The Vegan Starter Kit

When people ask me why I am vegan, or what prompted me to go vegan, it really comes down to information – I was simply exposed to new information that I could not unlearn or un-see. This new information came in the form of books and documentaries. Sure, some people could be exposed to the exact same information but it won’t resonate with them at all; well, not me. I simply could not deny all the facts, data, and research presented in these sources. So what was this amazing new information that I learned you ask? Here it is, these are the sources of information that I wish everyone and anyone would see – they will answer all your questions about the why, what, where, and when of a plant based diet/life. I truly wish this was common knowledge; I’ll take it one step further, I wish this was mandatory reading/viewing in school!

So if someone were to ask me “why or what made you go vegan,” my response would be – “just watch these documentaries here, all your questions will be answered.” I invite you to take a step behind the curtain of OZ, and see the truth! (These are all available on Netflix).

WARNING – EXPOSING YOURSELF TO THIS INFORMATION MAY CAUSE AWARENESS

  1. Forks Over Knives

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This gem right here will answer all your questions about food and health, such as:

  • What’s wrong with eating animal protein?
  • What’s so wrong with milk and dairy? Don’t you need milk for calcium and strong bones?
  • But since vegans only eat grass, where do they get their protein? (ugh, how many times I get asked this question – please do yourself a favor and watch this now, and forever have that damn questioned answered).
  • What about fish?
  • Well then, what the hell do you plant based people eat?
  • Why should I even care about this plant based stuff? (hint, your health, the animals, and the environment ya dummy!)

 

2. What The Health

This is probably one of the most eye-opening documentaries to recently (2017) come out MV5BOGRlYzI3OTMtMWM4NS00Y2U4LTg3Y2UtMzUwYTgyM2M2Mzk5XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNzI5MjI4MTc@._V1_SX772_CR0,0,772,999_AL_about the food industry and human health; and this is definitely at the top of my list when it comes to recommending any documentary! I myself was blown away by all the information presented in this film; it got me so riled up I just wanted to shout it from a mountain top! Finally, a documentary comes out that shines the light on all the corruption going on in the meat and dairy industries to keep the general public misinformed, confused, and most important of all continuing to consume their products albeit at the cost of their very own health. Moreover, this film also does an incredible job of hitting all the points on health in regard to consuming animal products, and all the common questions and concerns of switching to a plant based diet…extremely comprehensive! This documentary is a MUST!!

 

3. Cowspiracy

This one here will help you understand the Cowspiracy_ScreeningPoster3environmental dilemma of sustaining a planet on animal protein, and how switching to a plant based diet can really help save the world (no, I’m not exaggerating – just watch it!). No, this video isn’t going to turn you into a tree hugging environmentalist, or Leonardo DiCaprio; BUT it sure as hell will inform you and create AWARENESS (and that is what’s all about)!! Moreover, this will shed light on what factory farming actually is, and the cold hard cruelty behind it – I know, I know, ignorance is bliss…but suck it up and watch it!

 

4. Plant Pure Nation

2015-06-27-1435380438-2053434-PlantPure_PosterloresAnd lastly, this amazing documentary will help you understand why it is that the information laid out in the last two documentaries is not mainstream knowledge (yet). You may be asking yourself, ok well it seems like all you vegans know about this stuff, but IF animal products are actually not the best for your health, then why would the government still include it in their food pyramid, why are they still serving it at every school, why wouldn’t doctors be talking more about this, why is this the first time I am hearing such a thing?  Here is something to think about; the meat, poultry, and dairy industries are HUGE (as you may already know)! Well, you know what comes with that? Lots of money of course, but also lots of lobbying power. So what does that mean; it means they have the ability to actually influence what the people of this planet eat, regardless of what it might mean for your health. Moreover, believe it or not, it comes with the ability to manipulate or even suppress information! Yes, this is true, the meat, poultry, dairy, and fish industries hope you never see any of these documentaries or become of aware of any of the information they contain. Because heaven forbid, it might actually create well informed consumers, that no longer simply buy their food products blindly just because that is what they have been doing for years. Please, just watch this!

 

So there it is, these are three of my favorite documentaries that I wish every human being could/would watch! I honestly feel like any non-vegan/vegetarian person cannot have an actual intelligent debate with a vegan/vegetarian person until they have been exposed to the information contained in these documentaries. Regardless of what you choose to sustain yourself on, be it animal or plant based, if you haven’t seen any of these documentaries, please do yourself a favor and watch them…I challenge you!

 

As always, I would like to hear from you, what other documentaries would you add to this list? Leave a comment below.

Why Your Doctor Isn’t Talking About This

If living on a plant based diet is so healthy, then why isn’t your doctor talking to you about it? That is a common question (or sentiment) among omnivores when hearing about the benefits of a plant based diet. The truth is, most doctors simply don’t have the training and knowledge of using food as medicine (I wrote about this subject in a previous post); so they can’t really discuss a plant based diet as a prescription to better health, let alone as a means to reverse many common diseases/ailments. Moreover, their practice doesn’t make any money by prescribing vegetables to patients, but they do make money by prescribing drugs – “band-aids” that simply mask symptoms, instead of actually treating the causes of sickness and disease.

Here is a great interview with Dr. Michael Greger that perfectly explains this conundrum:

 

Pretty interesting stuff right?! This really helps explain what is going on in the health care industry, and why none of our doctors are talking about plant based diets as a means to healthier living.

And if that wasn’t enough for you, then check out this next video with Dr. Neal Barnard discussing the same issue:

I hope the information discussed in these two videos answers the question as to why doctors don’t discuss vegan/plant based diets as a means to health. I sometimes get asked, [or teased] the question of “if being vegan or plant based is so healthy, then why wouldn’t my doctor be telling me about this”? Well, this is exactly why I am sharing this information here; I hope this helps to better understand what is really going on here. And I don’t want people to be deterred from trying a plant based diet simply because “their doctor isn’t talking about it, or recommending it.” Do your own research about a plant based diet (and always check the source)…the learning never stops!

Vegan in San Diego

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San Diego, California is home, and I often get asked “what are your favorite vegan restaurants” or “where do you go out to eat” (yes, some people hear vegan and they immediately think I can’t eat anywhere haha). So I thought I would go ahead and put together a list of some of my favorite vegan restaurants in my home town, and a few other non-vegan restaurants that actually have some great vegan options available on their menus. I must say, it sure is great that San Diego is a very vegan friendly city with lots of vegan restaurants, cafes, smoothie/juice stands, and grocery stores…and it seems the plant based trend is only growing here with new places opening up all over town! So without further ado, and in no particular order, here is my list:

VEGAN RESTAURANTS

1. Cafe Gratitude –  Little Italy – 1980 Kettner Blvd. San Diego, 92101.

This is definitely one of my favorites, and I am sure one of the most popular among vegans and non-vegans (they have multiple locations here in Southern California, and they are a pretty big name in the scene). What I love about this place is that they have such an extensive menu of only vegan options! A variety of cuisines, pressed juices, kombuchas, coffee drinks, and wine/beer/cocktails. It’s so great to be able to finally go into a restaurant and know that you can order anything off the menu, without being limited to one option (like a salad, or just a veggie burger), and not having to modify anything or ask the waiter to leave anything out…ahhhh vegan paradise!

Some of my favorite items:

  • Humble / Indian Curry Bowl
  • Mucho / Mexican Bowl
  • Magical / Double Double Veggie Burger
  • Warm Hearted / Grilled Polenta
  • Brave / Immune Boosting Shot – I always get this, has quite a kick, but really good for ya!
  • Immortal / Ayervedic Latte – so damn yummy; it’s like a sweet, cinnamon, chai like latte, but packed with health!

2. Kindred – South Park – 1503 30th St, San Diego, CA 92102.

This is a great little hip spot in South Park, all vegan food, and craft cocktails…definitely a cool venue to check out!

Some of my favorite items:

  • Snacks (appetizer) / Skewers – Chargrilled Seitan, with Chimichurri, very tasty!
  • Snacks (appetizer)/ Hearts of Palm flatbread – so damn good!!
  • Dine / Seared Cauliflower Steak
  • Dine / Beet Risotto

Plenty of other good stuff on the menu too, and also the extensive cocktail menu…give it a go!

3. Donna Jean – 2949 Fifth Ave, San Diego, CA 92103.

This place just recently opened in the Bankers Hill area right by Balboa Park, and it’s actually right next door to Evolution Fast Food – a smaller vegan restaurant that has a drive through (think more casual, quick-service counter style type of place). Donna Jean has a great outdoor patio with a garden of vegetables being grown right there in house; it looks great at night lit up under the garden lights. The cuisine here has a midwest spin to it, with lots of comfort food like options. They also serve kombucha, vegan beers, wine, and sake based cocktails. I saw lots of good options on the menu, and I am looking forward to going back and trying them all!

Some of my favorite items:

  • Starters/ Baked Riccotta – think of this as a cheese plate served with sourdough bread, pretty damn good!
  • Starters/ BBQ Cauliflower – solid kick of smoky BBQ flavor here!
  • Supper/ Ravioli – House Made Ricotta and Tempeh Filled Ravioli, Arrabbiata, Herbs, Spinach. This was absolutely delicious, some of the best ravioli I’ve had!

4. Trilogy Sanctuary – La Jolla – 7650 Girard Ave #400, San Diego, CA 92037.

Not only is this place an awesome yoga studio (multiple levels, and practices), but it also has an amazing roof top all vegan cafe! Great place to come and grab a delicious healthy bite while taking in the open air vibes. This is definitely also one of those places where I walk in and always have a difficult time making decisions on what to order, because everything just looks so good – lots of food options, smoothies, juices, and coffees/teas too! I’ve also had the pleasure of taking a few yoga classes here, and would definitely recommend giving their classes a try!

Some of my favorite items:

  • Perfect Tacos
  • Trilogy Cheeze Burger
  • Love Bowl
  • BLTrilogy Crepe
  • Sweet Potato Wedges

5. Native Foods Cafe – Point Loma – 3369 Rosecrans St., San Diego, CA 92110

This place is more your “fast-casual” type of restaurant; they have multiple locations, an extensive menu of appetizers, salads, sandwiches, burgers, tacos, bowls, desserts, and drinks…and yes, all vegan! This chain does a great job of introducing plant based foods to the mainstream population, their menu’s explain what certain plant based foods are, and how they are prepared. They also have a great vegan cook book that makes it very easy for vegans and non-vegans alike to cook a variety of plant based dishes.

Some of my favorite items:

  • Native Classics / Ensalada Azteca
  • Earth Bowls / Thai Meatball
  • Hand Holds / Baja Tacos
  • Burgers / Native Scorpion Burger
  • Sides / Sweet Potato Fries

6. Veggie Grill – La Jolla Westfield Mall – 4353 La Jolla Village Dr. San Diego, CA 92122.

This is another “fast-casual” order at the counter type spot just like Native Foods Cafe; and it’s located right in the Westfield UTC Shopping Mall. This is also a chain, they have multiple locations, and again this type of concept is doing a great job of introducing the mainstream population to plant based foods by kind of taking the alternative healthy [plant based] fast-food approach. Lots of great tasty options here too from salads, power bowls, burgers, and seasonal entrees.

Some of my favorite items:

  • Bowls/ Sonoran Bowl
  • Entree Salads / Quinoa Power Salad (I always add tempeh)
  • Sandwiches / Grilled Quinoa + Veg Burger
  • Sides / Sweetheart Fries

 

VEGAN FRIENDLY RESTAURANTS 

1. Civico 1845 – Little Italy – 1845 India St. San Diego, CA 92101

Home of the best vegan lasagna I have ever had! This is a great Italian restaurant, with a cool looking interior, and good lively vibes. And best of all, they actually have a full vegan menu in addition to their normal non-vegan menu. So this is a great place to go with non plant-based folks, since everyone will have options (vegans and non-vegans alike). This place is pretty much always busy, so make a reservation or arrive with your patience.

Some of my favorite items:

  • Antipasti/ Vegan Caprese Calda
  • Primi Piatti/ Vegan Lasagna Romagnola (like I said, it’s zeeee best!)

2.  Tajima – East Village – 901 E Street, San Diego, CA 92101.

Who doesn’t like a good ramen, and better yet for us plant heads, a vegan ramen! That is the only thing I come here for, just that one single menu item. They obviously have a bunch of other ramen varieties and small dishes for the non-plant based foodie, but this is one place that actually does the vegan ramen justice!

In this case my only favorite item:

  • Ramen/ Vegan Ramen – spinach noodles in a soy based soup with mixed vegetables, asparagus, mixed greens, corn, kaiware, deep fried tofu, sesame seeds, shredded chili and topped with black garlic oil.

3. Sipz – North Park – 3914 30th Street, San Diego, CA

Sipz

Now this place is 100% vegetarian, so by nature this restaurant is also very vegan friendly; in fact, they have many vegan options, and can always cater to vegan requests. The cuisine is Thai fusion, so you can find lots of stir frys, curries, spring rolls, noodle dishes, and sushi…and they even have some vegan desserts! Lots of options here, so go nuts!

Some of my favorite items:

  • Appetizer/ Fresh Summer Rolls
  • Appetizer/ Lettuce Wraps
  • Spicy Main Dishes/ Spicy Basil
  • Spicy Main Dishes/ Spicy Ginger
  • Mild Main Dishes/ Broccoli Stir Fry

 

This by no means is a full comprehensive list of all vegan/vegan friendly restaurants in San Diego, CA. I know there are many more out there that are not on this list; but these just happen to be a few of my favorites that I frequent the most. As I continue to explore new vegan restaurants, I will be sure to add them to this post. Feel free to comment below with any of your favorite vegan restaurants around town that I might have left out.

 

 

 

 

Vegan Tacos

It is TACO TIME people! Aren’t tacos just great, I mean seriously?! And yes, there is such a thing as vegan tacos, and no they don’t just consist of air and kale wrapped in a tortilla. I like cooking this type of vegan food because A.) it’s more than just cooking kale, and B.) most people (non-vegans) probably have no idea what a vegan taco could or would consist of, so it’s a great way to showcase more vegan food varieties. So here it is, feast your eyes on the creation of vegan tacos; taking it back to my Mexican roots here on this one, time to fully embrace the culture (yes it actually makes a difference to the flavor – the sabor that is), lets get amongst it!! It’s…MUY BIEN!!

And there you have it, that is what vegan tacos are all about folks; so many healthy ingredients, plant proteins, so much zest, and so much damn sabor (again, that means flavor people), all wrapped up in one tortilla! Damn it’s good!! This is vegan food…that is more than just kale (see what I did there)!

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On the left: black beans, red bell peppers, onions, guacamole, cilantro, and red pepper hot sauce. On the right: black beans, baked sweet potatoes, tomatoes, mango salsa, and cilantro.

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On the left – the a little bit of everything taco: black beans, tomatoes, red bell peppers, onions, guacamole, mango salsa, and cilantro. On the right: black beans, baked and seasoned cauliflower, salsa verde [green salsa], guacamole, and cilantro.

Get yourself in the kitchen – free your inner mariachi, make some cruelty free, and good for your health vegan tacos! Treat yo body!!

 

 

Carnism

Do you ever actually stop and think why we eat animals, or why we eat the flesh of another living being? Furthermore, do you ever think why it is that we have become accustomed to eating certain animals, but at the same time find it repulsive to eat others (say a cat, dog, lion, bear, or hamster)? This is where the word carnism comes into play. Carnism, as defined by Dr. Melanie Joy, “is the invisible belief system, or ideology, that conditions people to eat certain animals. Carnism is essentially the opposite of veganism, as ‘carn’ means ‘flesh’ or ‘of the flesh’ and ‘ism’ refers to a belief system. Because carnism is invisible, people rarely realize that eating animals is a choice, rather than a given. In meat-eating cultures around the world, people typically don’t think about why they eat certain animals but not others, or why they eat any animals at all. But when eating animals is not a necessity, which is the case for many people in the world today, then it is a choice – and choices always stem from beliefs.”

So carnism has become the societal norm, as it is considered a given to eat animals (well specific ones at least). Maybe it’s time we just stop and think about that for a moment…thus, I present you this video:

 

It all starts with awareness, and now you are aware of what carnism is.

For all the omnivores and carnivores out there, I hope the information and perspective provided in this video makes you stop and think for just a minute about the un-living creatures you choose to consume on a daily basis, and ask yourself why it is that you don’t feel disgusted about eating a cow burger, but why you would be repulsed if it was a golden lab burger….you might just make the connection.

The Revolution Is Underway

WOW people, this video really sums it up right here; the truth is FINALLY starting to come out! But before I go on some long rant here, and weigh in on some points made in this short film, I’ll just step aside and let the video do the talking. Do yourself a favor, and please WATCH THIS!!

Was that not so damn incredibly eye opening!? It sure as hell should have been! This is what is going on here people, WAKE UP!! This is what has vegan activists up in arms! We the people are purposefully being misinformed when it comes to food, what we should eat, and what the latest health research is telling us! With misinformation comes confusion, and that breads inaction – people will simply continue going on as they have been for years because that is the easiest course of action. But this is exactly what the powers that be want – the meat and dairy industry; they want sheep that simply continue eating what is being fed to them, they want them unaware, misinformed, blind, and asleep at the wheel.

There is such a stark parallel between food misinformation (from big food – meat, poultry industry) and how it was with cigarettes (from big tobacco) back in the day; can you even imagine that there was once a time when the average person had no idea that smoking cigarettes was bad for your health!? The big tobacco companies were constantly putting out propaganda, suppressing information and new research, and purposely trying to keep the public misinformed.

I mean can you imagine how frustrating it would be if you encountered a person now a days that simply denied the truth about the link of smoking and lung cancer. Welcome to what it’s like being a vegan, and simply trying to share information with the average person about the meat their eating, and it’s affects on their health. Yeah, facepalm inducing. But I get it, the average person simply has not put in the time and effort into researching the other side – the vegan side. So instead of being open to any of the information coming form the vegan side, they just quickly dismiss it because it’s coming from some “hippie, tree hugging, cult, misinformed weirdo, that is in a minority group.” Well my dear fellow earthling, it’s time you start listening, it’s time you become aware! Do it for your own sake, your well being, and that of the planet we inhabit. If it wasn’t for these vegan weirdos annoyingly shouting for change, injustice, and awareness; who else would lead the charge to shed light on what is happening here? I doubt it would be the guy posting all his “I love bacon” pics on social media, or the average omnivore for that matter.

The facts, the data, the research about the benefits and affects of a plant based diet on our health, the environment, and the innocent animals is all out there; but so much of it remains in the dark due to this information power struggle led by the meat/dairy industries, their lobbying power, and their financial interests. There is so much money/business at stake here for the meat and dairy industry, of course they are going to continue to push to have their biased information be louder then the truth!

For me, this video brings about the feelings of frustration and anger towards the current situation (yep typical vegan right), and how the truth is being controlled by financial interests at the cost of our own health, the lives of innocent animals, and our environment! But at the same time I feel a great sense of excitement, and hope for the direction this movement is going! I mean just look at the variety of new vegan foods, and vegan/vegetarian restaurants that are popping up all over; more and more even ordinary restaurants are taking notice and offering vegetarian or vegan options. Think about how much that has grown in the last 10 or even 5 years. As this film points out, the trend is definitely growing; businesses are taking notice, and they are starting to shift in order to meet this new consumer demand! The real evidence is starting to emerge and get mainstream attention, more books and documentaries are spreading the truth now then ever before, more celebrities and athletes are going vegan, and the younger generations are already becoming far more aware at an earlier age about these issues then my generation was; they are helping to drive this new growth of plant based demand.

I do envision that one day in the future (maybe not in my lifetime) vegetarian/vegan options will be in every restaurant, and meat packaging will come with clear warnings just like cigarette packaging does now about it’s potential cancer causing effects. Moreover, just as the popularity of recycling for the better well being of our planet has grown, so will the popularity of opting for consuming plants over animals for the better well being of our environment. Who know’s, maybe some day meat eaters will become the minority within the mainstream…yes, that sounds like a stretch right now, but looking at the trajectory of this plant based movement there is no telling how far and fast this can grow. The current evidence [on the growth] would suggest that this plant based train is chugging along full steam!! So to the average carnivore Joe out there, maybe it’s time to start understanding that us vegans aren’t just a bunch of cult hippie weirdos; we’re actually just pioneers on the cutting edge!

Join the movement!

Head Over Heels on Plants

Well if you’ve been following my blog or Instagram pics then you already know I’m  a big fan of my Power Bowls; there really is so much variety to them – you could give each dish their own name, but at the end of the day it’s a bunch of healthy ingredients that are eaten out of a bowl…hence the name. Anyway, I already did a lengthy written post with pics about these magical Power Bowls, so here I thought I would just simply do a quick video on me actually putting one of these bad boys together. Again, you could really add in whatever different ingredient you want with these: the base (grain), the veggies, legumes, meat alternatives, seeds/nuts, and of course the jazz! Each ingredient serves a purpose, for taste and health! I let the video explain the rest, so here it is; go get head over heels on plants!

 

Olympic Level Compassion

It’s always great to come across inspirational stories, they leave you with a lasting feeling of hope, positivity, and they usually carry a learning opportunity within that message. This video is one such story; Dotsie Bausch is an olympic athlete that does an incredible job of explaining all the key points (the animals, your health, and the environment) of choosing a plant based lifestyle in such a short presentation. She really hits the nail on the head here, and I think everyone (omnivores and carnivores alike) can learn something from her journey. Take 15 minutes out of your day and give this video a watch; careful though, it might bring about irreversible awareness!

 

Good on Dotsie here to be living proof of an elite athlete doing it all on a plant based diet, and addressing that damn protein issue [myth]. Yes people, believe it or not, you can build muscles and excel as an elite athlete on a plant based diet! Meat/dairy is not the only answer to protein! Moreover, not only can you get your daily required dose of protein from a plant based diet, but you can also be an extreme athlete on a plant based diet – as Dotsie explains in the video.

Definition of Compassiona feeling of distress and pity for the suffering or misfortune of another, often including the desire to alleviate it. 

We are all compassionate individuals by nature; we have compassion for our family members, our friends, our pets, and even towards strangers. As a human, it would be very hard for anyone to actually be inside one of these factory farms and see the suffering of these animals, and then feel absolutely nothing towards them – especially as they are being dragged away to slaughter. Yet, as consumers, we are all completely disconnected from this harsh reality – it’s out of sight, and therefore out of mind (ignorance is bliss) for us. We simply go to the grocery store, see a nice package that we have been conditioned to see as food, purchase it, and then cook it and eat it. We don’t see that package as containing the decomposing remains of what was once a sentient being; the meat, and poultry industries do a great job of making sure that the masses don’t awaken to that fact. Unfortunately, this is the harsh reality, and for most it is too difficult to confront, so they intentionally continue on in a state of blissful ignorance.

Well personally, I choose awareness! See the truth, see it for what it really is! Open your eyes and your mind, educate yourself on the topic! As a consumer you have the power to vote with your dollar everyday; by choosing to spend your money on something, you are choosing to support that product/company/industry/option. So know what you are supporting and contributing to; see the truth, choose compassion, and execute accordingly!