Oh, a Month Passed?

month

Many former vegans may be reluctant to come back to the cool kids club because they’ve been away for so long that they forgot that this lifestyle is the path of least resistance. They’ve been eating their fried chicken and drinking their blue cheese dressing for so long, that they forgot veganism is the epitome of simple, clean, and easy.

Well let me share with you, brothers and sisters… whether you are a sinner, steak-eater, or lifelong Level 11 Vegan High Priest or Priestess… it is shockingly easy to return to a vegan diet, even after a long and shameful hiatus fueled by heavy cream and brisket.

From my experience, I found the first day or three back on the wagon to be bothersome at worst. From that point forward it was like being reintroduced to old friends I hadn’t heard from in years. For instance, I’d completely forgotten that Billy Tofu and Larissa Sweet Potato and I used to get in so much trouble in Mr. McGreggor’s organic chemistry class that we almost had to take summer school to graduate!

My triumphant return to veganism occurred five weeks ago. I didn’t even notice the one month anniversary go by, which really kind of makes my point. Weeks flew by without me really noticing and I felt better and better each day. I’m MUCH healthier today than I was when I restarted five weeks ago. Plus, I see no reason to stop. I can continue to eat well, get better, and move more for years to come. It isn’t a fad or a cleanse or a quick fix. It is a healthy lifestyle that can be maintained for life.

Having lived a simple, vegan lifestyle for months or years means that the pattern of behavior is already hardwired into your brain. The former vegans seem to have it even easier than the first timers. If you took a wrong turn down Spare Ribs Avenue for a year or ten after a successful stint as a vegan or plant based dieter, don’t be afraid to come back. Set your GPS to take you to a Whole Foods or a Bikram Yoga studio, and after making a few turns you’ll soon recognize exactly where you are…And that’s a really good feeling.

 


Haddie Ann

Haddie

A lot of life happened in the roughly two years I wasn’t blogging. During that time, we lost and gained members of our “people family” and we lost and gained members of our “fur family.” Time has a way marching on, but not always in a steady, measured fashion.

In today’s quick post, I wanted to welcome Haddie Ann to our family and introduce her to the Veganaut community. She is 4 or 5 months old and is cobbled together from a random assortment of varied breeds. We rescued her from a “kill shelter” which might be the most horrific oxymoron there is. I can’t begin to tell you how hard it is it pass by the remaining dogs with the one you are saving. I can’t begin to tell you because I didn’t have the heart to go. Instead, the rest of the family went while I waited at home and continued to imagine that all the dogs who don’t get adopted end up going to live on a puppy farm in Vermont.

It is the third day she has been at home with us and despite the 12 poops and the 439 piddles, she seems to be getting the hang of life as a family dog. The cats don’t seem to mind, although Mrs. Murder Claws did chase her around the yard and into corner while explaining the established pecking order. From what I’ve learned, she gives great puppy kisses and she sleeps through the night. You can’t ask for much more at this stage of the game.

In the months and years to come, I look forward to telling you all about Haddie Ann and her many adventures. Future posts might include:

“Haddie Ann and the Farmer’s Market Fiasco”

“The Red Ants vs. Haddie Ann”

“Haddie Digs a NEW Garden for Us”

“Haddie Ann and the Mailman’s Stones” and

“Haddie Ann: the Dog Who Knew Too Much.”

 


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

twas

‘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

VV2

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.