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Welcome Back, Bread

To all those people cutting out bread/wheat/gluten because of the ‘gluten free’ fad happening: it is not necessary. Bread is not the devil. It is not unhealthy and it will not make you fat. Unless you have celiac disease or have a gluten intolerance, than you can eat bread!!

So this post is basically my history with bread, why I ditched it for a while, and how/why I eat it again.

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Back in March 2014 (a couple months after going vegan) I decided to cut out bread and any other products containing wheat and gluten. I had been hearing so much about the ‘gluten free ’ fad and seeing books like Wheat Belly that say wheat is not good for you. I didn’t know what to believe, so I just took the safe route and cut it out completely.

This isn’t the first product I’ve done this with. Within 2013/2014, I just randomly stopped eating bread, pasta, rice, jam, crackers, chips, and anything with ingredients that I didn’t recognize. I think this was me being an obsessive health freak and trying to eat as clean as possible.

Near the end of summer 2014, I began eating Sourdough Bread because I heard it’s actually much healthier for you than regular bread. It is so delicious, and with the health tip in mind, I had no problem eating it. But then I kind of became obsessed with it and had a bit too much. Around that time I also started breaking out with pimples pretty badly. I read an article by Organic Burst saying sometimes people have wheat/gluten intolerance that they aren’t even aware of, or are so small that they only cause things such as…. acne. So I decided to cut out wheat again to see if that would help any.

A month or two went by and I realized my breakouts weren’t getting much better, but they also hadn’t gotten worse. I figured that cutting out bread/gluten was not the answer, and I decided to incorporate it back into my diet in small amounts. I would buy this Chia Hemp Flax bread that had all the healthy ingredients and actually tasted good. I would use it to make pb&j sandwiches, or avocado on toast.

In November of 2015, I would only eat bread moderately, only buying sourdough bread once in a while. I listened to my body and would only eat it if I knew it was what I wanted. My stomach also did this strange thing where if I ate over 3 pieces of SD bread, my stomach would feel full for HOURS and I wouldn’t even be hungry for dinner. But I look back now and think that maybe it was because my body wasn’t used to it. After all, I was eating mostly fruits and veggies for meals all summer.

But now it’s February 2016 and I eat sourdough bread every single day. I’ve been doing this for the past 2-3 months now and I absolotely LOVE it. I have sliced avocado on fresh sourdough and it is the best! And if there’s no Avo, I have peanut butter and jam. And sometimes when I come home at night after class or work and I’m hungry, I make another pb&j. So much bread. So much love.

I am a huge supporter of listening to your OWN body, and not just following fad diets and doing what other people are doing. (ex going HCLF, gluten free, paleo, raw till 4, etc) Depending on the time of year, my body craves different things. So if some days I crave raw fruits+veg, then that’s what I’ll have. But if I’m craving sourdough bread, then I will never deny my body of it.  Do whatever your own body wants. If your body craves starch/cooked foods, then eat that. If your body craves raw food one day, and (vegan)chocolate cake the next, then eat it. If your body wants bread, THEN EAT IT!!

My point is: don’t be afraid of eating certain foods just because you hear other people saying they are bad. Everybody reacts differently to different things. Let your body be the judge of that. If you eat bread and feel like crap afterwards, then cut it out. But if you don’t have a problem with it at all, be thankful you’re not celiac and eat that bread!! It’s not going to kill you, and neither is wheat, gluten, carbs, pectin, or any other ingredient you might fear.

Just remember; food is fuel. As long as you’re eating healthy foods that make you feel good, then continue eating it.

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Article Food Health

The Healthiest Sugars

Everyone reading this probably uses sugar at some point in their day/week, right? There are tons of different sugars, from regular table sugar, coconut sugar, brown sugar, date sugar, cane sugar, and other sweeteners such as honey, maple syrup, brown rice syrup, agave nectar, barley malt, black strap molasses, and corn syrup.

When we eat sugar, we’re probably not too concerned with how healthy it is because we know that sugar isn’t healthy and that is not our purpose for eating it. However, what if I told you that there were two sugars that have tons of health benefits to them? Well, it’s true.. and those would be Date Sugar and Black Strap Molasses: the healthiest sugars.

Date Sugar

Dr. Michael Greger explains in the video below that most sugars are just empty calories; yes, even maple syrup and agave nectar. However, date sugar is the healthiest sweetener on the planet. He says how it’s not really ‘sugar’, it’s just dried dates pulsed into a powder. And since it’s the only whole plant food on there, it contains all it’s fiber and nutrients as any other fruit.

Benefits of dates include:

  • Good for digestion/aids in constipation. Dates have high levels of soluble fiber, which is essential in promoting healthy bowel movements and the comfortable passage of food through the intestinal tract, which can relieve symptoms of constipation.(x)
  • Bone strength: The significant amounts of minerals found in dates make it a super food for strengthening bones and fighting off painful and debilitating diseases like osteoporosis. Dates contain selenium, manganese, copper, and magnesium, all of which are integral to healthy bone development and strength.(x)
  • High in iron/good for anemia: The high level of iron balances out the inherent lack of iron in anemic patients, increasing energy and strength, while decreasing feelings of fatigue and sluggishness.(x)
  • Nervous System Health: The vitamins present in dates make it an ideal boost to nervous system health and functionality.(x)
  • Sexual Weakness: Studies have shown that dates are even beneficial for increasing sexual stamina. (x)
  • Abdominal Cancer: Research has pointed towards dates being a legitimate way to reduce the risk and impact of abdominal cancer. (x)

Date+Sugar

Black Strap Molasses

Black Strap Molasses also contains many vitamins and nutrients. Although it has an acquired taste that many don’t like, you should still give it a try to add some extra nutrients into your meals. I take 1 tbsp every morning and since I don’t really like the taste that much, I take a big gulp of orange juice after.

“It has the lowest sugar content of any sugar cane product. The wonderment of blackstrap molasses is that it’s unlike refined sugar, which has zero nutritional value. Blackstrap molasses contains vital vitamins and minerals, such as iron, calcium, magnesium, vitamin B6, and selenium.”

  • It can be digested slower, which helps stabilize blood sugar in the body. (x)
  • Blackstrap molasses contains both calcium and magnesium, so it can help you guard against osteoporosis. About 5 tablespoons of blackstrap molasses contains 50 percent of the recommended daily allowance of calcium, 95 percent of iron, and 38 percent of magnesium. (x)
  • Great for people with anemia: Blackstrap molasses is a good source of iron. About 5 tablespoons of blackstrap molasses contains 95 percent of your daily allowance of iron. (x)
  • Good for diabetics: Unlike refined sugar, blackstrap molasses has a moderate glycemic load of 55. This makes it a good sugar substitute for diabetics and individuals who are seeking to avoid blood sugar spikes. Moreover, one serving of blackstrap contains no fat and only 32 calories, making it suitable for a weight loss diet. (x)
  • Blackstrap is a natural stool softener that can improve the regularity and quality of your bowel movements.(x)
  • Two tablespoons of blackstrap molasses also contains 18 percent of our RDI of manganese (which helps produce energy from proteins and carbohydrates), 9.7 percent of our RDI of potassium (which plays an important role in nerve transmission and muscle contraction), 5 percent of our RDI of vitamin B6 (which aids brain and skin development) and 3.4 percent of our RDI of selenium, an important antioxidant. (x)

Blackstrapmolasses

 

 

Article Vegan

When Veganism Doesn’t Work: Ethics vs Health

Since it’s the second last day of 2015, I thought I’d make this blog post to go over a few things that people may experience over the course of the next year if they are either vegan already, or plan to go vegan.

Did you/are you going vegan for ethics or health? What keeps people there and what turns them away?

Today I’m going to be talking about what drives people to go vegan, and how sometimes people slip up and ditch veganism, while others stay vegan for life.

ethics vs health

 The reason I decided to write this post was because I’ve come across quite a few people (mostly on social media) who have been vegan and have gone back to eating meat, dairy and eggs. A lot of people that switch back claim it is because of health reasons (not enough protein, iron, etc), but we all know that it is possible to thrive off a plant-based diet because it gives you the MOST nutrients. So I wondered if people were doing it wrong, or just stopped caring/craved old habits?

Let’s get into it then.

So you’d think that ethics brings people to veganism and is able to keep them there because of everything they know. I mean, how can you go back to eating meat once you are aware of the cruel injustice that goes on within the factory farms?

Health on the other hand is a different story sort of. People who go vegan for health shouldn’t actually be considered vegan, rather plant based instead. (See my post on vegan vs plant based here)  So these people who go “vegan” for health do it to become happy, healthy etc. The thing with this though, is that animals were not their main priority or driving factor in the switch to veganism. So when you don’t have that cruel reminder ringing in the back of your mind when you walk into a restaurant, you could be tempted to just “let loose”, have a “cheat day” “indulge”, etc. because having meat once a week is not going to make you obese or give you heart disease. So to them, depending on the person, it’s okay to have these things sometimes in small amounts. (“In moderation” as most say)

But those two situations do not apply to everybody. I originally went vegan for health reasons (I experienced bad bloating and stomach pains when I ate meat/dairy/eggs), but even though my driving force to veganism wasn’t the animals, I later discovered all this information about the planet, the animals, global warming, etc. But even before I learned those things, I still stayed vegan because 1. animal by-products made me feel like shit, and 2. I considered them unhealthy and they grossed me out. So in some people’s scenarios, they can go vegan for health and stay vegan 100% without going back.

In fact, I’d say “health” vegans could potentially stay vegan the longest BECAUSE they are so healthy. They would never complain about lacking iron or protein, and they would understand how to get all the proper vitamins and nutrients. That doesn’t mean they wouldn’t ‘cheat’ on their ‘vegan’ diet though. (read: plantbased.)

People who go vegan for ETHICS can sometimes forget about those aspects because they are so focused on animal rights and ethics. Often times those people who were driven to veganism strongly through ethics, such as Gary Yourofsky, can sometimes be “Junk Food Vegans”, because to be quite frank, they don’t give a shit what goes into their body – as long as it didn’t come from animal. And I think that’s AWESOME, because sometimes Health Vegans can get so caught up in being healthy and perfectly pure that they are afraid to eat vegan treats and desserts.

I feel like I am healthy, but also very ethical. I care about what goes into my body – to an extent. Like, I probably wouldn’t eat oreos or vegan candy, or Kraft peanut butter and other things, but mostly anything other than those exceptions I will eat. IF IT’S VEGAN, YOU CAN COUNT ON ME TO EAT IT! I love vegan brownies, chocolate bars, cookies, cakes, pies, donuts, ice cream, etc. I love treating myself and being happy. And as long as no animals were harmed to make my food, then that makes me even happier. A cruelty free, happy conscience.

But with all that being said, sometimes those kind-hearted people who go vegan for the animals, sometimes have to go back to eating meat or eggs because they think they need protein and other nutrients. I’ve actually heard of quite a few people who thought they had to incorporate chicken or salmon back into their diet to get their proper nutrients. So while their initial drive to veganism was awesome, they couldn’t keep it because of health purposes. That is I believe you need to be educated on both health and ethics to essentially stay vegan.

And then there’s some people who just no longer want to be vegan and simply go back to eating meat, dairy and eggs because they wanted it.

CONCLUSION

So what is better then? To go vegan for health reasons or ethics?

To go vegan for health reasons and believe it’s okay having to have cheat meals? But also maybe going vegan initially for health reasons, but then discovering everything else on your journey.

OR

Going vegan for ethics and having a happy mindset with food forevz, but then chancing not knowing enough about health and nutrients and feeling the need to go back to their old ways!?

Well, my ultimate conclusion would have to be: either one; they just must balance each other out.

So if you’re going “vegan” for health reasons, also learn about ethics. And if you’re going vegan for ethics, then also do your research about health so that you are informed.

They work hand-in-hand with each other, and I think to ultimately stay vegan for the longest period of time, you need to have both those health and ethical drives to keep you reminded of why you are doing this, and how you can sustain it.

See my video on this similar topic here:

Article Health Mindfulness Vegan

Curing Cancer and Living to 100

The other day I heard the people on the radio talking about how scientists are inventing this new drug that will help people live to be over 100 years old. This drug will also apparently eradicate such illnesses such as cancer, diabetes, and alzheimers. And I immediately thought: when will people realize that the answer to health and longevity is not in a pill; it’s in our diet and lifestyle.

Recently I’ve been presented with an abundance of knowledge and information regarding humans living longer and healthier. I guess it all started about a month ago when I watched the presentation by Dr. Michael Greger titled: “Uprooting the Leading Causes of Death.” Consequently, I found the speech life changing. His presentation is full of extensive studies and research done over periods of 30 years and more. What he explained was how by eating a plant based diet full of fruits, vegetables, grains, starches, nuts, etc: we can cure, prevent, and reverse 15 of the 16 top causes of death in North America. These would be diseases such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes, obesity, hypertension, and many others. I would highly recommend watching the presentation as I felt very enlightened afterwards and wanted to share it with everybody.

But then I had a thought that has crossed my mind multiple times in the past: if the solution is so simple, why isn’t the whole world having access to this information? If we can all prevent cancer and heart disease by eating plants, why doesn’t everybody know about this??

The answer to that question is simple: money.

The government makes money off of our sickness. The meat and dairy industry make money off us spending all of our money on their products. And then when animal-based foods like meat, dairy and eggs cause diseases like cancer, obesity, heart disease, and all the others I listed above; well, you see how the system works. It’s all about money. And unfortunately, if everybody was healthy and lived long, the medical industries would be out of business. One of my favourite quotes is actually from Family Guy when Lois’s dad says: “Why cure someone of cancer in a day? When you can treat them for a lifetime and bill them every step along the way?

It’s so sad that we live in a generation where cancer is the most deadliest thing someone can hear. But what if all of that could change; what if there really was a cure to fix it all?

Well, there is; it’s called eating a plant based diet.

In Dr. Greger’s presentation, he specifically outlines the causes of cancer, and how eating animal foods can cause cancer growth to grow. And when patients were fed a diet of only plant based foods, the cancer cells shrunk. I really cannot do it any justice by describing it to you so please, if you are doubting me or are just interested, go watch the speech now. It’s only an hour and can literally change your life.

The next week I came across this TED talk by Dan Buettner titled: “How to Live to be 100+“. In the presentation he discusses the tribes of people who are the longest living on the planet: in Sardinia, Okinawa, and Loma Linda. What all of these groups of people had in common was that they ate a predominantly plant based diet: consisting of fruits, vegetables, grains, starches, nuts, seeds, and legumes.

But it’s not just diet that aids in their longevity, it’s also their culture. These people do not live like we do in Westernized societies. They wake up each morning with a happy and peaceful mind. They pray to whatever God or higher powers they believe in; they spend quality time together in their community; they form genuine connections with people who will be with them their entire life time; they do not over eat like North Americans do, they simply eat until they are 80% full to ensure they do not over eat. They also say a prayer before each meal and also say that they will appreciate this meal and not over eat. Another thing all of these communities have in common is that they do not exercise; yet they are the healthiest people on the planet, where living to age 100 is normal, even 120 is average for them. They do not have a word for retirement because these people believe that the job they have is not a job at all; they believe it is their duty to their community; to help and serve. They never want to finish working because they love it so much. They work to be 97 and older.

The difference between these communities and ours is that we live these busy, hectic lives. We are overwhelmed by industrialization, consumerism, and the internet. We rush around the busy streets surrounded by tall buildings and polluted air. We stress about the future and let things from the past haunt us. One specific thing that these tribes do is to sit down once or twice a day and just relax and pray. To say what they are appreciative for, and to de-stress/mediate, and relax their minds and bodies. We do not do that enough.

So with all of these things combined – diet, stress, culture – they live much longer and healthier than we do.

I aspire to be like them. I want us all to aspire to be like them. Because if we can all be happy and live long together, why wouldn’t we?

But then I am reminded; where is the profit in that?

And that is why we will never be like them. Because our Westernized world revolves around money and greed, not the wellness of our people. Unfortunately, people being sick is what keeps the money flowing. And until people wake up and do their own research on these things, they will continue to be a slave to the system. And I truly do not want that to happen to people. That is why I highly advise you to watch these presentations, read these books, do your research, and learn about these things. Because sometimes the internet can help you more than think.

Article

Merry Consumerism!

These last few weeks I’ve been feeling weird about Christmas time. (or Holiday time if you do not celebrate Christmas) A holiday all about giving, buying, and more buying. This holiday tradition has been molded by capitalist societies to equate to spending as much money as you can around this time of year, starting with Black Friday, all throughout December, right until Boxing Day. But why must we prove our love for others by buying things? To feed into corporate greed? To continue giving our money to people who are higher up on the economical ladder?

I guess I’ve just been feeling down lately because I realize how consumer driven our society is. We use this time of year as an excuse to be “festive” and “giving”, when in reality, we all just go out to the stores and buy as much as we can, for ourselves and for others.

bad-santa

A few different people have asked me what I wanted to Christmas this year, and honestly, I don’t want anything. I feel so greedy and needy asking for/buying things that I do not need. I am constantly thinking about people in other parts of the world who have nothing, yet still manage to be happy, whereas in Westernized societies, people spend thousands of dollars on material items and are still unhappy.

Hmmm, I wonder why that is? Perhaps because money can’t buy happiness. And no amount of cars, clothes, houses, make-up, phones, television sets, and toys will amount to happiness.

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This Christmas, I couldn’t just ask for nothing, because my family wants to give me something as a present. I didn’t want to ask for things that I want, because want is just a greedy term. I want this. I want that. Instead, I asked for things that I actually need and would be useful in my everyday life. So I asked for a laptop case, because I’ve literally been putting my laptop in a pillow case for a year, books, and a vegan tshirt. That’s it.

Our society has let greed consume us and we find ourselves constantly asking for more. Consumerism takes over this time of year, and I feel like people get carried away and swept into it all.

I was out shopping today (I literally go to the mall twice a year..) trying to find gifts for friends and family. It was so difficult and I didn’t know what to buy them and I also didn’t want to spend too much money, because well, I hate spending money. And then I thought, why can’t we all give each other things without buying them? Without giving into corporate power and consumerism? We all have the abilities to make things ourselves and create something useful that the person needs. Or we could do favours for people.

I personally love giving and receiving homemade gifts. I’ve also made my own birthday/christmas cards for people because they feel more personal and special. It takes zero effort to buy a card from the store and sign it. That doesn’t feel special to me.

I like crafting my own gifts, even if I’m not that talented. You could make picture frames, write a poem for that person, draw them a photo of something they love, write them a song, make them a mix-tape, cook them a special meal, bake them their favourite cake, bring them an already-made dinner to their house when you know they have a busy day; the little things like that actually matter and would be useful to someone in their everyday lives. I hate participating in materialistic culture of buying clothes, make-up, electronics, and other unnecessary nick-nacks that people could easily live without. $200 watch? No thanks, I can look at my phone to see the time. Designer hand bag? No thanks, I can use a reusable bag to carry my things. Expensive makeup and hand creams? Nah, I don’t wear any, and I got coconut oil.

I am by no means trying to make people feel bad for buying and wanting these things; I’m simply trying to make you THINK about what you are participating in, and why you are doing so. It is 100% because of the way this society has raised us, and how this culture and industries have shaped a holiday into a consumerist time of year. And it makes me sad.

Shopping Cart Full of Christmas Presents

Shopping Cart Full of Christmas Presents

Article Vegan

Breaking Vegan – My Thoughts

Well this is a long-time-coming post….

I’ve followed Jordan Younger since well.. I first created my Instagram account, which was back in the summer of 2013. She was even the person who kind of inspired me to go vegan! In December 2013, I noticed I was having really bad bloating and stomach problems. I happened to be reading her blog (theblondevegan at the time), and she discussed how she had these exact same problems and that is what caused her to go vegan!!

article-2692973-1FA937CA00000578-620_634x418YAY!! I was so happy. Someone I could finally relate to. I ended up going vegan (or.. plant based actually.. but I didn’t know the difference at the time), and immediately my stomach issues went away and I was never happier.

I’ve mentioned this in previous blog posts, but basically, I was a very uneducated ‘vegan’. I didn’t go vegan to be healthy, I didn’t go vegan to save the animals, and I sure as hell didn’t go vegan to save the planet. I didn’t even KNOW about any of those things. It wasn’t until two or three months of being vegan, that I randomly decided to watch five documentaries in one day (Forks over Knives, Food Inc, Vegucated, Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead, and Earthlings) WOW. That changed my opinion on EVERYTHING. I was like, “wait.. what? Meat and dairy are UNHEALTHY!?? Animals get TORTURED AND SLAUGHTERED every single day!!??? I was overwhelmed to say the least. So I changed my ways and was a full fledged, committed VEGAN (and proud).

But I think my vegan/plant based ways were influenced by the person who introduced me to the word vegan, which was Jordan Younger.

She labeled herself as a vegan, and so when I went ‘vegan’, I thought everything was fine and dandy. But it wasn’t. (Now I know that there is a huge difference between vegan and plant-based)

It is now November 2015, and things have changed… a lot.

breaking bad vegan

In June 2014, Jordan Younger announced that she was no longer vegan due to the fact that she developed an eating disorder called Orthorexia. Everyone was shocked and horrified to say the least. I think she lost about 1000 followers, tons of blog readers, and received plenty of hate and even death threats.

I was devastated. I had followed Jordan for so long and looked up to her as my vegan inspiration. And now, here she was, ditching the title, and returning to not only eggs and dairy, but fish and MEAT as well!!!

So long story short, her story blew up. Every single news outlet was reporting about THE BLONDE VEGAN: the girl who turned away from veganism and received death threats!! It was everywhere!! Every website I turned to was reporting on Jordan Younger. Then she got a book deal.

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So two weeks ago, her book/memoir finally was released. And can you guess the title? BREAKING VEGAN. BAM.

I already wrote a blog post on this topic back in April of this year titled: Veganism or Orthorexia, so you can read that posts for my thoughts on that whole controversy.

But basically today I am going to be talking about my thoughts on the book release, Jordan Younger, and it’s title.

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Since the release of her book, Jordan has been getting tons of hate all over again. Angry vegans getting angry for the huge amount of publicity this is getting.

But Jordan has not once, but three times, written about this on her blog. She has NOTHING against veganism; she has made this evidently clear. She does not BLAME veganism for developing orthorexia. She knows this was caused by her obsessive all-or-nothing personality. Yet, if Jordan is admitting these things, why are all these media outlets blaming veganism?

Now, I haven’t read the book (yet?) but I already know it gives a bad name to veganism. And that will probably apply to the majority of people. Because not everyone in the world is going to read her book, but if they see it online or on a bookshelf, the first thing they see is BREAKING VEGAN, and the first thing they think is, wow, veganism DOES suck!!!!!!

This isn’t Jordan’s fault. (Okay, maybe a bit for choosing to name her book that). But it is mostly the news outlets and agencies that are reporting on this. I saw this one screenshot online from the TV with this message broadcasted across the bottom:

BLOGGER SAYS BEING VEGAN NEARLY KILLED HER

Okay.. a bit extreme, don’t ya think?

It wasn’t veganism that nearly killed her – it was her orthorexia, which may I just mention that literally anyone in the world can develop, vegan or not? Why is no one mentioning this?

Also some will argue that Jordan was never truly a vegan; she just chose to follow a plant based diet.

That is a big thing that many people get confused with. The term vegan was created solely for animal rights. A plant based diet is a health choice. And while I don’t blame Jordan for developing an eating disorder or even writing a book called Breaking Vegan, I do have to admit that I think she was plant based rather than vegan, and that should have been made clear from the beginning.

Jordan had an obsession with healthy eating. That is the reason that she decided to ‘vegan’ (or plantbased). So already right there the problem was in her head, not veganism. Veganism was simply another by-product/result of her obsession with clean eating.

Tons of people live vegan and never develop eating disorders. And some vegans do. But the same thing applies for meat eaters. TONS of girls develop anorexia and bulimia each year, but no one blames it on being an omnivore, do they? Why not? Because it’s a mental illness that is not CAUSED by diet, DIET is simply the OUTCOME.

Girls starve themselves. Starving themselves doesn’t make them anorexic (underweight), the mental illness in their brain does that. Being skinny is simply an outcome.

That’s why I’ve always hated when people say, “you look anorexic”. YOU CANNOT LOOK ANOREXIC. ANOREXIA IS A MENTAL ILLNESS IN YOUR BRAIN!! Overweight people can be anorexic because it is all in their head.

ANYWAYS, MOVING ON.

I do not hate Jordan. I applaud her for her bravery on making this huge announcement and dealing with the immense amount of hate she is receiving. However, I do think she is in the wrong for labeling herself as a vegan, when she was in fact plant based, and also for naming her book breaking vegan, when like I just stated, she was plant based.

But I understand Jordan’s side of this. She says the point of the book is not to shame or blame veganism, but to make a point about breaking labels. Well, that’s great and all Jordan that you choose not to label yourself, but again, labels were not the problem; your mental illness was. I can label myself as anything I want, but it’s up to me to determine how that label affects my life. (Similar to the recent argument about Essena Oneill and Social Media. Social Media is not detrimental – but it’s a tool that allows you to have detrimental thoughts)

I love the word vegan. To me, I associate it with love, well-being, compassion, animals, earth, and so many other beautiful things. It is unfortunate that because of this, people will see veganism differently and perhaps even not allow their children to go vegan because they think it causes orthorexia. (Again, not your fault Jordan.. it’s the media’s fault)

End note: And VEGANS; stop yelling at her, swearing, and telling her she belongs in hell. This is NOT helping the vegan movement. Do you want people to associate veganism with psychopaths who yell at others? I understand your anger, I really do. But please consider taking a more gentle, understanding approach and perhaps seeing the WHOLE story rather than just the part about her making a book called Breaking Vegan. We are all humans and we’re allowed to get angry, but getting angry really just isn’t helping anyone.

Jordan’s Blog: http://www.thebalancedblonde.com/

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Article Food Health Vegan

Is Eating Meat a Personal Choice?

So often I hear people say, “I respect vegan’s choice not to eat meat, and they should respect my choice to eat meat.”

“Each to one’s own”

“You do your thing, I’ll do mine”

shutterstock9723865This argument is dangerously flawed in many ways. The first factor being that the individual saying this is clearly thinking about THEIR choice, but not the choice of the animal. The cow/pig/chicken that you are eating did not have a choice. They were taken and killed against their will. This argument will be irrelevant for people who do not care about farm animals, and solely believe that they are “just food”. But to anyone else who may have an inkling of compassion in their hearts for those poor farm animals; you are neglecting the choice that they did not get.

The second factor of this argument is that it really isn’t a ‘personal choice’, as it does more than just affect that individual. Animal agriculture and factory farming are the leading causes of environmental destruction due to the amount of resources (water, food, land, etc), and greenhouse gasses used to keep these animals alive to turn into food. So when you eat that burger, you aren’t just affecting your own life; you are affecting the entire planet. (See sources here.)

Not plucking one’s eyebrows is a personal choice. Going bald is one’s personal choice. Heck, not showering for a week is someone’s personal choice. These are choices that solely effect that one individual. But there are many things in this world that are more than just personal choices. For instance; wearing makeup. I was originally going to say in this post “wearing make-up is a personal choice!” But is it? Most of the brands out there test on animals. So if you wear the majority of the popular make-up brands, you are contributing to the testing and deaths of  innocent animals. And people will say “but I love make-up; it makes me feel happy/confident/insert emotion here. That’s fine! You are allowed to wear make-up! But individuals should be aware about what they are putting their money into. So it is a choice to participate in that, or you can choose to wear cruelty free brands. 

When people choose to continue to pay for animal by-products, they are giving into the demand. If we all suddenly stopped eating meat, that demand would go away, causing the need to kill animals to decrease.

You see, we all make a difference in this world, whether you know it or not. When you purchase animal by-products, you are shaping how this world will turn out. So it is up to you whether you make a positive or negative choice.

It bothers me that people also refer to veganism as a ‘belief’ or even a diet. They say, “Don’t shove your religion down other people’s throats”. But when did justice and compassion become equivalent to Christianity or Judaism? It didn’t. It is not a belief or a religion or a diet; it is way beyond that. Stopping the slaughter of sentient beings is not something that you choose to ‘believe’ in; it is choosing to do something that is morally and ethically right.

180764_dbdac4eea9aa2bd7339c240a3bd44322_largeI guess it all stems from the argument, are we all equal? Many people do not think so. Humanity feels superior for many reasons. But once you take away those layers, and strip it down to the basic thinking, you realize we were all created on this earth for a purpose; we are all earthlings and we are all equal. When egotistical/ superior thinking comes into play, humans get cocky and become know-it-alls. “We need meat to survive” “We’ve been doing it for thousands of years” “Animals can’t feel pain; they don’t have souls; we’re supposed to eat them”

Yeah, only until we’re not.

If we can survive without meat, then why are we still eating it?

Habits. Culture. History. Taste.

Those are difficult barriers to break through. Difficult; but not impossible.

I did it. Many people did it. You just have to find your true reasons for wanting to go vegan; something that clicks in your brain and makes you say ‘hey, you’re right. Why are we still killing animals and destroying our planet?’

It’s not easy, but it is possible.

We can do this.

So no, I don’t think eating meat is a personal choice. I think it is a very public choice that affects the entire planet and it’s species. Oceans, rainforests, third world countries, North America, etc. It affects everything.

So today you have a choice; what kind of change will you make for this world?

 

Advice Article

Essena Oneill Quits Social Media

This post will only be relevant to you if you know who Essena Oneill is. If you don’t, then… this may not make sense to you.

For those of you who do not know Essena Oneill, she is an 18 (almost 19) year old girl from Australia. She rose to “internet fame” when she began posting photos online on her Tumblr page when she was only fifteen. 570k followers later, Essena has amassed an enormous follower-fan base and has made huge impacts on people all around the globe. She went vegan (coincidentally around the same time I did), around February 2014. She has made a huge impact in the vegan community and probably has influenced thousands of people to go vegan for their health, the animals and the planet.

Essena has changed a lot over the years, and that is understandable, considering she is only a teenager, and had to evolve through her teen years in the ‘spotlight’. People have hated on her for changing her mind, or doing something differently than she used to. But she is only a teenager, and she is allowed to change her mind. However, yesterday, Essena posted the most shocking change of all – she is deleting all social media accounts and focusing solely on her blog, which will essentially exploit the reality of social media and what it’s like behind the scenes.

essena1

https://instagram.com/essenaoneill/

I agree with Essena 100%. Social media has become quite a destructive tool for a lot of people. Youths are comparing their lives/bodies/appearances to other people online, and that can be truly detrimental. She deleted over 2000 of her instagram photos, almost all of her YouTube videos, and deleted her Tumblr. She went back on her instagram photos that she did keep (there’s only about 100 left) and re-wrote all of the captions, essentially exposing herself and revealing the truths ‘behind the image’. Example:

essena2 essena3

I wrote a blog post a couple months ago (March 16th to be exact) called ‘The Media is Taking Over”. However, I never published this because I was afraid of the reaction I would get. I called out the Instagram community,  and how fame is taking over people’s lives; boosting their ego’s; creating false realities. I also pointed out how Instagram followers are spoken about in the equivalence of high scores in a video game. “Just hit 100k!”

Hit? You just hit/reached 100k? One hundred thousand people are following you, and you treat it like you just reached a new high score. Why do we treat our social media apps this way? It’s quite sad. And to make matters worse, people hold ‘shoutout comps’ or do ‘sfs’ to get more followers. Pretend all you want, but shoutout competitions are to gain more followers. People use excuses like “it’s a great way to help me find other cool accounts!” or “I just want to help out the smaller accounts”.. but if these things were true, you would only require people to comment on your photo, or find other ways other than them giving you a free promo with nothing guaranteed.

You are not better than anyone else because of the amount of followers you have acquired. Your friends do not define you by how many likes your selfies get. Your family will not love you any less if you only have 100 followers. These things do not matter.

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(Yeah, that was a bit harsh, I know. That’s why I never published the older article)

I don’t like technology and social media. I never really have. And it’s a bit ironic and hypocritical of me considering I use multiple social media platforms, and have over 58,000 followers myself….

However, I like to relate my online presence with the term counter hegemony.

Counter-Hegemoney: people working within the media (and elsewhere) who attempt to challenge the dominant ideology by working to produce a counter-hegemonic world view.

Basically that means using technology, to dis-promote technology. (Similar to what Essena is doing)

Personally I am trying to make a difference in this world, so I am using the same tool that I despise to make that difference. Does that make me hypocritical? Maybe. But it’s working.

2014-01-08 005 2014-01-08 008What Essena is trying to say is that we are being brainwashed by this online social media presence. We feel self worth by the amount of followers or likes we get. We compare ourselves to others, and determine who is worthy and who is not. It’s ridiculous. Essena also speaks about the ‘celebrity concept’ of worshiping these social media starlets such as herself. She says , why? what makes me so special? I am not different than anyone that follows me.

I’m so glad to see Essena posting these kinds of things because she has such a huge following and can actually make a difference.

However, I don’t think it’s necessary for her to delete all of her social media’s. Sure she can take a break and post less, but she is very inspirational and has made such a positive change for so many people that I think she should keep her accounts, and rather than deleting them, just change the content.

I also don’t think it’s her fault that her followers treat her this way. She never asked to be worshiped or be put in the spotlight – that’s on the people – that’s US. How we treat others is up to us. We as online viewers have the ability to believe everything we read online, or take everything with a grain of salt, and understand ‘everything is not what is appears’. I know that Jay and Alexis don’t have perfect lives. I understand that Instagram is a highlight reel where people only post the best shot out of 100, with the best possible lighting and well thought out caption. Does every human actually look/act this perfectly? No. But you would be a fool to actually believe that.

So basically this post was just a spew of information out of my mind that I had to jot down and share with others. Use social media, but with caution. Use it for good, to help spread a positive message, or to connect with like-minded people. But don’t let it consume you to the point where you lose sleep at night over followers or how your photos are not as good as someone else’s. Because remember, when you turn off your phone, it all goes away. It’s just an app after all.

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Take a break from your phone/technology once in a while. Heck, take a break everyday. Just hide your phone somewhere and go for a walk, read a book, hang outside, chill with friends or family. Remember that there is a world a part from your phone.

#PhonelessFridays

Also to note, I study the media. Literally, my major in Uni is Media and Cultural Studies. So I have been learning about this kind of stuff for 3 years now, and have written countless essays on the topic of technology and social media. I enjoy writing about that stuff so if you’d like to see some of my essays, let me know and perhaps I will post it on here.

I also wrote a post a while ago called ‘How to be Insta Famous’ if you want to check that out: http://mindfullybliss.com/how-to-be-insta-famous/

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Article Vegan

Eating Meat is Destroying the Planet

Five minutes ago I finished watching the documentary Cowspiracy for the third time. I hadn’t seen it since this time last year, and it has just become available on Netflix, so I thought I’d refresh my memory with some info and statistics and watch it again. (watch the trailer here.)

I have so much on my mind right now, and so much that needs to be said, so I thought I’d just write it all in a blog post.

So first off, I just wanted to tell you that we are the same. I too once ate meat. I too was living this ignorantly blissful life of unawareness and content. I thought that typical Saturday morning breakfasts were bacon and eggs. I loved adding chicken to my salads. I even really enjoyed steak. And Greek Yogurt was my favourite food ever. And I’d eat grilled cheese sandwiches all the time. I know how it feels to think that your life is perfectly fine. I know how it feels to be threatened by other people’s diet choices. I used to think that vegans and vegetarians were weird and were certainly protein and nutrient deficient. I remember asking my vegetarian friend so many questions, and saying “do you mind if I eat meat in front of you?? I feel bad, I’m so sorry,”

I now know what it’s like to be that Veg friend who get asked all the questions; to be on the opposite side of those scenarios. Because now, I am a vegan. It’s not that difficult of a concept to understand. One day I ate meat; the next day I made a conscious decision to stop. We are not that different. You too can make that decision. So when I write my blog posts to you, please keep in mind that I am not preaching some higher level thinking of lifestyle that seems I am better than you. I haven’t been a vegan forever. I was once just like that. And then I changed. And now I just want to help other people, and the animals, and the planet.  Okay, let’s get into it.

HOW EATING MEAT IS DESTROYING THE PLANET


The documentary Cowspiracy discusses in great detail how the highest contributor to climate change and global warming is animal agriculture. This means that because humans eat sooo much meat, dairy and eggs, were are destroying our planet. (in simple terms). (in complex terms, please watch the film)

“Livestock and their byproducts account for at least 32,000 million tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) per year, or 51% of all worldwide greenhouse gas emissions.”

People say that eating meat is a personal choice. “I respect vegans for their choices, so they should respect me for mine,” But you see, eating meat is not a personal choice. For one, you are forgetting the innocent life that was taken to provide you with food. Did that animal get a choice? And second, what you eat not only effects you, but it effects the entire planet.

“To produce 1 gallon of milk, it takes 1000 gallons of water.”

“Cows produce 150 billion gallons of methane per day.”

“Growing feed crops for livestock consumes 56% of water in the US”

“If the oceans die, we die. That’s not a tagline – that’s the truth”

(Read more alarming facts and statistics here)

Eating meat affects:

  • Climate Change
  • Global Warming
  • Deforestation
  • Ocean Dead Zones
  • Rain Forest Destruction
  • Animal Extinction
  • World Hunger

And so many other major issues in this world. You want to know why? Because it takes so many freaking resources to raise and slaughter farm animals.

There are 7 billion people on this earth, and 73 billion farm animals; created and slaughtered each year for human consumption. And that’s just land animals. Don’t forget about the 100 billion marine animals that are killed for food, and all the other sea creatures caught in the nets in the process.

65% of the world’s grain is used to feed all of these animals. Think about how many starving people we could feed with that? Sixty five percent!! World hunger is not a scarcity problem – it’s a distribution problem. Rather than giving it to those countries in need, we give it to the farm animals, and then we slaughter those farm animals and feed them to greedy humans. Because.. bacon.

“10 billion people could be fed with the available crop land if everyone in America alone went vegan.”

1 acre of land can yield 40,000 pounds of potatoes, but that same one acre of land can only yield 250 pounds of meat.

land-use

A vegan diet:

  • produces half the amount of C02 from going into the atmosphere
  • 1/11th the amount of fossil fuels
  • requires 1/13th the amount of water
  • 1/18th the amount of land

vegan-vs-omnivore

Per day, a vegan can save:

  • 1100 gallons of water
  • 45 lbs. of grain
  • 30 square feet of forest
  • 20 lbs of C02
  • 1 animals life

9b8f5cd00df3d9a098e3b4ab5b05131a“477 gallons of water are required to produce 1lb. of eggs;  almost 900 gallons of water are needed for 1lb. of cheese.”

Imagine this:

You are living your life, all happy and peaceful. Then before your eyes, these aliens come into earth and invade our planet. They take over our land and our resources. They start killing all white people in the masses. And then they start kidnapping women, hooking them up to machines, and artificially impregnating them. They can only produce milk when pregnant, so they make them pregnant in order to produce Human Milk, because aliens apparently love that. Once the baby is born, they take them away from the mother and kill them.

They keep other humans locked up in cages and take away things they produce, like vomit, menstrual blood, and anything else humans produce.

That sounds really freaking messed up, right? But it’s not. That is the reality for all farm animals.

Humans do not own this planet. We are not superior. We are ruining this planet ourselves. Our ego’s make us think that we are better and smarter than all other species, but that is not the case. Animals were here before us, and there is way more of them than us. Yet we take control of every single part of planet earth, and destroy it until there is nothing left.

ego_vs_ecoI’m glad I watched this documentary again because it was a wake-up call for me.

Being vegan is not a diet or a trend. It is not only beneficial to our planet, but absolutely necessary. Adopting a plant based diet is literally the best thing you can do to help save this planet. Not taking shorter showers, not taking your bike to work, not turning off every light in your house. Yes those things may help a bit, but they are minuscule compared to how much water, grain, land, and other resources are wasted in order to feed farm animals.

ANIMAL AGRICULTURE IS THE NUMBER ONE CONTRIBUTOR TO GLOBAL WARMING AND CLIMATE CHANGE.

Yes you can still get protein. No you won’t die from nutrient deficiency’s. Yes it may be a bit hard at first, but it also gets easier. And no, we do not just eat lettuce and rabbit food.

Your “personal food choices” go way beyond you now. Eat and live consciously. Think about what you are eating and how it effects the entire planet.

“If you think veganism is hard, you are thinking about yourself. If you are thinking about the animals and the environment, it’s simple”

2013-12-15 004 2013-12-15 168 2013-12-15 004 2013-12-15 157 If you are considering going vegan or plant based, please take a look around my website. I have soo many links and articles to help people.

http://mindfullybliss.com/veganism-101/

http://mindfullybliss.com/why-veganism-is-more-than-just-a-diet/

http://mindfullybliss.com/the-best-foods-for-you/

http://mindfullybliss.com/the-obsession-with-protein/

http://mindfullybliss.com/the-power-of-plants-what-they-can-cure/

http://mindfullybliss.com/informational-articles/

http://mindfullybliss.com/sources/

Thank you for reading this and I truly hope you are able to make a change, for our future, and for the generations to come.

1stum no planet b

Advice Article Food Vegan

Tips for Being Vegan in University

As mid-August approaches, the most dreadful time of the year is right around the corner…. and I think we both know what that is….

SCHOOL.

As much as it pains me to write this post, I know it is necessary to help all the youngens out there going off to college and university. My heart is breaking because Summer is my favourite season. I love the sun, the warmth, swimming, tanning, exploring, adventuring, and… ya know, not going to school.

So without further adieu, here are my tips for being vegan in college or university. (Point formed because well, they’re pretty straight forward)

Dorm Rooms:

Eating food in the dining hall and meal plans:

  • I lived on residence first year and had a meal plan that consisted of 12 meals a week. I went vegan in January/February, but even before that I would always keep certain food in my room because I preferred making my own meals. For breakfast I would make oatmeal, then go to class. I’d come back to my room, make a smoothie for lunch, then go back to class. Then I’d always eat dinner in the dining hall that would consist of a big salad with either potatoes, rice, veggies, fries, or whatever else they had that I could eat. One could say that it’s a waste of money, but my mealplan was pre-paid and I didn’t know I was going to go vegan… but if you are a vegan going into  college or uni, then just buy the smallest meal plan and make do with what you can in your dining hall, and buy a few groceries for what you need.

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Is it hard to cook food in a dorm?

  • I didn’t do any cooking because like I stated above, I would eat dinner in the dining hall. But if you consider oatmeal cooking, I brought my own kettle and would boil water and pour it into the bowl to mix the oatmeal. Some colleges or universities have little kitchens on each floor so you can bring your own kettle/microwave/toaster/fridge whatever you want, but there are also sometimes appliances in the kitchen areas. My dorm had a kitchen that we could rent out, but I never got a chance to use it.

What to keep in your room?

  • Whatever you eat. So in my case, I always kept stocked up on bananas so I could ripen and freeze them for smoothies. I’d also put them on my oatmeal. Also fruit (Strawberries and blueberries) to put in smoothies and on oatmeal. Ummm, almond milk, peanut butter, spinach/kale, mangos, apples, kiwi, oranges, crackers, chips, bread, etc.

How do friends react to it?

  • They didn’t really care that much. I ate my stuff, they ate their stuff. Except sometimes they’d ask questions and be like, “wait, can you have this?” And of course there was always ‘ice cream night’, or muffins being handed out in the caf. And treats in class. But if you have a motivation and continue to remind yourself of it, then you won’t fail.

Is it hard going shopping and keeping stuff in a small area?

  • No not really. On the weekends that I’d go home, I’d stock up on all the main stuff I ate. Then when I was at Uni, I’d take the bus into town some weeks and get stuff I needed. Also one of my friend’s had a car so sometimes I’d go with her.
  • I designated an area in my dorm-room for all my food, and I also brought my mini fridge so it was easy to keep all my stuff in one place.

Dishes?

  • Washed them in my room because I had a shared bathroom, but there was also a common room that had a sink.

The loud blender?

  • I used it during off times when I hoped it wouldn’t annoy people too much. And if I really needed to use it, people can just suck it up. It takes like 1 minute to blend a smoothie.

living with roommates

Living off campus with roommates:

Buying groceries

  • I would walk or take the bus down the street to the closest grocery store.
  • Always look at flyers to see when there are sales to get the cheapest deals.
  • Bring reusable bags/your own cart and stock up on everything you need for that week.
  • Make a list so you don’t miss or forget anything when you go. (I always forgot at least 1 thing)

Packing food for lunch when you’re on campus all day

  • Use lots of tupperware containers.
  • Meal prep and make your meals the night before if you know you have a busy day.
  • Pack easy lunches or snacks like sandwiches, lots of fruit, lara bars or other snack bars, nuts, crackers, etc.
  • Bring money if you know that there are veg friendly options to buy something on campus. (noodles, sandwiches, etc)

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Social situations

  • Just do your thing and don’t let people bring you down.
  • Don’t bring up the fact that you are vegan unless people ask.
  • Tell the waiter/hostess/etc that you are allergic to certain things so that they make sure not to give it to you.
  • Don’t make a big deal about it.
  • If someone offers you something you can’t have, just politely say “no thank you”
  • Give it time and the more people learn, the more they will come around. My roomies always came to this one vegan restaurant with me and they loved it!

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Dishes and kitchen appliances

  • I’m a very neat and organized person; also a perfectionist. Also a cleanfreak; so I brought a few of my own dishes to the house and used certain separate ones than my roommates.
  • I also created a sponge system so we each have our own sponge so nothing cross contaminates (eggs, meat, cheese, etc)
  • I washed pots/pans/large bowls with steaming hot water and soap before using it (those are the things we all shared)
  • Use the dishwasher as well if you have one. (I personally wash most of my dishes by hand)
  • My roomies and I also have a sticker system so we put a colour star on stuff that is ours so that it is not confused and that no one eats your things.

 

I hope this helps, and if you have any questions, feel free to comment them below! Have a great semester everyone xx

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