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Food and Lifestyle, by Mitzy González, VLCE

Listen to your interior. What do you want to improve? What aspects of your life deserve better care? Is there pain or discomfort in some area of your body? Are there not-so-good habits you want to reduce or stop doing? “Listen to your inner self, your inner guide.” This is one of the phrases that we use most often with patients in the clinic where I work. There is wisdom within us, possibly the solution to the problem, or at least the knowledge of what the problem is.

UnknownToday, decide to make changes. It is not yesterday or tomorrow; we need to start today. Having a better relationship with food and having a better relationship with ourselves are not drastic or dramatic changes to be completed today, just started today. Many patients tell me in the first consultation: “I need to make changes and don’t know how to start. I’ve tried many times and failed.” I ask them, and I’m asking you here: What you need today to start? What have you learned from your past attempts?

There are small changes which can bring great results. Be persistent. Promise that you will not surrender. Allow yourself to feel that inner restlessness — e.g., I need to integrate meditation or relaxation into my hurried life….It’s important that I start to have a better relationship with food in order to have a better quality of life…I need to eliminate the cigarettes, alcohol, or drugs that are controlling my life and could be slowly killing me….I want to have a better relationship with myself and the world around me, because I am worth all this and more. [Read more…]

Taking Action, by Bonnie Goodman, VLCE

Recently while at work, the most horrifying screams suddenly pierced the air of my little town. I’d never heard anything like it. Was it a child? Was it human? It was terrifying – someone was clearly in trouble.

Racing outside, there were a dozen people frozen in place, staring in the direction of the drama. You know how time seems to stand still in moments of distress like this? Everything was in slow motion as I raced past the onlookers, thinking, “Why aren’t they running, too?”

The source of the screams was a small puppy, alone in the bed of a giant pickup truck.  Her leg was tightly caught in a strap that was holding a hunting carrier in place.   Imagine taking a rubber band, and wrapping it around your finger 5 or 6 times.  Somehow, this baby was caught in that manner – and it was clear her leg would break or be lost – unless someone acted fast. Calling for help spurred others to action.  The guy from the hardware store helped me to free the little dog, who gently kissed our hands while we worked. When she was released, several witnesses approached and thanked us for taking action, “Good job – you two saved that pup’s leg!”

A couple weeks later, I was the one in need of help.

It was a freak incident that happened as I took out the trash behind our gallery. The welding shop across the alley has a wild “mouser” who is always trying to get in our shop (and who had just been fixed and vaccinated two days earlier). The little cat rushed to our back gate, but I was in the way. I don’t know if he was afraid of the wastebasket or what, but he flipped out, attached himself to my leg, and proceeded to bite furiously.

Once again time stood still; but now I was the one shrieking in shock and pain – and in slow motion, as the cat was still in attack mode and blood was everywhere, I heard the unthinkable: the neighboring restaurant closed their back door.

I remember realizing:

Oh. I’m making noise. It must be bothering someone.

(Later, I thought, what if that had been a robbery, or worse??)

But, still in slow motion, I saw two well-meaning heroes rush to my aid:  the welder’s dog and Grayson, a cat we were fostering in the gallery. They actually weren’t any help at all, but it was very nice to know they were concerned.  They were the ones to take action this time.

WWYD [Read more…]

Effective vegan advocacy – choose your audience and words wisely, by Vicki Stevens, VLCE

When I went vegan back in 1988, my doctor at the time told me I was embarking on what sounded to him like a dangerous, fad diet and he advised against it. I had nightmares in which my teeth softened and fell out of my mouth due to lack of calcium intake (since I had stopped drinking milk). I was scared of how my health might suffer, but once I had learned the horrific truth about the vast majority of modern dairy farms—that female cows were forcibly impregnated and their male babies dragged off at birth to be imprisoned in veal crates—there was no going back. Even if all my teeth fell out and my bones crumbled, I wasn’t going to be a part of such cruel animal suffering. Such is the defiance of outraged youth.

Thankfully, all these years later my bones are strong and my teeth–while crooked due to a lost retainer that I never replaced–are still firmly implanted in my gums. My big, dramatic sacrifice turned out not to be a sacrifice at all. Veganism is now a part of our popular culture, with vegan food products deemed a “strong investment opportunity” and health professionals, including medical doctors and registered dieticians, affirming that thoughtfully planned vegan diets are nutritious and health promoting. Former president Bill Clinton even credits a vegan diet with potentially saving his life.

Surprisingly, some people still loudly and persistently proclaim that all vegan diets are harmful to human health. How do you respond to people who hold such strong, contrary viewpoints? You can reference the famous China Study and other research showing the potential benefits of healthful vegan diets, such as less inflammation associated with chronic disease, decreased risk of prostate cancer in men  and better gut health. However, they will counter with research of their own. You can point out flaws in their research; in turn, they will point out flaws in yours. You can argue over the quality of each other’s studies, but have you ever tried to argue with someone who holds deeply felt religious or political beliefs that differ from your own? How did that go for you? My guess is that you didn’t make much headway in convincing the other person of the rightness of your position. [Read more…]

Speak Up, but First Go Within, by Victoria Moran

It can take courage to speak out – whether for your rights, your opinions, or for something in which you believe deeply and something you know about that not everyone does. The key to speaking with certainty and integrity is to know that what you’re saying comes from deep within you, from the core of who you are where your truth lives. Here are some questions to ask yourself before you take the stage or take a stand. And don’t just ask: wait for the answers that will well up if you’re patient. Writing in a journal is a wonderful way to access the wisdom you carry around already, and get your own customized responses to the queries that will make you speak powerfully and passionately.

  • What are my values? . . . Sometimes all it takes to know what to do or say is to call up your personal values. And because values can change, deepen, and mature, “What are my values?” is an important question to ask yourself periodically – on your birthday perhaps, or at the New Year. It’s both liberating and motivating to be so well acquainted with your values that you could recite them on demand. My husband was working with this question and announced, “My values spell ditch: discretion, integrity, tolerance, civility, humility.” He was so pleased with his discovery that he had a bracelet made with his values engraved on it. You may want to do something similar, but as long as your values are engraved on your psyche and acted on in your life, that’s enough.

    My husband William Melton

    My husband William Melton

  • What does my body have to say about this? … We come from a culture that has long mistrusted the physical body. It’s been seen as the stepchild of the soul, a necessary evil, a confusing juxtaposition of God’s handiwork and the devil’s playground. It is, rather, a vortex of intelligence. Every cell and the millions of atoms comprising each one come equipped with awareness. Your body has something in the neighborhood of 40 trillion cells – that’s quite a consulting committee. Call on it when you’re confused or undecided as to what to say or how to say it. Get in a quiet, relaxed state and ask what your body has to say about staying in the relationship, taking on the volunteer commitment, or moving to another city. Then scan your body and note its sensations. Around the area of your heart, are you picking up the excitement that says “Yes!” even if there’s also a little anxiety about doing something new? Or in your abdominal region, are you feeling something more akin to dread, the fabled “gut reaction” telling you to take another path?
  • What am I not seeing? … We all live with blinders on. They come with having a personal vantage point. And yet the answer to a how-to-say-what-I-need-to-say dilemma may lie in seeing just another millimeter of the situation. Ask, then, what you’re not seeing here. This is not a request for superhuman sight, just a slightly broader view. Often, what we’re not seeing is what we don’t want to see. Let’s say you want to talk with your boss about your discomfort on the job. If you were to see just a bit more of the picture, you might learn (or remember) that the problem isn’t the job per se, but that this job isn’t utilizing a talent you’re yearning to express. Once you see that, you can speak with surgical precision, saying what you need to say without making the other person wrong.
  • What really matters here? … What’s the priority, the unaccessorized significance in this circumstance? In his classic of the spiritual life, At the Feet of the Master, Krishnamurti writes that as we mature internally, it’s essential to discern not just right from wrong, but more important from less important. Whether it’s making your to-do list for the day and prioritizing its entries, or figuring out which impromptu demands you can tend to in this twenty-hour period and which ones will have to wait, you need to engage in this discernment, to ask yourself what really matters. Generally speaking, things with feelings – i.e., living beings, particularly those closest to you – will take precedence. You’ll learn what’s of greatest consequence to you, in this particular instance, by asking yourself what really matters.51MF9FXVC5L._SX321_BO1,204,203,200_
  • Is this a situation in which speaking out right now is the thing to do, or am I better to step back and give Life room to move? … Ask this, expecting to get a sense of what is yours to do and say and what isn’t. This is the advanced class of enlightened living. You can probably count on your fingers of one hand the number of times you’ve taken an action that was, in itself, wrongheaded, absurd, or unconscionable. Countless times, however, we’ve all acted too soon or without sufficient information, or we’ve stepped in where our input wasn’t needed, and we muddied circumstances that were already working themselves out. When you ask yourself, quietly and confidently, what your part is in a given situation, and where to wait (or exit entirely), you’ll get a clear idea of your role. If you ask the question and you still want to barge in and act against the advice of your internal coach, remind yourself that, although life is a series of little dramas, none of them needs a drama queen.

Victoria Moran is the founder and director of Main Street Vegan Academy, and the author of a dozen books including Creating a Charmed Life and Main Street Vegan. She hosts the Main Street Vegan Podcast, nominated in the “Favorite Podcast” category for the VegNews’ 2016 Veggie Awards. Please vote for your favorite veggie everything at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/veggieawards.

Victoria, at the July 2016 Main Street Vegan Academy with Christopher-Sebastian McJetters, who lectured on "Race, Class, Species"

Victoria, at the July 2016 Main Street Vegan Academy with Christopher-Sebastian McJetters, who brought the house down with his lecture, “Race, Class, Species”

 

 

Starting a plant-based cookbook club, by Diana Goldman, VLCE

I’ve heard that on average we only use three recipes from each of the cookbooks we own. Why so few? Perhaps it’s lack of time, fear of failure or something else. This is the beauty of a Cook Book Club. The club chooses a cookbook and each member prepares one recipe from the book to share at a pot-luck gathering. I love my Plant-based Cookbook Club. I’ve met a wonderful group of new friends who share the common interest in preparing and sharing delicious and healthy food. It’s a fabulous way to try more than three recipes in a cookbook and to spread the word about plant-based cuisine one mouth-watering dish at a time.

Sound appealing? Here are 6 steps for starting and maintaining a Plant-based Cookbook Club of your own:

1) Recruit Members

Find one or two friends who are enthusiastic about the Plant-based Cookbook Club idea. Each can reach out to spread the word and invite members. Consider starting a club amongst coworkers, the parents of your children’s friends, neighbors, high school classmates, sports teammates, your family, members of your religious institution or residents of your dorm.

In my case, my friend Jill and I, both vegan, read an article about a cookbook club and thought it would be fun to start one of our own. We reached out to members of our temple who have an interest in healthy eating. Our group has about 18 members. It’s not always easy to settle on a date that works for everyone, but with this many members, we tend to have 6-10 at each gathering. Whether the turnout is large or small, we always have a wonderful time.

2) Find a host, set a date and obtain RSVPs

We rely on Doodle or email to find a date that works for the majority of the group. We appreciate that Doodle allows members to leave a comment to indicate which dish they are planning to bring. This allows us to balance out the dishes between appetizers, entrees and desserts as well as avoid duplication of recipes. A shared Google document or spreadsheet would work well for this too. In our case, we take turns hosting the get-togethers.

3) Break-the-ice [Read more…]

The Omnivorous Septuagenarian’s Experience in a Vegan Home, by Carmella Lanni-Giardina, VLCE

mom

My mother enjoying Mother’s Day brunch at Candle Café West, New York, NY (May 2015)

That photo is of my mother, Effius, enjoying Mother’s Day bunch in May of last year.

This Mother’s Day, my mom fell ill. I won’t go into the particulars, but it was shocking to say the least. She hadn’t been sick, since I was born, except for the rare cold or flu. Needless to say, having to go to the hospital was a shock for everyone, especially her.

Up until that day in this May, my mom was relatively healthy, despite being a diabetic. In all her 78 years, she’s managed the disease well. She believed in a combination of Western medicine and homeopathic care. She mostly took her medicine as prescribed, while incorporating more natural treatments that worked for her. 78 years old and full of independence and spirit, my mom always did things her own way.

She even tried being plant-based for 3 months last year. That was HUGE! Granted, it was done more on a dare, but she stuck to it until she felt it was “enough” for her, whatever that means. While sitting on our couch a couple of weeks ago, she said she remembered feeling a lot better when she ate just plants.

While my mom recovers from her health battles, she has been staying with Carlo, our 2 cats and me in our one-bedroom NYC apartment. It’s been interesting. Having health restrictions and being in a vegan household (one without cable TV, mind you) has been a challenge for Mom, but she’s getting through things day-to-day.

I conducted a little interview with my mom to share her experience in living in our crazy vegan abode, and how it has impacted her as she prepares to move back to her own home.

Question: What has been the biggest challenge in living in a vegan home?

Mom: I’m not used to all the rules. Sometimes, I’m not too sure what’s vegan and what’s not. It’s not just the food: sometimes you forget where things come from, like leather in handbags. You told me there is even vegan toothpaste? How do you know these things?

Carmella: We learn something new every day. We apply that knowledge to how we live. We try to do the least harm against all animals, including us.

Mom: It’s a little too much to learn at my age. It’s your home so I follow your rules. I don’t bring meat into the home, like you asked.

Carmella: We appreciate that, but you understand why, I hope.

Mom: I’m learning.

Question: Some days you spend time at your sister’s home, which is far from vegan. You’re not eating as much meat there as you used to. Why?

Mom: You know I was never a big meat eater. Chicken and fish, usually. I just don’t care for the taste of it as much. Maybe because I’ve not been well.

Carmella: But you’ve been feeling better since you’ve left the hospital

Mom: Yes, but I don’t really want meat. and I don’t really need it. I do like most of what you and Carlo make at home. I like eating at home more. However, if your aunt makes lunch or dinner, I will eat it. Lately, she’s made me some vegetarian meals with mac and cheese or something with beans or sweet potato.

Question: Do you think diet and lifestyle changes are more difficult for someone your age versus someone younger?

Mom: I think we can change at any time. We have our own ways of doing things, but we all can change. We just have to want to do it.

Carmella: Are you planning on making changes?

Mom: I have to. Being in the hospital changes you. I have to start over.

Question: Soon, you’ll be moving back into your home. Do you think you’ll eat more plant-based meals, or even go vegan? [Read more…]

Simply Step Up to the Plate, by Carol Schneider, VLCE

In celebration of July 12 – National Simplicity Day – let’s get simpler to de-complicate our lives.

I love simple. So did Emerson, who said, “To be simple is to be great.”  Jill Milan, Moo Shoes, Steve Jobs, Spanx, and on and on, built empires on concepts of elegant, staight-forward, technical, focused, spare simplicity.  Simple. Focus. Simple. Focus.

Banishing animal food for beans simplified our eating lifestyles – turning upside down what we previously thought we had to have. Don’t let complexity muck it up.  Whatever you’re absolutely sure you must have… you probably don’t. SimpleSize any thing and it’s likely to be better.

Try one of these to edit to a simpler vegan life:

Declutter. Joyful eating means fine vegan food – not more vegan food. Excess loads you down and complicates your body. A vegan chef said ask yourself, “How do you want to feel at the end of the meal?”  Not stuffed – nor stressed from eating it just because it’s there. Leave half for tomorrow or give it away. “Tell me what you think you need and I’ll tell you how to get along without it.”  Dilbert

Make it up. Forget recipes. Avoid them for a month and see what you create without them. Chop, stir, steam, simmer, or saute real food and see where it takes you. Use the flavors you love – and try new ones. Former NYT restaurant critic Mimi Sheraton said, “Are we going to measure or are we going to cook?”

Open it up.  Rock your kitchen! Add square footage by removing cabinet doors – or the entire cabinet. Once I dumped the just-in-case plates, stale spices, unused spiralizer, and other silliness I thought I had to have, I released possibilities. Our gatherings from 2 to 25 still work in our lighter kitchen. There’s just enough food and gear and nothing more. Keep only the essentials – including great people – that fuel and reveal who you are. [Read more…]

I’m a Compulsive Overeater

People who meet me are taken aback if I mention that I am – present tense – a compulsive overeater. “But you’re not fat!” they protest. Yeah, and Joe the alcoholic who hasn’t had a drink in twenty years isn’t drunk, but he’s still an alcoholic.

My last eating binge was over thirty-two years ago. (I’m going to pause for a minute and just breathe that in. I forget sometimes the enormity of it.) I hated my life when the food was out of control. The up-and-down weight was a lot of it (it’s embarrassing to see someone at one size in June and be a whole different size in September), but the real agony was the bondage. There was no freedom in having to turn into a drive-thru when part of me didn’t want to but a stronger part did. I was a slave to trying the next diet just because it was Monday (even though I hated diets and knew they didn’t work).

Fast-forwarding to now, I’ve been free for a really long time. I don’t diet or agonize over food. Sometimes I eat too much but I’m not “going off” of something because there’s nothing to go off of. I look healthy and normal. I am healthy, but I’m not normal. I am, as I said, a compulsive overeater.

Isn’t saying that negative and horrible and inviting disaster? No. For me, knowing who I am and what I am is the path to emancipation. It tells me that I need to take certain actions to maintain the gift I’ve been given. They are, basically:

  • Having some kind of spiritual life. I’m no saint, but without contact with a Higher Power, I’d still be looking for God in a bag of Doritos.
  • Willingness to help other people with the same problem. I can feel bad for the homeless, the terminally ill, or victims of domestic abuse. But other than giving money, I can’t do anything for them because I don’t truly understand their experience. I do understand hiding food, stealing food, bingeing alone, and hating myself afterwards.
  • Eating within some gentle, flexible parameters. For me, that’s (pretty much) three meals a day — if you only start to eat three times, you only have to stop three times — and (pretty much) natural foods – vegan, of course, but that’s for the animals. Anything beyond this gets diet-like and crazy-making.Pretty breakfast
  • Making this about freedom, not about weight. Weight has to do with a variety of factors. People come in different shapes and sizes. In our culture, large people are discriminated against, and so are very thin people who are often accused of having anorexia. I can’t be at peace if I’m obsessing over the size of anybody’s body, including my own.

If I gave up on the simple actions listed above, I’d almost certainly binge again. That’s who I am. I could reject my spiritual life and not turn to drugs or gambling; I don’t relate to those. Cookies, however, I get.

Besides, this a syndrome. Binge eating is just the extreme end of it. When I don’t go to the gym for days (or weeks; it happens), I’m not overeating, but I’m in the syndrome. When I want to stay in and watch TV instead of go out to a networking event, I’m in the syndrome. When I’d rather eat alone than with company — even the most nutritious, moderate, and beautifully balanced meal ever prepared — that’s the syndrome.

As an imperfect person, I dance around with it. I recognize it and, thanks to those actions I’m committed to taking, I haven’t binged and I’ve stayed at a good weight for me. But that’s not the point. I’m a compulsive overeater. That fact will remain as long as I live in this body and have this brain. I used to think it was curse. Now I know that it’s a gateway: to understanding myself, depending on a Higher Power, and being of some use in the world.

victoria_moran_portrait

Victoria Moran is the author of twelve books, director of Main Street Vegan Academy, and host of the Main Street Vegan Podcast. She has been vegan since 1983. Current projects include producing the upcoming documentary, The Compassion Project, a film to interest religious and spiritual people in the vegan lifestyle; a one-woman show about her life and vegan journey, The Making of a Main Street Vegan; and writing A Coach in Your Kitchen: The Complete Main Street Vegan Academy Cookbook and Lifestyle Guide, with co-author JL Fields and contributions from the graduate coaches of Main Street Vegan Academy. This book will be published by BenBella in January 2018.

The Judgment-Free Vegan, by Kristy Draper, VLCE

I’m vegan. I love kale, quinoa, and legumes. I drink green smoothies and make my own peanut butter. My clothes are free from animals, with the exception of cute images of pigs and cows. My makeup and household products were not created with the use of animals or tested on animals. I embrace and embody the vegan lifestyle. Did I mention I am also overweight and sometimes shunned by fellow vegans?

Veganism is a relatively new term.  The founder of the American Vegan Society, Donald Watson, coined the term in 1944. Although this was never the intention of those early vegans whose motivations were entirely ethical, the word quickly became associated with being thin, fit, and healthy. I have seen dozens of marketing campaigns that swear if you go vegan that you will lose weight, be fit, get healthy, and look great! Yes, vegans generally do eat a healthy diet. Our foods are free of cholesterol and usually have fewer calories. But what does healthy mean and what happens when a person is vegan and still not thin? [Read more…]

Ten Easy and Cheap Cooking Hacks to Make Eating Vegan Simple, by Jennifer Gannett, VLCE

Sometimes you’re just busy. Or tired. Or you’re saving the world, training for a marathon, or being a mom, which is a little like saving the world and training for a marathon. Cooking shouldn’t be a burden. With these 10 hacks from real-life mom Jennifer Gannett, VLCE, you’ll start to love your time in the kitchen. Only thing: there’ll be a lot less of it. — VM
 *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *

1. Purchase the prepared or pre-chopped produce.

You know how it is. You see pre-chopped produce packages and you throw some shade in your mind about who on earth is really too lazy to cut up their own carrots, celery or onions, right? If you find yourself reaching for take out menus or processed foods because you are out of energy at the end of the day to prepare a meal and need to revert to something familiar, fast or easy, give yourself and your family a break. Although I am not typically a proponent of buying in the package what you can prepare more inexpensively at home, I want you to feel good about your meal! Sometimes these items can be helpful in a pinch, like when you are traveling, moving, working late on a project or have little ones. Try a few prepared produce options out and see if the time and energy you save in the decision making and chopping helps you to simplify your meals.

2. Purchase sauces and toppings from a favorite restaurant.

You like the flavors but not the entree’s price tag. Ask your favorite Indian place to sell you a container of that green chutney your family really enjoys. Get some extra salsas to go from Chipotle. You love the tahini sauce from that falafel store? They will to sell it to you! Bring it home and add it to your beans, grains, pasta or salad. For a fraction of the price, you get a flavor profile you love.

3. Lunch specials.

An oldie but goodie: get the cheaper lunch special and bring some home for another meal. Lunch specials tend to be lower cost than dinners, often for a similar amount of food. Bonus points for bringing your own reusable container.

4. Use a pressure cooker.

61FHFKGAD1L._AC_US160_You are likely hearing a lot about pressure cookers in the last few years — in part because of my friend JL Fields and her excellent classes and cookbook: Vegan Pressure Cooking: Delicious Grains, Beans, and One-Pot Meals in Seconds.  Once scary, newer electronic models are easy to use; their resurgence is not accidental. Save a lot of money and time by pouring some broth and lentils into your pressure cooker. Add frozen or prepared veggies, maybe a grain if you want. Cook. It is that simple, super-tasty and delightfully inexpensive.

5. Roast and bake.

This sometimes-lazy lady’s favorite is to roast up some veggies, sprinkled with spices and drizzled with oil, serve and watch disappear. Fun fact: you can roast veggies while simultaneously baking veggie burgers (store-bought or homemade). Roasted cauliflower, oven fries and veggie burgers are all popular foods that combine to make a healthy meal.

6.Utilize prepared grains/protein.

You have gotten the animals walked and fed, the kids their breakfast and made their lunches and managed to clean the kitchen while doing so, which leaves you all of 97 seconds to prepare your own lunch or be stuck with yet another slice of cheese-less pizza from the place two doors down from the office. You call on your pre-made rice or couscous, or pull some out of the freezer and microwave for 40 seconds. While it defrosts, you throw your salad greens, prepared marinated tofu or canned beans and some prepared veggies into your container, throw in some dressing and nuts, toss the rice on top, cover it and you are out the door with 20 seconds to spare. This is not a fictional scene. That batch of grains or package of seasoned, prepared seitan or tofu can make a difference.

7. Bulk cook or pre-prepare.

You don’t have to give up your entire Sunday to bulk cook. Little Pinterest-perfect mason jars of deliciousness parceled out for the week are great. However, you don’t have to be fancy: sometimes you can just double the amount of quinoa or beans that you are making and suddenly you’ve got another meal.

8. Cook with friends. IMG_3174

Identify ahead of time what you are making, who is responsible for specific ingredients and how you will transport finished items. Enjoy as a group or take home for the week ahead.

9. Stock your freezer.

Keep a ready supply of frozen veggies, grains and meals and snacks to grab when time and energy are at a premium. This is an unbelievably easy way of getting cheap and easy vegan meals into your tummy.

10. Use up your leftovers.

Yes, vegans are leaving a lighter environmental footprint but aren’t immune to the ongoing problem of food waste. Soups are a good choice and I learned a great trick from the wonderful book Raising Vegetarian Children  that you can puree a variety of leftovers together with a savory base and call it a spread, dip or pate!

BONUS

11. Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good!

As I tell my classes at MSVA, not every meal has to — or is going to — be perfect. Sometimes our bodies just need a little well-balanced fuel to keep us motoring. Don’t stress the easy choices, and embrace those moments when you have more to give.

Jennifer Gannett is a faculty member at Main Street Vegan Academy, a graduate of Lewis & Clark Law School, a cat socializer, dog lover, and busy mom, who works formally and informally to make the world a better place.