Ginger-Miso Carrots with Watercress and Baked Tofu


When I first posted a picture of this dish on my Instagram, I captioned it with: “meals that make me want to go back to being vegan.”

A few of you asked me why I’m no longer vegan.

So, I decided this post was a good one to address that question.

Ginger-Miso Carrots with Watercress and Baked Tofu

Why did I decide to stop eating a vegan diet?

For a few reasons, which I’m going to address below, but first, I want to preface everything by saying two things:

  1. I still eat primarily vegan. After being a vegan, I didn’t just stop being a vegan entirely. I didn’t start crushing boiled eggs and filet mignon. I carried many of the principles I learned and adopted as a vegan and incorporated them into my omnivorous lifestyle. I don’t ever drink dairy milk (although I do indulge in cheese/Greek yogurt.) My breakfasts are usually vegan protein smoothies. My snacks during the day are all vegan – hummus and carrots, avocado and toast, fruit, etc. My lunches are almost always vegan – big veggie salads, a spiralized collard green wrap with hummus and sprouts or a tomato-veggie sandwich. For dinner, that’s when I’ll usually incorporate fish or poultry. However, I make the conscious decision to buy humanely-raised meats and support companies like Applegate, who swear by their grass-fed, no antibiotic livestock. I also love making vegan desserts, like avocado brownies. I still love vegetables. I’m more vegan than Paleo, if you catch my drift.
  2. To each their own. I think no matter what “diet” you subscribe to, you can be healthy (within reason, obviously I don’t think you should go on an all-Burger King diet and only eat whoppers.) I think meat-loving Paleo peeps are healthy. I think vegans are healthy. Whatever makes that individual feel healthy, that’s healthy to them and who am I to judge them on it? I’ve read a lot of people’s posts on why they are vegan, why they stopped being vegan or why they’re starting a vegan lifestyle. And, to each their own. It kills me when I see nasty, harsh comments that vegans make on these types of blog posts and I hope I don’t receive any. It’s ironic to me to see vegans so animal-loving but so people-hating (the ones that make those nasty comments on blogs.) Blows my mind. Veganism isn’t for everyone and just because one stops being vegan doesn’t mean they don’t support veganism or think of it as a healthy, responsible diet. It 100% is. And I’m just sharing my own personal opinions, in the most non-offensive way I can do it. So, thank you in advance for your kindness.

Now, on to my reasons for switching from vegan to omnivore. Keep in mind, I became a vegan at the end of the summer before my senior year of college. I had just come back from studying abroad in Europe and I had eaten my way through that continent – pastas and pizzas in Italy, fluffy curries in London and beef dumplings in Prague. I weighed nearly 190 pounds (the scale tipped to 190, but it hovered over 188. Phew.)

Ginger-Miso Carrots with Watercress and Baked Tofu

I was living in New York City, interning and was clueless about nutrition.

I was adopting that “eat as little as possible” mentality, as it seemed all girls in their early twenties were doing. I didn’t know what a “healthy fat” was or the importance of protein. I knew if it was green, it was probably good – and if it included bread or a carb, it was bad. Foolish.

This usually led to the feeling of being hungry all the time and led to binges (we all know the drill.) I’d drive home with my friends for a weekend to spend time with my parents (because they had a pool and pools are hard to come by in NYC) and I’d eat all the things. Everything. And I was never satisfied or felt good. I could never lose a pound because of the yo-yoing.

Then, my friend Sarah gave me a book about veganism. I read it all in one day – I was fascinated by what I learned. They say ignorance is bliss and it truly, truly was. I had no idea. I couldn’t believe what I had been subjecting my body to all those years. So, Sarah and I decided to “go vegan.”

So what happened after my two years as a vegan, which spanned from senior year of college to my first year in corporate America? Why did I make the choice to stop eating 100% vegan?

Ginger-Miso Carrots with Watercress and Baked Tofu

I went vegan during my senior year of college, when I wasn’t living in/around NYC, which has the most amazing restaurants, perhaps in the world (or close to it.) I was living in a medium sized city in North Carolina (during college) which didn’t exactly have world renowned chefs and cute tapas restaurants at every block. So, it was easier to make vegan choices, when you weren’t being lured by the glamorous sights and sounds of NYC’s Michelin-starred restaurants.

Going out to a sushi spot in Winston Salem, it was easy to ask for an avocado-cucumber roll with brown rice, because, frankly, the alternatives weren’t necessarily much more appealing. In short, once I moved back to the NYC area, I was sick of going out to restaurants and ordering off the sides menu and still being starving afterwards. I wasn’t nourishing myself, just for the sake of “sticking” to my veganism! I wanted to have a whole branzino at that romantic Italian spot in the West Village instead of just the side of broccoli rabe, no parmesan and a slice of bread. (Side note: if I had vegan friends, it would’ve probably been a lot easier to maintain veganism, but the men I dated and the friends I had were far from vegan.)

Also, I realized, towards the end of my veganism, I was being vegan for the wrong reasons. I wanted to “prove” to myself that I could be a vegan. Also, while a vegan, I hit my lowest at 127 pounds in December of 2008. I became obsessed with making vegan choices and working out. I worked out for 2 hours a day, every day and would say no to dinner plans with friends in exchange for a tofu stir fry at home. It became a prohibitive lifestyle, instead of a healthy lifestyle.

Ginger-Miso Carrots with Watercress and Baked Tofu

In the end, I learned that consuming animal protein can be part of a healthy, well-balanced diet, in moderation. I still believe in a primarily plant-based diet (and spiralizing makes that lifestyle choice SO much more enjoyable), but I don’t think twice about eating the “Chicken Under a Brick” at Marc Forgione’s restaurant or his chili lobster with Texas toast.

Sure, I wake up feeling super thirsty and a little tired, but I combat it with clean eating the next day and I savor every moment spent enjoying delicious food with the ones who I love the most.

Also, there’s a whole environmental aspect that comes with veganism. It takes an absurd amount of water, for example, to run a livestock farm. Plants are more sustainable. I completely agree with that and that’s been the hardest part with not subscribing to a vegan lifestyle. However, I’ve amended my life to be more sustainable by doing things like,

  • supporting companies who support that mission,
  • switching to tote bags instead of plastic bags when I can,
  • using a reusable water bottle, especially when I’m traveling,
  • wearing clothing more than once before cleaning it to reduce water and energy spend,
  • shopping at farmer’s markets instead of grocery stores to reduce my carbon footprint,
  • using my bike as my main mode of transport around the city I live in, and
  • using environmentally friendly cleaning products, like Honest and Method.

Ginger-Miso Carrots with Watercress and Baked Tofu

Finally, when I started Inspiralized, I was a pescatarian (I was eating dairy, but no other animal protein except for seafood.) I wanted this blog to be for everyone- vegans, vegetarians, those who are Paleo, gluten-free, dairy-free, or just plain omnivorous. Thus, I had to taste the food I was making and made the final decision to become an omnivore.

Having said that, I can’t remember the last time I ate a steak. But I can tell you, that when I was on my honeymoon, the favorite thing I ate was the pork carnitas.

All in all, being an omnivore with a vegan mindset is what works best for me. But that’s me. Everyone’s different and there are many people who believe that vegan food is just as (if not more) delicious than non-vegan food. I completely understand that, especially because there’s no better feeling than feeling amazing in your own skin, because your body is nourished to perfection. Plus, I rather have a roasted veggie sandwich with avocado over a meatball sub, any day.

But when I do want a meatball, I want a meatball, ya know?

Now that we’ve finally addressed it, let’s get to this vegan recipe. Watercress is simply the best, it’s my favorite summer green – and I get all giddy when I start to see it more in grocery stores and at farmer’s markets in the spring.

Ginger-Miso Carrots with Watercress and Baked Tofu

The tofu offers a savory protein and the ginger-miso dressed carrots are incredible. I love this dressing and I want to smother it on everything. This noodle bowl saves well in the fridge, it’s flavorful and it travels well – perfect for picnics and work lunches.

Thanks for listening to me today. And as I say on my About page, treat others as you’d like to be treated. :)​

Nutritional Information & Recipe

Weight Watchers SmartPoints*: 9 points


Ginger-Miso Carrots with Watercress and Baked Tofu
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 2
  • For the tofu:
  • 6.5 oz extra-firm tofu
  • ¼ cup low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • For the salad:
  • 2 large carrots
  • 3 cups watercress
  • ½ teaspoon black sesame seeds + ½ teaspoon white sesame seeds, mixed
  • For the dressing:
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (or avocado oil, if you have it)
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon white miso
  • ½ tablespoon sesame oil
  • ½ inch piece of ginger, grated
  • 1 tablespoon of water
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. Press excess moisture out of the tofu by squeezing between two layers of paper towels (or other preferred method.) Repeat until moisture is absorbed.
  3. Dice the tofu into cubes and place in a medium mixing bowl along with the other ingredients for the tofu. Let marinate for 10 minutes and then arrange on the prepared baking tray.
  4. While the tofu marinates, combine all the ingredients for the dressing and whisk together until combined.
  5. Bake the tofu for 30 minutes or until browned and stiffened, flipping the tofu pieces over halfway through.
  6. While tofu bakes, peel and spiralize the carrots. Then, place the carrot noodles into a large mixing bowl and set aside. 10 minutes before the tofu is done cooking, drizzle the dressing over the carrot noodles and toss to combine. Place in the refrigerator until the tofu is done.
  7. Once the tofu is done, add the watercress to the bowl with the carrots. Toss to combine and then plate the salad, top with tofu and garnish with sesame seed mix.


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  1. That was a great explanation about why you are an Omnivore now! Like you, I try to eat mostly God’s living foods (veggies, fruits, beans and nuts). =)

  2. This looks like a wonderful recipe, I just hope I can find “fat” carrots! It’s been such a problem finding them.

    It sounds as though you have adopted something similar to Mark Bittman’s “Vegan Before 6″ lifestyle. I found it fascinating (I adopted it as well), and it echoes many of your opinions both from the health standpoint and for the good of the planet. It sounds as though we eat quite similarly! I applaud your journey to health and maintaining. I, too, lost weight by switching the mostly plants, and, at nearly 63, my “numbers” are finally getting a smile from the doctor. Thanks for posting such great recipes!!

  3. I’ve been waiting for the recipe every since I saw it on Snapchat and Instagram!! So excited to try it!
    Thanks for sharing your story. I’ve been eating vegan for about 2 months, I think, and pretty pescatarian for awhile before that. I love it but I understand that not everyone can do it 100%. I always just encourage my friends to focus on eating real, whole foods first, and then definitely cutting out processed meats, and eventually lessening their meat consumption. But I never shove it down their throats (because that’s just not fun for anyone, right?) I love that you acknowledge the environmental side of it (you have to watch Cowspiracy!) and talk about how you still eat tons of veggies! Good for you! :)

  4. This looks like a great recipe! It really seems like your vegan experience taught you how to flavor things amazingly. And I agree- it matters most that individuals are mindful of what they buy and choose a healthy diet, above all. Thanks for posting this!

  5. Ruth Detroit Area :

    Ali – You’re a true class act! Keep up the good work…I enjoy reading your blog every day, it’s as much a part of my life as combing my hair/brushing my teeth! ~ ruth

  6. First off, this recipe looks great! I can’t wait to try it. And secondly, thank you for sharing your story about why you are not vegan anymore. I’ve been struggling with wanting to be a vegan/mostly vegetarian, but at the end of the day, I really do love meat. I know that I can still eat a plant focused diet that incorporates meat. So now, I’m trying to adhere to Mark Bittman’s way of “Vegan before 6″ — very similar to how you eat. Back when I was eating Paleo, my diet was meat focused, with some plants — now I’m just switching things around.

  7. I have been following your blog for about a year and a half now. I am not much of a commenter, but I feel somewhat compelled to here.
    I think you have a very healthy attitude about life and eating. Maybe I say that just because it is similar to mine. But I feel my greatest blessing in my life has been that I seem to naturally be a very well-balanced person. And I have also been lucky to be very healthy throughout my life. But now in my 50′s my numbers have begun creeping up… my genetics (I have so much heart disease, diabetes, obesity in my family) seems to be catching up a bit.
    My diet has evolved so much over the last 20 years or so… but just in the last 2 years or so I have experimented with veganism. I have not found it to be a drastic help with my blood work or my weight… and so I have just adopted a bit less stringent tack. Like you, I eat mostly vegan… Whenever I can, I stay with real, whole foods. But I will not be a fanatic about it. ANd on rare occasions I will have cheese or yogurt or seafood or maybe even chicken or pork… but I try very hard to support humane farming. And I don’t judge others for what they choose.
    I am a health and wellness director for a corporation, so I do try to promote a plant-based diet and I try to educate on the many reasons why, but I am not a vigilante. Everyone needs to make their own decisions! SO I salute you in your well-balanced attitude (not that being strictly vegan is not well-balanced either), but we all need to do what is best for us both physically and mentally and make peace with that, and slowly evolve over time as we learn more or our bodies change. Most of the healthiest “Blue Zones” in the world eat mostly plant-based but are not strictly vegan or vegetarian. But meat is a special occasion food! And it is not factory farmed!
    Thanks for listening!
    And as far as this recipe goes… it was just what I was looking for to take to a girl’s swim party today! I’ll be making it this afternoon! I always try to take interesting flavorful vegan foods to pot lucks so that I have something to eat and to help educate others on how good the food can be.
    Blessings to you and your well-balanced life! And thank you for sharing so much of yourself. It makes you so lovable!

  8. We eat very similarly and perhaps that’s why I’m such a fan of yours and love your inspiralizer. While you are waiting on Aloha check out for Yuri Elkaim’s Energy Greens. You will love the quality of his product.

  9. I am a vegetarian and I really don’t understand why people can be so unpleasant with each other regarding they eating habits. I live with my boyfriend who loves meat and we respect each other. But ever since I’ve become a vegetarian I’ve had all kinds of nasty comments on “you don’t know what is healthy for you” or “you are such a snob” and things like that, which is stupid because the evidence of my improved health is here to see! Vegetarianism works for me and since I cook my own food and try not to bother my family with my choices I don’t see why people make such comments sometimes. Having that said, I’ve also seen many nasty comments coming from vegans. Like you said, people who love animals and seem to have any human who doesn’t make the same choices they make. In the end, I subscribe your saying: treat others as you like to be treated!

  10. *seem to hate any human…

  11. Joan Schmidman :

    In your book, you have a calorie count for a serving, but also says serves 4-6. I’m a little confused. Is the calorie count for 4, 5 or 6 servings?

  12. Ali, you always make me smile. You’re so candid and you seem so sincere. I have loved every one of your recipes I have tried, and so has my husband (even when the name has been a bit, well, worrisome for him). I’ve meant to write about your hurt over comments made about your mom and the prewedding party. I’d like to say that I know how much it hurts to have people you don’t know say such hurtful things in a public forum. However, keep in mind that people who have the time and inclination to DO that are people you would most certainly avoid if you did know them. Your public self has gotten so large there are bound to be a certain percentage of “Mean People” included. Try your hardest to dismiss them from your mind. You are doing such a remarkable job at sharing this cooking tool. A question… Have you ever tried spreading spiralized zucchini noodles out on paper towels to dry for a few hours before using?

  13. I think that educating yourself on a certain lifestyle is necessary in order to be successful. I spent a year and a half as a 100% vegan but unfortunately, due to lack of information and support on a vegan lifestyle, I went back to a diet with animal products in it. Animal products are not healthy in anyway. There is no nutrient you cannot find in plant based foods. Iron and protein come from greens and beans. Omega 3s and calcium come from dark leafy greens as well. Cow breast milk, is baby calf food. Their ONLY source of food. We need cow milk just as much as we need pig milk, rhinoceros milk or giraffe milk. We do not need to eat animal flesh in order to live healthy lives. If a plant based diet was not ideal for everyone, how is it that there is no such thing a a sick vegan? Simply because vegans avoid the largest disease cause, animal products. Heart attacks, strokes, heart disease, arthritis, osteoporosis, asthma, colon cancer, breast cancer, prostrate cancer are all caused by the consumption of animal products. Did you know that the pollution from animal factory farms is far more than the pollution from transportation (from around the ENTIRE world) combined? What made me fail the first time being vegan, is the lack of education I had. The lack of support as well. So what did I do? I educated myself. I created my own “support group.” Social media is a powerful thing, I decided to use it to my advantage and follow like-minded people who are educated and know why veganism is so crucial to the survival of the planet, and to our health. I listened to educated people’s speeches. Gary Yourofsky, Melanie Joy, Dr. McDougall, Philip Wollen. I watched documentaries. Cowspiracy, Earthlings, Forks over Knives, Vegucated. I know there is still a light in you, you all you need is some support to grow. I know that you could reach TONS of people and promote the right thing. Veganism is the future, not based off beliefs but based off factual science and studies. Please I beg you to give veganism a 2nd chance, but this time really educate yourself. I failed the first time but the second time around, I finally truly opened my eyes and mind. Why? Because I educated myself. Killing and eating animals is not okay. Eating a plant based diet is for everyone. It benefits everyone. We are not made to eat animals, otherwise we wouldn’t get so sick from eating them. We would also have claws and teeth like lions in order to truly hunt for our food. There’s so much more to veganism than eating brown rice and avocado wrapped in seaweed. Just because everyone else is doing it does not mean it’s okay or justifiable. How is taking the life of an innocent being justifiable?

    • Since all food is part of the food web, animals die for you to eat no matter what you decide to chew on directly. Pastured-animal foods contain several nutrients that are nonexistent or more difficult to come by in plants like K2, D3, CLA and B vitamins. Sustainable farming and a whole food, plant-based diet (which does not equate to vegan) seems like a more balanced approach.


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