Published on May 25th, 2014 | by Jill Ettinger15
The Great Vegan Search Engine: A Custom Google Search Tool for Vegans
Eat Drink Better’s own Becky Striepe has launched a fantastically cool tool for vegans: it’s a custom Google search tool she’s dubbed “The Great Vegan Search Engine.” We were all pretty impressed and thought you might want to check it out too. I got the deets from Becky on the project. Here’s how you can benefit, too:
Jill Ettinger: What was the idea behind the custom search?
Becky Striepe: I do a lot of recipe-hunting for work, especially when I’m compiling roundups like this one. After spending yet another evening digging through spammy sites or sites claiming that they had vegan recipes but including eggs, milk, and honey, I just got fed up. The Great Vegan Search Engine was a solution to my search problem.
JE: How are you vetting websites?
BS: This started as a personal project, so I started with just the small vegan sites that I follow, like Cadry’s Kitchen and A. Cook in the Making. At first it was basically a way to search all of my friends’ sites at once, because I know they do their recipe-testing and research.
Now I’m working with some other awesome folks in the online vegan community to flesh things out. Ginny Messina helped with her picks for vegan nutritional information, for example. Basically, I’m crowd-sourcing from people I trust and including sites that I trust myself as a source for vegan recipes, nutrition, and lifestyle info. It’s always going to be a work in progress, because new vegan sites are popping up all the time.
JE: Cool. So, how can our readers benefit from the custom search?
BS: Eating vegan is becoming so hip, and I feel like a lot of sites are trying to capitalize on that without knowing what vegan fully means. And sometimes random vegan recipes you find can be just plain awful. The idea behind the Great Vegan Search Engine is to return the best vegan recipes and solid information about living a vegan lifestyle without all of that misleading clutter.
For new vegans or folks who are veg-curious, I think the Engine is a handy resource for discovering the joys of vegan cooking. And for long-time vegans, I’m hoping it can get rid of the headache that comes with sorting through search results for quality vegan goodness. Save that attention to detail for reading food labels!
JE: Is this better than doing a web-wide search for vegan topics? Why?
BS: I definitely think so, because when you do a general Google search for vegan topics, you often find stuff that’s not vegan. Google sometimes mixes up vegan and vegetarian. It also doesn’t look at ingredients. I can say that a recipe is vegan and use eggs in it as far as Google is concerned, you know? All that Google’s algorithm sees is the word vegan, and it’s up to the searcher to notice that the recipe author doesn’t know what vegan means. The Great Vegan Search Engine is curated by humans.
JE: Do the websites have to be 100 percent vegan to qualify or just have strong vegan content?
BS: 100 percent vegan.
JE: For anyone who hasn’t used a custom search before (like me!), what’s the best way to put it to good use? Are readers able to add to it?
BS: Once you’re on the page, you search just like you would at Google.com. I have it saved on my browser’s bookmarks bar, so that I can get to it in once click. You don’t have to search for “vegan cookies” once you’re there. Just search “cookies.” It’s basically a corner of the web that’s totally vegan.
I’m also using a neat tool that Google provides for custom search: categories. You’ll see them as tabs across the top above your search results: recipes, nutrition, crafts, travel, fitness, gluten free, activism, and fashion. You can refine your results by clicking on the categories. For example, if I searched “asparagus,” the Engine would return recipes and nutrition information, right? Click the recipe tabs to just show the sites categorized under recipes to get results more like what you want.
It’s all about making it easy to find the vegan info you want quickly and conveniently.
The Great Vegan Search Engine Project is a constant work in progress, and I’m totally happy to add sites! If you have a site that you think should be on the Engine, send me an email! I’ll take a peek, get some feedback from the folks who helped with the project, and if it gets the thumbs up, I’ll add it.
JE: Any favorite pages that you stumbled on using this tool that you recommend?
BS: Yes! When I was researching the asparagus recipes roundup that I talked about earlier, I discovered that Rika and Doni at Vegan Miam are some kind of asparagus wizards. I could have put together a list of just their asparagus recipes alone. I think of that site as a travel blog and would never have searched there for recipes. The Engine showed me a whole other side of their work!
JE: Thanks so much, Becky! I’m sure I speak for many vegans when I say thank you!
BS: You’re welcome. Enjoy!