Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Vegan Diet 101: Naysayers Gonna Naysay

When you're in the midst of making a huge lifestyle change, the last thing you need are friends and family making you feel uncomfortable about your choice. When I decided to begin my journey, there were naysayers from the beginning. This is why I tried to conceal my plant-based diet for as long as I could. But why?! Well, for starters, I didn't want to deal with the barrage of questions that I faced on a daily basis or the lack of support from some of the closest people I had in my life.

In my experience, almost every question or discussion I had with a naysayer stemmed from what appeared to be them trying to disprove my lifestyle. Why? My diet was not in line with theirs, and in turn, their diet must be "wrong" or "flawed". I felt that the probes into my diet were nothing more than questions that were meant to make me feel like throwing my hands into the air and saying, "I QUIT!"

I'll let you in on a little secret: in the beginning, there were many times when faced with naysayers that I really did just want to quit. When people began to make comments about my lack of animal protein, the risk of malnutrition and asking me hypothetical questions ("Okay, but what if you hit a deer with a car... Would you eat it?!"), I seriously considered just tossing in the towel. This is why I started documenting the plant-based lifestyle on The Little Red Journal.

I'm here to tell you that you don't have to listen to them. Well, maybe physically, but don't ever let that get stuck in your head, affect your progress, or cause you to go omnivore again. The results that you will see in time will be more than enough to put their concerns or bashing to rest. Knowing that I am awful at making life-changing decisions, I purposefully did not visit my hometown for four months after announcing my change (and I certainly didn't blog about it much). The amount of criticism I received early on discouraged me from visiting.

I wanted to recreate LRJ to be a place where anyone interested in learning more about a plant-based lifestyle or vegans alike could find resources, hope, and encouragement that I didn't fully receive. Sometimes it comes from strangers we've never met in real life (Shout out to Happy Herbivore, Engine 2 Diet, Dr. Colin T. Campbell, Chef AJ and Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn). We all need support and even if it doesn't come from your immediate surroundings, know that they are many people out there going through the same thing and plenty of people looking to help you transition or continue improving your health.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Make Health Your Priority for 2013

I always avoided New Year's Resolutions. My follow through with lifestyle changes has always been terrible in the past. After watching "Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead", I ran to the store and bought a juicer. That went well for a couple of weeks until I forgot that peaches had a pit. I tossed the whole fruit in there and nearly had a panic attack when the seed started bouncing around with the blade. I also stopped because after bringing juices to work each day, my boss was making fun of me endlessly and singing some "Juicy Juicy" song after each sip.

Then there was the time I wanted to buy a stationary bike. I hadn't been to the gym in months and this was when I started to gain some weight. I was convinced that I could place it smack dab in the middle of our living room while I played some video games or watched a movie. We really didn't have any room to actually put a stationary bike in our tiny apartment and we had a small gym at our apartment complex that I never visited. Not even once. The idea died out after looking up the prices and I steadily gained more weight.

When I decided to make my lifestyle change nearly a year ago, I didn't begin on January 1, 2012. I had laughed the idea off a month or so earlier when I watched Forks Over Knives and thought, "Wow, I get the idea, but that looks really hard." In January, a month after her diagnosis, my mom finally told me that she had Type 2 diabetes. My first thought: "Well, I must be next." Looking back, that is seriously some narrow-minded thinking and a defeatist attitude.

Resolutions are tricky. You have to want to change. There's no easy way around it and you'll need to be dedicated. Over the last year, I went vegan and almost immediately tried to convert everyone that I knew. Why did I do that?! I truly believed in the science and that it could help me restore my health (and it certainly did). Most people didn't like the fact I was trying to change them and I learned one thing: only YOU can make the changes you want to make. No one can do it for you, but you don't have to do it alone.

If you've been telling yourself you need to lose weight, lower your cholesterol, reverse your heart disease or diabetes, then it's time to take a good look at your eating habits and assess what's really going on. I know it's not easy. I wish I could stand by you, help you go to the grocery store, cook some plant-based recipes and cheer you on at the end of each day when you've resisted all the animal products you've encountered. Most people won't get it, but you're making a change for you and your health. I'm here to help, listen and guide you into plant-based success. Seriously, contact me if you need anything, and make 2013 the healthiest year you've ever had!

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, January 4, 2013

Skipping the Holidays Minimalist Style

At the end of the holidays, I was reminded of why I chose to start my minimalist journey. Not only have I saved a few hundred dollars this season, but I also have looked at the holidays in a new light. I saw many gifts being exchanged and I understand why people were giving them, but I enjoy seeing people unwrap things they will actually use. I often hear, "So-and-so is hard to shop for!"

I've been carefully watching our budget the last month and we're trying to save up for a car. Mine is on the fritz and near the end of its life, I'm afraid. After ten years of owning the same car (and thousands of dollars in repairs over the years), I have come to terms that it is not the amazing dream car I thought it once was when I drove it at 16. This is why we skipped the holiday season shopping. No, not because I'm a "Scrooge" as my mom liked to say when I visited, but because we are trying to get serious about our financial goals, including paying down major chunks of my husband's student loans.

Since most family members knew that I have been striving towards a minimalist lifestyle recently, most opted not to give me anything and some only gave me super practical gifts, which I was thankful for. I clearly explained the reasons why we weren't participating so no one felt offended, and I think it's amazing when I see all the ads and sales that were before, during and after the holidays. All of the sales and deals bring people into the stores to buy things they don't really need!

Even my favorite new site ( sent out an email recently that suggested to add a goal to pay off holiday spending. It seems silly, but it's a sad fact that many people head straight into the red just for the sake of not looking like a Scrooge. I always hated debt so the thought of me spending money we don't have hasn't really appealed to me. I've been so careful in the last month and really become aware of where my money is spent. We had a rocky start, but you have to begin somewhere and we're looking forward to paying down our debt.

I cherish memories and moments with family members and friends more than a random gift. The whole minimalist lifestyle has really impacted what comes in to my house and what goes out of my checking account. It's about being happier, working towards a goal of being debt-free and removing objects from my life that are becoming burdensome. I feel the strides I made in just a few short months have really paid off, and that's exactly why we stood firm on maximizing our family time while keeping our financial goals in mind this holiday season.

Looking to embrace a minimalist lifestyle? Check out my posts below!
Cutting the Clutter: The 5 C's to More Happiness
5 Lessons I've Learned by Decluttering
Top 5 Reasons for Cutting the Clutter
Cutting the Clutter: Kitchen Revamp
Sell your crap. Pay off your debt. Do what you love.
Embracing a Minimalist Lifestyle

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Review: Everyday Happy Herbivore Cookbook

Most of you probably already know that I am a huge fan of Happy Herbivore (aka Lindsay Nixon). When I first went plant-based, I scoured the internet for recipes and advice. I stumbled upon Happy Herbivore and saw her cookbooks on the Forks Over Knives and Engine 2 Diet websites. Once I started following her on Twitter and Facebook, I quickly began to stock my bookshelf with with her cookbooks and filling my inbox with her subscribed newsletter and blog posts. 

She's been a great source of inspiration for me and her recipes are seriously easy to follow and don't require 15 different ingredients. I've now collected all three of her cookbooks including The Happy Herbivore, Everyday Happy Herbivore (affiliate link), and most recently Happy Herbivore Abroad. I highly recommend all three and they are perfect for a beginner cook or an advanced cook that doesn't want to spend too much time in the kitchen. 

I bought a signed copy of Everyday Happy Herbivore (affiliate link) and squealed with joy (probably a little too high) when I received it. It's already been well-worn and it falls open to kinds of  yummy recipes when placed on the table. As a person who is made fun of regularly by my dad that I can't even boil water, it's been a glorious accomplishment that I can proudly say I can cook everything out of this cookbook. Each cookbook is also only around $12 each, so you're getting a great deal for roughly 175 recipes. If you're looking for a simple, healthy cookbook without losing any great flavors, then consider buying one of her cookbooks today!

Some of my favorites from Everyday Happy Herbivore (aff link) are below!

Dark Chocolate Pancakes
Carrot Cake Pancakes
Basic Tofu Scramble
Spinach & Artichoke Fritatta
Fruit Crisp
Carribean Sweet Potatoes
Southwest Chop Salad
Chana Saag
Lemon Basil Pasta
Chili Sweet Mango Noodles
Butter Bean Cookies
Oatmeal Chews
Enchilada Sauce