How to Lose the Dead Weight

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Obviously I’ve been on this journey called life for a minute now.  I’ve said this before, I just want to be happy.  Now don’t get it twisted, saying that doesn’t mean I’m unhappy now.  I look for the positivity in every stage, even the struggles.  Sometimes being happy doesn’t mean adding something.  Sometimes it means losing something, cutting out, saying goodbye.

I’ve said ‘Bye Felicia’ to a lot of things over the last few years.

And I regret none.  Doesn’t mean I don’t miss anything or anyone; missing is fine.  But I say again, I regret NONE.  I’m good with missing as its far outweighed by the value of what’s gained.

So here’s 5 weights I’ve dropped off my back in the last few years.  Thought I’d separate them into physical weight and mental weight, but I won’t because they’re so tightly tangled into each other there’s no getting in-between them.  Holistic AF…

One:  Leaving food to chance.

Unless you fancy and got a chef on call to make you whatever whenever, not planning how you’re going to fuel your body is fucked.  You’ll end up making a bad choice or no choice at all, both of which are torture for your mind & body.  So, on Thursdays we meal plan.  On Friday’s we grocery shop.  And on Sundays we meal prep!

Two:  Consuming animals.

Vegan AF.  Not only has this given me more energy and helped me to lose the extra weight I put on (more on that here), but it’s also lightened my mind.  Living according to your values, especially those ones you subconsciously ignore is fire; matches & accelerant.

Three:  Inorganic Chemicals.

It’s taken some time to source beauty, hair and make-up products that work for me, are natural & cruelty-free and don’t break the bank but I’m almost there.  Again, it just feels better; inside and out.

Four:  Fucking Carbs & Sugar.

Woah brah, I’m not carb-less, but I have severely cut my carb & sweet intake and replaced it with healthy fats and periodic sweet treat cheat days, along with working real hard at keeping my protein intake on point (more details here).  And FYI for any mofo who wants to open the “vegan protein-deficiency debate”: try logging everything you put into your mouth for a week and then tell me you as a meat eater are getting enough protein – If you are, I’m certain you’re in the minority.

Five:  Unlike-Minded People.

Of course everyone doesn’t agree with everything you say and we go out in the world and work with all kinds.  I’m talking about those people who don’t support you, those people that always have some MF negative thing to say and poo poo on your goals.  And those negative people that feed into your insecurities because misery loves fucking company.  Nawwww man.  Fuck them.  Next!

Obviously it’s not easy to not care what people think.  Everyone cares.  Sometimes I say I don’t care, but I really do, just not enough to have someone else’s opinion dictate the value I see in myself and certainly not enough to stop me from doing something that’s right for me.

So drop those sand bags and live free baby!

 

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Where can a vegan eat on Bloor Street?

I tried a little something different for my cheat last week.  Instead of the Friday night to Saturday afternoon sweet binge, I planned a last minute food-venture down Bloor Street in Toronto; hitting a number of spots I’ve been meaning to check out.

Just one quick rant before I get into all the amazing things I got because I came across this saltiness more than once…  The reason why someone might ask if something or everything on your menu is vegan, is because outside of the city, the rest of us in the GTA don’t have access to the quality and quantity of fresh vegan eats that you do.  We are used to going over the menu with a fine tooth comb for the one or two vegan options, to asking the waitress to confirm with the chef that there are no animal ingredients in our meals and we never assume that when something says ‘cheese’ if DEF means non-dairy cheese.  No matter how many times you get asked this question you should answer with pride…

Knowing that you are part of a business that is not only successful financially but also in spreading a message of kindness and compassion for all living creatures.

So leave the saltiness at home.  Okay.  Rant over.  Let’s get to the good stuff.

My first stop was Rawlicious.  While there were a few things I wanted to try, I needed to save room and just ordered the sliders.  They were alright but TBH I think I’m just not a raw type of girl.

Next up was Apiecalypse Now!  I was (and still am) drooling at their vegan pizza but I was more interested in treats on this visit.  Specifically donuts.  I love me some fucking donuts but I haven’t had one since going vegan, so you already know what it was about when I walked in there and laid my eyes on their selection.  I got the Cookies ‘n’ Cream donut.  Fuck.  Sooooo good.  I also grabbed a Simpsons donut which literally looks like the donut from the Simpsons with the pink glaze and the sprinkles.  No pic as evidence since I ate it in the car when I got back to Sheppard West Station and ended up with a pink disaster all over my face, my lap and the driver’s seat.  Ooops.

Next stop was Bloomer’s.  I had the Rose Pistachio donut and a ginger soda.  There was a ton of other things I wanted to try here but again, I needed to save the room.  All kinds of proper food and I’m DEF going back.  Not to mention that there was a pretty big seating area, it was air conditioned at a comfortable temperature and had a giant garage door which was closed but I can imagine just how chill that spot is in the evening.  Anyway, back to the Rose Pistachio donut…  THIS.  THING. WAS. THE. SHIT.  Just omg!  Fucking heaven.  So much pleasure on my face as I ate it that a girl standing at the counter noticed and pointed it out to me – so embarassing but we had a giggle about it.   If I visit no where else again, I will fo sho visit Bloomer’s (again and again).

My last bakery stop was Through Being Cool Vegan Bakery.  They also seem to have a pretty good selection of donuts, though as I was there late in the afternoon, there wasn’t much left.  I had my fill of donuts at this point though, and settled on one strawberry and one tiramisu tart.  Both were delicious but I prefer the tiramisu, probably just because that’s another dessert I haven’t had since going vegan.  I’d visit here again but earlier in the day so I could have my pick of the donuts.

The last two places I visited were Good Rebel vegan grocery and The Vegan Imperative.  We’ll get into the goodies I picked up there on a later post!

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The vegan ‘food-venture’ route

Yah I’m Vegan… And I don’t drive a hybrid!

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Photo by Jeffrey Valerio

Or an electric car.  Or the transit.  Or a me powered bike.  So many misconceptions when people find out that I’m vegan.  As if there is only one way for me to be vegan?!?!?  And of course the expert on this one way is going to be someone who isn’t even vegan?!?!  Or more importantly someone who isn’t even me.  Sure.  Seems legit.

The car thing is just one of them.

“Oh, okay.  You’re vegan, but you still drive a car.  So…”

Ummmmm.  TF are you even talking about?!?!  I guess because I am vegan – for the animals, for my health, for the environment or any number of reasons, which of course this ignorant mofo has already decided my reasoning without asking me…  Then it must follow that I should live off the land or only shop at farmer’s markets, also be a minimalist, zero waste and be the most perfect, angelic, green, zero carbon footprint chick ever.  That means I should not, ever drive a car, which of course is polluting and destroying the environment, ruining it for our children (well your children since I’m not having any).

Yes.  I drive a car.  A regular, old car that runs on regular, old gas.  That only recently became old enough to require emissions testing and clearly passed as I’m still driving it.

I’m vegan and I drive a car.  Because at some point most vegans were meat eaters and I’m one of them.  I would love to own a more environmentally friendly vehicle (and will in the future) but I’m not going to get rid of my car and buy a new one now because I’m vegan.  Nor would that be financially feasible and is a complete waste at this time since my beautiful Daytona is still running just fine.  Nor is it necessary as just because I’m vegan doesn’t mean it’s for or just for the environment.  And it def doesn’t mean that you get to dictate what being vegan means to me or how I choose to fit my choices into my lifestyle.

So yes mofo, I’m vegan and I don’t drive a hybrid.  TBH, my values are my own and I couldn’t give zero-er more fucks about what you think about them.

A Plant-Based Lifestyle Starter Pack

Thinking about trying a plant-based diet?

IMG_3706When people first find out I’m vegan, the second question they ask is,

But how did you do it??

Truth is, most of it was not that difficult.  Once I was enlightened and choose not to ignore but accept my true feelings and values about our treatment of animals, I couldn’t un-see it.  Consuming animal products was over for me and there was no way to turn back.  I’ve summarized what helped me into the four tips below:

One…  Educate yourself and form your own opinions

What started this all off was watching Cowspiracy.  Watch documentaries.  There are many others; just google it or check Netflix.  Read books and articles.  Do your research but whatever you read, also have your own mind.  Consider that any piece of writing, research, content is likely biased in one direction; sometimes even scientific articles (consider who funds the research).  There are always agendas.  I accepted some things as they seem logical to me and others I may reject because I find them too extreme.  Use what works for you and if you’re undecided but want to be decided, dig deeper.

I also did Colleen Patrick-Goudreau’s 30-Day Vegan Challenge.  It was a really easy way to consume a lot of helpful content in small bite-sized doses.  Each day you will receive an email with either a short article to read or Sound Cloud audio clip to listen to.  I found it much easier to consume the info this way rather than getting overwhelmed with trying to get through a book.

Two…  Plan + Prepare

You will need to have instructions and options.

Instructions

Or in other words, what will you make?  Pinterest, YouTube, even Instagram are great resources to find good and more importantly free recipes.  You don’t have to go out and spend your paper on cookbooks.  You can sometimes find author’s recipes on their blogs/Instagram accounts for free – try them out, then decide if you want to buy their books.

Options

This one’s a big one.  You may be fine with eating food just to eat it even if it doesn’t taste good, but make this as easy on yourself as possible.  Aim to make delicious food; at least at the start.  Know which grocery stores have the best and freshest produce and try to find one close to you, because you will be eating a lot of it.  See if they have a vegan/vegetarian section, if they have plant-based milks, cheeses, plant-based meats.  Visit the spice/seasoning section.  Seasonings are gold for me and there’s so many interesting varieties available – mango chipotle,  siracha lime, mediteranian sundried tomato… Check the ingredients; most of them are 100% plant-based.  Find a good health food store close to you in case you need ‘specialty’ ingredients that you can’t find at your regular grocery store like nutritional yeast or egg replacer.

Look into what vegan options are available at the places you eat out at currently and/or research places you haven’t been to before that are full vegan or have vegan options – make it a point to try them out.

Three…  Know your vices.  Be flexible.  Be kind to yourself.

Of all the things you will no longer be eating, what is it that you think you will miss the most?  Mine are cheese and baked goods.  Not that you can’t get these cruelty-free but they can be more difficult to find.  For example, I no longer get a donut or cookie when I grab a coffee from Timmies.  Which is probably good for my pocket as well as my stomach.  But I made sure to look up recipes to make vegan baked goods, I looked at which bakeries I could get them from and which grocery stores had them already prepared.  I looked up recipes on how to make my own nut cheese and I know a couple of places where I can buy some.

Know that you will slip up.

Sometimes you will forget to read the ingredients before buying something prepackaged and it turns out it had milk powder in it (sneaky fuckers).  Or you didn’t bring your own vegan treats to the party and now everyone’s eating cookies and you desperately want a damn cookie laced with cruelty.  Don’t beat yourself up about it.  Let it go and move on, you don’t have to be perfect as you are already better than you were before.

Four…  Know your why!!!

You better believe that people are going to ask you why you’re vegan and they may be judgey AF about it too.  Oh well do you wear leather?  Do you drive a car, that’s bad for the environment too.  Wasteman!  STFU.  You do not need to explain yourself to anyone. But if this is going to bother you, just be prepared with an answer.  No one can logically tell you that your reason isn’t good enough because it’s your truth.  Many times when someone pokes at you, it’s really because they want to poke at themselves.  The only person that has to live with your decision is you.  So own your truth.

 

What’s the best non-dairy milk for…

What’s the best vegan milk? For smoothies? In coffee? For frothing?

img_3348I’m not going to pretend I’ve tried every vegan/non-dairy milk out there but I have tested a fair bit in the last few years.  The ones that stick around please me on three levels:

  1. They taste good on their own and taste good in/do not change the taste of what I’m putting them in (in a way that I don’t like).
  2. They are reasonably priced and available at the places I shop.
  3. They serve a special purpose, for example frothing for specialty drinks as well as a standard purpose – I’m big on value proposition.

The Winners

#1 for taste

If you’re drinking milk on its own, for your cereal, or with/dipping your cookies into it, my number one choice is Earth’s Own Almond SoFresh.  My preference is the unsweetened original.  It’s got a clean, earthy taste that doesn’t change the flavour of what you’re eating it in or with. The texture is not too watery but not too thick and creamy either.  It’s basically the just-right-goldilocks scenario of non-dairy milks.  I add two cubes in the glass because I like it extra cold and it’s also good with Bailey’s Almande if you’re looking for a sexy treat.

Best in smoothies

If I’m making a green smoothie, I prefer the almond milk.  This is because while I like my green smoothies with milk over water, I don’t like them too thick.  Now if I’m making a fruit smoothie, a smoothie bowl or an icy drink to cool down in the hotter months, I like Earth’s Own Cashew SoFresh.  It’s thicker than the almond milk but not too thick that it makes it more difficult to drink my smoothie out of a straw.

I’ve got love for Silk products too but I find all of their milks just a bit too thick for my liking.  That said, if thick milks are your jam then hands down Silk CreamyCashew is the way to go.  Creamiest of all the nut milks I’ve tried thus far.

Best in Coffee

If you’ve already seen my Instagram post than you know what’s up.  Silk Vanilla Almond for Coffee is the best thing to happen to my caffeine addiction since ever.  I’ve tried the regular nut milks but they don’t quite have the texture (even the Silk ones) to replicate a dairy creamer.  This guy however does it seemlessly and without changing the flavour of the coffee for the worst.  I don’t want coconut flavoured coffee all the time!  Plus the vanilla taste is enough that I can forgo any additional sweeteners.  Bonus, they also have a hazelnut option which can be a great alternative to International Delight or Baileys coffee creamer if you’re into that stuff.

Best for Frothing

img_3347No matter what the brand is, soy milk seems to froth the best.  Keep in mind, some brands of soy milk froth even better than others – I’ve tried other brands in my
Lavica frother
and had no issue, but even when I fill below the max line I’ll get an over flow with Silk soy milk.
Now to save myself from having too many different types of milk taking up space in the fridge (and to save money) I will use the Earth’s Own Almond SoFresh for lattes, cappuccinos and hot chocolates.  I’m still able to get a substantial amount (image right) of foam despite it being less than what I could get out of a soy milk.

 

 

How going vegan accelerated my journey to live life more authentically

stocksnap_ishaui7epzBack in high school when I lacked self-esteem and didn’t know what the word confidence meant, I still saw myself as someone who was organically me.  Sure, I felt that there were things about me that made the boys not look at me the way I wanted them to.  I also had zero desire to change the way I was because how exhausting would that be?  Trying to be someone else all the time.  Nawww.  Couldn’t do it.  As I got older, wiser, stronger, I became even more unapologetically me.  That meant losing friends and most of the time being perceived as a weirdo but I’m cool with that.  If you have a choice (and you do), why not choose to live your life as authentically you as possible?  That’s what I felt I was doing.  Until almost a year and half ago when I watched a documentary; Cowspiracy.

The details aren’t important right now.  Just know that this documentary led me down the path of questioning…

Was I living my life according to my values?

I wasn’t, but until that moment I believed that I was.  I believed that I was being the only me, the most honest, organic, authentic me possible.  That was true and also not true at the same time.  Questioning my values about and my treatment of animals made me question other aspects of my life.  It had been so easy for thirty plus years for me to ignore something that I felt so strongly about.  To ignore something that when I took just a few minutes to think about it, a real talk, focused, no scrolling through Instagram think about it, I knew right away that I had been doing something I felt was inherently wrong.  This led me to ask…

What other values am I ignoring?

As the weeks and months passed, I began to and continue to address that question.

Becoming vegan made me think about minimalism.

Not just minimizing stuff, but relationships, people, time.  It made me question my return on time.  My return on energy.  Made me say no to more things.  Made me say yes to more things that were important to me.  Made me see the value in my own skills; confidently speaking up when I can add value and keeping quiet when I can’t.

Becoming vegan made me think about the direction of my life.

Am I living the life I want to, making choices because I want them for myself?  Am I with the people I want to be with?  Am I who I want to be or at least on the way to who I want to be?   I’ve always felt that how I make my money is more important to me than how much money I make.  Without veganism I wouldn’t have picked up on the nudge from a recent @garyvee Instagram story, which reminded me that feeling it and living it are not the same.

Becoming vegan makes me more open.

If it didn’t, I wouldn’t have been receptive to minimalism, to thinking critically about the direction of my life, to thinking deeply about the things that I say to myself over and over again but haven’t actually been living and breathing.  It makes me more fearless.  It makes me more inclined to do things that are uncomfortable.

Having such strong feelings, attitudes that are less popular means that I’m often under fire.  I’m asked to defend my values; myself.  Yah!  They’re one in the same.  My values ARE myself.  I used to be reluctant to put them out there.  I don’t attack anyone for their life choices and I don’t impose my choices on anyone else.  If you ask me why I choose to live my life this way, I’ll tell you.  If you throw punches, you better believe I will light you up in a millisecond.  It’s easy.  So easy because it’s authentic to me.  I’m passionate about it because I’m passionate about me and now that I’m on this journey, I can’t imagine living any other way.

 

How to take a vegan out to dinner (or breakfast)

But what do you even eat?

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taken at Lola’s Kitchen

I’ve been vegan for over a year now and there’s a couple common questions that I answer again and again.  This post isn’t a rant.  I don’t get tired of answering them.  One of these questions is, “Isn’t it hard to find stuff to eat?”.

Well the short answer is that it really isn’t.  “Vegan food” is everywhere and to be clear it’s not vegan food; it’s just food.  Like Colleen Patrick-Goudreau says, “there’s no such thing as a vegan apple, it’s just an apple.”  Of course it’s more challenging if you’re looking for pre-packaged, prepared foods but those make up the minority of what I eat.  The majority of what I eat are whole foods.  Those are easy to find.

The follow-up question is, “okay, but how do you eat out?” or more importantly these days,

Where can a dude even take you out to dinner?

Here are four tips for both the vegan and non-vegan to help you navigate the eating part of your date night, so you can focus on the important stuff like building on that connection.

1)  Know what a vegan is.

This can be a little subjective.  Every vegan is different and being vegan may mean something different to them than it does to someone else.  For example there are vegans who only do not consume animals or animal secretions, there are those who are also cruelty-free in terms of the products they use or the clothing they wear.  There are those that beat themselves up if they slip up and accidentally (or on purpose) consume animals and there are those that don’t.

For the vegan:  If you’re going on a date which involves food you should either be upfront about it and tell the person or if you don’t want to right now, then eat before you go in case you can’t find anything at the restaurant.  Dates are hard enough, don’t make things more awkward than they have to be.

For the non-vegan:  Assuming she’s told you that she’s vegan, ask for clarification on what that means.  I’ve been asked this before and I’m happy to explain myself.  If you’d rather not ask, Google is your friend.  Just keep in mind you may be missing some details that are specific to her.

2)  Check out the menu.

For the vegan:  If he suggests a place, check out the menu before you agree to make sure they have something vegan friendly you would want to eat.  If it’s coffee, I always suggest Starbucks.  I’ve heard that depending on the area some of the other coffee chains will keep non-dairy milk on hand but have never experienced success with this.  Starbucks is always a sure thing.

For the non-vegan:  Pick a place that has vegan options.  Bonus points if you pick a vegan/vegetarian restaurant (Fresh is on point for every non-vegan with a vegan friend I know) or if you do some research and have some suggestions on hand for when the server gives you a few minutes to look at the menu.  Don’t you look like such a thoughtful and savvy gentlemen?

3)  Don’t be judgy.

For the vegan:  Respect your suitor’s choices.  While looking over the menu, I’ve been asked by my date if I mind if he eats meat.  Of course I don’t.  Your choices are your own as mine are my own.  I can appreciate you listening to why I choose to live my life the way I do and I appreciate you standing by your own convictions.

For the non-vegan:  Nobody likes this.  Plus if you want to see this person again it’s not the best idea to tell them their life choice is a phase, to make fun of them or talk about how great meat tastes.  These behaviours only reflect your discomfort in your own choices and they’re not attractive.

4)  Don’t make it a huge deal, at least not in the beginning.

People, at this point you’re just starting to get to know each other.  Being vegan or not being vegan doesn’t have to be the center of the universe right now.  If you both cannot have an open, honest and non-confrontational conversation about it then talk about something else.  I should hope you have other shared interests otherwise you probably wouldn’t be on this date in the first place.  If this isn’t the case then maybe you just aren’t compatible anyway.

BONUS TIP

If you’re staying in for Netflix and chill.  Have snacks.  Vegans get hungry sooner than non-vegans (at least this vegan does) and hungry can turn into hangry real quick!  Some suggestions for vegan snacks:  Go basic – nuts and fruits.  Go junk food – chips and salsa, pretzels.  You don’t have to go all crazy looking for vegan cheese or anything.  There’s plenty of vegan-friendly food that you already eat.