A Veggie Valentine’s Day

Whether you agree with the idea of Valentine’s Day or not, this one day each year will probably make you think about and evaluate the relationships you have in your life. For some of us, it will be a motivation to get out there and do a bit more to create loving relationships that enrich our life and inspire us to be a better person.

But being a wannabe vegan can create lots of dating and friendship hurdles.

Almost every aspect of getting to know someone is a potential landmine of vegan questions that could easily derail a budding relationship – why did you get soy milk in your coffee? would you like to go to my favorite steakhouse for dinner? why don’t you like butter on your popcorn?

Luckily, there’s one way of avoiding the whole thing all together – find and date another wannabe vegan! It seems so simple doesn’t it? Where do you find these other like-minded individuals also lookin’ for love? The internet of course! Well, to be honest, there are other places you find them but … here are 3 sites to get you started:

VeggieConnection.com – According to the site, it is the largest dating/friendship site for vegetarians and was the winner of the “Top site to find a veggie mate” by VegNews Magazine. They offer free and paid memberships.

VeggieDate.org – According to the site, there are over 16,000 members. You post a profile that can include whatever you want it to. They offer a 2 week free trial and paid memberships.

PlanetEarthSingles.com – This isn’t just for wannabe vegans; its for everyone who wants to live a ‘green lifestyle’. They offer free and paid memberships. Both offer extensive options and lots of extra fun stuff like tests, etc.

Have you tried any of these sites? Any success? Let us know below!

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Being Blind to the Obvious

The last few weeks have been hectic for me and the holiday weekend put an interesting twist on my already wacky schedule. So, I admittedly wasn’t 100% present for a lot of that time.

Case in point, I have been looking for my nail file for 2 days (stay with me here, there is a relevant point to this!). I normally keep it in one place as acknowledgement and acceptance of my diminishing memory capacity, but when I looked it was nowhere to be found. It wasn’t a big deal and life went on but there was still this nagging thought in the back of my head.

So, I’m sitting at my desk today, looking at the same things I always look at (except for the Santa Claus decoration that was added over the weekend) and realized I had been staring at my nail file the entire (f-ing) time! It was right in front of my keyboard quietly waiting for me to notice it. At first, I was relieved but then I kind of freaked out. How the heck could I have NOT seen it before?

Aside from the possibility that my office fairies were pulling a fast one on me – it wouldn’t be the first time! – I obviously wasn’t paying attention to what was right in front of my face.

Then I wondered – is that what is happening with the people who don’t see the problems with factory farms, our non-sustainable food supply, GMOs, and mainstream medicine? Are they, on some level aware, but oblivious to their inability to see? Maybe.

Maybe being blind to the obvious is preferable to acknowledging reality when it is so dependent on our ability to be truly present.

What do you think? I would love to hear your thoughts below, on Facebook or on Twitter.

Is There Grace in Your Gratefulness?

As a wannabe vegan, I am confronted with a lot of things I have taken for granted in the past. Almost every decision I am making requires more evaluation and understanding about where I stand on issues: What am I willing to compromise on? How steadfast am I in my convictions? How do I ‘really’ feel about something? I appreciate the opportunities to better understand myself and those around me. But I have to admit I still struggle.

One issue that has been at the forefront of my mind lately is gratitude. Mostly because of Thanksgiving and my desire to shift my opinion about it. I no longer want to be the cranky relative who begrudgingly attends out of guilt. I want to be happy, enjoy myself and appreciate the kindness and love that is experienced when you are with family and friends. So, I have been on a mission to understand what gratitude is for me and how I can be more grateful.

I know that on a spiritual level, I feel very good when I recognize, acknowledge and am sincerely grateful for the beauty, people and experiences in my life. The issue that sometimes hinders me is how to do it. I get caught up in the appropriate way to write a Thank You card or whether or not I should keep a Gratitude Journal or if I should publicly or privately thank someone. I get distracted from the original intention of ‘being’ grateful by ‘doing’ grateful. So I dug a bit deeper to find the root of what this is about in hopes that it would help me overcome this hurdle.

As I was reading blogs, articles and quotes about gratitude, I had a thought. Where did this word ‘grateful’ even come from? What did it originally  mean anyway? Maybe we all have it mixed up with some other word that really means being cranky! Now that would be ironic wouldn’t it!? I digress . . . What I found was that grateful comes from the Latin word “gratia” which means “grace” or “thanks” and the English root “ful(l)” meaning “full of” or “with.”

The idea that by being grateful, you are being graceful, really struck a chord in me. When I think of grace I think of serenity, elegance and peace. I don’t think of how I can attain it or how others may have been blessed by it, it just ‘is.’ It is in those moments of full connection to everything around you. In those moments of awareness of how everything is absolutely perfect. Moments of no judgment; just acceptance and recognition. That is why it feels so special – because you know it is truth realized.

Those moments are flowing and freely experienced. They are not contrived or forced. And they certainly are not bound by the definition of what is appropriate or not appropriate in certain social situations. Can this also be true for gratefulness? I think so. I think it might make things a heck of a lot easier for people like me who tend to over-think things, try too hard and in the end do not take action because of the fear they are not doing it correctly.

So I’m going to shift things a bit this week. I am going to connect to the grace of what is and be content with my desire to be grateful. I hope you join me and we can all experience the beauty and perfection of what surrounds us and truly enjoy a wonderful and happy Thanksgiving holiday.

Does this resonate with you? Do you have any thoughts and/or suggestions? I would love to hear from you in the comments section below, on facebook or via twitter.

Image courtesy of Embroidery Library.

What happens when you eat too much protein?

As a follow up to my last post, I thought I would elaborate on what can happen to your body when you consume too much protein.

If you take in more protein than your body needs:

  1. you are also taking in more nitrogen so your kidneys have to work overtime to expel the extra urea and ketones through your urine. The additional strain over a long period of time may cause kidney disease.
  2. you are more prone to being dehydrated and mineral deficient (mostly calcium) since the process of expelling the extra protein leaches these from your system. This may lead to osteoporosis and kidney stones.
  3. you are more likely to development food allergies because the stress on your digestive system to rid itself of the extra protein can make you more susceptible
  4. by consuming animal protein, you are more prone to obesity, osteoporosis, heart disease and cancer because of the high cholesterol, natural carcinogens and absence of fiber in meat and dairy products. Processed meat ‘foods’ are the worst.

Symptoms of too much protein include:

  1. Headaches
  2. Body aches
  3. Mucous production when you eat
  4. Food allergies
  5. Bone and tooth decay
  6. Arthritis (high uric acid levels eat away at the cartilage in joints)

So what should everyone do to make sure they are getting enough, but not too much protein? First, get a good mix of proteins by eating a variety of foods. Eat a diverse and balanced diet of fruits, vegetables, bean, nuts, and whole grains to give your body what it needs. Second, exercise and drink lots of water. This will help your kidneys flush waste out of your system more effectively. Third, make sure you are getting enough calcium. Good, whole food sources of calcium are sesame seeds, spinach, and collard greens.

Balance is what is all about. So with the Thanksgiving holiday coming up, be sure to remember to be gentle with your body and eat in moderation so that you will be healthy enough to be grateful in the coming year.

Let me know if you have any thoughts and/or suggestions about eating too much protein in the comments section below, on facebook or via twitter.

2 Easy Vegan Recipes to Bring to Your Thanksgiving Celebration

In my previous post, I mentioned that I would be bringing a couple of vegan dishes to Thanksgiving. After some careful consideration, I have decided on the following recipes that are easy, vegan and perfect for Thanksgiving. I hope it gives you some inspiration to bring some yummy dishes to your celebration.

CRANBERRY CHUTNEY (via In a Vegetarian Kitchen)
Makes 8 servings

Cranberry Chutney

Ingredients

  • 12 ounces fresh cranberries
  • 1 cup peeled, diced apple
  • 1 cup orange juice, preferably fresh
  • 1/2 cup chopped dried apricots
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons agave nectar or maple syrup, to taste

Directions

Place all the ingredients except the agave nectar in a deep saucepan and bring to a simmer. Cook over low heat with the lid slightly ajar for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the liquid is mostly absorbed.

Add agave nectar to taste and simmer uncovered for another 5 to 10 minutes until thick. Let the chutney cool to room temperature, then store in a sterilized jar, tightly covered but not sealed. Refrigerate until needed. Before serving, bring to room temperature.

I am going to make this beforehand and put it in some jars so that they are easily transportable (we’re driving ~600 miles). I might even make some really nice labels and put some ribbons around it so that it will be a nice looking gift.

The second dish I will bring is a Mediterranean Kale Salad. I first discovered this amazing recipe by Jennifer Cornbleet on YouTube and have made variations of it numerous times.

MEDITERRANEAN KALE SALAD (via LearnRawFood.com)
Makes 4 servings

Ingredients

  • 8 large kale leaves
  • 2 cups red, raw, sweet peppers
  • 2 tbsp olive oil (I have also used flaxseed oil for a nuttier taste)
  • juice from a whole lemon
  • 24 almonds or pine nuts chopped or slivered
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 24 jumbo sliced black or kalamata olives

Directions

De-vein the kale, then roll up 2 kale leaves at a time and slice thinly to make thin, long strips. Place in a bowl with olive oil, salt and lemon juice, and dig in your (clean) hands and massage the kale in the liquids. Add the remaining ingredients and mix together. Lasts for 3 days refrigerated, tastes better if left to marinate for a little bit.

Jennifer has done an incredible video showing how to make the salad. Check it out below:

Let me know if you try these out and what you think of them. I would also love to hear any other suggestions you might have for tasty vegan Thanksgiving recipes in the comments section below, on facebook or via twitter.

Are you dreading Thanksgiving?

To be honest, Thanksgiving has never been one of my favorite holidays. I could never understand why everyone would want to get together with people they never see otherwise (and usually have unresolved issues with!) and gorge themselves on food until they make themselves immobile. The only thing that kept me going through the whole ordeal was knowing I could have a slice of pumpkin pie.

Now that I am a wannabe vegan, I am dreading this holiday even more. The thought of seeing the turkey on the table and knowing what it had to go through to get there feels me with dread. I can’t imagine I will have much of an appetite, let alone be able to eat heartily and enjoy myself. But shifting my perspectives is what becoming vegan is all about, so I really want to try and make Thanksgiving enjoyable again and something I look can forward to.

Have a Happy Vegan Thanksgiving!

After doing a bit of soul searching, I came up with the following perspective-shifting thoughts. I am hoping that they will help me handle the combination of family, food and being vegan on the 25th just a bit more easily and positively:

  1. I choose to think of being vegan as being a simple dietary choice. Just like some people don’t like to eat okra, I don’t like to eat animal products. Simple as that. When someone tells you they don’t like okra you normally don’t give them any grief unless you are a big okra fan but even then, it is usually just a, “Really? I can’t believe you don’t like okra. It’s the best!” and then the conversation moves on. If I treat my  choice to be vegan in the same way, hopefully others will follow suit and not make a big deal about it.
  2. I realized that being invited into someone’s home for Thanksgiving is a nice gesture that shouldn’t be taken lightly. They are letting me know that they value my presence and are willing to spend a lot of time and effort to make the experience an enjoyable one for me and everyone else. The best way to reciprocate the gesture is to be an appreciative guest. I plan on doing this by bringing a vegan dish or two of my own that I know people will like. This guarantees that I will have something to eat (which will help me feel less stressed about the situation) and will hopefully introduce others to some yummy recipes.
  3. At the dinner, I plan on keeping a positive attitude about being vegan. If anyone wants to know more about my choices, I will reply in an upbeat manner. I will tell them about all of the positive changes it has made in my life and to my heath instead of feeding into the common misunderstanding that it is all about restrictions. I know that if remember that people are just trying to understand, it will be a lot easier to be compassionate and understanding of their views as well. Isn’t that what being vegan is really all about anyway?

Even just writing these down has made me feel better about the whole prospect of Thanksgiving. I hope it has given you something to consider before the holiday arrives so that your experience is enjoyable too.

What do you think? How have you handled Thanksgiving as a vegan? Please share your comments and tips below.