Why Saying “It’s Easy” is Dangerous (and, to be frank, stupid)

For some reason, I had this grandiose idea that it would be easy this time.

Ha.

February of this year, I made a pledge to myself (and to whoever was listening on the internet) that I would FINALLY go vegan. It is something I have wanted to do since the year I went vegetarian, but cheese was at the foundation of my food pyramid and ice cream the love of my life.

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Over the years I began to research how to be vegan for ethical reasons and later finding that veganism often brings tremendous health benefits and weight loss. Though my reasons for veganism had undebatable ties to my own moral compass, what finally got me to make the change was a focus on myself and my own health.

Before I get into this, I need to clarify that my idea on body positivity is this: Love yourself always. It doesn’t matter if you’re 120lbs or half a ton, you and your body deserve and require love in their current state. However, I know that the adipose in my body is way above what is considered healthy. The strangest thing is, when I tell people I want to lose weight, I get a backlash from people saying things like “But you’re not even fat!” or  “Some people just have slower metabolisms. You’re fine!” or, my personal favorite “What about body positivity? I thought you loved your body.”

But, yo. Believe me. I know that these extra fat cells I carry are not making me ugly. In fact, there are times when I look at the squishy parts of me and think they’re downright cute (omg, my hips are the best). This does not mean that I don’t get self-conscious sometimes, but fat does not an ugly person make.

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Additionally, no person is fat. People have fat. That’s where I am right now. I have fat I want to get rid of. And that’s okay!

The conversation around fat is so wonky because it is slathered in shame and misunderstanding. If I say I don’t want to change, I get raised eyebrows and muffled snickers. If I do say I want to change, I rarely get support because people are afraid that if they say “good for you!” I will be offended because they just admitted that I do have fat to lose.

The toughest thing to accept is that weight loss does more than just change your aesthetics. It lowers risk for disease, increases energy and drive, lowers risk of depression, lowers strain off joints, improves breathing, lowers strain on the heart, etc. Once I, personally, accepted these ideas, however, losing weight is not about hating myself. It’s about wanting to do what is best for myself because *gasp* I love myself.

The problem arises when the primary voices I hear from  people who want to “help” me lose weight have their noses up in the air.  It’s people telling me how easy it was for them to lose 10-20lbs. It’s people who just cut soda out of their diet and everything fell into place. It’s the people in advertisements and all over the internet that tell you how losing weight was easy.

Easy? *cough* hahaha hahaha haha. no.

If I have learned anything in my 24 years of living, it’s that almost nothing goes according to plans. If you’re lucky, there are bumps in the road.

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But, if the road is long (which I knew this one has been and will continue to be), you’re going to run into worse things… Detours. Rain. Snow. Ice. Broken stoplights. Flat tires. Giant potholes. Traffic jams. People who drive by and give you the bird when you were politely following the laws. Cops who hide on the side of the highway when you are going 5mph over the speed limit and pull you over because they need to meet their quota. A janky GPS that leads you to the middle of a country road and then says “lost satellite reception.” Deer that run right into your path when you’re driving  in the night fog…you get the idea. Even if you know how to drive, things pop up. It’s amazing we can come out unscathed.

To the people who claim their journey was easy, good for you, I guess? Sometimes journeys are easy, and I understand that. But, honestly, my trip is not a walk in the park. It’s a hike through the mountains.

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The millions of success stories that emphasize their ease make me believe that there is just one thing I am doing wrong and when I figure it out the clouds will part, an infinite/higher power will bestow their eternal grace on me, and all of my dreams will come true. Deus ex machina, right? But, news flash, most journeys are long, hard, and laced with failure, frustration, and transformation you didn’t necessarily ask for.

To be honest, being vegan is difficult. Being healthy is even MORE difficult. As healthy as cutting meat and dairy out of your diet is, there is still sugar and processed foods that are 100% vegan. When you cut out sugar and processed foods, there’s still the fact that you have to learn how to eat a variety of foods to keep healthy. For crying out loud, there are still vegan cheeses, chicken nuggets, ice creams, that will tempt the dickens out of you. It’s freaking difficult.

Not to mention the other frustrations that happen with veganism. Some of it I had semi-expected–people becoming offended by me messing challenging their ethics, not knowing what really is healthy and what is not, missing the dairy products I omitted…but I did not know how frustrating those frustrations would be.

I literally began documenting all of this for myself because I know that I learn best through writing. But, man, have I really ticked some people off. I receive private messages or see angry Facebook posts about veganism nearly every time I post a blog. That’s not even an exaggeration. Luckily I don’t get as many questions from friends and family because of the progressive area I live in. But I know as soon as I go home, someone will intentionally try to sneak some cheese or egg in something–that sounds outrageous, but it happened all the time with meat when I went vegetarian. And, honestly, I do miss cheese sometimes. My life is more difficult as a vegan. And, my life is crazy challenging trying to be a healthy vegan. Does that mean I want to stop?

HECK NO.

Is being a healthy vegan easy? No. Is it practical? YES.

When you say, “Is it practical?” are you actually saying, “Is it easy?” Sometimes we say that eating healthy isn’t practical, or that it’s time-consuming and ridiculous. Honestly, it can be time-consuming. And I cannot lie, it does take time out of your day. But is it worth it? Absolutely.

Sometimes we feel like we are entitled to ease. But if you want something badly, whether it be fitness, a certain career, a 4.0 on your report card, a mastery of a skill, you have to work for it. When we are told that losing weight is easy, and our promised fix is broken, we all give up.  Progress is a lost dream, so we throw our fists to the sky, curse the earth, and go on with our lives more complacent and jaded than ever.

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When people make false claims that something is easy, there is no way to move forward. They are not with you through the struggle. They’re up on that mountaintop promising false hopes. As soon as things don’t go as planned, we’ll become paralyzed and don’t know what to do.

What I’m trying to say is, we need to reevaluate how we talk about health. It is not all about aesthetics and it does not come easy. It’s about living a long, happy life–a happiness which you worked for. A happiness you fought for.

I am tired. I am sick of starting a fitness journey over and over and over again and getting frustrated that things didn’t go the way people told me they would. I am sick of people telling me that my problem is genetic and not just a result of a societal rut I am caught in–believing that when things get too tough, I should give up until someone comes up with a teleportation device that gets me from point A to point B without the work or research.

Veganism isn’t going to cure all the complications that have built up since my youth. It has, and hopefully will continue to help me learn more about what is making it so difficult to move forward. But, I will not give up on driving forward. Not this time.

This time, I will fight.

Food Myths: breakfast is the most important meal of the day

Breakfast. Whether the idea was sold to us by cereal companies, or it’s just part of an old tradition we haven’t yet kicked, it’s always been ambiguous what Mom and Dad meant by “most important meal.”

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“Well, it’s so you can focus, of course,” said Grandma, serving up another stack of jacks.  “You’ve gotta eat, so you can be the best you can be today.”

But, let’s be honest, that food coma that pancakes and waffles put you in was not helping you concentrate.

Think about it. The foods that are marketed to us as “most important” are things like cereal, milk, eggs, bacon, juice, sausage, etc… Are Eggo Waffles actually part of a balanced breakfast? Hmm…maybe if they were marketing apples, I’d be more convinced.

But what about those people who tell you that if you start of your morning with wholesome foods, you’ll eat better later in the day?

To that, I might suggest lunch: a healthy way to start off your day right.

But wait, what about… weight loss?

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If you’ve struggled with your weight at all, you’ve probably been warned about the dangers of breakfast. After all, if you skip that morning meal, you are without a doubt going to turn into a ravenous beast come afternoon–overindulging for the rest of the day. Cue Snicker’s commercial, starring you.
But, skipping breakfast, surprisingly, will not necessarily make you hungry by noon.  In a study conducted to compare the hunger levels between breakfast eaters and morning fasters at lunchtime, scientists found that hunger levels were similar, if not equal, in both groups.  In fact, those who skip breakfast typically consume less calories throughout the day.

Similarly, in a 2014 study, scientists observed 300 participants by splitting them into two groups: those who were told to eat breakfast, and those who were told to avoid it. At the end of their study, they found that those who ate breakfast lost weight at a nearly identical rate as those who waited to eat later in the day.

Now, is breakfast bad? Of course not. If you feel that breakfast is an important part of your morning, by all means, keep it in your routine. However, putting breakfast on a meal hierarchy is unnecessary. Perhaps even dangerous.

Forcing yourself to eat breakfast when it is not natural to you, puts unnecessary strain on your eating habits. If you are trying to lose weight, I’d assume it’s because you would also like to keep the weight off. How do you do that?

Create a new lifestyle. If you are a person who hates mornings, is sickened by routine, or you simply aren’t hungry in the morning, myths about breakfast could be just another thing that makes getting healthy seem impossible. But, good news! It isn’t.

It is most crucial to note, for breakfast eaters and non, that all meals are important. If you make sure the food you put in your body is good fuel, you should be able to run off of it at any time of day.

So, what should you include in these meals?

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    The bottom line is, it’s not about when you eat, it’s what you eat.

    The nutrients you consume should come primarily, if not exclusively, from plant foods. Wondering how to get proper nutrients with just plants? Check out some of my other blogs:
    Where the Heck Do Vegans Find Protein?

    Where the Heck Do Vegans Find Calcium?

For more about breakfast, check out these sources: The Great Breakfast Myth|British Journal of Nutrition|Myths Surround Breakfast and Weight

Food Myths: CARBS ARE BAD

We’ve all heard that carbs are bad for us at sometime or another. But are they really?

Quite the contrary. Think of carbs as your body’s fuel–without them, you  will not be able to complete daily tasks or exercise without running out of energy first. Not only are carbs not bad, they’re essential.

But, do too many carbs make you fat?

No. Well, not really. Very often, things we think of being high in carbs are high in other things that will make you fat. There are many different types of carbs, which is also likely something you’ve heard a million times. Complex vs. simple carbs. But what does that even mean? And who even cares if carbs won’t make us fat? If we can just avoid the other bad stuff why even waste the energy trying to figure out which carbs are the good ones?

Woah, there Bessy. Carbs are a good thing to note! Remember the whole fuel thing? Well, let’s take a look at where to find the good fuel. That way, you can stay energized throughout the day. You won’t be wasting energy finding good carbs–you’ll be creating it!

EAT AS MANY AS YOU WANT!

LEAFY GREENS

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Photo credit: The Science of Eating

Kale, spinach, romaine lettuce, collards, swiss chard, cabbage…

Cruciferous Vegetables

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Photo credit: Diagnosis: diet

Cauliflower, broccoli, brussel sprouts, turnips, radishes, watercress, kohlrabi, rutabaga, mustard greens…

Berries

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Photo credit: HFA

Strawberries, raspberries, cranberries, blueberries, lingonberries, currants, honeysuckle, gooseberries, cloudberries…

EAT THESE! But, in moderation.

Starchy Veggies

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Photo credit: Healthy Eating

Potatoes, yams, squashes, peas, pumpkin, parsnips, zucchini, plantains…

Sweeter Fruits

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Photo credit: w-dog.net

Grapes, pineapple, dates, figs, oranges, tomato, grapefruit, jackfruit, papayas, mangos, peaches, plums, avocado…

Technically, bananas are berries. I don’t really which category to put them in.

Whole Grains

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Photo credit: My Full Life Nutrition

Whole wheat flour, bulgar (cracked wheat), whole oats/ oatmeal, popcorn, quinoa, sorghum, buckwheat, millet, whole rye, whole grain corn/corn meal, brown rice, whole grain barley, whole farrow

AVOID!

White bread, white rice, white pasta, etc.

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Soda, juice, and other sugary drinks

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Photo credit: DailyMail.com

Sugary snacks and desserts

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Looking for more information about carbs? Check out these sources:

Why Are Carbs Important? | The Big Fat Debate About Carbohydrates | the CARMEN study

“But It Tastes So Good” is the number one excuse I get from meat-eaters on why they do not want to switch to a vegetarian/vegan diet. I am not out there to make everyone vegan. I do, however, want to share what food does to your body and to the world around you. Let me show you that being good to yourself and to the earth can taste just as good, or better, than what you are already doing (both literally and figuratively).

Honestly

Sometimes we can do everything within our own power to succeed, and we will still fail.

That’s what happened in the month of March. And, well, most of April too. I started out my vegan journey strong, feeling small gains each and every day. But then, sciatica happened.

Sciatica is defined as, “Pain affecting the back, hip, and outer side of the leg, caused by compression of a spinal nerve root in the lower back, often owing to degeneration of an intervertebral disk.”

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So, here’s where sciatica starts: the lower back.

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And here’s where sciatica pain may travel: all the way down to the foot.

For me, it was down to my ankle.

I am not one to experience large amounts of physical pain, so when it happened, I was freaking annoyed. Empathy runs sparse in me when it comes to physical pain, so it was difficult for me to take my own pain seriously. But, let me tell you, this pain. Guys. This PAIN. It felt like my leg was splitting in half. Worse? I felt like my goals were also being split in half.

Here I was, being all health conscious and trying to take care of my body and it was screaming at me to stop whenever I moved.

It seemed like I tried everything. Relaxing. Exercising. Massage. Going to the chiropractor. Stretching. Applying ice. Applying heat. Sleeping. Doing my writing laying down. Doing my writing standing up. Ibuprofen. Tylenol. Nothing seemed to work.

Not only was it difficult to do my regular exercise, but also to do normal things like cooking or taking a shower. When I would go out at all, even to buy groceries, my pain would get so intense that I would sit down in the middle of an aisle and stretch until it was bearable to walk. It must have been pretty hysterical to watch!

Despite being in horrible pain, I would continue to try to do exercises and push myself because I wanted to get a particular result. At the very least, I wanted to move forward. But sometimes, moving forward means taking a step back and going to the basics. If I don’t, I will only feel defeated.

And I did. With that feeling of defeat comes slip ups in other areas of life.

I have been terrify to admit it, but I let my eating habits slip too. I began eating high amounts of sugar–sometimes even splurging on a non-dairy ice-cream cone or cookie.

I’ve felt so ashamed. So, instead of blogging, I’ve been in hiding hoping that no one will find out that I fell off track so freaking early.

How ridiculous! Right? I should have just been honest.

I should have blogged about what was going on. I should have have

Anyways, I am happy to say that I have been pain-free for one week (knock on wood). What finally did it for me was practicing yoga and taking turmeric pills. I will cover both of these in later blogs. For now, let’s just say, I’m ready to be active again!

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Beginner’s Guide To Eating Flowers

It’s springtime and the flowers are blooming. And, lads and lassies; oh, my good golly gosh. Have I got news for you. Many of those blooming flowers are EDIBLE! Why did it take me so long to realize this?

Hippies, hipsters, and curious folk, hold on to your pants. The following is a guide to adding flowers to your daily diet.

Before we get into recipes, here’s a couple of sources to get you started.

42 Flowers You Can Eat

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This source gives great tips on what certain flowers taste like, and where you might use them, and how to know whether or not a flower is safe to eat. Like any type of plant food, bot not all flowers are edible. Some might even be deadly. Don’t worry, though. Follow this link to see how eating flowers is done safely.

Read it at treehugger.com

List of Edible Flowers

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This is a less extensive list than the first, but with a little more detail. Learn about flower flavors and how to get to the parts worth eating.

Read it at West Cost Seeds

Now that you know which flowers you can eat, let’s look at some recipes. Vegan, of course.

1. Flower Power Cake

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This raw vegan cake is packed with superfoods. Not only is it good looking, it’s good for you too!

“Crunchy, lemony, fruity and sweet. It’s not an exaggeration, this cake is crazy good.”

Get recipe here!

2. Floral Cocktail

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“Because the only thing better than a vase full of flowers is a cocktail glass full of flowers.”

Find recipes here!

3. Gaspacho

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Flowers are a great way to make your normal soup or gaspacho go from lovely to show stopping.

Get recipe here!

4. Garden of Eden Spring Rolls with Creamy Ginger Dipping Sauce

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Could there be anything with more whimsy than a spring roll with flowers peeking through?

Get recipe here!

5. Flower Infused Vinegar

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To make subtly flavored dressings for your salads, infuse vinegar with flowers.

Get recipe here!

6. Rose and Pistachio Raw Chocolate

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Who doesn’t love chocolate? Pretty chocolate? Even better. The best part of this recipe? No refined sugar or dairy. Go ahead…indulge!

Get recipe here!

7. Wild Spring Salad

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There is nothing quite as hipster as adding flowers to your salad. Yes, the flowers are good for you. And, well, you are going to look like you are eating food assembled by fairies.

Get recipe here!

8. Edible Flower Garnish

Green asparagus with a saffron sauce and edible flowers.

Did you know you are supposed to EAT the garnish? Ah, ignorant me. I’m learning all sorts of things today. Well, go ahead. Give this one a try!

Get recipe here!

9. Rose Raspberry Ripple Ice Cream

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Tasty. Fancy. Beautiful.

Get recipe here!

10. Old Fashioned Sweet Violet Syrup

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Whether you are baking a cake, making an elegant drink,  or making an ice-cream from scratch, this syrup adds the perfect amount of magic to your sweet(‘s) needs.

Get recipe here!

11. Rose Petal Jam

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Have you been craving a 5-star pb&j? Look no further than this enchanting little jam.

Get recipe here!

12. Elderflower Popsicles

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Cool off in the most delicate way. Pinkies out, everyone!

Get recipe here!

13. Springtime Zucchini Tart With Flower Garnish

Springtime Zucchini Tart with Edible Flower Garnish

Looking for the perfect addition to your next tea party? Brunch? Garden party? Unicorn gathering? I will leave this here for you:

Get recipe here!

14. Blueberry Lemon Cheesecake

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Do I need to speak for this one? This is cheesecake designed for royalty.

Get recipe here!

Happy springtime, everyone! May it be a colorful one– full of magic and new discovery.

“But It Tastes So Good” is the number one excuse I get from meat-eaters on why they do not want to switch to a vegetarian/vegan diet. I am not out there to make everyone vegan. I do, however, want to share what food does to your body and to the world around you. Let me show you that being good to yourself and to the earth can taste just as good, or better, than what you are already doing (both literally and figuratively).

Buns Shares the Benefits of Yoga

Aww. Isn’t that a precious little bunny? Well, Buns here wants to show you some amazing benefits of yoga.

Mobility and Flexibility

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This is probably the no-brainer. When people think of yoga, they think of doing challenging, if not seemingly impossible, stretching. But why is it important to be flexible? Aside from doing some super awesome poses you can show off to your friends, flexibility helps with mobility in our day-to-day life. You’re less likely to get injured, and more likely to move. And moving–well, that’s just good stuff.

Better Balance

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There’s nothing like being accident prone because you can’t find good footing. Whether you suffer from poor balance because of an inner ear problem, or you are just plain uncoordinated, yoga can help keep your feet on the earth.

Clarity

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While yoga is great for your body, it’s also great for your mind. Not only do practicers of yoga see improvements in reaction time, memory, and the ability to recall information, many see an increase in their overall happiness and quality of life. Doing yoga has even been known to increase serotonin levels and improve the lives of those struggling with depression.

Strength

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Want to find a way to strengthen your body with nothing more than your body? Look no further than yoga. When you do yoga poses, you are using your own body as resistance, creating lean muscle. Not only does that muscle look good, it makes your life a heck of a lot easier.

Better Posture

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There is not a more natural way to align your spine than yoga. Not only are the poses geared to straighten your spine, you are also strengthening multiple core muscle groups that keep you upright. Even more: you’re concentrating on breathing. And, to have a great, full breath, you must first have good posture so your lungs have space to expand.

Improved Breathing

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Take a breath of fresh air. Literally. While much of yoga focuses on the rhythm of your breathing, bringing attention and focus to your breath, it also opens up your body. This expansion helps your lungs can expand to their full capacity. AND healthy breathing makes for more oxygen. And more oxygen means more ENERGY!

Reduce Pain

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While yoga is able to help with normal pains and aches, it has also been reported by researchers that yoga can help with chronic pain as well. Some examples include, but are not limited to, osteoarthritis, fibromyalgia, and carpal tunnel.

Reduce Stress

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Hippyish as it may sound, yoga’s focus on present moment practiced regularly can significantly reduce stress levels. Additionally, a focus on breathing opens up the body–and a more open body is a more adaptable body.

Confidence

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Better posture, a stronger mind, and less stress? Not mention that body that will be able to do empowering poses. How could you not be a little happier with yourself? Additionally, you will gain a consciousness of your physical body, allowing you to be more aware of what you are capable of.

And trust me–you’re capable of doing amazing things.

Character design courtesy of Brianne Kilborn. Follow her on Twitter @briannekilborn

“But It Tastes So Good” is the number one excuse I get from meat-eaters on why they do not want to switch to a vegetarian/vegan diet. I am not out there to make everyone vegan. I do, however, want to share what food does to your body and to the world around you. Let me show you that being good to yourself and to the earth can taste just as good, or better, than what you are already doing (both literally and figuratively).

No, being vegan is not all or nothing.

Contrary to popular belief, it is not all or nothing with veganism. Heck, it is not even all or nothing with vegetarianism. The following is a list of lifestyles which restrict the consumption of animals from the most lax to the most restrictive.

Flexitarians-

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They abstain from eating meat…mostly. Sometimes meat whispers sweet nothings to them which they cannot resist.

It’s not all that simple, actually. Though a person might be a flexitarian because they cannot resist the taste of meat, others may live in an area where vegetarian products are difficult to get ahold of. They might also choose to eat meat as courtesy when a guest at someone’s house or when eating out with friends. Additionally, a person may eat meat to ensure they are getting vitamins such as iron and omega-3’s without paying too much attention to nutrition.

Pesco Pollo Vegetarians-

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This is someone who stopped eating cows and pigs, but will still eat chicken and fish. Meat still beckons them, but only if it’s not red.

Perhaps this person finds more value the lives of cows and pigs than the lives of fish and chicken. Perhaps not. They may also be abstaining from red meat for health reasons. Or, like a flexitarian, find it more convenient to keep some meat in their diets.

Pescatarians –

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This type of vegetarian says bye-bye to land animals, but still hangs on to the metaphorical fishing pole. That is, the only meat they’ll eat is fish.

Fish are definitely lowest in calories when it comes to meat, so a person may be ridding other meats for health. And, similar to the other types of meat-restricting types of lifestyles above, pescatarians may eat fish because it is more convenient to continue to include.

Lacto-ovo Vegetarian-

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So, now we’ve said goodbye to meat, but not animal products. They can still have their milk and eggs, maybe jell-o, but no flesh will be on their plates.

Likely, a person who is lacto-ovo does not see eggs and dairy as inhumane as the animal is able to live. And of course, convenience is always a factor. And taste. Don’t forget about taste.

Lacto Vegetarian-

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No more eggs. No more meat. But they just couldn’t say goodbye to milk or cheese or butter just yet.

They may not see dairy as inhumane, may not be in an area where vegan cheese is available, or seriously don’t know how to give up their favorite dairy products. Nevertheless, this person’s still got milk, but definitely not the whole cow.

Junk Food Vegan-

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No more animal products for these lads and lassies. But wait…there’s vegan junk food? LOTS of vegan junk food!

Often vegan for ethics, the junk food vegan still indulges in processed foods and sugars. They are likely to eat frozen foods that are similar to the foods they were eating before going vegan. So, instead of basing their diets on plants, they eat the vegan alternatives to things like pizza, faux meat, ice cream, etc.

Whole Food/Plant Based Vegan-

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Photo Credit (includes recipe!): Blissful Basil

Changing their diet all together are plant based vegans. They cut out processed foods and replace them with fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, legumes, and seeds.

This type of vegan is probably experimental with cooking and loves discovering new meal alternatives. They may still eat pizza, but it’s not going to be premade. Everything this person will consume will be made primarily out of plants that have not been touched by factories.

Raw Vegan-

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The purest of the pure. The most natural of the natural. Vegan for predominately nutritional reasons, raw vegans avoid all animal by-products as well as anything cooked above 115 degrees.

The theory is that anything cooked above these temperatures has lost many of its nutrients. Needless to say, they also cut out anything processed and refined.

‘Raw Till 4’ Vegan-

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Much like the name implies, Raw Till 4 vegans eat a raw diet up until 4:00pm.

Because many people enjoy warm meals, Raw Till 4 was created so persons could enjoy cooked food, but remain primarily raw. Very likely, these vegans would have fruit or a smoothie in the morning for breakfast. In the afternoon, they might have something like a salad. And in the evening? A nice cooked meal–likely with plant-based foods.

High Carb Low Fat-

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Video Link: What I Eat In A Day

This may be shocking, but high carb, low fat vegans eat primarily carbs (from fruits and vegetables) while limiting their fat intake.

This lifestyle boasts it’s high caloric intake, claiming you can eat as much as you want while remaining lean. Many have critiqued this theory–but most people on using high carb, low fat lifestyles are aiming to be lean.

Frutarian-

Fruit-mix

That’s right. A lifestyle composed of primarily fruits.

It’s not as extreme as it sounds. Fruitarians’ goal is to not harm any plants in the process of harvesting their food. So, what qualifies as fruit is not necessarily what you might think of initially. Cucumbers, squashes, nuts, seeds, beans, legumes may also qualify for consumption in this diet. Though, some people may be more extreme than others–refusing to eat anything that has not already fallen off the tree naturally.

“But It Tastes So Good” is the number one excuse I get from meat-eaters on why they do not want to switch to a vegetarian/vegan diet. I am not out there to make everyone vegan. I do, however, want to share what food does to your body and to the world around you. Let me show you that being good to yourself and to the earth can taste just as good, or better, than what you are already doing (both literally and figuratively).

AMAZING SUPERFOODS! Why Kale is Awesome and How to Use It

Want to get more superfoods in your diet, but know where to start?

Kale is a great superfood with lots of versatility. Keep reading and you will find why you’ll want to add kale to your diet ASAP and ways to do so.

Why it’s awesome:

Kale is PACKED with vitamins and minerals. It protects against heart disease with high levels of fibers and antioxidants and uses its magnesium and potassium content to help lower blood pressure. Additionally, kale helps brain function with amino acids which help you feel focused and happy. As if that wasn’t enough, kale can help a person loose weight. Why? It’s low in calories and fat, but it leaves you feeling full and satisfied. Likewise, it’s energy boosting, helping you stay active. Not enough? It also has fiber to aid in digestion. What the what?

And I’m only scratching the surface here, people.
Kale is also high in iron, Vitamin A, Vitamin K, Vitamin C, Calcium…
It also contains copper, Vitamin B6, Folate, Riboflavin, omega 3 fatty acids, omega 6 fatty acids…

The list goes on.

How to use it:

Add it to green smoothies
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Photo Credit (includes recipe!!): hello glow

If you don’t eat bitter greens, kale can take some getting used to. Put it in a green smoothie to mask the flavor with well-liked fruits. Here’s some rad smoothy combination ideas. First add kale, then:

[almond milk, banana, pineapple, peanut butter, honey]
[almond milk, banana, pear, almond butter]
[almond milk, strawberries, honey, banana, apple, pineapple]
[banana, lemon, pineapple, chia seeds]
[almond milk, berries, banana, rolled oats]
[almond milk, peaches, ginger, honey, banana]

Still nervous? Want more freedom with ingredients you already have in your kitchen? Check out my previous blog The Perfect Green Smoothie to get started.

Make kale chips 
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Photo Credit (includes recipe!): eat healthy eat happy

Into savory things? Bake kale in the oven with a little seasoning and olive oil to make kale chips! They’re tasty, and retain their nutritional value when you bake them.

Put it in a salad 
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Photo Source (includes recipes!): Cookie + Kate

This maybe goes without saying. However, if you ever see a salad labeled “detox,” It likely has kale in it. But not all salad is the same. Take a look at these kale salad ideas:

[dried cranberries, almonds, lemon juice, lemon zest, red wine vinegar]
[olive oil, lemon juice, garlic (toss in mixing bowl with hands until it reduces to half its size)]
[poppyseed dressing (either homemade, or bought vegan in stores), quinoa, almonds, blueberries, raspberries, avocados]
[black beans, corn, bell peppers, tomatoes, red onion, cilantro, jalapeño, (avocado, lime, cumin, & warm water for dressing)]

Add it to soup
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Photo Credit (includes recipe!): Roasted Root Vegetables with Tomatoes and Kale

How can you go wrong with a good soup? And a good soup with something as good for you as kale? Check out these awesome soup recipes that call for kale:

In-A-Hurry Kale Chickpea Soup

Kale Barely Soup

Roasted Cauliflower and Kale Soup

Creamy French Lentils with Mushrooms

Quinoa and Vegetable Soup

Coconut Red Lentil Soup

Sauté it
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Photo Credit (includes recipe!): Simply Recipes

Cooking kale is a little strange. Though it’s a green, it doesn’t wilt when heated like spinach. But that just makes it all the more hearty. Here are some good kale combos to use while on the stove:

[butternut squash, red onion, garlic, cranberries, pecans, balsamic vinegar, olive oil]
[garlic, red pepper flakes, vegetable stock, olive oil]
[chickpeas, garlic, lemon juice, olive oil]
[garlic, mushrooms, vegetable broth, olive oil]
[butternut squash, garlic, onion, cranberries orange, orange zest, pecans
lemon zest, lemon juice, garlic, apples, olive oil]
[garlic, roasted red peppers, olives, balsamic vinegar, olive oil]

“But It Tastes So Good” is the number one excuse I get from meat-eaters on why they do not want to switch to a vegetarian/vegan diet. I am not out there to make everyone vegan. I do, however, want to share what food does to your body and to the world around you. Let me show you that being good to yourself and to the earth can taste just as good, or better, than what you are already doing (both literally and figuratively).

Becoming Vegetarian: Noob Mistakes

Did you just become vegetarian? Looking at restricting your animal product intake? Check out these common mistakes to avoid to help keep your new journey a little easier.

Meat substitutes

VND.VeggieBurger
Photo Credit: vegnews

While this might be a good way to transition from avid meat eater to vegetarian, meat substitutes aren’t great for the long term. Not only do they contain GMOs, sodium, and fillers, they can actually be as high in fat as actual meat. Not to mention these substitutes are expensive!

Too much cheese

Cheese!
Photo Credit: itsalldelicious

Aside from it being delicious and familiar, there are a number of reasons why new vegetarians fall into this trap. Mainly, media’s got us all in a panic about protein intake. Unless you want to be a body builder, you really don’t need to worry about protein. At least, not to the extent that fitness gurus want you to think. There are plenty other sources of protein out there besides animal products. If you’re really worried, read my previous blog Where in the Heck Do Vegans Find Protein.
Furthermore, dairy isn’t a very healthy way to get protein. It’s full of unnecessary fats that clog our systems. Plus, if you are vegetarian for moral reasons, a big component in factory farms is the dairy industry.

White pasta, white bread, and other icky carbs

pasta and wooden spoon isolated on white background
Photo Source: Boomer Health Institute

White pasta and white bread are not good for you. That’s the bottom line. True, grains are supposed to be the foundation of our food pyramid, but these foods could hardly pass as grains at all. White grains are refined grains, which mean they have been stripped of their bran and germ where all the fiber, vitamins, and minerals are stored. So, all that good stuff grains have in store for us? Yeah, these foods don’t have it.

Only eating side dishes

Side dishes
Photo Credit: fastapasta quartersabq salad

Becoming vegetarian isn’t all about what you give up, it’s what you gain too! This means new delicious foods you never had reason to try before. If you think you are going to want to remain vegetarian long term with only side dishes, forget it! You’ll end up malnourished, bored, and unhappy. Look up new recipes. Try things you’ve never had before. Trust me, it’ll be worth the little extra effort.

Junkfood

junk

Junk food is an easy pit to fall into, and is especially tempting when you are limiting food intake. A common mistake many new vegetarians have is binging out on junk they in place of the sustenance they were getting from meat because it’s familiar. Guess what? The junk food cravings don’t subside if you want to become vegan either. Much of the junk food above is entirely vegan (including Oreos!). Make sure to avoid junk food and pick up alternatives for snacks such as fruit, veggies, or nuts.

Taking criticism personally
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So you say you’re vegetarian because it’s better for you, and your friends suddenly start attacking you. They insist you are not getting enough protein. Though, come to think of it, they never seemed to care so much about your health before…
It’s not you they’re attacking. Your choices are different and they want to know why you’re deciding to go against the grain. Don’t take it personally. They aren’t mad at you, they’re mad at differences that might challenge their thinking. And, if you bring up the moral issue of meat, you are likely to offend them even more. So, what do you do? Brush it off. Know that what you are doing isn’t wrong–it’s challenging.

Expecting others to jump on board

Frock-Off-Expectations-CartoonME_452_Expectations

I know, I know. Animal cruelty is awful. The food industry and the lies they tell us about the food we eat every day is disgusting. As terrible as conditions are, don’t expect other people to change their entire life around because of  one conversation you’ve had with them. People are stubborn and take a long time to convince. Believe it or not, most people who never choose to be vegetarian are still good people. Why was it that you clicked on this link? It’s not because being vegetarian is easy. Learning to be vegetarian and learning to do it well takes practice. There’s a lot of trial and error involved.
Some people will come around with patience and open, honest discussion. If you are to pushy, you’ll likely drive people away from your cause.

Expecting others to know your restrictions

argue

Sometimes it may seem obvious that a vegetarian diet is completely without meat. It’s okay. The term ‘vegetarian’ is unique to each person. Some may not eat gelatin. Some may eat fish. Some might not wear leathers. Some might eat chicken every third Sunday of each month on odd numbered years. I’ve met someone who was vegetarian, nixing all meat except bacon. Each journey is unique, and just because a person’s restrictions aren’t as strict as yours does not mean that they aren’t doing it right. Just be happy that they are restricting their meat at all.
In the meantime, you might have to repeat a million times what you will and will not eat. If you’re worried about a host getting your diet wrong, bring your own food along. Be polite. You may get frustrated, but kindness and patience is the only way others will be willing see your point of view.

“But It Tastes So Good” is the number one excuse I get from meat-eaters on why they do not want to switch to a vegetarian/vegan diet. I am not out there to make everyone vegan. I do, however, want to share what food does to your body and to the world around you. Let me show you that being good to yourself and to the earth can taste just as good, or better, than what you are already doing (both literally and figuratively).

A Letter To Nature

Dear Nature,
I freaking love you! We go way back. Thank you, Disney, for igniting that flame with cute creatures and adventures through the woods. And Pocahontas. I’ve been painting with the colors of the wind since 1995.

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Credit: People

Our relationship has been more complicated than cinematic plots, however. It’s not as if I have ever thought of you negatively. How could you ever wrong me? Well, I suppose many may argue that you send spiders and natural disasters–but I think spiders are kind of cute. And, thunderstorms are my favorite!

Anyways.

Your beauty is obvious and, frankly, I don’t remember ever being angry with you. Have I made it obvious that I love you? I don’t spend nearly enough time outdoors. You are so vast and nuanced. Majestic, yet constantly unfolding your minute detailing. Let’s reflect on just a few moments you have shared with me through the course of my own life.

1beachh 1berriespur 1ice 1mf 1Montana 1Mountain 1pom pom 1rain 1rainbow 1rose 1snoww 1Sunsethooha

The ways I’ve hurt you have been out of naivety, I swear. Though, sometimes out of laziness. Possibly purposeful naivety? Which, wow, I’m a jerk for doing that. Admittedly, I lie to myself to make problems lose their effects. Things never really go away when we ignore them, but ignorance gives me my selfish bliss. Right?

Is there ever an excuse for neglect? I’ve always been the worst at keeping in contact. Just ask all the friends I’ve moved away from. No matter. Whatever I say now is just empty excuses.

I don’t want to talk to you about global warming.

Though I firmly believe your fever is not a conspiracy theory, there are things that our culture…and me… has a difficult enough time wrapping their minds around. Nature, you cannot blame humans for not knowing how to care for you. After all, it is in our nature to focus on that which affects us directly. How can we grasp a concept so etherial as global warming, when the problems staring us directly in the eye are problems we still continue to ignore?

china-smog
Photo Credit: Business Insider
Hawaii-shores
Photo Credit: EPA
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Photo Credit: bigstockphoto
FILE - This Sept. 15, 2009 file photo shows a deforested area near Novo Progresso in Brazil's northern state of Para. Brazil detained a land-grabber in Para state thought to be the Amazon's single biggest deforester, according to the country's environmental protection agency. The Brazilian Institute of Environment and Renewable Natural Resources said Ezequiel Antonio Castanha, detained Saturday, Feb. 21, 2015, operated a network that illegally seized federal lands, clear-cut them and sold them to cattle grazers. (AP Photo/Andre Penner, File)
Photo Credit: wired.com
Mortandade de peixes na Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas, zona sul do Rio de Janeiro. Peixes Rabalos e Savelhas no espelho ocupam o espelho dágua.
Photo Credit: earthtimes.org

Of course, I’m not even scratching the surface. It’s clear that the problem in our relationship is not you. I don’t know that I could name a flaw in you that has not been created by man. Do we even know that we are being destructive? Does cancer know that by gaining power, it kills the very thing which sustains its life?

If anything, our relationship is tainted with my pity. I believe that pity is the last thing you need–pity is powerless. You need action. Not violence, though. Any violence towards each other is only furthering the destruction of your body. You need cancer cells to transform to building blocks.

I have no idea where to begin. I fear talking about your problems because I know that some people will run from what I have to say when I mention the things that happen to you when we eat animals. I know this to be true, because people lose interest in what I have to say about veganism when it becomes anything more than a health choice. Perhaps they feel as if I am throwing them into the fire? I am not sure.

I’ll write back when I have answers. Though I hope becoming vegan is a decent start, it’s important that I’m honest about the reasons I am doing these things outside of myself. I promise to talk of you more often–both the good things you give and the things we are doing to damage those things. You don’t deserve anything less.

Your very sorry friend,
Sarah