In 2014, 400 million fewer animals were slaughtered in the U.S. compared to 2007. In just 7 years we’ve saved 400 million animals PER YEAR!
All thanks to vegans, right??? Watch to find out…
In 2014, 400 million fewer animals were slaughtered in the U.S. compared to 2007. In just 7 years we’ve saved 400 million animals PER YEAR!
All thanks to vegans, right??? Watch to find out…
Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, even as a vegan! It’s a celebration of food, and who doesn’t love food? Some of you might think, “vegans. Vegans hate food and eat like rabbits.”
Here’s a quick little video of everything I made, and everything I ate, on Thanksgiving!
Vegan Pumpkin Pie: http://plantpoweredkitchen.com/pumpkin-pie-vegan-soy-free-gluten-free/
Maple-Miso Brussels Sprouts: http://kitchentonirvana.com/2014/01/16/roasted-brussel-sprouts-in-a-maple-miso-glaze/
I feel like for most people, going vegan is a process. It doesn’t happen overnight, and when it does, people usually go back to eating meat for awhile. For me, it’s a process that follows some common themes, and often involves three of the most powerful documentaries I’ve ever seen:
Note: This video contains some footage from each of these documentaries. I do not own this footage, but use it to urge others to see these life-changing documentaries! Please watch them! Cowspiracy and Forks Over Knives are NOW STREAMING on NETFLIX! Earthlings can be purchased through their website linked above!
Last Monday two important things happened in the world: the World Health Organization (WHO) published their report, a summary of over 800 studies, categorizing processed meats — bacon, sausage, deli meat, hot dogs, etc — as category 1 carcinogens and red meats — mammals like cows, pigs, and sheep — as category 2A carcinogens (SEE: It’s Been A Bad Week For Hot Dogs).
And the second important thing that happened in the world last Monday is I bruised my ribs playing basketball.
Most of you reading this would probably argue that those two things are on very different levels of significance. However if you ask me, I’d say they are pretty much on par. I am, after all, the one writing this, and the one dealing with the pain.
Now it’s my job to convince you of the same, and show you how these two things are related.
The reaction to the news from the WHO among meat eaters varied from reasonable to comical to downright dishonest. Among the most common reactions was to throw up one’s metaphorical hands and say one of two things, either “we’re all gonna die from something!” or “everything causes cancer these days.”
There seemed to be a level of apathy among meat eaters upon hearing this news, sort of a feeling of “yeah but I’ll be old when I get cancer and I’m going to die of something anyway so…who cares.”
This might be a good way to rationalize your current dietary habits, but let’s evaluate the statement a bit closer. I want to talk about my ribs.
While on the court last week for my basketball rec league, a player on the other team, notorious for hard fouls and non-stop complaining when calls don’t go his way, pulled a pretty dirty stunt. He and I were competing for the same rebound when our arms got tangled up. No big deal, it happens, just separate them and move on.
Not this time.
This “gentleman” grabbed my arm with both of his, yanked it downward, and refused to let it go. In shock, I reacted by trying to free my arm and I pulled back with force. He did not relent.
The force of the struggle lead to a strain in my ribs that would prove excruciating as I lied down in bed that night. I am talking nearly unbearable. For the last 8 days I have been subjected to this same agony every evening while climbing into bed and every morning upon waking.
Ribs are notoriously slow healers, and every deep breath, cough, sneeze, or laugh causes me real pain.
You may ask yourself..
Here’s the deal. Think about yourself, right now. Are you sick? Have a cold? Are you dealing with an injury, chronic or acute?
Are you thankful for that? Is it on your mind 24/7? Or are you taking it for granted?
Think about the last time you were sick as a dog. You couldn’t think about anything else could you? And you swore, “when I finally get better, I am never going to take another mucus free breath for granted again! I’ll never take a pain free deep breath again without thanking my ribs for being healthy! I’ll never take another step without feeling truly blessed that this ankle is no longer sprained!”
Of course we get healthy and we don’t feel this way anymore. We forget. We take it for granted.
This idea that “we’re all going to die from something so it doesn’t matter what we do now even if that means ingesting known carcinogens day in and day out” is hubris!
It’s easy to say that when you are relatively healthy now — you are taking your health (and lack of pain) for granted!
But cancer is painful.
Cancer treatment is, if you’re lucky, a long and painful process that saves your life. If you’re not as lucky, it can be a long, painful death.
You say that now, that you’re going to continue eating your processed and red meats because “we’re all going to die of something.” But when that day comes, and you are faced with the pain of cancer, you are likely going to rethink this decision and pray for a natural death in your sleep at a very old age.
You have a choice to eat a diet centered on whole plant foods, avoid known carcinogens like tobacco and processed meats, and give yourself a better chance of that painless death at an old age. Or you can choose to stay the same and dream of that time when you weren’t in pain every single day for the rest of your days. Choose wisely.
Yeah yeah, I know. They hurt!
There are a few ways I have been treating the pain with whole plant foods. Pain is essentially inflammation, and most pain killers are just anti-inflammatory drugs.
There are several great plants that are highly anti-inflammatory that I have been eating more of and noticing a difference. Of course I’ve also taken some actual pain killers when it gets unbearable, but I prefer to avoid them if possible.
For me the name of the game has been cherries, watermelon, and turmeric (+ black pepper). There is great research behind all three as being very anti-inflammatory, good for exercise recovery in general and for pain management. Check out the links to learn more about these foods and learn how a plant-based diet can help prevent cancer!
So. You go to the doctor for your annual checkup. The doc tests your cholesterol and tells you you are at a high risk for having a heart attack. Your arteries are clogged and it appears that surgery is coming.
The doc informs you that you will either need surgery to save your life, or, if you are open to it, you could switch to a plant-based diet for the rest of your life, which has been shown to lower overall cholesterol below 150 and make you virtually heart attack proof!
Intrigued by the possibility of avoiding surgery, you ask the doc to tell you more about this second option.
He tells you that a plant-based diet is one where all you eat are whole plant foods — things like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts and seeds. You don’t eat any animal products — that means no meat, cheese or dairy, or eggs.
“Wait hold on a sec, you’re asking me to go vegan??? You must be crazy. That’s a pretty extreme thing to suggest don’t you think, give up all my favorite foods and just eat plants???, No thanks doc, you’re crazy! Just give me the surgery.”
Let’s look at this a little closer…
My Best Weight Loss Tip. Follow this one tip and you could lose between 14 and 40 pounds in a single year!!!
For more on this subject, check out this video by Jeff Novick: https://youtu.be/X6ogG1wEcXo
Are you a glass half full kinda person or do you see it as half empty? If you are like me, you see it half full.
That is the approach I take to eating out as a vegan. There are certainly times when it is more difficult than others, but my experience in 90% of cases is very positive and easy.
That is, if you live in a big city.
But we’ll get to that. My glass half full experience eating out goes like this: when you are vegan, the menu shrinks considerably.
For many people it can be frustrating to have so few options, and I will admit when I go to a vegan restaurant where the full menu is available to me, I am almost overwhelmed and also overjoyed to have so many choices.
But there’s a catch — sometimes choice isn’t a good thing.
Have you ever heard of the paradox of choice? There is an excellent TED talk on the subject by psychologist Barry Schwartz (watch).
In it he discusses how more is not always better when it comes to choice. I won’t spoil his talk for you, but one example he uses is salad dressings in the grocery store.
If you go to a full supermarket in the United States and stand in front of the salad dressings you may be alarmed to find tens if not hundreds of choices. Twenty different brands offering ten different dressings each — how do you possibly choose?
Some may say, “this is amazing! God bless America for giving us 200 salad dressings to choose from!”
But the research paints a very different picture. The research suggests that you will be far less happy with your choice than if you only had just a handful of dressings to choose from.
With 200 options, you have a 1 in 200 chance of selecting the “optimal” dressing. When you get home and try it out, you will likely be thinking about the other 199 you passed up and wondering if you made the right selection. This likely won’t be a conscious thought, but it will influence how satisfied you are with your decision.
If you only had a handful of choices however, you will feel more confident that you selected the right dressing, and you will feel happier about it. So say the respondents of surveys.
Is it just me or have menus in America ballooned from one or two columns to six or seven pages of two to three columns each? There are simply too many items to choose from!
If you are an omnivore and you are reading this, when was the last time you sat down at a restaurant, looked over the menu, selected something to order and immediately closed the menu without second guessing it? I’d wager it doesn’t happen too often.
The reality is you are likely to select something, then have a friend tell you what they are thinking about ordering, then you reconsider yours, then you ask yourself the impossible question of “what do I really want right now,” then you have to scan the menu with your nebulous answer to this question loosely held in your mind, only to find now you have three or four items you are choosing between, and then the waiter comes and your friends are ready and you say “oh just start and by the time they get to me I’ll have decided,” thinking that the pressure of a time deadline will force a moment of clarity, only to discover you are no closer to making a decision than you were a moment ago, because your foolproof strategy only really bought you about 10 seconds, so now, feeling the pressure from your friends, the waiter, and every other patron in the establishment you blurt out almost at random one of the three dishes you have narrowed down from the 97 choices, hoping and praying, dear god, did I make the right choice…then you sit there in the agonizing twenty minutes before your food comes, convincing yourself that you are absolutely sure that you chose wrong and were really craving the soup and salad and by the time your food comes you are disappointed because you know it isn’t what you wanted and you sit with the sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach that you could have been that much happier had you ordered something different, and now you pin your hopes on dessert where the menu is much shorter, only 12 options, and the cycle repeats itself until you go insane and swear off all future dining out excursions and decide to make your own meals from scratch from now on and so you head to the grocery store ready to make that darn salad you were craving only to find there are 200 salad dressings waiting on a shelf for you that you have to choose from.
Ever been there before?
Well for better or worse, it’s not like this as a vegan.
Our menu gets instantly shrunk the second we sit down to look at it. Depending on the restaurant and style of food, it may get shortened to literally one item, or zero if you forgot to read the menu before arriving at the restaurant (#ProTip). Most of the time, in a city, at a restaurant that isn’t a steakhouse, you are likely left with somewhere between three and ten options. There’s always a salad, that’s your fall back. Oddly, you almost always have to say “no cheese, no meat please.”
But at Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese, Indian, Ethiopian, Middle Eastern, etc, there are usually several options that are vegan or can be easily made vegan. Indian cooking can definitely have ghee (clarified butter) or cheese or yogurt, so always ask the waiter how your food is prepared (#ProTip).
Some restaurants will “finish” their dishes with butter, which just means they douse it with melted butter right before serving you. — gross!
Mexican is also relatively easy, as you can usually order rice and beans a la carte, with some salsa, guacamole, tortillas, etc. Again, always ask, as some refried beans have lard in them, and occasionally tortillas do as well.
Nearly every Mexican place will have veggie fajitas as well, which you can get without sour cream and cheese. Remember, the vegetables may be cooked in butter, so ASK!
Pizza places are almost always more than happy to make you a cheese-less pie, as they are used to people with dairy allergies. So ask!
Sushi is great, just get veggie rolls 🙂 Some miso soup is made with a seafood broth, though I think it’s rare, but ask anyway. Also some Asian-style sauces use fish sauce, ask.
Another #ProTip: download the Happy Cow app. It is incredible, especially when traveling, as it will tell you all the vegan friendly restaurants in the area!
I recently took a weekend trip to Cape Cod, MA, a place known for their seafood. I struggled.
Eating out in cities as a vegan is incredibly easy. In rural parts of America it’s near impossible at times. I ended up ordering a loaf of bread at breakfast, a cheese-less pizza for lunch (delicious!), and a side order of grilled potatoes and grilled mixed vegetables for dinner.
I swore to my friends “it’s not usually this hard.” But it happens, and you have to take your lumps. If you believe in what you are doing, it isn’t so hard. And the more restaurants encounter vegans who are willing to assert their needs, the more it will get easier. In fact the day after I got back I read a headline about dozens of Cape restaurants that were trying out new vegan entrees in October — ah just missed it!!
Eating out as a vegan in 2015 is easier than it ever has been, and all signs point to this trend continuing. For now, enjoy the small menu that affords you the luxury of not being paralyzed by too many choices! Read the menu ahead of time, always ask how your food is being prepared, and don’t be afraid to order off menu if need be. It will only get easier next year 🙂
For more on foods you don’t have to give up as a vegan, check out my video!: 5 Foods You Don’t Have To Give Up As A Vegan!
And stay tuned next week for the second part of the Vegan How To series, where we will discuss what to look for on labels.
Why do we eat meat if its so bad for you? Isn’t it natural to eat meat? Our ancestors all did! Humans are omnivores! We have canines!
The Comparative Anatomy of Eating: http://www.vegsource.com/news/2009/11/the-comparative-anatomy-of-eating.html
Teeth Graphic: http://freefromharm.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/comparative-anatomy-of-carnivores-omnivores-herbivores.jpg
I am addicted to cereal. There, I said it.
It started very early on when every night before bed my brothers and I would have a “midnight snack.” This was always cereal.
Growing up we had a limit on how much sugar could be in our cereal — anything less than 10 grams per serving was fair game.
This excluded some of the most heinous varieties — your Fruit Loops, your Trix, your Lucky Charms — cereal with absolutely no nutritional value. Essentially just bowls of sugar.
But a surprising variety of amazingly delicious cereals still fit under the 10 gram mark. Some of our favorites included Rice Krispie Treats Cereal, Peanut Butter Puffs, and Frosted Mini Wheats.
As I have gone through young adulthood I have found this conditioning to be pretty ingrained. When I was first on my own, I learned pretty quickly that if I had food in the house I would eat it.
But you can’t eat what you don’t have in the house. And for me, my early lesson was this: you can’t have potato chips in the house. You will eat them first and you will eat them exclusively, until they are gone.
Cereal was a different story. I largely was ok with this habit. And as I worked to improve my diet in other ways (going vegetarian, then more vegan, then fully vegan), the cereal sorta just hung around.
I once remarked to my roommate that if cereal was the one vice left in my diet then I was probably doing alright.
I will admit over the years I’ve ditched the Rice Krispie Treats and opted for Kashi whole grain cereals or granola with almond or soy milk. Doesn’t sound all that bad. As far as vices go, this one is pretty tame.
The other thing it isn’t is cheap. I have recently become more interested in how cheap I can eat plant-based. Kind of a challenge to myself. I am not doing anything extreme like $1.50 a day or anything, just trying to keep my total food budget under $200 for the month.
Right away I noticed that at $4-$5 a box and $3.29 a half gallon, cereal and almond milk was actually kind of expensive.
As I walked around the store calculating what was left in my budget, it felt silly to drop nearly $9 on this indulgence. I could get so many bananas for $9!
And here’s how cereal fits into my diet: dessert.
When it is in the house, it’s not my breakfast (that’s oatmeal every single day, on autopilot). It’s not a snack, which is usually fruit. It is always my dessert.
With that in mind I have worked on trying to find cheap AND healthy dessert options, and I have three to share with you right now!
This is somewhat like cereal, and is super duper healthy. Here is the recipe:
~1 Cup of frozen berries, I usually do blueberries and raspberries
~1 Cup of almond milk (or soy or whatever plant-based milk you like)
1 TBSP of ground flax seed
~1/3 Cup of rolled oats
Just a dash of maple syrup
Combine in a bowl and mix up a bit, allowing the frozen berries to thaw just a tad. Boom. Super delicious super healthy dessert.
In a quest to find cheaper whole grains, I stumbled upon Organic Oat Groats at just $1.49/lb! So cheap! Oat Groats are steel cut oats that haven’t been chopped up yet. So, they are whole oats essentially, but they cook up more like rice almost, and still retain that nice sweetness of oats. Packed with fiber, oats are some of the world’s healthiest whole grains.
1 Cup Oat Groats and 3 Cups water — boil water, add groats, reduce to simmer, cook til water evaporates out
Once the groats are cooked up, you can store them in the fridge for a couple days.
I combine ~1/2 Cup of the cooked groats with some fruit, flax seed, and sometimes a splash of almond milk. My go-to has been bananas and frozen mangos. So good, and really nice warm dessert.
I’ve heard of this dessert for so long and was always super intimidated to make it. Honestly I didn’t think my blender was strong enough. Well I made it tonight and only used my lowest setting, so I guess that’s not an issue! And my goodness it was delicious. Here is the recipe. Get ready for it, because it’s super complicated.
2 Frozen Bananas
That’s it. Ok just blend them until they get all chopped up, smashed up, creamy. I added a splash of almond milk but probably didn’t even need it. It turns into ice cream! It’s ridiculous. I added just a few dark chocolate pieces and it was heavenly. Would also be great with shredded coconut or other fruits mixed in. If you Google Banana Nice Cream recipes there are actually a ton out there! I am so glad I tried this — I can guarantee my freezer will never be without a couple frozen bananas again!
So there you have it. Three super delicious incredibly healthy desserts that are insanely cheap — seriously they cost pennies — and can replace cereal cravings for even the worst addict like me!