One Plan–The Next Week

Hi!!!  I think I took way longer with weeks one and two than I should have (sorry, Yogi Cameron).  Anyhow, here’s the update. Watch yourself to make sure you are not using the statement “I can’t”.  With all going on in the world, I think many of us have been inspired to be the best “us” possible.  Take that to the next level.  YOU CAN!  Being a vegan in a society where a very small percentage of people are vegan or even understand veganism, it’s easy to fall into “I can’t”, don’t do it!  You will feel empowered by the “I can” version of you!

Watch you intake of coffee, alcohol and bad for you “processed foods”.  Don’t just give up these things if that is too difficult for you…you can taper them or switch them out for something better.  Love coffee (hey, you know that’s me!)?  Try tea instead.  Love processed boxed tamales?  Make your own.  Recruit some help in the kitchen.  Whether it’s family or friends, working in the kitchen together is really a good time!  Once my hubby and I decided to make tamales and we ended up making about 60 because we had the music on, brewed tea and kept working.  It definitely was a Sunday funday event!

Whatever swaps you are making, make sure they are things you can stick to.  I mean this in your life, as well as, in your food.  If you are adjusting your morning routine…don’t make it complicated, if you are adjusting your eating…eat what you love!  It’ll all fall into place!  On to the next week…..

Our World

Our world is ever-changing.  We live in a world where we just had the first black President.  We live in a world where same-sex marriage is legal.  We live in a world where only 1% of us are vegan?  What?  Wait a minute…back it up!   1%?  What are we waiting for people?  Our nation is full of firsts…first man on the moon….we CAN become the first Vegan Nation!  When we think of the kind of day we want to have, what is most important?  Being with family and friends, showing compassion and being shown compassion, living a healthy lifestyle, being cruelty-free, keeping the planet safe for our grandchildren?  ABSOLUTELY!  We want all of these things and because of that, living a vegan lifestyle is the only answer!

Animals want many of these same things.  They want to be near friends and family.  (Ever hear a cow cry as it’s baby is taken away or see a dog reunite with its human friend?)  Animals want to be free to roam.  If you don’t agree, watch a video on a rescued animals first run in the grass or swim in water!  Animals want healthy food and a good, clean environment to live in.  They do not want to be caged and lose their freedom.

You see…we are very much alike.

We feed our children, spouses, family and friends, delicious, healthy food.  We read the labels on dog and cat foods to make sure they are healthy.  Heck, there are even television commercials showing us which pet foods are better for our furry friends.  Yet, we eat and cause extreme suffering to cows, pigs, chickens, sheep, goats, ducks, etc.  Why?  They feel.  They love. If you beg to differ, take a visit to an animal sanctuary and watch the pig roll over happily as you rub his/her belly.  Watch the goat almost smile with glee while you scratch his/her ear.  Observe how closely a Mama Duck watches over her babies.  Now tell me we aren’t alike.  Tell me we don’t all feel, love and want the simple pleasures in life.  On your trip to the sanctuary, record your interactions with these amazing animals.  I say this because the feeling you will feel while playing with them is so incredible and will touch your heart in so many ways that you’ll want to feel it over and over again….AND….you’ll want to share it!

Take a moment (or many moments) during this month of Thanksgiving, this month of Veganism, this month of change and think about all the good you will do by simply living a vegan lifestyle.  It’s not hard, in fact, it’s easy, healthy, inexpensive and cruelty-free.  It’s going to be one of the best choices you’ve ever made!

 

 

 

Social Eating: How to be a Vegan at a Non-Vegan Event

It’s no surprise….the holidays are upon us.  With the cheer, joy and laughter, inevitably comes food.  Whether you are at a restaurant or visiting friends/family, you may end up being the only vegan in the group.  My first piece of advice is..embrace your veganism!  You are to be celebrated, not embarrassed or ridiculed.  We all know people who like to joke about our lifestyle and we may be ok with it, however, remember…at the end of the day, you are on a compassionate mission to change the world!  Let your voice be heard!  OK..now that you’re pumped up :), when you are the only vegan, there are a few tips/things you can do to make things go smoothly.  

  1. Check the menu ahead of time.  Restaurants usually have their menus online.  Do some research and see what you will eat and what you can put together for yourself.  Remember, it’s not that you “CAN’T” eat some things on the menu, it’s that you “choose not to”.  
  2. Bring a dish.  If you are going to a family/friends home, call ahead and ask what you can bring.  By bringing a dish, you are not only helping the hostess, but you are ensuring  you will have something you know will be vegan.
  3. Veganize the menu.  There will usually be something you can veganize for yourself.  If the menu contains beans, quinoa, salad, salsa, roasted veggies, etc., there’s something for you to build on.  A go to for me at a restaurant that doesn’t have very many vegan offerings is a wrap with veggies.  I usually ask the waiter to make me a wrap with whatever veggies they have that are not cooked in butter.  I’ve had some amazing wraps.  (Watch the wrap–some may have non-vegan ingredients.)  Breakfast is especially hard at a restaurant.  I’ve asked for simple rye toast with a side of guacamole and tea.  Delicious!  Be creative!
  4. Eat beforehand.  This is not ideal, since the holidays are very social times that include lots of food.  I like to show people that living a vegan lifestyle is something that doesn’t require a lot of work or leave me out of daily activities, ie parties.  However, sometimes, we end up somewhere that doesn’t have ANY vegan options.  If we know this ahead of time and we cannot bring something of our own, eating beforehand, ordering a tea and enjoying the company we are with is OK.  
  5. Host the party.  By having the party or gathering at your home, you ensure that the food will be vegan and you can show your friends how diverse and yummy vegan food is.  One tip when doing this, label your get together as vegan when writing the invites.  For example, Our Vegan Thanksgiving.  I once had a holiday party at which I hoped to show my friends how lovely vegan food can be and a well-meaning friend walked into my vegan house with a tray of meat.  Avoid this by letting everyone know up front that you will be handling the food.  If they’d like to bring something, have them bring drinks, music or, as I like to say, bring yourself and a smile.
  6. Embrace your lifestyle.  Hold your head high and enjoy the time with your friends/family.  You will be amazed at how many people will be drawn to your lifestyle.  Be prepared to answer questions honestly and informatively.  You never know, the next time, the entire dinner party may be vegan.  How nice that would be!

 

The One Plan

Ok, ok…I admit it; some parts of this are harder than I thought they would be.  For example, when your schedule is so busy, making sure you stop eating two hours before bed is HARD!  Solution?  Go to bed later?  NO!  I’ll keep working on this one.  The toxic foods section, though, I think I’m kinda good at.  I do not own a microwave.  I do not eat meat (or dairy or eggs or honey).  I rarely eat processed meals, nor do I really buy anything frozen besides fruit for smoothies.  I make my own juice.  Not bad.  

I will say, the frugal part of me has a hard time with the no leftover rule.  I get that the nutritional component of our foods is really non-existent after the heating and cooling and reheating, but how can I waste this food when people are starving?  I am trying to teach myself to make the perfect portion sizes for our family.  I, also, have a hard time with the caffeine.  I’m trying here.  Hey, I didn’t say “I can’t”, which is a no-no.  

The One Plan isn’t only about eating, though.  It’s about physically, spiritually and emotionally being your best self.  No “I can’t” statement.  No degrading TV shows or movies (this is difficult these days, right?).  Try turning to the shows we used to love.  ZLiving, if you get this channel, has great shows!  Super Soul Sunday on the OWN channel is another great one to uplift your spirit!  

The One Plan road is going to be a journey for sure!  Let’s get on to the next section!  Positive thoughts my way, please!  🙂

 

The One Plan–Week One

Good Morning, Everyone!  Since I’ve been bringing you along on my Vegan journey and my path towards a new awakening and lifestyle, I thought I’d invite you along on my other journey.  

Interspersed amongst my blog posts, you are going to begin finding weekly updates from The One Plan.  What is The One Plan, you ask?  Well, it’s an amazing book that helps the reader, over the course of a year, align their body, mind and soul and seeing as this page is designed for mind, body awareness, I thought it would be great to share my experience in working with The One Plan with you.  

In this book, Yogi Cameron Alborzian takes us on a week-by-week journey towards a lifestyle we should all be leading.  He guides us with questions, tip and reminders for our daily living and gives us the space over seven days to become accustomed to one ideal before bringing us into another.  I have decided to embark on this spiritual journey for my mind, body and soul while leaving an impact on the world.  Join me for weekly updates and to see how I’m doing! 🙂  If you are following the plan, as well, leave a comment!  We can do this together!  We can, also, make a group of it.  Check the book out at your local library and let’s begin this part of our journey together–one week at a time!

Let’s begin…

Week One…Non-Violence

I will be focusing on non-violence to my body by eating local foods with high nutritional values (bye, bye Oreos!) at times of the day appropriate for eating.  Non-violence to my mind…don’t criticize myself for faults, be open and free to communicate.  Non-violence to my spirit…release wrongdoers from my past.  Wow!  That’s a good one!

Off we go!

 

 

 

 

Veganism: Are people soul searching or is it a trend?

Did you do some soul searching since we last met?  I hope so!  Exciting news!  My website is complete!  www.VeganTeacherLLC.weebly.com  Check it out!  The production of the website gave me the opportunity to think back to the beginning of my vegan journey.  It’s so interesting to look back.  I’m sure if you are a vegan, you can pinpoint the exact moment  you decided to become vegan and, if  you are not, your moment is coming!  Are you in need of a health reboot?  Do you worry about the environment that your Grandchildren will have to live in?  Are you an animal lover and cannot stand-by and watch them suffer?  Regardless of why, you will soon understand that all three reasons are important.

The vegan movement is booming!  Some people are saying it is a trend…I disagree!  I have to believe that our world is becoming more compassionate!  I want to believe that for whatever reason, people are looking outside of their own egos and trying to better the world we all live in.  Compassion, caring, and the realization that all life is valuable cannot possibly be a trend!

Veganism may seem to be a lot about food (and, don’t get me wrong, it is!), clothing and beauty products, but it’s so much more about changing the world we live in, about showing people that every sentient being deserves to live happily and that we are not in control of other lives.

Take a look at the boom in meditation and yoga, as well!  The explosion in wanting to learn about the mind-body connection is wonderful!  We all want to know how our body effects our mind and our mind effects our body.  When we meditate, we are relaxing our mind and body.  The deep relaxation that comes with meditation makes you feel like you’ve really taken care of yourself.  For anyone who has meditated, you know that, in the end, the peacefulness that comes over you is breathtaking.  How can you be in such a state of peace and calm and then eat the furry friends we love so much?

Note how your body feels when you eat meat vs. when you don’t.  The fogginess of your mind, the tummy troubles, the dry or broken-out skin are all signs that something you are putting into your body is not meant to be there.  Animal products do not allow our bodies to function to their fullest capabilities.

The deep connection we feel from our mind, body to the outside world we live in cannot be a trend.  You cannot turn back on the feeling of peace and vitality you will feel when you are compassionate enough to allow your furry friends to live happy lives.

 

EXCITING….EXTRA BLOG POST!

So…I have a blog post up on the Main Street Vegan Academy’s website (as alumni, we have the privilege of doing that!).  I thought I’d share it with you all as an added post bonus!  ENJOY!  PS:  Let me know if it’s helpful!  🙂

 

Back to School Vegan Lunch Ideas

It’s September! Along with the chilly weather (here in NY), comes the start of school. We all know how hectic this time of year can be as we try to regain some sense of a schedule. We feel the excitement surrounding new supplies, books, clothing and, of course, the infamous new lunchbox. As we send our kids off to school, we often put a lot of thought into their breakfast (and we should)! We want our little learners to have as much energy as possible to get them through all of their classes and then some. Wait! Why is little Timmy so sleepy even though he’s eaten a great breakfast? Why is Molly falling asleep in afternoon Math class? The culprit could be what is in that fancy new lunch box! When we look at children’s lunches, they tend to be filled with “fun” food. “Fun” food doesn’t always equal healthy food. Unhealthy food can lead to all sorts of problems, but a big problem for a little learner is the grogginess that comes after eating a lunch that is not filled with the energy-boosting foods our brains and bodies need after a long morning of learning.

As a teacher and a parent, I have seen first-hand what a “bad for you” lunch can do to a child’s afternoon. Students’ energy levels drop and they find it very difficult to stay on task. Studies performed by the American Psychological Association show that students who eat poorly for breakfast and at lunchtime suffer from a lack of ability to concentrate and focus. These same students become tired after lunch. Why, then, are we feeding our children highly-processed lunches full of sugar and salt? Convenience? Perhaps. However, with a little planning and “night before chopping”, your little Einstein can be on his/her way to a high-energy afternoon filled with academic achievement.

What are some ways we can “re-vamp” our children’s lunchboxes? First, be sure you are packing the lunch in containers that are environmentally safe and free of toxins. Next, find foods that are energy boosting. Finally, make them fun to eat! Children LOVE dipping foods, they love “cute” foods (ie: wraps cut into pinwheels) and they love foods that taste yummy! Here are some ideas to turn your child’s lunchbox into a box full of energy! Remember to give yourself an A+ for packing a healthy, delicious and creative lunch!

Combine some of these nutritional powerhouses for a student who maintains his/her energy throughout the afternoon! Your student, from pre-school to high school, will thank you!

  • Fruit Skewers—cut fruit and slide them onto steamed asparagus spears for a fun, tasty treat that is entirely edible provide some tahini to dip in
  • Edamame is a wonderful high-protein food—combine it with quinoa for a delicious salad

lunch

  • Avocados provide wonderful fats our bodies need—make some guacamole and spread it on a high fiber bread for a creamy sandwich
  • Overnight oats are a great lunchbox treat! Combine non-dairy milk, chia seeds, oats, raisins, cinnamon and a bit of maple syrup in a jar and place in refrigerator overnight. Pack it in the lunchbox the next morning. Serve with a side of fresh berries.
  • Dipping is fun for everyone! Slice apples, celery and peaches and serve with almond butter. Bananas are great, too, just don’t cut those beforehand.
  • Seeded crackers with hummus provide energy-boosting goodness!
  • Granola served with a side of fruit and non-dairy milk is, also, a great treat!
  • If you have an adventurous tike. boost focus and energy with seaweed snacks!
  • Pack some coconut water for hydration and electrolytes.

Remember, if you’re packing your own lunch…follow these tips for yourself! After all, you need as much energy as you can get!

Enjoy your energized lunch!

Next!

What comes next in the life of a Main Street Vegan Academy graduate, you ask?  I’ll tell you!  Lot’s of thinking!!!!  There are so many ways to inform people about how to become vegan and help the planet, environment and, most of all, the beautiful, lovable animals we encounter.  I know my thinking process went a lot like this…how to I tell people it’s easy to be vegan and they won’t starve or become malnourished?   How do I let them know they won’t need a handful of vitamins daily if they partake in nature’s beautiful array of fruits and veggies?  How do I get them to believe that they can eat their favorite foods (with a few tweaks)?  I decided to show them.

Having a teaching degree and background made it easy for me to find a way to teach them…by finding the best info out there and spreading the news!  We are lucky, in today’s technological age, to have so many ways to inform people.  I think, for me, a lot of my business is online.  From webpages, to blogs, to twitter, to emails and skype calls with clients near and far…my computer and tablet have become attached to me.  People might say this is a bad thing.  I might agree if it weren’t for the goal in mind.   The goal is to help get the word out to as many people as possible.  What better way to do that?

I’ve been lucky enough to have actually been invited to attend various functions and lectures.  I was invited to speak to individuals with disabilities.  What an amazing opportunity!  One person was already vegetarian.  A move he made solely on his own!  He needed guidance on how to eat properly (don’t we all) and his wonderful supervisors thought it would be amazing to have a group lecture so the others could learn about the life their friend was living and, maybe, decide it was right for them!  They had so many questions, were so open and excited!  What a fantastic audience!  I have since heard from them and learned that our vegetarian friend is branching out and the others are excitedly trying new foods!  WONDERFUL!  This is what it’s all about!

My table at the First Annual Hudson Valley Food Festival looked awesome (if I do say so myself)!  The most amazing part of this festival, for me, was that I thought I would be speaking with people who were already vegan (It is the Vegan Food Festival.), however, about 80% of the people I spoke to were NOT vegan and were ready and willing to try!  They had so many questions, though…which is where I came in!  Cute story….one woman said she couldn’t be vegan because of her love of cheese puffs!  I assured her there are vegan cheese puffs and that after making the move with the other aspects of her diet and lifestyle, the cheese puffs may not be that important to her.  She agreed!  The moral of this story…don’t decide not to try veganism because you love cheese, eggs, milk.  In my eyes, it’s ok to turn your entire diet and lifestyle around and be the vegan who occasionally drinks a glass of milk (or has some cheese puffs).  While it’s not the ideal, it’s soooo much better for you, the animals and the world than not doing it all.  One day, it will stick and those eggs, milk and cheese puffs will be a thing of the past.

Don’t be afraid to start slow on your vegan journey if you are a person who needs that.  Meatless Mondays are a beautiful thing.  You can, also, start by having only vegan foods for a few meals a day.  If you are someone who is better with cold turkey and drop everything at once!  Go for it!  Maybe you are someone who would do better starting with a vegan lifestyle and save diet for last…switch over to non-leather shoes and clothing, no silk, no wool.  You can shop for beauty products that are cruelty-free and vegan.  There are so many different ways to begin but the ending will be the same!

Next up for me?  My new venture Vegan Teacher LLC.  Look for the webpage, schedule and client testimonials coming soon!  In the meantime….do some soul searching…see which start you’d like to take….

 

 

 

 

 

 

Community……

How’d your time alone go?  Did you begin a journey?  Think about a journey?  Start to realize what makes you happy?  Baby steps, my friends, baby steps!

So…as usual…I left you with a cliff-hanger.  Where did I find my Vegan Community?  Well, it started in a way most of us are very familiar with….google search!  I was searching for Vegan sites when I came across a very interesting ad for the Main Street Vegan Academy!  WAIT! WHAT?  THERE’S A VEGAN ACADEMY!  Oh, yes, there is!  I knew I had to be part of this!  The excitement and thoughts began racing…how, when, where…..

When I found this ad, I had been vegan for many years and vegetarian before that.  I always did my research and knew the foods and nutrients I needed AND the names of the most-influential vegans out there.  Yes…there are influential vegans…activists, advocates, teachers, lecturers, bloggers and foodies…all of whom make our world easier to live in and  more compassionate.  Well…I was thrilled to learn that these people made up the faculty at the Vegan ACADEMY!  How could I not go?  I filled out the necessary paperwork and the lovely Director, Victoria Moran, emailed me extending a space in their already FULL program.  How compassionate this school was already!  When I tell you the class was full, I mean full.  I was enrolled in a program with all VEGANS and vegans from AROUND THE WORLD at that!  People travel far and wide to attend this program.  I was lucky enough to meet and spend time with wonderful vegan people from India, Puerto Rico and all over the United States!  I am proud to say I still speak with them and the support and sense of community we have together is unbelievable!

So..back to the adventure…I anxiously awaited the first day of classes.  I ordered my books, did the necessary readings, watched the necessary videos and searched the necessary sites.  (Yes, people, this is a REAL class with REAL assignments and work!)  I’m ready!  The night before the first day of class I was like a kid on Christmas Eve!  I couldn’t wait!  The next day was going to mark the beginning of a new chapter for me, for my classmates, as well!  We had no idea what type of amazing journey was ahead of us but boy were we lucky to have taken part in it!

We had very long days filled with learning, food, recipes and fun!  We had walking tours and discussions at local shops!  We met amazing lecturers such as Christian Sebastian, a Columbia University professor and vegan who taught us about Speciesism. Fran Costigan, the amazing Vegan baker.  Mariann Sullivan, Producer of Our Hen House and lawyer who taught us about Animal Law.  JL Fields, famous blogger and cookbook author.  Of course, Victoria Moran, author, lecturer, Director of the Vegan Academy, blogger, cookbook creator, and so much more!  We were taught by doctors, nutritionists, business people, etc.  What a marvelous, marvelous course-load!

We were now on our way to VEGANIZE THE WORLD!  Watch out…here come the 2016 graduates of the Main Street Vegan Academy!  Our companies are up (or almost up) and running…we use facebook, blogs, twitter, instagram, etc. to get the word out to the world and, most of all, we support each other!

This is why we need community and I am thankful everyday for mine!