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Category Archives: Vegan Lifestyle

Exciting News

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It has been well over a month since I have posted anything and there’s a good reason.  I am three months pregnant!  Eric and I decided we were ready and succeeded on the first try!  This is our first baby and the first grandchild on both sides, so it’s a very exciting event for everyone.  My first trimester was a little rough.  I had a lot of fatigue, nausea, and heartburn, but I’m starting to feel much better.  I was coming home from work every day, throwing together some kind of meal, then laying down on the couch and staying there pretty much all evening.  I hadn’t felt the drive to write at all, so the blog has been quiet.  I plan to step it up now while I still can, before the third trimester and the arrival of our little munchkin, when I’ll have no time whatsoever.

Oh, and an important note.  When talking with my Certified Nurse Midwife about eating healthy during the pregnancy, I told her I was vegan and she was very pleased to hear it.  She kept saying that I was eating a very healthy diet, so all should be well.  I did admit I had been eating a lot of bread lately, because it helps settle my stomach.  She told me that the first trimester is pretty much a free pass because you eat what you can.  All blood tests so far have come out great – further confirmation that a vegan diet is nothing but healthy.

Anyway, that’s my news!  I’ll report back on being vegan while pregnant!

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Viva La Vegan Grocery, Santa Monica

The all-vegan market, Viva La Vegan Grocery opened a new location not long ago in Santa Monica.  Eric and I found ourselves in the area and stopped by to see what interesting new vegan products we could try.  First, I want to point out that this is not really a health foods store.  While there are cooking basics such as different kinds of flour, grains, and different sauces, there aren’t a lot of those things and you could get most of them elsewhere.  Mostly, they had the largest variety of vegan processed foods that I have ever seen.  I was there to buy foods that I don’t usually see at our local grocery stores, so I was okay with that.

The store is tiny and packed with vegan goods.  I definitely recommend you stop in and try something new.

Viva La Vegan | A Vegan in Progress

This was our haul.  It was the most expensive bag of groceries I ever bought.  It was over $60 for the items listed below.  Everything was $5-8 each.

  • Artisan Tofurkey Andouille Sausages
  • Tofurkey Chorizo-style meatless crumbles
  • Starlite Cuisine Santa Fe Style Crispy Rolled Tacos
  • So Good Miso Mayo Spicy Red Pepper Spread
  • Victoria Vegan Alfredo Sauce
  • Uncle Eddie’s Vegan Peanut Butter and Chocolate Chip Cookies
  • Tofurkey Vegan Italian Sausage and Fire Roasted Veggie Pizza
  • Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Sticks (I used these for Thanksgiving stuffing)
  • Nacheez dairy-free nacho sauce
  • Rising Moon Organics Artichoke and Olive Ravioli

I will post about these as I try them, so stay tuned!

Vegan Impulse Buying

Like an adult

When you come across a vegan treat in a store that isn’t usually vegan, do you ever feel like you just have to buy it?  That happened to me last night.  We were at Ralphs for just a couple of items and for some reason I stopped to look at some mini-pies in the bakery section.  They were dutch apple and vegan.  I immediately felt like I had to buy one even though I didn’t really want pie.  I don’t know if I subconsciously worry that I’ll never come across it again or if I feel like I should try every vegan thing I stumble upon.

I didn’t buy it, for the record.  I just thought about it for longer than anyone should have to think about a pie.

Vegan Myths: The “Listening to my Body” Excuse

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I recently read the post, Can We Please Stop ‘Listening to Our Bodies’? on Huffington Post by Ed Coffin and wanted to share it.  It’s so disappointing to hear a former vegan telling people that they listened to their body telling them that they needed to eat animal products.  If your body needs protein or calcium or whatever you’re using as an excuse, any vegan knows that it is readily available in whole foods.  What’s worse is that anti-vegans use these statements as evidence that vegans are just crazy hippies who haven’t listened to their body’s signals yet.

This happens with simply vegetarians, too, as I found when watching an old episode of the HBO series, Girls.  Lena Dunham’s character, Hannah, tells a guy that she was vegetarian for years, but someone cooked a steak for her, so she ate it and could feel herself getting much needed nourishment from it.  So frustrating to watch.

Anyway, the following post includes a great official statement from the American Dietetic Association about how a balanced vegan diet is perfectly healthy for all stages of life, including pregnancy, which is good to hear.  I also like to see such truthful pro-vegan posts on websites that are not vegetarian-focused.  Way to go, Huffington Post!  Enjoy!

Sure, there are perfectly legitimate reasons to “listen to our bodies.” For example, noticing a sharp chest pain or an allergic reaction (a real, diagnosed one) to food. However, there are many people who make a completely irrational attempt to justify their “need” to consume animal products by using the “listening to my body” argument. As a registered dietitian, this is probably one of the most irksome arguments I hear, because it’s simply untrue.

Thank goodness that we don’t have to rely on mere thoughts and feelings to determine what nutrients humans need to consume to stay healthy. In fact, there’s a thing called the scientific method, and it’s an incredibly precise way of gathering and deciphering information. We have used it to compile decades of nutrition research that have resulted in established recommendations for the nutrients our bodies need to thrive.

We have even been able to use this body of scientific evidence on human nutrition to make the determination that we simply don’t need to consume animal products to survive. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics has put this issue to rest in a single position statement:

It is the position of the American Dietetic Association that appropriately planned vegetarian diets, including total vegetarian or vegan diets, are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases. Well-planned vegetarian diets are appropriate for individuals during all stages of the life cycle, including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, and adolescence, and for athletes.

Evidence-based nutrition recommendations tell us the appropriate amounts of macro and micronutrients the general population needs to stay nourished. How we choose to obtain those nutrients is completely up to us, and there’s certainly no established recommendation for the amount of animal products we need to consume, because they’re not essential. We can get all the nutrients our bodies require while consuming a completely plant-based diet. This isn’t propaganda or zealotry; it’s a simple scientific fact.

So, let’s please stop using the “listening to my body” excuse, because it’s completely false. Let’s just be truthful and say, “I’m not ready or willing to go vegan at the moment.” There are certainly many debates we can have surrounding the vegan lifestyle, but whether or not we need to eat animal products to be healthy isn’t one of them. No one needs to “listen to their body” to decide if they can go vegan or not.

Liebster Award, part 2

Thank you, A Year of Going Vegan, for nominating me for another Liebster Award!  It’s super flattering.  Since, with every nomination come new questions, I decided to do another post on it.

liebster-blog-award

Rules:

  1. Answer the 10 questions that the tagger set for you (see below)
  2. Choose your 10 favorite new bloggers with less than 200 followers (see below)
  3. Create 10 questions for your favorite new bloggers to answer (see below)
  4. Go to their page and tell them
  5. No tag backs

 

 

My answers to the questions posed by A Year of Going Vegan…

  1. What inspired you to begin your blog?

I decided to transition to a vegan lifestyle and thought that if I was going to go to the effort of contacting restaurant headquarters for ingredients in their dishes, I should make it searchable for other vegans.  It also works as a personal log for me.  I write about recipes I have tried and what I would do differently next time.  It’s also nice to have my favorite recipes accessible by smart phone when I’m at the grocery store.

  1. Do you have a pet? Or many pets?

I have two cats: Vito (a tuxedo cat) and Noche (a black smoke tabby).  We adopted them from a shelter in our area a few years ago and they are such a joy.  They have such distinct personalities, it’s crazy.  Noche is crazy for water (he’s a former stray) and once got in the shower with me out of curiosity.  Vito has huge eyes and is named after Vito Andolini/Corleone of the Godfather.  It’s really nice that they have each other for when we aren’t home.

  1. Tropical island or cabin in the mountains?

My family has a cabin in Big Bear.  We went there often as kids.  I love it in the summer and the winter.  However, I haven’t ever been to a tropical island, so I very likely could be swayed on that one.

  1. Can you drive in the snow?

I’ve driven in the snow in Big Bear, but that’s hardly heavy snow.  I can handle it, but it tenses me up.  I wouldn’t like to live in a snowy place.

  1. Do you follow a diet plan or a lifestyle of eating, or do you just eat whatever?

I follow a vegan lifestyle 99% of the time and never eat meat.  I make myself try new things all the time and am slowly discovering that I love things I had previously thought I hated (bell peppers, cauliflower, eggplant).  I allow myself vegan junk food (hello, Oreos!), but I try to limit it.0

  1. Do you incorporate exercise in your weekly activities?

Yes, I love running.  Mainly, I love it because I hate it.  I’m sure this doesn’t make any sense, but, I’ll try.  I generally hate to run, but the mere fact that I can overcome that a few times a week and just will myself to run 5 miles makes me feel incredible.  I like being a person who runs, but I don’t like running.

  1. Do you enjoy alone time?

Yeah, I enjoy having the freedom in my time to do whatever I want.  Generally, though, I would prefer some lazy couch and laptop time with my hubby.  You never laugh as hard when you’re alone.

  1. Wine, beer, or mixed drinks?

I really like white wine, particularly Pinot Grigio.  I’ll drink red wine, but I’m not a big fan.  I hate beer and prefer Cider.  I can take or leave mixed drinks.

  1. Do you have a bucket list?

I have a travel bucket list.  I want to visit the following places, in no particular order: Germany (castles!), Ireland (cliffs!), Amsterdam, Utah National Parks, Montana, Hawaii, Switzerland… and the list goes on.

  1. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you go?

I have been thinking about this a lot lately.  The LA area is just so pricy and the job market is so freaking competitive.  Since he graduated, my husband hasn’t been able to find a job in his field (communications).  I also don’t think we’ll ever be able to afford a home here unless we move to the outskirts (no offense, but I am not interested in moving to Palmdale).  The average home here costs $450,000, way above the national average of just over $200,000.  We are looking strongly at the Pacific Northwest, particularly Portland, Oregon, where housing costs approximately 30% less than it does here.  Once we get an opportunity, we’re going to check it out.  My parents are even interested in relocating for their retirement and it would be really nice to have them nearby.

 

The Nominees Are:

Farmed Animal Welfare League:  My younger sister’s farmed animal advocacy organization

Getting Fit, Sassy, & Beautiful:  My sister in law’s blog on living a balanced, healthy lifestyle

Veganatomy

Vegan Adventures

Hangry Tales

Vegan in VT

Georgia Kate’s Kitchen

Theantiqueappetite

The Cooks Next Door

Just a Thought

 

My questions for the nominees:

1.  In this golden age of television, what’s your favorite show currently airing?

2.  Have you ever won anything (other than an Liebster nomination of course!)?

3.  What is your go-to cookbook?

4.  What is your first ever memory?

5.  If you won the lottery, what would be your first expense?

6.  Where is your happy place?

7.  Where would you next like to travel?

8.  Did you complete any college?  If so, what was your major or emphasis?

9.  What do you feel is the most important issue facing society that is largely being ignored?

10.  What is your favorite kitchen appliance?

Vegan Myths: Canine Teeth = Meat Eater

I recently read the post, 9 Reasons Your Canine Teeth Don’t Make You a Meat-Eater on Free From Harm by Ashley Capps and felt that it was definitely worth sharing.  I have personally heard this argument from many people in just the past year that I have been vegan.

The most compelling part of the following post, for me, was the moral argument.  The idea that we have a right to do harm just because we are capable of it.

What are your feelings on the subject?  People will inevitably feel that your choice to be vegan is a personal attack on their choices and whip out this argument.  How do you respond to them?

One of the most common defenses of meat-eating that vegans encounter is, “If I wasn’t meant to eat meat, then I wouldn’t have these canine teeth!” It’s a comment that’s often tossed out after a meat-eater has been confronted with information about animal farming cruelty, or with the fact that humans have no biological need for meat, milk or eggs. But there are several serious problems with the “canine teeth” argument, the most glaring one being the premise that “the presence of canine teeth = meant to eat meat.” In truth, with the exception of rodents, rabbits, and pikas, nearly all mammals have canine teeth. In fact, several herbivores have ferocious canine teeth, and, as you’ll see in the gallery below, the largest canine teeth of any land animal belong to a true herbivore.

Another problem with the “canine teeth” argument is the idea that, just because we have a physical attribute that enables us to do something harmful, we are morally entitled to perform that activity whenever we want. Humans are physically capable of inflicting all kinds of violence, but our capacity to harm others has nothing to do with whether or not we are right to harm others. Indeed, most people would say it is wrong to cause harm when you can just as easily avoid doing so. And we can drastically reduce the harm and death we cause other animals simply by making different choices at the grocery store.

Marinated Crock Pot Seitan

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I had some leftover crock pot seitan (from this post) that I thought might taste good in a rice bowl.  This particular seitan recipe from The Vegan Slow Cooker: Simply Set It and Go with 150 Recipes for Intensely Flavorful, Fuss-Free Fare Everyone (Vegan or Not!) Will Devour is meant for use in slow cookers (it’s wetter), so the raw dough had to be cooked a bit before just tossing it into a rice bowl.  I decided to try a double boiler method.  First, I put the seitan slices into an oven-safe bowl, tossed them in Mrs. Dash Spicy Teriyaki Marinade.  Next, I added some water to the crock pot, thinking that, as the water heated up, the heat would transfer to the bowl more effectively and lightly cook the seitan.  I was careful not to add so much water that it would spill over into the bowl.

marinated crock pot seitan | A Vegan in Progress

The seitan came out perfect.  It was a great meat substitute that went very well with some rice and veggies.  It was a delicious and easy lunch (even easier if you have a programmable rice cooker with a steaming basket, like we do).  I will be using this technique again!

Marinated Crock Pot Seitan | A Vegan in Progress