My First Vegan Thanksgiving

Almost done with week 3 of the vegan pledge.  It hasn’t always been easy, but it has ALWAYS been rewarding.  I’ve never felt better.

I’ve been tempted to stray in times of “starvation”.  Most people who know me also know my dad had a heart attack last week.  The hospital was closer to work than home, so I went to visit him during my lunch hour.  The hospital had an Au bon Pain, but by the time I got there, everything was picked over and there were no vegan options.  One day my friends brought some spaghetti marinara back to the office for me, the next day I pieced things together from my “snack” drawer.  I didn’t give in and that was the most important thing for me.  I’ve found that sticking to my convictions is a much stronger motivator than simply “being on a diet”.

Sooooo, yesterday was Thanksgiving.  I had a wonderful, wonderful evening with family and I didn’t eat turkey, stuffing or any other non-vegan sides or desserts.  The earth didn’t stop spinning or fall off its axis despite my apparent blasphemy.  I ate Gardein Savory Stuffed Turk’y.  www.gardein.com  I have to admit, I didn’t try it ahead of time and having heard some horror stories about tofurk’y, I was more than a little nervous.  I read the reviews on line and felt a little better.  I baked it up, it looked and smelled good.  I warmed the gravy, which also looked and smelled good.  Packed it all up and took it to mom’s.  Warmed it in the microwave and wahlah… it was actually really good!  My husband tried a piece and he liked it too.  I mashed up a sweet potato with some earth balance, soy milk and maple syrup, but was too full from the turk’y to eat it.  I had a piece of Amy’s organic vegan chocolate cake for dessert (never too full for chocolate cake, people!).  It was To. Die. For.  You non-vegans would love it, but it is no caloric bargain.

Backtracking a bit, for breakfast, I tried two slices of Light Life Smart Bacon.  Just as Starbucks has nothing to worry about as compared to my work made soy lattes, this bacon isn’t fooling anyone… however, it fits in with my lifestyle change and it wasn’t terrible along side my vegan blueberry waffle!  I’d like to try it in a BLT or a vegan grilled cheese sandwich. 

Today Brendan and I tried the Boca Original Meatless Chicken Nuggets for lunch.  They were really good and they earned the “Brendan Seal of Approval” which is even harder to earn than Life Cereal earning the Mikey seal of approval.  Bren had his with ketchup and I had mine with a little agave dijon dressing (Skinny Bitch in the Kitch). 

I’m really not into the mock meats so much, but with the holiday and my subsequent laziness today, it was nice to have them around and its good to know there are tasty items to fall back on in times of craving and need.

The added benefit to feeling great and enjoying some mental clarity… I dropped a few pounds.  My clothes were getting tight and now they’re not!

Gotta get to Yoga… once the church Christmas Fair and tricky tray is over next Saturday, I’ll have more time to devote to my practice!

Vegan Pledge, one week down

First and foremost, I am no saint.  I haven’t given up all my vices, I’ve just modified them.  I haven’t given up iced lattes.  I have cut back and now they are soy lattes…I have Brendan’s karate classes to pay for, which is much more important than my guilty pleasure, but give them up completely?  I’m just not ready.  And, I drank vodka and cranberry last night and got buzzed.  Ha!  Also, last night, I saw some salami on a platter of antipasta.  I thought out loud, I miss salami.  But now, being removed from the situation for about 12 hours, I realize that’s not true.  I don’t miss it at all.  That response was situational and if I ate it, I would have disrespected myself.  Nothing tastes good enough to disrespect one’s self.  Nothing.

Ate publically with a group of wonderful women last night.  There was some discussion regarding my dietary choices, and I suppose since I am not suffering from an allergy or a condition that forces me to avoid certain foods, my choices are just that, choices, but it seems to me (and I could be wrong) that in the eyes of some, that makes it less important.  Which causes me to wonder, why is that so?

I do not want to eat animals or their by products anymore.  Although there is not “law” in the Bible forbidding me to do so, it is a spiritual decision for me.  Animals are living and feeling creatures capable of creating bonds with each other and with people under certain circumstances.  Dogs and cats and even birds are pets in our society.  African Grey parrots have the mental capacity of a 5 year old.  What separates a parrot from a chicken?  I’ll take it down a big notch.  Brendan has a parakeet, Buddy the Budgie.  He is a small bird, probably has a small brain, but he enjoys being spoken to and he relates on a certain level – he will definitley let you know when he is irritated about something.  He is no longer a melodic little song bird, but a demanding screetcher, lol.  What separates a chicken from a parakeet?  Why is one food and the other a pet? Because the town ordinance says you can’t have a chicken for a pet?   Or a cow or a pig (well, you can have one of those little pot bellied guys) for a pet, for that matter.  Pigs are smarter than dogs.  Let’s not forget Charlotte’s Web.  I could go on and on, I bet you get the point.  For me, animals are off limits and it is no less spiritual for me than a Jew being kosher. 

There are not enough hours in the day to discuss the disgusting and unethical practices of factory farming, so I won’t go there now, but that doesn’t mean it may not come back into the thought process and blog at a later time.

Here is the nitty gritty, so to speak.  Since giving up animals and animal by products, I feel like a new person.  I have mental clarity I haven’t had in months.  I have energy (after prying myself out from under the blankets – hey, it is getting cold outside!) and except for a wicked run of PMS, I am happier. My depression is at bay – and let me tell you, life in this economy, raising a developmentaly delayed child, blah, blah, blah, feel sorry for me – is not any rosier than it was 3-4 months ago.  I attribute this in large part to making a healthy change in my diet.  Other major contributors to my well being include a deepening faith in God and practicing Yoga (which I definitely need to do more of!) 

Deep down, perhaps there is some underlying “allergy” and/or physical “condition” after all.  And why would I need to pay a co-pay for some doctor to confirm that, when it is all plainly in front of me: eating animals and animal by products makes me feel like crap!  Not eating those things helps me to feel strong, happy and healthy! It’s not rocket science people.  If you want to disagree with my rationale for making the change, that’s fine, it’s a free country and it’s your right to your opinion.  However, one cannot argue with the results.

I do my very best not to be preachy and not to inflict my beliefs on others.  I will leave you with this parting thought, though.  If I have discovered that making some simple dietary changes has made such a profound positive difference in my life – as a loving mother, daughter, sister and friend, why wouldn’t I want the same for you?

Took The Pledge-Vegan for 30 days

Haven’t blogged in quite some time!  Hello again, my friends!  I became seriously ill with a gastrointestinal virus, it took me forever to recover, but recover I did.  I haven’t been to yoga in three weeks and I am feeling the stress creeping back into my bones… I really need to take care of that.  Thursday.  Thursday this week I will go to Yoga.  You are all my witnesses.

Undergoing a lot of self discovery, self growth and self improvement by taking the Stephen Ministry class at church.  We just finished the unit on being assertive.  Learned so much and I am thoroughly enjoying my new found assertive skills.  Also working on the church Christmas Fair Tricky Tray.  It is all coming together.  It’s like Christmas for me, even though I don’t keep the gifts.  Today we received an Amazon Kindle.  I physically jumped up and down with excitement! 

Since recovering from “THE BUG”, I moved on to a completely vegetarian lifestyle and I have to be honest, I feel awesome!  I feel so well.  All things considered, as I told a dear friend this afternoon – I’m good.  I’m in a good place, I’m strong and I’m confident.  It has been a very long time since I could say even one of those things about myself.  Hey, if you don’t like me, that’s your loss.  And guess what, it really is your loss.

So, onto the next step.  Veganism.  Wow.  I never thought I would find myself here.  At first, I thought I wouldn’t be able to give up milk and cheese.  I’ve been cutting back, cutting back and now I think I am ready.  Check that, I know I am ready.  My convictions are stronger than my cravings.  For a little extra incentive, I took the PETA pledge to be vegan for 30 days, after reading “Skinny Bitch” by Kim Barnouin and Rory Freedman.  I’m not a card carrying PETA member, but it does help me to need to feel accountable to someone or something to stay honest.  Today’s cliche:  Today is the first day of the rest of my life.  Ok, so today is the first day of my Vegan Life.

Read some recipes, thought about what I wanted to eat this week and headed out to Whole Foods.  Looking at things through new eyes, it took me about 90 minutes to make my selections.  This included plenty of label reading.   Then I headed over to my real favorite store, Trader Joe’s and picked up some more things.  I learned a valuable lesson today and I want to share it with all of you.  Never go to Whole Foods first.  I started feeling like I wasn’t going to make the trek to Trader Joe’s, I was missing football, etc. and I overpaid for a lot of things.  Go to Trader Joe’s first, get your staples and then fill in what you need from Whole Foods.  They don’t call it Whole Paycheck for nothing!  However, they have a great selection of things you might want to have.  Also, stocking my vegan kitchen for the first time was kind of costly, but I bought things I will not have to buy weekly and that should last for awhile.  Just like an omnivore kitchen… look at me, throwing around the terminology!!!  I also bought some different products to try out… mostly some veggie meats.  I am sort of on the fence regarding veggie meats.  Namely, they are processed to look and taste like something they are not.  That kind of goes against my philosophy of life.  For me, personally, I think it is OK for ME to have them on hand for something quick, or if I run into a craving, but I would prefer not to fall back on them for daily consumption.

Not only did I survive day one of the pledge, I enjoyed it and I not only feel physicially well, but even more strong and confident, and, I am downright proud of myself for sticking to my guns!

Tune in tomorrow for life, love and the vegan workday!