Monthly Archives: April 2012
I went to the grocery store (Kroger) a few days ago. I hate putting things away. I hate putting away laundry, dishes, papers, and groceries! But after I put the groceries away, I couldn’t help stare in my fridge. It is just beautiful. I love seeing all the colors and options. It all looks so yummy. I just want to eat it all on the first day. I thought I would take a picture for all of you. I have been winding up the end of my last semester of my PhD classes (now it is time to start on my dissertation), and I am planning two trainings for work, so I haven’t had much time to post on the blog this week. I thought this would be a fun post.
>I fell off the planet for the weekend. I took my family on the 2 and a half hour schelp to Dallas, Texas to go to Earth Day and visit my bestest friend in the world. I was so excited because Earth Day Dallas is a huge event with lots of vendors and speakers and is rated a top family event in Texas. It is reviewed as one of the best Earth Day events in the country. Their website promised lots of interesting food, a schedule of enviable speakers, and a list of awesome vendors. It also promised to have a selection of organic and vegan food. You can find the website here http://www.earthdaydallas.org/.
I debated about writing this post because any celebration of the Earth and trying to save the Earth is a good thing, right? And, as a dear friend pointed out, we can’t do and be everything, and any small change we make is important. However, this blog is essentially about being the ripe tomato, and I feel like Earth Day Dallas passed up a chance to be ripe tomato. But in an effort to also be the ripe tomato, I am going to start out by mentioning the things I did like.
>I ordered “That’s why we don’t eat animals” from Amazon.com and pre-ordered “Vegan is love” by Ruby Roth. I have mentioned this before, but my husband and I have arguments about how graphic to get with the kids about why we don’t eat meat. We have never had arguments about this type of stuff before–we are normally on the same page, but we just can’t see to find a happy medium. Quite frankly, neither one of us seems happy with the solutions. We have a difficult time discussing this with our children and an even harder time giving them the words to use to explain themselves. I can tell you why I don’t eat meat, but I presume that you are also an adult. I don’t know if I can give you six-year-old words to explain it to another six-year-old child. So, I was really happy to get the book, and I am really looking forward to “Vegan is love” on the 24th.
I thought I would give you a special treat today. I asked my children to give a little “guest blogger” review of the book in addition to my review because who better to review it than the babes it is meant for.
First Review: Heather (33 years old, mother of 3, PhD candidate). I loved the book. I thought the prose was lovely and the message was age appropriate for all children ages 0-99! I have a special love for pigs, and I got a little teary-eyed during the pig section. I especially liked how Ruby hit all three legs of the tripod of veganism: health, environment, and animals. I thought the pictures conveyed the horribleness of factory farming without being too graphic for young children. I think it set the right tone to let kids know why we don’t eat animals and that this is an important and compassionate choice. I especially loved the book because as a mother of mostly vegan children, it gave me a conversation starter with my children. I needed that.
As many of you know, I have been having a particularly difficult time transitioning my 13-year-old daughter. She is resisting it, and I will not force her. I think she just loves finally having something to rebel about. However, I think in her heart she wants to be a vegan, but she just can’t admit it out loud to me. Last night we ate out (something we RARELY do) and she told the waitress four separate times that she did not want chicken or cheese on her noodles. She was very clear in conveying her message that chicken and cheese were not welcome on her plate, so I think she is transitioning without admitting it to me.
Before I offer you her review, I want to set the stage a little bit. We were all sitting on the couch (me and the three girls). I started reading the book. The two younger ones were very engaged, but Maggie was looking around doing other things, not paying attention. By the third page, she had sat up, turned her entire body toward me, and was leaning forward, paying attention. Her favorite pre-vegan food is BBQ. When we read the pig page, she said, “Aww, pigs are my new favorite animals.” I said, “But Maggie, pigs make ribs and BBQ sammies.” She said, “Oh, that’s a problem.” I have a sneaking feeling she just gave up eating pigs for good.
2nd Review: Maggie (13 years old, 7th grader). I think that the book, That’s Why We Don’t Eat AnimalsBy: Ruby Roth, is an amazing book that describes family and factory farming in a very sophisticated way. This book is good for describing the reasons why vegans and vegetarians decide not to eat meat. This book describes the terrible care of the animals that are raised in factory farms. It also describes how free animals live, and that they need their habitats and families to survive. In factory farms, according to Ruby Roth, animals are mistreated and taken from their homes so people can eat them without realizing what happens to those poor defenseless creatures. The picture usage was very creative and caught my attention. In my opinion this book is a very good informational text that should inspire many people to cut down their meat consumption.
3rd Review: Persephone (10 years old, 4th grade): I think the book was very heart warming. I also think if we know about the problem why don’t we stop it. We choose what to do, why don’t we choose to stop it. I think we should stop wasting our time killing and more time growing plants. I love your book and take it from me I love to read. So nice job.
Now back to your regularly scheduled writer! Persephone seemed really moved by the book. But she is totally transitioned to a vegetarian diet and is mostly vegan. She is the most committed to the cause already, so I think the book really ignited her activist side. Now, my six-year-old didn’t write a review down, but she dictated some thoughts to me.
4th Review: Medea (6 years old, Kindergarten). I thought the book was really sad. I really like Thanksgiving and we usually eat Turkey. What are we going to do this year? (My response was, what do you want to do?) I don’t think we should eat a Turkey. It is so sad that they can’t fly. I wish I could fly. Does eat animals really destroy the environment? (My response was: It is one of the things that helps destroy the environment). How can we go to Earth Day and eat meat? That is so sad. I think I’m really sad for the pigs. I want to snuggle corney (our dog) so she knows how much I love her and maybe she can tell the pigs I love them too.
Obviously, we are family that loves pigs. I think you can see that we all really enjoyed the book, and we will be recommending it to others. Good job Ruby, and we can’t wait to read “Vegan is love!”
I keep saying not everyone has a Whole Foods. So many times we see recipes with fancy ingredients or things we just don’t have on hand, and we give up or don’t want to make it. Even more frequently we see ingredients that we simply can’t afford. I call this the “take your breath away” factor of health food. The New York Times just published a blog about the challenges of going vegan (read it here). For those of us living in what I like to call the land of Wal Mart, those challenges can seem magnified. My husband said, “Well there may be some things you just have to order online.” My response is–that defeats the purpose! I want to show that you can do this, you can be a Vegan, no matter where you live! So here is what you can expect from the blog in the next few weeks: Some reviews of products that you can buy locally at major stores. I don’t mean health food stores or Whole Foods or even fancy pants expensive stores like Publix (for those of you in the south) or Fresh (for those of you in Texas). I mean normal stores like Target and yes, even Wal Mart.
(Here is the picture of my Haul earlier this week. Sorry about the picture quality, but it was taken with my phone. I bought all of these items at Target. Tomorrow I am going to detail why I chose these products, their cost, what they are).
As I use the products, I plan to write some reviews of them. I even plan to have my 10 year old serve as a guest blogger to share her input about the products and to give you so input from her sisters.
Back to the main part of my story. The key is to use what you can find. You need to look at recipes and try to figure out what changes you can make to suit your lifestyle. I know, I know. Easier said than done, right? Let me give you my Rice Krispies example.
I wanted to make bars for the kids’ lunches. I like to pack something a little sweet. We normally pack a Kids’ Cliff’s Z Bar (check them out here). But to be honest, my kids were eating one in their lunch, and then they wanted one after school, and the cost was killing me! So I wanted to make some bars at home because it would be cheaper. The recipe called for whole grain, organic puffed rice. Yeah right. Try to find a box of that in my town for less than $6 for the smallest box. The closest thing I could find was Rice Krispies.
This box of cereal cost me $2.99 for the entire box. Here is why I like it: If we buy items like these Rice Krispies, then we send a clear message that there is a market for items like this.
Here is the ingredient list:
Vitamins and Minerals: Iron, vitamin C (ascorbic acid), vitamin E (alpha tocopherol acetate), niacinamide, vitamin A palmitate, vitamin B6 (pyridoxine hydrochloride), vitamin B2 (riboflavin), vitamin B1 (thiamin hydrochloride), folic acid, vitamin D, vitamin B12.
>My camera is out of batteries and my charger is missing! I ordered a new one, but it won’t arrive until Wednesday, so my haul post is going to have to wait. I also have some delicious recipe posts in the making, but I have been wanting to write a post about the movie Forks over Knives for some time. So, I thought I would take advantage of my camera being out of commission to do just that. I live in East Texas. I don’t have any friends or family who are Vegans. So when I decided to pursue the Vegan path, I began doing as much research as possible. I feel very lucky that the first movie that popped up on Netflix was Forks over Knives. According to the Forks over Knives website, the movie “examines the profound claim that most, if not all, of the degenerative diseases that afflict us can be controlled, or even reversed, by rejecting animal-based and processed foods.”
I think of Veganism as a tripod: health, environment, and animal welfare. However, with my family and friends it is difficult to approach explaining my choice to eat a plant-based diet because of environment or animal welfare; however, health is a cord I could strike. I immediately suggested my family watch the movie. When my friends, family, and colleagues approach me about my food lifestyle, the movie provides me with a conversation starter. The pre-movie conversation usually goes like this:
“Vegan, why aren’t you eating meat? I love my meat [insert every meat eating argument here: I couldn’t give up bacon, cheese, fish, etc].”
“I chose to become a Vegan for many reasons one of which was my health. Have you seen the movie Forks over Knives? It is a really interesting movie that is available on Netflix. Why don’t you watch it this week, and then we can talk about it at the [BBQ, birthday party, dinner, swimming pool, etc] this weekend].”
Isn’t that awesome!
While I do really think the movie provides a great and sound reason for switching to Veganism, what I love the most about it is it gives me a way to talk about my lifestyle with my family and friends. That is something that is so difficult. I often think I sound like a fanatic or a hippie or obsessive or a down right crazy person when discussing my choice with my meat eating, butter loving, cheese grubbing loved ones.
How does the post movie conversation go? Well, I don’t think I’ve converted anyone to Veganism . . . yet, but the conversations go something like this:
“I watched that movie. It was CRAZY [the wow it blew my mind kinda crazy]. My favorite part was [insert some fact that resonated with them]. I’m not ready to give up all my meat, but I do think I can cut back. What do you eat?”
“You know for the kids breakfast was super easy to make the switch because they LOVE the taste of almond milk! You should give it a try, we have some in the fridge, and did you know Oreos are Vegan? You can get some great advice from the PETA and Vegan Outreach websites, let me send you the links.”
Isn’t that awesome too? So far, my conversations really have gone that way!
If you aren’t already following a plant-based diet, you should watch this movie because it can save your life. You probably know in your heart you should be eating more plants or you wouldn’t be reading my blog. This movie will give you the excuse you have been looking for to do just that. Even if you just go one day a week with no meat (come on get on board with Meatless Monday), you will be better off, and this movie will show you how changing your diet can literally save your life. The movie provides you with evidence to support changing your diet.
If you are just starting a plant-based diet, the movie will provide you with reinforced evidence to support your decision. When you start to feel your resolve waiver, the movie will provide you with the reminders of why you made the choice in the first place. I, personally, have watched it several times in order to remind myself of the important information I gleaned the first go around.
If you have been a Vegan for a long time, then you will benefit from having new information at your disposal. And you might just benefit from having the movie as a conversation starter for your non-Vegan friends and family. I have noticed that in the Vegan community, we tend to get insular because it is easier to be around other Vegans. After all, they eat the way we eat, they wear what we wear, they share our views. It is comfortable. But if we are to make a difference in the world, then we need to kick rocks and take our message to the street. Forks over Knives gives us a tool that is accessible and relate-able to anyone in order to do just that.
Some of my favorite parts of the movie were the real people who tried the new diet, the discussion of the studies done by the researchers, the realistic look at healthcare costs and its relationship to nutrition. As we continue to discuss healthcare costs, we really should be discussing nutrition.
I was already a Vegan when I watched this movie, but it just reinforced my decision. It made me sit back and say, “ah, yes, I AM doing the right thing. I’m not crazy. This is a good thing.” I know that if I can get my loved ones to watch this movie, they will also AT LEAST cut back. That is the ultimate goal, right? I do feel like this movie changed my life. Now when people say, “Why?” I say, “Have you seen Forks over Knives?”
>One of the side effects of changing your diet is emotions. It isn’t just a side effect of going Vegan, it is a side effect of trying to eat a more healthy, whole foods (unprocessed) diet. I want to share my emotions story with you and my theory about it. After all, as the blog title says, I’m here to share my journey with you.
I cried last night. I cried and cried. If you have read my blog, then you know a few weeks ago, I had a total melt down and cried then too. But last night was completely unexpected. My husband is having a difficult time moving into a 100 percent Vegan diet. When we transitioned to Veganism, there were some meat products left in the house. I told him and the kids that they could eat the meat products until they were gone, but once they were gone, they were gone, they’re gone. Well to their shock and awe, none of them cooks, so they didn’t end up eating the meat products. That means a few frozen meat products got left in the back of the freezer and were never eaten or thrown away.
(above: a picture of me and my husband at a showing of Young Frankenstein when we first transitioned to Veganism–I’ve lost so much weight since then!)
So to set the scene, we had a great weekend. My daughter had her birthday party, we hung out with my parents, we hung out as a family. We just had a lovely, relaxing weekend. I felt so refreshed. My husband also spent the entire weekend working on his dump truck (a project he is working on as a side business). He didn’t get home last night until after 9 pm. He was tired and hungry. There was storm, so I had a headache (which I usually get when the pressure in the air changes).
He walked in the door and said, “I’m hungry.” I said, “there is hummus, avocados, lettuce, rice, etc.” But then I went to bed because I was tired and not feeling well. Then came the smell. The smell of meat. The smell of cooking meat. He was making hamburgers. I was fine. I called him in the room. He said, “It is fine, it is pregan.” Pregan is the term we use for items we had before we became Vegan thus they are prevegan or pregan. “You said we could eat the leftover meat in the house.”
I had said that. Seven weeks ago. Nevertheless, I had said that. So, I wasn’t mad, really. But then he did something nearly unforgivable. He walked in the room with a hamburger, set it on the bed next to me, and said, “I made you one.” I yelled at him to get it away from me. Our oldest daughter screamed that he had reached a new level of cruel, asked if I was ok, and shut my bedroom door.
As soon as the door shut, I started crying. I wasn’t crying because he cooked meat. I wasn’t crying for the cow or anything like that. We had that meat in the house and had agreed that he could cook it. I didn’t want to eat the hamburger. I have absolutely no desire to eat a hamburger. But there I was balling on my bed. And yes, I’m still in the phase where hamburgers smell really good.
So why was I crying? Here is why I think I was crying last night and several times over the last few weeks.
For years now, I have used food to stuff down anything I was feeling. Normally, you want to eat something, you eat it. You feel happy, you eat something. You feel sad, you eat something. You want the hamburger, you eat it. I think I dulled everything with food. I pushed down every emotion with food! I stuffed myself with food. Sugar, caffeine, fat, tasty food made me feel . . . different.
In the old pregan (preVegan) days, I would have just ate the hamburger even though I wasn’t hungry, even though it violated my personal convictions. Now I actually have to deal with my emotions. I can’t just eat them away. I can’t stuff my desire or my sadness or my anger or even my happiness in a hamburger and eat it.
The key is not to give in. I have found that the best way to deal with these unexpected emotional bursts is just to let them come. I found out that if I just let them come, they pass, and I am done and can move on. I have also found that I enjoy the happy moments in my life so much more because they aren’t being punctuated by where we are going to eat. I thought something would be missing, but it isn’t (but that is for a different blog post). When I first decided to transition to Veganism, many people warned about this emotional bubble outburst. I didn’t really believe it would happen to me.
It really does happen. I think I am better for letting it happen. It actually makes me feel more emotionally balanced. I feel good about that. You guys help me too because I can talk to you about it. So thanks. I think that is key. You need to be able to talk to someone about it. You can always talk to me! Leave a comment and share your emotional outbursts and how you deal with them with us.
>Being a Vegan is hard. There are so many layers to veganism. You have your food. You have your clothing, furniture, toys, material possessions. And, you have the items you use to clean yourself and your house. Tackling it all at once is not advisable. I watched a youtube video about “going cold turkey.” But for someone like me, someone with super, crazy anxiety, there is just too much to know, to learn. Add in living in a suburban/nearly rural environment and you are ripe for Vegan disaster.
I have talked about this before. My husband and I decided that we would do what we can. We are going to try our hardest to do our best and if we make mistakes, then we will learn from them and move on. What we are discovering, the sad truth, is that like oil, nearly everything has an animal product in it. Animal products are used in the manufacturing of everything from the obvious (bacon) to the not so obvious (bicycle tires). If you tried to extract everything in your life with an animal product in it, you would go CRAZY! It simply isn’t possible. So, at some point, you have to do the best you can. After all, we all have to live in this world. I don’t want my kids to stand out as totally belonging to the Wack-A-Doo family (anymore than they already do in East Texas), and I want to enjoy my life as well.
That being said, even PETA acknowledges that all animal products can’t be avoided. See their statement on small amounts of animal products in food here. Basically, we can’t obsess all the time (even if we have obsessive personalities). This has to be especially true when you live in a town that doesn’t have access to a wide range of “vegan” foods. Sometime you are going to have to buy bread with monoglycerides as an ingredient. Those monoglycerides may or may not be derived from an animal product, but you are still making the best choice you can. As countless Vegan websites suggest, go for whole, unprocessed foods when possible, then you don’t have to worry about it!
But back to the “Phases of Vegan” and me. I realize that I don’t even have the food phase down yet. Let’s be honest. My mother pulled out a Triscuit and asked if I could eat it, and I had no clue. She didn’t have the box, so I couldn’t read the ingredients. I just said, “No thanks.” Turns out I could have eaten it! But these things take time. We eat primarily fresh foods that I prepare myself, so I don’t have to worry too much about it.
Then we had a dreaded moment a few days ago (you can read about the sunscreen moment here) when we ran out of body wash. First, I found out that my conditioner is NOT vegan. I repeat NOT vegan and neither is our body wash. So, we went to the store, painstakingly read all the labels and found a product that we thought met our criteria. It is produced by Dove. Then I find out that Dove tests on Animals, and so does Crest (the people who make my toothpaste). Even though I have been reading the labels, I haven’t been buying Vegan products.
This brings me to phases two and three. We have already committed to making the change in our food. We are trying to cut back on our consumerism in general, and we purchase most of our items from auctions, second hand stores, craigslist, etc. When we do purchase new shoes or the like, we purchase vegan products which is pretty easy for us since Converse offers Vegan products (Yeah Converse!) Check out some other awesome Vegan Shoes at this blog Vegan Kicks. So we are cool there. The good news is that you can do the food and the clothing/material items no matter where you live.
Now, toothpaste, that is a whole new level of beast. A WHOLE NEW LEVEL. And that is the phase we are dealing with now. But the story is going to be awesome. Tomorrow I am going to do a little field research on Vegan products that are available at my local stores. After all, that is what this is supposed to be about–how you can do this too when you don’t live right next door to a Whole Foods or in a major metropolitan area. So stay tuned. My next blog entry will be a haul…
>I know, I know . . . I’m obsessed with Oreos. Who wouldn’t be? They are delicious, processed, vegan, little treats of delight. What more could you ask for? They are the one treat that we usually keep in the house. A pack lasts me and the three girls about two weeks. What makes Oreos so delicious? Why vegetable shortening of course. So, when my frosting failed miserably a few weeks ago, I thought, “Self.” Because, you know I do call myself, self. I thought, “Self, wouldn’t it be awesome if you could make frosting that tastes like Oreos?” Why, yes, self, yes, it would.
So, I made that my mission. For my daughter’s second, sixth birthday party this weekend, I decided to switch up my cupcake recipe and frosting recipe. The cupcake recipe was too crumbly, but the frosting was marvelous! So, I will stick with my old cupcake recipe, but the new Oreo frosting recipe.