Vegan Baking- Why I went vegan. My Story.

Vegan Baking


As many of you may already know, I do not eat animals.

But I have not been this way my whole life.  I have gone in and out of vegetarianism since I was a teenager, but always went back to eating meat since I really didn’t know anything else.  Growing up in a family that brought home neatly wrapped packages of dead animals for dinner was the norm for me.

I am not exactly sure how I was awakened to the cruelty and horror of the animal farming industry. But I do know I have been an animal lover my whole life.   If you ever saw my family photo albums from when I was a young child;  I was never NOT holding some kind of an animal!  As a matter of fact Winklebean is sitting on my lap as I type this to you!  Hamsters, gerbils, mice, bunnies, Guinea Pigs, kittens and cats, puppies and dogs you name it!  My aunts and cousins had horses and even a donkey and goats!   I Love love love all animals! (Ok except centipedes…. I just….. can’t…. I’m not that evolved… ugggggh) I even started putting spiders outside rather than kill them, so I’m getting there.. but centipedes? No. Why? Just why?Gretchen holding kittenWhen I was growing up, there was no internet.  No plethora of information at every click.  We had encyclopedias, dictionaries and of course television, but you can make a safe bet that there was no information being told about the truth of the animal farming industry.  It is quite possibly the biggest secret being kept from the public.  After all, if people truly witnessed the brutality of it all, from birth to death for these animals, quite possibly everyone would be vegan. pig farm

I believe PETA was the only material out there way back in the late 1980’s where I could get any ideas about the truth behind this torture industry.  I remember making my first donation to them at about 17 years of age.  I proudly drank my coffee in a mug that had a carrot on it who said: “Don’t eat your friends!”  I truly wonder (now) how we as humans do not make the connection, or distinction rather, of “loving animals as pets” on one hand but killing them for dinner on the other hand.

But of course I understand this separation.  It is intentional and actively taught for us to associate farming with happy cows and pigs prancing in a field and willing giving up their lives to us so we can have a tasty meal.  But the real truth cannot be further from that propaganda campaign.  I won’t go into the details here though, since those who are interested can simply do an internet search on Factory Farming and you will see immediately.

But one thing I have realized in my journey towards veganism is that ALL animals are sentient beings.

Sentient meaning: able to feel, see, hear, smell, or taste. With the emphasis on FEEL.  Think about your dog or your cat for a moment.  Would you ever, in a million years ever consider eating him or her? Of course not…………………………………… but what if they tasted really great?

Hmmmm Dog bacon? Yumm 🙁

There are about 10 countries in the world currently, that eat cats and dogs all the time. Who are we to say they cannot?  We eat cows, pigs, chickens, goats, lambs and many many more animal species every day.  What ever happened that made us draw a huge dividing line between our pets and our food?  Here in the USA, a 2012 consensus report listed total number of  households owning dogs at 43,346,000.  With an average of 1.6 dogs per household that’s 69,353,600 pet dogs.  Cats as pets were more totaling 75,845,700.  We are a nation that LOVES animals!

I love animals

It’s called Species-ism: to have no qualms about killing certain species over others and the reasoning behind it.  I ask you to think about that for a moment.

It wasn’t until I read the book Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer in 2009 that I went full on vegetarian (again) but this time did not look back.  But I was still eating eggs and cheese, not to mention how much my small bakery was using on a daily basis.  But I didn’t know that the dairy industry or even raising chickens for eggs was inhumane.  After all, don’t those animals constantly produce milk and eggs? And what a waste if we didn’t “help” them by consuming all of that otherwise “waste”.  Well that is the idea “they” want us to believe.  And “they” are the beneficiaries of the animal farming industry.   Did you know that a cow does not just produce milk all the time?  Neither did I! I thought they were just literal milk fountains spewing milk all over the place constantly and we as humans had to be their good shepherds collecting all that FREE milk to make ice cream and other things!

Wow, was I ever wrong. But once you stop and think for yourself (rather than be programmed to believe what’s on a television commercial for yummy cheese) you can make the nature connection it all makes sense!

Duh, only pregnant females produce milk!  So with out going into the gory details of how a mum cow is constantly impregnated throughout her life, simply to have baby cow literally ripped from her the moment it is born……you can do a quick search on Dairy Farming, and well…..grab a box of tissues if you have never heard a mama cow bellow for her new born male calf who is now being chained to a crate and harvested for veal. The female calves are “luckier”?  They get to be raped over and again to live out the same fate of mum, to produce milk for us. Humans, who were never meant to drink any milk except that of our own mothers. Inevitably though they all get slaughtered for food and well…you get the idea.

PETA is still today the largest organization world wide on a quest for animal rights.  I understand there are many conflicting arguments regarding PETA and their practices.  Many Vegans and Animals Rights Activists I have spoken to do not have kind words to say about them.  I am not 100% schooled on the pros and cons of this group, however I will say this; Since they are the largest active group in the world with the most money to spend on campaigning, I believe they are doing good by making people aware of the horrors inflicted on animals every second of every day in every country in this world as we speak.  So if PETA can open the eyes of just 1 more person the way they did mine, then more power to them.  Just my humble opinion.

Addtionally, Beyonce has been recently promoting her Vegan lifestyle lately.  Now many have opinions about her too, as do I….but if a celebrity of her caliber can influence change and create awareness on the scale that she can then More Power to Her also!  She is an example of someone who is promoting veganism for the many health benefits it has to offer, not so much from the cruelty standpoint. But hey, whatever works! Maybe one day she will see that wearing fur is horric too and well….it goes on and on.

I have a personal facebook page where I constantly share images and statistics relating to the horrors of this torture industry.  So you can imagine how many friends I have lost just on my own quest to enlighten a handful of people who may not be aware of the truth on how their food gets to them, but more disturbingly, who really don’t care.

As vegan activist I am classified in the same category of someone who is overzealous about religion and will use every waking breathe to share this enlightenment.  So I guess you can call me a Born Again Vegan because the truth that I have found is worth sharing, not only to save the animals, your health and your spiritual awakening, but to save this planet for the future of all it’s inhabitants.

You would be appalled to find out the harm this industry has on our planet.  The best NON GRAPHIC documentary on the effects of the animal industry on out planet is Cowspiracy.  I highly recommend it. It was a total eye-opener to the far reaching devastation this planet is facing if we do not change our ways. It will even answer the question of sustainable farming, if any of you have this consideration to add as a solution.

Environmental-Devastation-Factory-FarmingThis is an aerial view of a factory farm and it’s surrounding terrain.  It looks like a disease on the earth.  This hazardous material (waste and by-products of dead animals) cannot be concentrated.  it will inevitably seep into every crack and crevice the earth offers and the water system is global.  So if you think the effects of a farm out in the mid-west USA some where is not making its way into your ground and the water supply. Think again.


🙁 My Career Choice Conundrum 🙁

(written May of 2015- before I transitioned completely to vegan on my blog at )

Part of the torment I experienced each day when I owned my bakery, and even now that I have scaled back, no longer sell retail goods and only provide youtube tutorials on how to bake;  is the thought of how many animals had to suffer just to supply these ingredients. When I owned my very small bakery (in comparison to the larger giants in bakery manufacturing) I was using hundreds of pounds of cream cheese, butter, milk and thousands of dozens of eggs monthly.

Even now, that I have decided to go full vegan in my home, I am still not practicing it here at Gretchen’s Bakery, since my schooling, experience and training is with animal products as they pertain to baking.  So I understand that I will get a lot of criticism as a “fake vegan” or a hypocrite here, since I am not teaching vegan recipes (well at least not as my main topic).  Sadly I understand the promotions I encourage in perpetuating the animal farming industry by continuing these recipes.  I have a secret dream to have an ALL VEGAN BAKERY and grand portions of the profit would go to Animal Sanctuary Farm rescue! (Update Gretchen’s Vegan Bakery created September of 2016 and from that day forward I no longer make recipes with animal products)

Vegan baking has come so far in the last few years and I am slowly learning these new techniques. My intention is to have a good mix of vegan recipes here; as well as re-create all of my famous recipes into vegan versions.

This (like anything else that is going to last and be meaningful) is going to be a work in progress.  Just as my transition to veganism spanned my entire life, this transition to baking vegan will also be a process. I have to learn these new ingredients and how they react inside my recipes.  It is a whole new world of understanding the science of baking with completely new ingredients!

How exciting!

I have yet to try the Aquafaba in other recipes besides my Swiss Buttercream (which by the way- it works FABULOUSLY!!!  Yes that’s right I said VEGAN SWISS BUTTERCREAM!



Veganism is a very touchy subject for the meat eating masses. I have been met with some very nasty criticisms for the way I choose to eat (and not eat).   I have heard all the reasons why we “should” eat meat.

vegan food

I have found an interesting phenomenon that occurs when non vegans are confronted with the vegan lifestyle.

A severe defense mechanism kicks in to defend their deep rooted (and obviously) subconscious emotion that indeed killing another life is not really something they WANT to be doing, but it just tastes so darned good! So naturally when confronted with facts that prove your habit to be: destructive at the very least, it is an automatic reflex to this conflict.

In psychology, cognitive dissonance is the mental stress or discomfort experienced by an individual who holds two or more contradictory beliefs, ideas, or values at the same time, or is confronted by new information that conflicts with existing beliefs, ideas, or values.

ethical vegan not diet

 I am not here to spark a debate on whether or not we “should” be eating animals.  I have heard it all before and I will NOT go into any of that here.  This segment  is reserved for those folks who support the Vegan lifestyle.  Notice I did not say “DIET”.

Veganism is a lifestyle, it is a way of living your life that does not exploit animals in any way.  This means no animal products either, like eggs and milk, no honey, no leather, no fur,  no down, not even palm oil since it is linked to major issues such as deforestation, habitat degradation, climate change, animal cruelty and indigenous rights abuses in the countries where it is produced, as the land and forests must be cleared for the development land for “food” animals to be raised.

This large-scale deforestation is pushing many species to extinction, and findings show that if nothing changes many species will become extinct in the wild within the next 5-10 years.


So for me, this is more than a diet. It is a way of living my life without harming others.  Do you want to know something?  I~ who is nicknamed Mrs. Terrified of Spiders, can no longer bring myself to kill another one?  One day I woke up and suddenly realized the value of life. I trap them in jars and let them outside.

Who am I to feel superior to another?  The reason I am vegan is because I do not.

So, for all the hard core vegans out there, Am I a Hypocrite?  Sure you can call me that.  I agree I am that.

(written May of 2015- before I transitioned completely to vegan on my blog at )

For what it is worth, I am completely Vegan at home in my cooking and eating, but for now on Gretchen’s Bakery I do use animal products as I continue on my quest to create awareness and change my own destructive habits.

 “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.”

~Upton Sinclair~

Perhaps my chapter 3 portion of my life  will be a complete switch to Vegan Baking in the future?  Who knows?  I can only start at the beginning and I am learning my way through this new territory.  I will love it if you would join me as we walk through compassion together.  Let’s do our part to be kind to all beings and maybe one person at a time the whole world will change.

Peace and Love~  Gretchen and Winklebean
me and winks2

                                                          1458655_10152366044566967_3789101864467777868_n    vegan eggs 2  vegan eggs

You may also like


  1. Oh Gretchen I’m so excited and happy!! I’ve been following your videos on Youtube when you were still under the Woodland Bakery channel, then I went vegan and forgot about baking, so I didn’t follow you for a while. Recently I decided to look you up again just out of curiosity, and found that you were no longer part of Woodland. I then see your vegan chocolate cake recipe and got sooooo excited because I was just so happy that someone I respected and admired even before I myself went vegan was aware of veganism in general! Then when I found this post that you WERE indeed vegan outside the bakery I just had to speak up (not just be a silent reader of your blog) and say how happy I am for you and your future and if you ever were to open a fully vegan bakery I’d fly halfway across the world to sample your bakes!! Wow I can’t believe it but it’s great!! :DD

    1. YAY! Woohoo! Thanks for checking me out again, and yes so many changes! All good though (even when they don’t seem so good on the surface? I am happy for this opportunity to start again!)
      As for opening another bakery though, no way- 10 years was enough for me! LOL
      But I do plan to incorporate even more vegan recipes! (Stay tuned this Sunday- I have figured out how to make VEGAN SWISS BUTTERCREAM!- and it is magical!!!)

  2. I’m so happy you’re doing vegan recipes! I just posted on the vegan carrot cake recipe, but just finished reading this blog ish post. LOL I am doing a lot of vegan recipe searching to really help me make the switch. A lot of people give me crazy looks when I talk about changing. I tell them I’m slowly making changes. I’m gathering all my research and then slowly adding them into my life. Every time I bite into a piece of meat, I feel more and more disgusted with what that animal had to go through. I’m going to have a hard time with eggs though. I eat eggs almost every morning. =( I’ll have to find some other filling, fast, easy, and tasty breakfast food. I don’t really like oat meal and can only have cereal so many days in a row. That’ll be the hardest meal for me. I’m on a tofu recipe binge right now. LOL

    But keep posting those vegan recipes! Like I mentioned in my other comment,… I’ve tried just about every other cake recipe you have on here. I’m super excited to try the vegan ones and start sharing those with my friends and family!

    1. Awesome Shelia! I know its hard, and I know those same thoughts and then it seems so easy. But like anything that is drastic and sudden it has less staying power than if it is subtle and gradual. SO we can walk this walk together and know that we are the voice for the poor souls that have none 🙁
      I will continue to add more and more vegan recipes for sure! Thanks for the support!
      (PS- tofu scramble in the AM with daiya cheddar shreds and a dash of tumeric OMG! so good!)

  3. I’m also someone who is completely changing all baking to vegan. And aquafaba works really well in cakes I tried substituting 2 tbsp per egg and it worked out great for me. Although normally they say to add 3 tsp I use reduced and stored in fridge ones. Looking forward to more vegan recipes in 2016. Happy new year

  4. Thank you so much for this post. My story is much like yours. I’m not a complete vegan yet, but I’m getting there. I’m eager to learn more on my journey and glad to see so many resources here to satisfy my sweet tooth!

  5. Hello gretchen, I hope you get this! Ever sine I was a little girl I wanted to be a baker! I loved watching ever cake decorating show, chocolate showcase, and food network challenge you can think of. I never and I mean never was introduced to being vegetarians..let alone vegan. I followed a “normal” American diet, with tons of animal products not even thinking it came from an animal. I went to culinary school when I was 18 for baking and pastry and feel in love!! By that time I had been introduced to some people that were vegetarian. Me coming from a small town had only ever met 1 person that was, so I remember being very Curious and I also remember being very confused as to why they were. I truly didn’t understand but I never judged them I just didn’t get why? In my mind everybody did it so what’s the big deal? Once I gratuated I worked at a bakery that had no vegan items or veg..still never evening knowing what vegan was. I also decorated cake from home and this is were I was introduced to you!:)) I aeolutely love crumb boss I would watch/ make every video/recipe. I used up so many of your recipes I should probably get sued. Ha after several years I moved out of that small town to the big” little ” city of San Francisco! This is when my life had changed in so many ways. I remember first getting here and still not knowing what vegan was. About 2 months into living herself I had watched a female youtuber, whom I had clicked on by accident, the title of the video was” how being vegan for 1 year has changed my life”. I watched it and it was the first time I was introduced with veganism, now I don’t wanna sound cheesy but it’s almost as if the video found me. I then was the very keep in mind I had never even been vegetarians! So about a month goes by and I’m at a thrift store and I find this book which also felt like it was looking for me. The title was ” the face on your plate”, I read the description on the back and had bought it. ( it was the best$1 I have ever spent) As I’m readding this book I’m getting more and more curious about veganism. I spent days on end watching video and video on it, then I finally did it I went vegetarian (being a baker I was scared that I wouldn’t be able to cake anymore :() also I didn’t yet learn about the egg and dairy indystry. I then watched earthlings about a week later…I went vegan that same day! I was angry, scared, depressed, I felt as if I had cracked the da Vince code! I wanted to scream and shout and tell everybody this awful information. Sadly I couldn’t, not even with my own boyfriend…I remember felling very alone seeing as I was my only vegan friend. Things have gotten better though everyone I know is very sweet about it now and loves to try all my now vegan goodies!! It has been a wild journey but it was the best thing I done in my young adult life! I’ve only been vegan for 6 months now and I’m never going back! Gretchen I’ve loved your website every since I was 17! I’ve been following you for so long, and now that I know we’ve both gone for being a baker to vegan is amazing! ! I remember I used to buy 4 dozen eggs a week! It’s so crazy to look back on. I also work at a place that is not vegan( not even any vegan options) :/. I do feel very hypocritical I use tons of milk at work and it fells very wrong. My dream is to work at a place that is 200% vegan and also to own my own vegan bakery! I hope you’re bakery becomes vegan soon. Much love and support!

    1. WOW Helen! It sounds as if you were meant to be vegan! (Ummm, we ALL ARE!!!!!!) Awesome message, thank you for sharing with me and for the support you have shown me from Crumb Boss (LOL!) up until now! Life is a journey for sure!
      I am still in this catch 22 as you see what I wrote, but I feel that I am on my way to the next chapter and by slowly introducing it to folks who never would even think TWICE about where all this stuff comes from is a good stepping stone

  6. The best substitute for eggs is well … Eggs… But laid by a chicken you yourself are raising. I know it sounds weird but it is quite possible to just buy and grow a chicken yourself! You are not teetering it badly so you should have no problem in eating the eggs it lays!

  7. Hi Gretchen! I’m so excited by your post! It has moved me to smile and has moved me to tears. I have loved animals all my life, but like you, I grew up eating/using animal products. The cognitive dissonance you talk about is very real in my life. It’s been there ever since I had my own pet. Then I became a baker… just a small time, home baker. I wanted to make it into my profession, but using the animal products always put me off. It’s amazing how positive you are… Being a baker has been your life. Yet you still choose to grow and learn and challenge yourself to become better. I’m so glad I stumbled across this post. I’m really rootin’ for you and I sure do hope that you get to open that vegan bakery you dream of. Thanks again for your post. Who knew a baker could inspire me to go truly vegan? 😉

    1. Awe! Hi Oyette! Im glad you got some value out of my post, but sadly this post makes me remember how hypocritical I am 🙁
      But read the whole thing and I am in a sort of catch 22 with my business life & my personal life… so….. Chapter 4 perhaps? I will truly evolve?

    2. I had always thought vegans just wanted to be healthier. I didn’t know they thought so negatively about people whom aren’t vegans.There was a point in the history of humans when everyone was a vegetarian(maybe even vegan) I appreciate the information about how they slaughter animals ( would be nice if more chefs advocated about this). Animals are supposed to be raised a in a humane way and if I they are sacrificed to feed us we are to let no part go to waste, but that’s not what’s happening today. I no problem trying vegan food. who knows I may become a vegan in the future, but I’m not there yet. Gretchen, thanks for all you do.

      1. Hi Tracy thankyou for reading my post! You are exactly right and I just had this conversation with a friend who also thought it was a healthy thing. Believe me ~ while it is healthier for us to NOT consume animals as well as for the health of our planet, I can assure you I have no shortage of sugar, fat and yummy stuff in my diet! LOL
        I actually follow a page on facebook called “What Fat Vegan Eat!” LOL We all just post photos of our latest delicious creations like Vegan Big Macs and Giant Bowls Of Mac and Cheese!
        Thanks again for your support and open mind! 🙂

  8. I hope your dream will become true and I’m pretty sure your vegan bakery will rock 😉
    You’re inspiring, love from France <3

  9. I know what you mean, the more I read and think about things,the more trouble I have eating meat. I too hate to kill a spider but I don’t care for them. I wish they would stay outside. I’m always feeding the birds,squirrels,even a little chipmunk. I love to watch them. Good for you Gretchen.

  10. This is bittersweet for me. Personally I could stop eating meat today and never look back but i never actually switched because I find it near impossible to eliminate all the other animal byproducts. This post was enlightening tho….I really justified a lot of it by saying eggs are going to be laid anyway and milk will be produced…no lives lost there…they are just taking financial advantage of the daily lives of these animals….

    I am glad that you are doing it this way tho. Having your standard recipes up and adding the vegan alternatives. Sad to say a vegan can tell me how to make chocolate cake and I’d be like yea okay we have two different standards for taste. However, knowing your standards and the quality that you are satisfied with in my world (non vegan) makes it a little easier for me to imagine that the vegan version may actually taste good and maybe i should try it out. i believe you can sway others into realizing it isnt so hard to switch to the vegan lifestyle much easier than someone just saying they are happy and it taste good and making others feel guilty for not switching.

    For the people out there harassing you, forget about them. You know your own heart and you dont have to prove anything to anyone. A man does not become a Christian or a Muslim or even the rational person that he is overnight. it takes time and work and learning and experiences. Very few people are able to just wake up one morning and say ‘im going to stop smoking today!’ and it actually just works out like that.

    You take all the time you need and take care of you and your family. The masses will not be held accountable for your actions in the end and vice versa. Keep up the excellent work and continue to encourage us non vegans; show us that life as far a baking is concerned is just as fulfilling if not more so as a vegan!

    1. Hi Tamika! What a lovely message, I literally have chills! I thankyou so much for taking the time to read my post and then giving me your time and thoughtfulness in a reply! How wonderful!
      I hope you will try my new BEST CHOCOLATE CAKE recipe! it is the best I promise you!
      And since I do not want to meld the two (non vegn & vegan) together, I am in the process of creating a new blog at
      I hope you will visit me there too!

      1. I have to thank you for taking the time to share all your hard work with us! I will absolutely be joining you there as well! I’m going to bookmark it now. if you move the vegan stuff from here you should put a link to each vegan alternative on the recipe at least so if someone stumbles upon this page they wont miss out on the other! Thanks a million gazillion again for sharing all your hard work and experiences with us!

  11. Hello Gretchen, I discovered your site yesterday – have no idea how I’ve missed it for so long. You’re wonderful and couldn’t be trying any harder. I particularly loved this post! You said all the things I constantly am talking about with friends and family-it can be very frustrating and deflating but you have to just keep on keeping on. There is no way back. I’m making preparations toopen a small vegan bakery in about a year. It’s one way I feel I can open people’s minds, hearts and tummies to veganism. Happy New Year!!!

  12. Hi Gretchen,

    Just came over after watching your q&a vlog. I can totally resonate with how you feel. I was a vegetarian for about 3 years and stopped when i went to culinary school (really regretted it). But in that 3 years I had so many meat eaters insisting how I really should eat meat and I am not normal. And it got me really peeved because I may not even anounce it at meal times, I will just pick off the non meat food and why is everyone complaining? And then people will start asking about my choice for becoming a vegetarian. And after explaining, they will give me their truck load of reasons as to why I shouldn’t be. Even close family members who know how much of an animal lover I am. And it just irritated the hell out of me as I wasn’t even preaching my diet (yeah I would love to live it as a lifestyle, I’m making excuses for now but, it’s so hard!) choice. You asked, I answered. I’m not asking you to be a vegetarian. Of course I would be happy if you were but if I’m not asking you to be me, why do you have to ask me to be you?!

    Anyway, that’s my rant. Thanks for sharing your beliefs and epiphany. I will embark on a vegan lifestyle soon.

    Love watching your videos! Love hearing your voice! I would love to meet you some day!

    1. Hi Thanks! I totally hear you there, I have been to many dinner situations where I simply and politely turn down the animal options with no intentions to explain why, or go into anything about veganism, and I have been attacked with questions on WHY I do what I do, being told they just can’t understand my choice etc etc.
      It is a bizarre phenomenon that happens. Everyone want to say “How do you know a vegan in the room?” Dont worry THEY WILL TELL YOU…Ummm not so. It is the other way around. People will drag it out of you in an angry mob style kind of way! Yes totally annoying so I get you completely. and thankyou!

  13. I feel you have no reason to apologize for having feelings and emotions. More people should have them. Maybe this world wouldn’t be the way it is. Thanks for being yourself, not what others want you to be.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *