Sunday, July 21, 2013

The last post I made was March 2012?!  Eeek!
I wish I had more time to keep this blog up!
But, I shall keep it active in case it can be a resource or inspiration to anyone!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

A friend asked me what some of my favorite products are.
Most of the time I try very hard to actually cook meals using recipes I find online
Fat Free Vegan Kitchen
Savvy Vegetarian (I just veganize anything with cheese, milk, etc)
Green Food, Green Thumb High Heels blog
Veg Web
Engine 2

....or in the books
Appetite for Reduction
Vegetarian Suppers (I simply omit any non-vegan ingredients)
The Essential Vegetarian Cookbook (once again, I just veganize if needed)
The Kind Diet
Crazy Sexy Diet

Sometimes, I need some "quickies" though....

Here are some things that help me with a quick meal (and just some of my favorite products right now)

Vega (now it is called "Vega One") - I use this in my morning smoothie for a quick breakfast each day. It really keeps me full until lunch. I add some almond milk, kale, a banana, some strawberries and grated ginger)

This is ALWAYS in my fridge...for my smoothies and salads and sometimes even in my lunchtime  hummus sandwiches if I am out of spinach
We love quinoa - its such an amazing superfood! It can go in salads, just mixed with veggies as a stirfry, soups, or any place you'd use rice. You can also make yummy quinoa cakes, quinoa stuffing, quinoa corn chowder, etc....there are so many recipes out there for this protein packed beauty!

good for an easy burrito or chili base

This one and the "savory" flavor or great for stirfries or on a sandwich or to add protein to a salad

Love Any's soups for a quick meal on a chilly night.

Or Trader Joes
Or this one. I love this brand, just check to make sure the soups are vegan - I was addicted for a bit to this one...add some quinoa and its a yummy quick dinner

I like to make my own stir fry sauces when I can, but time does not always allow me so I like to keep some like this on hand for quick flavor

I can't say enough about these! Use any place where you used to use chicken breasts. In the whole foods prepared section they usually have bigger, already marinated ones too which I treat myself to on occasion. Great for "chick'n" sandwiches, to throw in soups, or even by itself on those days you really need a quick meal. I don't use these too often because I try hard not to rely on stuff like this, but some days you just NEED something quick

For a yummy quick pizza... Although it is more fun to make pizzas out on the grill using pita, Daiya cheese, sauce, and lots of grilled veggies!
These pics refused to flip - sorry! Quick and easy noodle to add to stirfries, etc

Great to add to pasta dishes or for making a meatball sandwich with sauce and daiya cheese. My husband loves these.

One of my favorite veggie burgers...
The other favorite...

That's it for today....I am sure I will come across more stuff in the next week that I forgot to put on here. Hope this helps, Christine (and others!)

Monday, January 2, 2012

Happy Anniversary!

One year ago I said goodbye to dairy completely and became vegan. I had my last pieces of cheese on New Years Eve at a party and then I never looked back after Jan 1, 2011. I am so amazingly proud of myself and my husband for our dedication to having compassionate and cruelty-free diets this past year!

After becoming vegetarian in Spring 2010, it was just a matter of time before we gave up all animal products completely. After learning about how dairy products are made, I knew I could not support such a cruel industry anymore. No piece of cheese was worth it.
As I reflect over the past year, I went back to my old posts and found some questions I had when we first became vegetarian. I laugh to myself now at how scary it was at first to give up meat and dairy. Now that I see just how EASY it was, I can't believe I ever worried or questioned it!

Some questions that I had back in the Spring 2010:

~Is it harder to cook non-meat recipes? 

I laugh at this one. It is no harder to cook veg meals than it was to cook meat-based meals. The only thing that took time for me was learning new recipes. One great thing that happened is that I learned how to cook MORE dinners than ever before. There are so many recipes online and I now own cookbooks. Also, my spice rack has never been fuller! (Actually it has overflowed - I need a new one!) I have learned how to use spices and cook more of a variety of foods. Our 'go-to dinner' for us used to be grilled chicken, salad and a vegetable because it was easy. Man, how times have changed!

~Will I also end up cutting out cheese and eggs and milk? I don't think I could do that right away, but maybe gradually once I get used to the no meat thing? What would I drink with my cereal? I've read articles about how Soy milk is bad for you too.

Yes, I would end up cutting out cheese, milk, and eggs. Especially after learning that by supporting the dairy industry, I was supporting the VEAL INDUSTRY! Noooo!!!!! And especially after allowing myself to watch videos like this:

I now drink Almond Milk and LOVE it.

I THOUGHT giving up cheese would be hard but it was super-easy for me! I don't miss it, especially when I think of the suffering that goes into it. That's what makes this all so easy for me. Even pizza - if I want pizza, I just make sure I buy soy cheese for it. Luckily there are pizza take outs in our area that offer soy cheese. Any time we go out for Italian food, I just order my dishes without cheese. Easy-peasy.

Eggs were super easy to give up once I saw how the poor chickens are treated. The only space they have to turn around is the size of a sheet of paper. And they can't even spread their wings. :( Oh, and don't get me started on what happens to the poor little male chicks who can't produce eggs - most are ground up alive since they are no use to the industry. I can never touch an egg again knowing that.

~How will we eat out?
This part was most challenging at first, but now it's a breeze. We have been able to still eat at all of our favorite restaurants, just differently. We've also discovered tons of NEW places to go that we might not have tried before. The most important lesson I have learned with eating out is - Do not be afraid to ASK QUESTIONS. We have found that at most places, the wait staff is more than happy to help you make changes to dishes to eliminate animal products. I always let the wait staff know when I am ordering that I do not eat meat or dairy. I also make sure to tell them to not use any butter (for some reason that doesn't click with some wait staff as 'dairy' - I learned the hard way at a Thai restaurant - one bite of the brown rice and I knew it had butter.) So, all you need to do is make sure to ask, ask, ask. If there is nothing on the menu, lots of times the chef can prepare something special for you, so never be afraid to ask.

~How do I deal with my parents or Craig's? They ALWAYS have meat at dinners (Xmas, etc)

This was hard on my side of the family at first. My mom said I was "nuts" and she said things such as "You need meat," "You need milk," "What the hell are you going to eat?"
I always kept my cool through any comment and used it as an opportunity to educate. After a few months, I think she started to see the connection between my love of animals and my reasons for not wanting to use them as food. Her comments switched to things like "I feel sorry for you that you can't eat all this" when I was at her house, but again...I kept my cool and calmly educated her. Now, she has moved to acceptance - to the point where she will try veggie burgers and gardein products. She still prepares and eats meat when I am there, but is respectful of my choices. 
Craig's parents have been supportive - even to the point of using vegan butter and soy milk for the Thanksgiving side dishes this year.
I have to admit, when I am at a non-veg dinner, I do feel uncomfortable seeing meat on the table, but I always remember that I was the one eating meat not so long ago too. I lead by example and educate and hope the seeds of compassion I plant start to grow for people to make changes on their own.

 ~How do I deal with living with someone who may still want to eat meat? Do I buy it FOR him but just not eat it myself?
Luckily, I never had to worry about this. I feel so thankful that Craig has always been 100% on board with having a compassionate diet. When we first started this journey, I told Craig that if he decided he did not want to join me, I would simply cook him meat-based meals and cook myself veg meals. At this point, I doubt that I would be able to do that. I am lucky that I will never have to answer this question with Craig, since he is as committed as I am!

~Will this be too hard?

I laugh at this one, too. 
No way! It was easy and fun! 
I am still learning new things every day and enjoying my journey with each new step!

Not only did I become vegan this past year, but I also became more involved in animal rights issues, which has been very rewarding. It still depresses me to dive into learning about just how bad it is for animals, but in order to educate others sadly I need to KNOW what really goes on. I am still working on how to deal with feeling sad about it all (especially animal testing -that hit me hard this year because I learned more about it.)

What did I do this year?
I attended the Animal Rights Conference in July
I volunteered for Compassion Over Killing
I passed out leaflets to people educating them about factory farming / veganism
I volunteered at Animal Acres (a farm animal rescue sanctuary)
I volunteered with the beagles rescued from animal testing
I volunteered at the greyhound rescue
I educated others about veganism
I educated others about animal testing
I educated others about fur
I called legislators to encourage them to pass legislation to help animals
I attended a foie gras protest
I wrote letters and made calls to local restaurants that serve foie gras
I attended a circus protest
I continue to teach my students about the importance of a healthy diet. I also allow them to see the connection between animals and what they are eating.
I donated to  Beagle Freedom Project,  Animal Acres/ Farm Sanctuary, Alabama wildlife Center, National Anti-Vivisection Society, Compassion Over Killing, and Mercy for Animals.
I allowed myself to learn as much as I could about the issues - even if it meant reading/watching painful things.

What's next?
In 2012, I want to volunteer even more.
I want to educate even more.
I want to plant seeds of compassion even more.
I want to learn even more - the new thing I have been learning about is the devastating effects of palm oil. It really opened my eyes to the fact that not all vegan food is animal friendly. I am sure I will blog more about it in the future, but here's more info for now:
Say No to Palm Oil
I want to do more yoga to relieve stress
I want to learn more about nutrition. Right now I am reading Kris Carr's Crazy, Sexy Diet and loving it!

So, here's to a compassionate and cruelty-free 2012!
I can't stress enough how proud I am of myself and my husband for changing our lifestyle and making choices to help reduce the amount of animals suffering. My wish is that everyone will do the same. Someday...

Saturday, November 12, 2011

I bought 2 cute sweaters at the Gap yesterday that were 50% wool. I thought to myself, "How bad can cutting wool off sheep be?" Well, after reading about it this morning, I'll be returning those super cute sweaters. (The part about mulesing was enough for me to say no to wool.) Luckily there are PLENTY of alternatives to keep me warm.  
During my vegan journey, I have learned to QUESTION EVERYTHING. Sometimes that old pattern of "Oh, how bad can it REALLY be?" creeps into my head, like last night while buying those sweaters. It is only when I ALLOW myself to find out just how bad it is, that I uncover the truth.
I post alot of articles on my facebook page and I often wonder if they start to annoy my non-vegan friends. I am sure that some people have hit "hide" for me, but I still feel the need to teach people who are willing to listen. I learn new things each day and I just want everyone to know what I never knew about how animals are treated in industry. I've eaten meat and cheese, drank milk, worn leather, worn wool, bought down comforters, etc my whole life only because I didn't know this stuff....I always say that I WISH I read about all of this 20 years ago. 
For me, no piece of clothing or food is worth having if an animal suffered.
More information about sheep mulesing can be found here
PINK made a video to educate further. This one REALLY made me say no to wool products.
My new motto is QUESTION EVERYTHING. Who could have suffered for the products I want to buy? Who could have been tested on? Who could have been sad, scared, hurt, and lonely? Like I said before, NOTHING is worth buying if it causes any creature to suffer in any way.

Friday, August 12, 2011

What a great PSA from a wonderful friend of animals!
I hope this makes some people look into the brands they purchase and change to those who are cruelty-free.
I just realized that I have not written here in a long time. Time for me to get bloggin' again!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Not sure how I kept my cool...

My school district had off on Friday, April 1 for César Chávez Day, so a group of us from school decided to go up to Glen Ivy Day Spa and Hot Springs to celebrate our friend's birthday. We had an awesome day of girly bonding and relaxation - we did a red clay mud bath, had moisturizing treatments, went swimming, did pilates, and relaxed in our own super-cool private cabana.
Lunchtime there looked like it was going to be a breeze for me. They had plenty of salads that I could they had a boca burger.
Easy peasy....
or so I thought.

On the menu, the boca burger was listed as having lettuce, tomato and cheese on it with a fruit salad on the side. I figured I would just order it without the cheese and I would be golden. So I did that.

First problem was that everyone else's lunches came out except mine. "The boca burger just takes a little longer...sorry." "Longer than making a pizza?" I asked as I looked at my friend's lunch next to me. Whatever - I am patient.

Finally, as my group was halfway done with their meal (no joke) my boca burger arrives. 
WITH cheese AND without fruit. Instead, it had a pasta salad with grated cheese on top.

I politely said, "I asked for this without cheese. Plus, don't you think that if I asked for it without cheese that I MIGHT NOT want a pasta salad with grated cheese on top?" (Mind you, on the menu it said it had fruit as a side.)

So, I wait again.

Here comes my boca burger, this time with fruit on the side (as it was listed on the menu) but it STILL HAD CHEESE ON IT!!!!

"This still has cheese on it. I am sorry, but I asked this with no cheese. Please take it back and bring it without cheese"

Normally, I don't make THAT big of a deal. But if I SPECIFICALLY ask for something done a certain way, I EXPECT it to be done right.

Now, by the time he FINALLY brings it back without cheese, it does not have any lettuce or tomato on it (like it was supposed to) but this time I just have to take what I can get. The rest of the girls were pretty much done with their meals already, plus I was hungry! So, I began to eat my boca burger...and fast!

After a few bites, I realized something just wasn't quite right. I've eaten lots of boca burgers and this just didn't taste like it.
I lifted the top of the bun and to my disgust, it was not a boca burger, but a TURKEY BURGER! (they had both on the menu)

All I wanted to do was YELL at someone, was my friend's birthday. I needed to remember that this was a celebration for HER. But, inside I was absolutely disgusted. I felt HORRIBLE. So horrible that I excused myself from the table to go to the bathroom to let out a few tears. Years ago, this would not have been a big deal. Hell, I was ordering turkey burgers left and right, since I never really liked regular burgers as much.

But this time it was different.

I KNEW what my meal was.

I KNEW the pain that the turkey endured to make that burger.

I knew the suffering that he went though during his time on earth - his beak was burned off on the end without anesthesia, the ends of his toes were clipped off, and his snood was cut off (the part of skin that hangs under his chin.) He was bred, drugged, and genetically manipulated to grow as big as possible as quickly as possible. He might not have been even able to walk because his breast was grown too fast for his legs to hold him up. If he was able to walk, he only had about 3 square feet, if that, to walk around in a crowded, smelly room. He most likely couldn't even spread his wings out. He certainly didn't see the light of day or feel the grass or ground under his feet while in the factory.

When it was time for him to go to slaughter, he was roughly thrown into a crate which was stacked up on the back of an open truck. If it was very cold or very hot out, he had no protection from the weather, and he certainly was not given any food or water for the ride no matter how far away it was. If he even survived the ride, he was dumped onto a conveyor belt, then his feet were put in metal shackles and he was hung upside down. I can't even type the saddest part - what happened next to him - because I'll just start crying, but you can read the last 3 paragraphs of this article if you want to know.

So, after I composed myself in the bathroom, I walked back to our cabana. I happened to run into the waiter. I wanted to yell at the top of my lungs to him and call him every curse in the book, but I didn't. Instead I educated him on his error and explained to him why it was such a big deal not only to serve cheese who someone who SPECIFICALLY asked for none, but to also confuse a boca and turkey burger. He seemed genuinely apologetic, which was enough for me. He didn't know. Just like there was a time when I didn't know.

But, still....yes he should have gotten me the correct meal that I ASKED for, but....I needed to get back to my friend's birthday celebration. I couldn't let on how much this really affected me. So, I put on my happy face and tried to enjoy the rest of my day there.

The truth was, I felt like shit for the next few hours.
I had to leave the group twice to go to the bathroom. I'm sure you can figure out why. My body just isn't used to even a few bites of animal anymore. Neither is my soul. That part was even worse.

But.... the story does have a nice ending.
The next day I knew I needed to go volunteer at Animal Acres. It is the least I can do for all the suffering I unknowingly caused animals in the past.

Luckily when I arrived, the first creature to greet me at the main door was a turkey. And he looked at me with the most sincere eyes, as if to say, "It wasn't your fault. We still love you." That moment made me suddenly feel better and made me realize that mistakes will always be made along the way and it is my job to EDUCATE others, not to judge.
(But that kid STILL should have gotten my order right!!)

My greeter who still loves me!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

A Trip to the Doctor...

So, I went to the doctor for a physical today. He was asking me a bunch of questions, looking down at his chart and writing answers down when I told him that I changed to a vegan diet. Suddenly, he looked up from my chart and smiled. "That's awesome! Congratulations!" - he said that it was a great choice and he was happy for me for being able to do it. I began to ask him about my nutrients (especially iron) and he said that as long as I was eating my leafy greens and beans that I should be JUST FINE. He didn't even seem one bit concerned. He said that he would double check my B-12 and iron with my blood test, but that I should be a-ok. (I was low iron even before going veg, so I am curious to see if I still am)

Only problem - I am not a good needle patient. TWO nurses couldn't get a darn vein! One said I was one of her most difficult cases (and she does pediatrics!) So, I have to go back on my next day off to try, try again with the bloodwork. I'll keep you posted... if they ever catch a vein!