Labels, Vegan, and Being April

PhotoGrid_1378733512368There is just no way I can bring myself to write a post about how my decision to veer from the vegan journey was born from some  enlightened realization of the oppression of labels and the need to categorize oneself. We all have labels, we all need labels, it’s the way we understand others and ourselves. While the labels may be fluid and have exceptions in the fine print, they are still important to finish the sentence “I am…”

More importantly, a post like that simply wouldn’t be true.

Towards the end, I liked being “vegan.” I wanted to remain being “vegan.” I still want to want to be vegan.

It was an amazing lifestyle. I felt wonderful. There is not another method of consumption that has ever come close to making feel wonderful – for a time.

But, feeling wonderful isn’t enough. I want to BE wonderful. I want to BE April.

And now, before we get off on the topic of “see this is why extreme/fad/trendy diets don’t work” and “haha I told you no one could really live without bacon,” let me go ahead and weigh in on those two things…

  1. It did “work.” I learned new things about how to fuel my body. I learned what types of food make me feel great and which others are going to require some planning for how I am going to feel the next day. I dropped all that weight. I changed some really serious eating habits. I knocked down some food addictions. I connected with some really cool people. I learned great new recipes. I introduced my kids to some new ideas. I learned a lot about how to eat out in a healthier way. I am starting to think I should just do a whole post on this. If that doesn’t fit a definition of “work,” I am not sure what would have.
  2. Bacon was not my turning point.

The truth is, I just want to be April.

I realize that at some point I will have to put together a cohesive thought on this Happiness Project business. Unfortunately I don’t have one yet. But I do understand why Gretchen’s first commandment for herself (Be Gretchen) will be mine as well (Be April).

I read a ton of posts on a regular basis that often have great ideas, uplifting thoughts, insight, and inspiration. However, so often I find myself thinking, “Why do they feel the need to over justify?”

That is what I do not want to do here. I don’t think I did it with the original post that started this whole thing. That was a real moment with real feelings and resulted in some pretty real action.

www.happiness-project.com

www.happiness-project.com

But I don’t live in a vacuum. And the truth is things change; they evolve. And Gretchen (who I am seriously crushing on right now if you haven’t noticed) hit a cord with me…

Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.
~Voltaire (via Gretchen Rubin)

I am not going to be a perfect vegan. I would love to be one. But that won’t make me happy.

While it is a good and noble way, makes me feel fabulous, and keeps my waist amazingly slim, it does some not so great things too.

I blame MasterChef.

This post happens to have been written on our 14th wedding anniversary :)

This post happens to have been written on our 14th wedding anniversary 🙂

I love to cook. No, actually, I love to watch my husband thoroughly enjoy himself eating what I cook. And, if I do say so myself, I am pretty damn good at it. The family in general enjoys great cooking shows and they are pretty convinced I can recreate anything we happen to see there. That makes me happy.

In turn, my husband has a few amazing tricks in his own grilling hat that he pulls out from time to time. He gives him great joy to be able to take over the cooking duties for the evening, give me a break, and fulfill my love for great food. That makes him very happy. That makes me happy.

Perfect is a great enemy of that good.

So losing vegan makes me happy. Retaining some of the great stuff I learned also makes me happy. Finding a great balance between the two sounds like a great happiness project resolution.

Because I will still eat the hell outta these!!

I am a Fan of the “Fad Diet” (or “The Daniel Fast: Part Deux)

So first let me assure you that you are in the right place and you are talking to the right person. I am certain that you were not expecting the “fad diet” nod. Give me a minute.

The funny thing about a bumper sticker mantra is that it is hard to craft a message so witty, so insightful, so perfect, in just a line or two that it’s message can’t be picked apart. It is just too hard to close all the gaps.

Therefore, I have grown practiced at filling in the gaps myself with what I think they actually meant. Large doses of “benefit of the doubt” so to speak. I am very kind to these little posts and enjoy them greatly for what they are.

But this one inspired me to think a bit different – a little more around the fringes.

You see, I am a food addict. So, maybe I throw that word “addict” around kind of loosely. But, in my world, there is nothing that can derail my motivation and resolve like food. Nothing.

I started smoking with I was 15. I didn’t quit until I was 35. There were some periods of non-smoker behavior in there (i.e. I never smoked pregnant), but I was basically a smoker for 20 years. Quitting was NEVER hard. I could pick them up and put them down whenever I wanted. They just don’t bother me. So I never really understood the problem folks hard when they tried to kick the habit. Or drinkers with booze.

Until I tried to change the way I ate.

I was 25 and had just had my second kid. I hit 210 in the pregnancy and came home just under 190 pounds. I had a military uniform I had to get back into. The Atkin’s Diet was the rage. Made sense.

That “fad” diet taught me a ridiculous amount of stuff about myself, none more important than the unhealthy relationship I have with food.

It also taught me the importance of making choices, goals, and appropriateness. It is true, I could not “live” Atkins. But, Atkins worked. Low carb plus an amazing exercise routine produced results I would have NEVER imagined. Of course, being 25 didn’t hurt either.

Once I reached that goal, I began to tweak the plan so that it worked for me. I learned my tolerances, my abilities, and my body. That worked pretty well for a pretty good while.

Until I went and lived in the barracks on TDY for 6 months. For my non-military readers think six month long conference, home on the weekends, living on limited, but adequate, expense account.

The pounds and, more importantly, the unhealthy choices came back. It was yo-yoie. Being deployed for seven months didn’t help either. Then the welcome home from Iraq baby…then the “holy shit you are not really pregnant again already” baby.

But I can be pretty motivated and got the excess weight off for a minute. But it was nothing sustainable. It was diet pills and cleaner shakes. The fact that my heart and other vital organs came away from that abuse unscathed is nothing short of a blessing.

I did make the conscience choice to stop with the drug store brand of weight loss. It had become obvious to me how dangerous that was. The amount of toxins and stimulants I had to ingest to offset my crappy food and exercise choices was ridiculous.

cant-out-train-dietOf course the blow back is that people soon stopped being surprised that I had four kids.

So, I walked the dog and lost no weight. I ran and lost no weight. Why? Because you cannot out train a bad diet.

Folks will tell you all the time “moderation is the key.” And they are absolutely right – if you can accomplish that great feat of “moderation.”

I, however, need an intervention. Call it a “fad diet” if you want – I need the hard reset. Tell me how unsustainable it is as life choice – I already know that.

I am not trying to live in the harsh, I am trying not to die in the easy.

So, I found the Daniel Fast. And it was amazing.

It was also about 19 months ago. Just like anything else, this stuff needs a reboot.

I am so far off the food wagon I can’t even tell you how bad it is without hanging my head. All of my days are reset – days since I have eaten animal, fast food, soda, processed junk – all of it. And while that may just sound like a cheat day to some, for a good many of us, it is a crisis.

So. let’s do it again, shall we. Here are basics for those who don’t like to click to past posts.

The Daniel Fast is 21 days of over achieving veganism with some spiritual help.

Daniel FastDON’T

  • consume anything with or from a face (meat, cheese, seafood, dairy, butter – nada)
  • consume anything processed
  • no sweeteners (no sugar, no honey, nada)
  • drink anything but water (no coffee, no tea, no booze, nada – water!)

DO

  • drink LOTS of water
  • eat anything from the ground (beans, nuts, whole grains, fruits, veggies)
  • start on a slow day – you may feel a bit tired/cranky the first day or so. Lots of water helps

Here are my Part Deux caveats…

  • I am going 26 days vs. 21. There are 5 days between today and September 20 that I know I will need a pass. I have worked the buffer in. However, I have given my self a number of days, not certain days. If I can’t keep it together and flake on a different day, I will have to make that day up during the time I had planned. Accountability – I need it.
  • Coffee, I am keeping it
Really? Is a 12 week eating plan that bad of an idea? I think not...

Really? Is a 12 week eating plan that bad of an idea? I think not…

Another note about my 5 day buffer. I seriously considered waiting until after Labor Day and after my anniversary weekend to start. But then I figured, can’t I always finds a reason not to do what I know I need to do today? There will always be something – that is life.

Most of life’s failures come from putting off today what you plan to do tomorrow which turns out to feel hopeless because feel like you waited too long.

Today I am starting what could be considered a “fad diet” to regain focus on my lifestyle so it can last forever.

Reality is, one persons “fad” is another persons salvation.
~ Rebecca, Weight Wars

They are fun. Enjoy them. Laugh at them. Take them in. Let them motivate you and impart their intentions to you. But never be afraid to live your life because of a bumper sticker.

 

Image Credits
The Princess & Her Cowboys
Weight Wars
Strong is the New Skinny

A Running Column, a Vegan, and a Winner Walk into a Bar…

Connect SavannahIn an amazing stroke of fantastic, I have been afforded the opportunity to submit a biweekly article to Connect Savannah. This is awesome on a number of levels…

  • I get to be in the same publication as Jessica Lebos (author of Yo, Yenta – go there now!)
  • Two loves – writing and running – converge
  • I get to meet new folks in the community and give love to the runner family
  • I am learning a lot
  • I get to offset some of my race fees
  • Did I mention Jessica Lebos?

The column, after much Facebook and editor discussion, has been bestowed the moniker More Than Miles. I like it. There is a whole blog post just discussing that. As for now, let’s just take a look at the first installation.

It’s not simply health, wellness, and mommy gets her sexy back.

It is more than one vegan woman and her barefoot running shoes.

The running community has discovered a whole new level of mettle hidden amidst the traditional spectator favorites. They can tap into it, explore it, and build relationships through it. There is a story of growth here in the South. There is a wealth of community, social responsibility, personal challenge, human spirit, camaraderie, strength, and kindness.

If nothing else, I hope to convey, in some small way, regardless of profiles, accolades, races, or routes, we would still run.

You can read the full article here.

Rails to TrailsA big thanks to Dan Hernandez and Victoria  Ten Broeck for their input. If you don’t know these folks…you really should.

Dan is a fellow minimalist runner with a maximist heart. He consistently combines his sport with charity and community work. From Rails to Trails to Liam’s Land, Dan is always working to keeping running fresh and creating ways for us to be a positive influence on society.

255341_10150976833754352_1098205556_nVictoria is largely responsible for my love of Ultra Running. She introduced me to Tim Waz of Lowcountry Ultras and invited me to volunteer at Cremator 2012. It would be the day I caught the crazy. God Bless Victoria  for all the trouble she has caused, she has never failed to follow through. She is always there, smiling, encouraging  supporting, educating  promoting. And she is a damn fine runner to boot!

On deck for this week – Getting Started and a few hints to help. Featured will be Mareesa Torres of C.R.E.W. and Mary Siegel of Savannah Striders. Yes, THAT Mary Siegel!

A Vegan

PP15coverIn case you missed it – and I don’t see how that is possible – Dreena Burton loves me and she gave me a copy of her eBook to give away. I have already had the chance to cook up a few of these Plant Powered 15 and they did not disappoint. Even for the omni, these recipes do great for Meatless Monday, Fish Stick Fridays (for my Catholic family), or just side additions. If you are curious, this eCookbook is a great place to start.

A Winner

TinaAnd Tina Hein will have the chance to do just that!! Congratulations to Tina!! She is he first TTSW Winner. I will be sending Plant Powered 15 right over! Let us know how it goes!!

Take some time today and click thorough to some of the links above. I would love to know what you think, what you would like to hear more about, and any article ideas you may have!!

 

Introducing Ultra Runner Supporter, Dreena Burton

I have been writing this post for three days.

Ok, obviously it would be more correct to say I have been TRYING to write this post for three days (which is painfully apparent by this amazingly weak intro)…

But I have just never done this before…

And I am not really sure how or where to start…

Look, I only started running about 2 years ago…I am not the best, I am not the fastest, I am not the tightest…

And that is okay. I am proud, strong, and completely in love with my fellow runners.

I am passionate. I am dedicated. I am happy. And I want you to be happy.

Sometimes, that is better than first.

And every once in a while you get those folks that believe in you. Those folks that come alongside you, see that they can help, and offer to walk – or run! – this way with you a while.

THE Dreena Burton has done that for me. Author of four vegan cookbooks, I first became acquainted with Dreena after my Vegucated collision. After a whirlwind Twitter romance, I was thrilled to learn she was more than a chick with a spatula. She cared about the food, she cared about the bodies, she really, really cared about the kids.

PP15coverDreena makes being vegan fun. She helps me introduce it in fun, unassuming ways to my family. She encourages me to try new things. She never judges, often suggests, and always, always comes from contribution.

Now, in addition to being my champion in the kitchen, Dreena is my cheerleader on the trails! If you have ever entered into any kind of organized run, you know they cost a bit of money. If you enter into a lot of them, you know they add up. If you enter into a lot of them and the nature of them are such that advanced nutrition, hydration, supplementation, and gear become factors – you know it gets downright expensive!

Dreena believes in plant powered athletes and she believes in me…again, not because I am the fastest or the first, but because we are all in this together to

make choices that encourage our bodies, minds, and spirits to say “Thank You!” ~TTSW

In celebration of this new relationship, Dreena has offered a free copy of her brand new Plant Powered 15 eCookbook!

The Plant-Powered 15 is a collection of fifteen whole foods vegan recipes, all oil-free and flavor-full. Recipes include: “Mac-nificent”, “Sticky Almond Blondies”, “Umami Sun-dried Tomato and Almond Burgers”, “Creamy House Dressing”, “Wonder Spread”, “Black Bean Soup with Sweet Potatoes”, “Almond Zen Granola”… and more!

Vegan, veggie, paleo, oreo…whatever you eating pleasures are, this eCookbook compliments them all.

Seriously…Umami Sun-dried Tomato and Almond Burgers… Yeah – you know you want it…

***a Rafflecopter giveaway 

I Like Being Vegan – and I Already Have a Full Time Job

As you saw from my last post, I am doing a 21 Day Sugar Detox with The Paleo Mama (who is a rockstar, BTW – go check her out). Quick recap for my non clickers – it isn’t about weight, it is about blood pressure.

I won’t say I made a mistake in taking on this challenge. I am always up for a great experiment. I can also see where someone who is eating a traditional McDonald’s, up and down the grocery store aisles diet could seriously benefit from a total reboot.

…aaannnndddd with that last sentence, I am going to remind any new comers, folks that don’t know me well, nose lifters, drama makers, and trolls to read this first…before you start calling names and insist that I am a judgemental twit that really doesn’t know anything. You find that I have already conceded to one and will make you feel silly about the other.

But I don’t eat that way anymore. Don’t misunderstand, I did for a long time. But I don’t now. And this isn’t horn tooting, it is just the way it is. Over the past year I have gotten what I put into my body at about 99% plant-based, mostly unprocessed, 40% raw.

**I just deleted a whole bunch of stuff about my diet, which, in hindsight, I probably should have cut and pasted to save for another post. But I pulled it from here because that is not the point…I will get to the point…….NOW!

In my last post, I told you about Sugar the Bitter Truth at 90 minutes and its 12 minutes counterpart. I apologize to all of you. Screw the 12 minutes, do not be lazy like I was. Watch the 90 minutes. Yeah, it gets painful in some spots. Do it anyway.

Just like we learned when we flunked The Tale of Two Cities in freshman Lit class because we discovered the Cliff’s Notes, there are some important tidbits in the full length feature.

After consuming the whole thing, I am convinced that what most of us already know is true; diets high in processed, chemical, added, refined sugars are seriously bad for us. However, there is more that I learned (or was reminded of).

  • all calories are not the same – where you get them from matters
  • fruit, in moderation, is good – I think his phrasing went something like “God created the poison and the antidote (referring to fiber) in the same package.”
  • Fruit juice, even the whole juice kind, is not great. The removal of the fiber takes out a crucial component for the body’s use of these sugars.
  • Not all sugars are the same. Interestingly enough, while this was the whole premise of the talk, even the presenter occasionally seemed to lump.

During the first week of my 21 Day Detox I learned a really cool thing – I don’t eat a lot of sugar. I didn’t have symptoms of detox. I didn’t crave any of the foods I typically eat and couldn’t have (except the wine maybe). My diet didn’t change all that much with the exception of my grains and my fruit (neither of which I eat a ton of).

The not cool thing is that this means it is probably not what makes my blood pressure high.

But I did go back and do some more research…and here is what I found (mostly)~

Side A says that their way is the best because they have lost tons of weight, gone off of all their meds, feel fabulous and the research says that they are the smartest people on the planet.

Side B, C, D, and E all say the exact same thing.

Here is my two cents (and it is honestly worth less that that because seriously, what do I know?)

  • I am a vegan. I like being a vegan. It makes my body and spirit say thank you.
  • I eat (what I consider to be) a wonderfully varied diet that is mostly whole, natural, and responsible.
  • I have a full time job and it is not as a biochemist, nutritionist, government lobbyist, farmer, rancher, guru. I just help people find a new home.
  • I could research this thing until I am blue in the face. At the end of the day, it will come down to me deciding which person, whom I don’t know, whose agenda I have no way of properly ascertaining without a ton of research, I will believe on any given day. Because I can, on the next day, go find a whole other research paper that completely contradicts and calls conspiracy on the other guy. Ain’t nobody got time for that.

what vegans eat chartThe Paleo Mama is amazing and what she has is working for her. Better than that, she started so much sooner than I did and her kids now have a way better shot (those kids eat great!) Paleo didn’t work for me (I know, I have tried it), but that doesn’t make it wrong. It doesn’t make me wrong either.

I am going to leave you with this little comment that I made on Facebook after I shared this awesome graphic (there was more to the conversation, but I have decided that can wait until I can discuss Marc’s point – not seen here – more fully).

LOLS! I do!! There are also the pastacarbosugartarians…And the allIeatisfleshandfataleos…And the drivethroughwindowvores … long and short – Eat what you eat … be excited if your body and your spirit thank you for it, change it if it doesn’t, and quityerbitchin’ otherwise.

Paleo and Vegan Brave a 21 Day Sugar Detox

About 6 months ago I had resigned myself to the idea that my high blood pressure was genetic. I mean seriously, I quit smoking, went plant heavy (and later dietary vegan), lost +30 pounds, -20% body fat, and I can run an ultra marathon. But come off of my high blood pressure meds and I am right back to +150/+100.

So, I figured it must just be my Pop’s fault (genetics you know).

Until Paul from Lowcountry Coaching  says, “Hey, did you see that video?”

sugar Nope, I had not seen the video, Sugar: The Bitter Truth. But I had briefly seen something about the adverse effects of sugar on some NetFlix TED video type thing. (it’s actually Jamie Oliver’s TED Talk – watch this!)

But they must mean processed, artificial, unnatural sweeteners, right? Hell, I had cut those out some time ago. Processed and unnatural was the first thing I did with my diet over a year ago. Besides, my issue is high blood pressure, not body fat or diabetes.

“Well, you should check out the video.” Did you know that damn video is NINETY minutes long? Ain’t nobody got time for that!

But, I settled into watch it. And got distracted by the “suggested video” which claimed to be the condensed version. Twelve minutes. I am in.

 

The short of it…because of the chemical stuff that sugar – real or otherwise – does in your body, the component that keeps blood vessels dilated can be depleted. This causes restriction. That, my friends, can lead to high blood pressure.

Seriously?

So maybe this isn’t it, but I have to at least test the theory, right? I will think about that tomorrow.

Tomorrow happens and The Paleo Mama posts on Facebook about a 21 Day Sugar Detox she is fixing to start…and I just can’t ignore the signs…everything that I need to get excited about an idea is there

  • A serious challenge
  • Possibility of self improvement
  • A neat friend to do it with
  • An interesting angle (a Paleo and a Vegan doing the SAME eating plan??)

So, I am in. 21 Day Sugar Detox starts Monday. Right now I kinda love Paul, The Paleo Mama, and Diane Sanfilippo (author of The 21 Day Sugar Detox).

Of course it ain’t Monday yet…

 

**Sugar photo Credit

So maybe I am a Little Stuck Up (and a Pasta Vegan Tapenade Thingy for Kicks)

If you have not read this, (I will tell you about my diet and fitness choices…but we have to talk about this first) please do that first. Seriously. Thanks 🙂

Yeah, that will be at the beginning of all these posts. I am kinda serious about it. I realize I can be kinda snarky, this topic is kinda sensitive, and we all beat ourselves up enough. It is important to me that you know that is NOT happening here.

If you missed my First Steps
…or Some Excuses

And it you need an explanation on the today’s title, you can find that here.

And in all honesty, I don’t think I am stuck up at all…in fact, I think I am the epitome of what a pain in the ass does NOT look like. And I am humble too! 😉

In all seriousness (okay, mostly seriousness), I know I have addressed this shift already. Recently, in fact. However, in my journey to continue to actually EAT on a regular basis, I have found (although a bit unexpected) a giddy excitement over my new culinary endeavors. So I am posting about them. A lot. And (very unexpectedly) I am getting asked about them. A lot.

So, I am going to start sharing them here. And I want you to know. I am a militant about it.

  • I have turned down Egg Nog
  • I did not partake in the traditional Krystals carnage
  • I am not excited about enchiladas
  • I know it is just a little milk
  • I know it is bacon

But I honestly am not interested. Seriously. I have discovered rather quickly that if this is a path I continue to choose (such an important point) that I do not have to make exceptions if I don’t want to. And, I don’t want to. At least not right now.

UntitledSo know that yes, I decline it all. Please do not be offended. I seriously don’t mean it to be. I am not judging (and I don’t find that phrase to be inappropriate in this context). In fact

  • I can still eat out with you
  • I will still do the grocery shopping
  • I can fend for myself
  • I will still cook your favorite omni dishes
  • I will share a table with you while you eat them
Excerpt from "Crazy, Sexy, Diet" by Kris Carr

Excerpt from “Crazy, Sexy, Diet” by Kris Carr

However, I also think Kris Carr is on to something. And I am identifying more and more with thoughts like this everyday:

“Ethical veganism results in a profound revolution within the individual; a complete rejection of the paradigm of oppression and violence that she has been taught from childhood to accept as the natural order. It changes her life and the lives of those with whom she shares this vision of nonviolence. Ethical veganism is anything but passive; on the contrary, it is the active refusal to cooperate with injustice.” – Gary L. Francione (via Kiss Me, I’m Vegan)

And I still can’t run…so I have to find something to write about 🙂

So you will see, at least for now, some vegan food posts. Most are inspired from others (to which I will give credit). Others are just “hey, what’s in the pantry?” type dishes. Some will NOT be healthy. They will be shameless ploys to get my children to not turn up their noses every time the word “vegan” is whispered.

*Note – in the same way that organic, all natural, low fat, fat free, low calorie, etc. does not always equal “healthy” – neither does “vegan.” You can eat nothing but Mint Oreos your entire life – they are green, they are vegan, and you will die (sorry Gary) 🙂 

In the interest of time, I will leave you with one of the simplest (and to date my favorite) meal. This was born out of a “hey-I-am-hungry-right-now” pantry raid. It was amazing (and has no name).

Pasta Veggie TapenadeThat Pasta Mixed Veggie Thing

Ingredients

1 cup dried pasta
1 cup frozen mixed veggies
2tbs Olive Tapenade
2tbs Annie’s Roasted Red Pepper Dressing some kind of vegan dressing (see notes)
1tbs capers

Directions

  1. Boil pasta per directions. Thrown in the mixed veggies with about 6 or 7 minutes left on the cook time. Strain water.
  2. Combine all ingredients.
  3. Eat and be happy.

Notes

  • Season water for pasta to taste. I used a  Peach Gnocchetti Sardi with salt, pepper, garlic, and cumin
  • Use whatever veggies you like. I used green bean/peas/corn/carrot mix. Different varieties would work. Fresh or canned would work. You will find that while I appreciate and attempt to use fresh, local, organic, I am also a firm believer that frozen, canned, shipped is better than a Big Mac. But that’s just me.
  • There are different versions of tapenade. My pre-vegan favorite had anchovies in it. I used a Vegan variety and it is still so good.
  • Use whatever dressing you like. Annie’s Roasted Red Pepper happens to be my favorite right now (which in writing this post and linking to the site, I realized is NOT vegan…DAMN…as it contains honey which I obviously missed when I first read the ingredients ..work in progress baby) 
  • Don’t like capers? Ok, so that’s weird, but feel free to leave them out.

 

Meatless Monday…and Every Vegan Day After That

If you travel around the interwebs at all, you may have some across the regular posts from various bloggers participating in something called “Meatless Monday.” I am not sure of the origins and I am going to declare that it be not important for today’s discussion (read: I don’t feel like researching it, but would love to know, so if you know, do tell!)

The Meatless Monday website is pretty cool. It has a lot of neat resources. One of my favorite is the Kids Cook Monday (but that is a topic all by itself). You can also find some other neat bloggers that participate. A few to get you started

In our home, a meatless day is not odd. As Catholics, “Fish Stick Fridays” have been pretty common during Lent. *As an aside, it looks like there is a push to bring that observance back to encompass the entire year – also a topic for another day.

In my personal life, plant heavy has not been odd over the past year due to recent health changes. As you may be aware, plant heavy went to vegan (at least as far as eats) a week ago, almost to the hour, today.

The idea, as you can imagine, prompted a bit of interest and concern, particularly over the time of the year. And my “simply don’t want it” response was true. It was also only early day 3.

However, in all honesty, it is still true.

Don’t get me wrong, there have been some challenges. However desire has not been one of them. Images keep coming to my mind of those factory animals…instead of appetite, it now produces nausea. But I want to focus on the forward movement today as it has been an interesting (and exciting!) week.

Coming Out – Discussions with family and friends have been the most interesting part of this week. Because I live in such a meat and potatoes family, I kinda had to determine pretty quick how to not be a pain in the ass about the whole thing. Do I think this is important and right? Yes. Do I think my family as a whole would benefit from this shift? Yes. Do I think that making my kids watch baby chickens get chopped up alive and refusing to cook my husband’s favorite meals achieves that goal? Yeah, no.

So I made a conscience effort to watch my obnoxious level. What I found were people are generally curious and supportive – right up to the point where realize your meatless extends past Monday and includes all forms of animal products. Then you get “the look.”

In the end, in depth conversations that included me strenuously defending veganism were born not out of my desire to convert, but others desire to convince me that my choice for myself was irrational. However, a concentration on self choice and non judgement usually resulted in great and supportive conversation.

Eating In – This was not so hard. The most interesting thing was timing. Prep is a bit more time consuming. And I have also noticed that I once I realize I am hungry, the urgency to eat grows more quickly than pre-vegan. I have had to learn to

  • always have quick, small snacks on hand (nuts, fruits, pre-prepped veggies)
  • drink lots of water – great hydration works out quite a few ills
  • moderate portions so I am not over cooking

Eating Out – This was WAY easier than expected. Of course, I expected it to be difficult. The truth is, I do not live in the vegan capital of the world…or North America…or the US…or even one of it’s subsidiaries. Add to that, the husband is not a real fan of new places. He is steadfast and true, even in his restaurant choices. I am also full aware that most servers in most eateries here are not going to know what menu items are vegan friendly and which aren’t (in fact I encountered one who didn’t know what vegan was). Go back to the idea that I seriously do not want to be a pain in ass or obnoxious and this eating out business can appear daunting.

However, one small idea changed a good bit of that – calling ahead. Two items of note:

Fiddler’s Seafood– Here the nice girl that answered the phone had no idea what I was talking about. No worries. She was super nice and was concerned enough to go find someone who did.This menu has very few options for the vegan. But the person I talked to was very helpful in suggesting options and variations. In fact, she even noticed my order in the kitchen (I am certain non meat orders in that place are fairly rare and readily noticeable). She saw that cheese had still been put on it, asked the server to verify and all was wonderful!

Per Menu…Looks fabulous, yes? Mine was BETTER!

Mellow Mushroom– It was my understanding that the crust at Mellow was vegan friendly. To be sure, I called ahead. The young lady on the phone said no, it was not. I asked again to make sure she understood what was I asking as the tone of her voice suggested she did not. She put me on hold, came back and verified – not vegan.

No worries, I knew Mellow had a great variety and I could figure it out when I got there – just no pizza. I ordered the Stuffed Portabella Mushroom, substituted (at NO additional charge) the two cheeses for a vegan cheese (SCORE) and sprouts. I am fairly convinced that what they brought me is better than their proposed menu item. It was so good that the Hubs thought it divine as well.

I commented my thoughts to the waitress, Sandy (who was such a delight that I can’t even begin to tel you how thrilled we were to have her). She agreed. We discussed my conversation earlier  and she seemed to think that young lady who answered the phone was wrong. Quick trip back to the kitchen confirmed – sans parmesan cheese and butter baste, crust is VEGAN (score again!)

Staying Strong – I have noticed no decrease in energy. In fact, I would suggest the opposite. I have had some pretty high activity days, both mental and physically, this week. I feel strong, focused, capable, and energized. And I am also down 5 pounds…in a week…without starving…without artificial stimulants.

My mission this week is to find a new Vegan main dish that the children will eat and enjoy. Keep your fingers crossed for me and if you have something that has worked for your family, please let me know! I have started a Vegan pinboard. Your ideas and other pinners of interest are welcome as well!

Vegucated – The Dangers of Watching Netflix Documentaries

It was a Sunday morning like many other mornings. Because I am a pitiful night person, I was up before the sun. Coffee was going, house quiet. It was one of those rare times when I could watch whatever I wanted on TV. Sounds good, yeah?

Being it was four in the morning, Netflix was the best option. Scrolled through some options. I love little documentaries. What I found was Vegucated. The little scroll over pop up thing said

This documentary follows three meat- and cheese-loving New Yorkers who agree to adopt a vegan diet for six weeks in an effort to get healthier.

That sounds fun, right? I thought so too! So, I pop it to the top of the “Watch Instantly” queue, fire up the PS3, and settle in.

What I didn’t know is that if you click through to more detailed information page, it says

In this documentary, three meat- and cheese-loving New Yorkers agree to adopt a vegan diet for six weeks. Lured with true tales of weight lost and health regained, they begin to uncover the hidden sides of animal agriculture. ~ emphasis mine

Not that I wouldn’t have watched it. I just would have been prepared.

I wasn’t.

Now don’t misunderstand. Plant based is not new to me. I gave it a great go at the beginning of the year when I completed my first Daniel Fast. It was the most amazing I have ever felt! Since then I have made a conscience effort to pay more attention to the food I put in my mouth. My diet (a word I have no problem using properly), is plant heavy. For health reasons. Because I can run faster, longer. Because I can lift more. Because my jeans fit better.

On Saturday, if you had asked me I would have explained that my diet is plant heavy but not restrictive. I am not stuck up about it. I allow for moderation and cheats. Why? Because for my health, that works.

That was Saturday.

This was Sunday.

Marisa Miller Wolfson, the Writer/Director/Editor of Vegucated, has created a snazzy little intro. It’s lighthearted and she is funny. I love funny. She has selected three folks who are also lighthearted, funny, and come across as genuinely nice people. I like that too.

They are interested in exploring this “vegan” thing and Marisa is happy to oblige. She is sensitive and non judgmental (score!) while moving the participants through this new process.

I am digging it.

Then she takes them, me, to see what I now affectionately refer to as, “The Film.” This is the aforementioned “uncover the hidden sides of animal agriculture” portion that I mentioned earlier.

Maybe I was still reeling from a devastating Dawg loss. Maybe my coffee was funky. Maybe the first Sunday of Advent had me feeling overly sentimental. Maybe the planets were aligned in such a way that throws off my equilibrium. I don’t know.

I was heart broken.

I won’t go into all the details here. It has only been 24 hours and I have not had time to vet out how much of it is unbiased and how much of it is hyperbole to illicit the intended response. Intellectually, that is important to me. However, personally, if a quarter of it is true, and I believe that it is as at least that, it is enough for me.

I say all that to say a few things. First, and most importantly to me, I am still not stuck up about it. While I love to share with you my journey, my discoveries, my epiphanies, I do not for one second think that my way is the only way. Hell, sometimes it isn’t even MY only way. I live with a husband and four children. I do not hold out any hope that they will, in the near future, choose this for themselves. I will still cook for them. The Blackburns are one of the coolest families I know. They are doing wonderful things. But for me, this is where I am.

When you start seeing more posts on the subject, I just wanted you to know why. Yesterday was kind of a game changer for me. If the blog is going to have continuity and not confuse, big moments are important to document. But know, there is no judgement.

And if you are a vegan, this is a solicitation for resources. I have started with Dreena Burton, Kris Carr, The Lean Green Bean, and Vega products. I am looking to make this exciting and appealing to at least those within my four walls. And maybe even exciting to others.

If you are local to the Savannah area, your input is amazingly helpful! Vegucated was shot in New York. The very true statement was made that veganism was made supremely easy there. Here it is doable, it is just going to take a bit more effort.

So, day 2. Here we go…