Category Archives: Vegan

How Have You Been?

Things here have not really been all that nuts – I mean, things are always a little nuts, but nothing all that out of the ordinary. I have been hit with an overwhelming writers block that I can’t really explain. But, I am going to try. I think that I have SO much to say here, but I can’t say it…does that make sense? I’ve got a lot running through my mind. Career. Living situation. My dog. This one guy. But, none of it seems to be appropriate to discuss here at this time. Considering that these thoughts have been occupying my brain, not much has been on mind, which has led to writers block – maybe? Is that how that works?

So, since I have nothing substantial I can discuss today – let’s talk about clothes. I have been unsure of where I stood on clothing and shoes being vegan. I haven’t really been shopping for awhile, so I decided that I would just cross that bridge when I came to it. I still wear my silk tops, leather shoes and cashmere sweaters. To be honest, I wear them without batting an eye or without a second thought. A new Nordstroms opened here and I went with my Nana and my Mom to check it out (although, my mom had already seen it, she was invited as a special guest before it was even open – lucky lady). Anyway, it’s almost my birthday (which is a WHOLE other post in itself) and my Nana wanted to buy me a few things. I immediately ran to the Free People section (oh Free People, I love you) and found several things that are cotton and linen and so flipping cute I can hardly stand it.

As I perused the store, I found myself checking the clothing labels to see what each item was made out of. I heard myself ask a salesperson if they had any non-leather handbags. It was almost instinct and nothing that I had planned. To be honest, hearing myself ask these questions and seeing myself actively check clothing labels completely shocked me. I declared to my Mom and my Nana that I am no longer buying leather, silk, wool or cashmere. They didn’t really protest (my Mom did roll her eyes a bit), I just assured her that this is a good thing, it means my presents will likely be cheaper 😉 Unless she buys me the Stella McCartney pumps I’ve been lusting over, then all bets are off.

Am I going to stop wearing my clothes that I already own? Well, I’m wearing a silk blouse today. So, the answer is no. I will likely get rid of some and eventually purge my closet of it all – but the things that I already own and currently wear – I’m keeping for awhile. I consider getting rid of perfectly wearable things just to replace them with vegan perfectly wearable things is wasteful. And I don’t believe in excess waste. When I stop wearing these items or they become totally worn down, I will donate them and replace them with vegan things. But, until then, I will wear my leather shoes. And my wool coats. And my cashmere sweaters. And I feel ok about it.

PS – If you haven’t already, please visit this! Updates very soon, promise!

Update: Exciting News + A Little Recap From Last Week’s Post

First, a really exciting announcement. My friends and I launched a new vegan cooking blog last week. I am so proud of it and it is still a work in progress – but it’s a labor of love. My friends (Chelsea and Melissa) and I are working really hard on it and taking it really seriously – it’s something we are so passionate about and we are really hoping the blog takes off in both the vegan and the non-vegan world. It’s a little blog about our lives and our friendship and our food – please check it out and tell friends about it: www.weareapplesandoranges.blogspot.com

So, this seriously isn’t going to become a diet blog even though that’s what it currently sounds like. Because, yawn. Who wants to read ANOTHER blog about some obsessive person trying to lose weight/restrict calories/etc. There are billions of those and I refuse to be one of them because despite what it seems like, I rarely think about my weight anymore, those days are long in the past. I do, however think about my athletic performance and my ability to run long distances and do long ass weekend workouts which is where most of my diet concerns come in.

With all that said, I am going to update you on my little diet experiment plus answer some questions I have gotten. All in all, it’s going pretty well. I’ve come to terms that I do need fun food in my life (hello, check out www.weareapplesandoranges.blogspot.com), I definitely need wine and I need some whole grains to make me happy. So, I’ve come up with a 90/10 approach. Six days per week, I am on my paleo vegan madness regime (which isn’t nearly as restrictive as it sounds – I’ll post more sample menu’s this week), but one day per week I’m “off” or three meals per week I’m “off”.

Being able to compete athletically has become strangely important to me, I run a 5k and wonder why I can’t shave a few minutes off my time or I want to be able to keep myself going around mile 8 when I physically want to give up. That’s what this is truly about. My posts here won’t revolve around dieting or competing or losing weight – but you will definitely see some of these recipes I’m trying on www.weareapplesandoranges.blogspot.com and they won’t be boring – I promise!
PS – I will still be posting here regularly. Less about food. And more about me.

A Vegan Athlete: What The Heck Should I Be Eating?

At 4:50 am every fucking morning, I convince myself to get out of bed and I drive 15 miles to a bootcamp class. It’s not the screaming, yelling type of bootcamp – it’s seven people or so, in varying forms of shape, working out and pushing themselves and their bodies to do all that they can. Beyond the gnawing alarm and having to actually wake up before 5 am – I love it. I love doing something in the morning, I love having time in the morning to get ready for my day and I just love feeling accomplished before I even set foot into my office.

One of the women I work out with has been kicking my ass recently. We used to stay neck-in-neck during the runs and we used to tire about the same time when strength training. The past month or so, she’s just been rocking and her level of fitness increased tenfold or mine declined a bunch.

Last week, when she took off her sweatshirt, I could see a little bit of her stomach. And holy hell. She was completely chiseled – I could actually see abs. Trying as hard I as I possibly could to not stare at her, I started thinking that she must be working out like three hours per day or something. Because I certainly don’t look like that.

This morning on our warm up run, we started talking. I told her she looked fantastic and I couldn’t help but notice how in shape she had become – I asked her what she had been doing – she looked at me and said “just this in the mornings.” I laughed and told her that there was no way – I was doing the same thing and I look nowhere near as good as she does and I am in nowhere near the shape that she is in. And she said “well, I changed the way I have been eating about two months ago – it seems to be working really well. I’m trying this method of eating called paleo.” and then my heart sank a little. Paleo. I had done the paleo diet for about three years. And during those three years – I was in the best shape of my life.

Paleo is essentially no dairy, no sugar (including maple syrup, honey, agave, etc.), no salt, no grains, no flour, no artificial sweetener. Paleo is very heavy on meat and eggs. But, what I liked about it despite it’s high calorie/high fat meat intake – it wasn’t low carb because fruit and veggies are encouraged. At the time, I felt like it was a very healthy, natural way to eat – meat, vegetables, fruit, healthy oil and nothing processed – perfect!

I hate to admit this, but physically, my body loved it. My runs were quick. My muscles were defined. And my athletic performance was fantastic.

All week I stewed over the fact that I was getting a bit doughy around the middle and that I had put on about 10 lbs since going vegan. And that I would never have my old body back. And that I would never look like my friend at bootcamp because I couldn’t bring myself to eat what she was eating just to look better. I huffed around my apartment. I actually yelled at my tofu (seriously, I did). I could have won an Oscar for my dramatic performance.

But yesterday, I sat down and started to think about what I could do. And the real reasons why I was getting a little flabby. The biggest reason – bread. I have probably eaten more sourdough bread in the past two months than I have in the past two years. French fries are reason number two. French fries are vegan and perfect hangover and stress cures. I’ve eaten a lot of those too. Coconut ice cream. I don’t have much of a sweet tooth – but I do love ice cream. And there has been a steady supply of coconut ice cream in my fridge since veganism and I got reacquainted. My other downfall has been chips and guacamole – I can’t seem to get enough. I have been eating chips and guacamole from a local restaurant nearly every single day during lunch.

I also thought about the things I liked about the paleo diet and the things I didn’t. What I didn’t like was obvious – so much emphasis on animal products. But, I do like the no dairy (obviously) and no sugar part of the diet. As well as the no processed food.

So, I started imagining what a vegan paleo diet would look like. I would obviously have to make some concessions – beans are not allowed on the regular paleo diet – but they would certainly be on my plan. But, I decided if I am going to have them, I have to make them from scratch and not get them out of a can (mostly for sodium reasons).

So, I am going to give it a vegan paleo diet a try. Starting today. It’s actually going to be fairly easy I think and I’m anxious to see if I get the same results that I got using the original paleo.

Oh and before I get too ahead of myself here – this is not about weight loss. This is about trying to get back into peak shape. I mean, I would never complain about nice defined abs – but being able to run long distances again without wanting to die after the third mile and to not burn out when strength training would be amazing. Getting back into tip top shape is really my goal. I’ve lost sight of that over the past few months and started becoming obsessed with calories and fat and thinking that if I lost a bunch of weight – I could run further and faster and have more endurance. That could be true – but I need to remember how to fuel my body properly. Worry less about calories and more about what I am putting into my body.

So, how is this vegan paleo thing going to work?

Well, here’s how I started today:

Breakfast – smoothie with organic hemp + fiber protein powder, organic coconut milk, organic slices of fresh coconut and organic frozen cherries. Coffee with organic coconut milk creamer (ok, the creamer is a definite no on this plan – but I’m not weaning myself off of it just yet)
Snack – organic chocolate yerba mate tea and an organic blood orange
Lunch – organic spaghetti squash with organic spicy tomato sauce, steamed organic cauliflower, broccoli and carrots. I might slice an organic avocado on top (a little bit of a strange combo, but the fat from the avocado helps keep me full).
Snack – more organic chocolate yerba mate tea and another organic blood orange
Dinner – organic tofu (not sure what I am going to marinade it in yet – since salt is out) and roasted organic vegetables – probably carrots, cauliflower and maybe parsnips. I’ll probably use 2-3 TB of organic olive oil with dinner.

Why have I said organic before everything I have eaten today? Because it’s all organic. And I truly believe that everybody needs to buy organic food, if it is within their means. I am trying to save up a fortune and I don’t make that much money – but organic food is the one thing I really don’t skimp on.

So, we’ll see how it goes. Basically, this is just making sure I get plenty of protein (I’m actually a little low today since my goal is athletic performance), plenty of fruits and vegetables and healthy fats – really the perfect way to eat and the way I should be eating ninety percent of the time.

If I get REALLY brave (and if anybody really wants to see) – I’m debating doing a before/after photo series….but I’m not sure if anybody really wants to see that.

The Short Of It

I still really don’t have a lot of time to update (the darn boss is in town and that requires me to work harder). BUT, I’ve had a really great week.

My friend Chelsea is in town from Brooklyn (she comments here often) and is the most fabulous vegan I know – she’s been insanely helpful with my transition and she’s just fun to hang out with. I got together with her and our other vegan friend Melissa (who is equally as amazing as Chelsea) – we made the most delicious vegan meal ever and I laughed and smiled more than I have in a long time. Girlfriends are the greatest.*

I got enthusiastic approval to write for the local paper – vegan restaurant reviews here I come! I’ve been slightly slacking with this. But, I’ll let you know when things are posted.

I’ve extended this another week. Seriously, check it out and comment. It’s a great campaign and it would mean a lot to me. Plus, his book is seriously, seriously good.

In other news, I’m happy it’s April – I love the longer days and sunny skies.

*The recipes will be posted somewhere. Not here. Stay tuned.

A Vegan At Passover

I’m not at all a religious person. Not even slightly. I go for months at a time without religion or god even crossing my mind. I kind of like it that way. To quote one of my favorite bands, Rilo Kiley, the absence of god will bring you comfort, baby.

My mom is religious and very involved with our temple. While I am not religious, I can certainly appreciate the sense of community that religion can bring and I am so glad that the temple my parents belong to is so open-minded and relaxed.

But, it’s almost Passover. Which means, showing up at my parents house, looking slightly respectable and eating. Passover is not at all a vegan friendly holiday – at least not traditionally. Matzoh ball soup – made with chicken, chicken stock and eggs, some sort of meat (usually something really fatty like brisket), a hardboiled egg on the sedar plate and shank bone on the sedar plate (this seriously grosses me out, even if you are eating meat – do you really want to look at a bone while you do it? Ew).Plus gefilte fish – which have always made me want to puke – fish in a jar – NO. Just no.

There are a few things that you can do to make Passover a little more vegan friendly. The easiest thing is replacing the egg with a flower and the shank bone with a beet (the beet is even Talmud approved). I asked my mom if we could do these two simple things and she reluctantly agreed (my mom really likes tradition).

My favorite thing at the Passover table (and year round, really) is matzoh ball soup. It’s delicious and it’s the only thing I’m really bummed about not eating. Although if you remember, it really didn’t smell so appealing the other morning. But, there is a recipe for a vegan version that I’m going to try out this weekend – Isa Chandra Moskowitz wrote a recipe for her Web site and for Vegan with a Vengeance. I have yet to try it, but I have to say that the majority of her recipes are excellent and I really can’t wait to make this one.

If you keep Passover, that’s where things can get tricky. Did you know that you can’t have soy during Passover? Or rice. Or corn. Along with anything leavened. Even quinoa is questionable. I know that it can be done – but I’ve never kept Passover before – so I doubt that I am going to start now.

But, for any of you vegans that do keep Passover? What do you do?

Oh and please remember to enter this contest and tell your friends about it. It’s such an amazing campaign that could really use your support.

37 Days

It’s been 37 days since I officially committed to a vegan diet. I think the thing that has shocked me the most is not how great I feel, not how much better my skin looks (it looks more glowy – it’s my blog, it’s ok that I just made glowy a word) and it’s not how much weight I’ve lost (only like a pound, you guys. Damn).

It’s how easy it is. I really expected this to be so hard. I’ve attempted before and I caved. I made loopholes before like ‘well, I’ll only eat fish and dairy at people’s homes, you know to be polite and I’ll only eat dairy at restaurants when there is nothing else for me to order.’ All that loopholing (yup, made that a word too) turned into my year long pescatarian status.

It took me a year to come back to a vegan diet. This time, I did more research. I really took the time to think about why I was shifting to a completely plant based diet. The first time, it was strictly for health reasons after reading The China Study. Yeah, animal rights were there too – but those reasons actually fell far behind environmental reasons and even further behind health reasons. Personally, I think this was why it was so easy for me to cave – just like cheating on a diet and “starting again tomorrow” it was so easy for me to justify eating just a little bit of fish or cheese at a dinner party because this was really just about me and my health – nothing really greater.

This time, my focus has completely shifted. While all three beliefs are intertwined (health, environment, animals) – now my main focus is the animals. By realizing that the reason that I am going vegan is less about me and more about others (animals and the environment) – it’s made it about 10 billion times easier to not even consider cheating. Health is still a huge concern of mine as well, I’m always striving to be healthier and be kinder to my body – but it’s really invigorating to take a stand and do something that is bigger than myself.

I have to say that I haven’t even been tempted by animal foods. Not even slightly. I had a friend come over the other day to spend the afternoon with me – he’s one of my favorite people and I spending time with him is really special since we don’t get to do it nearly often enough. I know that his favorite ice cream is Ben & Jerry’s Cinnamon Buns. I know this because we have spent countless hours talking about ice cream (ice cream is probably my favorite dessert) and Ben & Jerry’s Cinnamon Buns used to be one of my favorites too (despite not liking actual cinnamon rolls, weird, I know). So, knowing that he was coming over and knowing that while he fully supports my lifestyle choices – he wasn’t embracing veganism himself and really has very little interest in trying soy or rice based ice cream (although, he did express some interest in coconut ice cream) – I ran to the store down the street and picked up Cinnamon Buns ice cream for him (I’m seriously the greatest friend ever, I know). He ate some (not much) and it’s been sitting in my freezer ever since. I haven’t even thought about it, much less wanted to eat it. 37 days and it doesn’t appeal to me anymore. Not even slightly. I thought I would have to toss it so I wouldn’t be tempted to dive into it one night, but really, it’s ok being there – he can have more next time we get together.

The smell of meat is starting to make me want to vomit a little. I think this has surprised me the most. I’ve never had a problem with anybody eating meat in front of me and I did not give up eating meat because I didn’t like the taste. I loooooooved meat. LOVED. I was a steak and potatoes girl since birth. I walked into my parents house this morning to get ready for work after my workout (their house is close to my workout group and office – super convenient) and the smell totally hit me the second I walked in. It reeked. Which is odd because my parents house totally smells awesome all of the time. I honestly thought one of my parents dogs had gotten sick. I found out that my mom was making chicken stock (sorry mom!) for matzoh ball soup. The fact that the smell really got to me completely floored me. I love my mom’s cooking – she’s probably the greatest cook in the world and matzoh ball soup is amazing and I look forward to it every year (I found a vegan version that I will be trying asap). But, guys I couldn’t handle the smell.

It’s been easy. Really.

The Post I Really Didn’t Want To Write…

I started counting calories again. Well, I started this morning. So, I’ve been counting calories for about 7 hours now – but still – I started and I am going to continue counting calories for awhile.

I really didn’t want to turn this blog into a diet blog and it will absolutely not be a diet blog. But, I do feel like I should share that yes, I would like to lose a little weight – nothing extreme – but around 30 pounds. The reason for the want to lose weight is all the obvious ones, but mostly because I want to be fit and healthy. I actually hate that things that used to be easy (and based on my age should still be easy) are suddenly extremely difficult. Why am I so winded when I run a mile all out? Why is playing tennis suddenly making my entire body ache and beg for mercy? These things shouldn’t be happening. And getting some pounds off is key to make sure these things don’t happen.

This leads to a much broader conversation about body image and how ridiculous society’s standards are on women. Let me assure you, I don’t play into wanting to be a size 0 or weigh a certain weight or look the way that a magazine tells me that I should look. In fact, I think these things are bullshit and disgusting and I could dedicate a lot of time to ranting against them – but for today I will acknowledge that I want to be healthier and doing that means I need to get some weight off.  I want to be able to run without feeling winded, feel like my clothes are fitting me a little better and focus on fueling my body with healthy foods.

The way that I have to do this is counting calories, unfortunately. I hate feeling like a slave to my little calorie counter – but I know that I do eat too much. Too much of anything is too much. But, I plan on eating and continuing to eat healthy, vegan food (and some unhealthier vegan food too!) I plan on cooking a ton and making really delicious healthy vegan recipes that I will absolutely share here.

I promise to not make this blog really weight focused – but I will share how it’s going and things that I am doing while seeking a healthier lifestyle.