Support for MM Veganauts

MM

I hope you caught my post titled ‘Twas the Night Before Meatless Monday yesterday. If not, feel free to follow the link before or after I profess my love for M.M. in today’s short post.

Exploring the world of veganism takes guts. Trying to adopt a healthier, more environmentally conscious, and compassionate lifestyle is a noble and sometimes daunting task. Some people rip the bandage off in a quick yank, while others pull gently over time to remove it. For those who need a more gradual entry into a herbivore lifestyle, Meatless Monday is a great place to start.

If you are new to the scene, MM is a weekly celebration of vegetarianism. While dairy isn’t strictly forbidden, I encourage Veganauts to use the day as a way to try out the easy and delicious vegan diet options.

With each Monday being a celebration of meatless living, each Sunday night is another Meatless Monday Eve. This carries with it all of the fun, family, and fellowship that comes with other “Eve” celebrations, like the New Year’s version, the Christmas version, and the Tax Day version. For this reason, there obviously needs to be a few songs and traditions to help tell the story of this weekly epic holiday. I’m happy to share this classic in the making, ‘Twas the Night Before Meatless Monday.


‘Twas Meatless Monday Eve

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‘Twas the night before Meatless Monday, when all through the farm,

not a creature was worried, about coming to harm.

The produce was stocked, in crisping drawers with care,

in the hopes that Low Cholesterol, soon would be there.

The children were hyped, all snug in their beds,

while visions of bean burritos, danc’d in their heads.

And Mama in her flannels, and I in my socks,

had just settled our brains, with some “film” from Redbox.

When out in the garden, there arose such a hoopla,

I sprang up to see who was breaking an HOA bylaw.

Away to the window, I stumbled, raising cane,

pulled open the blinds, and slid open the pane.

The streetlight showed a yard, that badly needed mowing,

illuminating toys, and weeds visibly growing.

When what to my adjusting eyes should I see,

but a miniature grocery cart, and eight little Tofurkies;

with a little ole’ driver, such a healthy fireball,

I knew in a moment, it must be Low Cholesterol.

Even without wings, his coursers they flew,

and he whistled and shouted and called those he knew,

“Now Parsley! Now Sage! Now Rosemary and Tyme!

On Garlic! On Onion! On Cumin and Key Lime!

To the top of the swing set, to the peak of this home,

now dash away, dash away, no time to roam!”

As dry leaves, before a leaf blower fly,

when they meet with an air blast, and flock to the sky,

so up to the house-top these coursers they flew,

with a grocery cart full of produce- and Low Cholesterol too!

And there in a moment, I heard on my roof,

the thumping of Tofurkies, clumsy and uncouth.

As I heaved myself up, then tried to spin around,

down the chimney Low Cholesterol came with a bound.

He was dressed like a farmer, from straw hat to boots,

and his clothes were all covered, with soil and young shoots.

A sack full of groceries, was flung over his shoulder,

and he looked like a hitchhiker, just arriving from Boulder.

His muscles- how they flexed! His skin- how healthy,

his cheeks were like a young man’s, his waist- trim and stealthy!

His fancy running shoes, that he kept tied with tight bows,

with the tread on the bottoms, showing he clearly seldom slows.

He had a happy face, and a flat spot, where I had a belly,

and it hardly shook, when he laughed, at MY bowl full of jelly.

He was hale, and strong, a right healthy looking elf,

and I laugh’d when I saw him, in spite of myself.

A wink of his eye, and a thumbs up he flashed,

soon gave me to know, the visit wasn’t trashed.

He didn’t say jack, just got down to his work,

and fill’d all the pantries, wearing a knowing smirk.

No beef was dropped off, no chicken was gifted,

no pork was involved, no fresh fish was lifted.

Instead fresh produce, and foods that were meatless,

he shared quality grub, helping overcome vegan weakness.

Then suddenly jumping, and signaling “hang loose,”

like a zephyr up the chimney, he practically shoots.

He sprang to his grocery cart, to his Tofurkies gave a shout,

and away they all sped, like in the 10 item or less checkout.

But I heard him exclaim, ere they flew fast as they may,

“Happy Meatless Monday to all, and to ALL a great day!”


Life is Good

My family was one of the first to throw money at the Life is Good company when it started pumping out t-shirts and bumper stickers in the mid to late 90s.  We wore their merch and repeated their slogan so often that we would almost forget how true the words are:

Life is good!

Unfortunately the company found out that Profits are Better when switching from high quality screen printing on high quality shirts to low quality crap patched together in China. We have pre-9-11 shirts that are in better condition than some that we bought during Obama’s second term. Despite this, I still find myself buying some of their stuff from time to time. I suppose I’m a delightful combination of optimistic and forgetful.

The “Powered by Optimism” bumper sticker pictured above was one such purchase. The message grabbed me to such an extent that I was moved to share it with the strangers on the angry, gridlocked highways that cut Orlando into pieces. Maybe I was amused by the image of me yelling myself hoarse and red out of the drivers side window of the vehicle with this message displayed proudly on the back.

In any case, after making the purchase, I prepared the perfect spot on the rear of the mini-van and applied the sticker. I admired it briefly and went inside for the night, knowing I’d be bragging to strangers about my extreme level of optimism after only one night of sleep.

The next morning, I found the new sticker had unstuck itself and was hanging on weakly by a corner. Most people would give up at this point realizing that the Life is Good merchandise wasn’t going to perform at the same level as a regular bumper sticker or even a Post-it. I am not most people. Remember the claims made by the sticker? An optimism guru would never give up so easily. Surely, reapplying the sticker would fix the problem that wasn’t fixed during the first application.

Nope. I tried several more times before the sticker couldn’t even muster the strength to hold on long enough to give me a moment of hope. Luckily, I am a realistic optimist. Given enough time I can usually see when I am whipped beyond all hope.

Waiting for the connection to health, exercise, running, plant based dieting, or living like a vegan? Too bad. I just wanted to share the story of the Powered by Optimism sticker that wouldn’t work, no matter how optimistic or persistent I was.

Oh, by the way, I’m down another four pounds in only three days and I’m feeling very good about this return to being a Veganaut.


Crushing Cravings

crushing-cravingsI will not lie to you, dear readers, I still crave meat, dairy, and eggs from time to time. It has been two and a half weeks, and I hardly ever think about the different foods I’ve removed from my life. Hardly, ever.

Smells can be overwhelming when they sneak up on a person. If I was to walk into a Circle K that had a Dunkin’ Donuts inside, I would have already braced myself for the wave of savory smells. I would have wrinkled my nose before pushing through the glass door, and reminded myself how much I detest sausage biscuits and their abominable cousin, bacon, egg, and cheese croissants.

An unexpected odor, by contrast, can be a sneaky salesman. A surprise office party filled with pizza can become a willpower torture chamber to someone still only a few weeks into a new vegan diet. A Pokemon Go gym next to a Sonny’s BBQ can become an unexpected reminder that meat is an addiction that takes time to overcome.

Again, my friends, these cravings don’t happen very often or with any great intensity.  During the first few days I’d say there was a gentle nagging but it quickly faded to an occasional pang.

My solution for these cravings is to stuff my ever loving face. I microwave potatoes in pairs and eat them at the same time, double-fisted. I indulge in a 1.5x Rip’s Big Bowl which is enough to slow down a hungry elephant. I eat all the insanely good food that Plant Based Diet Culinary Artisan, Shannon, makes as well as any leftovers in the fridge or on other people’s plates. For reasons I won’t bore you with, I suggest not trying the “other people’s plates” tip at vegan restaurants. They are very snobby about that kind of thing, and PLEASE LET ME COME BACK AGAIN, ETHOS!

It seems that stuffing your face with produce isn’t the same as stuffing your face with unhealthy food. While I will share my exact starting weight and progress numbers starting in the near future, I can currently share that in just under 20 days, I’ve dropped 14 pounds.

Can it be challenging for a vegan noob to eat a veggie burger while standing next to grill full of the old fashioned kind? You’re damn right it can be.

Can it be worth it? You’re damn right it can be.


Counting Victory in Weeks

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To be honest, I got a little winded when I celebrated today’s big milestone by I running up all three of my porch steps and imitating Rocky. For the record, I will be counting that as my cardio for the day.

The milestone in question: it’s been two weeks of good, plant based dieting with the occasional vegan junk food cheat. I’d give myself an A+ for being a vegan and a low B for plant based dieting. Dr. Esselstyn would probably give me a D for my plant based diet and perhaps even a stern lecture about avocados. Alas, he isn’t on the list of approved doctors with my insurance plan, so it looks like I’ll continue to have avocado surprise every day.

Avocado Surprise Recipe: for each meal of the day, get an avocado and a knife and a pinch of garlic salt. Take it to the table along with your regular meal. Then when the meal begins say “Surprise! I’m having a whole avocado with my meal again- and I don’t share!”

I don’t need my avocado crutch as much as I did in the first week. I’m doing a great job with the steel cut oats or Rip’s Big Bowl for breakfast, a smoothie or giant mixed vegetable salad for lunch, and some form of cooked or raw vegetables and either brown rice, beans, or tofu for dinner. Sometimes we do something crazy like spiralizing the zucchini or grilling Tofurky faux sausages, but keeping it simple is easier and accentuates the actual flavors.

The 14-day influx of fresh fruits and vegetables brings with it a renewed sense of happiness and joy. There is a chance I feel that way because I read this article explaining a study that took just over 12000 people who ate almost no fruits and vegetables and changed their intake to at least 8 servings a day. They didn’t omit any of their old foods- they simply added fruits and vegetables. Because of this, the people had an increase of happiness equivalent to that of people who went from being unemployed, to gainfully employed. As anyone who has been in this position before can tell you, that is a metric ton of happiness.

It is hard to tell if I’m experiencing that level of increased joy, but I certainly feel a lot more optimistic and positive about the actions I’m taking to heal. Come to think of it, I might just go put in ANOTHER cardio session for today.

 

 


Not So Much the Heat…

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Greetings from sunny Florida, also known as the Rehydrator State. The humidity is so high here that if you leave raisins laying around they become green peppers. You thought I would say grapes perhaps? That shows how little you know about the insane humid heat- it does crazy things to people and produce!

It has been authoritatively said by people somewhere on the internet, that hotter climates lead to more violent communities. It’s broad generalizations like this that make me want to grab someone by the shirt and shake them into floppy unconsciousness. Anecdotally, it may seem like the Iceland/ Denmark/ Canada type countries are filled with happy, well-adjusted people and the Columbia/ Somalia/ Transylvania type countries are filled with hot-tempered, passionate people or vampires, but you can take your anecdotes and shove them, sideways down your well-intentioned throa…… I mean, clearly, scientific studies funded by special interest groups are needed before we can make any sense of this.

My primary goal right now is dropping pounds. Since this isn’t my first plant based rodeo, I already know my body will respond positively to the change in fuel. I’m sure my new diet is going to help my blood work and even help many of the pounds come off. However, I also know the addition of daily exercise is probably making as big a difference as the diet, if not bigger.

My fascination with the spa-like weather we’re having this sweltering Summer is fueled by my increased interaction with it. My daily walk/shuffle and basic weight lifting regimen requires that I exert effort in my garage gym or outdoors. This is a bit tricky when the daily temperatures are at their highest between 8am and… around… mid-September.

For this reason, I find myself getting up early to exercise before Mr. Sun begins his daily assault on the good people in our part of the pressure cooker. Swimming and biking and faux-jogging are tolerable between 4-7am but any outdoor activity after that is going to require a NASA space suit.

I could drive to the YMCA where our membership gives us access to a lot of nice equipment in an air-conditioned area, and this seems like an easy solution. However, I’m in a hypersensitive body image place at the moment and waaaaaay more comfortable taking care of my exercise here in the neighborhood. Plus, I doubt you can fully understand the road rage levels that Florida drivers reach when the humidity and temperature levels get up above burning rain forest temperatures.

I’m loving the extreme exercise and excited about the plant-based diet. Neither steam nor acid rain nor searing heat nor humid night stays this Veganuat from the swift completion of his appointed cardio.

 

 


Farmer’s Market Pre-Game

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NEWS ALERT: Glorious Leader has become 90 pounds (41kg) more glorious in the last 4 years. I wrote a great post suggesting a plant-based diet for Kim Jong-il, but my editor read it and said that I should try to avoid pissing off all of North Korea and most of North America at the beginning of my comeback tour. I guess that post will have to wait to be part of the book.

Instead, it might be safer to guide this wagon train into a less inflammatory part of the prairie… like the farmer’s market! What’s up with those, amiright? They are so crazy and NOT inflammatory… with their various cottage industry produced mustards and the bushels of kale they have on sale…

…but seriously folks, I do love a good open air market. Our favorite farmer’s market is in Winter Park, FL near the historic train station. It requires getting an early start on Saturdays so you don’t run the risk of missing out on the loaves of roasted garlic bread and the best fruit cups. The thought of missing out on fresh pineapple and fresh bread has motivated me out of bed on many Saturday mornings, and it will be forefront in my mind when I wake up for tomorrow’s supply run.

In addition to fresh smelling and amazing tasting foods, there is also the people and dog watching aspect of a farmer’s market visit. Since these ephemeral outdoor markets attract hippies, with their dogs, and yuppies, with their dogs, the combinations and permutations of human/canine interaction unfold in front of the open stalls like a Shakespearean play.

Queen Gertrude and her overly manicured yellow Labradoodle (cross between a Labrador and a poodle) are not accustomed to jostling elbows and canvas bags of cucumbers with the likes of Second Gravedigger and his spotted Muttiger (cross between a mutt and possibly a badger). Queen Gertrude clearly has a “something is rotten in the state of Denmark” look about her while Gravedigger #2 is clearly giving off a “the lady doth protest too much, methinks” vibe.

Inevitably, the leashes intertwine and the dogs either start barking or trying to make Polka-dotted Golden Badgelabradoomuttiger puppies, and a micro-chaos erupts as the masses pull back for safety and a better camera angle. This usually ends when one of the flailing leash holders yells at his dog, “Out, damned Spot!” causing the gathered crowd to groan and dejectedly put their iPhones away and mutter to each other about screwing up a perfectly good Hamlet metaphor.

Tomorrow should be a great morning for watching the comedy unfold, for all the world’s a stage. Plus, we need some fresh produce… and I’ve been itching to get my hands on a few green pepper plants. Oh… and some kettle corn!

 


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