Vegan 2017

Another year of eating kale, and another year in the advancement of the vegan movement! It seems now more then ever that the plant based movement continues to grow exponentially every year, with the sharing of information, books, documentaries, YouTube videos, social media, events, and festivals. Moreover, it’s so great to see how many more new vegan restaurants are popping up, vegan options in “non-vegan” restaurants, vegan foods and alternatives at the grocery store, vegan apparel, and vegan movements! Love it!

And once again, the folks over at Plant Based News have done a great job of putting together another short documentary (as they did for 2016) that recounts the growth of the vegan movement in 2017. I wish everyone could watch this video because it is packed with so many good clips, news worthy segments, success stories, and challenges that still lie ahead of/for the vegan movement. But the main takeaway is clear, the vegan movement is growing, and there is no slowing down! Check it out here:

Vegan 2017

 

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 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!

 

 

 

 

Bake That Sparg!

Gotta love baking up some asparagus, it’s healthy, tasty, and adds some great sabor to your meal! Just like my tempeh, I like to bake my asparagus. However, every now and then I do like to just chop it up and throw it in a hot pan to cook it up, or boil it; just go with whatever strikes you at the time…treat yo self!

For me, most of the time I add asparagus to my power bowls for dinner, but you can definitely add the sparg to a nice salad, perhaps a wrap, or whatever the hell else you feel like adding it to. By baking it, you get that delicious taste and texture of crispy on the outside, tender on the inside. It adds a nice crunch to your meals, and it’s a great way to get your greens! So next time you are at the store, and looking to add some greens into your mix – other than just kale, grab some organic asparagus, and bake that shit right up!

 

Here is how I like to eat my baked asparagus…Power Bowl bang!! Mmmmm Yummy!

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Get amongst it! Give it a try! Eat your veggies!!

Things You Hear As a Vegan

Ohhh man, this video is too good!! It really hits the nail on the head with so many vegan issues, and/or comments you hear as a vegan! But, this is also a great video for all non-plant based people because it really does answer a lot of the questions most people have about a plant based diet, or living a vegan lifestyle. So check it out!

 

Ha, the good old protein question, it never fails…this probably is the most common question. Well since most of us have been taught from an early age that you need milk for strong bones, and that you need to eat meat for protein, it’s no wonder there is a lot of confusion or misunderstanding when people hear that you [the vegan] sustain yourself on plants. Just check out my food post on Power Bowls to see where I get all my plant based protein from.

Then there is the ‘but don’t you miss bacon‘ question ha. Well, for me I was never a fan of bacon, it was just too greasy, and I didn’t like the taste really (shocker I know). But regardless, no I don’t miss bacon, or any meat for that matter. I know this is difficult for any non-plant based person to fully understand, but as a vegan I simply don’t think of meat the same way; the meat eater probably thinks ‘Mmmm yummy, sizzling meat,’ whereas I think ‘Ughhhh yuck sizzling dead animal pieces.’ I mean most people (in western culture) would cringe at the idea of eating bacon made from dog meat right? Well, not sure why you also wouldn’t cringe at the idea of eating bacon meat made form these wonderful creatures (hint: you’ve been conditioned to respond a certain way – but that still doesn’t make it right) – this is your bacon:

Oh, and for those of you that still see these cute little variations of a dog and think ‘Mmmm bacon,’ well perhaps you should think about this:

 

The milk question, ‘what’s so wrong with milk‘? Those good old “Got Milk?” commercials (funded by the dairy industry of course) sure did a good job of misinforming convincing America how important it is that we drink another species (just think about that for a moment) milk in order to grow big and have strong bones. But of course, these commercials and this message is extremely biased because guess what, the dairy industry needs to make sure people keep buying their product. Well, here is what the dairy industry doesn’t want people to know; there are real negative health implications to drinking this stuff! Oh, not to mention how shitty these poor animals get treated, and killed.

The ‘deserted island‘ proposition, ha! I don’t know why people try to come up with totally unrealistic scenarios just to try to poke holes in someones choice to not eat animals. Long story short, I don’t live on a deserted island so I DO have access to plant based alternatives. But if I was in a totally unrealistic scenario as such, then I’d find plants and berries…or like the gal in the video said, I’d eat what the animals eat. Or, just as unrealistically, I would summon Falkor to pick me up and fly me off this deserted island…peace out! Lets just leave it at that.

But ‘plants have feelings too,’ this is probably one of the comments that gets my blood boiling the most, it’s simply an ignorant (truly misinformed) response when someone doesn’t have (literally is uneducated on the subject of plants, and the fact that they don’t have a brain or central nervous system that would give them the ability to feel) anything better to say when confronted with the cold truth that what they are eating was once a lively sentient creature that had emotions, a personality, and feelings (just like your precious dog or cat).

Lastly, the notion of ‘I just couldn’t do it‘ [go vegan]. Well, yeah changing a custom or routine that you’ve known all your life to something new and different isn’t always easy. But who said that going vegan is something that has to happen over night! Hint: no one. So for anyone thinking of trying a plant based diet, just know that it is simply a transition; take your time with it, start small, or start with a vegetarian diet first. The key here, like they said in the video, is education – the more time you spend learning about a plant based diet, it’s health benefits, and moral and environmental implications, the more informed you become. Moreover, you start to realize all the amazing plant based food there is to eat, how to prepare all these plant based dishes, and how easy it is to make plant based meals. Over time your taste buds adjust, your cravings adjust, and what you once thought was impossible (ditching all your meat and dairy), simply becomes routine and normal. Not to mention, you feel great doing it! At the end of the day I don’t pretend that everyone is going to go vegan, I just wish everyone would simply take the time to be more informed (plant based Vs. non-plant based)!

 

Power Bowls

I’m a big fan of Power Bowls (a term I coined myself thank you very much) for dinner mostly, and I call them that because they really are just a big bowl of super healthy antioxidant rich plant based foods: good carbs, power house veggies, plant based protein, and power spices…tastes great, and easy to make! So if you are thinking of transitioning to a plant based diet, or just need some ideas of what the hell to eat other then kale, tofu, and grass, then follow along these easy to make recipes here. [FYI – I pretty much only shop organic, and so probably 95% of what I make is all organic, and yes of course vegan].

Simply start with a grain as your base (yes, these have protein), here are some of my favorites:

  • Farro (I usually get Bob’s Red Mill)
  • Quinoa
  • Millet
  • Rice (brown or white)
  • Pasta (could be made from rice, wheat, quinoa, lentils, or garbanzo beans)
  • Barley
  • Buckwheat

Secret ingredient to cooking/boiling these grains is to use vegetable broth – adds great flavor!

Then, when the grains are almost done cooking, I throw in a variety of what I call power spices (because each spice carries significant health benefits); however, I do recommend getting organic spices! Here are just a few of my favorites:

Next, add in your veggies (yes, believe it or not, these have protein too); here are a few of my favorites, of course this is where you can get creative and add a bunch more:

  • Kale (well of course duh)
  • Tomatoes (also love the heirloom variety)
  • Brocoli or Broccolini
  • Asparagus
  • Celery
  • Mushrooms
  • Bell Peppers
  • Beets
  • Carrots
  • Sweet Potatoes/Purple Potatoes
  • Cucumber

I also like to add in a variety of legumes (these are packed with protein) here are some examples:

  • Black Beans
  • Garbanzo Beans, aka Chickpeas
  • Kidney Beans
  • Lentils

And then sometimes I throw in some vegan meat alternatives (yes, these all have protein as well), here are a few I really like:

Once I have all this stuff done, and cooked, I throw it all in a bowl, and then sometimes I sprinkle on some seeds for added crunch and flavor (you guessed it, these have protein too) – here are a couple of my go-to’s:

And lastly, I like to jazz it up! Here are a couple favorite jazzing ingredients:

I am sure you have noticed my parentheses throughout this post that indicate which food groups contain protein, and as you should have noticed…it’s pretty much every category. Wait, vegan food has protein? I know, mind blowing right?! I did this on purpose to finally inform and dispel that misguided idea that plant based eaters don’t get enough protein, or to finally answer that question every vegetarian or vegans gets asked – “where do you get your protein.” Well, there you have it, this is where I get my protein. Also, keep in mind that this is typically only one meal in my day, this doesn’t count all the other protein I get during the day from what I eat for breakfast, lunch, and snacks.

So what do these magical Power Bowls full of plant based goodness actually look like when it’s all said and done, well here are some examples:

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Base: farro. Power Spices: turmeric, cayenne, pink Himalayan salt, black pepper, and garlic. Veggies: diced celery, crimini mushrooms, asparagus, and tomatoes. Meat Alternatives: baked tempeh (baked on a cookie sheet with a little bit of avocado oil, and Bragg’s Liquid Aminos). Jazz: red jalapeño sauce, fresh squeezed lemon juice.

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Base: quinoa. Power Spices: cayenne pepper, pink Himalayan salt, ginger, black pepper, and garlic. Veggies: red bell pepper. Legumes: garbanzo beans. Seeds: pumpkin seeds. Jazz: red pepper hot sauce.

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Base: farro. Power Spices: garlic, turmeric, black pepper, and pink Himalayan salt. Veggies:  chopped red bell pepper, celery, and baked broccolini. Seeds: sunflower seeds. Jazz: organic reduced sodium soy sauce, and fresh squeezed lemon juice.

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Base: farro. Power Spices: turmeric, cayenne pepper, ginger, black pepper, and pink Himalayan salt. Veggies: tomatoes, and broccolini. Legumes: black beans. Seeds: pumpkin, and sunflower seeds. Jazz: Bragg’s Liquid Aminos, red jalapeño hot sauce.

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Base: pasta – organic vegetable radiatore. Power Spices: cayenne pepper, pink Himalayan salt, garlic, and black pepper. Veggies: vine tomatoes, and kale. Meat Alternatives: baked tempeh. Jazz: fresh squeezed lemon juice, red pepper hot sauce.

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Base: pasta – organic whole wheat. Power Spices: pink Himalayan salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper, and Bragg’s Organic Sprinkle. Veggies: vine tomatoes, and kale. Meat Alternatives: Organic quarter pound veggie burger – “Original” from Sunshine.  Jazz: fresh squeezed lemon juice.

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Base: farro. Power Spices: turmeric, pink Himalayan salt, black pepper, and cayenne pepper. Veggies: kale, and vine tomatoes. Meat Alternatives: baked sweet potato, and a cut up veggie burger. Jazz: sunflower seeds, and fresh squeezed lemon juice.

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Base: a mix of quinoa and white rice. Power Spices: pink Himalayan salt, black pepper, and cayenne pepper. Veggies: red bell peppers, and kale. Legumes: black beans. Jazz: red pepper hot sauce, fresh squeezed lemon juice, and topped with avocado.

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Base: organic vegetable pasta. Power Spices: pink Himalayan salt, black pepper, and cayenne pepper, and garlic. Veggies: steamed broccolini, and vine tomatoes. Jazz: fresh squeezed lemon juice, and chopped cilantro.

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Power Salad – Base: organic red leaf lettuce, vine tomatoes, celery, cucumbers, fermenter beet cabbage (great for gut health), and carrots. Meat Alternatives: tempeh. Jazz: I make my own dressing: balsamic vinegar, fresh squeezed lemon, cayenne pepper, pink Himalayan sea salt, black pepper, and dijon mustard (also sometimes I add in a bit of veganaise to add some creaminess to is) – mix all this together, and bang you got your dressing!

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Power Salad – Base: organic kale, vine tomatoes, rainbow carrots, and a baked purple potato (loaded with antioxidants and disease-fighting phytonutrients). Meat Alternatives: lentils. Jazz: dressing: balsamic vinegar, fresh squeezed lemon, cayenne pepper, pink Himalayan sea salt, black pepper, and dijon mustard. I also like to add in seeds and nuts to my salads for extra crunch and protein – in this case I used sunflower seeds.

 

Bang! And that’s my long winded Power Bowl rant! Again, there are so many ways to get creative with this, and so many other ingredients you could use…possibilities are endless! Give it a try, get in the kitchen and power up with a plant based Power Bowl!