I don’t know about you, but one reason I started my blog was to chronicle the good and bad in my kitchen. What worked and what didn’t work. What I liked and what could use some work.
When I started my blog almost 4 years ago, I was a flexitarian, consuming occasional fish and rarely meat. Gradually, I ate more vegetarian meals and eventually switched to an entirely vegan diet and later it morphed to be plant-based vegan. During that transition, I branched out to different sources to figure out what vegan meals were all about and it was then that I looked at vegan cookbooks and scoured reviews for suggested recipes. If I wanted this to work, I wanted to make sure I was eating flavourful foods. I didn’t want to waste expensive ingredients or risk having no food to eat, either. Which recipes should I try first?
This was how I met Allison, who enjoys reviewing her way through recipes as much as me. Over the past year, she and her husband have been working on a very neat website: Vegansprout. I urge you to check it out and contribute. In short, it is a website which compiles reviews of all things vegan. There are the cookbooks (129 right now) AND recipes (yes, Allison typed up the individual recipes from all the cookbooks) as expected, but also other vegan products like pantry items, drinks, chocolate, beauty products like lip balm, etc.
When I first went vegan, I was worried about milk substitutes. The soy milk Rob typically bought was terrible and I was concerned nothing would taste good. Someone told to try them all out until I found something that I enjoyed. At the beginning, because there were so many choices, it felt overwhelming. However, it worked out in the long-run because now I know what I like. Having a website like Vegansprout facilitates the review process: it is organized and you can find what others recommend, as well.
So why am I highlighting the website? There is power in numbers. Add in your thoughts. Let others know what you think. Save others from buying Natura soy milk and suggest your favourite, in turn.
Enough from me, though. I thought I would ask Allison some questions about her (totally free) website.
Janet: What is Vegansprout?
Allison: Vegansprout.com is a very unique site where you can read and write reviews for all things vegan! We currently have a ginormous database of brands, vegan products, vegan cookbooks and their recipes listed, but there’s room (and plans!) to add so much more. It’s a very recently launched site, but I hope that with the growing content and members posting reviews, it can become an extremely valuable resource to both vegans and not-yet-vegans! We already have close to 4,000 user reviews, so it’s an amazing start. I think it’s really important to make more responsible purchases by reading reviews first, and equally important to help others by sharing your personal experiences-even just a few words can be so helpful. Same goes for when you’re trying to figure out what to make for your next meal! If someone is transitioning to veganism, or maybe just beginning to think about it, seeing that there are tens of thousands+ recipes and products available can make it that much easier.
How did you come up with the idea for Vegansprout?
My husband is a software developer, and was looking to make something that I would like to see in the world, and that could also potentially benefit others. I’ve loved reading and writing reviews on some great vegan forums over the past few years, so I thought it would be great to have a site completely devoted to vegan reviews. I also wanted a place that would not only have the reviews to talk about great things, but also lots of great vegan recipe images to go along with them, and show how delicious vegan food is. Thankfully, I have a lot of great vegan friends who helped us during the beta phase, and who have been diligent about posting lots of initial reviews!
Vegansprout is unique because there is no other place to go to specifically review vegan things. There are great vegan reviews out there on blogs and sprinkled on other large sites, but nothing else that allows users to easily contribute and become part of a new vegan community. Aside from the reviews, there is also no other place to go just to easily browse and search the multitude of vegan products and cookbooks available! I think vegans specifically love to talk about food they’ve made, recipes they’ve tried, and new cruelty-free products they’ve bought (because it’s all so awesome!), and I think having it all succinctly compiled together in 1 spot was something really missing from the other vegan (and review) communities.
What do you love most about Vegansprout?
I absolutely love just having everything in one spot! I can go to vegansprout and start typing in the search bar (my favorite feature of the site), and I already have so many things to choose from. The search is great because you can do a broad search, (say for “chocolate”) pick the chocolate category, and you’ll get about 950 results from that product category alone, or you can narrow it down by doing a search for “veganomicon cutlets,” and you’ll get the 2 cutlet recipe names from Veganomicon instantly right there. I also just love seeing new reviews coming in, and comparing several different user reviews for one thing. I think it’s great that you can find out about smaller vegan companies who aren’t yet as well known, but who might end up having your favorite lip balm or ice cream or wallet, or whatever thing. I want to have a huge spectrum of things listed from all over the world, and help support the vegan community as a whole!
Yes! I already knew that there were tons of great vegan products and recipes out there, but I’m still amazed at just.how.many. There’s a never-ending list of vegan choices out there for basically anything you’re looking to buy, cook, or bake. As more reviews come in, it will only become more and more helpful. I also like to check cookbook recipe name listings for “known typos” before cooking. A lot of authors are really helpful in posting cookbook errata on their websites and blogs, but I think it’s useful to now have everything compiled all in one place together for quick viewing. I also love browsing and sorting by average rating or most reviewed to quickly find the highest rated things-I’ve already bought some things to try them just because of a couple of awesome vegansprout reviews! I’ll also often type in the search an ingredient I want to use for dinner just to see all the recipe names that come up..it sometimes helps me decide what to make!
Wow, hard. I have a huge shelf of favorites, but I think my all-time all around favorites remain Veganomicon, Appetite for Reduction, Viva Vegan, Vegan Diner, Vegan Pie in the Sky, and American Vegan Kitchen. I know I also have a lot of new favorites on the shelf that I haven’t had a chance to cook a lot from yet! There are so many great vegan cookbook authors out there-truly a book perfect for everyone!
Do you have any other ideas for Vegansprout? What’s brewing in the background?
Tons of ideas! I think I’m most excited about adding blogs and blog recipe names up for review, as well as vegan restaurants. We’re also throwing around other ideas like making the community even stronger with a forum, achievement badges, cookbook challenges, and possibly an author spotlight feature, just to name a few.
Thank you so much, Allison!
What do you think? Are you a fan of checking out reviews beforehand?