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So, Sunday I had a fabulous day with fellow n00b vegan diet follower, Mandy! I’m going to be frank…it’s been my experience that it’s not as easy following a vegan diet (or even a vegetarian diet) in the south as I would have hoped, but I really can’t be that surprised. I live in Alabama, which is consistently ranked as the first or second fattest state in the country. Sorry folks, but it’s true…While we do have a decent amount of options for healthy living (Manna Grocery here in town, Whole Foods is about an hour away, etc.), it’s not as readily available as some other areas in the country. I also find that while I’ve met quite a few vegetarians in the south, I’ve only met less than a handful of people following a vegan diet so far (though I hope for that to change).

Thank goodness one of them is the dear sweet Mandy! Mandy is actually a former student of mine…I taught her college speech a few years back when she was in nursing school! And, she was the one who kindly pulled out my drains after my tummy tuck back in December (click here to see that video…it’s pretty gross, but pretty neat if you’re into that kind of thing…and yes, I was still drugged up in the video! haha). I adore Mandy!

I think Mandy’s blog title is fitting (Southern Girl Goes Vegan) because it’s really not all that common here. But, that doesn’t deter her or myself from trying to find the best possible healthy eating for us for the rest of our lives…

ANYWAY…so, Sunday was a get together day. We met up to spend a day eating and shopping. We had a brief pit stop at Starbucks where I got an iced soy chai latte, as well, I was out pretty darn late the night (3:30 a.m.!!!) before and needed a pick me up (no, this isn’t a regular occurrence).

Then we headed out to Bottletree Cafe in Birmingham, which is one of the few vegan friendly restaurants in our area. I LOVE Bottletree. Such a fun, hilarious environment with AWESOME food, with many of their menu items exclusively vegan (did I mention this is rare in the south??)…Mandy had never been before, so she was excited.

We decided we’d get two separate brunch dishes and split them. Wise decision. We’re pretty smart. ha.

Here are some pictures from brunch at Bottletree:

Mandy is all hippy!

Funny sign!

Too funny!

Mandy sips it up!

Okre!

Pickled okre? We're in the south, of course!

Woot!

Holla!

DELICIOUS vegan brunch!

Sweet Delta Slinger: Homemade sweet potato biscuit open-faced with 2 hand-pattied soy sausages covered in vegan mushroom and sage gravy, served with a side of greens. This was soooo awesome and we both gobbled up our portions!

Andre the Giant: A hearty meal of veggies and tofu sauteed in nutritional yeast, served over seasoned black beans and yellow corn stone-ground grits. This was really good too, but we both admitted that the Sweet Delta Slinger won out in this vegan brunch battle. Still worth every penny (both dishes were $7.50, quite a steal if you ask me).

After eating brunch at Bottletree, we headed to Western Supermarkets to try the ever so blog popular drink, kombucha (at the suggestion of fellow Alabama blogger, Matt). I have to admit I was pretty pumped. I’ve been wanting to try kombucha for AWHILE now because everybody RAVES over it (especially Averie at Love Veggies and Yoga).

So, we purchased some and tried them out in the parking lot (no we could not wait). Here’s what ensued:

Kombucha!

Toast...to upcoming nastiness! And man, I look rough!

Ah, we were naive!

Seriously...so nasty!

Yep...I don't have a clue what is in store for me!

So.not.good. I don't care if it's healthy for me...

People. I don’t care. We both thought it was BEYOND disgusting. NO THANK YOU. People make fun of me all the time because I can really stand and eat/drink some pretty gross stuff (my pre workout Brendan Brazier fitness drink comes to mind). No thanks. No thanks at all. I’m fine without kombucha. BOTH types were just plain gross. GROSS. It was like tasting pissy vinegar. Ugh. Maybe it was this brand? I don’t know…but it took us FOREVER just to drink 1/3 of it and then I threw the rest of mine away. Gross. No thanks. Just gross.

We laughed about it though and I’m glad I finally tried it…but, um, no.

After that, we headed over to Whole Foods (the only one in Alabama, sadly) where we spent a good 3 hours shopping for various groceries. Yeah, that’s what I adore about Mandy. She is not a clothes shopper at all (like me). But, man, put us alone in Whole Foods and we could spend all day there! I loved shopping with Mandy. She’s really informed and I think we compliment each other with our vegan diet n00bness. Got some really awesome goodies, and even ran into a long time crush of mine who now works at Whole Foods (le sigh).

My loot from Whole Foods!

Not pictured: Luna & Larry’s Peanut Butter Chocolate Coconut Milk ice cream (in my freezer).

Took a nap after shopping (what can I say…shopping wears me out). Then Mandy and I headed out for a fun run by the lake. We also stopped at an elementary school and did “box jumps” and football drills on their field. I think we did roughly 3 miles and it was super fun. It’s so nice to have a local vegan diet friend. REALLY nice. And add that to the knowledge that fellow candytocarrots blogger and no-longer-vegan-n00b Lindsay has, I feel like I’m building a good support system circle. And that’s key.

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