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Who’da thunk it?

You’ve all seen this meme more times than you can count, right? I know I have. Today though I saw it and wanted to write some things down about it; more specifically on how not only am I surviving but how I am flourishing while being vegan.

Now, I’m not going to boast about how awesome I eat, because to be honest, I’m a junk food vegan a fair share of the time. That said, having cut out animal products from my food my body has done some amazing things. At 43 I’m doing things I didn’t think were possible.

When I first started this I had really high cholesterol issues. In the first year alone I dropped my overall cholesterol by just under 70 points. I did not take any medications, I just ate better. I started exercising and started completing events I never dreamed of.

I was a smoker for nearly 25 years! I quit after my first year vegan and my lungs are healing rapidly. I run all the time and have no breathing issues. Sometimes if I run a bit to hard I do get wheezy but that’s what 25 years of tar and chemicals will do to you.

Don’t smoke kids!

About 6 months ago I started a weight training program. Throughout my entire life I have always had issues putting weight on and keeping it on; my metabolism is like a teens even in my forties! My goal was to get to 150lbs (I started at 142lbs). I’m not that tall ok, 5′ 5″ and 150 was a lofty goal for me. I presently weight just under 160lbs!

I didn’t do it with any animal protein or products.
Let me repeat, I did not consume any animal protein!

How am I still here?

Plant based foods have all the nutrition you need, including the ever elusive protein! Typically in a day I have oatmeal for breakfast. 1/2 cup of dry quick oats has 5g of protein, 27g carbs and 3g fat. That’s pretty decent, it’s not an abundance but you can add stuff to it like hemp seeds which have an additional 10g of protein in three tablespoons. Even adding 1/4 cup of soy milk add 2g more. That’s nearly 20g of protein, whoah!

I prep my lunches for the work week. Some examples of prepped meal are Jerk Tofu & Rice, Lemongrass Chickpeas w/ Quinoa, Miso Tempeh Chili, Andouille Sausage Jambalaya and much more. The protein in most of those are 20g or more. Dinners have a similar profile and at least 20-30g of protein.

Here’s a typical day (on the left, click for a larger version) when I was on the program and eating to gain. You will see a protein shake, and I did that to supplement what I couldn’t eat while at work. I work ten hours a day in my work-van, it’s helpful to supplement for me, not everyone has to do that. I also take a multi-vitamin in the morning and again, while lifting, was taking creatine.

If you look past that stuff I was still getting over 2,000 calories a day from food.

The point is, I’m alive and kicking. I’m smashing my goals and gaining, not losing.

Right now my training has changed and I’m on a running program so I’m not looking to add any more muscle; if anything I’m looking to trim down some of the weight while keeping the muscle. I do have two days I still use weights but 5 days a week are now spent running.

The awesome thing about being vegan is that I can tweak the foods I eat to reflect the training I’m on. For instance, my oatmeal every day now has 1/4 – 1/2 tsp of turmeric for inflammation. While I still use a protein shake for recovery, most of the other foods I eat will be to benefit the training. Can you do that and eat animals? Sure but you are eating animals and there’s a whole host of issues with that health wise and more importantly, with ethics.

No animals need to die for you to thrive.

You can get the nutritional needs your body requires being vegan.

Do your research and “eat like you give a f*ck!”

Simple Mac & Cheese

For the past week my wife has been asking me to put together a mac and cheese casserole and it was about time that I get around to it. I always mean to write down the recipe and never do; until this one. It came out awesome and my wife AND kids went back for seconds.

This is a simple recipe, you don’t need to go crazy and pre-soak or have any more skill than I, and that’s limited. So here’s what you got to do.

Preheat over to 350º

Get some water boiling for the squash, add squash and bring back to a boil, turn down to a simmer once it’s rolling.

Pan cook the tempeh bacon then dice up. Set aside.

Once its soft, spoon it out of the water and add to a blender.

Put macaroni in the water you just boiled and cook as per the package.

Add all the ingredients below minus the tempeh and 1 cup of the cheddar shreds, you are going to use that later.

Blend well

Once it’s nice and creamy, put in the pot that you have the pasta (which should have been drained by now).

Add the tempeh bacon and mix well.

Pour into a 9×12 casserole dish and top with the other cup of cheddar shreds and sprinkle some paprika on top.

Bake for 30 minutes and serve.

Ingredients
1 package macaroni
1 package tempeh bacon
2 cups butternut squash
1/2 raw cashews
3/4 cup of unflavored soy milk
4 tbsp nutritional yeast
2 cups cheddar shreds
2 tsp salt
2 tsp pepper
paprika

Accountability Post Revisited

I posted something very similar to this on via my Facebook page and wanted to add it here (with some embellishment) to not only announce it here, but to share the link for this project.

In February of 2019 I turn 45.

I’ve had this thing the past couple years (since turning 40) that I attempt some ridiculous physical goal. In 2015 I attempted (DNF’d after 20 hours) the Winter Death Race put on by Peak Races in Pittsfield, VT. I finished my first 50k (TARC Summer Classic) trail race in 2016.  In 2017 I didn’t do anything super crazy but I did two Ragnar Relay races; one on the road in PA and another in trails in Wawaynda, NY.

In the Spring of 2019 I am going to run from the Sagamore Bridge to Provincetown, the full length (65ish miles) of Cape Cod!! It’ll be my first 100+k run!

I just received my training plan and start preparing for the Vegan Power 50k TODAY! I can’t wait to get back out there and run.

I’m working out how supported it’s going to be, as well as having some pacers join me on different sections. Since I mentioned this a couple of weeks ago I have had a bunch of people reach out to want to be a part of it.

I’m going to start reaching out to some companies I believe in and see if we can’t agree on some sponsorship opportunities. I’ve already had my first one courtesy Jess Ryle over at Vegan Outdoor Adventures; I am more than appreciative for her support! If you would like to sponsor/ support me get in touch. I will be adding a gofundme soon to cover some expenses and to raise money for causes I believe in; this is a great opportunity to spotlight those so look out for that soon.

If you want to know more, look at the menu above and click where it says “Run Across The Cape” (or just click that link)

 

 

 

“How Can You Sit Down And Eat Your Mother?”

I’d been thinking of how to start this article for a while as it’s something I’ve already written about but I felt like adding some commentary. I also stumbled on some great talks by teachers that tackle the idea of veganism and Buddhist practice and I really wanted to share them and some quotes.

In Tibetan Buddhism it is believed that all living beings at one point or another were once your mother. This concept has some validity if you believe in rebirth. Since the universe is infinite and sentience is held by all living beings that have a central nervous system, having been born and reborn over and over it only makes sense that at some point anyone could have been your mother. I can explain more if need be, or provide a link to more info, but I think you get the idea.

That begs the question, so why go ahead and eat them?

I came upon a series of 5 videos on YouTube titled “I Don’t Eat My friends” by respected Tibetan Nun, Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo. She lays out a compelling argument, from a Tibetan Buddhist perspective, on why not to eat meat. She also touches on the all beings having been our mother theory, you can view in the video I linked.

There are also videos by another respected Tibetan teacher, Matthieu Ricard. Of course his videos solidify the beliefs and teachings of Tenzin Palmo.

The venerable Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh has had quite a bit to say about it. As mentioned in the other piece I wrote, Plum Village (the center he oversees) went vegan in 2007. You can watch a video where he was asked about veganism and why it’s better than vegetarianism. I’ve included a brief quote below.

“We don’t want to eat eggs, and drink cow’s milk, and eat cheese anymore because raising cows and raising chickens creates a lot of suffering.

If you have seen the suffering of the chicken, the suffering of the cows, you would not like to eat chicken, eat eggs, drink milk, or eat cheese anymore. It seems the system has been contaminated.

So to be vegan is not perfect but it helps to reduce the suffering of animals.”

Seung Sahn, founder of the Kwan Um School of Korean Zen, has had a bit to say about eating meat. In the “Compass Of Zen” he goes on to say:

“If we want to understand ourselves and help all beings get out of suffering, we must first understand where this world’s suffering comes from. Everything arises from our minds. Buddhist teaching shows that everything comes from primary cause, condition, and result. This means that some primary cause, when it appears under a certain condition, will always produce a certain result. So what is the reason for so many beings appearing in this world, and what is the result of it? Why is there so much suffering, and why does it seem to increase every day? Perhaps the most important reason for such a dramatic increase in the amount of suffering in this world is the increase in the amount of meat-eating that humans do. Before World War II, human beings did not eat so much meat. In Asia, people have always generally eaten meat only on special occasions, perhaps only twice a year, on one of the major holidays. Nowadays, Asians eat meat sometimes several times a day. The same has been true in the west for generations. This century has seen a very big increase in the amount of meat-eating on the planet.”

I find that interesting. If karma and it’s consequences are to be believed then this makes all the sense in the world. The more suffering that is caused, the more suffering is created.

While the Buddha did not specifically say one way or the other, he did not condone eating meat. His justification was that as long as it was not killed for the consumer, or the monk, than it was ok to eat. I’ve read about the three hand rule which basically means the meat has to pass through three hands to the consumer and it’s believed to not have any karmic consequence. I call bullshit!

To be honest, this sounds like a cop-out. As much as I hate to say it, one of the most well-known Buddhist teachers, the Dalai Lama, eats meat himself all the while telling others to eat vegetarian. Similar to what the Buddha said, the Dalai Lama has been quoted as saying, “it is all right to have meat of dead animals, not those slaughtered or purposefully killed for meat.” So I guess that means roadkill is ok? Or if you stumble upon a dead squirrel out in the yard? Again, this sounds suspicious and not something a “bodhisattva” should get behind.

What’s interesting on the whole is that the very first precept in Buddhism is not to take life or cause harm. I don’t know about you but that certainly sounds like a vegan thought to me.

What do you think?

 

 

 

 

Miso Tempeh Chili w/ Rice

I’ve had this crazy craving for something with miso lately so I started checking out recipes. I found one at (http://dishingouthealth.com/miso-tempeh-chili-vegan) that sounded amazing so I wanted to try it.

I took some liberties with the recipe and manipulated it to my taste, you can check the link to see what I did differently. The major thing I did was add more miso, again, I had a huge craving for it and when I was tasting it as it was cooking I felt like it needed more.

Anyway… on to the recipe.

Ingredients

1 tbsp coconut oil
1/4 cup diced onion
1 tbsp minced garlic
1 package of tempeh (8oz package)
4 tbsp miso paste
2 tsp chili powder
2 tsp cumin
1 1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp sea salt
2 1/2 cups veggie broth
2 cans cannelloni beans
1 can pinto beans
1/2 cup quick cook rice (I used Trader Joes Quick Brown Basmati)

Heat up the oil and add the onion and the garlic.

Once they start to brown up a bit add the tempeh and cook for a bit until you get a bit of color on it. If it starts to dry up add a tsp of coconut oil or two.

Add your spices and miso, mix a bit then adds the broth.

Mix well.

After draining and rinsing the beans add them and the rice.

Bring to boil.

Once it’s boiling turn down to a small simmer and cook for 30-45 minutes.

Serve and enjoy!

I loved this and it satisfied exactly what I was looking for!!

Quick Bites #6: Hammer Nutrition Vegan Bar

I was super lucky to win a contest a couple weeks back on Hammer Nutrition’s Instagram page. Shortly after, two cases of Hammer Nutrition’s Vegan Protein Bar arrived and I broke one open right away. I’ve used some of their products in the past and really enjoyed them so I was looking forward to trying these bars out; they didn’t disappoint.

It’s purely ironic that this this contest happened and things worked out in my favor; I’d been searching for a way to add to my protein macros. Being constantly on the move I can’t always prepare something on the go so these bars are doing great things for my recovery right now. Between work, coaching one of my sons soccer teams, my workout routine and just the rest of life it’s not been easy to help my body recover; I’m always active.

What’s awesome about these bars is they taste incredible. They taste so good I actually feel a bit guilty sometimes. The chocolate on the outside is indulgent and the peanut butter inside is moist and not chalky. I’ve tried bars in the past that were either way to dry or they were super tough and barely chew-able.

The macro profile is pretty decent on these with 24g of carbs, 12g of fats and a solid 14g of protein. The protein is derived from peas and the sacha inchi seed. I had no idea what that was and had to look it up. It’s from a seed that grows in the rainforest and is loaded with plant based goodness. I was in the dark on this stuff for sure and am going to look more into it, with it’s nutty flavor profile it might be fun to bake with.

I’m extremely happy with these bars and can;t be more grateful to Hammer for hooking me up with them via the contest. These would be great for hikes, after a long run or for keeping in the workvan for a quick bite during the day; I know I’ve done that latter! haha!

 

Compassion: The New(ish) Vegan Activism

Just a few short years ago vegans were considered to be loud and obnoxious a**holes shouting at you while you shopped or dined. Now, vegans are still out there but the approach is more kind and compassionate.

image from anonymous for the voiceless websiteTake for instance the group Anonymous For The Voiceless. Quickly they’ve become a force to be reckoned with yet their approach is simple and effective. Using a method called the “Cube Of Truth”, activists in major cities (as of now over 250 cities worldwide) around the globe stand in a cube shape with signs and laptops/ iPads that are playing slaughterhouse footage. Most of them are dressed in black and they wear Guy Fawkes masks, synonymously known as the mask of hacker group Anonymous.

While it may seem intimidating to some, the “uniform” look is to make people approach the videos a bit more and not feel like they are being judged by someone. The mask gives the illusion of non-judgement since you cannot see the expression of the person wearing the mask. For some, who are still uncomfortable confronting the truth, it’s an easier way to cope. Whatever works; as long as it’s getting them to think rationally.

I think, for the most part, we’ve finally understand that veganism will never move forward if we don’t change the approach. This doesn’t mean that other activism isn’t effective. Protests against fur farms, puppy mills, horse tracks and circuses are surely worthy; they will always have a place in the movement. I think more people are coming on board because of compassionate protesting though.

image from toronto pig save siteTake for instance the vigil. While not new, the “bearing witness” vigil is getting more and more traction and more importantly, media attention. You’ve got groups like Toronto Pig Save that wait at slaughterhouses for trucks of pigs are brought in. While the trucks are transitioning the activists approach the trucks and try to show the animals inside some semblance of kindness before they are taken away. Whether it’s a loving rub on the snout or a mouthful of water, these processes are effective. What’s just as effective is the imagery created during and spread on social media after.

This may seem silly, but giving the animals that last glimpse can bring them a bit of ease. It doesn’t change the outcome, but it is worth that fleeting moment to show that animal the love they’ve never known.

There are many others ways that vegan activism is growing. Because of the kind and compassionate approach, veganism is seeing some of the strongest growth in years. Sure, there are other factors, but you have to take these things into account.

Have you ever participated in a cube of truth? How about a vigil? What was your experience like?