Vegan Week 3 (tips for success and surprising results)

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I guess I noticed it on our two mile walk.  The one we did later that day, not the two mile hike up a steep incline we did that morning.  My knee wasn’t bothering me in the least.  Ok, first of all, no one can ever tell me again that one needs lots of protein from animal sources for energy and working out.  Goodness, we have so much energy we are hiking all over the place!  That has been one really great result of going vegan.  The other, is my knee.

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I hurt it when I was seventeen, so…a few years ago.  I tend to it with herbal concoctions and intermittent yoga to keep  it at bay.  The third floor apartment though was really doing my knee in.  You may have noticed that I have been hobbling around more.  This makes my back hurt then and I am instantly aged and grumpy!  Well, my knee hasn’t hurt.  And I bet it’s been two weeks.  So yes, we know that animal products create or worsen inflammatory issues like arthritis, gout, and other skeletal issues, but what I am eating now is really helping.  Between the two to four cups of homemade kombucha (glucosamine and B12) we are enjoying plus the quart of green smoothie each morning with the heavy dollop of coconut oil put in it, plus the nuts and nut butters in the smoothie and on bread, and the increased antioxidant intake from all these plant foods, my skeletal system is healing itself.  And that, my friends, is an amazing thing to report so early in this experiment!

Here are some tips for going and staying plant based:

#1 Start the day with a great smoothie.  For two people, put in 4 cups of greens of your liking such as kale, spinach, chard, collards, romaine, dandelions or other wild greens.  Add 4 cups of fruit, a combination of bananas, apples, kiwi, mango, peaches, plums, grapes, cherries, pears, and a good amount of frozen fruit to make it nice and cold.  Add a fat to make it bioavailable.  A dollop of sunflower or almond butter, peanut butter or coconut oil, or a handful of nuts.  Add spices like cinnamon or cardamom Sweeten with maple syrup or honey.  Make more filling with a handful of oats (a good nervine for pain) added in uncooked.  A good chug of coffee if needed!  Fill the container half way with water or cashew milk or juice and swirl away in a good blender.  Imagine that kind of healing power in a breakfast!

#2 When going out be prepared.  When Doug wanted to go to Panera and have coffee and bagels I put his creamer and cream cheese in my bag.  It isn’t dairy so it keeps rather well and then we don’t feel deprived.  Seem silly?  It’s not.  We get our time reading, writing, sitting outside enjoying coffee and bagels together, we just add the creamer and cream cheese that is healthier for us.

#3 Try new restaurants.  Gnarly Root, City O City, Watercourse, Leaf, just to name a few, are offering up creative vegan dishes.

#4 Get creative in the kitchen!  Doug and I have been having fun creating veggie meats out of the Vegan Bean Book.  “Chicken” made with chickpeas, wheat gluten, spices, and dipped in panko are baked and go from lemon chicken with pasta and mushrooms to burritos with lots of lettuce, tomato, salsa, and vegan cheese.  We also make “chorizo” using black beans, millet, quinoa, and New Mexican red chile (our staple around here!).  That went into a roasted sweet and new potatoes, corn, and green chili casserole with my homemade taco sauce and vegan cheese mixed in.  The fresh vegetables look so beautiful to me.

We are fluctuating between three pounds, down and up, because muscle is heavier than fat, and where a woman is in her cycle, and water and waste all plays into the weight scale.  But, we are feeling great.  All the beautiful fluids and fats and antioxidants are making us look a little younger even.  You know, I don’t think we are ever going back.

Two Weeks Vegan (cost, cookbooks, and the original nourishing diet)

 

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I was following what my friends were doing for awhile.  The Nourishing Diet, or way of eating (diet always seems to denote weight loss, but this was a lifestyle).  It fit our farm lives, fats, bone broth, nourishing whole foods.  I have never in my life felt more nourished than being vegan.  I am glad we went away from being vegan then came back so I could see the difference.  None of that after fat or grease or overeating ick feeling.  I feel like every cell in my body is being nourished as I consume a smoothie.  Kale, dandelions, or spinach, with apples, bananas, and/or nectarines, topped with frozen berries and a little maple syrup and coconut oil.  Oats (a delicious nervine) and cashews or almond butter or whatever speaks to us today.  The quart of nourishing juice revitalizes us and has to be more nutritious than any bone broth.

Doug has lost seven pounds.  All of our issues are less.  Not gone yet, but geez, it’s only been two weeks!  Less sinus issue for him, a lot less inflammation for me, minor detoxing (when we were vegan before we only needed a shower every five days, we never smelled), so a few extra showers and a few teen zits coming up here and there as we attempt to undue two and a half years of damage in two weeks.

I hear a lot that it costs more for healthy food.  I want to address this because a lot of people don’t do it because of this.  So, yes, an organic apple next to a conventional apple will typically be about ten to twenty cents more.  However, once I cut out all meat and dairy and most processed foods out of my grocery cart, you wouldn’t believe how much I saved!  I spent a lot on meat, especially grass fed, local meats.  Nuts are pricey, beans are not, organic orange juice is pricey, but we were buying that before.  We are consuming a lot of vegetables and fruits and whole grains.  And in the end, it’s cheaper.  We can’t just run willy nilly out to restaurants so we are eating at home a lot more.

I am inspired when I get into my kitchen.  I used to think I was in a rut before we fell off the bacon wagon but nothing says “rut” like “meatloaf or pork chops?”.  We are inspired to make vegan cheeses from creamy cashews and coconuts.  Veggie meats from organic wheat gluten (really, y’all, not all gluten is bad for you) and whole beans make a quick, delicious, protein and veggie filled replacement.  Dipped in panko and baked, covered in vegan gravy with mashed potatoes, you’d think you were back at the kitchen table on a farm.  And none of the icky, overate, too much comfort food feeling, just nourishment.  Salads, sandwiches, vegan pizza, or just fruit salad, anything we want.  We haven’t even missed meat.  If I do not have time to make something from scratch I can grab a vegan pizza from the frozen section at the health food store and embellish it.  Remember when the veggie stuff had so many ingredients and none of them were pronounceable?   Well, a lot of that has changed.  Stay away from Monsanto bought veggie products like Morning star, stick with Gardein, Tofurky, the smaller brands.  Just nourishment.

Here are a few cookbooks I am loving.  The Vegan Bean Book by Kathy Hester has great recipes like chorizo and veggie chicken plus a zillion more, and Thug Kitchen; Eat Like You Give a F*ck is the funniest cook book I have ever read.

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So keep up the good work, heal yourself and the world, kiss a cow, wave at a robin, and eat great this week.  Be nourished.

 

Vegan Road Update (first week)

 

IMG_0705We were vegan when we got chickens. Their eggs tasted so amazing, pasture raised chickens, organic feed from our own spoiled girls. We hadn’t consumed eggs in over two years. Even now, I don’t know if those eggs affected us all that adversely. The problem was that once you open that door, you allow yourself to eat eggs at restaurants and at places. All or nothing.

emily and Flower

Then we got goats. Oh my, they were cute. We believed and touted and taught that raw milk was not nearly as bad as pasteurized milk. Never mind the fact that we knew, of course, that we are the only mammals that will kick the babies off (and send them off to slaughter) so that we can have milk from another animals’ boobies. But cheese, though…mmm…did you know that cheese has the same effect on the brain as heroin? Indeed, it is that addictive. A chemical reaction takes place that makes it quite difficult to stop eating cheese.

And then we’ll only eat chickens that a local farmer produced, only….pretty soon we are just eating everything because that is how humans work. All or nothing. We didn’t want to just go vegetarian, because the dairy industry IS the meat industry. We prayed diligently that we wouldn’t have boy goats. Their fate is not great. In larger goat milk dairies there is not a large community wanting young goat. You can imagine what happens to the babies. They just get disposed of. The girls become lucky, until they stop producing well in a few years. Milk cows rarely sit or lay down. Their babies are taken and become veal. Being a righteous vegetarian is incredibly hypocritical. We’ve been there. We were the spouting vegetarians unknowingly causing so much harm.

Well, that is all well and good but if you can’t see the animals suffering it is easy to convince ourselves that maybe the research on animal products causing the majority of disease is wrong! Maybe the animals aren’t suffering that much. Maybe….it’s easy to not “see”. So, we needed health to be our guide.

After we started drinking our righteous raw milk Doug got a serious sinus issue. Post nasal drip, choking, bloating, he seems sick. It got worse at night. Seemed to be linked to eating. Or sitting.  Or whatever we blamed it on. After one week vegan he didn’t have it yesterday. We’ll see what happens as we stay dairy free.

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Shyanne’s vegan lemon mint cake

Doug lost three pounds this week. I lost two. I have a pretty good figure so I won’t lose much more but I do want to get rid of the inflammation and circulatory issues in my body.

We walked each day. We need to incorporate a little more exercise into our routine. It’s funny, the healthy eating triggers more healthy habits. I don’t want to wear makeup or color my hair. I am more mindful. I feel better when I see wildlife. More compassionate. A deeper connection. I can’t explain it really. But I feel closer to the natural world. I haven’t needed as much herbal antidepressant this week. We just feel better.

It’s only been a week. We can expect to detox still. That can scare folks if they aren’t used to it but we know what to expect. You know, we are actually looking forward to it?

We had our fun, ate everything in sight, and are now seeing how just eating meat and dairy for a few years could so profoundly affect our health.

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Next week I’ll preview a few cookbooks and I may put mine back into print. We have started every morning with a smoothie with any of the following combination:

Frozen fruit, bananas, apples, dark leafy greens, carrots, oatmeal (grinds up, adds sustenance), honey, almond butter, peanut butter, ice, honey.

This morning we had a smoothie for two.

Add to blender, 2 bananas, ½ cup of oats, ½ cup of cold coffee, 1 cup of frozen pineapple, 3 Tablespoons of peanut butter and 1 ½ cups of cashew milk. Roughly, I just eyeballed it all. Just throw in what you love.

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Last night we dined on miso soup and fried asparagus with drinks as we talked about our days.

This is good eating.  This is a good life.

Gone Vegan

forks over knives

Last night Doug and I watched the documentary “Forks Over Knives”.  I tell you the reason we did it though, we knew what they were going to say, but we needed inspiration because Doug and I are extremists and we need passion to achieve anything.  Diet and lifestyle is a much argued subject and it gets confusing traversing all the information out there.  Most of the time we just don’t want to think about it.  Our ancestors just ate, can’t we too?  There is also much discrepancy on what our ancestors ate!  Meat was a rarity no matter what the Paleo movement tells us.  It was seasonal, or small, or for rich people.  And those rich people were sick and fat.

We knew this when we ordered bacon at a restaurant after being vegetarian, I for twenty-seven years, Doug for eight, and staunch vegans for two years.  All our friends ate meat.  They were fine.  My friend that convinced us to eat meat died of cancer shortly after.  I watch cancer come through my shop door almost daily.  I can see illnesses.  It is a somewhat rare clairvoyant gift that helps me be an effective herbalist.  I see heart disease, circulatory problems, I see problems in me and Doug now.  We need a change.

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In the past two and a half years since we began eating meat we have both obtained a lovely array of issues.  When we went vegan the first time Doug lost thirty-five pounds.  We had just started our rigorous farmers market season (eight markets a week) and we felt great.

We had convinced ourselves that it is a natural process, that farm animals are to be eaten, that we kill animals when we clear farmland for vegetables, that my body needed meat and B12!  Then I read the back of a bottle of kombucha.  20% of my daily B12.  There are a lot of sources of B12.  The meat and dairy industry make the guidelines that we all use for health, for our children’s health, for what we believe to be true.  We listened, and then we saw for ourselves.

pig

We were invited to go to a pig harvest and barbeque.  I had my freezer full of heritage pork from a local farmer.  We can do this!  We chickened out.  Turns out Doug and I would just sit there babbling like idiots, crying over the pig, or worse, try to wrestle him into our truck to kidnap.  I must admit that Doug and I are lousy meat eaters.  But we can’t blindly buy packaged, red tinted slabs of faceless meat either.  I know what goes on in slaughterhouses, even the grass fed, sustainable, local, blah, blah, blah cows go there.  Pretty horrific.

Anyways, I promise not to be preachy with the veganism, I wasn’t when we were before either.  But I will keep you up to date on how we feel and what we are doing.

To start this process, Doug and I assessed how we feel.  Doug has gained almost half of his weight back. He has chronic sinus and breathing issues since we began eating meat.  His energy levels are nil, his umbilical hernia is getting worse, he has digestive issues again, his memory is his most concerning factor.

I have gained weight in my stomach, uneven, not necessarily noticeable to the vast majority, but I know it is either bloating or fat which is not supposed to be there.  I have extensive swelling, my rings don’t fit, I get sharp pains in my chest, have breathing problems sometimes, and my knee and lower back often hurt.  I also am having problems with my teeth.  Doug and I both know that dairy leaches calcium from the bones but that cheese…ooh it calls to us.  Loudly.  My face is breaking out.  I have circulatory issues, frequent blues, and even more frequent headaches.  About 2-6 migraines a month.

market

This is a lot of really personal information but I know that it will only get worse if we do not wake up.  We see folks all around us with dietary and lifestyle related illnesses, issues, things we just call “getting old”, but I ain’t going out like that.  I still have a lot of life ahead of me and I want to keep my husband here too, both of us nice and healthy.  So, if you are curious or want to join in, follow along each week and see how we are doing!  Maybe it will inspire you to adopt a plant based diet as well.  Or, we’ll all go out for bacon.  We’ll see!

Use food as medicine.  Check out the documentaries Forks Over Knives and Food Inc.  It will change your life and your health.