tag: diet

my vegan pregnancy

September 4, 2013

Posted by in simple living

one of the most common questions i’ve been asked is, “how has your vegan pregnancy been?“. i was going to write about it much sooner, but to be honest i haven’t had much to say. it’s been easy!

i’ve just been eating the way i always have been. (if you’re not sure what that looks like, check out my weekly dinner posts.) i’m happy to report that i never had any crazy cravings for meat or cheese and have been very happy and healthy the entire time. i was also able to easily (a little too easily, if you ask me..) pack on around 33 pounds. they suggest keeping it somewhere between 25-35 and despite my best efforts, i creeped up towards the upper limit. oh well.

i will say that as most women, i didn’t feel great for the first three months. i’m thankful to have never actually gotten ill, but i came close to it several times. no food looked good to me, accept for bland white foods like potatoes and rice. i remember standing in the produce section at whole foods (usually, this is my happy place) and eyeballing each vegetable, getting more and more nauseous as i went down the line. nothing looked good! but i tried to sneak in as many veggies as i could during the time and sure enough around 12 weeks it all went away. i was able to happily gorge myself on veggies the rest of the time.

a note on supplements: as i’ve mentioned before, i don’t believe vegans need to take supplements of any kind, as long as your mindful about your diet. however pregnancy is one of those special times in your life where you need to take extra good care of yourself (vegan or not), so i took an organic whole foods prenatal vitamin and an algae omega dha. what’s an algae omega dha you say? let me tell you! doctors recommend that while you’re pregnant you take a dha omega 3 supplement to support healthy brain development. this usually comes in the form of a fish product, which of course i didn’t want to take. upon further research, what’s even a better source of dha is algae. yup, algae! made from microalgae it offers a plant-based source of beneficial marine omega 3s epa and dha without the use of fish. in fact, that’s why fish are so high in dha omega 3s, because they eat algae. so, why not remove the middle man and go straight to the source?

i also had all the recommended bloodwork done along the way and my reports were always outstanding. i asked my doctor at the beginning if they should do a more thorough test for all of my nutrients, and she said confidentaly that vegans are usually always completely healthy and get sufficient amounts of all the necessary nutrients. fortunately, that was the case with me. no need for added protein or anything else.

for the most part, i’ve also felt very energetic my entire pregnancy, and i contribute a lot of that to eating a clean diet. we also watch our gluten intake, which i believe has a lot to do with my energy (since when i do slip up, i’m sleepy and lethargic the next day). just try it. cut out all the gluten in your diet for 2 weeks and then eat a bunch of wheat bread and pasta for dinner one night. you won’t believe what you feel like the next day (plan for lots of naps and minimal productivity).

i’d like to also mention how (pregnant or not) being vegan usually means having beautiful skin, hair and nails! vegans tend to eat a lot more healthy fats (think coconut oil, avocado and lots of nuts) which do wonders for your skin. vegans are also cutting out milk and cheese which can be a skin irritant and cause for acne. now, i will by no means claim that vegans won’t get stretch marks, but i will say that somehow i didn’t get any (and i thought for sure i would!). i have them all over my lower body from puberty so i figured i was just prone to them. my mom also got them when she pregnant with me, so i figured i was doomed. i’m not sure if my diet had anything to do with it at all, but i was eating a ‘normal’ american diet during puberty (got lots of stretch marks) and now that i’m vegan i didn’t get a single one. i think it may just be connected. (disclaimer: i also used this oil, which i highly recommend!).

so that just about sums it up. eating a plant based diet makes me feel great!

photo by lindsay jean.

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*hey friends! today i’m so excited to kick off a new series on going home to roost: the VEG articles- inspirational stories from around the globe. i find it so inspiring to meet other people eating a plant based diet, and feel incredibly lucky to have this amazing online space to meet, greet and discuss with others about the issues we care about. this series is meant to inspire you and enlighten us on how people from all over the world make eating this way possible. please read on, grab a few recipes and join the conversation! xo, bonnie

the veg articles: inspirational stories from around the globe

Being vegan in a country in which the main industry is farming, New Zealand has quite a few challenges for someone like me who is vegan. I have been vegan for almost two years and made the transition from consuming animals to veganism after investigating the link between the uses of animals and the treatment of these animals in Western society. This was when I really started to learn and understand how my own actions influence the lives of not only my own, but others too.

The benefits from becoming vegan have been absolutely amazing. Firstly, I feel better ethically. In terms of my health, I have experienced more energy, stronger hair, longer and healthier nails and fewer breakouts on my skin. The main thing that has surprised me about this is the amount of energy. I used to suffer from extreme exhaustion, often causing days where I would miss University. Now, I’m more alert, exercise a lot more and I generally feel more energetic and vibrant!

The hardest thing for me about veganism was dealing with the comments about how my diet misses out important vitamins and minerals found only in the body of an animal. If the comment arises (which it does almost once a week), I always refer to the food pyramid and how plant-based eating is the most important food group and I discuss how the process of keeping a food journal has helped me keep track of my vitamin and mineral intake.

The easiest thing for me about becoming vegan was finding recipes to experience. Vegan recipes are everywhere nowadays; just look at your local bookstore or online for recipes that are vegan and start experimenting! You’ll find that the foods you already eat are able to be adjusted to become more yummy and healthy, just without animal products.

An average day for me eating is full of yummy foods! Breakfast is my own muesli which is made with oats, dried berries and nuts with some almond milk. Lunch is often a simple green salad with a bean salad. My afternoon tea is always either pumpkin seeds or homemade chocolate chip cookies. Dinner is quite varied; tofu, edamame and vegetable stir-fry, vegetable curries or a tofu and vegetable soup is often what makes my dinner special. I drink water, chai tea or green tea.

the veg articles: inspirational stories from around the globe

Vegan food; it is more about salads and leafy greens. Living in New Zealand, foods that are made specifically for vegans are 99% non-existent. Major supermarkets and even specialty produce stores do not have products for vegans. (Vegetarian food, yes.) Therefore, I make 99% percent of the food I consume and the 1% is for special stuff. If you don’t have access to readily available vegan foods, think about foods you already consume and make them vegan. Something as simple as a fresh salad is beautiful anytime. If you don’t like salads, try finding pasta that doesn’t contain egg or milk, add some kale or spinach, add tomato and zucchini with some pasta sauce and you’ve got a lovely dish. Tofu is not everyone’s taste but it is definitely something to try at least once. Almond, hemp, soy or any other milk is a yummy alternative to dairy; I drink almond milk and I never feel ill like I did with cow’s milk. The important thing is to not rush the process – it is important to take notes and find out what works best for you and your taste.

My favourite recipe is; Tomato and Eggplant (or anything) Linguine.

1 large eggplant (if in season) thinly sliced.
1 lemon.
375g dried vegan pasta.
2Tbsp olive oil.
250g cherry tomatoes.
Any other vegetables you want; zucchini, capsicum, spinach, kale.
1 bunch of parsley.

Cook vegetables except tomato on medium heat. Grate lemon over vegetables and add juice. Cook pasta following packet instructions until tender. Drain water completely. Cook tomatoes on medium heat until they start to soften. Add other vegetables and cook for a further five minutes. Add parsley and serve!

My advice for anyone who is thinking about becoming vegan is RESEARCH. Books and the internet were my greatest resource for finding out information about becoming animal-consumer free. “Vegan for Life: Everything You Need to Know to Be Healthy and Fit on a Plant-Based Diet” by Jack Norris and Virginia Messina is a book that helped me understand the different types of food that I could eat. Organizations such as Leaping Bunny and PETA both have lists on their website of products that do not test on animals and do not contain animal derived products. This list has changed my life; veganism is not only about not consuming animal products through food choices but also being aware of daily products that can be made using ingredients of an animal. The idea that being vegan only means not consuming animal products through food is the most common misconception people have assumed throughout my veganism.

Being vegan in New Zealand is not as easy as some other countries such as the US. We do not have faux meat or specialty stores stocking vegan items. Often, I purchase vegan food and household items online from animal rights organizations in New Zealand and cosmetics from my local drugstore. I travel to Australia about 6 times a year and finding vegan products is completely the opposite of New Zealand. There are many vegan restaurants and specialty health/vegan stores in the cities. When travelling to new places, I will ask around or research specialty stores that may have products for vegans. If both fail, I always have my go-to food; salads, tofu, vegetable bakes and other yummy food.

The inspiration that keeps me from returning to a life of animal consumption is the knowledge that the treatment of animals in society is cruel and unfair. I’ve learnt a lot since becoming vegan and I know that I could never go back to my previous lifestyle. There are challenging times but I always think about how people before my time such as Albert Einstein, Charles Darwin and Franz Kafka all advocated a plant-based diet. Knowing that people from centuries ago believed in the same thing I do today, has helped me continue this inspirational journey.

a huge thanks to stephanie for sharing her story and recipes with us! if you’re interested in sharing your story about eating a plant based diet with GHTR, i’d love to hear from you. just email me!

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Posted by in simple living

the sexy sugar free vegan project

my friend nancy from wolf and willow and i have had similar revelations over the past few years. mine having to do with becoming vegan and cutting out gluten, her’s having to do with becoming vegan and cutting out sugar. both of which have produced radical improvements in our health, minds and well being!

i’m super inspired by nancy’s latest sexy sugar free vegan project. it’s getting back to the basics- eating whole foods that are plant based AND sugar free. with benefits ranging from better sleep to an increase in energy, it’s definitely worth looking in to. check out this post to read more about quitting sugar, but in a nutshell americans eat 130 pounds of sugar a year. that’s up from about 20 pounds in 1820. THAT’S a lot of unneeded sugar!

the sexy sugar free vegan project

above recipes: kale, quinoa & green olive salad | coconut and vanilla bean yoghurt | super freen breakfast smoothie | cajun purple carrot + black bean sliders

as part of the project, nancy is posting a vegan, sugar free menu every day until christmas on wolf and willow. the recipes are delicious, wholesome and easy to follow along with! we encourage you to just give it a try. sign up for sexy sugar free vegan e-mails (scroll to the bottom) and just do what you can do. what do you have to lose?

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Posted by in simple living

this month, it will be one year since my husband and i became a couple of veg-headed vegans. i know it can be a controversial issue, and so i encourage you to read the reasons on why we decided to make the switch in the first place. today though, i only want to share with you why it’s been the best decision of our lives. the results that we’ve experienced from the change is undeniable. tomorrow, i plan to share with you why i believe it is also incredibly easy. stay tuned!

cherries

{sweet cherries}

you can read the reasons why we decided to become vegan, but in short, here’s our story. we decided to be vegetarians about 7 years ago, a decision we made in efforts to avoid the antibiotics and hormones found in meat, for promised health benefits and to do something to alleviate the horrid practices of factory farming and environmental distress. several years later, we realized that we were relying heavily on cheese, milk and eggs, especially when we ate out. in our case, that meant that about 90% of the dairy we were consuming was not organic and came from who knew where. there we were, still eating antibiotics and hormones, being unhealthy and supporting the factory farming business of dairy cows and laying hens (which are absolutely terrifying, ask if you want more info!). so we made the switch, here’s why it was the best decision i ever made!

just to clarify, we don’t take supplements and don’t believe you should need to. we eat a well rounded, balanced diet full of incredibly tasty and nutritious things

1) i haven’t gotten sick now for the longest period of my life. it’s been one year with no sickness, woo hoo!
2) i feel better than ever. my energy is up and my eyes are bright.
3) i’m more eager to wake up and get going in the morning. seriously! i have felt a decrease in my ‘sluggishness’.
4) i’m more focused. i have found a noticeable difference in how focused i am and how much more productive as well.
5) my skin has finally cleared up, completely. i’m off all of the creams my dermatologist had me on and use no particularly special routine for my skin for the first time in my life.
6) my fitness has improved. i feel better when i run and have seen quicker results in my endurance than ever.
7) my body odor has decreased. not sure how to explain this one, but it’s true. better breath and no need for deoderant.
8) my nails and hair haven gotten stronger and prettier.
9) i have a sense of responsible about my lifestyle. like i’m making a difference in my health, my future health and the health of our planet.
10) i’ve lost weight. not much, but 7-8 pounds, effortlessly.
11) i love cooking vegan! no spoiled dairy, no germy meat. i haven’t had to disinfect my kitchen in a very long time.
12) my digestion is better and noticeably healthier than it was before.
13) i love being a part of the community. it’s (mostly) filled with inspiring, supportinve and truly lovely people.
14) i have less headaches. i used to get frequent headaches and occasional migraines, and haven’t had hardly any at all this year.
15) as soon as we cut out all the fillers (meat, cheese, eggs) our diet expanded tremendously. there are so many grains, beans, fruits, veggies, nuts, sea veggies and seeds that we never had tried before!
16) my allergies have gotten better. again i can’t really explain this but studies agree that cutting out dairy and meat can help alleviate allergy symptoms.
17) we save money. we don’t waste as much money on eating out (though it is easy to eat out if we want, i’ll tell you why tomorrow!). and we don’t buy as many snacks and unhealthy filler foods at the store.
18) reduced PMS symptoms. something about eliminating dairy does this!
19) i’m not as sleepy in the afternoons. i haven’t felt the need for an afternoon nap in months and months.
20) we’ve increased our awareness of the foods we put into our body. each food makes us feel a certain way, and we’ve become much more aware of it.

i will say that many of these benefits weren’t noticeable right away. it’s something you have to stick with. i lost the weight after 6 months, my skin cleared up after 10 months. but, i started feeling better almost instantly. give it a try, but be prepared to stick with it for amazing health benefits down the road.

tomorrow i plan to share with you why i also believe that it’s incredibly easy. stay tuned!

gotta question? comment? are you a vegan? do you have any benefits you’ve experienced? please share them with us in the comments section! i’ll ‘meat’ you there. :)

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wheat feild

sunlit wheat field

ok, you caught me on this one. i haven’t thought about wheat germ in a long time. but, apparently we should start! wheat germ is a concentrated source of several essential nutrients including vitamin e, vitamin b, iron, selenium, folate (folic acid), phosphorus, thiamine, magnesium, immune boosting zinc and is also a good source of fiber. and, with 7 grams of protein per 1/4 cup serving, it’s also an incredible source protein. who knew!

basically, things like white bread are made with white flour that has had the germ and brand removed (who’s idea was that?). the good news is we can easily start adding wheat germ back into our diets. look for it in your health food store’s refrigerated department and start adding into your protein shakes, casseroles, muffins, pancakes, cereals, yogurt, cookies and other baked goods. just substitute 1/4 of the flour with wheat germ in batters and doughs or swap in wheat germ for half of the breadcrumbs in casseroles or the like.

resources: vegetarian times (spring 2011), wheat germ on wiki

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food for thought

March 31, 2011

Posted by in simple living


today i want to direct your attention to another article in the blogsphere. the topic? dairy. it can be somewhat of a controversial topic, but i would at least like you to read this article with an open mind and hear her out. you can see my take on it in the article’s comment section, and i would be interested to hear your story. go ahead and hop on over to read the thing about dairy. we’ll chat soon!

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a little is a lot

March 3, 2011

Posted by in simple living

live love eat balloons

{live love eat balloons by anek}

if you follow me on the old twitter thang, you might know that my mister recently decided to start eating vegan. i’m a supporter of both all things healthy and him, so it made me excited, but quickly made me wonder, ‘what does this mean for me’? since i’m the cook, it certainly has some heavy implications for our dinners at home. but remembering why i think being vegan is such a good idea in the first place, i quickly decided to at least give it a try. why not? i find myself emotionally attached to dairy (but no longer meat, as i gave that up a long time ago). but isn’t that kind of strange? why are we as a culture so attached to dairy? no other culture in the world is! i think i can live without it. especially with all the yummy alternatives there are these days.

but i immediately started being self-conscious of what people would think. i didn’t want to tell anyone. more important then them just thinking i was a real quack, i didn’t want them to judge me. saying your vegan these days comes with a pretty hefty toll. people judge. and hard. i can just hear them saying, “you say you’re vegan but you’re wearing leather shoes?” and then immediately dismissing me. i don’t think that’s fair.

in fact, i still plan on eating honey. local, raw, organic honey. it’s good and incredibly good for you (remember?).

i still own some leather shoes and david will still wear is favorite leather belt. we’re not perfect. we drive a big nasty car that only gets 20 miles to the gallon. i’m not proud of that, but you know what? i am proud of what we ARE doing. and i’m proud of each and every little thing that you are doing.

why are people so often negative to people who are trying to do good? i guess what i’m saying is that i don’t like labels. vegetarian, raw foodist, vegan, paleo, locavore, freegan, pescatarian, fruititarian (just google these for some fun reads). if you can stick to it, great. but i think by labeling ourselves, we sign ourselves up for failure- and maybe (just maybe) even to be judged by others.

i’m interested in being the healthiest i can be. does that most closely resemble a vegan diet? yes. will it always? probably not. might i get chickens again and eat gorgeous, local and organic eggs right from my own back yard? probably.

i want to celebrate the good things. i want to lift up every conscious decision we as human beings make- no matter how great or how small. i’m proud of anyone who cares, even if it’s just by a little.

so what do you do? i want to hear about it. do you have meatless mondays at your house? did you bike to work? pee in the shower to save water? did you pass up one burger from a fast food restaurant last week? did you buy something organic? support a local farm?

even if it’s one decision, one time- i think it makes a huge difference and i want to know about it. i want to celebrate you.

on the flip side: even though you’re a vegetarian, did you eat a piece of meat last week? confession time! are you vegans hiding honey in your cabinets? any paleo’s out there still eating chocolate? i know you’re out there, so fess up! i’ll start in the comments section.

i want to start erasing labels and removing stereotypes from those of us who are just trying to do some good. we’re not perfect. i want to acknoledge the greatest gift we have on this earth- the ability to make our own decisions about what we will and will not put in our mouths.

i want to celebrate you!

i’ll ‘meat’ you in the comments section.

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20 reasons to go vegan

January 10, 2011

Posted by in simple living

why would one choose to be vegan? one of my dear friends posed this exact question on facebook over the weekend, and it really got me thinking. most of you know that my husband and i have been a vegetarian for a long time, and often end up eating a vegan diet as well. their are many reasons why someone would go vegetarian, vegan or choose to eat only local & organic products, but today i want to specifically discuss the reasons why someone would choose to ‘go vegan’.

10 reasons to go vegan

{the cooks}

1. you’ll live longer. studies show that on average vegans live 6 years longer than meat eaters.

2. avoid toxins. (non-organic) meat contains antibiotics, hormones & toxins produced by stress & pesticide residues that become concentrated from all the crops they have eaten.
3. less land consumption. an astounding 20 vegans can live off the same amount of land required by one meat eater.
4. less water consumption. it only takes 25 gallons of water to produce 1lb of wheat whereas it takes 2500 gallons to produce 1lb of meat.

5. reduce potential for food poison. 80% of food poisoning is due to infected meat.
6. reduced risk of heart disease. vegans have a 57% reduced risk of getting heart disease (the #1 killer in america today!).
7. proper protein. the average american eats twice as much protein as necessary for a healthy diet and much of that is from red meat. getting protein from beans and grains is much healthier and reduces the risk for osteoporosis.
8. healthy hormones. eating animals that have been given hormones to speed growth (a widely accepted practice in the meat industry) means those hormones go into your body. not only can this disrupt the natural balance of your hormones, but some of the hormones given to animals have shown to cause tumor growth in humans.
9. avoid antibiotics. antibiotics are almost always given to (non-organic) feed animals, which can lead to bacterial resistance in humans. many of the antibiotics used to treat human infections are also used in feed animals. this means by consuming this, we are causing ourselves to be less resistant to antibiotics.
10. increased weight loss. a healthy weight loss is a typical result of a smart vegan diet. eating vegan eliminates most of the unhealthy foods that tend to cause weight issues. 33% percent of americans are obese, while only 2% of vegans are.
11. prevent osteoporosis. bone health depends on a balance of neither too much or too little protein, adequate calcium intake, high potassium, and low sodium. with a healthy vegan diet, all four of these points set a perfect scenario for preventing osteoporosis.
12. appropriate puberty. since 1950, girls are hitting puberty on average 4-7 years earlier and boy’s sperm counts have decreased by 25-50% due to the hormones present in non-organic meat and dairy products.
13. reduced risk of alzheimers. meat eaters have double the rate of alzheimers disease as vegans.
14. support heathy ecosystems. nitrates & pesticides used on crops grown to feed livestock end up in our rivers and vastly effect the health of micro environments and ecosystems.
15. reduce global warming. the 1,300,000,000 cattle in the world emit 60,000,000 tons of methane per year (methane is a greenhouse gas which leads to global warming).
16. reduce animal cruelty. the animals involved in mass industry farming are exposed to the most cruel, unsanitary and horrific conditions. if you can handle watching it, the meet your meat‘ movie will give you a glance into the common practices of present day industry farming.
17. reduce your risk for cancer. vegans have a 40% reduced level of cancer than the general population thought to be because they have a higher intake of vitamins A,C & E.
18. eliminate bad cholesterol. eliminating any food that comes from an animal and you will eliminate all of the ‘bad’ dietary cholesterol from your diet (heart disease is the leading cause of death in america today).
19. save rain forests. if they continue to clear american forests to raise cattle at the present rate, in 50 years there will be none left.
20. increase your energy. when following a healthy vegan diet, you will find your energy is much higher.

so many people get hung up on the idea that eating vegan or vegetarian is just too difficult. or they may find themselves emotionally attached to just how tasty meat can be. what they often don’t know, is that it is ever increasingly easy to eat a vegan/vegetarian diet, and enjoy much of the same things you do now. with meat substitutes, you can enjoy healthy vegan bacon, burgers and even barbecue! it’s a great way to ease into the lifestyle. today, even eating out is no problem. with most american restaurants offering vegan friendly dishes, you can also head to a mexican, thai, chinese, or indian restaurant for a sure bet of vegan/vegetarian options.

what do you think? is it worth the health of your body and your planet to skip the meat? i think i could have stopped after reason #1 and been convinced, but i would love to know what you think. i’ll meet you in the comments section!

resources & further recommended reading: veggie revolution, 101 reasons to go vegetarian, 57 health benefits of going vegan, dr. oz

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