Vegan Mofo #14: Collard Wraps and Lessons From Veganism

Happy Halloween, friends! Honestly, I’m not a big fan of this holiday or any holiday for that matter. I think it’s the cynical (some would say party-pooper) side of me where I don’t pay much attention to “special” days. In fact, I really don’t care about celebrating my birthday and probably my anniversary is the only annual event that I truly enjoy.

I’m not a total meanie, though. I couldn’t bring myself to buy Halloween candy to give out tonight, but I got some quarters instead:

On a different subject, I finally made collard wraps!!! I tried this back in March of this year, but accidentally used chard instead of collard greens and it was a disaster.

The collards were so much easier to handle. I cut them off the stem like this:

And put them in a pot of boiling water to soften them and make them more appetizing. They turned a bright green in less than a minute. I rinsed them with cold water to stop them cooking and to make them cool enough to handle:

Then, I laid out the fixins’ including hummus, red pepper strips, avocado and sliced onion:

 I built the wrap like a burrito (note: stay away from the edges):

And folded it over:

I was soooo proud of myself. I served the wraps with some chopped up Asian pear. The collard green itself was pretty mild in flavor and had a nice texture. I don’t know how portable this type of wrap would be, I ended up eating it with a fork and knife. I will for sure be making these in the future as an alternative to a regular grain-based wrap.

So as you can tell I managed to squeeze out one more post for this year’s Vegan Mofo. My final tally was 14 posts, my goal had been 20.

I wanted to share this post I wrote about Lessons From Veganism that was posted on the Vida Vegan Con last week. In it, I sum up some things I learned during my first year of being vegan. I hope you enjoy it!

Lessons From Veganism – The First Year

September, 16, 2011 marked my first year of being vegan. To honor the occasion, I thought about some of the lessons I learned during this time. They range from the significant (transforming my health!) to the silly (my obsession with chia pudding). Overall, the changes that veganism has brought to my life have been powerful and I can’t wait to see what the following years bring.

1. Veganism is not about perfection! Turns out there is no vegan police and you don’t have to be a perfect vegan or a perfect anything for that matter. While I am really careful about not consuming animal products, I have only just started weeding out the animal-derived products in my closet. The point is that it’s up to each individual to decide his or her boundaries.

2. If being vegan is not about perfection, then it is about compassion. I’ve become really emotional about animal rights once I thought carefully about what it means to eat or use animal-based products. I believe knowledge is power and as humans we are responsible for showing compassion to not only other people, but to the millions of other species sharing our planet.

3. Eating plant-based foods is also about doing what’s best for our health. Science shows that a plant-based diet is ideal for human health. If you want to say goodbye to heart disease, cancer, diabetes and a myriad of other problems, a plant-based diet is your answer. Note: Don’t forget your B12 supplement and be sure to read Ginny Messina’s new book “Vegan for Life.”

4. There is a lot of misinformation out there about nutrition. Most of what we read in the media or learned in school about nutrition has been dictated by industry lobbyists and isn’t based on science! As a future registered dietitian whose professional community has sponsors from all of the big food manufacturers, it’s going to be an uphill battle to educate consumers. But, I have confidence that science will prevail.

5. Whoa, I’m an advocate. Once I discovered my passion for veganism and health, I felt confident to speak my mind. I also learned that advocacy can take many different forms and it’s up to each of us to choose which one works for us. From leaf-letting to sharing a vegan recipe, it all helps the cause.

6. I have influence. It has been incredibly rewarding to have people ask me about what I’m doing and how they can get healthier. Some people still don’t get it, but I decided early on that I’m all about helping people who want to be helped. I consider myself as an example of how energetic, balanced and productive one can be eating a healthy, vegan diet.

7. Vegan food is delicious! Eating fruits, veggies, grains, nuts, seeds and beans is a culinary adventure and not the least bit boring. From a peanut butter and jelly sandwich to a gourmet meal at Millennium, the fun never stops with vegan food. I am finding all of the Vida Vegan Con blogs to be really inspiring.

8. A plant-based diet is healing. After I started eating a healthy, plant-based diet, I realized the connection between food and health. I successfully resolved migraines, seasonal allergies, hormonal imbalances and anxiety quickly after becoming a healthy vegan. Animal products, excess fat, sugar and salt make you sick; whole, plant-based foods restore, heal and balance.

9. Vegans are open and supportive. I feel like I can be myself in the vegan community. After attending the 1st Vida Vegan Con in August, 2011, I felt part of a family. I left the conference with new friends who continue to inspire and help me grow.

10. Veganism gave me hope. In this world where sometimes it feels like we’re headed for destruction, I feel positive about the future. The steps we take with our food choices, advocacy and influence are resulting in strides for animal welfare, improving our health and preserving the environment.

What do you think about these lessons, do any resonate with you? 


  1. says

    Great reflection on the lessons! It’s always so interesting to look back. I think the perfectionism one resonates with me—sometimes I think that food and choices happen in an “all or nothing” way…and they really don’t. Life is much more pleasant when I forgive myself for not being so strict about things!

  2. says

    I love the quarters idea. I was torn about what to give out as a new vegan – luckily I found mini oreos at the store! :)

    Thanks for sharing the lessons you’ve learned over the past year. It’s helpful to read everyone’s journey and that we don’t have to be perfect from the start.

  3. says

    I’m very interested in the lessons you’ve learned. I’m taking my first tenuous steps towards a vegetarian lifestyle, and while I’m enamored with the idea, I’m finding the execution to be difficult at best. Living with my omnivore boyfriend isn’t making it any easier either. Guess I’ll have to just keep trying.

  4. Dawn says

    HI Carrie–I have visited your blog in the past. I think I found you from one of your comments on FatFreeVeganKitchen. Anyway this is the first time I am commenting. I like how you post when things don’t always turn out perfectly.
    I make collard wraps sometimes too. After I blanch them I lay them out flat and using a sharp paring knife cut off the stem along the leaf. They roll up much easier this way. And stay wrapped up better I think. Also the bigger tougher leaves I blanch for maybe a minute longer. They stay that beautiful bright green but are a little more tender. I also tend to wrap them a bit like you do for stuffed grape leaves. Roll up a bit of the stem end of the leaf then wrap up the sides. Then tuck the top down. I hope you know what I mean. That reads kind of funny. This way they are quite portable. I have packed them for picnic lunches. Worked out great.
    Thanks for your inspiring recipes!

    • says

      Hi Dawn, thanks for commenting and for the tips on making collard wraps. I’m glad I tried them again and I’ll use your advice the next time I prepare them, I think it takes a little practice to get them right. Take care, Carrie

  5. Rebecca says

    This was such a great post! I love your 10 lessons. What an amazing year it has been. I like how you said that veganism is about compassion – that is a beautiful way to live your life. You are an inspiration.

  6. Ginny says

    I loved reading your vegan lessons; so very inspiring! Congratulations on your first year – it seems like it flew right by!

    I don’t think I care for too many holidays either. My cynical side says this, “it’s just another way for Walmart and Target (and a million other stores) to profit even more.” Have you noticed that in the last few years, Christmas buys are displayed way before we’re given the chance to enjoy Halloween? What’s the rush?!?? > . <

    I love your quarter idea!! What did the kids think?

    • says

      Hi Ginny, I totally agree with you in that holidays now just seem like a way for big box stores to earn more money. Honestly, what is the rush? The quarters were a big hit! Some of the kids yelled, “I got money!” to their parents and it was really cute. I am going to do that from now on for Halloween. Plus, I can use any leftovers for the parking meters. :) Have a great rest of your weekend!

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