Tag Archives: how I became vegan

Guest Blogger: Steps in Stilettos – How I became vegan

27 Mar
Hey everyone! Put your hands together for our newest contributor Jamie, author of the blog Steps in Stilettos. Her post is about her journey into veganism.  Join Jamie on her blog, facebook page, and Twitter account. Welcome Jamie!
A little bit about how I discovered a plant-based lifestyle was when I first decided to become a vegetarian at the age of fifteen and I really started thinking about where my food came from and what I was eating.   I was in high school taking biology class and our assignment was to disect different types of insects and animals.  Looking at the insides of animals got me thinking about what exactly I was eating.  The thought made me nauseaus and I came home to declare to my parents that I was going to become a vegetarian.  Of course, they were shocked, as no one we knew ate this way.  They had no idea what to feed me and I mostly ate cereal, as I also didn’t really know what to eat.  I took a multivitamin every day because I was convinced by others that I couldn’t possible be getting adequate nutrition as a vegetarian.  However, this transition for me personally, aside from being controversial, was relatively easy because I didn’t change the way I ate, I really just cut out all forms of meat and replaced them with cheese versions.  I could still go to family and friends’ homes for dinner and was always able to eat some part of what was being served.  At restaurants, I even still had some variety of choices.  I remained vegetarian through college and began discovering the new tofu based meat substitutes that were more actively coming on the market.   However, like many Americans, I still had no clue about nutrition and what vitamins and minerals my body needed to thrive.  I was really just trying to eat as “normally” as possible while still holding onto my values.
It wasn’t until age 28 that I discovered and opened myself up to the vegan and plant-based worlds.  I remember I was stuck in the airport at work and my boss actually recommended that I read “Skinny Bitch,” a new and controversial book that had just come out, since he knew I was vegetarian.  Since I was already bored, I immediately went into the airport bookstore and bought the book.  Do you ever believe that certain moments happen for a reason?  As I get older, I believe in this more and more.   I read almost half of the book before I arrived home that night, addicted to the pages and hungry for more information!  What this book opened my eyes to was the fact that dairy cows are subjected to huge amounts of pain and suffering and that by consuming milk and dairy, I was still contributing to animal creutly.  What’s more is that I learned that animals products were actually bad for us, a completely new idea to me, and that much more nutrition could be obtained from plant-based foods.    This revelation sent me on my path to reading more books about plant-based nutrition from authors like Dr. Barnard, Christina Pirello, Dr. Esselstyn, T. Colin, Campbell, Alicia Silverstone, and more!  I kept wanting to learn more and more because this paradigm shift in thinking was fascinating to me and so different from anything I was taught growing up.  I even took classes through Cornell University in their Plant-Based Nutrition Program to earn a Certificate.  The classes and lecturers in that program are amazing and were able to give me detailed answers to everything I ever wanted to know, such as links to animal protein and diseases like cancer, how different vitamins and nutrients act in our bodies and why plant-based eating is the healthiest diet.   By surrounding myself with information and different support groups through the classes and online community, it gave me the confidence to stick with the diet and the information I needed to continue on my path of healthy living.  I love life and I want to enjoy it as much as I am able.  To me, that doesn’t necessarily mean trying to outlive everyone, it means living the days that I have with as much energy to do the things I want to do and to experience life without being sick, stuck on medicine, or in the hospital for treatments.
Becoming plant-based has changed my life for the better!  As a child and young adult, I suffered from relatively severe allergies and asthma.  I was in the hospital at least once a year for breathing treatments, had to carry an inhaler everywhere with me, and was dependent on taking allergy pills for most days of the year.   Being sick as a young child made me believe that I would be dependant on medicine for the rest of my life.  When I cut out meat products at the age of fifteen, I noticed an improvement in my asthma and allergies.  I was able to play outside and run without having an asthma attack.  I see the correlation now, but as a young adult, everyone just told me I was “growing out of my asthma” and that’s what I believed.  However, as soon as I cut out dairy products, my allergies and asthma disappeared!  I currently have no need for allergy pills and I don’t even own an inhaler!  It is so freeing being able to even say that, as I never thought it would be a possibility for me.  Asthma attacks and weazing are a distant memory of my past and something I don’t see myself having to deal with again.  These days, I feel energetic, vibrant and healthy and can be as active as I want!  It’s truly amazing!  I have taken control of my health simply by the foods that I choose to put into my mouth everyday!

Guest Blogger: The Barefoot Essence – Wheat, and soy ….oh my!

23 Aug

Please welcome back Jackie, author of the blog Barefoot Essence, for her hat trick appearance on VBU! Feel free to read her previous posts:  Change your diet, skip surgery and I’m a shareholder…in Community Shared Agriculture. Stay in touch with Jackie through her Facebook, Twitter and blog. Welcome back Jackie!

When I met my husband in 2003 I was about 30 pounds heavier than I am today. I tried many diets and some were successful, until I stopped following them. I lost 20 pounds or so shortly after getting married by getting a dog and becoming more physically active. I started to pay closer attention to what I ate noticed I had more energy and my clothes were getting looser.

Fast forward to pregnancy. Pregnancy was a time where I really began to pay attention to what was going in, and on my body. I was growing another body inside of me; I had a responsibility to ensure my baby was healthy. I received the extensive list of forbidden foods from my doctor. I was told to avoid cold cuts, soft cheese, fish more than once a week and undercooked meat, as these could all pose a risk to the fetus. I gained about 50 pounds with both of my pregnancies. I ate a mostly healthy diet incorporating lots of fruits and vegetables. Unfortunately I negated the healthy food effects by eating ice cream every, single, evening.

After I had Jacob, I wanted to get back to my ‘normal’ weight. I paid attention to serving size and ate as healthy as I knew how to at the time. I did a lot of walking. This was easy as we lived in Chicago at the time. I would pack up Jacob and some diapers and go for a 10-mile walk, peeking into shops and eating lunch in grassy parks. I had heard somewhere that dairy should be avoided to assist in weight loss. I replaced my huge daily glass of skim chocolate milk with soy chocolate milk and ate cheese only occasionally. I watched the weight fall off effortlessly. I was back to my pre-pregnancy weight in three months.

When Jacob was about a year old, I became more conscious of our family’s eating habits. I had to feed my son real food now. I had a responsibility. I began reading books by Michael Pollan; ‘The Omnivores Dilemma’ and ‘In Defense of Food’. His books made me question our nation’s food supply. How much processing happens to the chicken nugget in that cardboard box at McDonalds? I began arming myself with as much food education as possible. I watched the documentary ‘Food, Inc.’ and switched to mostly organic foods. I read the books ‘Skinny Bitch’ and ‘The Thrive Diet’ which both advocate an animal-free diet. Animal free? I grew up eating animals, so did my parents, didn’t we need protein from them? And milk? The milk ads on television tell us we need three servings a day. I thought back to all the ‘forbidden foods’ from my pregnancy – they were all animal products. If those foods were unsafe for me when I was pregnant, why would they be safe any other time? Hmmmmm. That was a moment of clarity. I began having more meat-free meals and still had the occasional cheese or yogurt. I felt better when I avoided meat, but I still felt bloated by the afternoon. I was also getting sinus infections several times a year and had terrible seasonal allergies. At the recommendation of a massage therapist I saw a naturopath. The naturopath asked me to document what I was eating for a week. She noticed I ate yogurt daily and suggested I go without dairy for about three weeks to see how I felt. After about two weeks without dairy I wasn’t sure if felt a difference or not, was it all in my head? Then I had a bowl of ice cream. I was instantly bloated and gassy. Nope, never doing that again. Goodbye dairy.

When I was pregnant with Talia, I ate a mostly plant-based diet, I avoided dairy like the plague and ate meat once or twice a month, usually if someone else was cooking it. After I had Talia, I ate a plant-based diet 99% of the time during my pregnancy and afterwards, and lost the weight effortlessly in two months. I say 99% because I don’t worry about that trace of egg that might be in that veggie burger on the restaurant menu.

I still felt bloated after eating whole-wheat pasta, however. I wondered if this was bothering me as well so I eliminated it for a few weeks. In one week I lost 10 pounds I didn’t even know I needed to lose! I had some fresh bread at a restaurant a few weeks later as a test, and I paid for it dearly. I consulted a naturopath again to perform food sensitivity testing. I had good suspicion these foods didn’t agree with me and the test results echoed this feeling – I was sensitive to several things, including wheat, dairy, eggs, soy, corn and peanuts.

Today, I eat a plant-based, allergen-free diet and have never felt better. You don’t realize how sick you are until you feel amazing! I don’t stress about traces of these foods in things like gluten free bread at a restaurant or in a piece of organic, fair-trade dark chocolate as they don’t seem to bother me, and having a more relaxed approach also keeps me healthy. By listening to what my body was telling me I was able to find the perfect lifestyle for me. I feel lighter, I don’t get bloated, my seasonal allergies have disappeared, I haven’t had a sinus infection in years, I think more clearly and sleep soundly. I am also still losing weight without even trying. I’m letting my body guide itself towards a natural weight …and I need to replace a lot of items in my wardrobe again.

Guest Blogger: A House Full of Health – How to be vegan: A newbies perspective

9 Aug

This post is from Marsha, author of A House Full of Health, who has been a previous contributor to VBU! You can read her previous posts here and here.

Marsha wrote a preface and I think it’s important, here she is in her own words, “I wrote this blog 6 months post making one of the greatest decisions of my life. I’m new to the vegan world and to the blogging world so I know what it’s like to be nervous about putting yourself out there to try new things. I want to share with others what it’s like to go vegan. Blogging, well I still don’t quite have the hang of that so can’t help there. The vegan world, I’ve found, is so friendly, I’ve been so grateful for all the wonderful support. Cheers and happy reading!”

You can find Marsha on TwitterFacebook and through her blog. Please welcome back Marsha!

Going vegan! Who’s going vegan? I am? Really? Are you sure? 


Oh how I thought I was being incredibly crazy!  I thought the fact that the hubby mentioned first meant something infiltrated our water system affecting our brains!!  


It’s been 6 months! 


And, now? Nope, I don’t think we are crazy!  We are so very happy with our choice!


Seriously!


Have you thought about the vegan/vegetarian lifestyle? Does it intimidate you just a bit? It did for me, actually.  I remember the very first week we didn’t eat any meat or dairy I thought I would eat the house! I was SO hungry! I’d wake up in the middle of the night starving! Famished! Ready to eat the cats as they lie sleeping on my bed! Anything! I was so hungry! 


Think about the times you eat Chinese food, within the hour you are hungry again. It’s as if you didn’t eat any dinner, right? That’s how I felt! 


Then, I thought, what was I missing when eating a big plate of Chinese food? Protein. I was missing protein. I generally ordered a plate full of veggies in some sort of sauce over a bed of white rice. Of course I was hungry an hour later. That didn’t have the amount of protein I was used to as I sat down to a big steak! 


Just like everyone else, we vegans need complete protein to get all our essential amino acids. We don’t want to fall prey to the negative protein balance now do we? That’s starvation and I love food so that is NOT an option.


According to the USDA, a man age 40 weighing 160 pounds needs 56 g of protein per day. A woman, weighing 140 pounds age 40 needs 46 g of protein per day. That’s about 0.36 g of protein for every pound of body weight.


Protein needs to very based on age, size, health, physical activity, body weight, body type and for those pregnant or nursing.


When I speak of protein, I speak of a complete protein, all essential amino acids needed. There are some plant-based foods that carry all essential amino acids. Soy is one of them as is quinoa. It was once believed that vegetarians and vegans could possibly develop a protein deficiency if they didn’t get all the essential amino acids that they needed within one meal. But, when we eat, our body stores amino acids in something like a storage bank, we use what we need when we need it. So, it’s not a necessity to get all 8 amino acids in one sitting. As long as you eat a variety of foods throughout the day you will get all of the essential amino acids that you need. So, don’t go eat a block of tofu. It’s just gross.


Okay, so now that I have protein in my system I don’t wake up wanting to eat everything in sight in the middle of the night. It took about a week and I was used to being “vegan.” Ah! Much better!


What is vegan?


Vegan has so many different definitions. Some are vegan based on ethical reasons, some for environmental reasons, some for health reasons. There are vegans that combine all of them as well. It’s up to you to decide what is best for you. I don’t judge how vegan other people are as I only wish that people don’t judge me.


Being vegan, for myself, is mostly about health. I am more aware of items that I purchase, trying to purchase cruelty free items,  but I’m not perfect. And, because I am not rich (although I wish that I were!) I still own a variety of leather shoes. Does this make me a bad vegan? To some, it may. For me, I certainly don’t want to waste what I already own. But, I will be more aware next time I buy a pair of shoes.


I was definitely pretty nervous when I decided to stop eating meat and dairy. I didn’t know what to do. I was trained in a French culinary school, I cooked with meat and butter, lots of it. That’s when I decided to start this blog. And then I found twitter, I know, that sounds so weird, right? But really I couldn’t have done it without all my awesome vegan Twitter friends.


Twitter is where I met Dreena Burton. I must say, Twitter and blogging are like high school. You want to fit in, you want to be the cool kid, and you want to be noticed. Dreena was like my high school crush, in a way. She’s the cool kid and I wanted her to notice me. She was the first that gave me the advice to keep on tweeting and keep on blogging. Then, one day she followed me on twitter. I almost peed my pants. Seriously! The cool kid followed me! But, to be serious Dreena is an amazing vegan cookbook author. I ordered her book, Let Them Eat Vegan, off of Amazon and waited, patiently, for it to arrive. What I love about Dreena’s book,  is the simplicity of all the recipes, they use of whole foods, and all of the real life suggestions to make things just a little bit easier. Read my view review here. Anyway, I don’t think I could’ve been vegan very long without Let Them Eat Vegan. I thought being vegan meant lots and lots of fake meats. I am not a huge fan of fake meats! Being vegan absolutely does not mean you need to stuff your faces with the fake stuff!


I have met many supportive people on Twitter, Facebook, and around town. Support is key.


I met another friend on twitter, Janae Wise,  mother of 4, vegan, gluten-free, fitness instructor, and all around wonderful woman. She is constantly encouraging my blogging by reminding me that I am new. All bloggers have to start somewhere and I can’t be perfect or the best right off the bat. She is so right. She is very encouraging and has kept me going. One day I strive to be a wonderful picture taker, blogger, and inspiration like she has shown to be herself.


Of course, I have a good friend that lives nearby that welcomes all my questions no matter how silly.  Mel Mason,  My holistic health coach, has been a saint. Without her encouragement, dedication, and willingness to listen and help without judgment I would not have made it as far as I have.


How do you go vegan or vegetarian you ask? Yes, it will take a little dedication, practice, and time. But, it is all worth it. Your heart, health, and happiness will thank you.


I am a lover of lists. I make lists for what needs to be done during the day, what I need to pack for trips, what food I’m going to make during the week, and a list of items I need to buy at the grocery store. This makes the process that much easier.


So, here are a couple of lists. What I’ve learned, what’s in my pantry, what’s in my refrigerator, and some of my favorite vegan staples and some of yours.


A couple of things that I’ve learned in the past 6 months:

Have support: family, friends, Twitter, Facebook

Eat plenty of protein

Enjoy your food

Have a well-stocked pantry

Plan your meals

Ask questions, of me, of  dietitians, nutritionists, healthcare providers, friends

Talk to people

Don’t give up


Staples I like to keep in my pantry:

Rice, brown and white. Forbidden rice as well.

Canned tomatoes

Quinoa

Beans, all varieties (kidney beans, black beans, garbanzo beans, white beans, any bean!). Dried and canned

Vegetable stock

Better than bullion vegetable base

Green chilies, Trader Joe’s has the best!

Black olives

Artichoke hearts

Sun-dried tomatoes

Pitted dates

Raisins

Spelt flour

Chia seeds, great information on Chia seeds found here

Raw cashews, other raw nuts and seeds

Raw sugar

Agave Nectar

Bragg’s Liquid Amino Acids

Popcorn kernels


One of my favorites! Popcorn!


Vegetables and fruit I always have on hand:

Kale

Spinach

Mushrooms

Carrots

Celery

Lettuce, Romain

Radishes

Sugar snap peas

Purple cabbage

Oranges

Apples

Bananas

Grapes

Cucumber

Lemon and limes

Onions, red and yellow

Mini bell peppers

Avocados


Apples, Oranges, lemons!



Items I like to have on hand, in my fridge:

Almond milk or other plant-based milks

Hummus, different varieties

Hemp seeds

Nondairy plain yogurt

Salsa

Veganaise

Flax seed oil

Hemp seed oil

Maple syrup

Tofu, I know tofu can be scary! But, give it a try! There are so many ways to use it and love it!


The first time you go grocery shopping it may cost you a little bit more than your usual grocery trip. But, this is just to stock your shelves with all your staples. Once you get the hang of it, shopping and cost will be easy and low. I tend to shop weekly because all that produce barely fits in my refrigerator each week. If I shopped bi-weekly there would be no way. I even created extra space, a sort of pantry, in my laundry room to make room for all the goodness I buy.


Raw Cashews



My favorite staples:

Quinoa

Rice

Kale

Raw cashews

Braggs Liquid Amino Acids

Carrots, celery, onion (I lump these together because they often go together in soups and such)

Tofu

Hemp seeds

Chia seeds


Chia Seeds



I asked of you some of your favorite staples in your vegan kitchen:

Quinoa of course was one of them. Tofu in tempeh, kale and other leafy greens, nutritional yeast, beans, raw cashews, and flax oil.


 Do you have any others to add to my list?


I believe a good diet, is one that’s not a diet at all. More of a lifestyle. You eat healthy because you want to be healthy. You are what you eat, as they say. Going vegan can be intimidating, difficult, expensive. But, as with any new thing this is only the beginning. Once you’re in, you’re in. Less difficult, less intimidating, and less expensive. I’ve been at this for 6 months and I sometimes feel like I’ve been doing it my whole life. I’m still learning how to cook, how to use items I’ve never heard of, and what substitutes I need to use for certain things. But I love the learning, the experimenting, and the vegan world that I’ve fallen into. Everyone has been so supportive and helpful.


Go out, give it a try, experiment, have fun with it! If you have questions drop me a line! I’d love to hear from you. I’m here to be supportive. 


Blogging, vegan, it’s all new to me but I’m here to stay.


Cheers and happy eating!


Playlist:

Combichrist – Caliber:Death

Peter Murphy – Cuts You Up

The Faint – Fish in a Womb

Justin Timberlake – Rock Your Body

Accersory – Matrix





Guest Blogger: Jason and the Veganauts – Gateway Compassion

1 Aug

Please welcome back one of our early contributors to VBU! Jason, who has changed his blog name from Watch me lose 150lbs to Jason and the Veganauts. Here are Jason’s first, second and third post with VBU!; they have been incredibly forthright and welcomed. You can like his Facebook page here. Welcome back Jason!

Compassion for animals and even other humans is looked upon with scorn by some segments of the population. I believe this is in some part due to the meat industry and their influence in our society. It is a sad fact that Big Meat makes more money when they raise and kill more animals (OK, I’ll need a better ominous name for the meat industry- that seems like a frat brother’s nickname).

When an industry’s profit margin is a result how cheaply it can support and then end life, there are bound to be some ghastly results. However, since the PETA warriors handle all of the shock and awe tactics, I will refrain from the nauseating images and stories and let you mull that over on your own time. Instead, allow me to reflect on my own transformation and at the same try to answer a question Sheree asked.

If you have not noticed it before, there is a comment section at the end of each blog post here. I derive an enormous amount of strength from the supportive comments that a lot of the regular readers leave. I was comforted during the cravings in the beginning, I was educated on my newbie mistakes, and more recently, I was supported during a weight loss plateau. There are some who comment once every few months and others who are more consistently visible, but they all keep me from feeling like I am shouting into the void.

Sheree is one of the regulars. She is a kind, caring vegan who found her way to animal-free living years ago. She has been very upbeat and supportive throughout my nine months of being a veganaut. During the previous post’s discussion, she asked a great question about the catalyst for my change from plant-based dieter to compassionate vegan. She agrees that anyone giving up meat for any reason is a benefit to animal welfare in general, but was specifically curious about my own inner change… and I am NOT going to pass up an opportunity to talk about myself.

Rather than retelling the whole story of my dysfunctional relationship with food, I’ll summarize by saying, I was messed up. It would be fun to try and blame other people but I used my hands and my money to buy bad things to put into my body. It’s hard to shift that kind of blame off of myself.

After soul searching and researching, I came to the conclusion that a plant-based diet would be the healthiest way to reclaim a few of the decades I’d tried to steal from the end of my life. This is a selfish reason to give up meat and dairy and eggs, but I didn’t hear any animals complaining about my choice. The Earth was pleased with the decision as well, but I was not really worried about how a planet felt when chest pains were forcing me to my knees.

During the first few weeks, while the cravings were running their course, I was completely focused on how much better I felt and how relived I was that a simple change in diet could effect how I feel so drastically. I was really enjoying the payoff of the health benefits I changed for. However, it was during this time that my motivation began to morph.

For meat eaters to enjoy bacon in the morning they have to do a lot of compartmentalizing. They have to take the movie Babe and stick it in a mental jail cell that isn’t visited during breakfast. They need to take what they know about the intelligence of their pets versus the intelligence of brilliant pigs and lock that up in another mental jail cell until the bacon is done sizzling. They are forced to repress all of the images of the inhumane living and dying conditions that animals are forced to endure so that we can eat them.

I know what I am talking about here- I ate pork by the handful, beef with reckless abandon, and whole chickens at a time. Meal time was NOT a time to release all of the truths that I had in lock-down. It was the time to pretend that meat comes from a grocery store and not a factory farm. I was never ignorant about the meat industry, I was simply in denial.

An amazing thing happened as the meat-free weeks passed. Every day that passed was another day when I didn’t have to lie to myself. I didn’t need to pretend that meat isn’t a product of another creatures death. I was able to let the truths out of their mental jail cells for longer and longer walks around the yard. Eventually, these truths were allowed to have conjugal visits and that is when they began to multiply.

Compartmentalizing is a great way to cope with conflicting beliefs and overwhelming trauma. It is also a very effective tool for lying to ourselves. Unfortunately, just because we can hide certain truths when they become inconvenient does not make them disappear. It just makes us live our lives in way that is contrary to our actual belief system.

Plant-based dieting may be a selfish reason to give up meat, dairy and eggs- but it is a gateway to compassion. Celebrate this seemingly selfish motive in others because it is the first step in removing their blinders so they can live an honest and compassionate life.

A closing note to you lurkers who read silently but regularly. I see your visits on my view counter and even without you saying a word I am grateful for your presence. It is easy to imagine you all walking with me as I stroll past McDonald’s and through the meat department at my own grocery store. Your silent reminders make it easy for me to walk confidently away from my old life and comfortably into the new one I share with you here. Gratsi.

Guest Blogger: Watch Me Lose 150 pounds…

6 Dec

Lucky for us we’re getting return bloggers. I’m so curious about Jason’s journey into veganism as he is already on his 51st day. There are so many health benefits to being vegan and I’m glad he is finding out as he goes along his path. Please welcome back Jason!

Though I’ve spent almost every winter in Sunny Florida, this is the first in many that hasn’t been ruined by snow.
For the last seven or eight years from October through February I have been plagued with winter dandruff. Not the “Oh no, I have a flake or two on my shoulder” kind of dandruff or even the “I’m a crazy girl in the Breakfast Club and I have so much dandruff I can create performance art with it” dandruff. Unfortunately, mine was much worse than that.

I have been dealing with a full blown blizzard of dead skin cells that causes drifts to pile up on my shoulders and on my laptop’s keyboard. If you already have my picture on your fireplace mantle or set as your screensaver, you can see that I am a dashingly handsome, bearded man who combines rugged good looks with blue eyes that are reminiscent of a wolf’s, wild and free. This is because I only allowed photos to be taken in the summer when my head didn’t look as much like a flour sifter in use. In the winter, my hair and beard would fill with all the dead skin flakes from the head they were covering, gathering up all the errant bits that tried to escape my red and raw forehead, eyebrows and cheekbones. When the season and weather were right I could shed enough skin to look like a snowy version of Charlie Brown’s friend Pig Pen.

As a morbidly obese individual you have to accept a lot of unpleasant things about yourself and the world you lumber around in. You don’t fit in the coolest roller coasters. Sears does not carry your size shirt, belt, or sport coat and frankly they’d probably rather you not touch the shoes just on principle. People you don’t know call you Big Man. Waiters look confused when you ask for a diet Coke. Rinsing off in the shower requires a removable shower-head or unrealistic levels of athleticism. Small children ask if you are Santa. When you walk into the Big & Tall Men’s Clothing store, people know you are not there because of your height. Food vendors eye’s light up when they see you approaching.

If you take all this into account, a mountain of dandruff can seem almost inconsequential- but that’s only because you don’t fully appreciate the red, raw, flaking head that I’d been walking around with. It got so bad I went to the doctor!

Note the exclamation mark attached to the previous sentence. Most people would have used a period because going to the doctor for a medical issue is nothing to exclaim or even get a little worked-up about. I, on the other hand, only go to the doctor when I think I might die and even then it has to be a potentially painful death. Kidney stones, infected bowels, knife cut to the bone: these are my type of doctor and emergency room visits. Not something that Head & Shoulders is supposed to cure.

The doctor did not say that I had scalp cancer which was a relief. Instead, she explained that I had a fungus that was ravaging my dermis. Apparently, we all have this fungus living on us but normal people have immune systems that take care of it. My immune system must have been busy with other tasks because it didn’t pay any attention to my scalp.

Dr. Nicelady gave me a prescription for a small bottle of shampoo that cost 20 bucks and several tubes of cream to rub into the skin not covered by head and facial hair. The medicine worked well but the cream smells like great-grandparents and the shampoo was way to expensive to keep up with. I would medicate my head when I could but I often just let the flakes fall and chalked up the additional grossness to the aging process and the fun of being me.

After losing fifty pounds with Atkins I was hopeful that the snow storm would abate, but when September and October rolled around nothing had changed at all. Then, during the first three weeks of being a vegan I was sure that a magical cure would save me but the dandruff kept falling. Sadness!

Now with seven weeks of veganism behind me, I realize that I have not been thinking about the skin disorder for a while… because I have not been suffering from it! The exciting news crept up on me this morning when I was looking at the dark colored shirts I seldom wear during Florida snow season. I parted my hair and peered at the skin beneath. There was no red, raw skin. There were no little cracks in the dry skin. My face didn’t look red and injured and my beard was plain and undecorated with fake snow. This is an exciting turn of events and a vegan side effect I’d given up hope on.

Weight loss is great. Cholesterol dropping like a rock is life changing. Blood pressure normalizing is stellar. However, I am shocked that there are so many additional beneficial side effects that this new vegan lifestyle is offering. Sure, I’ll miss being a living, walking snow globe but to make up for it I get to wear my slimming black turtleneck this Christmas without having to explain that I was just dusted in coconut.

Guest Blogger: Bones Jones

11 Oct

Our first guest blogger from the UK! Very exciting. Please meet Bones, here he is in his own words, “My name is Bones, I live in Stourbridge in the Black Country (an area of England that’s not Birmingham). I’m 46 and married to Mrs Bones (lol), we don’t have kids. My hobbies are falling off surf-boards dressed in tight fitting neoprene, writing stuff for cash-money, tracking down beer with no bits of fish or other crap in it and taking on supermarkets over the appalling labelling. After a long career as a journalist and Producer at the BBC, I am now setting up my own vegan catering company called Gold and Green. I support Wolverhampton Wanderers Football Club and Worcestershire County Cricket Club. My ambition is to surf the Severn Bore listening to Husker Du, open a vegan bar and brewery in Cornwall, employ someone else to run it and spend all day surfing.”

Some time at the start of the 1980s, I read a piece in a Sunday paper about how chickens were intensively grown and processed, which utterly revolted and disgusted me. I thought I was going to vomit just reading the article.

And mom had cooked chicken for Sunday lunch…

I couldn’t face, let alone eat it and only just managed to retain the breakfast cereal left in my stomach. From that day, I vowed never to eat chicken or poultry (knowingly) again. As far as I’m aware I haven’t.

I had difficulty sleeping for weeks after; my dreams were plagued by haunting, terrifying images of upside down chickens, feathers casually ripped from their flesh. Brutal, unyielding machines mutilating beautiful living creatures. Scrawny necks stretched like a rubber band, bleeding to death, never having been outside their prison cage. The pervading stench of avian terror.

Just writing this, I’m suddenly back in our front room in Kingswinford all those years ago and feel nauseous again. Even the smell of chicken crisps makes me want to throw up.

I don’t know who wrote the piece that had such an effect on me – it is not really important, what matters is that those words had a profound and long-lasting effect. I am not sure if the fact that I’d been into punk rock for years helped me to question accepted ‘normals’ or whether that fact that I was always getting told off at school for constantly asking ‘why?’ had anything to do with it?

Back in those days Tim Berners-Lee had yet to invent the World Wide Web; if you needed information you had to read books or newspapers. Or go to the library. Or write letters. Or ask questions. I didn’t have any role models or anyone to ask, so I had to find out for myself.

The more I investigated, the more unsettled I became and the harder I found it to eat meat. Fish wasn’t a problem as we never had fish at home and I didn’t like eggs anyway. I started just having vegetables while my family had the meat as well. My parents thought it was odd and expected me to grow out of it, but eventually after a long struggle and a lot of research, I managed to become vegetarian.

I’d never heard of the word vegan until I left home to go to college…

Follow Bones on twitter here: @bonesjones