Tag Archives: vegan living

Guest Blogger: Vegans Eat Plants – How to be Vegan on a Budget

24 Feb

We all change at our own pace. One such vegan has changed blogs. You may know her as a contributing author on Mojo Central, but Cat McDonald has moved to Vegans Eat Plants.

A little about Cat, Cat McDonald is a content strategist and tree hugger seeking clarity, community, and organic produce. Below is her article on how to be vegan on a budget, who can’t use this info? Please feel free to share this article and follow Cat on her adventure through her blog, Pinterest, and Twitter.

Welcome back Cat!

How to Be Vegan on a Budget

You need to figure out how to be vegan on a budget. Because if you can’t afford it, you won’t keep it up.

When you first go vegan, you’ll probably go wild exploring new foods, but then you might look at your wallet and feel oh so sad. Take a deep breath, because here’s what I know: Being vegan does not have to break the bank.












Make a list

Plan your meals in advance and make a list of what you’ll get in which stores. And remember to bring your list with you when you shop! Use the Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen and Clean 15 lists to help you decide which produce you plan to buy organic. Decide in advance the maximum total amount you’ll spend.

Compare prices on staples and shop around.
In the course of a week, I’ll usually make the rounds to different grocery stores, trying my best to stick to buying only the things that are priced best in that store.

In my area, Trader Joe’s has great prices on oils, coffee, tea, mushrooms, frozen fruit, and nuts. Whole Foods has the best organic produce (particularly in the winter months when the farmers markets are inactive) and fairly good prices and on quality staples like olive oil, canned coconut milk, and non-dairy milks. And my local food co-op has the best prices on bulk items like nutritional yeast, spices, flours, pulses, beans, and grains.

Visit international markets for select “specialty” items.
I get my seaweed, umeboshi plums, Thai basil, sesame seeds, rice noodles, and more at local Asian markets. I get some frozen fruits, spices, and other staples at Latin supermarkets.

Buy farm market produce in season.
First, do a quick walk-through to see what looks good and which stands offer the best value. Bring cash. Stick to your list, but flex if you can swap out an item out if you find a better deal.

Buy only as much as you’ll eat.
You might have to shop more often. If, like many Americans, you’re used to shopping once every week or two, this will be an adjustment. Tubers such as sweet potatoes last a week, maybe two, but you’ll want to eat fresh fruits and green produce within two to four days of purchasing them. Over time, you’ll get better at judging how much you’ll really need.

If you’re working a lot or if you have a baby in the house, try using a delivery service like Safeway’s Peapod.

Brown bag it.
You’ll have more control over your menu and your spending when you commit to making your own lunches.

Invest in a nice (lead-free) lunch box and a few lock-tight glass containers to make your lunch spill-proof. You really don’t want your lunch spilling all over your morning newspaper!

Make your own.
Although it’s easy enough, it does take time and forethought to cook beans. So I keep canned beans on hand for when I’m pressed for time. But when I do have time, I soak beans overnight, cook them in the slow cooker, and freeze any extra for future use.

It’s also economical to make your own vegetable stock. During the week, collect your carrot ends, kale trimmings, teeny garlic cloves and other trimmings in good condition in a container in the fridge. And then on the weekend, throw them on the stove with chopped up onion and celery, cover with fresh cool water. Simmer for a couple hours.

Make extra and freeze for later.
Make plenty of vegetable stock, cooked beans, spaghetti sauce, and the like. These come in handy when you’re pressed for time. Be sure to label and data it before you put it in the freezer!

Do you have other tips on how to eat vegan on a budget? Leave a comment below!

Guest Blogger: A Vegan Abroad – The ‘emotional’ experiences of a plant-based life

11 Nov

And another new blogger joins the team! Please meet Rachel, author of, A Vegan Abroad, here she is in her own words, “Hi! I’m British, 22, and I’ve accidentally ended up living on a tropical island in Thailand. I work as a teacher, school manager and freelance writer whilst burying myself in fantasy books and my own worldly adventures alike!”

Follow Rachel on her blog, Tumblr, Facebook and Twitter.

When I first turned vegan almost 3 years ago, I began to experience a radical change in my emotional state that I couldn’t quite explain. For many vegans it may be a dramatic shift, or perhaps unnoticeable, or a slow, creeping emotional change that you notice all at once later down the line.

Causes for becoming vegan are varied, but a trend within the vegan community is that individuals seem to become more and more involved, often emotional, in their cause, as time goes on.

Reasons for this obviously range from research, having a more open-mind and becoming more aware of atrocities committed in animal production industries. But, it is explicitly linked to our body’s chemistry and the effects dietary changes can have on our moods and emotional levels. Today, I want to focus solely on this impact.

Put simply:

  • Our bodies have a limited capacity in processing more than one ‘complex’ task. Two tasks that happen to fall under this category are: 1. digestion and 2. conducting emotions.
  • It happens to reason, then, that when our bodies are focusing energy on, say, digesting a large meal, our ability to conduct emotion is hindered somewhat. This is something we’re all aware of, to a degree; this concept of ‘comfort eating’.

Undoubtedly, this is my own vegan comfort food from Ethos in Bangkok.

  • There are particular foods that our bodies struggle more to digest: heavy junk food and meat based products being right at the top of the list, and so in delving further into the mechanics of our bodies we can trace relationships between certain dietary habits and the intensity of our emotions.

What then, does this mean for people making the switch towards plant-based eating?

It’s known that individuals changing their eating habits from omnivore-vegetarian-vegan-raw vegan are likely to experience cravings for foods they used to use, in Rozalind Gruben’s words, as an ’emotional analgesic’.

  • This, amongst other social and ‘craving’ reasons, causes many people to backtrack on their switch, as they find emotional comfort in certain foods.
  • It also brings a new way of experiencing the world into our consciousness. As the intensity of our emotions heightens, our experiences are dramatically altered: from how we react to different situations to how what decisions we make.

How to understand, accept, and deal with these things:

  • Don’t ignore the cravings, many ‘diets’ are damaging because we deprive. We say “oh, I can’t have this anymore.” Instead, examine why these products are are a negative presence in your life. The damaging affect they have on your own body, towards the environment, animals, and other people. Decide: “I won’t have this anymore!”
  • Accepting the change in your emotions is difficult, as, especially in my own culture, being emotional is often synonymous with the being ‘hysterical’ and has heavy connotations of negative behaviour. However, just imagine that you’re on a roller-coaster. It has some dips, a few peaks. Looped y-loops too, and maybe some kick-ass spirals and an underwater cave and- okay you get the picture. Life isn’t just high’s and low’s. It’s not a binary, it’s an expanse of different experience, and emotions.
  • Now, imagine that you’ve just turned vegan, and so you’re now just on a slightly different roller-coaster. The plunges and heights and dizzying turns are all still there, but everything is a little more intense. You feel it all in your body, up a notch. The anger, embarrassment, anxiety, excitement, elation, love, confidence. It’s all there to be felt, but more.

And this isn’t to paint non-vegans, or those who eat foods that are hard to digest, as unfeeling or numb to emotion or that there is any negative judgement to those who do suppress emotion for whatever reasons. There is, after all, a myriad of social and personal influences affect individual experience.

However, in being more aware of this link, we can more easily understand our emotions, and we are more readily able to accept and cope with them.

Personally, I’ve began to feel more honest both towards myself and others. My insecurities, fears, and worries are still present, however I have a more controlled handle on what I can do, if anything, and sometimes on how to simply accept these emotions as part of life. On the flip side, I’ve also learned how to appreciate, love, and connect with the world in an entirely more powerfully positive way.

How has changing towards a plant-based diet changed your outlook on life?

This article is directly inspired by Rozalind Gruben’s research and videos: x, x, x, x, and x.

Guest Blogger: New Vegan Age – Elizabeth Castoria interview

2 Jul

Please welcome back the ever wonderful Tom from New Vegan Age. Tom has been a guest blogger on VBU! a few times: Vegan CreedHarvey Diamond InterviewVegans are good for your restaurant’s business (Kim Stahler)World Vegan DayA Perfect Time to Stop eating AnimalsSupport vegan business and organizations. Please follow on New Vegan Age on the blog. Welcome back Tom!


Interview by Tom Epler Elizabeth Castoria is not yet a mononymic vegan like Isa or Victoria, Gene or Wayne, but with last month’s publication of How to be Vegan (Artisan, 2014), the former Editorial Director of VegNews is well on her way. The well-written, beautifully-designed handbook makes a great gift for vegan-curious friends and colleagues, since it’s fun, conversational, and informative without being preachy or pretentious.

This week, Elizabeth answered a few questions about her vegan journey, her tenure at VegNews, and the publication of her colorful, fact-filled new book. I recommend ordering a copy for yourself, friends, and family—even though I don’t normally encounter words like “zillion” or “nohow,” I loved How to be Vegan, because reading it felt like a conversation with a fun, enthusiastic friend.New Vegan Age: Why, when, and how did you become vegan? Did you have any close vegan friends or family members who modeled or encouraged veganism?
Elizabeth Castoria: I went vegan when I was about 17. I had already been a vegetarian for a few years before that, and then made the switch after learning more about the issues. (And, yes, I did this learning by way of the cute vegan skater dude whom I was dating at the time!) There was actually a small group of friends in my hometown who were vegan, so that definitely eased the transition.
NVA: How did your daily work as Editorial Director at VegNews help develop your ability to engage readers in the book’s chapters and capsules?
EC: Through my work at the magazine, I definitely got to develop both my writing and the ability to represent ideas visually, like the little charts and graphs in the book. It’s really fun to add another layer of content that helps convey ideas in a different way.
NVA: What was glamorous about your time at VegNews? Travel? Parties? What might people be surprised to learn made it difficult?
EC: Ha! I don’t know that I’d use the word “glamorous” necessarily. I did have the chance to meet and work with so many wonderful, amazing people in the vegan world, and report on all the completely inspiring work that they were doing. That was such a rewarding part of the job!
NVA: Your book tackles some difficult and serious topics (animal cruelty, nutrition, and factory farming) in an informative, yet non-accusatory and non-judgmental way. Did you ever have trouble striking that balance?
EC: When I first went vegan, I definitely had a different approach than I do now (admittedly, this was when I was a teenager, so I was a little bit more brash in general!). The older I get, the more I realize that people are dealing with different things in their lives—sometimes even depending on the day!—so it’s really important to just meet people where they are and provide information so that people can make their own choices. Nobody likes being yelled at or talked down to (least of all me!).
NVA: Well, we hope the response since publication last month has been great. Your audience for this book is non-vegans; it introduces them to our world. Since you’ve been vegan for so many years, was it ever difficult to keep that newness in mind? Did you keep a particular non-vegan friend or family member in mind as you were writing?
EC: That was one of the really fun challenges of writing the book—going back and re-thinking through all those questions that someone who is new to veganism would have to ask themselves. I have a number of non-vegan friends and family members, and over the years the questions they’ve asked me about how I live this way definitely all bubbled up when I was writing the book.
NVA: The book is fun and well-written, and the charts, flowcharts, and Venn diagrams were unusually informative and useful. (The “Food or Not Food?” pop quiz neatly summarizes what it takes many other writers—including this one—entire blogs to develop). Do you think, or even doodle, in graphic representations?
EC: Thank you! I really enjoyed getting to come up with the concepts for the sidebars. Making graphic elements is definitely something that I learned working on the magazine content, and I always love seeing how other publications (in print and online) use graphics to tell stories, so it does seem like an ingrained part of storytelling now. (Though, I have to say, I’m immensely grateful for the amazing job that the design team did on the graphics, because the sketches I sent over were these horribly drawn little stick figures!)
NVA: They’re sophisticated, with lots of great info, but somehow simple—condensed, clean, and inviting. I also really liked your meal-planning encouragement to enjoy beans, fruits, and vegetables for their own sake, and not to always seek out processed replacements for things we were accustomed to eating as omnivores. Has that appreciation come for you in time?
EC: You know, I love eating a variety of things—including vegan meats and ice creams and that sort of thing—but one of the main things I wanted to convey in that section was just that there are so incredibly many varieties of fruits, veggies, beans, and grains that people might not be familiar with or not be in the routine of eating. For anyone, vegan or otherwise, it’s important to try new things!
NVA: Agreed! Have you ever successfully introduced a friend, family member, or reader (through VegNews or this book) to veganism? How does it feel to know that, with this book, you’ll likely be doing that for strangers for years and decades to come?
EC: I love your vision of the future! (And I really hope you’re right—I’d love to be helpful for decades!!) All the feedback so far on the book has been really positive, which is incredibly satisfying, and it sounds as though people are finding it useful. I’ve been pleasantly surprised that even folks who have been vegan for years are getting handy tidbits out of the book. It’s all been such a fantastic experience!
NVA: It must be something to “cross over,” from covering authors to being covered as one. What else are you up to these days? Any interesting plans or projects on the horizon?
EC: I’ve been developing a new project, but it’s still very nascent, so I won’t go into it too much. The newest thing so far has been that I’ve started blogging on my website (elizabethcastoria.com), which has been a fun challenge! I’ve been creating content in the framework of other organizations for a long time, so it’s really fun to think of the kind of content that I want to create on my own. 
NVA: Thank you, Elizabeth! Please let us know when the new project is ready.

Guest Blogger: AverageVeganDude – Living in Denial-The New American Pastime : A Vegan Makes His Case To Get Off The Standard American Diet

30 Jan

Meet our newest guest blogger, Christian, author of AverageVeganDude. Christian has a lot to say with his bio, so I’ll let him take it away!

“My blog is titled AverageVeganDude not because my health, intelligence or fitness levels are average, but in light of the fact that we are all just everyday people living average lives. Some aspects of each of our lives are better than others and some worse. My point is that the sun doesn’t revolve around any of us myself included.

Born in Italy and living most of my life in Queens, New York and Philadelphia areas, I have come in contact with the very best and worst that cuisines have to offer. Unfortunately, I have spent most of my life consuming the latter. Well, probably not the worst but close to it. Having learned much over the last few years about the human diet, I accept the label of former bad eater now. Throughout my life I slowly started to gain weight, as many of us do in our 30’s and 40’s. I began feeling pretty old at 41. I knew I wasn’t living an optimal healthy life. I could be found at the gym weekly and did all the normal things people do but to no avail. I decided this had to change. I began to read about nutrition, foods and their effects on us. The transformation that occurred in me when I started to move away from a Standard American Diet (SAD) to a predominantly raw vegan diet was nothing short of amazing. I transitioned from vegetarian to vegan to raw vegan and never looked back. At 45 I am stronger, fitter and faster than I have ever been. I owe this to the raw vegan lifestyle and a good fitness routine.

This blog is meant to help those trying to find a better life for themselves and their families. I now realize that everyone is capable of attaining this amazing state of health without pills, medications or procedures. Maybe this craziness has become the American way as of late, but it is not the sensible way. True health and a better well-being can be attained by each and everyone of us on some level. It’s time to drop the SAD and get busy living a healthy, vibrant life with the remaining time we have on this planet.”

Follow AverageVeganDude on Facebook and Twitter! Welcome Christian!


2005 Toronto Film Festival - "Elizabethtown" Premiere

“Let food be thy medicine.” – Hippocrates

News flash – Our healthcare system is not broken. There I said it. It’s actually doing a good job. Our system in overdrive doing everything it can for us by placing a huge band-aid over our nation’s populace to stop the bleeding temporarily until such a time arrives when we regain our sanity as a people. Yes, we know we eat poorly and thus place our destiny in the hands of our nation’s physicians. We use pills and medications as our real life “get out of jail free” cards. Many of us poison ourselves with the food stuffs we consume and then blame the medical community for not healing us. Yes my friends our nation is living in denial when it comes to personal responsibility for our own health and well-being.

For clarity let’s omit the word “health” and substitute “disease” in the word healthcare. I think disease-care is more appropriate since no one is obtaining real health from taking the scores of pills and medications being prescribed. We are undergoing many procedures annually to correct the results of bad eating. Sure some conditions and diseases need medical intervention we can all agree on that. Every illness will not be cured by eating a greener, healthier diet, but the majority of illness in America occur through poor diet. We should have hit rock bottom already in this crazy frenzy over the last 50 years to correct ourselves with drugs, but it seems the use of medications by Americans is a still on the rise. It is a black hole with no way out.

Today there is no shortage of television and internet health experts who have the magic pill or device to make you healthy and feel young again. This madness is just part of the norm of everyday life now. Instead of looking towards our farmers for our health we have our “responsible” doctors who can at the drop of a hat write us a prescription for Viagra, Zoloft, Zocor, Lipitor, Celebrex, and Prozac.

” The doctor of the future will give no medication, but will interest his patients in the care of the human frame, diet and in the cause and prevention of disease.” – Thomas A Edison

1st big stomachThe causes of our nations many illnesses are a mystery to our medical community. They do not pinpoint the origins but they sure do have the answers, medication. Illnesses like autoimmune diseases, cancers, irritable bowel syndrome as well as growths, tumors and the like are unexplainable by our healthcare establishment most of the time. Maybe this is the cause, maybe that, but no one ever says they know. We sure do need a huge band-aid to control all of these unknowns. Seldom is diet discussed when we visit our family doctor for illness. Simply because we exist we acquire cancer and kidney stones. We just happen to stumble upon these various autoimmune diseases, diabetes or heart disease. Maybe the air quality is bad where you live or possibly a chemical came in contact with you when you were a baby. It’s a big smoke screen that makes the average Joe feel helpless in securing his own fate when it comes to health. I believe the answer is simpler than our doctors lead us to believe and it’s right under our nose. It’s our mouth and what we choose to put in it.

In 2013 our physicians have become our pushers. Seldom will you leave a doctor’s office without some form of medication. We pride ourselves on the medical advances made here in America. Our medical establishment has become as American as apple pie to us. But why are we the sickest nation on earth? Why don’t we demand better from our food system and our medical community? Is apple pie really American anyhow?

When we look at our foods and their influences, the health picture gets even grimmer. We are advised by likes of Paula Deen and Guy Fieri to slather everything in oil, butter and cream. Seldom does a dish leave the kitchen that is under 1000 calories per serving. There is little or no effort to present dishes that are actually good for the human body. Even while suffering from diabetes, Deen continued to put out book after book of her unhealthy concoctions. These chefs pray to our weaknesses for a profit. Who wouldn’t love a triple layered cake loaded with chocolate and whipped cream? It’s an easy sell to us and a good many celebrity chefs are willing to give you your drug of choice. Do you enjoy ground beef? Through the miracle of food television you can visualize 100 ways to cook it and top it with everything under the sun. Sure cardiovascular disease will soon follow but hey, that is not their responsibility. They are just giving you what you want, feel good food. What network wants a chef that makes a great zucchini pasta with sun-dried tomato sauce? I mean they wouldn’t last an episode on the major networks. Healthy food is what we eat when we are on a diet for one month out of the year. It seems as if though most of us are in the process of or have already given our personal health away to doctors that we meet for 30 minutes a year who barely remember our full names. It’s crazy to think that this is the norm in our society.

I sat aghast the other night watching an episode of a show I stumbled upon called Man vs. Food where the star shoved into his mouth a plethora of fried fatty foods saturated with all kinds of grease, oils and all around badness that was enough to make Dan McDonald faint. Restaurant patrons on the show would cheer the man to consume foods that we all know are bad for his health. What will the next television craze be? Cheering on a drug addict with a needle filled with heroine to give himself the ultimate high for our amusement? Are we all living in denial here in America? Are we truly all this stupid when it comes to food and health? Sure, occasionally I will meet someone who is 5 cans short of a six-pack, but I don’t believe we can all be this moronic.

istock_000001376368xsmallSo what’s going on here?
Why are the statistics so poor here in America when it comes to our health and wellness? If we are to believe the medical and pharmaceutical industries, we have the most advanced healthcare system in the world. I am not sure if it’s the most advanced but I know we dump a lot of money into it yearly. Surely we should be the healthiest nation. Eat to your stomach’s content because we have medications for everything and anything. Does our medical community promote health or just delay the inevitable for most Americans? Is our food system toxic and creating a huge medical burden on our nation? I would say so. There is only so much blue number 2, yellow number 5 and 6, red 40, msg, gluten, high fructose corn syrup, sodium nitrate and hydrogenated fats that we can consume before we all have serious health issues. Since all of our foods are laced with this substances, we are getting a healthy dose of these toxic as well as obesity causing additives daily. These are not natural foods and thus not what humans should consume.

So what is our government’s role in solving this exponentially growing problem? We did pick them to help us out here, didn’t we? Well unfortunately this is America and everyman is out for himself. It’s up to you to figure out the total amounts of these toxic food additives you’re consuming daily, weekly and yearly. Try to figure those numbers out while taking care of your 2.3 children, working 50 hours a week and managing your home. Impossible. So what can we do? We can either do something crazy like becoming a raw vegan and just simply scrap our food system all together or keep the status quo. OK, how about a diet predominantly high in organic fruits, veggies, nuts and seeds. Is that more doable? In my opinion it is not only a more sane decision and is better than slowly watching you and your family descend into a life of illness over time.

Why should we make the change now? Well the food system isn’t going to get better anytime soon, that I can promise you. These additives and chemicals are a large part of why we are ill and why we are seeing doctors at an alarming rate. Change might come, but it will be extremely slow and might take our lifetime and before real progress happens. The big corporations still push for more advancements in all the wrong directions. With DuPont and Monsanto pushing for GMO’s and more altered crops, we will have a long fight ahead. Corporate farms and Round-Up use isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

What other alternatives do we have as a person to get out of this downward spiral? Personal responsibility is the answer. Time to take the blinders off. We need to take our own health and the well-being of our families seriously. Why would anyone think that food manufactured and put in a box for an eternity is something you want to put in your body? The majority of Americans don’t actually believe these foods are good for them. We are leading fast paced lives that make it difficult to prioritize the foods we consume daily. We are a grab and go society and obviously we are paying the price with our health. Ribs smothered in BBQ sauce and ice cream slathered in fudge are readily available at the drop of a hat at our local franchise style eatery. We call this treating ourselves after a long hard week. Treating ourselves to cardiovascular disease and cancer?

We have to stop living in denial today. Not a year from now or 5 years from now but today. We know proper human foods are not produced in a factory by the many fast food companies. Our star-studded chefs have let us all down with recipes that deserve two thumbs down when it comes to health. I am pretty sure Ronald McDonald came along a lot later than man’s first steps on this earth. Our species survived relatively well prior to the invention of the Big Mac, so I have to figure that fast foods are not necessary for our survival. So let’s get them off our plates permanently. Over 99% of nutritionists state that we should NEVER consume fast food types of products. Not once a week or twice a week but NEVER. That speaks volumes.
3rdWe all know the correct answers. We aren’t stupid. We just don’t want to display our weaknesses to these foods to others. There is shame we feel when we consume these harmful foods. We all know a bagel and cream cheese is not a meal of health, but we justify it because we cannot get off the addictive additives that are in these foods. Companies knowingly addict us. They understand what they are doing. These multibillion dollar food manufacturers have labs not kitchens that test different levels of substances meant to addict us. They have chemists who put just the right amount of msg, salts, artificial sweeteners and other additives in our foods to give us just the right high. I think we all saw these type of tactics played out in the cigarette industry years ago with nicotine. After much denial there was no doubt the companies were using this substance to hook us on their particular brand. Although I have to say Joe Camel alone could convince many to try a pack. He seemed pretty cool in his day.

We are not as dumb here in America as we might seem to the rest of the world. We are pretty bright people. Our problem is that we are hooked, period. Because of this we love hearing “research” telling us coffee is OK for us, eat your cereals soaked in cow’s milk. There are plenty of “studies” that promote consuming artery clogging beef products as well as cancer and osteoporosis causing milk products. Some of the most disease forming foods are still being heavily promoted by even our government. These are big money industries with big money lobbyists. Business in Washington comes way before the health of the Average Joe here in America. Until we get real with ourselves and say enough is enough, we will continue down this road of medications and procedures to ease the damage from the sickening foods we are eating.

Sometimes I think being a raw vegan isn’t such a hard choice when we remove our blinders and realize the cards are stacked against us if we continue down the path of a SAD diet. Think about it America, it really isn’t such a hard decision. Start with yourself, then your family and friends. Maybe get on your computer and start a blog about your new-found health and try to help your fellow Americans get off the SAD.

Now that is as American as apple pie!

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 Global Girl – 92-Day Juice Feast Q & A – Why Do I fast?

22 Aug

Please welcome back Ndoema, author of The Global Girl, this particular post she talks about day 46 of her 92 day juice fast. If you’ve ever wanted to know about what happens during a fast this is the blog post for you. You can enjoy the first post where she shares a green juice recipe from The Global Girl with VBU! here. Please welcome back Ndoema!

Juicing photos

Today is day 46 of my second 92-day juice feast. To my surprise, since I started sharing juicing pics and tidbits on Instagram and Twitter, I’ve been flooded (in a good way) with questions about juicing and fasting.

Although theglobalgirl.com is primarily a fashion blog, I always intended to share about nutrition since it’s such a huge passion of mine! But to be honest I hadn’t planned on sharing in detail about my juice fast because I just didn’t think anybody would be that interested. I was wrong! I’ve been getting a lot of questions and requests to share my insights, tips and experience. It’s exciting to see that there is such tremendous interest for what is to me one of the most powerful healing tools available to us.

Today’s question is from @claudushia (on instagram): “Whyyyyy are you doing a juicefast? You’re itty bitty! Don’t people usually do fasts to lose weight?”

First off I like to say that I am juice “feasting” instead of juice “fasting”. And it’s more than a play on semantics. This small difference has played a big role in me even considering embarking on such an amazing journey. One of the main hurdles I faced for many years in regards to juice fasting was basically the negative connotation of deprivation and lack associated with it. I had read so much about the benefits of going on a juice fast. Of giving our body a much needed break from the all consuming digestive functions and allowing our body’s built-in healing mechanism a chance to dedicate itself 100% to clearing dead and damaged cells and creating new healthy ones. It really made sense and I knew deep inside that this was something that would be tremendously beneficial to me. I had witnessed countless amazing stories of healing and transformation from individuals who had been on a juice fast. And that alone should have been enough of a motivating factor. But… I just could not imagine going without “food” for any period of time let alone three long months. Going without “food”, is one of the most common misconceptions about juice fasting when in reality for most of us it’s perhaps the first time in our lives that our bodies receive true nourishment on a cellular level. I know this sounds like a contradiction. I will elaborate more on that in an upcoming post.

There are lots of different schools of thought regarding fasting in general and juice fasting in particular but frankly most of them did nothing for me. I found it tough enough psychologically to “survive” on fruit and vegetable juices alone, so the common emphasis on caloric restriction (meaning you need to keep your intake of food to a strict minimum by diluting your juices in water) was a major deterrent. After much searching, I eventually came across the concept of the 92-day juice “feast” (as pioneered by John Rose) which takes a radically different approach in that rather than restricting your intake of juice you actually intake large quantities of juice (between half a gallon to a gallon of juice a day) and basically approach fasting as an act of abundance rather than an act of restriction. That totally clicked with me.

That being said, I didn’t jump into a 92-day juice feast over night. It was the culmination of a gradual and natural process. I started out with the “breakfast” fast. This practice alone over the course of several years made an amazing difference healthwise. I then did several 3-day and 5-day juice fasts (mostly orange juice fasts) over the course of a year before feeling ready to embark on my first 92-day juice feast… It seemed impossible! And I’m still in shock that I completed it and that I’m back for more!

So in answer to the question, I am juice feasting for optimum health and optimum well being not weight loss. As a matter of fact, I loose very little weight on extended juice fasts. I’ve found it to be an amazingly powerful healing tool to release environmental toxins, toxic emotions and trauma on a cellular level. I’ve also found it to be a profound spiritual experience. For me it’s an amazing way to reset and release whatever might stand in the way of realizing my full potential. It is really hard to put it into words… To me it’s a practice that transcends food and the physical body. It is way bigger than that. I could never find the courage to do something like this purely for appearance sake (although I never feel more beautiful than when I’m fasting). I love my solid food wayyyy too much!

You can connect with Ndoema here:
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/theglobalgirl
Twitter: http://twitter.com/theglobalgirl
Instagram: @theglobalgirl – http://instagrid.me/theglobalgirl
Bloglovin: http://www.bloglovin.com/en/blog/3742874/the-global-girl
Tumblr: http://theglobalgirl.tumblr.com/

Guest Blogger: Adventures with Veggies – Juice Cleansing for the First Time – My Story

30 Jul

Hello everyone! VBU! is back with more posts and we’re starting the week with a post from Julie Manfredi, author of the blog Adventures with Veggies. Here she is in her own words, “My name is Julie and I am a 27-year-old music teacher outside of Philadelphia, PA. In February, I decided to give up meat for a short amount of time, and this decision turned into a trip towards veganism. My official vegan anniversary is April 25th, 2012 and it was the best decision I have ever made! My blog was created to document my journey towards and with a plant based diet and will include personal stories, recipes, inspirations and anything else that I feel is relevant!” Please follow Julie on Twitter and Pintrest. Welcome Julie!

This past week was a first for me – I made the decision and went through with a 3-day juice cleanse!

In a previous post, I talked why I chose to do a cleanse; suffice it to say that I am always looking to improve my health and wellness and I thought that doing a cleanse would be a great way to accomplish that. I wound up choosing the Long Weekend Cleanse from the Reboot Your Life website. They laid out all of the ingredients and recipes that I would be using so that planning was a cinch. I made a giant Whole Foods run the night before and had to pick up a few extra items on Day 2.

The night before, I separated out all of the ingredients that I would need for the first 3 juices of Day 1. I did this so that I was scrambling in the morning before work – I’m a bit of a planning freak! I also made sure that my kitchen was nice and clean (clean kitchen for a clean body!) and that I labeled jars for each “meal” since I would be taking them to work.

My clean kitchen!

Day 1 Continue reading

Guest Blogger: Barefoot Essence – Change your diet, skip surgey

12 Jul

Our newest contributor is Jacqueline Fisch, the author of Barefoot Essence, who experienced her husband’s health change 180 from being ill and having high blood pressure (after a plant based diet)  to the total  reverse.  Here she is in her own words, “I am deeply passionate about living an unfussy, barefoot kind of life, enjoying healthy food, experiencing a calm mind and being present. My goal is for you to love a simple life through simple food. I want you to thrive on real food, feel the pure joy in living in the moment and experiencing what living a barefoot life can do you for your soul. The best meals are enjoyed in bare feet.” Please visit Barefoot Essence on Facebook, Twitter and her blog; welcome Jacqueline!

Part of my journey into allergen-free cooking was when Jacob was about a year old. He constantly had a stuffy nose and was always breathing through his mouth. I thought a lot of kids were just mouth breathers, so I didn’t think much of it. Then one winter, he had pneumonia twice, and a series of coughs and that would last for a month. His tonsils were constantly red and swollen; I was amazed that he was able to swallow his food. Although, this probably had something to do with the fact that he eats like a 13-year old boy. Jacob’s pediatrician at the time referred him to an ENT (ear, nose and throat) specialist who recommended removing his tonsils and adenoids, and planting tubes in his ears.

He was only two years old! I couldn’t fathom signing him up for an elective surgery. The specialist couldn’t tell me why his tonsils and were enlarged and wasn’t at all interested in investigating why. His hearing was checked to make sure it hadn’t been damaged from sinus drainage. His hearing was fine – I knew he could hear me when I was telling him ‘no’ for the fifteenth time. The ENT said I had two choices, put Jacob through surgery, or take a wait-and-see approach. He said some kids grow out of it and some kids just have enlarged tonsils. I couldn’t accept this explanation.

There had to be a reason why he was constantly stuffed up without being sick. I consulted a naturopath who suggested that a food allergy could be causing his enlarged tonsils so she recommended food allergy testing. She explained the tricky part about identifying food sensitivities is that they don’t have an immediate reaction. I thought, no way he has any food allergies, he’s never had a strange reaction to any foods, and I thought he was pretty regular – 5 times a day regular.

The allergy test the naturopath recommended is called an IgG test. I had no idea this was. When I thought about allergy testing, I thought about the scratch tests where they scratch you with potential allergens and look for a visible reaction.

I learned that food allergies are a reaction to food proteins and are categorized in mainly two ways; as an immunoglobulin E (IgE)–mediated (immediate) reaction or a non–IgE-mediated (delayed) reaction. I associated food allergies with IgE reactions, which would immediately result in itchy skin, trouble breathing, vomiting, throat swelling, or anaphylaxis. With an IgG reaction, the reaction may take several hours to several days to present itself. Some common IgG reactions are (but not limited to) headaches, hypertension, asthma, recurrent respiratory infections, joint pain, sinus infections or weird skin rashes. Both Ryan and Talia experienced skin rashes in response to trigger foods which I’ll discuss in a later post.

Since IgG allergic reactions take hours or days after ingestion to appear this makes it very difficult to pinpoint the culprit foods.

An IgG allergy test is done by taking a blood spot from a finger prick (Jacob barely flinched). The sample was sent to a lab where it was testing against 96 of the most common eaten foods and we received the results about three weeks later. The test cost about $230, and thankfully was covered by my insurance. Even if I had to pay out of pocket though, I wholeheartedly believe it would have been a valuable investment in his health. When healthy foods aren’t healthy for you, you need to know.

I received the results in a well-organized report, which detailed what foods caused an immune reaction and how severe that reaction was. Based on this report, the naturopath recommended removing any trigger foods for a minimum of three months, then reintroduce foods one at a time, a new one every week and watch for any of the reactions mentioned earlier within seven days. With Jacob, his reactions were typically a stuffy nose or increased bowel movements.

Upon review of the report with our naturopath, Jacob tested to be highly sensitive to cow’s milk, cheese and eggs, and somewhat sensitive to soy, asparagus, oranges and cod. I immediately cut these foods out of his diet as best I could. I noticed a change in just a few weeks – he could breathe through his nose and went from five bowel movements a day to two or three. He has also avoided antibiotics for over two years. After several months with these foods off of his plate, his tonsils were visibly smaller. He never went back to the ENT. He still has selective hearing, but I’m pretty sure that all kids do.

I never reintroduced dairy to Jacob’s diet. Whenever he inadvertently eats dairy, he complains of a stomach ache within a few hours and spends a good portion of his day on the toilet. There are also many, many other reasons why we don’t eat dairy, which I will explain in another post.

I am so fortunate to have found a knowledgeable naturopath that helped Jacob reach his optimum health. It frightens me to think of how many parents have, and will put their kids at risk for a surgery that can easily be avoided by changing what’s on our forks.

I am not a medical professional, and this story only depicts my personal experience. Please see a medical professional – in my opinion, preferably a naturopath to help you find your way to living your best life.

Our family’s naturopath is Dr. Michelle Peris, ND – love, love, love her! Read about her and what she has to say about being a health savvy mom herehttp://drmomnd.wordpress.com/

Guest Blogger: Marty’s Flying Vegan Review – Response to article “On Being Mostly Vegan”

3 Jul
Please welcome back our resident vegan pilot Marty, who is the author of his blog Marty’s Flying Vegan Review, with his response to an article on the Huffington Post about veganism. Here is in his own words, ” From New York, New York, 55 years old and I’ve recently, (around June or so 2010), come to some decisions and have put up my tent smack dab in the middle of the Vegan camp. I still ponder such things as to how far to drill down into ingredient lists and the role that ancillary things to the animal industry such as belts and shoes play but for now I do the absolute best to order vegan dishes and of course still cook 100% Vegan. I won’t throw out my non vegan clothes but will no longer purchase anything made primarily from an animal, (leather, wool, etc.). I’m pondering a podcast just to throw out my opinion, (why not? Seems as if everyone else with one has a soapbox), on just such topics as veganism, diet, lifestyle, clothing, decision making process, resources, where we get the most bang for the buck, and other such musings. Stay tuned.”Check out Marty’s Facebook page and Twitter account. Please welcome back Marty!
Since Huff Post only allows 250 word comments, here is my full response to the article “On Being a Mostly Vegan” by Sasha Turgman
My road to veganism was a slow transition, not a right angled turn.  I want to differentiate someone who eats a plant based diet from someone who is a vegan.  More power to those who
shift their diets.  A vegan is someone who refuses to participate in the oppression of another being, IMHO of course.
Fish and seafood were the last animal products I omitted in my diet.  I would have them 2 or 3 times a month, usually when on the road and unable to find any 100% plant options that INTERESTED me.  I still ate a plant based diet and called myself a “vegan.”  Only now, years later, do I realize the confusion that title caused.  Vegan-esque, vegan-ish all are descriptors of a mostly plant based diet. Vegan is a lifestyle, a philosophy, a belief system which includes a 100% plant based diet but much, much more.
I went vegetarian for my health and replaced animal flesh with Mozzarella En Carozza and Doritos. When I started to not feel so great I did a little research, began to cook, (got really good at cooking), and a funny thing happened.  Whilst doing research into how to eat a healthy plant based diet, (and we all know how many opinions about that there are out there), you absolutely will come across information about how our food is brought to the table.  Pesticides, hormones, antibiotics, and industrialized animal farming will all become household words to you.  You
discover things about your food you really didn’t want to know.  I found this information empowering.
I started to doubt the wisdom of eating fish when my daughter begged me to make swordfish with Giada DiLaurentis’ Mango Salsa.  It was a family favorite but in the discussion I found myself saying things like, “The government recommends that we only have swordfish twice a year,” and, “Because it has mercury and it’s bad for your brain because it’s a heavy metal
poison.”  If this doesn’t stop and make you think about how much you really really want to eat something I don’t know what will.  (Would you eat something if someone said it contained strychnine? You can have a little bit but not too much!).  So I really started to question why we ate things that were toxic!
My last straw, to finally give up the last pesco remnants of my old diet was when I read a report about the levels of toxic chemicals the EPA (or might have been the DEP, I don’t remember), found in fish and 100% of them exceeded the government recommendations for mercury.  That was it.  I became 100% plant based.  Eating seafood just wasn’t that important to me.
After seeing so many videos, reading so many books, I have come to the realization that animals are sentient beings and I don’t believe we have the right to use anyone, human or non, for our own pleasure or entertainment, whether that’s to pleasure our palate or watch an elephant at the circus doing anything but what is natural to her.
There are many small discussions/arguments among vegans that are in a sense petty after one decides to stop eating animals.  Should you throw out all of your leather or wool products?  donate them?  Or just make the decision to not purchase them from here on out? I chose the latter and will still on occasion use my leather work boots.  The funny thing is, I don’t feel good
about it.  I just don’t have an extra $100 dollars sitting around to buy vegan ones.
I went vegan for my health but now I am vegan for the animals.  I feel that we can make the world a better place if we do our parts to minimize pain, suffering, and live a more compassionate life.  If you want to participate in Meatless Mondays, have one animal product free meal each day, or any other iteration of moving towards a 100% plant based diet I applaud you.  If you eat mostly plants and can’t give up your sushi, it’s still better than nothing but I would still say that being 100% plant based is the goal.  Don’t do nothing because you can’t do everything as Coleen
Patrick-Goudreau says.  Go vegan for the animals, for your health, and for the environment.

Guest Blogger: Lindsay is Vegan – A Day in the Life

25 Jun

With a simple name and straightforward writing style, Lindsay is Vegan is written by – you guessed it – Lindsay! Lindsay is a vegan living in Vancouver who documents her obsession and utter lack of control with delicious vegan food on her blog Lindsay is Vegan. Find her on Twitter or find her as a regular contributer on Vegan Mainstream. Please welcome Lindsay!

I write a vegan food blog where I feature my experiments with other people’s recipes and my own concoctions but I find that people are most curious about what I eat during the day. I guess it’s easy to see what I eat when I go out and buy different ingredients for a specific dish but apparently what vegans eat on the go is a complete mystery. So I thought I would give Vegan Bloggers Unite! an exclusive look into my diet of an average day! So all of you carnivores: continue reading to discover all of my vegan secrets and for all you vegans: keep reading for a thrilling day in the life of ME!

June 18th, 2012- A Day in the Life of Lindsay is Vegan

I wake up at 7:00am for an early day at work and groggily head to the kitchen while my cat verbally abuses me about (what I imagine is) the quality of her dry food. This morning I make some toast with peanut butter sprinkled with some flax seeds. I need my protein and this will fill my stomach for the next couple of hours. Plus the crunchy, chewy peanut butter is extremely satisfying first thing in the morning.

Get up and feed me. Now.

On my way to work I tell myself that I don’t need a coffee. I’m weaning myself off caffeine and can’t afford one everyone morning because it’s an unnecessary indulgence… right before I stop by Blenz for one of their perfect soy lattes.

The best part of waking up is giving up on personal pacts (I will not drink coffee…)

I instantly feel caffeinated and ready to attack my job duties when I sit down and I remember that I packed watermelon for work. Sweet, perfect, seedless, watermelon. I begin to realize that although I am caffeinated and satisfied from my peanut butter toast, I haven’t really had anything hydrating yet. So at 8:45a I decide that I NEED to eat my watermelon. I can’t risk fainting at work due to lack of H20, it would be embarrassing and I’m wearing a skirt. So I go ahead and devour my watermelon while my 2001 laptop fires up.

Watermelon: it beckons to be eaten

Around 9:30a I start eyeing my chickpea salad. I love chickpeas. If I had to live on a desert island with only 10 foods, chickpeas would be one of them. They’re filling and light and when you mix them with nuts and avocado they become satisfying like listening to Adele while drinking wine by yourself.

Rolling in the Deep: Chickpeas with hazelnuts, avocado, and artichoke hearts

However I begin to worry that I will have eaten my entire lunch before 9:00am and I’m trying to lose weight for my bachelorette party in a couple of weeks. I want people to tell me I look great but that I might be a little too skinny and then I’ll laugh and just say that I’ve been stressed and working a lot. But really I’ve been sucking lemons for dinner the past three nights. (Do not try at home)

Ultimately I decide that I have tons of time to start eating at a regular pace so that I can be smug in a bikini and eat the chickpea salad.

It’s 1:30pm and I’ve eaten my banana, a handful of almonds, some candy from my co-worker’s desk, and my stomach is ready to go again. I have 30 minutes left before I can race home and make a delicious dinner (although it’s really still lunch). It’s around this time that I begin to daydream about what exactly I’m going to eat. If Tiger Woods envisions his winning putts then I envision my perfect dinners, it’s how the elite do it.

At home I decide for fajitas (I eat them at least once a week) and dig up anything in my kitchen that I can fit inside my wraps. I decide to switch the tortillas for lettuce leaves because I’m starting to fear the image of myself in a bikini again.

Bikini-Friendly Fajitas

For the rest of the night I snack on nuts, mangos, and sparkling water. And Voila! The myth of the daily vegan has been debunked! For those of you who have always wondered, let me tell you it is a tasty and satisfying existence where every meal is treated as though it could be your last. (Unless you’re two days from your bachorlette party, then it’s basically lemon water and celery…)