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Author: Nate

Nate is a blue-collar, no-frills, vegan cable guy trying to show the world
how health is not just relegated to those that can afford it, or for the
typical health nut. When not climbing ladders or trouble shooting cable networks he is spending time with his family and friends. You can find him here at vegancableguy.com all over social media or running in the woods of Cape Cod training for the next big challenge eating a crown of broccoli!

Michael Harren and His Animal Experience

I’ve sat on this album and PDF book for some time now. I felt like I really had to give them true immersion in order to fully write about them, plus Michael is a friend (and Strong Hearts Vegan Power teammate) so I wanted to treat his project with careful consideration.

Last year, Michael toured the US with his “Animal Show”, a multimedia experience based on his experiences with vegan activism, his sanctuary residency and life. Although I was unable to attend, I heard from friends and online acquaintances that the show was a hit. The “Animal Show” was Michael’s calling and it was evident he put his all into it.

That was 2017 and now in 2018 Michael fully liberates the stage performance and follows it up with a book and album.

As I sit here typing this, I’ve got the album playing once again. I just finished the track titled “Kaporos” and I’m enveloped with sadness. I feel like I’m part of the story, I feel like I’m witnessing the shameful sacrifice of innocent sentient life for “religious tradition” and I’m heartbroken. I know what Kaporos is, I have read about it every year it happens. I’ve seen the videos, even the one’s that Michael has been in. I have heard the chants. I have not ever felt this though; this helplessness.

With his book and album together, Michael assails our senses not only visually but aurally assaults our ears with emotion; his emotion. This is his story, this is his heart and he is giving it all up. Thank you for sharing!

I’ve heard some news he may finally bring the show to the Boston area and I will now be missing it.

Please take a moment and experience this treasure firsthand by purchasing the album and book at http://michaelharren.com/

Did you see the Animal Show last year? What did you think?

**images “borrowed” from Michael’s Facebook page, the album on the rocks is courtesy Eric C Lindstrom and the other photo is credited to Diana Bezanski

 

Yoga Challenge; Second Week

I haven’t mentioned anything here, but if you follow me on Facebook you know that I’ve recently started a 30 day yoga challenge. I’ve been following a series of videos by a guy named Tim that are 30 minutes or less and fit with my schedule just perfectly. Today is day 8 and, sorry Tim, I skipped the video for a session at my local yoga studio.

It was a great start for the second week.

The class was a Power Yoga Flow class with Bill from Power Yoga Cape Cod in Dennisport. I’ve been to PYCC a few times but it’s been a minute since I last dropped in for a class. Bill’s class was welcoming, warm and witty. The three w’s weren’t intentional but they work, haha! When I say warm I mean that in a few ways. Bill’s personality is very encompassing and makes you feel like you are hanging out with an old friend who’s teaching you some great movements. Also, warm comes from the fact the room was toasty to say the least. Within a few poses I was dripping like a siv; it was warm.

My point is not to review the class nor the videos but to talk about what I’m getting out of this practice. I think Wanderlust was a great kick-start for me to get back into a more centered practice. For years I was a devout Buddhist practitioner. Like I’ve mentioned in a few different posts though, the dogma got to me and I strayed far away from it in an official capacity. I’ve stuck with the basic premise of the philosophy and that’s to cause the least amount of suffering as possible.

Where I’ve kind of become more absent recently is the fact I’ve lost myself in a way. Dogma or not, the practice always felt like home to me. Whether I was sitting in a group or at home, being present felt real and engaged with my inner being. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always been aware of what’s going on and still maintain a level of mindfulness but lacking a practice meant it took more work and effort; it was more fluid when I was “in the zone” for lack a better description.

Buddhist practice, like yoga practice, is about finding what works for you. It sounds like a very selfish thing but it is far from it. Without a solid foundation of self there can never truly be a way to help others.

That’s where vegan activism comes into play a bit here; let me explain.

While I’m not active in the sense where I’m holding up signs or working a cube, sacrificing one’s own health and happiness for a cause is detrimental to one’s health and detrimental to the ability to serve others. I’ve watched many videos or read articles where the word “sacrifice” is dangled around like it’s a trophy or badge of honor. Let me tell you this though folks, if you are not taking care of yourself you are not taking care of your cause. The animals need us to be sharp and strong. We need to have tact when dealing with others and their opinions versus the facts. If you are not centered, balanced and healthy (both physically and mentally) than you are of no benefit.

This goes for everything in our lives too. As a father, I’m learning I cannot be fully present for my children without being present with me. As a loving husband I cannot be present with the love and light my wife deserves unless I’m willing to give that same love and light to myself. This is not selfish folks, treating ourselves with love is a necessity for true happiness.

I leave you guys with the following quote and a question…

The quote comes from Thich Nhat Hanh, “The essence of loving kindness is being able to offer happiness. You can be the sunshine for another person. You can’t offer happiness until you have it for yourself. So build a home inside by accepting yourself and learning to love and heal yourself.”

The question is, how do you find your true center in order to necessitate happiness in your life?

Wanderlust Stratton 2018

Let’s be upfront and honest; I had no plans to attend this or any yoga fest for that matter. I’m not averse to yoga, I practice it (not often enough) but didn’t see myself attending a big yoga shindig. I’d never even heard of Wanderlust until a few weeks beforehand when one of my old friends asked me to join him. It seemed like he needed someone to go with and he had been there when I needed him so, off to Wanderlust I went. It had to be a great idea after attempting a 50k trail race, right?

The day before leaving, I met my friend Pete to grab a bunch of his stuff to bring up that way he could drive his motorcycle. It had been nearly 3 years since we last saw each other; it was under much different circumstances as well. It was 2015 and I was attempting to be a finisher in what was supposed to be the final Winter Death Race in Vermont. After twenty hours I dropped out but not before enduring physical torment and mental torment. That was all while plodding through the snow and mountains in -20° temperatures.

But I digress, this weekend we were about to get into some temps much higher than that, so I was welcoming it.

I left my house at 5am Friday morning and got up to the campground we would be staying at around 8:30 am. Our first class wasn’t slated until noon so there was some time to catch up, set the camp up and head to Stratton for class number one! It was by renowned yoga teacher, Seane Corn. This was a pretty intense class to start with and it really got the blood pumping and brought a good amount of focus to be ready for the day. I think there was a bit of a break for a while so I checked out some vendors.

This is where I think Wanderlust could do better. They brought in vendors that were super expensive. I get it, most of the stuff was homemade, but if you are charging hundreds of dollars for the fest, even more for lodging and or camping on site then you have to find some middle ground. Yes, pun intended. I also ranted a bit on Instagram about the fact that while there were plenty of vegan options at the various food vendors, it still bewildered me that it wasn’t more prominent. For an event focused on compassion, alignment with the earth and such it amazes me that there is such disconnect. Though I guess I will take a little rather than none at all, so I wasn’t freaking out on people for that. I did scoff at the woman trying to sell me some leather bullsh*t when I walked by her booth; not today lady! I did pick up my wife some nice homemade earrings from a vendor, pricey yes, but they were beautiful and they look amazing on my wife!

From here on out times started to melt together. My next class was called “Yogathlete” and was taught by Caley Alyssa. She is pretty well known, maybe not as “celebrity status” as some yoga teachers but she has done stuff with Beachbody and partners with a bunch of other brands. That aside, she is humble yet not timid. Her class was so amazing that I forgot about the knee injury I had been dealing with; it felt great afterward. I made sure to look at my schedule for the weekend and change whatever I could to get into another class of hers.

Later on in the day we went on this great hike to the summit of Stratton and set up our mats on the ground, sat down and waited. This amazing artist, Garth Stevenson, had lugged his cello up and started playing it. I swear this may have been when of the most in tune with the world that I ever felt. Click the link on his name to see a sample from another event, it sounds like the piece he may have played for us as well.

Our day came to and end and I slept like a baby that night.

Saturday brought rain, tons and tons of rain. I had another class with Caley and was looking forward to a loving-kindness meditation later in the day. When I got to the Trailhead and signed in to the class I walked in, got set up and waited for the class to start. I began noticing some folks at the front of the room that looked familiar, they had taught an acroyoga class I watched the day before. Why were they here? Were they going to teach the meditation? That might be cool! Nope, I was in the wrong class, this one was to teach how to deal with counter-balance when practicing yoga with a partner.

WHAT?

ARE YOU KIDDING ME?

I’M IN THE WRONG CLASS,” I wanted to scream out.

As I silently panicked and tried to figure out a way to escape I figured that was futile; I was set up in the front and at this point I would be a distraction. I rolled with it and figured maybe I was sent to this class for a reason. I am awkward as f*ck when it comes to people, it’s nearly painful for me to meet new people never mind share the same space with them. This class forced me to not only talk to people but touch them and practice very closely with them. I still felt a bit weird at the end, but all in all I came out alive so I guess it wasn’t that bad.

The last thing I had left for the day was a talk, or speakeasy as Wanderlust calls them. This one was put on by Robert and Julie Graham. It was a great talk that talked about the importance of nutrition to one’s practice and life. The one thing I wasn’t a fan of was that Robert said “eat mostly plants and if you are going to eat meat, eat good meat.” What does that even mean?

They did talk about this great book, Ikigai, which I ordered on Amazon shortly after getting home. It’s a book about how the people of Okinawa have some of the longest mortality rates. I’m just getting into it so I don’t have much to report on it but I felt like I connected with the info they were giving about it so I’m hoping I can find my Ikigai!

Sunday morning I decided to leave a bit early. It was raining again and I had just had enough. I think I got what I was looking for at Wanderlust and more. Since them I’ve been more attentive to my breath. I’ve tried to be more conscious of the words I say and the actions I take. We shall see how long it lasts but for now; all is well.

 

Race Recap: Vegan Power 50k 2018

It’s taken me a few days of reflection to share my thoughts on this race. I had much higher hopes than the outcome but let’s go back to the beginning and everything leading up to it.

A couple of years ago I did the 25k version of this race and really enjoyed it. It was a good course, very technical with all the roots and rocks; but fun none the less. It made sense to come back sometime and do the 50k, I mean, why not right?! So for the past few months I trained the best I could for it.

After a few weeks of training I was dealing with an Achilles thing and it put me back as I had to recover and that took over a month or more. I tried my best to get back into it after I felt good and was able to knock out some decent long runs before the race, my longest being 20 miles just a week before the race. I know, not a good idea as I should be tapering, but I wanted to make sure I could sustain it. It went well, was tough as it was really warm out but I got the 20 done and was healed and ready to go a couple of days later.

I drove up the night before and met up with some of my fam from Strong Hearts Vegan Power. We decided to camp on site, the race was being held at Pittsfield State Forest. I got a chance to see some old friends and make some new one’s. We really have a great group of people in this running crew, and the new folks seem to gel just as well as some of the long timers; SHVP is amazing to sum it up. We got a fire going and cooked up some dinner. I had brought some seitan ribs and others brought some Fieldroast sausages.

After grubbing pretty hard we all turned in to get some sleep, the next day was going to be long no matter if you were running the 25k, 50k or the relay option.

5 a.m came pretty dang quick and I was the first one to wake up. I got outside of my tent and looked around, it was so peaceful and I absorbed what I could before the storm of the day was to come. I cranked up my portable stove top and got the percolator working so we could get some coffee in us before our 6:45 a.m race meeting. We went over a bit earlier to grab bibs and our shirts.

After a brief pep talk it was suddenly 7 a.m and the 50k racers were off. The course starts off with a pretty gnarly paved hill that has a sharp angle to it. Knowing it was going to be a long day, most people walked it to save that gas for later. At the top of the hill you enter the woods. The course is a loop that is just over 5-ish miles so the 25k folks do three laps and the  50k racers double that. I was running with a teammate, Jess (also of Vegan Outdoor Adventures) for a bit. We were chatting quite a bit and had to be careful, it seemed like when we got super chatty our focus would come off the course and the potential for tripping and eating sh*t became real.

I don’t remember when but maybe around mile 4 I wasn’t paying attention and hit a root that twisted my knee pretty good. I didn’t feel it right away, but that was the beginning of the end for me.

Jess and I finished that first loop strong, she was absolutely crushing it. Mid way though the second loop I encouraged her to run her race and leave me to run mine. I started running from aid station to aid station, trying to keep my mind off the growing pain in my knee.

It was after my 4th loop that I decided to call it and take a DNF. Technically I finished the 25k but I didn’t sign up for that; I signed up for the 50k and failed. I was super hard on myself. The self-deprecation was real and palpable. Like a child, I sat down on the grass and pouted. My team (friends) were sitting across the street from me and would have been nothing but supportive yet rather than join them, I sat alone; dejected.

It’s now 4 days later and while I still feel a bit bummed out, I feel accomplished. I showed up for the race, did what I could and logged just over 20 miles. I could have been riding the couch instead but I chose to get out there and give it all I got and that’s what I did. I feel good about what I was able to do and can’t wait to try for some redemption.

Thank you to my teammates, to the Vegan Power 50k folks, those at the aid stations, the other racers that checked in on me as I walked a good amount of the course. Thank you to my wife and kids for always being supportive of me and for not letting me pout too much when I got home.

One of the first things my wife asked me was if I was done now, meaning, am I done ultra-running. A few hours earlier I may have said yes. Luckily for me I had a 3 1/2 hour drive home to settle down and realize I enjoy this sh*t. Sure, it hurts whether you are injured or not. I enjoy the test though. This will not be my last 50k or my last ultra attempt, hell a year from now I am hoping to take on my longest run to date. See the tab up top titled “Run Across Cape”? You can read more about it there. See you all soon, it’s off to Wanderlust this weekend!

* photos taken by Ben Kimball, Ellen Biagini and myself.

 

 

 

Book Review: Reborn On The Run

I can’t state the following fact enough; this book only took me 3 days to read through! It has been a long while since I’ve been so captivated by a book. I think that’s due to a variety of reasons.

Catra Corbett’s (aka the Dirt Diva) story isn’t just about ultra-running, she bares her soul to the reader. She allows us an inside look at the struggles she had not only with addiction but with loss of life and love. Her story is truly gripping.

I’ve followed her career since I first heard about her, which was back in 2015 I think. I interviewed her shortly after to learn more about her and answer some personal questions I was curious about. She was kind and thoughful in her responses, you can view that interview at http://vegancableguy.com/interview-catra-corbett/

“Reborn On The Run” isn’t a how-to book that will teach you how to overcome addiction. It won’t teach you how to run ultras or how to grieve when a love one passes. What it will do is change your perception regarding the struggles of others and truly teach one to be empathetic toward them rather than turn their back or raise their noses.

Of course I can’t not mention the fact that Catra has been a vegan for many, many years. Not only that, she is mainly a raw vegan/ fruitarian so take that people who say vegans are weak or can’t be athletic. She holds many records in the ultra-running community and continues to shatter the perception of what a runner should be and or look like.

Before I write a review I like to see what others have to say so I went to Amazon as this book is fairly new. While there weren’t a lot of them, there were a few people that trashed the book for the over the top language. If you are a puritan than I can see the issue but let’s be real, Catra is not one to pull punches and I like that. Is it for everyone? I guess not but those people should get past the language and understand the book is more than just that.

If there’s one thing to take away from this book (there are many more) is that through perseverance you can accomplish what you set your mind too; regardless of  your background. Catra is one bad-ass woman and I look forward to continue following her career.

You can find her on her blog (which hasn’t been updated in a bit) http://trailgirl.blogspot.com/

You can also find her on Facebook which is more updated https://www.facebook.com/catra

Quick Bites #7

Remember the hype when Beyond Meat released the Beyond Burger?

Remember how hard it was to get one?

I live on a man-made island, the wait was terrible! Insufferable even!

Months ago Beyond Meat hyped up the Beyond Sausage; What?

“How long is that stuff gonna take to get here,” I thought?! It wasn’t super quick, but it was much quicker than the burger. The first time I “saw it” at my local Whole foods it was already sold out and I sulked away…

Last week I scored a package though and for me it was the right flavor, the hot Italian. I prefer just about everything with a little spice so I was excited to get these home. It was going to be a couple days before I got to eat them but finally I slapped all four of them on the grill.

Glorious!

I only added mustard as I wanted the sausage to speak as truly as it could, it needed mustard though; every sausage needs mustard.

Unlike some of the other companies that claim their product is a sausage substitute, the fact they are gluten based is evident. The Beyond Sausage is not gluten. It is not made from soy. Like the burger, it is pea protein based. The first thing I noticed when I bit into the sausage was the familiar “snap” when biting through the casing. The other companies lack that snap.

The flavor was spot on; not super spicy but it tasted like a sausage. I would have liked a bit more heat, especially because these will be my go to for jambalaya! The texture was softer than I remember a sausage being, which for me was good as that sometimes could get kind of nasty being all hard and gristly. The grill up nice over an open flame, I can’t wait to cook these up for some non-believers!

Man it’s so amazing to be vegan!

Review: Eating You Alive

I feel like “Eating You Alive” took a while to come out, it had been pretty hyped up for some time. While they were in the beginning stages of the film they were soliciting folks for personal stories to share. Three years I had sent them an 8 minute clip of my story which was not chosen so I made the video public about, oh, 15 minutes ago. It’s an awkward video so I can see why they didn’t pick it.

Unlike a lot of vegan/ plant-based documentaries, there are not many moments in EYA that leaving you cringing. With that I mean there’s little to no footage of animals being killed which is a far cry from films like “Earthlings”. This film stands up without that and approaches the topic from a health perspective. While we all want the general public to understand the suffering that animals face every day, there are other approaches that work and “Eating You Alive” speaks in a way that is more genial than in your face.

You’ve got some of the usual suspects in this film like T. Colin Campbell, Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, Dr John McDougall, Dean Cornish. There are a couple new faces, at least when it comes to documentaries go. One of them, Dr Michael Greger, has a growing following as he presents evidence based studies that prove plants can not only keep disease at bay but can sometimes reverse it. He started an amazing website called Nutrition Facts and like I said, has a following that expands by the day. He is also the man behind the book “How Not To Die” which is worth a read on your part.

There are also a couple of surprise folks in the film like Samuel L Jackson, one of Hollywood’s biggest bad asses! Who would have known he was vegan? I guess it makes sense because the dude just keeps getting more and more badass as he ages. Penn Gilette, from the magic duo Penn & Teller, shares his story and talks about things we all know; that big industry is what controls our food and keeps us sick so we can buy into the big pharma scam.

Another big name that is involved with EYA is film maker, philanthropist, deep-sea explorer and vegan activist, James Cameron. His wife Suzy joins him in the film as well. After viewing the film “Forks Over Knives” they both became vegans and went full-bore into the lifestyle. They even helped fund the first vegan school in America.

The big take away from “Eating You Alive” is the same message your mom always told you growing up, “You are what you eat.” If you eat garbage then you feel like garbage and are susceptible to toxicity. If you eat well there is health and abundant happiness. The choice is simple.

Find more info at: https://www.eatingyoualive.com/

Review: The Last Pig

This film screened today in Chatham, MA which is local to me, but, since I coach soccer for my sons team I was unable to attend. Thanks to the kindness of the Last Pig folks, I was able to watch a screener in order to provide this commentary.

Where to begin…

The synopsis from the website says, “THE LAST PIG is a lyrical meditation on what it means to be a sentient creature with the power to kill. Deeply immersive, the film follows a farmer in his final year of slaughtering pigs. Through sparse, intimate musings, the farmer reveals his growing conflict over a life spent “peddling in death.” As the story unfolds, his struggle becomes our own. The Last Pig is a poetic snapshot of a seminal year in one man’s life as he journeys beyond the slaughterhouse.”

That’s a pretty spot on 82 word narrative on a film that, to me, was engaging in its profound simplicity. I really enjoy the fact that the film maker, Allison Argo, let the story play out as organically as possible.

It’s certainly difficult to watch knowing that the subjects of the movie, the pigs, are on borrowed time. That’s not the only struggle here though, you truly feel the inner strife of Bob Comis, the pig farmer. His face is anguished, his very is very monotone; it’s gut-wrenching!

I watched with my jaw open for most of the film. Not only because of what is playing out on the screen but how it is playing out. Like I said, it’s very organic in the way the story plays out but the cinematography and editing is mind-blowing. The film is a work of art through and through. I’ve never watched any of Argo’s other films but I will be making a point to do so soon.

I think this movie is good for everyone to watch, vegan or non-vegan.

From a vegan perspective it solidifies a lot of the things we believe. Bob Comis believed at one point that he was a “humane” farmer and that by caring for his animals and being more loving toward them that it was somehow ok to deliver them to the slaughterhouse each month. As we know though, there is no such thing as humane meat. He comes to see just how incorrect that mindset is. In his own words, “Pigs are incredibly complex beings. They’re not just animals. They are beings in the most profound sense of the word.”

For non-vegans I think this is an extremely important film as it brings the argument to completion about killing animals for food and shows exactly what we’ve been saying all along; their lives belong to them.

You can find info about the film at:

Website: http://www.thelastpig.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TheLastPig

Vegan Potluck #1: Success

Wow, what a night!!

Tonight could not have gone off any better. For some time now I have seen a lack of “vegan community” here on Cape. There are pockets and groups, but I always seem to hear about them to late or it doesn’t work out for my schedule. That said, I thought I’d try my hand at setting something up.

I contacted Keith Stigura, the owner of Green Lotus in Hyannis, MA. A while back Nate, the previous owner, had let someone else host an event or maybe even put it together himself. Anyway, I felt like it was time to put one together so I got a date from Keith and started working some social media magic. I reached out to friends, friends of friends and a few other Facebook groups, as well as flyering at some of my favorite places. It worked because tonight we had between 40-45 attendants and it went off without a hitch.

Well, a tiny hitch as I’m not very verbose nor am I a talker. I’m a bit socially awkward if you meet me in person. So I could have made some announcements, I could have raised my voice and thanked everyone for attending. Alas, I did not.

A couple of tips to make the next one better were pointed out and I will grow with each new event. Speaking of which, I am starting to work on that! As I said, to those I spoke with, I hope to hold one each season. I think anything more than that and it becomes over-saturated and people will stop showing up. Maybe I’m wrong but I know when I was in a band if we played every month people just didn’t care anymore.

Again, thank you to Keith from the Green Lotus for graciously hosting us, I cannot thank you enough! Thank you to Rory from the Organic Market for the fabulous kale caesar salad. And thank YOU fr attending and making this a success. I met so many great people and I can’t wait for the next one!

If you want to find out about the next one, join the Cape Cod Vegan Potluck Events page on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/groups/capecodveganpotlucks/

Below are some pics I took as candidly as possible.