Hi! Sorry for the silence the past few weeks. I have been planning, preparing, and then enjoying my 10th wedding anniversary trip! We celebrated ten years of wedded bliss in Vancouver and Victoria, British Columbia. I am still floating on a cloud thinking about each fabulous day. We spent time exploring the cities on foot, bus, and water taxi. We hit up the Vancouver Veg Expo on May 5th, and sampled so many new foods that I haven’t seen in the states - like Un-Brie-Lievable cheese by Nuts for Cheese, NoochPop, and Laiki Black Rice With Cheddar Crackers (which will pair phenomenally with the Un-Brie-Lievable if there are any left once we open the cheese). We found every vegan nook and cranny in Victoria, and the biggest jewel we found was Pure Lovin’ Chocolate located on historical Fan Tan Alley. They make vegan, gluten, soy, and preservative free deliciousness using Fair Trade sourced chocolate. What an incredible find!
Becoming vegan has been transformational. What started out as a personal campaign to improve my health and prevent disease ten years ago led me to examine of all areas of my life. I developed an incredible stewardship for animals and the environment. Veganism truly opened my eyes.
One such area has been in my relationship with garbage. I’m not going to candy-coat it, it’s pure, unadulterated trash. And guess what, that includes recyclables too. Did you know that most of what we set out in recycling bins gets sent to the dump and is never recycled?
Unbeknownst to most of us, for the past decade, the US shipped our recyclables to China for processing—not recycling it here, like most of us assumed. Garbage was our #1 export in 2012. From 1992 to 2017, China imported 106 million tons of plastic and paper trash, a $57.6 billion industry. But in 2017, China suddenly started refusing our trash in a policy called the China National Sword. Having no outlet for our trash created a garbage crisis in the US. Most of the garbage and recycling we set out now goes to the dump, not recycled at all, and landfills are at or over capacity!
The American Heritage dictionary defines a vegan as a vegetarian who only eats plant-based foods, and avoids using products deriving from animals. In other words, a “vegan lifestyle” is the avoidance of any animal-derived products for food, clothing, entertainment, commodities, transportation, beauty, fashion, or experimentation, whereas a “vegan diet” describes what vegans eat. Some people go vegan for ethical reasons (human and non-human animal protection and environmental ethics) and others subscribe to a plant-based diet as a means to improve their health. No matter the reasoning for going vegan or plant-based, there is a positive impact on the world.
There is a crossroad of running and veganism. More and more runners are going vegan at the same time more vegans are becoming runners. From Fiona Oakes to Carl Lewis to Catra Corbett to Scott Jurek to Madi Serpico to Rich Roll, it’s becoming more common to see vegan runners, among other types of athletes.
It is time to “Take Me Out To The Ball Game!” I can’t tell you how excited I am that the baseball season has started again! I've been attending major league and minor league baseball games since I was a kid, and still, become giddy when the season begins each year.
There are many different reasons why people go vegan - for the sake of the animals, to help stop and reverse the damage done to our planet by animal agriculture and factory farming, to prevent or cure a disease, to improve their athletic performance, or just because people are following a trend. I’ve always believed that any path that led to veganism was an excellent path to embrace and support. But, now I am starting to feel that all of the different reasons are starting to muddy the waters about the real reason behind being vegan.
There are many promises, especially about the health benefits, that people make to encourage others to go vegan. Some people experience positive benefits after going vegan. I felt better physically and mentally, I didn’t have the stomach issues as I did while I was eating animals and animal products, and I did have a little more energy. But, my health was not a deciding factor in my transition to becoming a vegan. Those positive effects I experience were just side effects. And everyone experiences different effects or none at all. Veganism isn’t about restoring your blood pressure to normal levels or shredding weight. It isn’t about having a holistic health plan in which to turn to, or the cure for all ailments. It isn’t a diet. It is a way of life.
Many self-doubts stem from moving outside one’s comfort zone. We have been conditioned to seek and build comfort, safety, and a secure future. But in that process, we lose the ability to know ourselves and our limits honestly. In turn, we restrict the size of our comfort zone. I didn’t take many risks growing up, one because my mom was a little overzealous (I love you, Mom!) and two because I was afraid of everything! I started having insomnia and anxiety at the age of 12. It was an average level of anxiety for the most part. Failing classes, disappointing my parents and friends, not being the most popular kid in school...you know, the normal fears many teenagers face. But I was never encouraged to take risks to move past any of the fears. I held two jobs during high school and even started college classes during high school. I graduated high school early and began working full-time while attending a community college. It wasn’t until my mid-20s that I started taking a few risks - like meeting my future husband while playing an online game of Yahoo! pool, traveling to meet him, and then moving 1,500 miles away to live with him, but that was fourteen years ago, and I can say that we have been happily married for almost ten of those years. I jumped at the chance to move away from my entire family, friends, and the only life I had known to be with him. Yet, I remember being so afraid that it wouldn’t work out between the two of us that I didn’t unpack my belongings for the first six months that we lived together.
So why was I so scared after I had already taken all of the other risks?
I usually increase my reading during the winter months and recently finished three books that left me contemplating many things. But mainly, they left me with the question - what is my time worth? The books I read were, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, and Meet the Frugalwoods. I have read many motivation, self-help, or find yourself type of books over the years, but these three stood out to me.
March is Women's History Month, first recognized in the United States in 1987, and March 8th is International's Women's Day. Events and recognition for International Women's Day date back to 1911, in which we started celebrating the advancements and achievements of women in the social, economic, cultural, and political outlets. A call to action is also recognized during this month to help accelerate gender parity.
Often, when people cite their reasons for making the switch to a vegan lifestyle they cite one of three reasons: their health, the environment, or animal rights. When people cite reasons for not making the switch, they suggest that they can’t give up their favorite food (usually cheese or bacon), they don’t have the time or energy to focus on such a drastic lifestyle shift, and that they don’t have the budget for a vegan diet.
But this is a huge misconception. Budgeting for a vegan lifestyle should be one of the main reasons people choose the go vegan - not the other way around. Believe it or not, there are many economic benefits to going vegan, both for the individual and the country.
The night of September 11, 2015, is still as vivid as if it were yesterday. Steve and I ate dinner and watched TV as we usually did. We played with the cats and all of our foster guinea pigs. I, for one, had a particularly fun playtime session tickling Sunshine that evening. That was our thing.
He played hide and seek with Steve, and would try to make Steve feel like he picked a good hiding spot even though Sunshine easily found him each time. But with me, he would get my attention and then run around before throwing himself on the floor and rolling over on his back. That was the signal that he wanted me to tickle him. I would say, “I’m going to get you, I’m going to get you Sunshine,” while pinching my fingers together above him. He would squirm around on the floor and then squawk like a little duck when I finally tickled him.
He would then bounce up like a tightly wound spring uncoiling, run around, and then throw himself on the floor again. It was our special time together, and my fondest memory of Sunshine. You see, he and I had a rocky start. He was living the good life with Steve until I decided to move in with George and Layla in tow. Not only did he now have to share his Dad, but he also had to share his litter box, his bed, and his food! There were many nights I would wake up to find Sunshine sitting on my chest staring at me. I knew he was asking me what the hell I thought I was doing in his spot and when I was leaving and taking the other two fur balls with me. It took a few months, but he finally came around to the idea of us all living together. We became best buds, but Steve was always the twinkle in his eye.