Going Vegan – Navigating the holidays.

People want to help. I mean, in general, unless your friends and family are really unsupportive assholes, people do applaud your actions when it comes to trying to be healthier in life. They may not agree with what you are doing, but if they are cool people, they will support it. Case in point, my stepmother’s barbecue yesterday. When she sent out the email saying that there was going to be a party there, I agreed to go, while secretly thinking I would just stick to whatever side dishes and figure it out on my own. I didn’t want to be a problem, you know?

Well, my sister Dolly sent an email back telling Robbie that I am a vegetarian now. (I hadn’t yet gone full vegan then.) She obviously took it to heart, because she not only made several vegetarian side dishes, but got portabello mushrooms to grill, so I could have a “burger” when everyone else had one. How cool is that?

The thing is, nobody made any comments about what I was eating, nobody acted like it was a big pain to make something different… after all, they were grilling several kinds of meats, why not throw a couple of mushrooms in the mix?

The only bad part of the day is that I really over-indulged way more than I should have. I ate until I was stuffed, then went to the movies and ate popcorn *with* butter. (And yeah, I can kid myself that movie butter isn’t real butter, but whatever it is, it is definitely not the non-processed, plant based, whole food diet that I am trying to follow here.)

Still, all in all, it was a good holiday for a newbie. I didn’t crave any of the burgers or brats. And I started fresh this morning with a healthy breakfast, nice salad for lunch and another new soup. Small steps, right?

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Cancer Sucks

So, another friend has cancer. And a good friend of my sister’s, as well. Oh, and a friend of a friend is possibly going through her second bout. Cancer fucking sucks. How many of us know people who have had cancer, who currently have cancer, or who have died from cancer?

1 in 8 women will develop invasive breast cancer this year. 1 in 8. Do you know 8 women? If so, one of you may be at risk. I strongly suggest, no implore, that you do breast self exams monthly. Examine them to see if there are any changes. Feel them looking for hard lumps, or any changes from the last month. I have a friend who doesn’t like to do a breast self exam because she says it feels uncomfortable. I promise, having your breast removed, and possibly your lymph nodes, then having to go through the hell of chemo or radiation is far more uncomfortable than feeling your own breasts.

For my part, I am raising funds for the Susan G. Komen breast cancer foundation. I will put myself out there to walk 60 miles over the course of 3 days. I am doing this because I BELIEVE that we must fight for a cure. Please help. Please consider a donation, even if it is just a few dollars. You may be helping to save a life.

http://www.the3day.org/site/TR?px=5900382&fr_id=1763&pg=personal

Going Vegan – I’m not dead yet.

Well, I woke up this morning feeling… less hellish.

That is to say, my headache was gone. I was exhausted. But let’s be fair, I have been exhausted for months, if not a year. Ever since I went back to processed food and not working out after last year’s breast cancer walk, I have been tired all of the time. And fat. And blobbish. And run down and sick. And my pants were getting tighter and tighter. And I can see the flab spilling out around my bra. Enough is enough.

So, I am not giving up. I came home at lunch and ate some of my cabbage, tomato, red and black bean soup. Only problem is that maybe I shouldn’t have eaten a cabbage and bean soup before having to go back to work for another four hours. I spent the first three clenching my butt to keep from having gas. I soaked the beans overnight, so I had kind of hoped that wouldn’t be a problem.

Way too much info, I know, but these are the things you have to be aware of! 🙂

Home from work now, just ate some raw cauliflower and an apple. I am going to steam some zucchini and cauliflower and make a salad of green leaf lettuce, peppers, onions, tomatoes, and carrots and put the steamed veggies over it.

I had a piece of sprouted grain bread with my soup at lunch. I don’t know that I am doing well with the grain situation, as the only grains I am getting are brown rice (in yesterday’s soup) and the bread. Getting some fat and protein from the almond milk and almond butter.

I’m sure a great deal of the exhaustion has to do with giving up coffee and that will pass. I figure I need to give myself at least a full week off of caffeine before I start trying to radically adjust my food. In the meantime, despite still being tired, I was able to come home, walk a couple of miles with my buddy, and then come home and dance with him in the kitchen to “Woodstock” by Crosby, Stills, and Nash. Short work day tomorrow, and then two days off… that will help.

Going Vegan – Veganism for complete idiots.

If anyone can write about veganism for complete idiots, it is me. I am a complete idiot and I have very little idea of what I am doing here. It is one thing to do all of the internet research, ask your friends, study what foods have what nutrients, etc, etc, but when it comes down to that moment where you say, “Okay, from now on, I will no longer eat any animal products,” it is quite another to actually do it.

That said, I do think research is important. First of all, go get Eat to Live by Dr. Joel Furhman and The Engine 2 Diet by Rip Esselstyn. If you don’t have the money to buy them, go to your local library and look for them. I think they are two amazing, non-preachy, but well-researched books about why going plant-based may save your life.

I did a ton of research over the internet, and it was the combination of those two books that finally gave me the determination to just go for it.

That said, it wasn’t as if I went for it very well. I kind of went for it like a klutzy nerd trying to make a move on a girl… that is, poorly and with a lot of drool. Or anguish. Whatever.

I went full on vegetarian at the beginning of this month. That was not extremely hard, as I just stopped eating meat. So, if I was still eating potatoes and macaroni and cheese, hey, it doesn’t matter because I’m not eating meat. Good for me! Good for the environment! Really good for the animals!

Well, after a couple of weeks of that, I realized that just becoming a vegetarian doesn’t mean you’re healthy. So, I make the decision to become a vegan. And not a junk food vegan, who still eats all of those fun vegan foods that are out now, but a plant eating power vegan who avoids coffee, sugar, salt, alcohol, and processed foods. (Caveat. I had already quit drinking several months ago, so that wasn’t a problem.) But the coffee. Oh, coffee. And sugar? But what about those sugar-free ice cream sandwiches? Nope, look at the ingredients of what they have to add to that to make it taste good. Now imagine what those chemicals are doing to your body. They had to go.I almost talked myself into keeping coffee because I actually think there are some major health benefits to coffee, but I can’t drink mine black and artificial sweeteners are on the list of crap to go.

So, May 22, 2012. I ate a cheese pizza for dinner and made a pact that it was the last animal product I would consume. Wednesday, May 23 was hard because I didn’t get paid until Thursday, so I was scraping the bottom of the barrel to eat. I ended up eating lettuce, carrot, and green pepper salad all day, along with a couple of pieces of whole wheat bread.

Thursday, May 24th. I woke up feeling really, really dizzy. I almost broke down and ate some cereal with milk, but I held strong. I was able to pick some strawberries from my little patch out back and ate those along with a piece of bread and the last of my almond butter. Then, I went shopping.

I didn’t really have much of a plan, I just basically bought a lot of fruits and vegetables, along with some brown rice, organic veggie broth, and an organic, non-fat, oil-free, sort of non-processed salad dressing. (Here is my compromise. I haven’t yet found a recipe for a homemade, oil-free salad dressing that looks good to me yet, so I am eating the bottled stuff.) I spent 85 dollars on what I am guessing will be about a week’s worth of food for me. That seems pretty high, but again, I didn’t really know what I was doing. Next week will probably be tweeked a bit.

So, I came home from the store and made a veggie soup. Cabbage, vegetable broth, carrots, spinach, onion, peppers, a few red potatoes, a cupful of brown rice. That went into the crock pot for dinner, so in the meantime, I blended some strawberries, a banana, and a bit of almond milk and had a smoothie. I also ate a banana whole. And a handful of seeds. A couple hours later, I ate a salad with some nuts tossed on the top. By the time the soup was mostly ready, I was so hungry, I ate it even though the rice was still a bit crunchy.

Side note: This was my first day without any coffee, as I had a small cup on Wed… The whole time I was grocery shopping, my eyes were watering. I’m pretty sure one of my co-workers thought I was crying.

Friday, May 25th. I woke up today with such a monster headache that it hurt to move. It felt as if an ice pick was slamming into my head when I lifted it from the pillow. I called in sick to work, stumbled downstairs, almost managed to choke down a piece of sprouted grain bread with almond butter, except every bite I took made me want to puke, so I tossed it outside for the squirrels and ate a handful of grapes. I took three aspirin and went back to bed. When I woke up, I still had a headache, but I could move without wanting to kill myself, so I went back to eating. I drank a full glass of water, then ate a banana. That stimulated my appetite, so I had some leftover soup from last night. (though the rice expanded so it is more like stew than soup now.) I felt marginally better after eating that, though I still had a headache and felt dizzy. I ate an orange and another banana. (Note to self, get more bananas)

I went back to bed again for a couple of hours and now I feel better. I am not as dizzy, my head doesn’t hurt at all, but I am extremely tired. I feel as if I am in a fog. I have a research paper I know I should be working on right now, but every time I start it, my mind wanders to something else.

In the meantime, I put the leftover veggie stoup (stewp?) into a tupperware and started another crock pot soup. This one has kidney beans, black beans, cabbage, cauliflower, tomatoes, and onions. For the record, I have enough of both of these soups to eat three meals a day for the next several days, so maybe this will get less expensive for me as I figure things out. I’m also hoping that I will figure out how to get more creative in my vegan cooking so I don’t have to spend the rest of my life eating soup and salad… but in the meantime, at least I am getting nutrients.

Oh, and for the record, I have put P90X on hold, not indefinitely, but until I get a little more balanced in my eating. In the meantime, I am still walking.

 

Going Veggie – Getting started

I live with my mom. I don’t particularly consider this a failure. I lived in the Virgin Islands for almost seven years, then came back. My partner of the time and I were going to get jobs and a place to live, but she lasted exactly one week here and took off. On my own, I cannot afford to live in the neighborhood I am in now, so I am staying with my mother until I either have a phenomenal job or my novel becomes an international bestseller. In the meantime, I am living with my mother and her husband and, until recently, eating exactly what they eat.

So, I was pretty nervous about telling my mother that I am a vegetarian now. It isn’t that I think she would disapprove, its just that whenever I am home, we eat together. The three of us kind of poll our resources, I contribute to the grocery bill. So, I was worried that she would think that it would be a big pain for me to suddenly be eating completely differently from the rest of the household. On the other hand, they always have at least one vegetable with every meal and generally a big salad, too, so I figured I could make it work without too much trouble.

I didn’t have to mention it for a couple of days because our schedules didn’t coincide to the point of eating dinner together, and I just ate salads or veggies, etc for a couple of days. Finally, yesterday, I was going to be home for dinner and the topic had to be addressed. Here is an exact transcription of the whole painful conversation.

Mama: I need to take some chicken out of the freezer.

Me: Only take enough for you and Tim, I’m not going to eat meat anymore.

Mama: OK.

Later that night:

Tim: Beth, do you want a piece of chicken?

Mama: No, she’s not eating meat anymore.

Tim: Okay.

Wow, that was traumatic. So, I ate the same thing they did as far as the vegetable sides, I just left out the meat. I added a big green salad. I have to admit, I was really, really hungry later, but I just had some natural almond butter on a piece of spouted wheat bread and I was fine.

So, that went well, but that was actually my second step. The first step was to ask for help, which I did by emailing three incredibly gorgeous, wonderful, healthy, sexy vegan women that I know and ask them for advice. I got it. In buckets full. Lots of great advice on what to eat, what not to eat, etc.

In response to my question on whether or not I could be a vegetarian, possibly switching over to veganism, and still sustain my P90X workouts, my dear friend Amine said, “I think it’s important to point out that the author of Engine 2 is also a triathlete… and firefighter at the only all-vegan firehouse in Austin. If those boys can get enough energy from this diet to sustain *fire fighting*, you’ll have plenty for P90X.”  Oh yeah. Well, there is that.

I have the Engine 2 book. I started reading it this morning. I am headed to the library today to pick up a few more books. And I have been scouring the internet looking for more resources. Trust me, there are a TON out there.

So, three easy steps to becoming a vegetarian. (I am saying vegetarian now, though I do want to become a full vegan. I am just not completely there yet.)

1. Tell your eating mates.

2. Ask for help.

3. Do your research.

This is a great place to start:

http://engine2diet.com/

Good luck!

Goals – Vegetarian or Vegan.

I had a weird moment the other day. My mother and I were taking one of our many walks and as we came around a corner, we saw a big brown wild rabbit sitting next to some bushes. We stopped in our tracks and for a few moments, we just stared at him. He stared back at us. His eyes were so big and so beautiful. On the way home, I thought, “I once ate rabbit.” I literally felt sick to my stomach at the idea. And it occurred to me that if eating rabbit makes me sick, why shouldn’t eating chicken do the same? What about cow? Why should a pig have to die so I can eat something that has been proven to clog arteries, contribute to obesity, and a myriad of other health problems?

There are a lot of reasons that people give in order to justify eating meat. We need the protein. Actually, no. You can get enough protein in your life just by varying the other foods you eat. There is protein in broccoli. There’s protein in brown rice. There’s protein in peanut butter and nuts.

It is more expensive to eat healthy. Trust me, I used to be the most vocal supporter of this excuse. But I work in a grocery store now and I see the difference between the people with meat in their carts and the people who are buying a cart full of fresh produce, bags or cans of beans, whole grains, and almond milk. Yes, almond milk is more expensive than regular milk. But taken as a whole, that cart full of healthy stuff is hugely less expensive than the cart with the meat in it.

It takes too much time to eat vegetarian or vegan. I have to give them this one. It will be way more time consuming in the beginning as I try to learn how to create a full, well-balanced menu plan without meat. I’m thinking of going vegan, too, which is even more difficult. But I believe it will only be time consuming in the beginning. Like anything else, it is a growth process, and once I feel comfortable with the concept, I don’t think I will find it any more time consuming at all.

I’ve decided that this week, I am going to just simplify my goal by not eating any meat. If that means I have to eat salad three times a day because I haven’t figured out what else to do, that’s fine. I’ll work on balancing it out as I do more research and figure out what the hell I’m doing.