Tag Archives: vegetarian

‘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!”


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.


Farmer’s Market Pre-Game

kim_jong_un_3

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!

 


Meatless Monday

MMGarfieldWhy all the Monday bashing? I LOVE Mondays!

Garfield loves lasagna but he absolutely hates Mondays. Radio DJs adore silly sound effects and celebrity gossip but they, for the most part, hate Mondays.  They spend all week bashing Mondays and counting down the minutes to the weekend, effectively teaching millions of listeners to join them in wishing away 5/7ths of their lives. This should be a crime! How can you hate a day… especially an awesome day like Monday?

There are many reasons to revel in the glory of Monday but one of my favorites is Meatless Monday.  This movement encourages regular, meat eating omnivores to skip all meat products on this one day of the week, and it’s working.  They are jumping on the MM bandwagon in droves. These omnivores might enjoy a whole turkey on Tuesday or fried chicken on Friday or even delicious wildebeest on Wednesday… but when Monday rolls around they spend the day digging into meat free meals.

Some vegetarians and vegans that have lived years without eating meat might scoff at the effort involved in going meatless once every seven days.  To them it probably seems as easy as breathing to skip meat for a day. Whoop-dee-do, they may say in a bored, monotone voice.

However, many (if not most) vegetarians and vegans see the implications of a movement like this and embrace it wholeheartedly.  They understand that every 7 Meatless Monday participants equal an entire vegetarian! Think of it…if all seven billion people on Earth practiced the MM way of life we would have the equivalent of ONE BILLION VEGETARIANS!

I’m sure we could argue that math with some confusing statistics about food consumption around the globe but it will be hard to convince me of anything while my fingers are in my ears and I am making a sound like Weeeeooooooeeeeeeeooooooeeeeeooooooeeeeeoooo. This is how I win most of my arguments around the house so I know it works.

Another huge benefit of the MM Movement is that it gives people a chance to explore a lifestyle they may not think they are ready to live. Meatless Monday participants have a painless way to learn what vegans and vegetarians already know: meatless meals are delicious! In fact, they are so delicious that people learn that in addition to ditching meat on Mondays, that they are also very capable of reducing their meat, dairy and egg consumption during the other 6 days of the week. This is how vegetarians are born- this is where vegans come from.

Meatless Monday is a gateway lifestyle. It shows people how easy it can be. It hooks them with the delicious foods and keeps them with many long term benefits. There can be a lot of fear to overcome when deciding to make a total life change.  MM allows people to discover how easy and rewarding this lifestyle can be.

Once these meat-free explorers have made a habit of finding delicious alternatives to eat on Mondays they are likely to dial up their compassionate, healthy, and environmentally conscious days of the week. Vegan Vednesday, Animal-Free Friday, and Thoughtful Thursday are all extensions that can be used to expand the scope of their cruelty free explorations. Each of them is another baby step leading people to the brink of veganism and making them comfortable enough to jump the rest of the way in.

Many veganauts are like astronauts- they are exploring strange new worlds and boldly going where only some people have gone before (while carefully avoiding copyright infringement). Meatless Monday is a great way to start the journey: try it yourself, share it with others, encourage those who are interested, and wait patiently for those who are not yet ready. People have to decide for themselves when it is time to make a change- just be ready to help when they ask.

If you disagree let me offer my rebuttal: Weeeeeeeeeeeeooooooooooooeeeeeeeeeeeeeooooooooooooeeeeeeeeeeeeeooooooo.


Veganaut Tales with Jennifer J.

veganaut-map-jenniferHere is another great story showing that vegans are not cloned in a laboratory and trained in militant PETA camps.  It is really quite the opposite.  The variety of different Veganaut Tales we’ve heard so far paints a picture of diversity.  We came from countless backgrounds to get to this healthy, compassionate, and sustainable life and I am excited to be here with all of you good people.

Jennifer’s story interested me because you can tell where her heart was from the beginning.  Even as a child she had an inkling that the rest of the world was eating and living differently than she wanted to be.  However, walking the path your heart wants you to take can be a real challenge, especially when the vast majority of the people and institutions you encounter seem to be blocking the path.

I’ll let Jennifer J. share her story, but not before thanking her profusely for sending it in to share with the community.  Take it away Jennifer:

When I was a teenager, I became a steadfast vegetarian.  I still ate dairy and eggs; after all, I was living in Wisconsin and had grown up visiting my grandparents’ small dairy farm.  After college, while I was working at a Whole Foods Market, I decided to become vegan.  I then began work as a labor organizer.  I was a junk food vegetarian turned junk food vegan, with a challenging job that required travel and irregular hours, an unsupportive fiance and few everyday cooking or meal planning skills, so my attempt lasted barely a year.  I returned to eating poultry and meat.

In 2007, I moved to Northwest Arkansas, the land of Walmart and a major poultry-producing region.  I ate more meat and processed foods, including things I had never eaten previously.  I met my husband, we got married, and he began nursing school.  I worked as a court reporter and heard the testimony of farmers fighting corporations and insurance companies, workers injured at poultry farms and factories, and people with devastating illnesses like diabetes.  The chicken trucks I drove behind haunted my dreams.  I ate Walmart meat, cheese and processed foods even as they disgusted me.

I was sluggish and depressed.  My skin and hair suffered and I gained weight.  My joints ached, my blood sugar was erratic, I had sinus problems and allergies caused in part by airborne chicken dung, and I exhibited symptoms in line with hormonal imbalances, yet my doctors insisted I was fine.  I felt isolated.  I knew I was abandoning my ideals and neglecting my health.  For several years I contemplated returning to veganism, but somehow a plant-based lifestyle never seemed attainable and so I maintained the status quo.  I was stressed out and on a budget; I couldn’t buy expensive ingredients, wrap my mind around time-consuming preparations, or listen to someone shame me for my choices.

In 2011, two important things happened.  First, I found myself nursing my beloved 14-year-old pet budgie who was suffering from gout.  It became painfully clear that I was dishonoring both of us by devotedly caring for her and continuing to eat poultry.  I became vegetarian again and reduced my dairy consumption.  Second, a friend happened to send me a copy of Everyday Happy Herbivore as an early Christmas present.  Somehow that particular book resonated with me and I immediately transitioned to a plant-based diet.

In 2013, I have more energy, my previous health issues are a distant memory, and I love to cook and plan meals.  I’ve found so many wonderful, supportive resources; I know I am not alone.  I’m still on a budget, but going plant-based has actually saved me both money and time.  My husband is still an omnivore, but he publicly supports me and eats my cooking.  I still dislike many things about where I live (so many chicken trucks!), but becoming plant-based profoundly changed how I participate in and view my community.  I still stumble occasionally, I’m still constantly adjusting, and I may never be a perfect “vegan,” yet so many positive changes in my life have come from choosing to be eat plants.  This lifestyle now signifies simplicity and joy to me.  Occasionally in hindsight I am embarrassed by how how long I waited to become a Veganaut; more than anything, I’m just grateful that I did it.

So are we Jennifer! It’s never too late to start or restart this rewarding life. Looking back at our old lives might be a little awkward but it sure is easier to do when you are walking the path your heart asks you to walk.  Thanks again for telling us your Veganaut Tale!

If you’d like to share the journey you took to becoming a vegan, plant-based dieter, eco-vegan, and/or veganaut, please email your story to me at watchmelose150@gmail.com. There is no length requirement but the 400-800 range is a good ballpark range.  Ahoy!


Ironic Indignation

horse-meat1Back in my meat eating days I would listen in horror as news reporters gleefully told me about outbreaks of Mad Cow Disease and meat processing plants contaminated with deadly e-coli.  The thought that my meat could actually kill me was enough to keep me from eating any for up to 30 or even 40 minutes in some cases.

As a vegan, these horror stories about diseased meat and bacteria laden dairy don’t effect me the same way anymore.  Now they fill me with a different sense of dread since I’ve learned how the meat and dairy industries cull the effected and surrounding herds when disease is found.  “Cull” is a very polite way of saying that they carry out an animal massacre of epic proportions.

Luckily, the most recent meat related news flash was not a story of disease and culling.  Instead, it seemed more like the old Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup commercials.  Now the lucky hamburger lovers in the UK are facing the same kind of exciting sense of edible discovery as the actors in the old commercials who accidentally discovered the great taste combination of chocolate and peanut butter.  However, the dialogue from the commercials would be a little different for today’s version of discovery.

“You got your horse meat in my ground beef!”

“Well, you got your ground beef in my horse meat!!”

Both actors take a bite and roll their eyes.

In unison: “Hey, these are two great tastes that taste great together!!

I’m sorry.  I know that is a gross and horrible thing to joke about but British omnivores have been unknowingly wolfing down horse meat <here is the article> and nobody knows for how long.  One distributor was clocked at more than 25% horse meat in their ground beef.

The thought of killing cows to make food has become foreign to me.  The thought of killing horses for food has always been foreign to me.  I can understand the outrage felt by the British omnivores who have been unknowingly eating horse- but that doesn’t mean that it the whole situation isn’t wrought with irony.

The hamburger lovers are making a raucous public outcry because the dead and ground up animal they thought they were eating was actually a combination of two dead and ground up animals.  Eating horse seems to be an abomination while eating cow seems to be a natural and normal practice for humans.  Does this strike anyone as a little hypocritical?

I’m not suggesting that people embrace the horse as a meat animal for people instead of just for dog food companies in Mexico.  Instead I am wondering if perhaps the disgust people feel about eating a horse could be broadened to include other species.  If horse meat is vile then maybe cows and pigs are too.  If bald eagles and vultures are off the menu, maybe turkey and chicken should be too.

In any case, it is nice to know that I’ve removed myself from the meat and animal product system.  When unscrupulous meat processing plants spread disease or extra animal species I don’t need to worry about being one of their victims.  They are dirty and evil industries and it is a huge relief to have washed my hands of them.


Running My Mouth

Friends, Veganauts, county folk… lend me your ears.

As a boy, I spent a week or two of each year at the greatest summer camp on Earth.  It was such a formative part of my life that even when childhood swelled into manhood, I continued to return to camp for the entire two-month summer season.  I evolved from camper, to CIT (Counselor in Training), to counselor, to Sailing Guru, to Head Counselor, to Assistant Director… a process that took about 27 years.

Each of those summers was like its own Buddhist incarnation.  I would be born when the camping season started, experience a lifetime of lessons, and finally fade from existence when the canoes and archery targets were securely packed away and the last bell of the summer sent us back to the real world for ten long months.  It was a lot like the movie Groundhog Day without all the snow and groundhogs.

Among the resume full of skills that I refined over those lifetimes was the ability to tell stories.  I come by the raw material honestly.  It’s in my genes.  For generations my people have had the ability to spin yarns, stretch already tall tales, and turn small fish into mythically huge behemoths.  Luckily, we’ve all been smart enough to stay out of politics.

Lifetimes/summers of practice allowed me to polish this raw material until it gleamed.  The stories I told ranged the full spectrum, from didactic tales about a native American named Nakusa all the way to a camp favorite, the Green Lady.  Sometimes the telling was weak and other times it moved the audience to gasps and tears.  Every eye roll and every whimper from the audience was cataloged and used to improve the next story telling session.  It became my thing.

For lack of a better segue, fast forward to the present.

In three and a half weeks the Central Florida VegFest will blossom in Orlando, FL.  Saturday, October 27th will be a day of vegan food stalls, rescued animal petting, and compassionate, like-minded high fives.  In a world where vegans are few and far between, it will be an exciting day to see thousands of us gathered together celebrating our lives and how they are enriched by not taking other lives.

A few days ago I received word that I was accepted as one of the speakers at the VegFest.  I get a whole hour to run my mouth about my passion.  In addition to my own story, I also get to share the veganaut concept with the assembled masses.  Simply put- I am excited.

My brother from another mother made an excellent point, however.  He reminded me that vegans and vegetarians are much more likely to be carrying produce.  If the speaking engagements falls short of the crowds expectation I could find myself being pelted by heads of cabbage and tomatoes.  I think we all know what this means.  I will need to bring my juicer.  Think of all the nutrients that can be gleaned from bruised tomatoes and squash!  Vegan pay dirt!

I know that not everyone can take a week off from work to fly in from California or Australia, but I hope the locals are able to make the drive.  I am NOT telling you to make signs and banners that say “Veganauts RULE!” or “Oh Captain, My Captain!”  I am merely suggesting it… and promising you either an Earth shatteringly good story telling session, or an almost unlimited supply of fresh vegetable juice.

Either way, I hope you can make it!