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.

 

 

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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!

 


A Week Back on the Wagon

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If this were a 7 Day Vegan Challenge/Cleanse/ReBoot, I’d already be planning tomorrow’s celebratory Finger Lickin’ Rib Cookout Party. Lucky for me (and my cholesterol count) this ain’t no challenge.

It has been as easy as vegan sweet potato pie to fall back into good habits. The food is better than I remember, I feel the dairy addiction fading, and my intestines haven’t been this clean in a long time. In the days to come, there will be plenty of time to look with honesty and some disappointment at the last 20+ months and see that I was way more Not Vegan than I was Veganaut. For now I’m happy to focus on the recent accomplishments and continue to take this one week at a time. At least until I can start counting by months again.

As an expert at being a vegan beginner, I can assure all the other noobs out there that this process gets easier and easier. You’ll eventually reach a point where you have to hide rolling your eyes when people gush about how hard veganism sounds. However, that automatic eye roll is earned with weeks of building new habits and reinforcing them as if they are a lifestyle and not a temporary state of being.

Until then, try to forget all about #NationalFriedChickenDay and keep a copy of the Forks Over Knives DVD handy for moments of weakness. Stay strong brave Veagnaut brothers and sisters!

 


Second Day 5: the Fourth

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To all of my good friends residing OUTSIDE of the red, white, and blue third of North America; please excuse the noise, smoke, and flying debris that is a result of our celebration. It may seem excessive but in reality, you are correct.

To all of my good friends residing in ‘Murica, Happy Fourth of July! Cheers to your fresh, clean cut lawns- cheers to your patriotic bunting and the 5×10 storage unit that you must rent to hold it all- cheers to your insane fireworks that should probably be handled by professional pyrotechnic artisans who were trained at Disney theme parks- cheers to your plentiful vegan beers and your insanely good vegan burgers!

Today is the fifth day of returning to a serious vegan, plant-based diet. I know that after a few months a mere five days will seem paltry but today it seems like a mountain has been climbed and beaten. I’m already looking forward to my one week chip coming on Wednesday! Shannon (chef-magician) and I have been easily slipping back into the good habits we made only a few years ago. Even on a day like today, which is traditionally a Meat-a-palooza type event, I’m not feeling the expected yearning for the edible versions of Brother Cow, Brother Pig, and Brother Chicken. Instead, I am very excited about having the plant-based version of a suspiciously good grilled burger.

Notice I don’t say “try.” I’m not trying this miracle for the first time. I’ve had this fake burger before and was fully prepared to mock it as another failed attempt and follow up the mocking with a tirade about getting my damned hopes up again. It was going to be a temper tantrum of epic proportions- I considered live streaming it on Periscope or posting a story version of it on Snapchat but then I remembered I was in my 40s.

Needless to say, I’m excited to have another Beast Burger experience today because the one I tried before was shockingly good. It’s also nice to have a special day early in the re-veganizing to help remind me that this is a lifestyle I happily lived for two years and the return is a cause for celebration rather than mourning.

To all of my good friends in and out of arbitrary political boundaries, Happy Day 5, and cheers to the years still to come.


Open Letter to the Anti-vegan Irish Restaurant Owner

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Dear Sir,

I can take a joke. I am not alone. Have a nice day.

Sincerely,

Jason


The Farm

home-garden-suburban-gardeningWell, hey! How the H-E-double hockey sticks are ya? It feel like 2/3rds of year since we sat down together and chewed the seitan. I hope 2014 treated you well. It was certainly an exciting year for my family. We bought a house!

Shannon and I have been renting since the early 1990s. Over the decades we watched the housing market grow steadily, balloon slightly, boom uncontrollably, crash horrendously, recover meekly, slip slightly, and then fester pungently. Not knowing much about the economy, we assumed that smell was the signal to buy.

The home we bought has a lot of suburban farming potential. The problem we faced with renting is that you never know how long you will be in a location. Gypsies don’t plant avocado trees. Nomads are not known for cultivating citrus. In a lot of ways, roots require roots.

Even our little seasonal gardens over the years were shadows of their true potential. Enriching the soil was an uncertain investment, much less running irrigation lines or building a sturdy fence. Plus, any really good garden needs toad homes, and I couldn’t bring myself to make any, knowing I might one day need to evict the little warty guys.

Now we find ourselves settled in Central Florida, primed and ready to try living off our land to some extent. Trees will be planted, gardens will be staked out, rainwater will be redirected… it is a very exciting time. So far we’ve decided on one each of these trees: mango, avocado, orange, lemon, lime. We also have planned for two banana trees and a decorative patch for pineapples. On top of that, I’ve been adding fresh ginger and turmeric root to my smoothies lately and was pleasantly surprised to learn that the gnarled brown knots that grow underground are attached to some very tropical and decorative leaves above.

Do you have any suggestions for crops we should grow or resources we should absorb before Spring arrives… which is like next week here in sunny Florida (please don’t hate us). I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

I’d also love to share my second favorite part of our home. Check out where I get to put the Christmas train! This is just the proof of concept construction. Now that we know it fits and works, we can begin construction on the tiny buildings, trees, snow banks, tunnels, and new lighting system that’s obviously needed.

Happy Winter Solstice!


T-100 Days

vegan-veg-writingThere are only 100 days before I become a 43 year old man.

If we have not met before, I should probably clarify; I am not currently a woman who is becoming a man, I am a 42 year old who is becoming a 43 year old. After not adding anything to this blog for eight months I have to be careful not to assume you good readers out there know a thing about me… but enough about me, let’s get back to me.

Much like the New Year, I use birthdays as a chance to take stock in myself and make resolutions to fix the areas that need restocking. Shortly before my last blog post, around 265 days ago, I’d set a docket of lofty goals for my 42 year old self. Then, much like this blog, I completely ignored them. Unfortunately, it is easy to make a list but even easier to ignore it.

Well, no more! I’ve decided to wake myself from the comfortable, warm couch of complacency and jump to my unsuspecting feet. With 100 days to go before I complete this lap around the sun, I feel reinvigorated and confident that I can make a dent in my self-improvement honey-do list.

Now that I am retaking the wheel, there is a healthy eating component, a daily exercise component, and a writing component that make up my next 100 days. It may seem a little ambitious but with less than 30% of age 42 left I need to invest more aggressively in myself.

“But Jason,” you may say, “what about the holidays?”

To be honest, I’m surprised you feel comfortable beginning your sentence with a conjunction. Sure, it’s not technically breaking any rules, but I feel there is a time and a place for such recklessness.

And to answer your imaginary question with a rhetorical one, when during a calendar year are we truly free from the temptation of celebration? We waddle from President’s Day, to MLK weekend and Valentines Day, to St. Patrick’s Day, and March Madness. Spring Break leads into Memorial Day and the Fourth of July. Then we have August which is National Picnic Month. From here it is a slippery slope from fall festivals, to football season, and into Halloween, the gateway to the aforementioned holiday season.

It would be easy to write off the next two or three weeks as a deliciously lost cause. The only flaw in that logic is that I am ready to start now. I have snored rather obnoxiously on the comfortable couch for long enough.