Friday, December 31, 2010

Rescuing Failure

Haven't posted in over twenty days.  Been in the slumps, feeling a little defeated about my first attempt at a juice fasting.  I had so much anticipation and hope about a successful outcome but alas, twas not to be.  I did make it through the first two days great but by the end of the second day, my body could not handle the "shock" and purged. While overall it was a good thing as that meant toxins were leaving  rapidly, I guess I was hoping for a slow void without illness.  My mentor/coach had put together a "5-Day Sexy Vegan Juicy Fast" complete with inspiration, yoga postures, and best of all, daily recipes for scrumptious juices.  I was all gung-ho. After crashing and burning, I needed help - I needed a rescue.

The Rescuers

Day 120.  One hundred and twenty days.  A number I never imagined when I blindly set forth on this journey.  Along the way I have stumbled, slumped, bumbled, fallen, stood up, sown, flown, and soared.  Through it all I've remained steadfast in my dedication and commitment.  For some, the crash and burn leads to  the "F" word which is most associated with negativity or vulgarity.  In any instance, it is use as an expression or explicative to garner attention and it usually works.  During this experience, I have a discovered few "F" words of my own all attributed to the Rescuers.

Perhaps the most rewarding opportunity over these past three months has been the new relationships and support that have come by way of the vegan community.  Through these kind souls, each of whom I affectionately re-named the Rescuers, I have learned to appreciate my "F" words: first, friendship, fighters, frustration, fasting, failure, forging, forward, future. Each of these words have contributed to my growth, especially this last month.

F Words Group 1 - Fasting, Failure, Frustration:

Despite the fact that I did not possess a juice extractor, I was ready to participate in the juice fast. I happily shopped for the juice ingredients and was ecstatic as I chopped, diced and squeezes juices by hand.  I came up with creative ways to utilize the pulp without throwing it away and I logged on to update my progress as well as read the feedback of the other participants which were close to 30.

Juice 1: kale, celery, grapefruit, green granny smith apples
and the ingredients for Juice 2:
spinach, carrots, tomato, ginger, lemon, basil
How proud I was of my first juices. I followed all of  the instructions on the checklist:

 √   chew your juice
 √   drink slowly each glass should take 
      30 - 40 minutes to consume
  √  drink 9 glasses of water
  √  consume green tea w/ ginger & lemon
      in between drinks as needed
  √ start the day with yoga & meditation 

I was so tickled with my results! The deep rich colors and the taste of the raw juice was so intoxicating!  I actually did very well my first day and did not  experience any hunger pangs.  The cravings for food did hit about
The rich colors of hand-squeezed juice.
4am on the morning of day two.  It actually woke me up.  I could literally "feel" movement in my intestines. That was the warning sign I failed to recognize.

By the end of the second day I was feeling ill.  My body went into protection mode and it was all over! Alas, I had to depart from the fast and I sure wasn't feeling too sexy.

After informing my fellow juicers of my frustration, and failure, Yogini, Valerie Devi (see below), blogged about becoming ill during your first fast ( ) .  Wow, I was normal!!!

F Words Group 2 - First, Friendship, Fighters:

After failing and fighting, an amazing thing occurred.  I was introduced to many, new, wonderful vegans.  It was a first for me.  Prior to becoming vegan, there were only known two vegans in my small, intimate circle.  It is an awestruck realization to experience the expansion of this circle.  I have met some amazing people.  I've discovered that there are varying levels of veganism which overlap from raw foodists to educators, to activists.  The interaction with these warm souls have "expanded my horizons" and have opened my eyes to many new possibilities.  While I value our new budding friendships, I appreciate the lessons of first experiences with them, and I admire their fighting spirit to educate, teach, and reach as many as they possibly can with their messages.    Allow me to introduce a few of these wonderful folks, the Rescuers to you:

Yogini Valerie Devi,, master yoga instructor, natural health consultant, raw vegan, yoga massage therapist, author, "Wild Yogini", a blog full of helpful information and healthy eating tips, linking mind, body, and soul, expounding upon the relationship between yoga and veganism.

Ayinde Howell, , executive vegan chef , actor, musician, yoga instructor, food coach, author, "I Eat Grass",  a vegan lifestyle website and blog. Full of human interest stories, advice, helpful tips, vegan recipes, pop culture commentary.
Friendship Bracelets 

Oli Dillon Squire,, animal rights activist, blogger, and author, "Action for Our Planet", website dedicated to educating, informing, and documenting atrocities and activities against animal around the world.

Asante George, , raw vegan educator, chef, artist, poet, author,  "Living Our Bliss", a book, website, and blog about raw living food and organic lifestyle.

Drew McCall Burke,, raw vegan foodist, personal fitness trainer,  my unofficial vegan mentor, coach, cheerleader, and creator of the 5-Day Sexy Vegan Juicy Fast.  Full of energy, positive encouragement and healthy advice, her mantra is "The Power of ONE to change a few, the Power of a few to change many, and the Power of many to change Nations always begins with the Power of ONE - you."

I have had the pleasure of conversing with each of these first friends, some briefly, others at length.  The one common thread is their dedication to (what another first friend said to me), "vegan is a mindset, more than a lifestyle or diet". 

F Words Group 3  - Forward, Forging, Future

After re-enforcing and feeling rescued, I feel ready to forge forward.  I am re-energized with the prospect of my new future.  How apropos that this revelation is on the eve of the new year.  I look forward with eagerness of what is to come and excited about all that I have yet to learn. Remembering that I possess  the ability to fight and forge with  friends to move into new realms will empower me.  It will allow me the opportunity  to "pay it forward", to develop the strength to rescue someone, in my stead,  who is first faltering, frustrated and feeling failure.

If at first you don't succeed.....try again.   With memories of failure fading, I will once again,  join the next "5 Day Sexy Vegan Juicy Fast", confident of a different result.

Yoga:  Boat Pose (again) - re-enforces your core strength and is just the rescue you need when you are drowning in a sea of frustration and failure.

Monday, December 6, 2010


I had begun to write this post with about a quarter done when,  I accidentally deleted everything I had written. Of course, I was frustrated and exasperated.  Unfortunately, I could not retrieve it and there was nothing I could do.    The situation reminded me of one of my favorite quotes:

"Do what you can, with what you have, where you are" ~Theodore Roosevelt

Thinking about it caused me to alter my subject matter.  This statement is about acceptance.   It makes you realize that sometimes, you have to just accept yourself, your standing, and your current status.  A few synonyms for acceptance are: consent, assume, consume, bear, learn, admit, be.  Acceptance forces us to peer into the mirror and honestly look at what we see to discover our truths:

Can you accept what you see?
          Truth 1: I am weak
          Truth 2: I am strong.
          Truth 3: I am old.
          Truth 4: I am young.
          Truth 5: Sometimes, in one instance, I am all of the
                       above and sometimes none.

We all possess the strength needed to pull through weak points, and each of us are old pros at some things while young novices at others.   Too often, we tend to overlook and seek false acknowledgment.  The problem is that the image we project isn't always the one in the mirror.    In order to seek truthful acceptance from others, you must first accept as-is; complete with deletions, frustrations, exasperations and start overs.  The ability to identify, acknowledge and "see" each truth clearly for what it is and what it offers is the first step to self reception.

Through any journey, acceptance will help you decipher your vulnerabilities (weakness) and teach you how to make adjustment and/or improvement accordingly (strength).   It is the catalyst to break or change your paradigms (oldness) and to venture forth with new meaning (youth).

Paradigm Shift

I thought about my relationship with a words and how some definitions have changed for me since I began this transition so I decided to have a little fun with a few:
Mael (vampire) or Meal?
Meanings change when paradigms shift

Non-Vegan to Non-Vegan        Non-Vegan to Vegan            Vegan to Vegan
          fowl:foul                             piece:peace                slight(not much):sleight (skill)*  
         burgher:burger                     meat:meet                                   affect:effect
          whale:wail                          gored:gourd                                route:root   
          yoke:yolk                           beat:beet                                    serial:cereal
          yack:yak                            lessen:lesson                               whey:way (path)
          worst:wurst                        chews:choose                     cede(give up meat):seed*
          mussel:muscle                     preys:praise                                site:sight
          locks:lox                             roe:row                                       current:currant
          awful:offal (entrails)            charred:chard                               flour:flower
          stake:steak                         paws:pause                                  knead:need 
          vein:vain                             doe:dough                                    maze:maize
          bate:bait                             pistol:pistil (seed bearer)               recede:reseed
          flea:flee                               tongue:tung (tree)                         peal:peel
          lamb:lam                    quints(multiple births):quince(fruit)         use:yews(trees)
          hart:heart         leech (blood sucker) : leach (wash away)*      pare:pear                  
* =  my favorites

Breaking Through

Having fun and not taking things so seriously helps break the images we've engraved in our heads.  How many times have we heard the saying, "What's old is new again?"  or how about "Recycle, Renew, Re-use? ".  When you recycle, you generally use the old material in a new way.  It is amazing when you look at something you have always possessed and see something new just by changing how you view it.  When things that sounded the same now have a different meaning or perspective, congratulations!  You have experienced growth and understanding.  You have shifted your paradigm. It is called a "break-through". So, in retrospect, perhaps the subject I was to write about would be better suited for another place and time.  Perhaps, the lesson here was to teach "welcoming of self"  for I,  like many, tend to be my own worst enemy - punishing myself unrealistically for something  falsely judged as "not enough".  Let go of your stubbornness, learn that acceptance doesn't mean giving up or in.  It is reception with sagaciousness, of  what is, as is, where is. The next time you delete something you've working on...start again.  You may need to learn a lesson, move in another direction, or look at something differently.

Place a lien on negativity and failure; learn to lean on the positive success of redefining old meanings. Lighten up, have a little fun and be happy with the image in the mirror.

crow pose
Yoga:  Crow Pose 
The purpose of the crow pose is to develop mental tranquility; it teaches acceptance of self.  Everyone falls when learning this pose.  It enables you to lean, to depend upon your personal core strength and your ability to balance. You have to learn to lift up one foot at a time and slowly feel how far you can go at that particular moment.  While practicing the pose,  you must literally look forward - you quickly learn that if you let your head drop or lean to quickly, you will lose balance and will fall on your face.  When trying Crow Pose, change your definition of strength and weakness, accept what you can do, as you are, where you are, and gradually work towards your goal.  


Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Giving Thanks

As the holiday approached, I eagerly anticipated this Thanksgiving for it would be a day filled with firsts.  Earlier this year, my first-born had moved out.  This would be his first Thanksgiving waking up in a home of his own, the king of his castle.  It would be our first without him.  He wanted to celebrate and decided to host dinner this year.  His first as host, our first as guests.  It would also be my first time not portraying the "Lady of the House" since his girlfriend was well suited for the role.  My husband and I expressed our feelings of pride. It was a pleasurable experience to watch the maturity and growth of our son.  Personally, of course, it was also my first vegan Thanksgiving.


Leading up to dinner, I had a brief moment of insecurity and fear, flooding myself with questions. I had to remind myself that I would be with immediate family: husband, adult children, and intimate friend each of whom provide truth, encouragement, support and inspiration.  This thought provided the calm needed to overcome the feeling of trepidation.  After exhaling a deep cleansing breath, I relaxed and was able to create a simple meal of staple foods I had previously prepared for myself up to this point.  

Go with Whatcha Know!

I answered each of the questions swirling in my head.  I go with "what I knew", I prepared a bean/veggie patty, accompanied with veggies and made a vegan sweet potato pie to present to the dinner guests.  I packaged my meal and took it with me.  At the dinner table, as I took my seat, I placed my platter on the table.  Since I was not the hostess, I did not sit opposite the head of the table.  I sat in a seat alongside the table, as a guest, next to my husband, across from my baby (also now an adult), at the left of first-born, and at the right of his girlfriend, a wonderful young lady.  I chuckled to myself, at how silly I was at second guessing. I had to once again,  remember to "go with what I knew"  - that with all of this genuine love at the table, how could I question non-acceptance?  

My 1st Vegan Thanksgiving Preparation
Pinto bean patties with collard greens, corn, and sweet potato
After we expressed our gratitude for this gathering of firsts, my adult home-owner son says to me, "That looks good Mommy."  In those few words, my first Vegan Thanksgiving had been summed up.  I had what many seek and sadly do not find:  gratitude.   However you define gratitude doesn't matter for the meaning is germane to each.   For me it is love, life, family, health.  What is important however, is to take the time to give thanks for the small progressions realizing that huge leaps are few and far between.  It is the little steps and tiny increments that secure our footing and lead us to the next big thing.

Remember to identify and express your gratitude.  
Give thanks for the non-tangible
                   Be grateful for non-monetary experiences
                   Be thankful for embrace, warmth 
                             Welcome each opportunity to share
                              Express gratitude for ability to give, to grow, 
                                                   Be humble and eager to learn.

Yoga:  n-a-m-a-s-t-e  
Namaste  is an expression of gratitude.   It means, " the light in me honors and bows to the light in you."  It also means to be humble.  As you quietly say "Namaste",  close your eyes, press your palms together in the middle of your at your heart and lightly bow your head and shoulders, give thanks and be grateful.  

Thursday, November 18, 2010


The Inquisition - Day 75

When I tell an omnivore that I'm vegan, I'm usually bombarded with a series of questions.  We all know by now that the number one question on the top ten list of vegan questions is  "where do you get your protein?" I'm all for inquiries and genuine questions for you never know, there may be an opportunity to learn something new on behalf of both the person answering and the person asking the questions.   I find those questions which are borderline judgmental and accusatory are those which irritate me most.  Between each cleansing breath, I feel as if I have to defend myself and vegans everywhere.  As unrealistic as that is, the feeling is still there.  I'm finding that there seems to be a group of questions that almost immediately follow the first one:
"Have you always been Vegan? "
"How long have you been Vegan?" 
or my favorite, "Don't you MISS meat?"

The answers are "no", "not long", and "heck NO!".   In an instant, I'm transformed into some sort of creature for inspection.  If I hadn't said anything, would I look, act or be any different?  In my effort to remain positive, I go into the same explanation of how I became vegan.  For me, it was not a hard decision.  It was my destiny.


Know where you come from: My mother's
Sweet Potato Pie
Vegan Version - "NO!" dairy
"You don't know where you're going until you understand where you've come from".

The statement is really powerful.  In just a few short words, your entire life history, present, and future are captured.  As I've said, I feel destined to be vegan.  Meat has never been at the top of my list of favorite things.  My earliest memory of rebuking meat was at the mere young age of five years old.  As I've mentioned my post last month,  "Back to Basics", my family grew up on a farm.  Well, my father and uncles were quite comfortable with hunting and preparing "fresh killed" meats.  When I was five, my uncles had gone hunting complete with blood hound dogs and guns.  They brought back their "bounty" and eagerly shared with my parents who, now living in the city, were ecstatic for memories of "home".  My uncle presented my father with a rabbit.  My father took it into the basement.  I was curious and asked to join him.  My father was happy to see my interest - maybe I was going to be a second generation country girl after all... I watched in horror as my father skinned the rabbit and how the blood slowly dripped onto the floor.  I asked him why was he doing that to the rabbit and he informed me it would be our dinner that night.  "NO!"  I told him I was not eating that rabbit.  To this day, although I've consumed other meats, I am proud to say rabbit has never crossed my plate. To add salt to the injury, later that year, someone in my family gave me a "rabbit's foot" key chain as a gift.  I remember feeling the toes, and bones under the fur and hated it.  I threw it away and lied to my mother that I had misplaced it.

At twelve, I stopped eating all animal-organs and baby animal meat after I began to question my mother about every piece of meat that was presented to me.  "What animal did this come from?  What part of the animal is this?"   I just couldn't "stomach" eating liver, veal, or lamb.  It was also the age that I started cooking.  I remember feeling nauseous when I smelled raw eggs and could not eat them if the little white connector between the yoke and the white hadn't been removed.  I remember the shock and "gross-out" experienced when I went to a delicatessen with a friend and she ordered a beef "tongue" sandwich and it was really sliced tongue! By age 19, I could not eat a piece of chicken if I had to butcher an entire carcass into legs, wings, and breast prior to cooking it. I hated the feeling of the organs squishing in my hands as I reached in to clean out a turkey.
"HECK NO!" - Whole head fish dinner
Same for fish.  The idea of an entire fish on a platter with the mouth open and eye "looking" was disgusting to me.  I was well into my thirties before I even learned how to clean a fish because I could not bring myself to cut the head off.  I could only eat meat if it had been objectified - skin removed and all hints of life as a being had been removed.  I never ate a rare steak with the blood running all over the place.  In my early twenties, I became a vegetarian.  When I was expecting my first child,    being young and uninformed, I began to eat meat again after my I obstetrician told me I needed to eat meat for "protein" and for the baby. Fast forward to my late forties, prior to officially becoming vegan, I can't  honestly remember the last time I had a sandwich made of luncheon meat (little slivers of flesh-ugh!) or a glass of milk.  I am proud to say that I've never had nor desired to eat oysters, caviar, tripe, or any raw meats (lox, sushi, etc). I've been making vegetable stuffing for years and salad has always been my best friend.  So you see, when you hear my detailed history, you understand why I was destined to be vegan.

What's Next?

The next step is to continue to evolve with decorum and civility. Let's look at the meaning:

ev·o·lu·tion  (v-lshn, v-) 
A gradual process in which something changes
 into a different and usually more complex or better form 

Hmmm...better form; more complex.  Translation: to evolve is to develop or achieve a style of one's own gradually.  I am ready to evolve.  I am ready to move forward.  Everyone realizes that we, as a species have evolved.  Although we don't always act like it, we possess intelligence, the ability to have empathy, and compassion for our fellow animal beings of this earth, and we grow plants;  why is so hard to realize that we no longer need to consume meat to continue to evolve. 

Intelligence, empathy, compassion for all beings,
sole consumption of plant-based diet....
the need to evolve still exists
I can answer questions with a simple "no, not long, and heck no" and leave it at that because most people really don't want to know my real history, my true gradual development, my authentic evolution.  Only those with an expressed interest in becoming vegetarian or vegan or care for me wish to hear the history.  Knowing you can survive the inquisition, the need to have that cleansing breath before each answer disappears for you can't punish true ignorance or the lack of information.  An an evolved being, I must show empathy and compassion in the face of accusation and judgment and become an example of intelligent complexity.

The next steps for me are to continue to learn, to grow and to forge deeper into this new wonderful experience.  Taking the time to remember where I came from and helps me to know where I'm going.

Yoga: Anusara Style.  Individually based, soft practice - to "follow your heart" with emphasis on balance, alignment and respect for personal limitations; to gradually evolve; to focus with organic energy.  

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Overcoming Fears

Day 60.  Wow, It has been two months since I began this journey.  I actually do not remember the last time I ate meat other than it was fish that had lost its appeal.  Two months is a short period, a mere infinitesimal spec  in the flash of a lifetime.  Who specifically remembers any random two-month period unless it is bookmarked, representing something which will effect the remaining days, months, and years ahead? The thought of this "notch" that I've created is numbing.  In this short time, I:
  • have absolutely no desire to eat meat, dairy, or any animal product
  • am completely comfortable in this lifestyle
  • have begun to see and fear the unattractive aspect of the vegan world
    Ugly Truth?

    Animal Rights?
    For the most part, up to this point, this journey has been a "kum-ba-yah" experience.  I had readily fortified and prepared myself for the comments, feedback, and response from non-vegans.  It was to be expected.  The shock came from the realization that within the vegan world, there is another side - an ugly side.  I am becoming more and more exposed to it as I delve deeper into veganism and I do not like what I have begun to see.  It frightens me.

    In my "new girl" naivety, I failed to realize that the vegan world is no different than any other, that there is an extreme element that lives on the outer edges, just outside of the "norm" with levels of judgment, feeling of entitlement, and accusations of what is right and wrong.  I came across a dialog in which a dedicated vegan posted a faux meat dish that had been prepared for her children.  Almost immediately, she was met with an onslaught of hate and criticism by a "fellow", extreme vegan who felt she was being hypocritical for  making "fake meat", that vegans who do so are secretly harboring desires to eat meat; that somehow, she wasn't being a true vegan.  But what about me?  What about those who are converting or who are thinking of converting?  Where is the bridge?  The accuser had a right to his opinion but the tone and the language was so  ugly.  This person spewed anger with words just short of hatred toward a fellow vegan.  Aren't we all on the same team?  Several people on both sides of the debate commented but not me.  I was too afraid to say anything.  It was disappointing yet sobering as if someone had thrown a bucket of ice cold water on me shouting, "WAKE UP!!!!".  Are there vegan activists out there who profess their love for animals so much that they would not hesitate to show lack of love to their fellow man?  Would these same people commit an act of violence to express their viewpoint?  

    I seek to receive and work to give peace.  The thought of a physical, negative encounter with a fellow vegan is really scary.  I feel immediately faced with a new challenge - how to overcome this fear?


    Wheatgrass: the drink of resilience and coping
    Just before the "ugly", I met my friend Susan for lunch at a vegan restaurant.  Susan is not vegan.  I appreciated that she, as most good friends do, supported my efforts and "tried something new".  She had her first shot of wheatgrass, surprised that it tasted a little sweet. We discussed our latest endeavors and she mentioned the need for resilience.  Later, in a blog entry about our lunch, she revealed her own fears and the need to cope.  EUREKA!, there were the magic words I had been searching looking for:

    • COPE - to face and deal with a difficulty in a calm or adequate manner. 
    • RESILIENCE - the ability to recover; to return to original form or position after being bent or stretched;  buoyancy.
    Since I'm not much on the water, I related the buoyancy to being rooted.  I love root plants.  Ginger, mushrooms, onions, garlic, radishes, potatoes, turnips, carrots, yams, and my favorite, the mighty beet.  Root plants are tough with thick skin.  They manage to grow, thrive or "cope" in all types of soil compositions while maintaining  strong, full, earthy flavor, and hearty texture, even after cooking.  Root plants are resilient. Since they grow underground, they absorb minerals and nutrients from the soil and provide a plethora of health benefits as they contain vitamin C, beta-carotene, antioxidants, fiber, and potassium just to name a few.

    Stay rooted:  Beet greens, beets, and turnips

    Staying Rooted

    As I processed each of these experiences - the high of lunching with Susan and the low of the ugliness, I realized that there was one point of relevance between the two:  Me! I was the connecting piece between the two.   While I had reached out in one instance and recoiled in another, I had remained in the same place.  I was rooted and didn't realize it.  Although the unfortunate incident had frightened me, I had remained steadfast in my commitment and desire to be vegan.  I feel empowered to grow my roots, to introduce my non-vegan friends to something new (who knows, perhaps a few of them will join me).  I feel that I can grow my roots even stronger and as this strength increases, perhaps one day I will be able to confront the extreme beings on the fringe.  Perhaps one day, I can show them that you can gain more with a positive, loving approach than a negative one  that we are all on the same team. That each of us may arrive at a destination along a different path or vehicle but that the point is:  we all arrived and are in the same place together.  It is a choice.  In my lifetime flash, I will remember these past two months.  I will remember how I chose to grow my roots with positivity, togetherness and compassion.

    I will also remember the exact moment in the future to yet come when those roots strengthened and enabled me to cope with resiliency to overcome my fears.


    Yoga:  Boat pose for buoyancy,  Mountain pose for root connection to the Earth.

    Friday, October 29, 2010

    Hunting Harmony

    It's been ten days since my last post.  In the world of the Internet, I'm sure that's a lifetime.  I've been inside a self-created "circle of safety",  experimenting with recipes, cooking, posting pictures of the results, and corresponding with experienced vegans.  It feels good there.  While I've been enjoying the transition "inside", the issue plaguing me has been my life "outside" of the circle.  I made the decision long ago not to respond to "artificial deadlines" so, I chose not  to post until I could grasp exactly what has been nagging me.  Sometimes the best way to analyze a situation is to stand still.  I thought about Day 45 - the Six Week Point.   It was such a glorious day.  I spent quite some time that day chatting on-line with a new found vegan friend.  I found her to be such a wonderful, positive spirit filled with great suggestions, advice, and support. Soon after I started to snuggle in to the embrace of the vegan community,  I encountered a negative, questioning being. I was hit with judgment, as if I had done something wrong.  As if I weren't normal.

    Ground chick pea (veggie tuna) sandwich & tofu salad
    Vegan or Normal?
    I bound my tongue until I could write without absorbing or passing this energy. I thought, "Wow! If I had been eating something that most people eat like a sandwich or a salad, this person would have ever raised an eyebrow".  Now that I'm announced vegan, all of the sudden, it's some sort of an abomination.  I wondered, "Is it possible to co-exist? Where is the understanding?  Can't we all just get along?"  Thus, for the past ten days, I have been on the hunt for harmony.


    One thing that stuck out during my conversation was the suggestion my friend made:  to check out the website The Kind Life by vegan,  Alicia Silverstone.  I remember watching the actress promote her book, "The Kind Diet" on a talk show just last year.  I gave it little attention.  At that time, of course, I was still consuming meat on a regular basis.  Today, as I perused  the website, reviews, and personal testimony of how the elimination of meat changed her life, I thought with a different perspective with feelings I gained from other side of the imaginary line ... the line which exists between those who consume meat and those who do not.  There seemed to be a annoying tolerating attitude of omnivores towards vegans.  Having been one myself, I can attest to it.  I was guilty.  Lack of information and ignorance lead to assumption and judgment.  I thought of vegan as a just a diet choice, extreme vegetarianism, and did not realize the link to animal rights and the environment.  I politely "tolerated" vegans, never once realizing that there is emotion and feeling behind the choice, that it is a lifestyle, that vegans also tolerate meat eaters.

    Where's the Beef?

    I've lost count of how many times I've been asked in just six short weeks "Where do you get your protein?" Vegans get protein from the same place as meat-eaters do:  from amino acids.  The difference is the source of the acids.  Meat also has fat and hormones meant for the sustainability of the animal...not man.  I couldn't help but laugh at the irony, judgment, and contradiction the last time I faced this question.  The person could not grasp the idea of not eating meat.  As she asked me this question, she proceeded to tell me how I needed meat for protein all the while she was devouring a greasy, fast food meal of fried beef, cheese, and fried potatoes.  Even when I ate meat, I did not eat such an unhealthy concoction.  It was like garbage to me. After getting over my initial feeling of anger and resentment, I exhibited tolerance, realizing I had no beef with this woman.  I showed the compassion she failed to show me.  It was the lack of knowledge or worse, reliance of limited knowledge that causes people to say or do the things they do.  We all make decisions and judgment based on "what we think we know".  I decided to find a way to exist in the midst.


    Harmony:  Sandwich made by my non-vegan husband
    Yellow squash, zucchini, mushroom, tomato, onion
    When we are hurt, we often seek refuge with those who are able to provide comfort because they share our point of reference.  These people become our cheerleaders.  While that is good, the opportunity for growth can become limited for true challenge comes from the diversity outside of your comfort zone.  We must learn to live amongst those who are not like us. This can be global or as minute as your own home.  When I made the decision to become vegan, I informed my family who have remained omnivore. My husband has increased his vegetable intake and has contributed to some of the veggie recipe ideas.
    We have however, both excluded each other for some meals as I am no longer joining him for a big hunk of meat on the grill in the same manner he is not first in line to eat some of my vegetarian inspirations.  This exclusion doesn't mean we can't live together in harmony.  Our home is still happy, we still love each other, we continue to prepare meals together, and we still sit down to eat dinner together.  We now exist in two different worlds, side by side.  It doesn't always pan out perfectly, but it is harmonious. 

    No one can change the whole world in one swoop but each of us can work to affect harmony within our small piece of it.  If we all did just that, then with each of our pieces linking together, with cohesiveness, the hunt would be over.

    "Become the change you seek in the world" ~ Gandhi

    Yoga:  Anahata or the Heart Chakra meditation for internal harmony and emotion

    Sunday, October 17, 2010

    This Too Shall Pass

    After turning the corner of my "impatience episode", of last week, I realized that every thing has its peaks and valleys.   In the midst of the valley, with cleansing breath, I recited, "This too shall pass", knowing that I will be blessed with the path forward.  As I thought, I reminded myself of other things that have passed since I began this initiative:  toxins (via adult acne), lethargy, negativity, and gas.

    Yes, I said gas.  

    I was happy to see my skin clearing. I had experienced a few breakouts since starting this process but didn't become alarmed because as you cleanse, any toxins in your body will release through whatever avenue available.   In some instances, it will be your skin. As you continue however, your skin clears.  This lasted only in the initial week or so.  I was more excited about feeling physically energized in the mornings.  Always an early riser, I still felt the need of caffeine to get me going.  Since the elimination of meat, I realized that I have more energy upon waking and no longer desire coffee.  Despite spending time in the "valley", I'm feeling quite positive.  There is beauty in the valley - it's all how you look at it.    

    Being in the Valley can be beautiful.

    The one thing that not expected was flatulence.  It's an embarrassing subject.  After speaking about it with an associate, she made an interesting point,  "You are probably a little bloated and have gas build up because of what you've been eating."  Light bulb moment!  Of course!  The main staples of my diet have been cabbage and beans.  We all remember snickering at the rhyme we said as kids, "Beans, beans, the more you eat, the more you fart!"
    It was the reason we did not want to eat beans.  Now that we're adults, have any of us heard the rest of the poem?  It's a revelation:

    "Beans, beans, the more you eat, the more you fart.  
    The more you fart, the better you feel.  
    So, beans, beans with every meal!"

    Although I had not gained any weight, my belly was a little extended.  I started doing yoga abdominal massages and stretches which helped and got things going however, the situation would soon return. I decided to check into it.  According to Nexium Research, flatulence occurs when the bacteria in the large intestine break down undigested food passed from the small intestine, it produces hydrogen, carbon dioxide, and methane gases, which are then released...which translates - it's a natural bodily function.  Foods which produce gas in some may not effect others in the same manner.  The lesson? Learn your body and make adjustment accordingly. 

    Just let it go!

    Not to be offensive, but pun is intended.  I realized that some of the very foods I have come to enjoy are causing more nature than I care for:
    • Broccoli, brussels sprouts, asparagus, carrots
    • Apricots, raisins, bananas, prunes, pears, peaches, artichokes
    • Cauliflower, radishes, turnips, rutabaga
    • Eggplant, mushrooms, garlic, onions
    • Bran, nuts, seeds (fennel, sunflower, poppy)
    • Cabbage, celery, cucumbers
    • Legumes - dried beans and peas, baked beans, soy beans, lima beans
    • Potatoes, corn, noodles and wheat

    WOW!  This is exactly what I've been eating this past month.  But, as far as I know, the vegans I have been face to face with haven't been uncontrollably letting loose around me.  How to "let it go" without giving it up? There must be an answer. I found out that suddenly increasing your fiber intake is the culprit.  That is exactly what I've done.  EUREKA! I discovered that to counter gas, the answer is not a complex concoction or recipe.   
    Reduce flatulence:  Increase water;
    add fresh peppermint or ginger

    It is very simple:  water (guilty!)

    Increase hydration - add fresh peppermint or ginger
    Eat smaller portions per setting
    Eat slowly

    As I sit here drinking a glass of water, I realize that as I work my way out of the valley, the intricacies within my body will slowly mesh and will work its way out.  As you pass, you release that which you do not need. Nothing stays in the same exact position forever.  The doldrums that gripped me will also eventually subside in the same manner as the euphoria.  That it is okay to let go, and by doing so, I will find comfort in neutrality and equilibrium - perfect way to prepare for the next up and down ride.

    Favorite dish of the day:  Black beans, brown rice, with tomato sauce and red pepper flakes
    Exercise: 30 minutes
    Yoga: tree pose - grounded yet sways freely; passing in the wind; going with the flow...letting go.  

    Wednesday, October 13, 2010

    Practicing Patience

    After standing still on Day 21, I celebrated on Day 24 by having fun in the kitchen coming up with dishes and trying new things. I was so inspired and caught up in the euphoria of it all. As the week wore on, I started doubting my ability to continue to create. I did not want to share my experience. Steadfast and easily not eating meat, I wanted to just absorb "why" I was no longer feeling happy about it. I needed to come to terms with it and determine "how" to move forward. It is always a simple three part process:

    1. Yoga - Uddhiyana Bandha which is a cleansing sequence. It helps remove any blockages and helps detoxification.
    2. Drink water - a very good friend once told me that water is "brain food" and the essential ingredient you need when it's time to think.
    3. Get a mirror - look at yourself and tell the truth.

    After yoga, water, and the truth, I realized exactly what my problem was. The same old demon that challenges me from time to time: IMPATIENCE. I wanted it all and I wanted it now.


    I've always been task-driven. This "gift" has provided both positive and negative consequences for me. Positively, it has enabled me to handle many things at the same time, get things done and to make things happen. I can walk and chew gum at the same time. These powerful tools were necessary during my years as a Project Manager. I was the "go-to" girl if you needed objectives delivered successfully, on-time, and within budget. In a results-based, corporate environment, there is little room for patience; you have to make quick, snap decisions, plan strategically, and insure a return of investment. I've honed this quite well after repetitiously performing tasks in "an efficient and timely manner".

    Negatively, this gift also developed in an aggressive, assertive, impatient demeanor. I'll take the time right now to apologize to those of you whom I "cut-off" mid sentence to get my point across (so NOT intentional!) It caused me to develop a seemingly insatiable drive to seek out more and more challenging projects. I did it all and did it well. The more I took on, however, the more impatient I became. Get it done, get it done now, get it done fast. Never once did I think about slowing down.

    The Need to Change

    Fortunately, I managed to realize that I was gaining more through the negative aspects of this "gift" than the positive components. So, with the support of my family, I walked away from corporate life. That was seven years ago. (I'll tell the rest of that story another time.) Fast forward to today. Somehow, impatience keeps rearing its ugly head. With the history of my patience or lack thereof peering over my shoulder like a bad conscience, I realized that I need to do something I really haven't done before - practice patience. I need to change. With all of this behavioral change, the dissection and modification of each component is also crucial for success. Let's start with the definition:
    pa·tience  noun  (pr.) \ˈpā-shən(t)s\
    the habit of being patient;
    having the capacity, will or ability to wait without complaint; steadiness;
    endurance or perseverance in the performance of a task;
    tolerance; understanding

    Wow. That sounds like the definition of yoga and the way to cook beans. So, that's what I did, grateful for the revelation. I thought about how long it takes to make beans correctly.

    Takin' It Slow

    Traditional cooking is not fast. It is slow. It teaches patience. For some of the tastier meals, the longer it cooks, the better it is. I thought about the process to cook beans. Before you can use them for inclusion in any recipe, you must first:
    -wash and drain them
    -soak overnight
    -wash and drain again
    -bring to a slow boil over a medium flame
    -reduce heat, simmer 1&1/2hr to 2 hours
    -let cool
    -ready to inclusion into a meal

    So, at the one month point, on eve of Day 30, I looked in the mirror at myself to embrace that I am only at the beginning, to accept that it's okay to take it slow and to "practice patience". I went into the kitchen and just made beans: garbanzo beans, white beans, red beans, black beans, one hour at a time.

    Yoga: 1 hour

    Monday, October 4, 2010

    Back to Basics

    I made it.  If you'll remember,  at the beginning of this process, I stated that it takes 21 days to modify a behavior.  It's not my adage, it's a widely recognized tool used by coaches, counselors, and trainers.  It was something I learned during time management training with Franklin Covey some 15 years ago.  I've never forgotten it.    Today is testament that it works.  My behavior has been modified.  My thought processes and how I discern information have changed also.  Everything in my "circle" is now relative to a vegan lifestyle.

    Day 21 - Instead of rejoicing on this "D" day, I decided to meditate (OM), stand still, and absorb the gifts of this transformation.  Om, in Hindu is a sacred sound.  Part of Yoga Practice is to recite the mantra Om.  It is said that "all activities which start with the utterance of OM do not fail to bear fruit" and  that:
    The essence of all beings is the earth.
    The essence of the earth is water.
    The essence of water is the plant.
    The essence of the plant is man.
    With that in mind, as I meditated OM, I realized that in this short time, just 21 days, I have found my essence.  I have:
    • altered my outlook on how I view my body, my mind, and my spirit- I now literally take for granted the cliches "you are what you eat" and "your body is your temple" 
    • graciously accepted the support of kind strangers who have outreached to me, many without provocation, in ways not thought possible
    • felt blessed with recipes and food choices that have come in abundance
    • the ability and am ready to proceed, realizing that it is not as hard as it seems
    • been grateful for the opportunity to expand my horizons
    • stopped beating myself up for setbacks and accept them as a "moment to learn"
    Remembering the KISS as referenced last week, I decided to go back to a few simple meals to solidify my footing.  I sat quietly and thought about how times were as little as 100 years ago, before the convenience of "supermarkets", all families didn't have the "luxury of  meats" to eat, especially during the cold, winter months. I thought of the stories my mother told me about her days growing up on a farm.  She told me that meat was scarce during the winter.  Her large family of twelve often supplemented the lack of meat with the very things vegans eat today:  grain-based cereals, whole grain breads, nuts, berries, thick vegetable-based soups and stews.  It sustained them and gave the family the strength they needed to garner for the upcoming spring planting season.  These meals were simple but hearty and provided a healthy, nutritious diet.  Om Shanti! (which means all peace).  Sometimes, when you are quiet, still, and peaceful, wonderful things happen.  The humble posture I took for day 21 was rewarded with remembering wonderful recipes from my mother and grandmother.

    Just Like Grandmother Used to Make

    On the farm in the 1930's, my mother told us that her family didn't have a refrigerator or freezer to store and keep their food.  After the harvest came "canning time".  The women would gather the vegetables, put them in jars with air tight lids and place the jars in a huge pot covered with water to cook/boil the veggies (in jar) and to "seal" the lid. After the jars cooled, they could be stored for months, perhaps even years in a dark, cool place.  Mom said that the fruits and vegetables would taste great and as fresh as first picked.  They made wonderful meals from the foods they had "canned".  As a child, I remember eating my grandmother's "stewed tomatoes" and how the cobbler made with those homemade canned sweet peaches melted in your mouth.  Inspired, I spent the rest of day 21 experimenting with one of my grandmother's recipes:
    Back to Basics:  Grandmother's Stewed tomatoes over Hominy
    • Stewed tomatoes, green peas, & corn, over ground hominy (grits)

    In the weeks to come, as the winter creeps in, I'll honor the memory of my mother and grandmother by recreating some of their recipes which compliment a vegan palate.

    When you reflect, you also renew, revive, and rejuvenate. Reflection always places you right where you need to be at a particular place and time.   Sometimes, it takes you in a new direction where you are inspired to create amazing new things.   Other times, it reminds you where you came from, grounds you, and takes you back to basics.