Some Not So Final Thoughts

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             Thank goodness this whole no meat and dairy bull shi* is finally done and over with! And damn you leap year for extending my torture for one more never-ending day……….. ha ha just kidding! If you haven’t already noticed, I’m kind of digging this vegan lifestyle and don’t think I’m ready to call it quits just quite yet. I’ve experienced so many benefits and have learned so much this past month that the thought of ending it all now seems kind of silly. So no, you probably won’t find me chowing down on a cheeseburger anytime soon, but I probably will venture off the vegan path every now and again. My new goal is to try and stay vegan at home and then be a little less strict when I’m out of the house. I have a few trips coming up, so I’ve decided to loosen the reigns a little while I’m gone and not be so restrictive on steering clear of all meat and dairy. If there happens to be some sushi, salmon, or cheesecake calling my name……. I’m probably going to eat it!

 

Here are some of the changes I’ve noticed since going vegan:

  • Increased energy: This has probably been the biggest benefit I’ve experienced so far. Now don’t get me wrong; I still love my sleep, but I’ve noticed I need a lot less of it lately. I’m no longer begging for an afternoon cat nap or an extra cup of coffee, nor am I fighting to stay awake at 8pm (well most nights at least), and I’m still able to wake up and feel refreshed before my alarm clock goes off  in the mornings. I feel like my days are not as “sluggish” as they were before, and I am able to get so much more accomplished.
  • Quicker muscle recovery: I’ve noticed my recovery period after workouts and long runs has greatly sped up. My muscles have been a lot less sore, which has allowed me to tackle my next workout with a lot more enthusiasm and a lot less pain.
  • Better skin: My skin HATES winter. Normally, I need heaps and heaps of lotion and about 20 tubes of chap stick to combat dry skin, but I’ve noticed myself needing less and less this past month. I feel like my skin has gotten a lot softer and my complexion more clear.
  • And my favorite: just an overall sense of feeling HAPPIER and HEALTHIER!
  • On a less selfish note, this challenge has opened my eyes and made me more aware of issues other than my own. I am obviously not really able to see these changes with my own eyes, but I am glad to know that I have helped at least a little bit in the ethical and environmental aspects of veganism.
  • A few people have asked me if I have lost any weight, and to tell you the truth, I am not really sure. Weight loss was never my intention going into this challenge,  although following a vegan diet can result in weight loss for some. I am not sure what my pre and post vegan weights are, but I feel like I have neither gained nor lost this past month; I just mainly feel a whole lot stronger and healthier!
  • As far as expenses go, I really haven’t seen too much of a difference between my pre and post vegan grocery bill. I feel like going vegan can be expensive, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be. Some of the vegan-labled foods and organic products are often times more expensive than other items, but I feel like this evens out when meat and dairy are eliminated from the grocery cart. I have cooked almost all of my own meals, which has definitely decreased costs, and I have found buying in bulk and stocking up when things are on sale is key. If there’s a deal on fresh fruits or veggies, I will often buy a bunch and freeze whatever I don’t use before it goes bad. Then at a later time, I can throw these ingredients into smoothies, stir fries, soups, etc. I have discovered you can even freeze avocados-who knew? Just peal them- take out the pit- and throw them in a zip-lock baggie! They work really well in smoothies-

 

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  • I am no chef, but I have really been enjoying experimenting with new foods and recipes this past month. Cooking all of my own meals has made me appreciate my food so much more and has allowed me to know exactly what I am putting into my body.

 

Here are some of the things I have been cooking up this past week:

Breakfast time is my favorite- lots of smoothie bowls and steel-cut oatmeal.

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I took a stab at vegan baking and tried out these delicious mixed berry and banana chocolate chip mini muffins.

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My friend Alyson came over and we cooked up some Fluffy Chickpea Pancakes with Vegetables and Avocado Sauce…soo good!!!

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I had some deep thoughts about sushi the other day, so I thought I’d try to make some myself for a little snack….these guys definitely satisfied my craving!

(Lettuce, carrots, avocado, and ginger rolled in rice paper and this dipping sauce)

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My original intention was to write one last post about my thoughts on veganism, but since I am not ready to throw in the towel, I think I may try to check back in every once in awhile to give a quick update, and share any new thoughts/insights that I have and/or any new recipes that I’ve tried. I am hoping to check back in a few weeks to share how my trips went and let you know whether or not I was able to stick to a mainly vegan diet. Thanks for reading!


Did you know?

Here is a list of some vegans that may surprise you:

  • Bill Clinton
  • Al Gore
  • Mike Tyson
  • Russell Simmons
  • Pamela Anderson
  • Natalie Portman
  • Ellen Degeneres
  • Portia De Rossi
  • Ellen Page
  • Rooney Mara
  • Carrie Underwood
  • Jared Leto
  • Ariana Grande
  • Alicia Silverstone
  • Jenna Dewann-Tatum
  • Ellie Goulding
  • Michelle Pfeiffer
  • Kristen Bell
  • Dax Shepard
  • Tobey Maguire
  • Christy Brinkley
  • Lea Michele
  • Betty White
  • Woody Harrelson
  • Russell Brand
  • Prince
  • Madonna
  • Leonardo Da Vinci
  • Albert Einstein
  • Voltaire
  • Plato
  • Mohandas Gandhi

 

 

 

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Got Milk?

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Well, week four has come and gone (on to week five..eekk), and I can honestly say I didn’t think I would make it this far. But like I mentioned in previous posts, eliminating meat and dairy has been a lot easier than I originally thought. I can see how it could have been more challenging to go vegan about ten or so years ago; but now days, there are so many resources and options available, that making the transition is truly not as difficult as one would think. With that being said, I thought I would share some of my favorite vegan substitutions that have made this past month a heck of a lot easier and a whole lot yummier.

Milk: I think I mentioned in my first post that I have been drinking almond milk for about five years now mainly because I prefer the taste, and it doesn’t upset my stomach like regular cow’s milk does. I use almond milk in my smoothies, cereal, and as a substitute for pretty much any recipe that calls for milk or cream. There are also tons of other options available such as coconut, cashew, hazelnut, flax, hemp, oat, soy, and rice milk.

My go to:

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I am currently loving this flax milk:

As an added perk, it’s a good source of omega 3s, calcium, vitamin D, and vitamin B12, which are sometimes hard to find in a vegan diet.

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I have also realized it is super easy and cheap to make my own almond milk. Yes, a little messy, but well worth it!

All you have to do is soak one cup of raw almonds in water either overnight or for at least one to two hours. When they are ready to go, just drain the water and place them in a blender with four cups of water (you can also add coconut water, cinnamon, vanilla, agave syrup, etc. for different flavors). Blend on high for one minute, then drain mixture using a fine strainer or a “nut milk” bag and voila, homemade almond milk!

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Cheese: Most people I’ve talked to have said that they probably could go vegan except they just can’t imagine life without cheese. Now don’t get me wrong; I love cheese, but I have found some pretty awesome substitutes that have made eliminating this staple a whole lot easier.

First, cashews! It may sound strange, but these guys make for a pretty amazing cheese substitute.

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I LOVE Angela Liddon’s cashew “ Life Affirming Cheese Dip” from my first post.

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 This garlic alfredo sauce:

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And this cream of broccoli soup!

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Yep, all made with cashews!!

 

Next on my list is to try this cheese sauce recipe.

And of course, I had to try some of the vegan cheese options at the grocery store.

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Not going to lie, eating this cheese straight from the package isn’t the greatest, but melting it is a whole nother story!

Here are some vegan pizza recipe ideas.

Nutritional Yeast is an ingredient in some of the recipes above, but it can also be used as cheese flavoring all on its own. I was a little hesitant to try this one at first; the appearance sort of reminds me of fish food, but the taste is delicious ! I have been putting it on top of everything lately like cooked vegetables, pasta, popcorn, avocado toast, etc. And as an added bonus, it is a good source of B vitamins, folic acid, and protein.

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Here are some more cheese recipes on my list to make in the near future.

Yogurt: For me, this one was probably the hardest to give up. Before, I ate a lot of greek yogurt, but luckily, I found some great substitutes! My favorite is the SO Delicious brand of coconut and almond yogurt. I like the plain kind because it doesn’t have tons of added sugar like some of the other flavors and brands. However, It doesn’t have as much protein as greek yogurt, so sometimes I like to mix in a little protein powder, chia seeds, or almond butter.

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I haven’t tried it yet, but here is a homemade coconut yogurt recipe.

Butter: This one is easy! I like to use coconut oil, olive oil, and avocado in place of regular butter. I also really like Trader Joe’s coconut oil spray to coat pans before cooking.

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Ice cream: Oh yeah, this can be vegan too! If you haven’t tried homemade banana ice cream yet, you are seriously missing out! It is one of the most delicious treats and so easy to make. All you have to do is peal a few bananas~ cut them into chunks~ toss them in the freezer overnight~and then place them in a blender or food processor with some almond milk and anything you want to add in.  I would take this banana “ice cream” over the real deal any day of the week! I added some cacao nibs, almond butter, and cinnamon to mine- so yummy!

 

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There are also several non-dairy ice cream options available in stores. Ben and Jerry’s just came out with a new vegan line…..Chunky Monkey, Chocolate Fudge Brownie, Coffee Carmel Fudge, and P.B. & Cookies are all included….Oh yeah!

Whipped Cream: I made this coconut whipped cream recipe the other day….so good!

…..even for breakfast.

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Mayonnaise: First off, I am not a fan of mayonnaise, so I haven’t tried any of the vegan variations. Instead of mayo, I like to use pesto, hummus, or guacamole.

 

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My latest obsession is this green pea guacamole.

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Did you know?

Dairy is supposed to be so good for us and essential for health, right? Well here are some reasons why things like milk and cheese may not be as good for us as the dairy industry would like us to believe:

  • Humans are the only species that not only drink milk from other species, but continue to drink milk into adulthood.
  • About 75% of the world’s population is lactose intolerant. Our bodies weren’t designed to digest lactose past infancy.
  • 400 million “pus” cells are legally allowed in every liter of milk. (Ewwwww, if you’re familiar with mastitis, you will understand this one)
  • Most cheeses are made with rennet, which comes from calves’ stomach lining.
  • Due to growth hormone injections and artificial insemination, factory farm cows produce on average 100 gallons of milk per day, which is 10x the amount a cow would normally produce.
  • Naturally, a cows life span is between 20-25 years. Factory farm cows live between 4-5 years.
  • Each year, the USDA  spends around 550 million dollars in advertising to promote meat and dairy products. Smart move on their part-the more we are told these products are good for our health-the more money they make.

Dairy consumption has been linked to:

  • Increased risk of prostate, ovarian, and breast cancer
  • An increase in acne, eczema, and other skin issues
  • Problems with the digestive tract and thyroid due to its inflammatory properties
  • Problems with respiratory issues and allergies due to its mucus forming properties
  • No decreased risk of osteoporosis. In fact, some studies have shown an increased risk of bone fracture and osteoporosis with higher dairy consumption. Ironically, the countries with the highest rates of osteoporosis are also the greatest consumers of dairy products. This may be due to the fact that dairy is very acidic, so calcium can actually be taken from the bones and put into the blood stream to help neutralize the body’s pH. Also, studies have shown that our bodies aren’t the best at absorbing the calcium found in dairy products.

Here’s a little more on bone health for vegans.

 

Resources:

hthttp://www.care2.com/greenliving/11-reasons-to-stop-eating-dairy.

htmltp://www.express.co.uk/life-style/health/523130/Why-you-should-give-up-milk-and-dairy

http://www.onegreenplanet.org/animalsandnature/how-the-dairy-industry-has-unnaturally-altered-the-life-of-cows/

 

 

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Keep it Simple.

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There truly is beauty in simplicity. These past few weeks have proven this saying to be more real for me than ever before. At the beginning of this vegan challenge, “keeping it simple” was confined to the foods that I put into my body, but since then, this minimalist mantra has found its way into other aspects of my life. Less buying, less plans, less stress, less stuff and more time and energy for the things that matter most. Leo Babauta said it best, “Simplicity boils down to two steps: Identify the essential. Eliminate the rest.”

I have learned that what most of us put into our bodies, onto our bodies, and into the environment is anything but simple. From the somewhat obvious pesticides and preservatives to the not-so-obvious animal products lurking in our foods, cosmetics, and common household items.

Before going vegan, eggs, meat, and dairy were the obvious offenders to leave off the menu, but over these past few weeks, I have been shocked to learn about all of the hidden animal ingredients in literally almost everything! Here’s a little run-down of some surprising and not-so-simple ingredients found in many foods and products we eat and use on a daily basis.

Gelatin: A type of protein obtained by boiling animal skin, ligaments, tendons, and bones. It’s found in things like Jell-O, marshmallows, Frosted-Mini Wheats, most candies (Skittles, Star-bursts, M&M’s, Snickers, Gummy Bears, etc.), and most mints, gums, cosmetics, and medications.

L-Cysteine: An amino-acid derived from duck feathers and human hair. It is commonly used in breads, bagels and pastries to create a “softer” texture. I don’t know about you, but I would take some hard bread over duck feathers and human hair any day of the week.

Castoreum: Otherwise known as beaver anal glad secretions! This “yummy” ingredient is used as a “flavor enhancing” agent in many ice-creams, baked goods, and candies. It can also be disguised as “natural flavoring” in the list of ingredients. WTF?? The next time you think something tastes like a**hole, you might just be right!

Carmin (also listed as natural red #4, natural coloring, C.I. 75470, or E120): So why all the different names? Probably because nobody wants you to know this ingredient, which gives many foods and products their red coloring, is made from crushed beetles and other cochineal insects. It can be found in many yogurts, fruit drinks, candies, lipsticks….basically anything red.
Shellac: Yes, it sure makes for a great manicure, but this ingredient, which is a resinous material secreted by lac insects, is also found in many candies to give it their shiny appearance. Also, ever wonder why apples in the grocery store appear to be glossy? Yep, we have the lac bugs to thank for that.

Porcin Enzymes: This ingredient is derived from boiling pig carcass and is used to flavor many types of chips and crackers. Instead of Cheddar Cheese potato chips, shouldn’t they call it like it is? “Boiled Pig Carcass” flavor. Yum.

Isinglass: AKA fish bladder, which is used in the filtering process when making most wines, some beers and even some fruit juices. Egg whites and gelatin are also sometimes used in the filtering process. Fishy fishy. The app, Barnivore, is a great resource to find out whether or not your favorite drinks are vegan.

Sugar: There’s no way anything can be added to plain old sugar, right? Well how about some bone char? Yep, some sugars add ground up animal bones to create a whiter and brighter appearance. Another reason to skip the sugar!

I will be the first to admit that I am far from perfect when it comes to living a life completely processed, artificial, and animal free. Although I have kept animal products out of my diet, just this morning, I cleaned my kitchen floor with a chemical and animal-laden cleaner, drank coffee in my leather chair, and had a glass of “fish-belly laced” wine earlier this week. I’m sure I would get an “F” for this challenge if I were graded by a strict vegan, but completely eliminating all animal products from my life was never my intention. Props to those who are able to do this, but I have come to realize just how hard it would really be. This challenge has, however, opened my eyes to the importance of knowing not only the things I am putting into my body, but also putting on it, my environment, and how the choices I make affect things other than myself. I’ve learned it’s all about living life with intention rather than just doing through the motions. It may not always be “simple,” but I am hoping to continue to find the joy and beauty in all life’s simplicity.

Thanks for reading, and remember to keep it simple!

And of course I wouldn’t leave you without sharing some of the foods I’ve been snacking on this week!

“Good food, is very often, even most often, simple food.” -Anthony Bordain

My new favorite: Roasted Beet Hummus. Nope, no crushed beetles here! Get the recipe here.

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It may be a little much, but beet chips with the beet hummus is definitely a good combo!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Toasts of all kinds!

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Roasted rainbow carrots with a lemon tahini dressing

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And because the regular orange carrots aren’t as much fun to eat, I like to juice them with some grapefruit and ginger

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Wheat grass and green apples are the cure to just about anything

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Bananas with some almond butter and coconut yogurt

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Dried banana, goji berry, and almond trail mix

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I also got a fun little package in the mail from Thrive Market last week. Such an easy and inexpensive way to stock up on staples and try something new! There are even little tabs on the top that sort out the products by categories like vegan, paleo, gluten-free, etc.

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I am in love with Julian Bakery’s Coconut Flakes. So yummy with just three simple ingredients: coconut meat, coconut water, and palm starch. (Add some chia seeds and blueberries for an extra nutrient boost)

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And I can’t forget the simple, yet oh-so-delicious, apple. This right here is the REAL “fast-food.”

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For more on simplicity, check out these links!
31 DIY homemade products HERE
Natural makeup found at Sephora HERE
Living simple how-tos HERE
Keeping eating simple HERE
Some other not-so-simple ingredients HERE

 

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But Where Do You Get Your Protein? Bit*h, PEAS!

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It’s a pretty well-known fact that protein is essential for life. These macromolecules are the building blocks of our bodies and without them, we wouldn’t exist. They are the main components of our hair, skin, nails, bones, organs, etc. and help us perform pretty much every bodily function. But how do we get this vital nutrients if we don’t chug down a glass of milk at each meal or eat a 10 oz. sirloin steak for dinner? Bit*h, PEAS…. but for real though, peas, and other greens, and beans, and even tangerines. Luckily, you can find protein in pretty much EVERYTHING!

I think society has played a big role in creating our false thinking that foods like beef, chicken, eggs, and milk are essential for life. Yes, meat and dairy are great sources of protein, but like I said, they are not the only source. In fact, per calorie, broccoli has twice as much protein as steak! Obviously, you would have to eat a lot of broccoli to meet your protein needs, but luckily, there are plenty of other options. For instance, cooked spinach has 5 grams of protein, lentils pack in 18 grams, and tempeh has a whopping 31 grams in just a single cup.

(For more plant proteins, click here!)

However, not all proteins are created equally. Proteins are made up of amino acids, and our bodies require us to get nine of these amino acids from the foods that we eat. Meat and dairy products are considered “complete proteins,” because they possess all nine amino acids, but did you know that there are complete plant proteins too such as quinoa, buckwheat, soy, and seitan?(1) If these options don’t sound appealing, fear not, eating a variety of “incomplete proteins” like nuts, seeds, whole grains, beans, and leafy green vegetables throughout the day has been shown to be just as sufficient as eating complete proteins. Read more about the “Protein Myth” here.

let’s talk about how much protein you really need in a day. In this case, more is not always better. In fact, getting too much protein has been linked to diseases such as osteoporosis, cancer, heart disease, kidney damage, and obesity. Contrary to popular belief, if the protein ingested doesn’t get used for energy, it gets stored as fat, which causes excess fat gain, not muscle gain.(2) So, unless you are a pretty active person, you probably don’t need as much protein as you think. To calculate your daily recommended protein intake, multiply 0.8 by your body weight in kilograms. If you are a pretty active individual, it is recommended that you multiply your body weight in kilograms by anywhere between 1 and 1.8 depending on the type and intensity of your workout. (3)

Okay, so here is a breakdown of what I ate yesterday just to show how easy it is to get more than enough protein in your diet without including any meat or dairy products. (I like to use the app “My Fitness Pal” to make sure I am getting adequate amounts of both micro and macro nutrients each day).

Breakfast: Smoothie (unsweetened almond milk, “Raw Protein and Greens” protein powder, kale, beets, chia seeds, tart cherries) Total protein =27 g

Morning snack: Apple, celery, almond butter Total protein = 9g

Lunch: Black bean burger on Ezekial bread, hummus, spinach, avocado, and sweet potatoes Total protein = 26g

Afternoon snack: Chia Bar and banana Total protein= 3g

Dinner: Spicy tofu wraps with kale, tomatoes, and quinoa Total Protein = 13g (click here for recipe)

Dessert: Dark chocolate Total Protein = 1g

 

Total protein intake = 79g

 

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Okay, I’m kind of sick of talking about protein, and you’re probably sick of reading about it….so let’s stop.

In honor of the Super Bowl, checkout this vegan NFL player here.

 

Did you know:

  • If every American eliminated just one serving of chicken each week from their diet, it would be the equivalent of taking 500,000 cars off the road in terms of CO2 emissions. (4)
  • Not only have antibiotics and hormones been found in meat and dairy products we consume, but more recently antidepressants, painkillers, and even allergy medicines have been detected.(5)
  • It is estimated that 1.3 billion chicken wings will be consumed today!(6) Hopefully some of those antidepressants will kick-in for fans of the loosing team!

Thanks for reading!


 

Resources:
1. http://greatist.com/health/complete-vegetarian-proteins
2. http://www.pcrm.org/health/diets/vegdiets/how-can-i-get-enough-protein-the-protein-myth
3. http://www.nomeatathlete.com/vegetarian-protein-primer/
4. https://infinite21.com/home/infograph4/
5. http://www.rodalesorganiclife.com/food/healthy-chicken

6. http://www.al.com/news/index.ssf/2016/02/how_many_chicken_wings_will_be.html

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Eat Good. Feel Good.

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Happy Friday! I just want to do a quick check-in to share how this vegan life has been going and give you a little taste of some of the good-eats I’ve been chowing down on this past week. Four more days down, still going strong, and yes, I am still ALIVE and feeling GREAT! I have absolutely no intentions of jumping this vegan ship quite yet!

Before beginning this experiment, I was a little worried about just how hard it would be to completely eliminate meat and dairy products, but I can honestly say it really hasn’t been all that difficult. I am enjoying many of the foods that I already loved, just more of them, and have discovered lots of new foods and recipes that I probably wouldn’t have tried if it wasn’t for this vegan challenge. Since I didn’t eat a bunch of meat and dairy products before going vegan, I don’t think my increased energy is a direct result of eliminating meat and dairy from my diet, but rather, incorporating more natural and nutritionally dense foods. I remember listening to one of the No Meat Athlete podcasts that talked about not focusing on whether or not a food is good or bad, but instead, think of the quality of food in comparison to other foods. For example, a cup of apple juice is a whole lot better for you than a can of soda, but a WHOLE apple is much more nutritious than either of the other two options. I’m not sure if I am explaining it the best, so check out the podcast here to learn more! I also feel like my taste buds have changed these past few weeks, and as I eat more whole and natural plant-based foods, I crave them more and more. Foods that I ate before these last two weeks are not even on my radar at this point. I had one person ask me if I ever just crave “real” food. This made me laugh a little, because yes, I DO crave REAL food! Ironic right? It kind of makes you think what most people would characterize as real food.

Last time I checked, this was pretty real!

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This week, I have been LOVING the recipes form Angela Liddon’s, The Oh She Glows Cookbook….SO tasty and SO easy! She also has a really great blog; check it out!

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I made her “Life-Affirming Warm Nacho Dip” the other night and Holy. Hannah. It definitely did not disappoint 😉
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Who knew a few simple ingredients could turn into a pan full of yumminess? I have been dipping pita chips, carrots, celery, and my bare fingers into it all week long.

“Perfect Kale Chips” Yep, they’re perfect.

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“Crowd-Pleasing Tex-Mex Casserole.” Yum-OH

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And my personal favorite, her “Classic Green Monster” Nom, nom, nomsssss!
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And putting it in a bowl is even better !

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I also whipped up my own little creation the other day: zucchini noodles with olive oil, sundried tomatoes, fresh cherry tomatoes, basil, Kalamata olives, lemon juice, and salt and pepper. This one will definitely be on the menu again in the very near future.

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Okay, I’ve got to run, but be on the look-out for my next post on protein. I hope to have it up sometime this weekend. Thanks for reading!

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First Things First

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Well the day is officially here, February 1st. A few weeks ago, I decided today was going to be the first day I participate in a little month-long experiment. I enjoy making new goals and challenging myself here and there, but this may (or may not) be my hardest one yet. During these next few weeks I have decided to try out being completely VEGAN. If you are not familiar with the term, (which you probably are if you either know a vegan or have access to any type social media), the simple definition is anyone who does not consume or use any type of animal products. So yes, for the next month, I will forego eating any and all meat, eggs, milk, cheese, butter, honey, and any other products derived from animal sources. I have decided to try my best to not use any animal products for the next month, but for practicality reasons, I am not going to get rid of my leather shoes, wool clothing, or my beloved leather chair (sorry PETA, maybe someday).

Trying out a vegan diet wasn’t something that I thought up of overnight. I have actually toyed with the idea for over a year now but have never just bit the bullet and quit the turkey cold turkey (see what I did there). I am a pretty active person, which is one of the reasons why I have been hesitant to go completely vegan. I mean, where would I get my protein, iron, vitamin B12, and omega 3 fatty acids (I will debunk this in future posts)? And there is no way you can maintain energy, and get stronger and faster without eating any meat or dairy products, right? Wrong. I have learned that this is definitely not the case. There are TONS of vegan and vegetarian world-class athletes out there, such as football and soccer players, ultra-runners, and even body builders that not only live, but THRIVE on a plant-based diets. One of my favorite podcasts, No Meat Athlete, has debunked many common myths of veganism and has made me a believer in the power of fueling your body with whole, natural, plant-based foods. My interest in this lifestyle was further perpetuated after watching documentaries like Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead, Vegetated, Forks over Knives, and reading several different articles and blogs and listening to various vegan-related podcasts. I then became much more interested in the environmental and ethical aspects of veganism after watching Cowspiracy, Meat the Truth, and Earthlings. I am not here to preach and point fingers, but if all you think of is animal-lover, tree-hugging hippie when you hear the word “vegan,” then these documentaries are must-sees!

Uff da, I could go on and on, but I’ll try to wrap it up here. If you know me at all, you probably already know that I eat a pretty healthy diet. In fact, to tell you the complete truth, I got a little head start on this experiment and have been eaten completely vegan for eight days now. Initially, I wanted to test is out for one day just to see how hard it would really be, but that one day rolled into the next, and I can honestly say it really hasn’t been that difficult. Last week, I headed to the grocery store and decided to fill my cart with only vegan foods, and I realized that my vegan cart wasn’t all that different from what I would normally buy. I picked out tons of fresh veggies and fruits, beans, nuts, wholegrains, almond milk, etc. The only things missing from my shopping cart that I would normally pick up were eggs, greek yogurt, fresh fish, cheese, and my beloved Quest protein bars, which are made with milk-derived whey protein. I have learned so far that reading labels is key; I was surprised to find that there are several products that sneak in ingredients from animal sources (stay tuned for later posts). There are also tons and tons of vegan approved foods that are far from healthy, such as Oreos, french fries, highly-processed fake meats and chesses, and sugar- laden granola bars. So far, I haven’t really missed any non-vegan foods nor have I felt deprived in any way. I have never really liked meat all that much, so I won’t be missing hamburgers, steaks, bacon, and as my little sister would call it “F***’n meatloaf.” I will, however, probably miss some of my favorite sea foods like spicy tuna rolls, and fresh shrimp and salmon. So far, I am absolutely loving this challenge. It may just be the placebo effect, but I can honestly say that I already feel like I have so much more energy. Last Friday, I went the whole day without a single cup of coffee! I seriously cannot even remember the last day that that happened. If my energy level is any indication for what’s to come, I may have to extend this little challenge beyond the month of February… but I’ll try not to get ahead of myself. Who knows, I may crack and pound down a double bacon cheese burger by then end of this thing haha. I am hoping to check in at least once or twice each week and share how things are going, recipes that I have been loving (or hating), and some little fun facts thrown in here and there. So I hope you enjoy, and thanks for reading!

 

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Did you know?

  • 660 gallons of water are required to make just one 1/3-pound hamburger?! (click here)
  •  “Vegans tend to have lower rates of cancer than meat-eaters and vegetarians. For example, vegan women had 34% lower rates of female-specific cancers like breast, cervical, and ovarian cancer. Similar results were found in men for prostate cancer.”(click here) (The GYN/URO nurse in me had to include this one!)

 

 

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