Friday, July 9, 2010

Getting you up to speed!

Where to begin!?

I've decided to start up a blog to keep track of all my fun on my vegan journey but ALSO because since I have become vegan I get asked so many questions and figured a blog would be a great forum to answer all of them!! From the cashier at the grocery store, to clients, to friends, to FAMILY, I get asked a lot of questions relating to this!!

My journey into veganism began not too long ago- about 6 months. At the time I was was hearing a lot about a booked called "The Kind Diet" by Alicia Silverstone. Now my friends and I were hugeeee "Clueless" fans (a 90's movie in which Alicia appeared).. so big in fact that in the 5th grade I clearly remember deciding in my group of friends who would be Ty, D, and Cher. We also did the best we could to dress like them and talk like them and YEAH>> we were pretty much obsessed. Today I still own the movie (On VHS! ha!) and am still a big fan of Alicia's. I heard about the book, then saw her on Oprah, and little by little my curiosity grew. The final push came when I kept hearing from clients that the book was sold out at Barnes and Noble and Boarders. Now, I live in WISCONSIN so for a health book- specifically a NO MEAT NO CHEESE book- to be sold out made me think there was something special about it. As soon as it came back into stock I was an owner and I read it in about 3 days.

The book outlines 3 transitional phases into veganism. 1: The Flirt 2: Vegan and 3. Superhero (which is a vegan who also cuts out most sugar and processed foods). I planned to do phase 1 and 'flirt' with vegan foods and recipes without making the full on commitment to become vegan. I want to add here that even if you substitute a couple vegan meals a week for your traditional meat and potatoes dinner- it makes a big difference. In the book it also talks about this... as much as Alicia would suggest going 100 percent vegan she aknowledges that for some people that is just not an option for them but they can still reduce the amount of meat/cheese/milk etc they consume and that not only saves some animals but it also can make you healthier person. SO ANYWAYS, I decided to just flirt. I had a fridge full of yogurt at the time and some perfectly good icecream. After a few days of trying new recipes from the book and becomming more concious of what was in some of the unhealthy foods I was eating I gave my yogurt supply to my brother and had my last spoonful of icecream. I wasnt sure how long I would give this all up for but at the time I just didnt want any of it anymore.

That was 6 months ago. So much for flirting! It didnt take long for my cravings to completely go away either. It was really strange! I wasnt ever much of a meat eater- it always kind of grossed me out if I thought to hard about it. I would have the occasional steak at a nice restaraunt or chicken in my pasta but for me DAIRY was what I thought I was going to miss the most! I was addicted to diary. I would have 2 yogurts a day, fruit with cottage cheese, milk/creamer in my coffee, string cheese, PIZZA, and icecream almost every night. Now I would always do the low fat or fat free versions of these foods which kept me from gaining weight but by eating all these foods I was missing out on so many other great- better for me foods! One of the things Alicia talks about in her book is how she beleives we are not really meant to be eating/drinking milk. I was so confused when I read this!! What do you mean Im not suppose to drink milk and eat dairy!? How will I get strong bones? how will I get my calcium? What about vitamin D?? These are things you are told growing up- from little kid on. "Drink your milk"! But as I read further the light bulb went off. Babies drink milk. Human babies drink their mothers milk until they can wean off and consume other forms of nutrition. Cow babies drink their mothers milk in the same way. So why, as adults, are we drinking milk? And even further why are we drinking a COWS milk? We are the only speices that consumes another speices milk. If you really think about it.. Its weird and some what unnatural. She expands further on this and on other topics and for that I would encourage anyone to read the book. Its very interesting and half of it is recipes which is way cool!

Sometimes eating out- Especially in Wisconsin it is really hard to eat 100 percent vegan. For that reason, and to make my fiance less annoyed with me (hehe) I would say that I am 90% vegan and 100% vegitarian. When I am at home and have access to the best- good for me- food I follow my vegan plan. Going out to eat I maybe end of ordering my salad with ranch or get a suprise cream based sauce in my pasta dish. Sometimes to remain sane a little bit of dairy or an egg gets slipped in. Being vegan isnt about being perfect its about making choices that will make you feel better and will be better for the planet and the animals.

Why did you decide to go vegan?
Some of the reasons are listed above but mostly it was curiosity. Would I feel better? Would I lose weight? Would I have more energy? Would my mood improve. The Answers are YES YES YES AND YES :) That is why I have stuck with it. If it didnt work for me I wouldnt have! What I've gained from this has been sooo much more then I have given up. I feel good knowing my choices are saving animals from what is a horrible life and death in most cases. I used to think that the cows were allowed to graze grassy pastures and were 'happy cows that made happy milk' but once the curtain was pulled back and I learned the truth I could no longer support that industry. (I highly recommend the documentary 'food inc' to learn more about whats really going on in our food industry! I rented mine from blockbuster)

Wait, the cows are happy?
Maybe happier on organic farms (my brother eats stony field organic yogurt for this reason) but on conventional farms the cows arent even eating grass! They are being fed corn to get them fatter faster and there are so many of them that they are often knee deep in their own manauer. Its really sad. I love animals- I dont want to know Im supporting an industry that isnt treating them like the living breathing things they are.

Besides the treatment of the animals- are their other reasons you dont eat dairy?
For me and many others dairy makes me feel sluggish. Although I dont get stomach aches from dairy a lot of people do. Also casein found in milk products some research shows have links to different kinds of cancers including breast cancers. In countries where they consume little to no dairy the breast cancer risk is a 1/3 of ours.

What About Fish?
Fish is ify. A lot of vegitarians still eat fish and people who follow a macrobiotic diet (pretty much 'super hero') also eat fish. My problem with fish is that our waters have become so poluted (and this was before oil started spilling into it!) and the smog from the city etc gets into the water. Many fish have have mercury content due to the pollution. Its bad enough I have to breath it everyday so I choose not to eat it :)

How do you get your calcium??
People are always suprised when I tell them how much calcium seasame seeds have. Spinach also has a lot. And Almond Milk (Which I love! And my non vegan fiance likes too!!) has almost the same amount of calcium as milk. When you look around and read labels you can find calcium around every corner.

What about protein?
Protein I get from many sources. I love hummus with cucumber slices. Im also a peanut butter ADDICT :) Almonds are a great source. Quinoa and whole wheat pasta have a ton! I try not to eat tooo much immatation meat b/c it is more processed but they have a lot of protein as well.

Is there anything vitamin/nutrient wise you find hard to get?
Yes. Vitamin b-12 is NOT found in any food except for animals and smaller amounts in shell fish and eggs. It use to be found in the soil and therefore in a plant based diet however we have unfortunetly depleted the nutrients in our soil with pesticides etc. Therefore a suppliment is necesary unless it has already been added to a food for example the cereal I eat (with my almond milk!) contains 100% of my daily b-12.

Have you lost weight?
Yes. and I FEEL much lighter b/c plant based and whole foods pass through you quicker instead of sitting in your body. For example, meat takes 72 hours to pass. Thats like leaving a steak out in the 98.6 degrees of summer for 3 days :/

Whats the hardest part about being vegan?
People thinking your weird maybe?! :) Most people though are just curious. Curious just like I was! They want to know why. They want to know how Im feeling. They want to know what I DO eat! (its not just veggies as you will see in this blog!) A lot of people are interested bc a lot of people arent feeling well and they are looking for something to make them feel better!! I dont force my veganism onto other people. I always say that this is my decision and I dont even want people to feel like my ideas are pushed onto them! I love talking about my lifestyle change but I try to limit it to when I am asked and I always try to make people feel hopeful about changes instead of feeling bad or guilty for what they are eating now. I spent 23 years eating diary, meat, and eggs! I am by no means judging anyone else! I just didnt know any different. No one talked to me about and I never thought twice about it. I just want everyone around me to be healthy and happy and hopefully by using this blog I can answer questions and share great food and recipes.

Well enough with all that! Lets get to the fun stuff :) I look forward to blogging my journey with you ! :)

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