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Vegan lifestyle basics guide by Margo Morrill, VLCE

At the beginning of my plant based journey, food was my main focus. Always picking up vegan cookbooks, reading the labels at grocery stores, and of course asking servers “Are you sure they’re using olive oil and not butter?”  During those beginning months (who am I kidding? — I think it was a year or two!) the thought never dawned on me that this was just the tip of the iceberg. I guess I thought at the beginning veganism was about not eating animals until I had an ah-ha moment and realized I must change my entire lifestyle and not just my eating habits. I started watching and reading more about testing products on animals and the weird and inhumane animal ingredients they put in our beauty products and household cleaners.

I meet an awful lot of people who say they just don’t think they can take the plunge into veganism. My goal is to show them that we don’t have to lose any of our special loves, such as a terrific handbag or a high-end beauty product, leather-look pumps or jackets. We can live the same lifestyle we have at this very moment: all we have to do is veganize it! I have been buying, testing, and reviewing products for years, and here are just a few of every sort that I love most!

vegan lifestyle

1. Pacifica Natural Minerals – I will go nuts for some Pacifica products! They make some of the most lovely vegan makeup I have tried. They also have many other vegan products such as hair care, skincare, and candles.

2. Owl’s Brew – Owl’s Brew is a new product I have recently added to my arsenal for parties. This hand-crafted tea is actually a drink mixer! I’m completely obsessed! Don’t drink? No worries: it’s great over ice too.

3. Nicora Johns – Nicora Johns is a newcomer to the world of vegan shoes — handcrafted and lovely. [Read more...]

Redefining Masculinity by Matt Cunningham, VLCE

“Your wife isn’t here. Aren’t you going to order real food?”

“Does she (wife) let you have steak in the house?”

Being a man who works in sports, I used to hear questions like these often and still do on occasion. Most of my formative years playing hockey were spent consuming pre-game meals featuring chicken and fish and countless nights in steakhouses where the only serious dilemma was going for the 16 or 24-ounce cut. When my vegan journey was starting, I would deflect these comments and do whatever I could to avoid the inevitable questions about protein, the taste of tofu, and how I could survive without chicken wings, turkey at Thanksgiving, and steaks large enough to feed a small village.

My vegan lifestyle has evolved in ways I never anticipated, with questions about my values and how to live an authentic and compassionate life. With this comes another question: why is consuming the flesh of animals considered to be masculine?

This question demands examination in a larger sense related to how we define masculinity in our culture. The days are obviously long gone where a man has to physically hunt (and maybe help with the gathering) in order to provide for his family. And with the rising costs of animal products, dollars are stretched further to provide food and other resources.

Compassion is a word that is closely associated with the vegan lifestyle and, in this writer’s opinion, a guiding constituent of masculinity. Choosing the path of least resistance typically revolves around doingthe things we’ve always done, for no better reason than that they are the things we have always done. In a world with scarce resources, we cannot afford to keep traveling this narcissistic path of denial.

The slightest bit of awareness can do amazing things in nurturing compassion. Once we acknowledge how animals are brutally slaughtered for our food or clothes, it is imperative to begin making small changes. Whether it’s donating a leather coat to Goodwill, embracing Meatless Mondays, or making your next pair of dress shoes the near-suede variety,

photo[5]

the capacity to reject the status quo of masculinity can be liberating and inspiring. [Read more...]

How going vegan can make you more creative by Camille DeAngelis, VLCE

When I went vegan in April 2011, I began the most joyfully creative phase of my life so far. I’m a novelist, and I used to have frustrating “trough periods” in between books—but since that spring I’ve written three novels in three years and the ideas (great ideas!) keep on coming. So if a fellow artist talks about feeling blocked, I share my “vegan conversion” story and ask if they’ve ever considered a connection between diet and creative output.

There is significant scientific research to indicate that a diet heavy in animal protein contributes to plaque buildup in the brain—read The China Study by T. Colin Campbell, if you haven’t already—but the psychological changes that occur after switching to a plant-based diet are much more immediate and recognizable. Here are some thoughts on how and why going vegan can make you more creative.

Curiosity

Like many new vegans, I got adventurous in the kitchen. How can I come up with vegan brownies that don’t taste like sidewalk chalk? Ooh, Brussels sprouts are AMAZING when roasted at 375º for 45 minutes with olive oil, salt and pepper! Nutritional yeast? Why not! Your food is alive, and you’re always tinkering with recipes to come up with something even more satisfying. This is just one way to stay mentally flexible—by seeing challenges as fun instead of frustrating, and playing “what if?” That renewed sense of curiosity, open mindedness, and innovation benefits all creative endeavor.

beet salad

Courage

You might be familiar with PETA’s classic adage: “Don’t look away.” It takes courage to watch undercover footage from slaughterhouses, hatcheries, and fur farms and resolve to change our actions and habits, even though our family and friends may initially react with derision or resentment. It would be so much easier to pretend we don’t see it, that the abuse, exploitation, and overwhelming cruelty aren’t really happening. Making life changes in accordance with our ethical beliefs is definitely risky, but all change entails risk. Now that I’ve taken those risks in my personal life I feel prepared (even eager!) to make creative choices that frighten me—and will yield much sweeter fruit.

Vulnerability

Anyone who’s watched Brené Brown’s popular TED talks knows that vulnerability isn’t something to be ashamed of. In any creative act—be it a three-course dinner or a 300-page novel—you are essentially saying, “Here is the best that is in me.” There’s always the possibility that someone will tell you your best isn’t good enough for them, but you are willing to take that risk—willing to hear that your vegan mac ‘n cheese doesn’t taste enough like “the real thing,” or that your short story didn’t blow them away—because withholding your creativity amounts to living in fear, and there are too many billions of sentient beings on this planet living in fear already!

mind map

Introspection and Cognitive Resonance [Read more...]

Spiritual Nourishment: How Your Spirit Impacts Your Eating & Eating Impacts Your Soul by Victoria Moran

We’ve all heard that eating “keeps body and soul together.” Evidence now suggests that our spiritual lives impact our relationship with food, and that the foods we eat can affect our spiritual sensibilities. 

Dine like a yogi

The ancient seers who developed yoga may have been the world’s first nutritionists. They looked for a diet that could contribute to health of body and peace and mind, and determined that aged, stale, overcooked foods led to lethargy and laziness, while caffeine, hot spices, and even an excess of animal protein created a level of stimulation that was antagonistic to spiritual pursuits.

They suggested instead a diet comprised primarily of fresh vegetables, whole grains, fruits, beans, nuts, seeds and “milk from healthy cows.” This is surprisingly close to today’s cutting-edge nutritional recommendations that call for eating five to ten servings daily of fresh fruits and vegetables, consuming grains in their minimally refined state (oatmeal, 100% whole-wheat bread and brown rice), and several times a week choosing plant sources of protein (garbanzos, lentils and soy products, such as edamame and tofu).

Moderation and mindfulness 

Add a yogic exercise program to your yogic diet, and you may find yourself eating more moderately. Researchers at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle found that “mindful eating” is one of yoga’s welcome side effects. The study showed that students’ awareness of both why they were eating and when they’d had enough led to less weight gain over time, independent of calories burned doing yoga.

Head researcher Alan Kristal, Dr.P.H., of the University of Washington School of Public Health says, “This ability to be calm and observant during physical discomfort [i.e., maintaining a difficult yoga posture] teaches how to maintain calm in other challenging situations, such as not eating more, even when the food tastes good and when you’re not hungry.”

For yogis and the rest of us, selecting fresh, colorful, whole foods may well improve both physical and spiritual health. “To best perceive and receive the Holy Spirit in us, it is important for our body, mind and soul to be as translucent and peaceful as possible,” says theologian Norris Chumley, Ph.D., author of The Joy of Weight Loss: A Spiritual Guide to Easy Fitness. “Choosing foods that are alive, full of energy, and harvested in a peaceful way nurtures our entire being. We feel fully alive, energetic and peaceful from eating in a healthy, conscious way.”

Invite your soul to dinner

Comfort Food from Peacefood Cafe, Upper West Side

Even in our busy lives, there are some easy ways to make mealtime a nourishing experience on every level. Try these: [Read more...]

What non-vegans want to know: how do you stay vegan? by Lynne Agnew, VLCE

Writing a guest post for a highly respected blog is an amazing opportunity I wanted to share with my non-vegan friends. I asked what they would like to know about and was surprised to hear a lot of really interesting questions. One that came up several times was how does a person stay vegan when they feel cravings for foods they enjoyed for many, many years?

Good question. There certainly isn’t one answer and if you Google it, there are over 44 million results. I decided not to read a single one of them and instead will write about what worked for me, and provide hints and suggestions that might help anyone trying to make the transition.

Read and Learn

There is so much free information on the Internet. Start exploring and reading articles. There are blogs, personal stories and references. Learn how unhealthy meat and dairy products are for you, and how animals are senselessly harmed in the process. It changed my attitude forever. Research books and borrow them from the library for free. They are a wonderful resource for this topic.

Go to a Super Salad Bar

I’m a little jealous of people who live near a Whole Foods store. They have the most incredible salad and prepared food bar. It’s the easiest way to taste new, unusual, and seasonal produce. If you want to re-create a recipe you really like – once again, look on the Web and YouTube. For those not close to a big city, salad bars on a smaller scale are great (Wegman’s in the northeast is my favorite).

Experiment with Substitutions [Read more...]

Kind fashion & 10 tips to get you there by Lynette Cowie, VLCE

Dear reader, do you enjoy ‘fabulous’ fashion, maybe even energised by it? Or are you fed-up, and let down by ‘frivolous’ fashion.  Perhaps, like myself, you see fashion as flawed, yet with the potential of being great fun.

Let’s, for a moment, imagine a world where everything you see, in clothing stores, fashion magazines and on the runway, is made of 100% animal-free textiles.  No animals. No cruelty!  How marvelous would that be?  Yet before we get ahead of ourselves, happily at ease, let’s consider if cruelty-free fashion is enough to make our relationship with clothing fulfilling, easy and above all, kind?

As a personal stylist, I’m witness to women abusing themselves through fashion.

Whether it’s flinging open the wardrobe doors knowing full well that most of what we have no longer fits (a hurtful daily reminder of perceived inadequacy), to flipping through magazines and believing we’re unworthy of beauty by benchmarking ourselves against the industry’s skewed message of perfection.

love your body

We’ve the destruction of Mother Earth to consider too. This redress.com article tackles the issue well, by highlighting the waste of textile, chemical and natural resources as having negative environmental impact.

Then there’s the abuse of our fellow human beings, the garment workers. We know little of where our clothes were made, how they were made, and who made them. Our unconscious support of fast fashion fuels the unjust practices often undetected in this sector of the clothing industry.

I read a quote by fellow image consultant, Keila Tyner, who sums it up perfectly, “Much of the cheap clothing we consume in droves is like our fast food diets—high in calories (quantity) but low in nutrition (quality).”

Yet, just as in being vegan we have the power and choice to make a meaningful contribution to end suffering, so too can we practice the same compassion in our wardrobe choices. Certainly through my own vegan journey (which incidentally began when researching the leather industry), I now recognise that we haven’t lost our ability to dress ourselves in fashion, it’s that we’re lost ourselves in insensitive fashion!

No to leather

For me, it boils down to “less is more.”  Consider these tips to assist in slowing down our shopping frequency, discover ways to muster up individual style authenticity, and make our fashion choices kinder all round: [Read more...]

My Top 5 Vegan Survival Strategies for the Workplace by Robin Patalon, VLCE

If you are the odd vegan out at your company, it can be difficult.  And if you happen to work in a fairly conservative profession, it might be really difficult.  But it’s not impossible.  I was a vegetarian for more than 20 years before I went vegan almost three years ago, so I had plenty of experience in being an outlier.  Here are my five suggestions for those of you who are learning to navigate the sometimes choppy world of working with nonvegans.

1. Be prepared:  You know not to go anywhere without a Larabar or some fruit – just in case you get hungry and your options are limited.  Work is no different.  Keep a stash of food in your desk (some of my favorites are dried fruit, oatmeal and nut butter).  For working lunches, you may or may not have a say in the selections.  After many years of being disappointed, I’ve learned it’s easier to bring my own food, or simply eat before or after the meeting.  If you are going out, any salad can be adjusted to meet your preferences.

2. Send a (subtle) message:  Office politics being what they are – and the job market being tough – it’s simply never good form to rock the boat.  And as much as you’d like everyone to live a compassionate life, shun wool and leather, and delight in plant-based meals, the world has some distance to travel before that happens.  That doesn’t mean you have to keep everything bottled up inside.  Wear your vegan Tom’s and be sure to brag about them when someone compliments you (and someone will).  Decorate your cube or office with magazine clippings or stickers.

vegan message at work

Or wear a piece of jewelry that makes a small statement.

vegan necklace

Depending on where you work, that might be the most you can do, but if it sways one person, it’s worth the effort. [Read more...]

Cancer-Fighting Foods By Victoria Moran

One of the most useful books in my library is Eat to Beat Cancer, by Robert Hatherill, a nutritional biochemist who came up with an easy-to-implement system of grouping those families of plant foods known to prevent cancer. These are his “9 Cancer-Fighting Food Groups” and they are the: 

  1. Onion group – onion, garlic, asparagus, leek, water chestnuts
  2. Cruciferous group – arugula, bok choy, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, chard, cauliflower, kale, radish, rutabaga, turnip
  3. Nuts & seeds – pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, walnuts, etc.
  4. Grasses group – corn, oats, rice, wheat, millet, bamboo shoots
  5. Legume group – soybeans/soy products, green & wax beans, red beans, garbanzos, lentils, peas and split peas
  6. Fruit group – citrus, berries, honeydew, cantaloupe
  7. Solanace group – tomatoes, sweet potatoes, peppers, beets
  8. Umbelliferous group – carrot, celery, cilantro, dill, fennel, parsley
  9. Mushroom group – white button, Portobello, baby bello, enoki, shiitake, etc.

caesar salad pure food and wine

Pure Food and Wine’s Caesar Salad

There’s so much variety here that it’s easy to eat something from nearly each group everyday, and certainly to consume several foods from each group every week. Hatherill also adds some additional foods, mostly spices, for our cancer-preventing arsenals: [Read more...]

Your Go-To Guide for Making Healthy No-Bake Desserts by Lindsay Greenfield, VLCE

I’ve had a serious love affair with sweets for as long as I can remember.

Healthy No-Bake Desserts chocolate

This risqué affair, though, has caused a lifelong internal battle between my sweet tooth and my passion for healthy, whole-foods, plant-based eating. For those of you who understand my daily struggle, here is a comprehensive go-to guide for creating your own healthy, whole-foods, plant-based desserts. These morsels are vegan, gluten-free, and mostly raw. While many creations will truly be healthy for you, some are more for those times where you really just need a sweet treat and should be eaten in moderation. Regardless, these little delights are healthier than your average cookie; that much is for sure. Plus, not only are these types of treats so much healthier for you, they are ridiculously easy to make. There is no baking or cooking involved unless you are melting chocolate (more on that later!). The only special kitchen equipment you might need is a food processor, though a blender would probably do in a pinch. So let’s get to it!

The four components you will need are a base, a binder, a sweetener, and a flavor. Sometimes your binder is also your sweetener or flavor. All you have to do is put all four components into a bowl and mix! If you use nuts as your base or dates as your binder, you will need to mix in a food processor or blender to grind those ingredients up to allow them to congeal properly together.

Healthy No-Bake Desserts Almonds

1. Base – This is typically a flour or nut. You could also give grains like gluten-free oats, quinoa, or amaranth a try — or even crushed gluten-free pretzels or flax meal. Though you may be tempted to soak your nuts to ease the blending process, don’t. You aren’t trying to make a sauce or soup. It’s okay to have chunks of nut in your cookies and brownies and you don’t want your creation to be soggy or too soft. That said, this is totally your creation so give soaking the nuts a try if you want a super smooth treat with no nutty chunks in it. For the most part, you only need one type of base per recipe, but feel free to experiment with two or three together. I love testing out different flours and nuts, but the ones I find that work best are: [Read more...]

Paleo Vegan by Ellen Jaffe Jones

My third baby, Paleo Vegan-Plant-based Primal Recipes, was born.

paleo vegan

It’s still listed in the top 30 “Hot New Releases” in Amazon’s cookbook category. ALL cookbooks, not just vegetarian or vegan. It’s topping Amazon’s bestsellers in not only the vegan and vegetarian categories, but in the paleo category as well.  The only vegan book to do that. “Bout time! “Veg News,” the largest US vegan magazine, included “Paleo Vegan” in its “Top 15 Most Intriguing Books of 2014.” The same week, Fox TV stations in Tampa and Orlando ran a story about my vegan running. “Paleo Vegan” has been ranking in the top 1000 books on Amazon out of their 10+ million books.

I got the idea to write the book two years ago after a book signing at Orlando’s Earth Day. At a restaurant, while ordering vegan, the waitress said, “I used to be vegan, but now I’m paleo. I lost so much weight.” Friends with me go, “What’s paleo?” Being a certified personal trainer and running coach, as well as a competitive runner, I knew bridge-building was in order. Running friends talked about how paleo was recommended in Cross-Fit gyms.

I read many popular paleo books. Many read like high-protein diets, such as Atkins that I had tried decades ago.

High protein diets can work for short-term weight loss, but often at the expense of the heart, kidneys and other organs. [Read more...]