Saturday, June 30, 2012

Infographic: Veganism Debunked

I love infographics! This one, made by Column Five Media, is dubbed "Veganism Debunked" and it is loaded with some great information. Click here for the full image.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Veganism in a Nutshell

Aside from the awful voices in this video, it's a little funny and addresses many of the questions I face. I am nowhere near perfect, but nearly all of this I abide (obviously a few points are further than where I currently am at). I try to answer the questions to the best of my ability when asked and I seriously do not want to argue with anyone about this topic. 

I'm simply documenting my experience, struggles and accomplishments here. Sometimes when people find out that I'm vegan, they quickly groan and tell me a story about an "annoying vegan" they once knew. I'm also a fan of Reddit and have come across some vegans who believe anything less than 1000% veganism is a sham and a fraud. Whatever!

At first, I wanted to shout my new lifestyle from the rooftops, but I've slowly learned to keep to myself with my views and newly discovered facts and figures. Now I just try to sit back, eat what's right for me and be cheerful and enthusiastic about my experience when others ask. It's been great to have such amazing support from my family, friends and coworkers. Thank you for being so awesome! I'm doing my best and enjoying the results.

Check out this video below and let me know if there's anything I can try to answer!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Ellen Degeneres on Veganism

Veganism comes in many forms. Some are dietary vegans, ethical vegans, environmental vegans... You get the idea. I always loved Ellen and I had no clue she was vegan. As I was searching for some more content for my blog, I stumbled across this video. She talks about being disconnected from food and how it's easier to just "put it out of your mind". Ellen also mentions Earthlings, which I am still working up the courage to watch (maybe tonight). See her take on why she's vegan in the video below and check out her blog.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Animal Rights: Yet Another Reason

Warning: This post focuses on a controversial topic. I'm only reflecting on my personal experience and don't see myself becoming an animal rights activist per se, but only more conscious of the many reasons people decide to eat what they eat (or don't eat).


As my husband and I drove to see a movie recently, I could not stop thinking about one factoid I had heard from a coworker during work that day. She mentioned that around 10 billion animals are slaughtered every year for human consumption, (although while doing research for this post, I saw a much higher stat sourced from USDA documents). I couldn't shake that number. I'd also been reading Skinny Bitch, which is a hardcore, no BS approach to veganism.

By this point, I had only relapsed with cheese and was looking for a kick in the rear to get me back on track. Other than the cheese, I was on board and probably 95% vegan, although nothing less than 100% will cut it. However, as I was reading Skinny Bitch, I hit a chapter that was so much harder to stomach than the rest.

The chapter, while short, was packed full of direct quotes from slaughterhouse employees who had witnessed some crazy stuff first-hand. I won't go into the gory details (pick up a copy if you want the deets), but there were basically some references to animal abuses and even tossing animals back into the production line after they fell onto the disgusting bloody floors. Ew.

As I mentioned all of this to my husband, he groaned, "Oh, you're not going to become one of those vegans, are you?" Well, no, not exactly. I was just kind of surprised to read all of that and then I added yet another reason to my growing list for why I've made the switch. I'm always interested in learning more about why people do the things they do, and the subject of veganism is no exception. 

Even if you aren't a fan of animal rights, understanding where your food comes from is always a good thing to know. I'm also talking myself into watching Earthlings, which is another documentary that goes into this topic quite heavily, and from what I've heard, in great detail. I've included the trailer below!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Ron Swanson on Vegan Bacon

Ron Swanson loves bacon. Don't believe me? Watch this video below.

When I ran across this second video a couple of days ago, I had to laugh. I've never tried vegan bacon, but I'm sure it's not that bad.

Looking to go vegan? Check out these related posts below!
Where to Begin
Kitchen Overhaul
5 Tips for a Healthy Vegan Diet
Pinterest Plant-Strong Board
Top 5 Reactions to "I'm Vegan"
Protein in a Vegan Diet
5 Tips for Eating a Plant-Based Diet (Anywhere)
Veganism in a Nutshell (video)
5 Things I've Learned Through Veganism
Foods That Kill

Monday, June 25, 2012

Sweet Potato & Veggie Lasagna

One of the first recipes I learned when I went plant-based was Engine 2's Sweet Potato Lasagna. I took this lasagna to a housewarming party for some co-workers of mine and it was a big hit. The 9x13 pan was pretty much finished off and several requests for the recipe were made.

This is a nice dish to prepare on Sunday afternoon and can provide 12 servings. If you don't mind eating leftovers, this is the perfect option for cooking in "bulk". After two days, if there's still plenty left, store meal-sized portions in a small container and toss in the freezer. If you're running late for work and don't have time to make lunch, you can easily snag one!

Sweet Potato & Veggie Lasagna
yields 12 servings

1 onion, choppped
2 cloves garlic, minced
10 mushrooms, diced
1 cup frozen spinach, thawed
1 zuchinni, diced
1 squash, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
2 cups corn
1/2 block tofu, drained, squeezed and crumbled

1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon basil
1 teaspoon rosemary
2 sweet potatoes, cooked and mashed
4 roma tomatoes, sliced
1 cup raw cashews, chopped

1. Boil sweet potatoes and once cooked, drain and mash with 1/4 cup almond milk and a dash of cinnamon.
2. Saute the onions, garlic on high heat for 3 minutes.
3. Add mushrooms, spinach, zuchinni, squash, bell pepper, corn and tofu into a mixing bowl and stir well.
4. A seasonings to bowl and stir until fully blended.
5. Layer accordingly: thin layer of pasta sauce on the bottom of a 9x13 glass pan, noodles and veggie mix.
6. Add another layer of noodles and then spread your sweet potatoes on top.
7. Add pasta sauce, sliced tomatoes and then top with chopped cashews.
8. Cover with foil and bake at 400 degrees for 45 minutes.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Pinterest: Plant-Stong! Board with 500+ Recipes

I am a huge fan of Pinterest and joined the craze last year (see to the right of this post for proof). I first used it to pin dozens of DIY & craft projects that I swore I would one day create. So far, i've finished only a few projects with a couple more still mid-way complete. After I finally figured out how to truly utilize Pinterest, I found myself pinning all sorts of things and now have 730+ pins.

Once I made my switch, I knew I would need some visual reminders everywhere to keep me on track. Aside from my Vegetarian Times subscription, Engine 2 and Forks Over Knives books and my Happy Herbivore Cookbooks that are strewn across my apartment, I realized that my Pinterest account was missing an important board.

My Plant Strong! board is now at over 230 pins and grows daily. At first, it was just to pin a few simple vegan recipes. It's been an amazing resource for me to quickly be inspired or enticed by vegetables. I never thought I would say that, but it's just absolutely gorgeous.

I've met so many other vegans that I currently follow who always pin great recipes, so there's always something to be pinned! It's been nice to just snag something and I can easily share the board with anyone. Whenever someone says, "You can't eat seafood? What do you eat?!"I just send them my board and they immediately are surprised.

Pinterest is an amazing tool to share lots of ideas with other people. If you're a pinner, let me know! I love to follow interesting boards and they usually inspire me to create a new one. And if you think I'm starving and eating leaves of lettuce for dinner, just check this out!

Looking to go vegan? Check out these related posts below!
Where to Begin
Kitchen Overhaul
5 Tips for a Healthy Vegan Diet
Pinterest Plant-Strong Board
Top 5 Reactions to "I'm Vegan"
Protein in a Vegan Diet
5 Tips for Eating a Plant-Based Diet (Anywhere)
Veganism in a Nutshell (video)
5 Things I've Learned Through Veganism
Foods That Kill

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Publishing an Old Draft

I found this old post that I meant to publish upon accepting my current position. It's still something that I feel can be said even today, as I am at nearly nine months with the company. I truly feel lucky to be a part of something bigger than me!

For the first time in a long time I'm seeing clearly. My purpose in life has not always been a clear cut path. Slowly I'm realizing what I was meant to do, whether that be through writing or some other medium. Now I feel like I have finally found a meaningful path.

I've been confused about my path in life, but always was certain about one thing. Helping people was always something that came natural to me; I figured by being a good person things would work out.

I've always been a hard worker and completely dedicated to anything I was currently working on. And I'm not taking about a favor. I mean a life-changing experience that really determines who they are as a person.

I'm not sure why, but I've been drawn to this since I graduated college. I truly believe in callings, and think this is the universe's way of saying, "here's how you can help several people!"

An opportunity has presented itself so I can say I truly believe in the power of self-determination and to help several people while I'm at it! This is an exciting opportunity to show what my true beliefs are and how to harness this energy for some fun and interesting projects ahead.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Video Breakdown: Foods That Kill

I stumbled upon a video yesterday that I linked in my last post. After watching the full video last night, I felt that it deserved its own full post since the information is so compelling... and nearly 20 years old. As always, I am continuously amazed at the information that's out there waiting to be found. The problem is, you have to dig for it and not just accept what we thought was good for us.

One of the reasons I decided to do this was because of some bad bloodwork I received in January 2011. My total cholesterol was considered too high a year and a half ago, and for whatever reason, I just didn't do anything about it. I was 23 and it should have been 80 points lower to be considered normal. THAT is why I am doing this!

The further I go "down the rabbit hole", the crazier I feel, but crazy in a good way. I feel like I'm in on this little secret and no one else totally understands why I gave up the animal products. Since people are curious about why I'm doing this, I will break this video down a little bit to where you can fast-forward to the parts you're interested in! I know it's really long and you may not be interested in viewing the full hour, so here it is listed in fragments. Enjoy!

Introduction (0:00-1:03)
North American Diet from 1909-1985 (1:04-2:51)
Health Effects of Eating an Animal-Based Diet (2:52-7:13)
Animal Fats, (Red Meat/Yolk of Hen Eggs/Cow's Milk) (7:14-9:34)
Mr. Phillips' Surgery/Atherosclerosis who is mentioned during 2:52-7:13, (9:35-12:01)
Animal Fat Causing Problems (Stroke/Heart Attack/etc.) (12:02-13:41)
All Fats Are Not Created Equal (13:42-15:40)
Animal Fats Stick to You/Dr. Michael Klaper's Personal Story (15:41-17:23)
Will You Miss Nutrients if You Go Plant-Based? (17:24-17:24)
Fat Consumption and Breast Cancer (17:25-19:36)
Fat Consumption and Prostate Cancer (19:37-20:31)
Chicken & Fish, Too?! (20:32-21:10)
Too Much Protein (21:11-24:36)
Protein-Induced Hypercalciuria (24:37- 27:17)
Not Enough Fiber (27:18-28:37)
Carnivore or Herbivore? (28:38-32:19)
Dr. Michael Klaper's Personal Experience (33:00-35:51)
Problems With Meat (35:52-39:04)
High Blood Pressure/Sodium (39:05-43:05)
The P.M.S. Prevention Diet (43:06-43:44)
Why Do We Have All of These Diseases? (43:45-45:01)
Athletes & Diet (45:02-46:11)
Four Food Groups (46:12-48:18)
Where Do We Get Our Protein? (48:19-50:00)
Where Do We Get Our Calcium? (50:01-51:41)
Whole Grains (51:42-52:56)
Legumes/Beans/Lentils (52:57-53:49)
Tofu! (53:50-55:24)
Raw & Fresh is Best (55:25-56:18)
Change Our Attitudes (56:19-58:04)

Looking to go vegan? Check out these related posts below!
Where to Begin
Kitchen Overhaul
5 Tips for a Healthy Vegan Diet
Pinterest Plant-Strong Board
Top 5 Reactions to "I'm Vegan"
Protein in a Vegan Diet
5 Tips for Eating a Plant-Based Diet (Anywhere)
Veganism in a Nutshell (video)
5 Things I've Learned Through Veganism
Foods That Kill

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Spreading Some Knowledge

I'll start off by saying that this blog has really helped me during some crazy times and the last few months are no exception. When I decided to make my change, I knew I would need something to cling to, and I'm so happy I have a place to document it all. If you're reading this now, I hope I've at least inspired a bit of curiosity in what I'm doing. This blog started with humble beginnings. A place where I could detail everything in my life, and it still serves the same purpose today.

Now, I'm all about knowledge. And I'm all about spreading good knowledge. I know some people may not understand the choices I've been making lately and this weekend was particularly rough. My parents visited for Father's Day and I was faced with numerous tough food-related decisions. Since my last visit with my doctor, I have been asked to give up three things I loved the most: cheese, wine and chocolate. Oh my.

I've been good so far on all three (although it has only been six days!), but it's definitely a struggle. In my search for more information and honestly, to help remind myself of why I'm doing this, I tend to seek out plenty of educational material on the subject, whether it be a documentary, an article or a book. And there's so much out there to choose from.

After browsing the r/vegan subreddit this evening, I stumbled upon an interesting video that another vegan claimed to have played a huge role in their decision to make "the switch". There's some really great information in this and if you're still curious about kicking animal products to the curb, check it out! I honestly am hoping to just share all the knowledge that I can now that I know my previous diet (which consisted of 90% animal products) didn't do me much good.

Thanks again to all of my readers and for taking the time to listen to me rant and rave about my life. It's been a great release to have somewhere to turn to when I feel like I'm hitting a roadblock, looking to share some info or just talking about my experiences in all areas of my life. This blog has kept me sane and inspired.

Looking to go vegan? Check out these related posts below!
Where to Begin
Kitchen Overhaul
5 Tips for a Healthy Vegan Diet
Pinterest Plant-Strong Board
Top 5 Reactions to "I'm Vegan"
Protein in a Vegan Diet
5 Tips for Eating a Plant-Based Diet (Anywhere)
Veganism in a Nutshell (video)
5 Things I've Learned Through Veganism
Foods That Kill

Friday, June 15, 2012

5 Vegetarian & Vegan Q's

Here are some questions that I find myself answering frequently.

Q: How do you get your protein?
A: I've found that this question is most often asked from people who are truly concerned about me. I appreciate this concern and I've done plenty of reading on this subject. I was worried, too, at first that I would need to eat lots of tofu or beans to meet my protein needs. Luckily, protein is found in plenty of foods!

Q: What can you eat?
I focus on fruits, vegetables, whole gains, nuts and beans. I started by following the Engine 2 Diet, so if it has a mother or a face, I don't eat it. Unfortunately, I am still struggling with my cheese addiction, but I have successfully kicked several other bad habits. I'm still a work in progress and strive to stay on track, but yes, it is hard. On Mother's Day, my family cooked fried chicken, dressing and twice-baked potatoes. I happily ate my vegan quiche.

Q: Why are you doing this?
My mother was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes in January, but it wasn't until mid-February that I started to take my health seriously. After weighing in at my yearly appointment, I was not amused by the number on the scale. I also knew that I had been neglecting my health for far too long. I didn't care to take charge of my health until that number popped up on the scale. I also knew my bloodwork from the previous year wasn't too amazing, and I aimed to improve it (which I have tremendously).

Q: Is this just a diet/temporary thing?
A: People often assume that I have a strict list of things that I can and can't eat, much like a "diet" that people "go on". When most people refer to a "diet" they mean that they are altering their eating for a short period of time for an expected result. I don't intend to go back to the way I was eating (drive-thru lines and canned meals), so I don't refer to this as a "diet", but rather a lifestyle change.

Q: Do you miss meat?
A: About three months in, I was sitting at my desk working away while listening to some music with my headphones on. Suddenly, a smell caught my attention. Could it be pork roast? Yes, yes it was. My coworker, completely unaware of my decision to forgo animal products, probably thought I was insane when I literally took my headphones off and stopped working. Yes, I miss the smell of meat. And yes, I do slightly miss the taste. However, I now know what is the right decision for me and why I'm making that choice.

Here are some other FAQs I face!

Looking to go vegan? Check out these related posts below!
Where to Begin
Kitchen Overhaul
5 Tips for a Healthy Vegan Diet
Pinterest Plant-Strong Board
Top 5 Reactions to "I'm Vegan"
Protein in a Vegan Diet
5 Tips for Eating a Plant-Based Diet (Anywhere)
Veganism in a Nutshell (video)
5 Things I've Learned Through Veganism
Foods That Kill

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Breaking Up with Bikram

And now, my letter I've been meaning to pen to break things off with Bikram Yoga.

Dear Bikram,

It's not you. it's me. Really, I take the blame. You were always making time for me every day and never failed to challenge me. I truly enjoyed our time together. I'm sorry things didn't work out between us. You never expected anything from me but my best. I even took the cautionary route and agreed to see how things would work out on a 30-day intro package.

During our time together, I was pushed beyond my limits physically. Your instructor urged me to push "beyond my flexibility" and made sure my toes were pointed during my moves. I gulped over a liter of water on our first date and was truly amazed with the whole experience. You made me want to keep coming back. For a while, anyway.

All of this changed two weeks later. After my tenth class, I found myself struggling with housework as my brother arrived for a weekend visit. You'd taken so much of my time and my head had obviously been in the clouds. Although I was really concentrating on our relationship, I failed to keep up with other aspects of my life, including the laundry and dishes. This was the final straw.

We've really had a good run. You allowed me to really concentrate on my balance and focus. You encouraged me daily and I could see some positive changes in myself. I left you each time with a sense of relaxation and felt a spiritual connection like never before. As they say, all good things must come to end. Maybe we'll meet again someday.


Saturday, June 9, 2012

Veg Update: Day 116

Today marks Day 116 without an intentional meal with meat in it. I say "intentional meal" because I consider my last true meaty meal an A-1 Thick & Hearty burger from Whataburger. I ate half of the burger on February 13th and was almost nauseated by the amount of heartiness in it. Why did I choose this as my last meal, you may ask? Well, this definitely was not on my mind when I ordered it. I didn't drive up and think, "Here it goes... My last carnivorous meal."

The next day, I stepped onto the scale at the doctor's office and I made my decision. That was it. No. More. I'd made excuses for myself long enough. I had been interested before in the idea of leaving meat behind. Although, I was never one to follow through with my plans to do, well, anything. When it comes to eating right and exercising, I was pretty awful at it.

Let's get back to the "intentional meal" phrase I used earlier. A couple of months into my "lifestyle change" (no, not a diet!), I was invited to the Alamo Drafthouse opening on Slaughter. The food and drinks they provided were decadent and impressive. I admit I had one teeny tiny bite of meat there. It was for research purposes, I told myself. Alas, I felt a tinge of guilt and failure afterward. I had stayed on track for nearly two months, but I tried not to beat myself up over this.

My next encounter with meat was about two weeks ago. I met up with a friend at a Mexican restaurant and realized there was about one tablespoon of ground beef in the sauce on my enchiladas—once I was 90% done with my plate. I was mildly disappointed, but this was my first meal in nearly 100 days to accidentally have meat.

I'm not trying to be perfect. I'm not trying to make a point. I'm doing this purely for health reasons and well, just to prove to myself that I am capable of making a change. I've been feeling pretty good, lost 13 lbs. and I find that this lifestyle is forcing me to reconsider plenty of things. I also learned that people are not comfortable with my change.

I kept quiet at first about all of this in fear of what people would say and think. Now I am finding people are just honestly curious about the whole thing. I welcome the questions and am happy that people are intrigued. There's been plenty to learn during my experience and I hope this encourages more personal growth than it already has.

Clearing the Clutter

I'm kind of awesome at organizing. This caused another problem. The collection of stuff that I (used to) have was a little depressing. Once you understand the principle of letting things go, your life seems to be a little less... heavy. I don't know why I seemed to enjoy collecting things. Maybe it was my past trips to the store with family. There was always a certain emotional bond tied to shopping.

You really discover how much you truly have when you're preparing to move. Since high school, I have moved five times. You would think that after that many moves, I would have pared down to just the essentials by now. Not true, unfortunately. With every bag of stuff that would come in the door, you just kind of make room for it!

This all changed once I was finally on my own. I say "on my own", because there was always some bit of financial help that I was receiving from my parents until I was around 21. Once their money stopped flowing, I tended to clutch my hard-earned dollars much more aggressively. I shake my head now at others (like myself) who take the financial help for granted, but I understand it's something that must be experienced.

I had this realization that no, I didn't need a pair of $40 jeans. And why do I own 80 shirts? I only really wear about 20. Why did I think I needed to go spend money that I didn't have on things I didn't need? I can blame my childhood or anything else, but I realized that some people never truly understand that they don't really need all of this.

I guess what I am getting at is that it's important to dig down deep and figure out why you think you "need" all of the stuff you think you need. Can the shirt that you've worn once be useful and cherished by someone else? What about that pair of jeans that you're keeping on hand in case you lose those last 10 lbs.? My advice: give anything you don't find useful now away. And don't look back.