Saturday, January 30, 2010

I love my blender

My blender is this vegan's best friend. And my friends aren't usually inanimate objects. For my blender I make an exception. It's the easiest way to get my raw fruits and veggies in for the day. It's slightly different every time, and always delicious. If I want something more sweet I add more juice. If I want something fresh and green I'll use more greens and less fruit.

Here's what's recently made its way into my juices: Rice/Almond/Soy Milk, Orange Juice, Lemon Juice, Pomegranate-Mango Juice, Cranberry Juice, Tomatoes, Bananas, Apples, Pears, Strawberries, Blackberries, Blueberries, Frozen Pineapple, Ground Flaxseed, Spinach, Kale.

The more kale you use, the more likely it will be bright green. I made one with a pear, banana and strawberries (added to the usual rice milk and flaxseed) and it came out like a thick, yummy shortcake. If you like them cold, use frozen fruit. Personally, I prefer room temperature so it's easier to slam down the hatch.

If I have time, I'll make my juice in the morning and it's a great way to start the day (I don't drink coffee or caffeine, but it's a real pick-me-up). And I'll follow it up with wheat toast or oatmeal a bit later. Or, if I get home from work and realize I've had mostly cooked foods all day, I'll make my juice to get in my raw greens and veggies for the day.

So, thank you blender. You make it easy for me to get my nutrients. You save me time. You're easy to clean. You're the best, blender!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Talkin' Sh*t

I can't say I ever expected to write a post involving Oprah. But, darn you Oprah, you've sucked me in. This video of her and Alicia Silverstone talkin' about their bowel movements is great on so many levels. And at 1 minute and 6 seconds, it's the most Oprah I think I've ever watched in my life.

It gives more exposure to the vegan lifestyle via celebrity endorsement, it makes people giggle, it's honest, and it points out one of the benefits of being vegan: your sh*t don't stink. And it don't clog you up. And it's "fabulous." Wow. Check it out:

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Veg-mobile

My VGN stickers arrived from PETA! You can get them here, and they're on sale for 50 cents. They're perfect for Sigg bottles, laptops, cars, fridges—whatever. And if you know me, and you're veg, you'll most likely be getting a gift from me very soon (hint, hint).

Plus, oooooooohhh yeah, scope out the newly VGN-ised veg-mobile:

Blood Pressure Dropped

Yet another benefit I've experienced since going vegan: my blood pressure dropped. I've had a pretty consistent blood pressure range of 135/80-ish. I always assumed it being slightly high was genetic, since I exercised a lot and "ate well" (as well as one can while still consuming animal products). I saw a doctor yesterday and he was happy to see it had dropped to 118/73! This takes me out of prehypertension and puts me into the normal range. He was confident it was the diet that made the difference. So am I.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Unintended, but good, consequences

One reason I became vegan was to contribute less to the global machine that perpetuates the destruction of the planet, namely factory farming. I didn't think of myself as being wasteful before, but now I'm very conscious of my environmental impact when it comes to things other than food. Going vegan has brought these issues to the top of my mind. First, I noticed it in clothing. While shopping, I realized I couldn't buy wool or leather anymore. Now, I do all I can to avoid using plastics. Here are some things I now do my best to avoid: Anything made of plastic. And there's a lot of it. Bottled water, cutting boards, packaging, shopping bags, kitchen utensils and on and on.

The Onion just published a hilarious, yet sadly true, article on the subject of bottled water plastic waste: "How Bad For The Environment Can Throwing Away One Plastic Bottle Be?" 30 Million People Wonder.

© 2010, Onion, Inc.

I don't want to be part of this system. Living in the modern world, especially the U.S., doesn't make it any easier with the constant bombardment of conveniences and socially acceptable environmentally destructive behaviors. But as the article above points out, what we choose to do in our daily lives, no matter how small, add up to make a big difference. This means the choices we make of what to eat, when and what to drive and what we consume in general, matter. Being vegan has given me an awareness to these things I didn't focus on heavily in the past. Unintended consequences can be good, sometimes.

+1 again for veganism.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

It's time to get ripped

And by getting ripped, I mean gaining roughly ten pounds (of pure muscle, of course). Why ten pounds? That's about how much I've lost in the 3 months I've been vegan. I have a unique issue when it comes to weight gain: I haven't been able to do it before. Even when I was an omnivore, I had the same problem. But now? Now, I'm new and improved.

I theorize this weight loss is a shedding of extra, unwanted matter in my digestive system and toxins stored in my cells. Good riddance, I say. My energy level is still very high, I recover quickly from workouts and I don't have any food cravings. My body is telling me everything is going great. So, the weight loss isn't attributed to any sort of lack of protein or vitamins. I eat a broad range of vegetables, fruits, grains and legumes.

As usual, I have a plan. Ready for it...Ready for it.............My plan is to eat more. I know. Shocking. I'm a loose cannon. But seriously, it's more nuanced. I'm going to eat more earlier in the day, and within 15 minutes of a workout. Also, I'm cutting down on my cardio workouts. I'm limiting my cardio workouts to Tae Kwon Do, 3-4 days a week. All other cardio will be for warm-up purposes only. And I'm going to focus on lifting at least 5 days a week. For example, a day could look like this:

8 am, Breakfast:
2 slices Ezekeil multi-grain toast with Earth Balance spread
20 oz. homemade fruity green juice (Fortified rice milk, spinach, kale, OJ, flax seed, lemon juice)

9 am, Arrive at work

11 am, Snack 1:
Hot oatmeal
1 apple

12:00 pm, Workout (5 minute cardio warm-up, 25 minutes lifting, 5-10 stretching)

12:45 pm, Post Workout Snack:
Hot oatmeal (or Larabar)

1:15 pm, Lunch:
Salad with mixed greens, spinach, various nuts and seeds, black beans, brown rice and raw broccoli

4:00 pm, Snack 2:
Hummus and 2 pita breads
1 Banana

6:00 pm, leave work, Snack 3:
Pack of mixed nuts, seeds, dried cranberries

7:30 pm, Dinner:
Sauteed mixed vegetables with various seeds over brown rice
Small lentil soup
Small raw salad

9:30 pm, Snack 4:
Leftovers from dinner

That's a lot of eating, right? Well, I've actually eaten this exact lineup before, and I love it. It's an all out eating extravaganza. Now, I just need to be sure I eat like this every day. Sometimes I'm rushed, or stuck in traffic, or don't have all the ingredients, or forget to eat. And sometimes, I just don't feel like eating what I've brought for a snack. Some days I workout after work and have even less time to prepare meals. Well, these guns ain't gonna get all huge by themselves. They need fuel. And rest. And training. The tripple-dog-Jones, as it were. Poundage, here I come.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Green Drink

I was a little hungry after dinner, so I decided to make a green juice. I didn't have any raw greens yet today, so I wanted to get some in. It was really good, healthy, fast and filling. I just threw it all in a blender and that was it. It yielded just over 16 oz. of juice.

8 oz. Fortified Rice Milk
2 oz. Cranberry Juice (unsweetened)
4 oz. Orange Juice
6 oz. Baby Spinach
4 oz. Kale
2 tbsp. Ground Flaxseed

Monday, January 18, 2010

Chef AJ's new DVD

I love Chef AJ! I have my second vegan cooking class with her on Saturday, and I'm sure it's going to be great. She is really fun and is full of great ideas. She makes everything simple, fast and most importantly—scrumptious! Even more interestingly, she advocates not only a plant based diet, but all of AJ's vegan creations are free of all processed ingredients including sugar, flour, oil and salt. Following a plant based diet over 32 years, AJ is currently the Executive Vegan Pastry Chef at Sante in Los Angeles. She has been a Culinary Instructor in the Los Angeles area for the past 10 years.

Chef AJ just released a new vegan cooking DVD: Healthy Made Delicious with Matthew Lederman, M.D. of Exsalus Health and Wellness Center where she is the Consulting Chef. Ordering info:

OK, hold on now...

I know I just posted the other day that pointing out how gross meat is isn't helping. Well, I can't help myself with this one. I imagine most people reading my blog don't need convincing to stop eating animal products, but it always helps to have more information. I recently read an article about PETA's complaint filed to the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) regarding the California Milk Board's misleading ads for milk products. You can read it here. I plan to file a complaint as well. There's a link in the PETA article.

I noticed these ads on TV recently, as well as billboards and magazines and also found them extremely misleading and troubling. It's one thing to sell products from mistreated animals, but another to completely misrepresent their treatment and lie to the public. Here's just one of many TV ads:

So, in reading the PETA article, I linked through to Specifically, the page where it explains the unhealthy, unsafe amount of pus in America's milk supply. Yes, pus. Pus. Pus! An excerpt:

Posilac is now widely used by dairy farmers to increase the amount of milk that their already overburdened cows produce. Because cows are not built to produce this much milk, they are prone to a painful udder infection called mastitis. When they are milked, pus and bacteria from the infection flow right along with the milk.

Plus, just look at how cute this little girl is. She shouldn't be living her life in this box. I know giving up dairy is the hardest part of going vegan, but it's worth it!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Why isn't honey vegan?

I have similar problems with honey as I do with meat and dairy, which is why I turned vegan: environmental destruction and animal suffering.

Honey is factory farmed. Bees are fed a mixture of high fructose corn syrup and water instead of pollen to create their honey. And even in cases where they are allowed to pollinate, the plants are covered in pesticides and chemicals. Have you heard of bee colonies disappearing? That's why.

PETA has a great article about it.

It's not that hard to avoid, if you avoid packaged foods. Some breads have honey in them, but I always check the ingredients anyway since some have milk products also. Plus, the extra sugar isn't doing any of us any favors. Have some fruit instead.

"Hey, peoples—leave them bees alone!"

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

BBC's Animals & Us, Part II

I again recommend this podcast. It's Part II of a fascinating series by the BBC, Animals & Us. I linked to Part I a few posts ago. The BBC can do a better job of describing it than I can:

It was 28 years ago that the documentary maker Victor Schonfeld produced The Animals Film about the way humans exploit other species. He returns to the subject in a two-part documentary to give a very personal view on what, if anything, has changed since then.

In part two he focuses on the scientific establishment's attachment to using animals, and considers the future. Might social justice for other species actually benefit humans?

Meat's gross, but does it matter?

Yeah, meat's gross. I could go on for days and cite all the bacteria, cancerous flesh and other disgusting contaminants in it. (Of course that's on top of the animal suffering and pollution it creates.)

But, I don't think that's convincing any omnivores to change their minds about meat. It doesn't hit home. I liken it to the police ads that are trying to reduce drunk driving. They usually claim if you drink and drive, you'll get caught. But we all know this isn't true. People drink and drive all the time, and the vast majority of them don't get caught. And if they do, it's one time out of hundreds or thousands of times driving after drinking.

The same goes for meat. Everyone has heard about salmonella in chicken, E. Coli in beef, and being sure to cook it hot enough, and not cross contaminating utensils, etc. I always knew that it had all this disgusting bacteria and cancerous flesh, but it never made me ill. I ate meat thousands of times and didn't have a problem. So, I concluded that regardless of the process by which meat was contaminated, it didn't matter to me. The argument doesn't stand to reason. If meat were so disease ridden, wouldn't I have been ill all the time?

My point? Pointing out how gross meat is isn't a good tactic, since it a) tastes "good" and b) doesn't make people ill, usually. In my short experience, I've found global warming and personal health to be more compelling reasons to switch.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Vegan Cooking Course

Yesterday, I attended my first vegan cooking course. Come to think of it, my first cooking course ever, vegan or not. A friend at work suggested it after she discovered I was going vegan and I tasted her awesome kale salad. It was put on by the fabulous Chef AJ. I wasn't sure what to expect, but I was excited to learn some new recipes and get ideas for a variety of foods. It was me and about 15 other people, plus plant-based dietition Julieanna Hever MS, RD who was available to answer the scientific questions. Check out her blog here.

In the 3 hours, we watched 9 recipes prepared from scratch! And all of them were tasty. It was really helpful to see the foods prepped and prepared in front of me because it showed how easy it was. We had some great smoothies, soups, salads and desserts. And her energy is really exciting. It's a really fun class, and I highly recommend contacting her to see when her next series is coming up. I'm going to class number 2 of hers in a couple weeks.

Interestingly, in addition to being vegan, Chef AJ also prepares all her foods without oil, salt or sugar. Basically, oil is stripped of all vitamins and minerals and is digested as pure fat, and sugar is processed and refined and unnecessary as well. Makes sense to me. I haven't been a big fan of salt for quite a while, so I rarely cook with it anyway.

I already made a smoothie today based on ideas I got from the course. And I have the ingredients for some other stuff, too.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Post-work freakout

This happens to me a lot. It happened just as much when I was an omnivore. I get home from work, I'm hungry, I'm impatient, and something needs to get eaten quickly before I freak. Today it was pretty easy. I polished off the rest of my sweet potato and potato mash, and stir fried up some asparagus and broccoli with garlic, Braggs, sesame seeds and sesame oil, and chili flakes. It only took about 5 minutes, and was delicious. Then I ate a piece of toast. I'll most likely have a snack later. I'm thinking guacamole. Or maybe an apple and peanut butter. Hmmm.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

75 lbs.

That's how much meat I estimate I haven't eaten since going vegan. It's been roughly 50 days, and I probably ate at least 1 lb., but surely more on most days. 75 lbs. That's a lot of chickens, fish, cows, etc. This number of course will only grow, and doesn't include the poundage saved in cheese, milk, and eggs. And I still weigh the same now as I did 2 months ago. I don't miss it. I haven't craved meat yet. Not eating dairy is somewhat inconvenient when at a restaurant, but really fairly easy. I'm sure part of that has to do with living in L.A. where it's more prevalent.

I've noticed on some web forums as well as in person, some vegans are very extreme in their avoidance of all animal products and foods. I am as well. I seek all options in my food, bath products, clothing, etc. that don't use any animal byproducts. However, there's no need to be critical of vegetarians, or chastise those who may consume occasional products not deemed vegan. I think the man who coined the term vegan and created the first vegan society, Donald Watson, said it best. He emphasized that being vegan is limited to what is "possible and practical." In our modern world we have so many options that there is hardly a situation where it seems impossible or impractical. But, I appreciate the flexibility, and I know my intentions are good. And when it all shakes out, I'm on the right side of things.

"The word 'veganism' denotes a philosophy and way of living which seeks to exclude—as far as is possible and practical—all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose; and by extension, promotes the development and use of animal-free alternatives for the benefit of humans, animals and the environment. In dietary terms it denotes the practice of dispensing with all products derived wholly or partly from animals." Donald Watson