover! We’ll see how things go.

      I had my first experience cow herding the other day and thought of you. Thought you would be proud of my cutting skills =). Hope you’re well!

  • Reply

    elsethenomad

    March 19, 2012

    Sounds like my Portland! :) Great photos!

    • Reply

      Hilary Billings

      March 20, 2012

      Yes, your Portland can be very convincing! I hear the motto is, “Keep Portland weird.” Love that =).

      Do you ever go back to visit?

      • Reply

        elsethenomad

        March 20, 2012

        Yes it is! Well I still live in Oregon so I go to Portland whenever I can! :) My uncle lives in Vancouver, just across the river, so we visit a lot, luckily! NW Portland, 23rd St. is my all time favorite spot. Very artsy, eclectic… Check it out next time you go! :)

        • Reply

          Hilary Billings

          March 20, 2012

          Haha, how cool! I know, when I was taking the train down and I heard we were stopping through Vancouver I got really confused. Total blonde moment at eight in the morning.

          And I will have to do that! Sounds like a cool part of town =).

  • Reply

    Niklas Holmström

    March 19, 2012

    Reblogged this on Niklas Holmström and commented:
    Great post on a carnivores experiencing some positive vegan vibes. I don’t expect to ever leave meat and never look back, but I’ll always be open trying any well prepared dish, save the über-spicy and down right rotten products.

    • Reply

      Hilary Billings

      March 20, 2012

      Thank you so much for reblogging, Niklas! I am so happy to hear that you enjoyed the post so much.

      And I agree; being open and adventurous is the way to go for sure. =)

  • Reply

    Simply Begin

    March 19, 2012

    Mouth watering….

  • Reply

    Glenn Stevens

    March 20, 2012

    I’ve been a veggie of an on for years, every now and then I think, “Ooooo, bacon.” but then go back to chopping veg. Loved the sound and look of Back to Eden.

    • Reply

      Hilary Billings

      March 20, 2012

      Hi Glenn! Thanks for taking the time to read and comment.

      I completely understand. Bacon is one of my favorites as well. =) Do you have a favorite dish?

      • Reply

        Glenn Stevens

        March 20, 2012

        Hi Hillary,
        I have to say at the moment i’m being so lazy with the food I make myself, but It is always such a treat to have a great veggie chef create something special. your post has reminded me that I really need to try harder with my food, or go out and treat myself! :-)

        • Reply

          Hilary Billings

          March 21, 2012

          Haha, I understand. Watching my friend cook for three days was exhausting; I can’t imagine what a strain that would be on a daily basis (but I guess I’m going to find out)!

          Always treat yourself! We only live one life, so we might as well enjoy it and be well, yes? =) I’m glad that I could help. Please stay in touch!

  • Reply

    AMERICAN MALE

    March 20, 2012

    Hello Hilary,

    Last Summer, I maintain a vegan diet for the entire summer, for the most part it was pretty easy to maintain. I am not an overweight guy by any means but I lost about 20 pounds and felt amazing. I stop during the winter months because I wanted to put some weight on (who am I kidding I wanted a hamburger and a slice a new york style pizza!!!! mmmmm so good.) However, I decided two weeks ago to go back to vegan eating. There is a high possibility that I will maintain a vegan diet this go around. As a side note vegan desserts are the best!!!

    Americanmales.net

    • Reply

      Hilary Billings

      March 20, 2012

      Hey there!

      Thanks for sharing your story! I hope to feel as healthy and fit as you did. I have high hopes, but my meat cravings are winning out here… One day at a time, making appropriate choices =).

      I wish you best of luck on your venture! Please let me know how it goes!

  • Reply

    AnonymousBurn

    March 23, 2012

    Vegetables are the true gateway drug. Once you find out that there are people (and ways) to make good food that is good for you and then you start eating it – it has this ability to start making you feel really good. It’s addicting. Vegetables are jerks, really.

    • Reply

      AnonymousBurn

      March 23, 2012

      Also, my advice, don’t set yourself up to never eat meat again if it’s something you enjoy. If you want a burger then, by jove, have one. If you happen to be a non-meateater for ethical reasons and you live on a soap box – that’s the only time I recommend staying the course or live with the shame of your hypocracy.

      • Reply

        Hilary Billings

        March 23, 2012

        I could not stop laughing when I read this. You are so hilarious. But seriously. Start writing a book. I’ll endorse it. Especially if it talks about mean vegetables.

        Thank you for continuing to read and support me. =)

  • Reply

    Gayle and Books

    March 26, 2012

    Going Vegan is hard work. My brother has been one for several years and I went vegetarian for lent. I have found you feel healthier, at least to me, but I will still want to resort back to being a carnivore. Maybe less of one now as I found I like thinking more towards the vegetarian ways, and now that I am starting to like beans I find myself with a whole new list of foods I want to eat. Like how garbanzo beans tasted delicious when I cook them, who knew?
    It keeps you well rounded by trying to explore new appetites. Good luck on going partial vegetarian Hilary!

    • Reply

      Hilary Billings

      March 26, 2012

      Hi Gayle!

      Thank you so much for taking the time to comment! I think I am experiencing similar benefits and feelings now that I’m on this healthier path. But much like you, I feel if I deny myself meat I will become a very unhappy person.n Maybe one day :). Do you have a favorite dish?

      Best of luck to you as well! Please keep me informed on how your journey progresses!

      • Reply

        Gayle and Books

        March 27, 2012

        Actually its tacos. Its fake meat with mexican seasoning, lettuce, cheese, salsa, green peppers, and of course hard shells. I started to have it when my brother went vegan and now I have added other items, its delicious!

  • Reply

    ozex

    March 26, 2012

    I am very much like you – meat and fried food all the way! To hear that a fellow meat-eater is enjoying this healthy food gives me hope that I’ll one day broaden my food horizons. However tofu does this notion a disservice.

    • Reply

      Hilary Billings

      March 26, 2012

      Well, from what I gather, most tofu is actually really bad for you. Unless it’s organic, it’s stuffed full of hormones and nasty things. Plus, bacon tastes better. =)

      Do you have a favorite food?

  • Reply

    lynnschriner

    April 4, 2012

    Hahahah! Having been on a limited and organic diet forever I laughed at so many of your “isms” That said, you crack me up with your humor and your delightful way of sharing your inner workings! (Vegan and all!) When you go to other countries I am pretty sure you will find WAY worse than Vegan bean dishes! Thank you for being you, your really quite remarkable!

  • Reply

    versipellusfenris

    April 12, 2012

    I am definitely a carnivore; but my mom cooks a lot of vegan and vegetarian dishes. Most are so/ so, I would definitely prefer just a nice salad with italian dressing. But some are really good and make me think that if I had to, I could handle being a vegetarian (sorry, I have no idea what they are though). Honestly though, I am not sure I could live without chicken wings and chili and BBQed ribs.

    • Reply

      Hilary Billings

      April 15, 2012

      Haha, I completely understand! I am a meat lover to the extreme! Since coming back from Portland I’ve found a happy medium with getting my protein and eating lots of veggies. BBQ is definitely one of my favorites too =).

      Thanks so much for commenting! I hope you’ll come back again!

  • Reply

    Sumithra Sriram

    April 23, 2012

    Wow!! Congratulations on becoming a veggie!! I have been a very staunch and proud vegetarian all my life, and I can assure you that you will have a better life now, without the guilt of having something which would have liked to be alive, in your tummy!! ;)
    And love the blog’s title!! :)

    • Reply

      Hilary Billings

      April 23, 2012

      Thank you for your kind words! I’m doing the best that I can, but it’s been a lot harder than I thought! It does help being around other like minded individuals.

      And how awesome are you? Were your parents veggies as well? Do you have a favorite veggie dish?

      • Reply

        Sumithra Sriram

        April 23, 2012

        Well, Im not that great as well!! Ive tried becoming a vegan, and I have stopped consuming all animal products except the dairy products. I just cant let go of yougart and ice creams and chocolates and cheese!!
        My mom is a veggie, and my dad wasn’t. But, I convinced my dad to become one, and I am proud to say that he hasn’t touched meat for the last 10 years or so.
        I must say, being a veggie in India is way easier, because we have infinite dishes to choose from. And I just cannot pinpoint a single dish as my favourite. I have a huge list!!
        Try out a few Indian recipes. Maybe they will help you like the greens more, cause spices can really make the difference.

        • Reply

          Hilary Billings

          April 24, 2012

          Well I commend you for your dedication! I’ve been giving up dairy and have found it rather difficult myself.

          And what a life you must have! It sounds very exotic. I look forward to learning more about you and your adventurous lifestyle! Please keep in touch!

          • Sumithra Sriram

            April 24, 2012

            I would love to!!! :)

            And all the best for sticking with your veggie diet!!

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About Me

About Me

Hey fellow adventurers, my name is Hilary! After being rejected from grad school, I took off on a solo journey around the world. Now I constantly challenge myself to take on new experiences. This blog documents my journeys from Europe to Fiji, swimming with sharks and living with tribes, to becoming an accidental beauty queen and working for one of the top national media outlets. If you like what you're reading, please subscribe! Here's to the next great adventure!

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