My First Month Going Vegan

*As a disclaimer, I’m currently in eating disorder recovery and have decided with my nutritionist to go with the idea of being “mostly vegan” while I work through my recovery.

After months of the universe giving me hints to try to go vegan, I made the leap about a month ago and haven’t looked back! I always been curious about plant-based lifestyles. I grew eating meat, eggs and dairy as part of a “balanced” diet. I ate some fruits and vegetables but was never terribly excited about them.

In the past few years I’ve started to think about how I ethically feel about eating meat. I understood where my food came from and tried to choose meats, dairy and eggs that came from organic and/or free-range farms. This tactic worked for a couple years but I still felt discontent with food choices (barring the disordered eating).

The lightbulb finally went off in my head when I’d had a lead up of experiences in the past year that eventually bubbled over when I watched a video of a pig trying to save its friend from slaughter. I don’t know why, but I previously had chosen to consciously ignore the fact that pigs are incredibly smart. This video undid that ignorance and I had the realization that I was eating animals with souls. As an obsessive animal lover, I was horrified! My dog had a soul, but I would never eat them! So why was a pig okay? Why a cow?

I then decided to take the ultimate plunge and watch a slaughterhouse video (the official turning point I believe for most previously carnivorous vegans). The video evoked so many emotions in me I wasn’t expecting. I then walked out of my room and announced to my roommates I was OFFICIALLY going to try to go vegan.

Then I promptly realized all of the meat and animal by-products I had in my kitchen that I didn’t want to go to waste.

Now you may be asking, okay I get the no meat part, but why not vegetarian? Well, I’ve never liked eggs and have honestly been replacing them already in my baking. Also, I’m lactose intolerant and have been drinking nut milks for a few years now. Finally, I know that the dairy industry is problematic (I have yet to do deep research on that but I knew enough) and have chosen to no longer support inhumane practices.

This first month has been overall a great experience. As I had not-so-vegan food in my fridge and pantry (I still have some things like chicken and beef bouillon), I can by no means say I’ve been perfect. I also traveled to Iceland for a week and decided to put my lifestyle change on hold in order to experience local cuisine. In my personal opinion, a vegan lifestyle should vary by person for whatever works for them.

For my wins from the past month, I’ve discovered a newfound love of vegetables and fruits. The Whole Foods produce section made me audibly gasp last week. I’ve noticed a rise in energy levels and a general excitement towards food that I didn’t have before. I’ve discovered some amazing recipes I’ve never made before and I’ve learned how to fry tofu. I tried (and liked) vegan cheese! I’ve also rediscovered the importance of feeding your body whole foods so it can feel its best.

For my needed improvements, I have yet to find a fast food meal that sounds appealing to me. This is where I’ve noticed I’ve “gone off the wagon” the most.

Overall, I’m proud of myself. My lifestyle change has made me feel more at peace with my personal values. I also have been learning about the environmental benefits of going vegan. I know that it’s a journey and that it’s a transition, which are always a bit messy. I’m excited to see my next steps and so far, am elated with becoming vegan.

Thanks for reading! xoxo

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Why Did I Decide to go Zero Waste?

There’s lots of articles on the Internet about how to go zero waste and a lot of them have many great tips in common. However, each person’s journey to go zero waste is different and can inspire others. Here’s mine 🙂

In early 2017 I started going through my belongings and purging as I was preparing to move to an apartment for a year and then to move to another state after that. I wanted to have everything ready to go at a moment’s notice. I looked at my clothes, books, mementos and everything I had collected in 23 years and realized I had already amassed a HUGE amount of stuff.

I also had recently lived at my grandparents’ house for a month to help them out a bit and saw just how many things two humans can collect in 80+ years. They weren’t hoarders, were organized, and had already done a large purge when downsizing their house a few years earlier. Just looking at all of the items they had gave me such anxiety that I came home and decided I wanted simplicity and the necessities.

While some people have used the KonMari method, I mostly used my own method of “Do I need this? Do I want this? And, do I even know what this is for?” If I said no to these questions, it most likely hit the donate pile. I also realized that to truly simplify my belongings and to have a more minimalist lifestyle, it wasn’t going to happen with one purge over one day.

Here I am over a year later and I’m still working on downsizing. What I’ve found to be the most interesting change is my mindset. I absolutely grew up with the mentality of, “I want it now so I must get it now”. My purchases were spontaneous and many didn’t give me any long-term benefits. Now, for the most part, I try not to buy things I want unless I truly can give myself a reason for bringing that item into my life.

I’m finding it especially difficult as I prepare to move into my first home. I feel like I have to get everything I could possibly need and I need to get it now. To ease my nesting urges, if I think of something I’ll need I put it in the back of my mind and look for the best possible option for me. For example, I wanted to get coasters (because no one likes rings on their tables, duh) and didn’t want to just buy them from a large corporate store. Instead I thought about how I would love to have them be small pieces of art that involved nature, and of course acted as decent coasters. It’s such a simple thing to look for but I looked for coasters for MONTHS before I finally find a set I liked. They are made from wood, handmade with flowers and watercolor, and are absolutely perfect.

Another mindset change I’ve found is reusing items I already have, such as reusing a beautiful tea container as gift wrap. I think back to my habits in college and I can tell even then I was stressed from the number of things I had. Now my purchases are more thoughtful and I’m more aware of my buying power. I also have come to learn quite a bit about the importance of zero waste for our environment, which has spurned my journey on further.

I went zero waste for selfish reasons and have now come to see it as an essential movement in helping the planet and lowing our impact as humans on our environment. If you have any interest in going zero waste please comment any questions below!

Thanks for reading! xoxo

The Battle of the Slice

Eating pizza in public has become my new Everest. As someone on the road to recovery from an eating disorder, eating pizza has become an emotional rollercoaster of an experience. I write this as I sit in my favorite pizza place, listening to classic rock and trying to fight the voices in my head as the lunch rush hits full swing.

For those who have never dealt with an eating disorder, it’s a bitch. Every meal becomes a test. Am I getting better? Am I getting worse? I’ve suffered from binge eating disorder for over 3 years now but I don’t think I’ve ever had a healthy relationship with food.

Right now I’m forcing myself to sit in a booth and slowly eat my biggest trigger food. Pizza. That’s right, pizza. Chewy crust, melted cheese, the works. It breaks all my food rules and has become my go-to binge food.

This morning I met with one of the doctors I’m seeing while I work through recovery and she praised the baby steps I was making. But, I’m impatient. I want results now. I want to be better now. Recovery isn’t going to happen NOW though.

So I’m taking another baby step. Okay, this is actually a huge baby step. I’m sitting in public eating six wings and two huge slices of cheese pizza. I’m forcing myself to take my time and focus on my food. I’m trying not to binge. Keyword: TRYING. It’s so hard to not give in. I didn’t realize how hard it would be to not give in to the negative thoughts, force the food down my throat and then make my self leave shrouded in embarrassment and shame. FOR EATING PIZZA!

I’m proud of myself though. It wasn’t a perfect experiment, but I’ve been here for 45 minutes when before it would have been 15 minutes. I paused a few times throughout my meal and checked to see where my hunger was at that moment. I’m a little uncomfortably full, but that’s to be expected putting myself in my worse-case-scenario binge position.

I’m only three weeks into my structured recovery process. It’s been a hell of a three weeks. I’ve cried approximately three times this week alone with overwhelming emotions of relief of working on myself to sadness and frustration of officially acknowledging I have an eating disorder. Not eating issues. Not an unhealthy relationship with food. An actual eating disorder.

I can feel my emotions going multiple directions and I know that I have YEARS to go for a full recovery. Right now though, I have baby steps and pizza.

Practicing Radical Self-Care

How many times in the past week have you stopped and realized your muscles were tensed? Have you found yourself drowning in work? Do you avoid work just for a moment of relaxation, just to realize you can’t seem to find it? You need some radical self-care in your life.

These past two weeks have been rough for me. I’m in the beginning of structured eating disorder recovery. My dog passed away last week. My other dog almost drowned. I’ve been avoiding work and causing for my stress level to skyrocket, which makes me want to avoid work even more. And, ironically, I moderated a class today on body positivity and self-care.

It’s time to practice what I preach.

I write this post as I sit in a coffee shop sipping tea and letting my muscles slowly release and relax. I’m doing this because I gave myself back spasms last week and had to get a shot in the ass because of them. So I’m now chilling the hell out.

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For me this means taking time to focus. Focus on what my body needs. What my mind needs. What my emotions need. My body needs more movement and more relaxation. My mind needs one or two goals a day to complete. My emotions need to be validated, acknowledged, and released.

Self-care is easy to talk about but hard to do. With our current societal standards in the U.S. constantly pushing for results, finished to-do-lists, and innovative ideas, we feel guilty if we focus on ourselves. We are deemed selfish, self-absorbed, and lazy. All of these are bullshit.

To use the classic simile, the body is like a machine. If you never restart a machine, if you never fuel it, and if you never give it preventative maintenance, it’s going to shut down. Self-care is preventative maintenance. It’s saying, “I respect my body and my well-being and I’m taking time for me.”

Self-care for me always feels like a chore at first. You’re telling me I have to take an hour and purposefully not get work done? Yes. Yes I am.

Take a bath. Drink a cup of tea outside. Go for a leisurely walk. Stretch your body. Read a good book. Write a blog post. Do something that releases your tension. Feel your face muscles smooth and your eyelids get a little heavy. Breathe. Breathe deeply.

Radical self-care isn’t new. As we get older and take on more in life, it is essential we always go back to ourselves and make time for selfishness.

Zero Waste Tips You Can Use Today

Become aware

Once you open your eyes to the amount of unnecessary packaging you buy, you’ll never go back. Many products are priced three or four times more purely for the brand and the packaging, which is almost always plastic. Even when you’re out and about, you receive food in non-recyclable and non-compostable containers and you collect plastic bags. Most of this packaging can be easily avoid by being prepared. Try to buy foods in glass. Bring your own coffee cup or takeout container. Stay no to straws or bring your own glass or metal straw. Invest in bamboo utensils to bring with you. Just look around and notice all of the items you can easily switch out or stop using. This first step is instrumental in starting your zero waste journey.

utensils

 

Compost

Composting is a huge way to immediately start cutting your waste. If you have the space, make your own compost bin. If you live in an apartment (like me) or you prefer to outsource your compost, sign up for a pickup compost service! I use Recycled City in Phoenix and love that I’m able to compost while being in an apartment. Recycled City has different pickup schedules (I chose monthly) and their fees are low (I pay $15/month). I also have the opportunity to get back nutrient rich soil once a year. Composting has been one of the largest waste-cutters for our kitchen and I now have my roommate hooked!

 

Make your own cleaning products

This may be one of the biggest eye-openers for me since going zero waste. We have been marketed that we need a different cleaning product for every item in our bathrooms, kitchens, etc. In reality, you only need a handful at most. Currently I use one all-purpose cleaning spray (recipe coming soon!) and then use baking soda, vinegar and essential oils for anything else. Cutting out harmful chemicals and only using ingredients that you know makes for a healthier home.

 

Invest in reusable produce bags

When I decide I wanted to go zero waste, I looked up blog articles (just like this!) and saw a few that mentioned reusable produce bags – AND IT WAS LIFE-CHANGING. I know, pretty dramatic over bags, but it’s true! I realized how many produce bags I used every time I went to the grocery store. We tried to reuse them as dog poop bags, but honestly they had started to pile up. Even if you don’t eat a vegetable-heavy diet like me, you may use around five bags every time you go to the grocery store. Then you go to the grocery store once a week. That’s over 250 produce bags a year that are being thrown into landfills by one person. That number can go down to zero. I purchased my produce bags and never looked back. I also use mine as snack bags as well.

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Make your own toothpaste

While this may not necessarily be something you can start today (see note at the end), this is definitely something to keep in mind. Once my toothpaste ran out, I made a simple mixture of coconut oil, baking soda and essential oil. I put the mixture in a old glass baby food jar and have been loving it! My teeth honestly feel cleaner, plus it’s zero waste and costs cents to make.

 

Start buying in bulk

With those produce bags I mentioned above, and with handy dandy glass jars, start buying items in the bulk section. Find stores in your area that sell food in bulk. In Phoenix, I’ve found Sprouts and Whole Foods to be helpful, but if you live in an area with an entire bulk store then go and use that zero waste paradise! Buying in bulk means spending less money on packaging and branding. Plus, it usually means eating healthier foods. You may also be able to find bulk stores that have items such as oils, shampoos, conditioners, and cleaning supplies available.

 

Visit thrift stores

Whether you’re donating unneeded clothes or looking for an item you need, stop by a thrift store first. As a plus-size woman, I don’t have the best of luck in thrift stores as far as clothes go, but it’s great for looking for things you may need around the house at the fraction of the price. I also accidentally stumbled onto the discovery that some thrift stores have half-off on certain days! Anyway, try out thrift stores instead of buying everything brand new.

 

Switch to reusable period products

Over 50% of the world’s population menstruates. In the United States we’ve been programmed to only buy disposable pads or tampons. Using reusable pads and menstruation cups are a huge way to cut down on period waste. First off, you save so much money by switching to a reusable method. Second, disposable pads and tampons are bleached to be white and some have dyes. Using natural fibers for your private parts is better for your reproductive health. At first you might be a bit squeamish, but quite honestly it’s just blood and mucus.

 

Always have reusable bags

Have a reusable bag in your car. In your purse. At your workplace. Just always have a reusable bag. This helps you to avoid using plastic bags and can just in general be helpful to have on hand!

 

Put your money where your mouth is

Become a conscious consumer by buying sustainable, eco-friendly brands that share the values you cherish. This takes research, but is well worth the effort when you know your money is going to companies you truly want to support. Also, when possible, buy local to support your community.

 

 

DON’T THROW EVERYTHING AWAY IMMEDIATELY TO BECOME ZERO WASTE! Use what you have first; otherwise you’re defeating the purpose of your overall goal. Finish the products you have and then once they are gone switch them out for a zero waste alternative. I know how tempting it is to want to start with a clean slate, but be patience. Also, zero waste is a journey. It’s not going to happen overnight, but it IS a great lifestyle to learn.

Making Nut Milk

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Making nut milk is incredibly easy and I love doing it for multiple reasons. First off, I know exactly what goes in. Second, it’s cheaper. And third, it’s healthier! All you do is soak the nuts and then spend a few minutes blending it all up.

First thing to do is to soak the nuts overnight. I usually fill up a mason jar halfway with the nuts and fill the rest with filtered water. Depending on the nuts you use, they may only take half a day or maybe a whole day or two. I used to make cashew milk, which would soak up the water super quickly, but due to dietary restrictions I now only make almond milk. I usually try to let my almonds sit for as long as possible, usually a little over a day. Whenever you walk by it, stir the nuts around or shake the jar. You may see some powder floating around. This is totally fine! You can leave it in there or you can put in fresh water.

Zero Waste Tip: I try to buy my almonds in bulk to avoid paying for and wasting packaging.

When I go to make the milk, I gather everything I need:

  • Large bowl
  • Cheesecloth
  • Funnel
  • Large glass container
  • Strainer
  • If you want to add some extra flavoring, I usually add in stevia, vanilla and cinnamon

Almond Milk Setup

First, you want to strain your almonds in the sink and give them a little rinse with warm water. Then, grab a blender and put a handful in. There’s no exact measurement, but usually I start with a 1 heaping cup of almonds.

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Then, add in filtered water. You want to add in three or four times the amount water to the amount of almonds you have. Again, I don’t really do exact measurements and just eyeball everything.

Next I add in a splash of vanilla, a couple drops of stevia, and cinnamon. You can also add in a couple dates to sweeten the milk instead of using stevia. I opt for stevia as it doesn’t affect my sugar levels.

Now you just blend it up until it looks like milk! This is maybe for ten seconds. It doesn’t take very long to blend up. If you’re using nuts, like almonds, their skins will float around and that’s totally fine. That’s why the next step is straining!

After some trial and error I’ve found that draping my cheesecloth over a large bowl and pouring in the milk as I blend it is the best method for me. Once the bowl is full, or once I’ve blended all my almonds, I strain out any almond pieces and set them aside.

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Once all your almonds are blended and the milk is strained, simply funnel it into a glass container and put it in the fridge!

Zero Waste Tip: Reuse containers. I like to use old cold brew glass containers and old large kombucha jars!

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Now you have your homemade nut milk!!! This is so easy, quick and any of my friends that have tried it have been impressed by the taste and quality.

Be sure to save your leftover almond pieces! I’ll have a post with ideas on what to do with them so there’s no waste.

Please comment with any questions or tips you have! If you make your own nut milk and have a different method let me know! Also, what kind of flavors do you put in?

Have a great week and remember to K.I.S.S. (Keep It Super Simple)! Mwah.