veggiefueled.

adventures of a plant-based athlete


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Preaching to the Choir

Not sure this is something to admit… but I was actually shocked to find out that people I know are reading my blog! I mean if you put something out there to be read you should expect that people are going to read it, right?! I guess the shock wasn’t in the fact that people are reading it, but that people who are not vegetarians or vegans are reading it, and continue to read it.

Like my experience with most events, blogs, social media pages, etc, I assumed that I was just preaching to the choir; that I would only be sought out by people who have that one (very big) thing in common with the theme of my blog. Myself included, I tend to gravitate towards sites that share my interests.

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And that brings me to my second admission: I’m kinda, sorta, just a little bit, a “closet vegan.” It’s not that I won’t admit to others (not sure if that’s really the right word) that I don’t eat meat, dairy, eggs or any animal products… I’m not going to eat a steak because I wan’t to keep it a secret… but I tend to keep to myself about it. That’s why I decided to use the blog and instagram as an outlet to share my thoughts, ideas and questions with the veggie community.

But I do try and let people know that I’m vegan (when necessary) with as little detail as possible. I typically will just avoid certain foods, then if asked I’ll say that I don’t eat [insert particular animal product here]. I usually don’t blurt out “I’m vegan.” I’d have to say that its mainly done to avoid the barrage of questions and comments that always come after that kind of statement. To avoid the feeling that I’m some kind of specimen in a petri dish or an alien from Mars.

Don’t get me wrong, I truly LOVE my healthy and athletic lifestyle. The second I crossed the finish line of my first half-marathon I was hooked and knew I should share the benefits of health and fitness with the world. So I suppose that I should embrace the questioning as a chance to share the reasons behind my choice to follow a vegan diet. Just like I am willing to share all I know and love about running, I am now going to willingly share the same about vegan diets. (No worries – I won’t come knocking on your door).

Typical questions/comments I get about being vegan

*Disclaimer – These answers are all personal feelings and opinions. Please see my reference page to find better scientific and nutritional support for a vegan diet.*

“What do/don’t you eat?” – I don’t eat meat (that includes chicken, pork and fish*), eggs, dairy or any other product that comes from an animal. I also try to avoid things that are made using animal products (examples include certain types/brands of sugars, beers, wines and candies). Click here for the reasons why these items aren’t vegan. I do eat whole foods: mainly fruits, vegetables, grains, beans and nuts/seeds. I also eat the occasional sweets and unhealthy, but still vegan, foods (think vegan cookies or vegan breaded/fried zucchini!).

*Some people don’t understand that “meat” applies to ALL animals, not just beef.

“How long have you eaten like this? Do you miss meat?” – I stopped eating meat in September 2012 and cut out all other animal products January 2013 (can you say New Year’s Resolution? hehe). No, I do not miss meat. I was never really a big meat eater, from the time I was young I was more of a rice, bread, pasta kind of girl. I never really liked the taste of meat and pretty much only enjoyed it when it was breaded and fried. So no, I don’t miss it and I couldn’t imagine eating it again at this point.

“Hmm, that’s great… but I could never give up the cheese.” – My response, ditto. I loved cheese. Like, love love looovvveeeed cheese. Food I’d eat if I was trapped on deserted island: three way tie between cheese pizza, macaroni and cheese and grilled cheese sandwich. I could down half a block of cheddar with some crackers in one sitting. One of my favorite parts of grocery shopping was the free slice of provolone at the deli.

But I learned how cheese affects my health and decided that the short-term enjoyment was not worth the long-term detriments. Not to mention, my body doesn’t digest dairy very well… so…

After giving up cheese I started to feel better in many different ways. At this point, I have lost my taste and desire for cheese and it’s no longer an issue.

“Why do you deprive yourself of the things you like?” – I don’t look at a vegan diet as one of deprivation. Since I’ve changed my eating habits I have expanded the foods and cuisines that I consume. I have become a better cook and more creative in my meal planning. Yes, I like cake and cookies. Yes, it’s hard to stay strong. And fortunately, YES there are vegan dessert options that taste amazing! I often “live a little” but see no need to eat things that have animal products in them when I can eat things that are just as good without them.

“You can’t tell me those fake meats/vegan cookies/alternative milks taste good or like the real thing!?” – Ok about the faux meats, I really just try and avoid things that are processed and not whole foods. Fake meats with chemicals and fillers are not good for you, vegan or not. I have made meals with cauliflower as my taco “meat” and recently enjoyed a jackfruit cuban sandwich and veggie bacon B.L.T. in Colorado that were amazing… but those are made using whole foods (check out this recipe from No Meat alternative milks – delicious, I love them, they’re just as good, probably better… case closed! I think as you start to eat healthier your taste buds really start to adjust. I GENUINELY enjoy the foods I eat and don’t feel shitty after eating them.

“Ok, but it’s not about the animals, right? You’re not some hippie?” – When I first decided to stop eating meat I didn’t really consider how it would affect the animals. But is it not an added benefit that I’m saving innocent animal lives (and the environment) by cutting animal products out of my diet? If that makes me a hippie, so be it. Just do me one favor… watch the documentaries and really educate yourself before you accuse me of being a “hippie” for caring about the animals. I’ve heard too many times that people don’t want to see it because then they won’t want to eat meat anymore… I guess “ignorance is bliss.”

“You think you’re better than me?” – No one has actually ever asked me this question, but I always get this feeling that people think, that I think, that I’m better than them. Or that I’m judging them because they eat meat. No, I don’t think I’m better. I’m not judging you for your decisions. I do advocate a vegan diet. I do think that it has provided me and others with better health. I have seen the benefits first hand. It would be awesome if you adopted a vegan diet. BUT, you don’t judge my food and I won’t judge yours.

I have so much more to say about this new vegan lifestyle and from now on I will be more comfortable with sharing with those that are interested. If they’re being antagonistic about it… oh well, you win some, you lose some.

Have more questions for me? Put them in the comment box below – If I get enough I’ll write another post with answers. If not, I’ll just answer below.


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You’re having WHAT for dinner?!

Sometime throughout history it was determined that dinner should consist of a meat, a grain/starch and a vegetable (or at least that was my impression). In fact, growing up I was a huge fan of those divided plates… you know, the one’s that ensured none of my food would touch any of my other food because THAT would be disgusting and I couldn’t possibly eat my potatoes after they were contaminated with vegetable juice…but I digress… Even when you google images of “what should your dinner plate look like” you’ll see an array of divided plates.

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Unfortunately, this rule of how a dinner should be served causes some problems for new vegetarians/vegans. I remember when we first started our meat-free lifestyle it was very difficult to find recipes that I felt were appropriate dinners. I was desperately searching for a main course in a world of what seemed like side dishes. The most ironic part was that I was determined to have my plate look a certain way because I felt it was healthier. Oh and don’t get me started on how worried I was to make sure we had a replacement protein source… *slaps hand to the forehead*

Luckily, it didn’t take too long to breakaway from this dinner plate stereotype. Thanks to the wonderful, delicious and nutritious brussels sprout… the vegetable that saved the day (or more so the dinner plate). We had a great brussels sprouts dish at a restaurant and decided to try them out at home. (Check out the recipe here, just leave out the parmesan cheese to make it vegan – it rocks!) We planned on the sprouts being a side dish for our dinner, but they were done a little earlier than expected. We started to munch on them until dinner was ready and next thing you know… we ate them all, the entire 1lb. bag between the two of us! We topped it off with a little green juice and we were good to go for the night.

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And that, my friends, was the start of the random “whatever we’re in the mood for” dinners. Don’t get me wrong, we still have a typical divided plate meal every now and then, but we no longer stress to have a traditional plate planned. Here are some things we’ve been known to chow down on for dinners:

  • Bowl of roasted brussels sprouts
  • Roasted cauliflower with buffalo or barbecue sauce
  • Just juice
  • Guacamole, taco seasoned veggies and chips
  • “Tapas” style leftovers
  • Random vegetables (either in salad or non salad form)
  • Cereal (not too proud of that one…)

Just remember, a dinner (or any meal for that matter) can be anything you want it to be as long as it consists of whole, natural and plant strong foods!

Speaking of stereotypes… My husband was at WholeFoods the other day purchasing The Complete Vegan Kitchen when the cashier said to him “You’re not a vegan, are you?” Well, maybe he’s vegan, maybe he’s not… but what exactly does a vegan look like? Can we break that mold too? By the way, he was surprising me with a new cook book! Isn’t he wonderful! 🙂

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Tricked ya! It’s vegan.

 

So I just had a genius (okay maybe that’s subjective) idea today!

I brought some leftovers of my Asian veggie stir fry with spicy peanut sauce to work today. Apparently, my eyes were bigger than my stomach so I decided to share with a coworker. I didn’t really give him much detail about the meal (except for the peanut sauce – in case of allergies) and he welcomed my offer of free food.IMG_1316

This coworker of mine is very much a meat eater, a regular ‘ole “man’s man” if you will… not someone that would be welcoming, at least not without mocking comments, of a vegan meal. So after I handed him the food I wondered what he would think of this dairy free, meat free, no salt, little oil and plant strong meal. He handed me back a completely empty (and surprisingly, clean) container and said he enjoyed it!

I’ve often wondered, as I chow down on my self-proclaimed amazing dishes, if others would find it as tasty. Not sure if I’ve just trained my taste buds to enjoy a particular style of food or if it would be considered good to outsiders.

This got me thinking, can I get other people interested in a meat free lifestyle by showing them that vegan food can be both nutrition and delicious?!

Here’s what I’m going to do – every few weeks I’m going to bring leftovers into work to share with different people. I won’t put too much emphasis on the vegan aspect of the meal, only offering information about potential allergies. I’ll let you know what they think…

And by the way, I’ve been sneaking loads of spinach and kale into my little brothers’ smoothies when they spend the night. Not only do the suck it down, they ask for refills! Maybe I can figure out how to get them to enjoy other vegan meals as well!

Let me know if you share your vegan food with unsuspecting patrons and what they think about it. You can share your stories or pictures with me on instagram and twitter: @veggiefueled, #veggiefueled, #TYIVegan

(Remember: Allergies are serious – make sure they don’t have allergies to any odd ingredients you may include).