Let’s Talk Vegan…It’s Not As Scary as You Think.

Have you been curious about going vegan? You think you’d like to try it, but cheese. Perhaps you’d dip your toe in the water but Easter just passed and what would you do without your chocolate bunny fix? I am here to share a few tips, tricks, and misconceptions about food and going vegan. I am NOT here to shove my lifestyle down your throat and make you feel like a murderer for eating dairy or meat. I would like to focus on the health and wellbeing of our planet and our bodies.

For the Love of Earth

For this article I will stick to the scientific facts of global harm done by farming, and avoid the whole animal cruelty argument….although yes, what is done to animals in the name of feeding humans is cruel. (Just to be official about my stance). Raising animals for human consumption globally requires 26% of the Earth’s surface right now. That number will continue to increase. Over 1/4 of Earth is being used right now to raise animals to eat. Not to mention the amount of methane gas released by these animals which is also harming our environment. These facts alone are reason enough to at least consider veganism, or at the minimum vegetarianism. Some simple research (Google that shit) shows just how detrimental to our planet the meat industry has become, and we only have one Earth…just sayin’.

Impact on the Body

Another reason to opt for the vegan lifestyle is for your own health. Antibiotics are given to farm animals at an alarming rate. The consequence of this to humans comes when the antibiotics are passed on to our systems, causing difficulty fighting off infections. We then end up with superbugs which kill 23,000 people yearly. While you may say, “I don’t purchase meats containing antibiotics, I am very careful at the grocery store.” Think about the times you go out to eat, or eat at a friend’s house, or at work. Daily, there are many opportunities in which you have, or may have, consumed antibiotic tainted meats. Unless you are vegan.

In addition to the antibiotic impact, there are the heart health issues, increased risk of heart disease, heart attack, and blood pressure issues. Animal products clog up our arteries and impact our health in so many negative ways. No amount of, “I need to get my protein from animals,” can make up for that, or lessen the reality of the situation. We can get all the protein, and other nutrients, we need through eating plants. We just have to eat the right amounts of the right plants.

Let’s Do This!

So we’ve established the harmful impact eating meat has on our planet and our bodies. Are you ready to give it a try? I promise you will not be eating like a rabbit, unless you want to. The vegan world has a plethora of great options for meat replacement, recipes, and sites which are geared towards supporting a vegan lifestyle.

Let me warn you, there will be cravings. But just because you are craving one thing does not mean you are deficient in that thing. For instance, a craving for sweets can mean you are dehydrated. Moving to a vegan lifestyle will send your body into a TEMPORARY state of shock. Once you get past the first 3 days, it will start to get easier. You may also opt to wean yourself off meat and dairy, and into veganism. That’s fine too! It’s all about the greater good and the big picture. Anytime we start something new it is important to focus on doing things the most successful way for us personally, and finding support. We all have difficult moments but the greater your support system, the easier it is to maintain the change. The Vegan Society has even created an app to help people make the transition to veganism.

What Do I Eat?

By now you are wondering what the heck you are supposed to eat. I am happy to tell you the answer to that will not fit in this simple blog post. The diverse menu available to vegans is a wonderful thing. Vegan recipes are easy to find and delicious! Open your mind, and your tastebuds to a world it may have been cut off from until now. Explore your local produce department, or better yet, go to a farmer’s market, or local farm. Get the kids involved too, because when they are part of something they are more likely to accept and try something new.

I also recommend following vegan pages on social media. I find great inspiration and support by following other vegans. I get great recipe ideas and find myself continuously inspired by other people’s journeys as well. Share your food porn even if it is a salad you made. You may be surprised at how much attention you get from the vegan community. Vegans are a close-knit group, even if we are strangers. We often find ourselves on the receiving end of society’s criticism and are fodder for endless jokes. We find solace in supporting one another, encouraging and motivating each other toward the common goal of a healthier lifestyle.

Stand Out in The Crowd

Do not be afraid to wear your veganism proudly. Stand tall, keep your chin held high. Do not waver in your resolve! If you falter, know it is okay, just pick yourself up and keep going. Seek support when you need it, and offer support when you are able. Share everything, your recipes, your successes, your health changes, your weight loss. SHARE EVERYTHING! The more you show the world how positively this lifestyle impacts you, the greater an impact we can all make. When people begin to see how fantastic we all feel and look, the less they can disregard and ignore the positive outcome to a vegan life. Be vegan, and be proud to be vegan!

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The Future’s So Bright….

I have the song, Shine Bright Like A Diamond, on a loop in my head as I sit here constructing this post in my head. I have so many things I want to say on this topic, and yet, I am sitting here, jamming in my psyche like I AM Rhianna. In today’s world it can be scary to think about shining like a diamond. So many of us are riddled with fear, with anxiety. How do we break our chains to allow our inner sunshine to break through? How do we throw up a big middle finger to our fears and face them head on, shining our way through life, living the dream?

I am working on figuring that out myself. I have always had an issue finding balance. I would be eating really healthy, but not exercising at all. I would have a great job, but eat junk and never break 1000 steps in a day. I would be running, training for races but hit up McDonald’s for that quarter pounder meal post workout because hellllooo, I just ran 5 miles. I never had it all together at once. Until now.

I find now I am aligning all my aspects of life in the right direction. I am learning how to direct focus in multiple directions of my life, not just hyper-focused in one aspect of life. I am learning to value a full life, over ignoring everything else while mastering one piece of my puzzle. I am learning how to exercise patience, discipline, and use logic and reason along with my emotions. I am learning how to master what I need in order to attract that which I want into my life. Personally, professionally, things are all happening as they are meant to, which happens regardless.

I have been writing again, and looking for greater opportunities professionally, along with stretching myself personally through my writing as well. I have been exercising regularly. I may not be working out as much as I was before, but I am making a part of my daily routine again. My diet has never been cleaner. I am vegan, as well as sugar and wheat free. I feel good, strong. I have never been able to focus on multiple aspects of my life at once, and now I am juggling all the balls at once. It is not the scary, daunting task I felt it was before.

My PTSD symptoms have lessened a great deal. I still have anxiety triggers, but overall, I cannot remember the last time I was truly triggered. I am opening myself up personally, dating, and making sure I am open to the people the universe presents in my life. I am working on my mental health more so now than ever before in my life. Mind, body, spirit, are all finally syncing together. If I can do this, anyone can do it. But how?

For me, the key was setting small goals, in many aspects of life, and writing those goals down on paper. By setting smaller, easier to attain goals it was easier to accomplish my goals and see some forward motion almost immediately. As I saw myself progressing, I developed more faith in myself to make those decisions I once found difficult and terrifying. Through building trust in my gut, trust in my ability, I have been able to finally believe I am capable of achieving my dreams.

I began to increase those goals, adding more aspects of life, and more ways in which to quell the anxiety this new thinking drummed up. I utilize meditation, yoga, relaxing music to keep my brain at ease and open. I listen and accept myself. I have chosen to love myself, rather than criticize myself and tear me down. In the words of Dr. Phil, “No one will treat you better than you treat yourself. You teach people how to treat you.” So if you treat yourself in a harsh, unforgiving, unloving manner, you will remain unloved. You will remain in pain and rejection.

By accepting yourself and loving yourself right where you are, right here today, that is how you accomplish your dreams. Set some small, easily attained goals, and work towards them, celebrate them once you achieve success, and set some more. Write them out so you can see it on paper, so you can cross it off the list as you accomplish things. Take the tornado of thoughts out of your head and write it out. You will see how much it helps make sense of the chaos. You will see how much you can focus on things once they are on paper and not just taking up space and energy in your mind.

Make YOU your top priority. Whether or not you have kids, a significant other, or whatever. If you are not taking care of yourself, you cannot take as good a care of those around you. Teach people how to treat you, by making your health and well-being your number one, by putting up boundaries to protect yourself and your energy. Selfish is NOT a dirty word, it’s only negative when it’s not balanced with selfless. They are yin/yang to one another, and we need both! Choose YOU today! Start right now, wherever you are, and start NOW.

No Sugar, No Flour, No Problem…Almost.

Today begins Day 4 of my journey to being vegan, no flour and no refined sugar. I know what you’re thinking, and no, I am not certifiably insane, or starving. Actually, I am eating quite a lot, tons of fruits and veggies, whenever and however often I want. That’s the beauty of this lifestyle, you can literally eat whenever you want. I am having some other issues though.

First, it’s really difficult to maintain my focus when I am the only one in the house on this journey. I do not impose my eating habits on my children. They are all open to making their own decisions, as long as we’re not talking cake for breakfast, candy for lunch, and cookies for dinner. Each of my kids has a different personality, and while I encourage them to be healthy, and choose 90% healthy options at the grocery store, they still have free will. So if they want to be meat eaters, I cater to that. If they want to eat dairy, I cater to that. As long as no one has an allergy or aversion to something, if they like it and want to have it, it’s okay.

For the most part they are really healthy eaters. The 7-year old needs a little more encouragement to make the healthier choices, but hey, she’s 7. I will say she is really excited to try brussel sprouts, not sure how excited she will be after she actually tries them, but I love her enthusiasm regardless. My older two, 16 and 14 years old, are still navigating their way through the food world. They want to be vegan, or at least vegetarian, but they really love eating junk food when hanging out with their friends. Plus, they do actually get made fun of for eating healthy by some kids. While we’re at home we eat pretty darn healthy. While they’re out in the world it sometimes goes to hell in a handbasket. It’s okay though. They’re figuring it all out in their own time. I am really proud of them for even caring about food at their ages.

The other issue I am finding with this new routine is that I have a headache. For approximately 3 days now I have had a headache off and on. The first two days it was constant. The last 24 hours it has faded into something that comes and goes. It is a dull throbbing headache. I did some research and found there is an actual withdrawal process when you quit sugar (which includes white flour). It is as if I am a drug addict coming off my addiction, which seems so strange to me. I know it is not quite as severe, or immediately deadly as an addiction to say heroin, but addiction to sugar is being studied greatly.

Today, as it is Spring Break this week, we are going out to have some fun. We are going in to D.C. to a museum or two, and going to be out and about in the sugar-laden, meat eating, dairy obsessed world of bacon we live in. It will be a great test for me. I have faith that I can maintain, especially with my kids there. Something about being accountable to the interrogation of a 7-year old is motivational in staying the course. I think I would rather endure waterboarding than that anyway.

So bring it on, sugar detox! I am ready for your shenanigans, your headache is no match for me. I will meet you with extra water, more fiber, and flooding my day with fun and good memory making moments with my kids. Your dopamine medling is not wanted here!

I will be adding another blog about the dangers of sugar soon! I will also begin adding food porn of what the heck I am eating these days. I warn, if you are thinking of going vegan, while it is a great lifestyle, it must be done correctly to ensure you receive all the nutrients your body requires. I will be doing a blog on that as well.

Spring Not Much Break

This week is Spring Break for the kids, aka littles, aka minions. While I would love nothing more than to whisk us all away for a great vacation full of fun activities, lounging beachfront, and all the food we could stuff into our faces, it just is not happening this year. I do want to give them a fun week though.

So far we have planned some museum visits, some park time, and maybe a hike or two. My oldest has to work towards the end of the week, and technically, I am working all week. The delicate balance of motherhood always feels like a tightrope act with no safety net. I am sure some of their friends will return with talks of trips all over the place, and I just hope that my three enjoy what we can do this year.

Parents often get caught up in trying to provide their kids with the biggest and the best, and not just in vacations, but in everything. I really do find the old adage to be true, kids want us, their parents. Our children want our time, our attention. Our children want to know we are present, and the location is a bit less important. While it would be fun to be able to take them on some awesome vacay, and spoil them rotten … in the grand scheme of life, our time together is more impactful on their lives.

Spending time with kids at the park, hiking, or finding the hidden gems in your area are great ways to take advantage of your staycation and still have fun. Reader’s Digest put together this awesome bucket list for all 50 states. Find your state and explore what it has to offer. Feel free to add to the list in the comments. It’s always fun to share new family friendly ideas which everyone can enjoy.

Coffee Love….

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With a name like Coffee Mama, it is no surprise that I love my caffeinated deliciousness in a mug. I like to vary my coffee choices often, but I always go for the bold. I run on high octane and will share my favorites with you. I will also share all things coffee here. You’d be surprised how much goes into making a great coffee.