Musings

There's more to life than just food... 

Salad and French Fries

You're at a restaurant with friends. Everyone is deciding whether to order the salmon or the cheeseburger or the chicken caesar... and you begin to panic that you're not going to get anything to eat until you go home. You know there's a granola bar in your bag, but you can't figure out how to smuggle it discreetly to your mouth. Everything, everything, everything on the menu has meat in it - even the salads, which just seems wrong, doesn't it?

Changes. Change is.

Notice anything different around here? (No, not my new dress.) It was time to change things up, in order to make way for other changes that I'm not quite yet clear about. You know how that is? Making anything different has the potential to make everything different. And I'm ready for some differentness.


Mom's Kitchen

As I write this, I'm in San Jose, in the backyard of the house I grew up in. My parents' house, my family home, most recently just my dad's house, and now, the house that belongs to my sisters and me. My father passed away in June of this year, after living here alone for the last 26 years. Mom passed in 1990, leaving us all, but mostly Daddy, to wonder how in the world we could ever be normal again.

Why Not to Use the V-Word

I was sitting with one of my favorite people (my daughter) the other night, on the floor of her living room, sharing a picnic dinner procured from the local natural foods market. We had little tubs of wonderfulness spread out on a dishtowel, a bottle of wine, and a lovely pair of glittery gold shoes to add opulence to the scene.


The Way It's Supposed To Be

This is an extra little side post this week, because the news lately is nothing but awful, politics embarrassing, and the general mood of folks I run into is kind of low-energy. I feel it too. Without going into detail, I'm struggling more than a little bit these days. Things are piling up. I feel... un-good. And I know from experience that the best way to feel better is to make someone else feel better. It works every time.


Knitting Meditation

Life has been weird lately. Stressful stuff, you know? We all go through these patches, and we all have our own tricks for getting to the other side. My old habit of powering through and just working harder has not been doing it for me lately though, and it became clear that I needed to do something different. As in slower and calmer. Not my strong area, slow and calm.

Why I'm Scared of Vegans

Yeah, I said it. I'm scared of other vegans.

Why???
Well, because some of them are scary, that's why. Not all of them, obviously. There are loads of lovely vegans out there. But you never know. Some of them are judgmental and preachy and superior and unpleasant. Even to other vegans. And that's just creepy. Only some of them, of course. But again, you never know.

My Morning Meetings

Every morning (almost), before I get out of bed, I spend a few extra minutes having a "meeting" with myself. I think about how I want my day to go, and what I have lined up on the to-do list. Often dozing a little bit, I sometimes get "other input" as to what I need to get done. I've not always listened to this interruption to my Very Important Thoughts, but lately I do. I get up and write it all down. And then I add my own stuff too, in case there's time for all of it.

Vegan Under Pressure (sometimes we do get sick)

One big selling point for going vegan is that we have a much lower risk of getting sick - both little sick, with things like colds, and big sick, with heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, and cancer. But we're not immune to anything. We're still fragile little humans living in these amazingly resilient bodies. I have a friend who calls them "human suits," which I think is absolutely perfect.

Change Your Sauce!!!

I'm excited to announce that my new book, Change Your Sauce, Change Your Life, is now available on Amazonand CreateSpace!!!

Welcome 2016!

Happy New Year, my veggie friends! I hope you're off to a good start, inspired and energized to make some happy, healthy changes in the coming months. I'm not one for "resolutions." They've always been a waste of time for me. But if I change the word to "goals," there's also a mental shift that automatically creates forward motion. I love the fresh start a new year brings, and I'm ready for this one.

Why Faux Meat Can Be Perfect for Meat Eaters

Fake meat gets a lot of criticism from meat eaters and vegans alike. I hear it all the time - "If you're going to eat meat, eat meat" - or - "If you don't eat meat, why eat fake meat?" Aside from the animal and environmental issues, (which I'm not going to go into, because they aren't in any way positive), I've discovered a whole other reason for cooking with faux meat. It makes my dad happy.

Vegan Breakfast Anywhere

Going out for breakfast with non-vegans at mainstream restaurants can be a challenge. You peruse an enormous menu, only to realize that nothing listed can be veganized because everything contains eggs or cheese, even if you find something you can leave the meat out of. My most recent solution to the dilemma is to flip straight to the side dishes. Most often I'll find a perfect little "shopping list" of items to mix and match for a satisfying breakfast I can enjoy with my friends without being a big weirdo and picking apart one go the chef's specials. Sometimes it's easier for all concerned to just start from scratch and ask for what we want.

Grin and Bear it

It's been a weird summer for me. So much going on, and at the same time, nothing happening. We've been trying to sell our house for 2 months... 3 months?... and so far, not much. We want to move to Portland. We want a bigger (more vegan friendly) pond, more opportunities, a closer reach to aging and young family. We've been in Taos for 12 years, minus a 15 month stint in a 30 foot 5th wheel trailer that left us longing for more of that smaller/bigger life.

Dr. Dolittle Actually Did a Lot

There are so many "vegan" movies out there now, and new ones coming out all the time. It's fabulous that so much animal rights, health, and environmental information is being made available to the general public. And they're watching! More and more people are getting that their own ethics (not just those of a bunch of crazy activists) require them to rethink their beliefs and actions where animals are concerned. More and more people are connecting the dots and understanding that not only their pets, but all animals deserve to be treated with kindness, and that eating some animals while pampering others is not really consistent with their own values. It's a beautiful thing to see that light go on, and the world is getting brighter with it every day.

Why to be a Healthy Vegan

One thing I don't often encounter as a vegan in New Mexico is other vegans. Until Rick and I went to VidaVeganCon in Portland I was under the naive impression that all vegans were sort of the same. Oh silly me. Vegans by definition avoid eating, and usually wearing or using animal products of any kind. That's where similarities stop, and personal preferences and ethics kick in.

Almost Empty Bowls

I love that point in a meal where Rick and I are chatting and sipping wine, and without thinking about it, I sigh contentedly and set my fork down. A few minutes later I might look back at my plate, and noticing that I didn't finish my food, wonder how a card carrying member of the Clean Plate Club could be so negligent. I might go back for another bite, but most of the time, Rick graciously accepts the last bits I push his way, and helps me out with whatever is left. Everybody's happy.

Vegan Between Parties

I've only been vegan for three years but it feels like much longer. In a good way. I'm remembering back to when I "attempted vegan" the first time, and failed pretty miserably within about two weeks. It wasn't because I didn't want to be vegan, or because I felt unwell, or because I didn't know what to cook or eat. I failed for social reasons, which I suspect isn't all that uncommon.

Being Vegan Isn't Just About the Food

If you've been enjoying a vegan diet for a while, you're probably pretty well in tune with what foods are vegan, and which ones aren't. Most of the time it's fairly obvious, and we learn to spot the sneaky non-veg ingredients in things like mock cheeses and meats, packaged foods, and even wine and beer as we go along. Like I always say, it's all baby steps, and we're all on the Learn As You Go Plan, not only as vegans, but as Life Scholars.

Vegan, Plant Based, or Plant Strong?

Vegan, Plant Based, and Plant Strong are all terms for more or less the same thing - someone who eats plants and not animals. But it's possible to be plant based without being really vegan, or vegan without being plant strong. Confusing, I know. But I'm going to try to help you sort all this out. The simplest explanation is this: vegan is about what we don't eat, and plant strong is about what we do eat. But let's go a little deeper than that.

BMI - Another Look at Your Healthy Body

I will probably always cringe when I hear the words, "bikini season," but I know a lot of people are starting to think about showing more skin soon, and for some, the post-holiday shape-up is still underway. One of the reasons I decided to try a vegan diet in the first place was to lose weight. I was over 50, and on the fast train to Frumpsville. I had almost resigned myself to just letting it all go, nearly convinced that it was inevitable to gain weight and slow down as I got older. I'm glad I was only nearly convinced, because in fact, I was absolutely wrong about all that. Since going vegan, with the help of exercise, which I added later, I've lost somewhere between 40 and 50 pounds. I don't know exactly how much because I refused to own a scale for years. But when I started running last year, I decided to allow one back into the bathroom, to help me keep track of my progress. As it turns out, the scale actually began to help cheer me on, rather than discourage me, because adding the running to my already healthy diet really started to change my body. I have noticed that "over 50" it's more of a work in progress than it would have been in my younger years, but it's still working, and I'm still working at it.

One New Habit

You hear it all the time - when trying to change diet or lifestyle habits, it really helps to replace what's being left behind with something new. From a vegan standpoint, that would mean finding new substitutes for all the animal foods you're cutting out of your diet. It's not as hard as you might think. There are plenty of good vegan alternatives to things like cheese, milk, and meat. The trick is to do it in a way that's healthier than your former omnivorous diet. It's certainly possible to be a junk food vegan, and to gulp down all sorts of health-compromising fats, sugars, additives, and chemicals. Just because something is vegan doesn't automatically mean it's good for you. But still, you're better off ditching the meat and dairy, no matter what you replace them with, especially in the beginning.

Happy Thanksgiving

This is my adopted turkey, Elizabeth. She's so beautiful, and I sort of wish she could actually come and live with us, but that would be a bad idea, because our dog Lucy would think we had brought her a big fluffy snack. But for a mere $30, you too can adopt a turkey from Farm Sanctuary, which really means you sponsor a bird, and help to cover the costs for someone else to care for it. Everybody wins, especially the turkeys. I'm going to print this picture, and have Elizabeth sit at our Thanksgiving table with us. Really.

Is It Hot in Here, or is it Just My Eggplant?

To sweat or not to sweat? Eggplant, that is. There are zillions of opinions on the subject, and from my research, there doesn't seem to be one right way to wrangle an eggplant. Sweating, salting, or degorging (eew) an eggplant means simply to salt it on both sides, and wait a few minutes for the salt to draw out excess water, along with bitterness that comes from the dark seeds inside. Some say that when using smaller, younger eggplants it isn't necessary to salt them first, because they contain fewer seeds, and are more firm than larger, older eggplants, meaning there's less moisture to be drawn out. Peeling the eggplant also appears to be optional, and in most cases, I'm all for leaving the skins on vegetables whenever I can. It's easier, and leaves more of the nutrients in the food.

Leather

Everybody comes to veganism in their own way, for their own reasons. Usually it's based on personal health/weight concerns, environmental issues, or animal rights considerations. I think eventually many of us embrace all of these things, and at that point, being vegan is more than a diet, it's a lifestyle. What we eat remains central, but what we wear and buy and support also plays a big role.

That's My Story, and I'm Stickin' To It

I recently agreed to do a short video for the Vegetarian Health Institute, telling a a bit about my journey as a vegan. Their focus on this was weight loss, so you'll get to see my awful, fat "before" picture, and hear me tell it all, along with two other women who also have wonderful vegan success stories. I'm at the very end, but the whole thing is only 18 minutes long, and well worth watching, especially if you're in need of some inspiration. Here's the link: http://www.veghealth.com/for-subscribers-only/second. Enjoy!

At the End of a Vegan Road Trip

When we started our trip to Seattle a few weeks ago, I posted here about some of the preparations we made, in order to make vegan traveling easy. Such organization, such good intentions, such big plans. It all seemed good in theory... Here's the shot of the back of our neatly packed car, on our first day out, when we stopped in Durango to make up a nice salad for lunch.

Cooking for Ravens

I made a totally disgusting dinner last night. It took hours, and it all seemed so promising while I was making it. But sadly, very disappointingly, the final result was just... yuck. It happens. It's okay. It's actually even a good thing, once I get over the humiliation. I mean, I'm supposed to be a pretty good cook, so how could I come up with something so completely inedible? Well, I could, and I did, and I'll probably do it again.

Staying Vegan on Vacation


It's easy to "keep vegan" at home, where we do our own cooking. It's less easy in local restaurants, but if we ask a few questions, most are more than willing to veganize menu items that come close, like leaving the cheese off of something, or substituting tofu for meat. But what happens when a vegan goes on a little vacation to a foreign country, where said vegan doesn't speak the language? That's where it might get challenging.