New Year’s Revolution 2015! Veganuary (Yes, it’s what it sounds like)!

try vegan this jan

I think there are some mixed reviews about the Veganuary campaign, whose goal is to get people to go vegan for the month of January. There are some, like Bite Size Vegan on YouTube who makes a good point against going vegan for the new year, and others, like Kerry McCarpet who argues that it’s a good idea. Click their names to be linked to their videos! Both are extremely intelligent vegans and I highly recommend their channels, which only works if you think I am at least moderately intelligent…I overflowed my oatmeal this morning (for the trillionth time), so I might not be as smart as I (try) to sound….

I will proceed to address three points: what the heck Veganuary¬†is, arguments for and against it, and my own POV (with a little freebie for one lucky-ish person ūüôā ). Prepare yourself fellow vegans and vegans-to-be!

What is Veganuary? 

“Try Vegan this January” is a month long pledge to avoid consuming animal products and go vegan. Of course, avoiding eating animals is not the entirety of what veganism is, but it is the biggest leap into veganism that one can take. You can sign up and pledge to go vegan on their website: www.veganuary.com. You can still pledge even if you are already vegan, and I urge you to do so! Movements are much more successful when they are supported by the masses, so if you are already vegan and think this doesn’t apply, think again! We need your voice! You don’t have to change a thing (if you don’t want to), just pledge.

veganuary pig

Their website provides a plethora of helpful resources for vegans-to-be and I’ve found it pretty interesting myself! I tried to put my self back into the head-space that I was in when I first went vegan, and I appreciate all the work that went into the site even more. Even 4 years ago (when I first attempted veganism, I failed the first time) compendiums of helpful resources like this did not exist on one website.

The¬†why¬†of veganism is addressed from multiple perspectives: health, environment, animals, and nutrition. You can search for recipes easily, either by cuisine, ingredients, or type of food like ‘pizza’ or ‘cookies’ to easily find lots of recipes in one place. I really love the¬†eating out¬†tab. It links you to handy ‘cuisine guides’ for Chinese, Indian, Italian, Mexican, etc. For each cuisine there is information about what you can order as a vegan and certain things to look out for that you may not have ¬†known about. For example, new vegans might not think to ask about fish or oyster sauce in Chinese dishes because it is not as apparent as say, a hunk of meat or an egg in their dish. A word of caution, reading the cuisine guides will leave you salivating and craving the yummy vegan dishes they describe!

They also have a¬†products¬†tab under which they have everything from books, DVDs, clothes, food (tons of food), household products, pet products, cosmetics, medicine, etc. All neatly categorized for the new vegan to find anything they wish! For each product there is information about what it can be used for or how it’s beneficial, nutrition facts or ingredients (if applicable), and links to websites where you can purchase the item (like Amazon). It’s not all superfoods and junk either, it’s pretty good stuff!

There is a¬†vegan myths¬†tab, under which there are tons of helpful Q&A’s. One of which was what my brother desperately clung to as he was grasping for straws, and reasons to eat meat: #30 “What about all the problems facing humans in the world? Shouldn’t we worry about those first before we worry about animals?” The answer was more than thoughtful, a new vegan might not realize how eating vegan will indirectly help feed starving children.

Lastly, there is a¬†vegan people¬†and¬†news & blog¬†tab. Under the people tab, you can find examples of actors, athletes, activists, and regular ol’ people…YOU ARE NOT ALONE! The news tab keeps you entertained with interesting updates, articles, tips/guides and infographics. The website is interesting, helpful, and trust me you will learn something new, even if you think you are a ‘seasoned’ vegan. (Pun intended, can you tell I’m getting hungry?)

So, why might it be a bad idea? (But ultimately, it is a GOOD idea!)

vegan new year

The argument against it is that January is a time of New Year’s Resolutions, most of which fail…so why would this resolution be any different? Unfortunately, this is a time of fad diets and quick-fix weight-loss tricks, and some are worried that going vegan for January might get mixed up in that trend. I agree, it definitely could.

I am ambivalent about resolutions, like many I believe that waiting until the new year to make a change is silly, but that doesn’t mean that January is a bad time to make a change either! There is no good or bad time, everyday is a good day to set a goal, resolve yourself to make a change, or take a pledge! Don’t let the connotation of “New Year’s Resolution” scare you away from trying something new¬†at the beginning of a new year.

Ultimately, Veganuary is a good idea. Unlike other “awareness-raising” months which do only that, raise awareness, Veganuary provides individuals a call to action. It doesn’t make people feel powerless in the face of statistics, it emboldens them to¬†do¬†something! In the process of becoming vegan, the individual will learn information concerning animal cruelty and nutrition and will be better able to navigate ethical eating. (As it pertains to animals…farm worker justice is a whole different can of worms!) The website ensures that the individual has every opportunity for success by providing as many resources as possible.

Lastly, Veganuary is a good idea because even if some people decide to do it for weight-loss or as a cleanse, many more individuals will discover the health benefits of veganism and stick with it past the conclusion of January. I think that a lot of people in society have forgotten what it feels like to actually feel¬†good.¬†Even if the individual doesn’t embark upon the healthiest vegan diet and relies on processed vegan foods, eschewing animal products is often enough to reap dramatic health benefits if the individual was on the standard American diet beforehand.

My personal opinion….and a surprise for you!

veganuary 2015 resolutionI believe there are two hooks to veganism: some go vegan because they love animals a.k.a the ethical hook; others go “plant-based” for their health, athletic performance, or aesthetics a.k.a. the individual/health hook. In my opinion those who go plant-based for health fall into two camps. Some will stay plant-based and their abstention of animal products will not extend past their diet, these are also the people who partake in “cheat-meals” that contain animal products…they haven’t educated themselves beyond deciphering the nutrition label and haven’t peeled back the curtain of cruelty. They are merely concerned with how they look. I think there are very few who stay this way, these people usually fall off the vegan wagon because they always feel deprived.

The rest of the people who begin as plant-based will continue to educate themselves, watch documentaries and realize the ethics behind the vegan lifestyle. They may start off only concerned with how they look or feel, but they will stay vegan because they have seen the suffering of the animals raised for food or clothes, and they empathize. These people can feel the pain of the animals and can see how the effects of eating meat ripple outward in violence, poverty, environmental destruction and starvation. These people stay vegan not only because they feel good, but because they don’t feel deprived…they feel satiated both by the food and the knowledge that they are doing good for the planet.

All it takes is for the individual to simply give veganism a try. So in that sense, the more people who “try vegan this January”, the better!

2015-01-05 16.31.45And now…..Before you think my brother is all bad, he did get me a gigantic vegan cookbook for Christmas. So at least he tried to find a vegan thing for me, and I appreciate the thought! But I don’t cook, like ever. So I am pretty confident I will¬†never¬†use it, I haven’t even cracked it open yet. So I am giving it away, I will mail it to whomever I feel leaves the most detailed reason in the comments below, or emails me at sushitomismith@gmail.com with the reason why they would like this book! Whoever I feel wants/needs it the most based on their comment or email will receive it ūüôā

I just want to find it a good home ‚̧

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Sorry, I’m NOT Sorry for Being a Picky Eater

If you are health conscious, or a vegan, or a health-conscious vegan, you know all too well the daily struggle that accompanies your food choices. If you are a female, you might be familiar with the need to be a people please-er and apologize for causing any inconveniences. I happen to be all of the above! A people-pleasing, health-conscious vegan, who constantly feels the need to apologize because females are expected to be either a) demure or b) un-opinionated in our society.

Eating with others (whom I don’t know well), ordering at restaurants or having people over for meals is pretty difficult for me. I always feel the need to explain or apologize for my choices even though I know what I am doing is right for me!

This is my un-apology.¬†I am not sorry for choosing to be vegan¬†and eat healthfully, even if it means I inconvenience my fellow diners! This phenomenon highlights how successfully the big food industries have brainwashed everyone…I have to go against the grain and fight social disapproval for a salad untainted by cheese or croutons, and then apologize for it!

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My lunch! Everything is packed full of vitamins and minerals. No oil, no processed grains! Raw or lightly steamed veggies!

It may not seem like a big deal, but for years I have dealt with being the odd one with “weird” eating habits. I always feel guilty when other people feel the need to accommodate for my diet, even though I constantly tell them not to! As a successful vegan, I know how to adapt to pretty much every situation, and no one needs to change anything for me! I’ve also endured remarks about how my food looks, or about my diet being just “rabbit food”, always implying that it is disgusting or unappetizing. Lastly, we’ve all heard the joke, “How can you tell if someone is vegan? Don’t worry, they’ll tell you.” (Ha-ha.) These remarks may seem harmless, especially because most of the ribbing (no pun intended!) comes from my meat-loving brother and father, and from my non-vegan friends.

Changing your diet is not the hard part of being a vegan, enduring other’s criticism and remarks is much more difficult. Our current food environment has made it easier to make terrible dietary choices, and really¬†really¬†hard to make health promoting choices. Something is definitely wrong if I feel the need to apologize for not consuming animals or junk food, and am made to feel weird for eating 3 plates of vegetables from the salad bar. (Hey, when you eat whole food fruits, vegetables, and grains, you can eat till you are stuffed!)

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Two fish are swimming along, an older fish swims by and asks, “Hey boys, how’s the water?” A few moments later, one of the two fish turns to the other and asks, “What’s water?”¬†

We have become so inundated with “health” information paid for by the meat and dairy industries and from large food companies that we don’t even realize that catch-phrases like “Beef, it’s whats for dinner” or “Got milk?” or “The incredible, edible egg!” are all¬†advertisements paid for by the industry,¬†not factual scientific information. Independent scientific research consistently finds that meat, dairy, and eggs are NOT good for building strong bones or preventing osteoporosis. Animal products are not a good source of viable protein, eating them won’t make you strong or healthy. There is, in fact, a correlation between high intakes of dairy products and increased osteoporosis in industrialized countries. There is also a correlation between excessive animal protein consumption and increased incidences of breast, prostate, and colon cancer. Also, the top causes of mortality and morbidity in the U.S. are heart disease (heart attack, high blood pressure, atherosclerosis, etc.), stroke, cancer, diabetes…and they are all caused by consuming too much fat, sat. fat, cholesterol, and sodium, all of which come neatly packaged in animal products. Any scientific study that comes out in favor of consuming animal products was most likely funded by the USDA (responsible for making profits from meat and dairy, corn and soy), the meat or dairy industry, or the American Egg Board.

Most people don’t have time to conduct their own research and dissect and understand scientific findings. Knowing who to trust is difficult, especially when many people in our own govt. agencies have perverse conflicts of interests and benefit from keeping consumers in the dark about their food. People only have time for the ads they glimpse on the street, or see on TV or in magazines. None of that is scientifically sound information, but sadly that’s where most Americans get their nutrition advice.

I don’t apologize for not being a drone, I seek out my own information and I recognize the difference between true science and paid for advertising. I feel so different because I am not trapped in the eat junk- get fat/sick-go on a diet-go see a doctor cycle that fuels junk food companies, the weight loss industry, the pharmaceutical industry, and contributes to our nation’s ballooning healthcare costs. I will not be puppet-ed around by propaganda. I am responsible for being¬†proactive¬†about my health and not¬†reactive.

Did you Know?

  • Only a handful of big companies own your food: we are made to think we have a plethora of choices, but in reality 80% of what we eat is controlled by a select few parent companies.
  • “Natural” and “whole grain” claims on packaged food mean nothing, there is no FDA standard for “natural” and as long as there is some whole grains, then the claim can be made on the box ūüė¶ Labels like these are used to distract the consumer.
  • Popular food companies have learned their marketing strategies from Big Tobacco, their tactics include funding favorable research and lobbying politicians.
  • The excessive use of pesticides is shocking. For example, Roundup (from Monsanto) is doused on fields of wheat a few days before harvest because it is easier to harvest the withered, dead plants.
  • Food companies lobby politicians, head govt. agencies like the FDA and USDA, and market to children in schools!

Source: “9 Hidden Facts the Food Industry Doesn’t Want You to Know” Livestrong, Oct. 10, 2014. “The Real Reason Wheat is Toxic (it’s not the gluten)” The Healthy Home Economist, Nov. 13, 2014.

extreme esselsytn quote

As a vegan, I am made to feel like an “extremist”, a crazy left-wing, animal loving, tree hugging hippie. Supposedly I am weak and subsist on a diet of twigs and leaves….the harmful misconceptions that perpetuate about veganism are simply other ways for the meat and dairy industry to continue to rake in the profits by convincing consumers that they need to eat animals.

Am I really extreme? No, I’m educated. Am I weak? My last marathon time doesn’t indicate that I am. My biggest problem is that I am not “getting with the program” and cooperating by eating animals and processed junk foods, and thus not lining their pockets with cash.

I’m not sorry for that!