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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!

Compassion on the Mat?

I debated writing this article for a few hours yesterday before deciding to start writing it; 24 hours later here are some simple thoughts.

Many of my friends practice yoga and some are even yoga teachers. Some are vegan, some are not. And on both sides of that, people are of course passionate about the beliefs they hold. I’m not looking to argue or offend, just looking to put some perspective on an issue I don’t think is conducive to one of the basic tenets of yoga; ahimsa. I’m not trying to preach, I’m honestly curious to understand the rationale behind this; read on.

I’m new to yoga myself and am still learning and adjusting to the ideas behind it. From what I understand, yoga is not a religion as much as it is a mindful practice; but three major religions (Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism) do pull from some of the ancient sutras (texts). As an unaffiliated Buddhist, I know a fair share of the teachings, again, most of them are the same or slight variations of one another. The “Yoga Sutras of Patanjali” list 5 yamas, or ethical ideals in which to live. The very first, and this is important, is ahimsa. Simply defined, ahimsa means non-violence or not harming sentient beings. So, maybe you see where this is going.

That said, I was in a class yesterday and the teacher talked about their vacation and how their family had gone down to a horse racing track and joked about the money they lost; however minuscule the “bet” was. There was chuckling among the yogis in the room, not from my mat though as I was confused and a bit let down.

I put the word bet in quotes because I’m not really sure what was being bet on. I understand gambling, I’m not that daft. The purpose is to choose the horse that finishes first; I get it. But peeling back the layers and looking at the whole situation, where is your bet money going? Who does it benefit and what does that have to do with yoga class?

I’ve been following a group called “Horseracing Wrongs” for a while now and they’ve said what I had intended to say in a much more eloquent manner:

“To those who wager on horseracing, we implore you to reconsider. And ultimately, you hold all the cards – no more bets, no more races; no more races, no more kills. And – no more abusing unformed bodies; no more extreme, relentless confinement; no more whipping; no more drugging and doping; no more buying and selling and trading and dumping. No more auctions, no more kill-buyers, no more transport trucks, no more abattoirs. No more maiming, destroying; pain, suffering. No more.

In a landscape that abounds with other gambling options – casinos, lotteries, real sports involving autonomous human beings – hasn’t the time at long last arrived to let the racing horse be? You, the bettor, have within the capacity for mercy. We ask only that you exercise it. Please. For the horses.”

I’m not trying to nitpick, or try to say this teacher is a bad person, I just don’t see the use for this type of talk in a space that is supposed to be filled with grace, compassion and loving-kindness. I really like this teacher, I go their class each week because they teach in a way that helps me understand the motions and poses. Will it deter me from going back? I don’t think it will, but maybe I will try to talk to this person and bring it up in a passive way that is kind to both of us, and to animals affected by the lack of ahihmsa in this situation. Maybe not, we shall see.

I know some folks may say, “well that’s what they do on their time and they are free to choose to do whatever they like.” While I find that to be true and agree, again we go back to basics and look at the sutras; don’t we? That’s where it all starts and without a foundation that is truthful and unwavering how can this not go unchecked?

I despise militancy and I apologize if this comes off that way. I’m just finding more and more holes in traditional religions and practices that are supposed to start and end with non-violence yet ingest animals, wear animals or bet on animals that die of a variety of conditions being forced to run around and around in a  circle for the pleasure of a human being looking to make a fast buck.

I get it, you believe it’s your choice and you can eat, wear and do whatever. I can tell you that karmic energy is still created ingesting that suffering, ingesting that fear. When you find peace on your plate, you find peace in your soul.

I’m curious how you would handle this situation?

*** featured image borrowed from Horseracing Wrongs

Book Review: North

I remember in 2015 I was glued to social media. Scott Jurek was attempting to set the record for thru hiking the Appalachian Trail. Most of the record holders have set their times going South, from Mt. Katahdin in Maine to Springer Mountain in Georgia; Scott wanted to do it by going “North.”

I had been looking forward to following this event since I heard he was going to make the attempt. After making the transition to veganism I had looked for vegan runners to follow and one of the first to pop up was Scott. The list of races he has run is long as heck, and the ultra-marathon wins he has had are nearly as long. In his heyday he was consistently at the top of his game and became an icon; especially to vegan runners.

It was safe to assume we all knew a book was coming after he made the attempt. There’s only so much that can be said on social media. Most of the time there were short updates, and of course that is understandable; he had other stuff to do. So to have the opportunity to read the book and see what was really happening made the achievement that much more inspiring.

In “North” you not only read Scott’s perspective, but you also get to read his wife, Jenny’s. The amount of time it takes to put something like this together is immense, and to see just how much they endured together is a testament to the people they are and the love they share.

You read the ups and down with bated breath. Especially toward the end when it seems like the goal time might not be within the realm of possibilities, but the team buckles down and gets it done. You become so rooted in the story that you feel the heartache.

The book reads with such fluidity. Scott and Jenny’s voices are so clear and intelligible you feel like you’ve read a couple of pages then realize you’ve read through half the book. I love books like that; if I’m not engrossed in a  book and it takes more than a few days to read than I lose interest. That was not the case with “North.” It was gripping and held my attention from the start,

I felt like I was with the team, that was what was most enjoyable. Having run races with a team and vans with support, it was easy to discern what may have been going on. At the same time, I could never imagine attempting something like this. As an aspiring ultra-runner this opened my eyes to the future and has inspired me to keep moving forward.

Help Me Raise Money For Tamerlaine Farm Animal Sanctuary

As you know, I love running Ragnar Relays. I especially with Strong Hearts Vegan Power and even more ESPECIALLY is we are also raising funds for Tamerlaine Farm Animal Sanctuary! So this past week I was asked to fill in for a runner. I had no plans to run this year but how could I say no?! Plus I missed last years ADK so I had to, right?!

A month from now we will be in the beautiful Adirondacks of upstate New York, running 192 miles and raising funds for Tamerlaine Farm Animal Sanctuary. Of course there will be fun, shenanigans and enjoyment of vegan goodies along the way but at the end of it all we have a goal of $2000 total. I have a personal goal of just $250, that should be easy to hit right?

Do you think you could help?

Click this link (https://www.classy.org/fundraiser/1576064) to donate and help me help the animals of Tamerlaine!

Thanks in advance!

The Importance of Community

I’ve been working out some personal, in my head stuff lately, just getting things “right” if you will. I have been feeling lost again. While my wife and kids are always here for me, and support me in many ways; there are other things that are missing.

I’m not super social and when I try I’m awkward at best. Rarely will you catch me out anywhere and if you do, it’s at the store and I’m headed home as quick as I can. This is all a bit odd as I work in a customer service oriented business. Although the interactions with the public are cordial and courteous, there is no connection there so it’s over and done with as soon as I leave the business or home.

This weekend I hosted my second vegan potluck here on Cape Cod. We had a great group of folks, maybe 20-25 attended. There was food and great conversation happening all over the place. There’s something tremendous happening here on Cape Cod, and this group is at the helm of it. Many people got up and talked about the things that are planning and how they pushing forward in helping this movement grow in their own way.

One of the other attendees, Jason, spoke about his story and how he got to where he is now not only with veganism, but in his life. It was inspiring hearing him talk and to have the confidence in sharing such an intimate story.

Before he got up and spoke I took a brief moment and shared a tiny bit about myself. I had so much more to say, but my anxiety got the best of me.

All that said, by the end of the night I was aware of the ease that I felt. This community, and the running group I belong too, have really helped me come out of my shell. I can talk to people while actually looking them in the eye. While a remedial task to many, those of us who are overly self-conscious it can be a big deal. For years my wife has mentioned how I need to do it more often it’s easier said than done.

The point of this post is that community, no matter how big or how often you see them, can be extremely reassuring and encouraging. It’s extremely important to come out of your shell every now and again, and I’m learning that the world isn’t the nasty place we all think it is. There are some great people out there.

I’m curious if sharing posts like this are worthy content or not? Is this something anyone is even interested in reading?

Buster and Masters Story: Adopt, Don’t Shop

Years ago we had our first experience with a Great Pyrenees (GP) specific dog. We instantly fell in love with the breed. To some they may seem obstinate at times, that’s one of the things that we like about them. I think they are a “thinking person’s” breed as they are certainly more cerebral than some breeds.

After purchasing our home, we decided it was time to start looking into getting a GP. While we were certain this was the only breed for us, we did not go to a breeder, we chose to adopt. The first search we did showed a bonded pair of Pyr’s, Buster and Master. Buster is a 4-year-old GP and Master is 6. They both came from Tennessee and had quote a rough life before being picked up and rescued. From what we understand, they were in a high kill shelter and were on the precipice of being taken from the world; luckily that didn’t happen.

Fast forward… We started the adoption process.

There was a couple of things we had to do first before being approved to adopt these beautiful boys. One of the major things was finishing the fencing in our yard; they had to have a completely enclosed yard. We got that done and had a member of the adopting group come by and approve what we had done, and approve our home for being fit for Buster and Master.

Shortly after, we were able to meet the boys as they were being fostered only two hours away from us. They had been in a foster home for two months and their foster mom was absolutely amazing. She loved and cared for them so much, it was evident. My wife, sons and I fell in love with them and knew we had to have them join our family.

A week later, after our final approval, the boys came home. They’ve now been in our home for 24 hours and we could not be happier. They are both very kind animals and have even met, and got along with, our two cats. This situation has been so perfectly orchestrated. We can’t wait to see what the future holds for these boys. One thing I’d love to see is Master gain a bit of weight. Seems he has had a hard time putting it on, but with enough love and care I’m sure he will turn around.

There are so many animals out there, even breed specific dogs, that need good homes. My family is proof that you do not have to go to a breeder to get the animal that fits your wants and needs. If you are looking for a particular breed, they are out there. They need homes too. A lot of them have horrible stories and they deserve your love and care. Please consider adoption when looking ot add a member to your home.

Thank you to the folks at the National Pyr Rescue, the process has been smooth and absolutely professional from the beginning. Thank you to the folks we directly dealt with such as Susan, Mona, Ali and their foster mom, Colleen. Thank you for taking such great care of the boys, we love them! Please check out the gallery below of their first few hours with us.

 

Manduka eKO Lite Yoga Mat

I’m not going to pretend that I’m some experienced yogi because I am far from it. I’m as newbie as they get. What I do know is comfort though, and I’ve struggled with a few things in my practice. The biggest being a comfortable mat.

My wife will be the first to tell you, I’m a tightwad when it comes to spending money. I’m cheap, I get it. I will painstakingly admit it!

The first mat I purchased, and that I’ve been using for a few months now, was under $20. Maybe even $10 on Amazon? I figured I just needed a mat right? What ‘s the difference, any mat should do ya? Well since the jump it’s been super thin and it hurts if I’m practicing on a hard surface, which most studios have hardwood so there’s that. But I’d just grin and bear it.

After Wanderlust and using it quite a bit there, I noticed the mat was no just thin but it was dangerously slippery. Any amount of sweat would turn into a skating rink. Simple poses like downward dog were nearly impossible to hold without my hands sliding. I went and did a power yoga flow class at a local studio and it was nearly impossible to stay still since it was very warm and I was sweating profusely. I had enough and ordered a new mat.

I splurged on this buy. I bought a Manduka eKO Lite 4 mm mat. I think it was nearly $50 on Amazon. My wife would be proud!

After researching the heck out of this mat, it seemed like the one for me. I kept reading how stable it was and how it held up to sweat. After a few sessions at home I took it to the studio and surprise; it held up. My downward dog was tight, my planks were stable my flow was clean and efficacious.

I like that the mat is eco-friendly too. I can’t say Manduka is a vegan company, they sell some products made of wool, but from what I could tell the mat itself is. I’m as conscious as I can be when it comes to making purchases. Whether its clothing or whatever, making sure the product I purchase causes the least amount of harm as possible is important. Supposedly this mat is biodegradable as it’s made from tree rubber.

Regardless, if you are a monetarily modest person like me, this is a very affordable mat. If you are still new to practice and don’t won’t to spend a ton of money, this is a great mat. A do wish I maybe got a thicker one, but 4 mm is too to. It is also a bit stinky but it’s already starting to go away. Being a rubber based product I expected it,

All in all, I’m happy with my purchase and look forward to many hours on the mat!

Baked Tomatoes w/ Lentil PLUS a GIVEAWAY

Ben Bella books has graciously allowed me to giveaway a copy of the upcoming revised edition of “The China Study Cookbook.” The new edition has over 175 amazing recipes, including the one below. I’ve quickly perused the copy I have and it’s absolutely gorgeous and I can’t wait to start cooking from it.

Last night I made falafel in green peppers and can’t wait for lentils baked in tomatoes, which just so happens to be the recipe I’ve shared! I used my air fryer for that so I wonder if I can do the same for this recipe. Hmm I guess I will have to try and report back when the review is done for the book. The following recipe is as clean as it gets (as is the rest of the book), no oil or additives, just real food to fuel your body.

Instructions on how to win this book are on my Instagram page at http://www.instagram.com/vegancableguy

BAKED TOMATOES WITH LENTILS
MAKES 3–4 SERVINGS

Compared to other dried beans, lentils cook quickly and easily. They work well in stuffings and loaves. I especially like them with tomatoes, onions, garlic, and oregano. To make a heartier stuffing, I like to use whole wheat bread crumbs.

3 large, firm tomatoes
½ cup diced onions
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons vegetable broth
2 teaspoons dried oregano
¾ teaspoon salt
⅛ teaspoon black pepper
1½ cups cooked lentils
½ cup whole wheat bread crumbs

1. Preheat oven to 350˚F.
2. Cut the tomatoes in half and scoop the insides into a bowl. Turn the tomato shells upside down to drain while preparing the stuffing.
3. In a nonstick skillet, sauté onions and garlic in vegetable broth over medium-high heat until onions brown.
4. Add oregano, salt, black pepper, and insides of the tomatoes. Cook for 2–3 minutes. Remove from heat.
5. Stir in lentils and bread crumbs.
6. Spoon the lentil mixture into the tomato shells and place in a small baking dish.
7. Bake, uncovered, for 20–25 minutes. Serve warm.

Blueberry Lemon Overnight Oats

I eat oatmeal most mornings. The only times I don’t are when I get bored with “the same old thing.” That’s not as often as you think though, I love oatmeal.

There’s a common misconception that oatmeal has to be served hot. I hope to start sharing more of my oatmeal recipes to dispel that error though. I especially hope to share more of the cold one’s now that it’s summer and hot as Hades outside.

But, how do you make oatmeal cold? Doesn’t the heat soften it up and make it more edible? Yes and no. With a little time and patience you’ll be eating overnight oats in no time

Overnight oats? Yeah, that’s where the time thing comes into play. In order for the oats to soften and be edible, as mentioned before, they need to soak at a cold temp for at least 4-6 hours.

Preparing ahead of time is key, and where the patience comes from. With heat it’s so much easier. You either boil some water and soak the oats for a couple of minutes or you microwave some oats with water and 1 minute later you have ready to serve oatmeal. This process is easy, just not THAT easy.

So here’s my recipe for one of my favorite flavor combinations right now, blueberries and lemon. Some folks add coconut flakes to it, which I do sometimes as well. Or even some he,p hearts for a little nutty flavor. We are gonna keep it simple though.

Ingredients:

1/2 cup oats
1/2 cup plant-based milk (I use soy)
1/2 cup blueberries
2 tbsp ground flax
2 drops of lemon flavoring (or squeeze juice from a slice of fresh lemon)

Add all the ingredients into a small mason jar, shake and put in the fridge until breakfast. Sometimes the flax can absorb to much of the milk so you may want to add a bit more in the morning to loosen it up; depends on how chunky you like your oatmeal to be.

What’s you favorite flavor of oatmeal? How often do you eat it?

ps. image is of a batch without flax, I’ve been adding it recently to try to see some different results in some upcoming blood work.

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?