Monday, September 29, 2014

Was Jesus a Vegetarian and Other Ponderings

The other day I had an interesting interaction with a gentleman (that I do not know personally) on Facebook, concerning a recent bacon controversy.  A Muslim vegan woman complained about a restaurant sign promoting bacon served in a restaurant. As the neighborhood had a larger Muslim and Jewish population, the restaurant took the sign down. No problems. It seems though, that some folk are up in arms. These people do not think that one person's opinion should sway business decisions. A heated discussion ensued on Facebook and other social media outlets. The gentleman that I argued with went as far as to say that if that woman didn't like bacon, to go back to her own country. First off, she was probably an American, and going back to her own country would be impossible as she was already there. The restaurant took the sign down and the bigots came out of the woodwork. No, this country was not founded on the freedom to eat bacon. But after being called a hypocrite (I did run the Hogsback [named after the road it takes places on] half marathon recently for the cute pig t-shirt) I started pondering. Pondering might not be the right word. Self righteously railing perhaps. First, how dare someone call me a hypocrite when they, as a right wing Christian, eat a dead animal and follow the ten commandments: "Thou shalt not kill." How could any Christian eat meat and spout off bible verses? 

I began to search the internet and found an interesting blog post on the Huffington Post. Was Jesus a vegetarian? God said: See, I have given you every plant-yielding seed that is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food." (Genesis 1:29-30) Sounds like a vegetarian diet to me. After the fall however humans started to eat meat. If you do a search on the internet you will find articles for vegetarianism and against. Bible verses can be quoted to back up both sides of the argument. So where does that leave me? I am not a Christian, but am still confused when anyone who calls themselves pro-life, eats a cow. 

So I was left to stew, after all this man called me a hypocrite. But my staunch vegan stance is merely a reflection of his anger at me for abstaining from bacon. After all, meat and potatoes is American and America is  god fearing society. Within this entire exchange, I had the strong need to be right. This gentleman did as well. What comes from being right and from pushing someone to argue? The surge of adrenaline perhaps. In the end, he was a reflection of myself. If I were to look in the mirror and see someone who is the complete opposite of me, it would be this gentleman. Does it really matter if Jesus was a vegetarian? It doesn't matter to me, as I am not a Christian. So in the end, I need to let others have their opinions. I will continue on the path of non violence, imperfectly. I will do my part to peacefully promote the compassionate treatment of the animals in this world I adore, merely all of them (deerflies do not count!)

Pro Vegetarian Resource (this is a vegan blog, not a bipartisan effort)

Friday, September 19, 2014

Today I feel like eating. I am not hungry, I just ate breakfast, and a snack. But I want to eat. I doubt that it is my body telling me I need more calories, I have already consumed almonds and granola, followed by tofu and kale and coffee of course. Pretty good for a girl who used to survive on Butterfingers and McDisgusting. But I am sitting here, quietly writing, and my brain is telling me that I am not doing doing doing enough. I have to fill up my time, and what better way than eating? I can multitask, shove a handful of popcorn in my mouth, type a sentence, and continue. That is productivity? Our society is so fast, we work a zillion hours a week and need to fill every waking moment with projects, work or cleaning or exercise. We fill corners of our house with stuff, we carry phones so we can always do something, surf the internet, talk or text. When we take the time to exercise at the gym, we watch tv while we are walking the treadmill, or listen to music while we are lifting weights. What I believe we need, I need, is to slow down, to be quiet and to pay attention. This practice of mindfulness includes eating. How often do I eat while watching tv or driving? Do I even taste that yummy kale, or feel the texture of pan-seared tofu?

The practice of eating mindfully is a foreign concept to me. To sit, to chew slowly, to pay attention to the taste and texture and smell of food, is akin to meditation. As a vegan my food is real, sweet fruits, crunchy vegetables, and savory grains. To enjoy every bite is to experience the food, to squeeze every last drop of pleasure out of the experience. As an experiment, try this exercise for mindful eating, it will change the way you look at food.

In New Hampshire, there is a Center for Mindful Eating. There are numerous resources on the website and there is access to free teleconferences for a 40$ yearly membership. One of the principles of mindful eating: Mindfulness is being aware of what is present for you mentally, emotionally and physically in each moment. What is present for me emotionally today? 

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Great Video

This video says it all... 
101 - Reasons to go Vegan

My first visit with a nutritionist

I called my PCP a few weeks ago to obtain a referral for a visit with a nutritionist. Why, they asked. I have no health issues, do not even see my physician regularly. I told the voice on the other end, "because I am vegan." Yup, I pulled the vegan card. I have been a vegetarian for over a decade, and now that I am vegan, folks are always worried about whether or not I am getting enough protein. I was merely interested in becoming a healthier person, one who continues to go without a visit to the doctor. I believe that most health issues stem from what we put into our bodies, whether chemicals from processed food, pesticides, GMOs, hydrogenated oils, or all of the other deadly food products we have floating out there (68% of diseases are diet related). But I was not about to tell the doctor all of this, so I just pulled the vegan card.

My visit was this past week, and was it ever helpful. It actually turns out that I am not getting enough protein in my diet, but with just a few tweaks, I went from 15 to 20% of my calories from protein. I am still a bit shy of what I should be ingesting, but the more I learn about the preparation of beans and other valuable vegan sources, the easier time I will have. It has been a long process, becoming a healthier person. It took me 41 years to discover kale, who knows what the future will bring. All I know is that it is worth it to seek professional help. The visit with a nutritionist helped me to see where I have been doing great with my food choices, and what needs work. I continue to make small changes daily, the more manageable the change, the more likely that it will stick. For now I will head off to look up some recipes for seitan...ooh and lentils.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Acclimation into a Healthier Lifestyle

Easing into healthy eating, it has been a long journey. I have been a vegetarian as long as I can remember, approximately 20 years. But I have only been vegan for a year and a half. I am so glad I made the leap, not only do I feel much better spiritually and ethically, but I  lost weight and feel amazing physically. However, about six months ago I hit a plateau, nothing was changing and I was feeling tired. Then I started reading Brendan Brazier's book, Thrive, a vegan nutrition guide for athletes. I began to slowly add a few healthier alternatives to my "junk food" vegan diet. I had been living off of vegan cheeses and chips among other things...and there are so many vegan desserts, including Oreos! Adding healthier choices, while eliminating an unhealthy food, one at a time, was the kick I needed. I also began to map my food choices via My Fitness Pal. Once I started recording my food intake I began to see where I hadn't been getting bang for my eating buck. The vegan butter was 100 calories per two tablespoon serving while I could eat 3 cups of blueberries for the same 100 calories. Not that I am an advocate of counting calories, but the application helped me to see that I haven't been eating enough protein and my iron intake is super low. Over the past four weeks I have lost an additional 9 pounds. Now I am usually not focused on numbers, but it feels good to finally get back to where I was pre-childbirth. I have had a long struggle with weight loss and gain over the past 22 years and I believe that I have found a balance and recipe for a healthier life. I run everyday and have increased my portions of fruits and vegetables, I have even made green smoothies! I have begun to cut back on my processed sugar intake. The next great hurdle? Caffeine. But I am no where near to being ready to give that up. See you at Starbucks!

Friday, June 6, 2014

Going Green...

Green velvet smoothie (kale, banana, and avocado)Don't tell my mother, but I think I like vegetables. I tried this recipe from Nava Atlas's Veg Kitchen Site, a green smoothie, made from kale, avocado, banana and hemp milk (I substituted spinach for the kale). After chilling I tried it, amazing. I never would have thought that I would eat vegetable, or even drink them. I prided myself on being a surly child and refusing what was good for me. And yes, this smoothie is chock full of nutrients that I as a vegan need. I add hemp hearts for an added kick and drink my smoothie at lunch with some tofu and multigrain on the side.  Now you really cannot tell my mother, not only do I eat veggies, but tofu as well! Next up, Kale Chips!

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Food Glorious Food

"How do you get your protein?"
"Don't you miss (insert food here)?"
A few of the questions I have been asked over the last year and half. It has been almost a year and half since I eliminated all animal products from my diet. I have been vegetarian for years, I do not even remember how I could have actually eaten meat for the time I did. I have always been an animal lover, the one (as my parents can attest) who brings home strays (the dogs, Sybil the snail, and the gypsy moth.) But last January I made the leap. I couldn't love all animals and exploit them at the same time. My habits and my ethics didn't jive. Honestly, it was difficult at first. I love cheese, and I had been a huge nacho fan after my son went to college. Nachos were the only meal I could whip up, some tortillas, cheese and sour cream, and have no leftovers that would sit in the fridge for months. Having a teenage boy in the house means no leftovers. When he went to college I was left with extra food that ended up green and fuzzy. It was a lifestyle change. But then I thought about the dairy industry, how most cheese is made, how we impregnate cows, take the milk meant for their babies, make products we can eat, and then eat the babies. Every time I remembered why I made the shift, I was able to say no to cheese. And soon I no longer craved it. Today, a year and half later, I do not want dairy at all. I think somehow my body had to detox from the food I had previously been eating. After this shift the weight came off. My cholesterol is low and I have more energy after eating. Most importantly,  I feel as if I am not contributing to the evils of factory farming. Going vegan was an ethical as well as healthy choice. And the food that I can eat...the food is amazing: tofu, tempeh, seitan, beans, risotto: practically anything can be made vegan. There is Tofutti ice cream that is creamy and delicious; Daiya cheese which makes a mean grilled cheese; vegan sour creams and yogurts...and so much more. I subscribe to different blogs that boast of the vegan lifestyle. One of my favorites, Oh She Glows, is chock full of yummy recipes and helpful information. Nava Atlas is another favorite. Her website, Veg Kitchen, has helpful information about the vegan lifestyle, including nutrition. There is so much information out there to get you started, I am still sifting through websites and books. They save that by going vegan one person is responsible for saving 200 animals per year. I will take that. Today I am more sensitive about the meat that is served and eaten around me. After all, that bacon was once an intelligent, sentient being. The milk was meant for a baby cow, not a human. I know that the world isn't going to miraculously change. But I can hope. But just for today I will enjoy some barbecue tofu with sweet potato mac and "cheese" followed by a slice of vegan chocolate cake, with the knowledge that no sentient being was harmed in order for me to live.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Going Vegan...the Beginning

From: Some Daily Grace - 1/19/13
Approximately fifteen years ago I attended a vegan dinner at a local Indian Restaurant with my father. The food was delicious and I left the meal feeling energized rather than the usual sluggish. I was volunteering at a local shelter working with animals, and I made the decision that night to stop eating meat. I have been a vegetarian since that dinner. I made the choice for ethical as well as health reasons. I lost weight and felt better about my food choices.

Recently I have taken another step, I am attempting to remove all animal products from my diet, including some of my favorites, cheese and ice cream. I haven't had milk since I was a child (with the exception of coffee at restaurants) but dairy products comprised a significant part of my daily protein intake. The ice cream was fairly easy (shocker) with products such as Tofutti frozen dessert and SoDelicious coconut milk products. The cheese was a wee bit harder. I did finally buy vegan cheese and made myself a batch of mac and cheese, melting the shredded "cheese" with Silk creamer and vegan butter. The dish was surprisingly yummy (my twenty year old man child even ate an entire batch.) And for the past few weeks I have actually made myself meals. For anyone who knows me, this might be considered a miracle greater than the whole turning water into wine act.  I have been a prepackaged food gal ever since I can remember. I don't enjoy cooking (it involves cleaning...) But I now have three meals that I have mastered out of Nava Atlas's Vegan Express cookbook. The recipes are fast with few ingredients and super yummy. I have read that for every person who eats a vegan diet, 900 animals are saved. I am not perfect yet, and I still eat cheese whenever there aren't options for me when I am out and about, but so far I haven't purchased any animal products for a few months now. I feel better about my choices, have lost a little more weight and have in the end learned how to be a little more compassionate with myself. Taking care of my body in these ways, eliminating high cholesterol products, and cooking foods that contain real ingredients, is a step in the right direction. This journey is a spiritual one, my connection with the planet has only been amplified. Next step... my shoe obsession. Wish me luck and a vegan shoe store...