I cannot believe I did this!!!!!

Well my friends, I made a huge mistake last night. HUGE MISTAKE!!! Yesterday was a tough day for me. It was Canada Day, but given the thousands of unmarked graves that have been uncovered at former residential schools across the country, we were not celebrating. We spent the day educating friends and family on the atrocities this country has perpetrated against the Indigenous population, and as I am sure you can imagine, those are not always the easiest conversations. I had a migraine by 5pm that was absolutely raging and I needed a coffee… but I wanted something cold! And since we weren’t doing a big celebration, we decided to have a mini indulgence by ordering ice caps and donuts in from Tim Hortons.

Now, full disclosure… I have not done the research to determine if the ice caps and donuts are vegan. I think the ice cap is because I have it made with almond milk. Oh man, so after I wrote that sentence I went and did some research and nope, donuts at Tim Hortons are NOT VEGAN… so I made an even bigger mistake than I originally thought!!! Wow, what an epic failure!

So, anyways let me get on with the story… we received the order and to my surprise the bag was A LOT heavier than anticipated. Andrew opened the bag and found that my Iced Cap was in there with the donuts, but so were 2 soups, 2 buns and 2 hashbrowns!!! Whaaaat? This never happens to us! We are always the people that order food and get less than what we ordered! My first thought was a logical one… were the soups anything I can eat? The first soup was chicken noodle, so no. But the second soup appeared to be a vegetable soup. Andrew tested it and confirmed there was no meat in the soup. I was elated!! I couldn’t believe we were getting a whole free dinner! Also, it appears the hashbrowns are vegan but have not found conclusive evidence about the buns that come with the soup.

I was so excited about getting the free food, that I didn’t even realise what I did next. It was literally like I was on cruise control. Like my animal brain took over. You know how sometimes you are walking somewhere, or driving and you get to where you are and can’t really remember 100% how you got there because your brain is just in another zone? THAT is what happened. I opened the bun up, took one of the little butters out of the bag and slathered it onto the bun. ALL THE WHILE TALKING ABOUT HOW EXCITED I WAS TO GET A VEGAN-FRIENDLY SOUP DELIVERED FOR FREE!

I sat down, ate the entire bun and half the soup, along with the hashbrown and was feeling so good about myself when it finally hit me… I had eaten butter!!! WTF??? Why would I do that?? I haven’t even wanted butter. No cravings, no thoughts, no issues! I even bought vegan butter and haven’t even bothered to open it yet so why would I sabotage myself by eating butter of all things??? I just don’t understand.

And as I have not learned, it’s even worse that I know that while the donuts are fried in vegetable oil, they may contain eggs or dairy so I really went off-book last night. Looking back on it, it seems crazy now that I cared at all about what was in the soup.

Man, this is tough some days! But it’s my own fault and I am just going to have to work harder.

Am I vegan yet? Nope, not even close!

Steak brought me to my knees…

I honestly cannot believe it happened so fast. It has only been a few weeks since I have stopped eating meat and I hadn’t really even thought about eating any since I had gone vegan. In fact, it felt like the easiest thing to cut out right from the start!

My partner, Andrew, still eats meat… just much less than he used to since I started this journey and I am the primary cook in the home so I am still making meat dishes for him. I have cooked chicken and bacon without any desire at all (which is odd, because when I did eat meat, I ate chicken and bacon most often).

Well the other night I made a dish for dinner with basmati rice, zucchini, garlic and bean sprouts in a teriyaki sauce that was to die for!! I knew it wouldn’t be quite hardy enough for Andrew so I cooked up a quick steak for him to slice and top his dish off with. And for the first time in a real long time, I was actually craving meat! And not really when I was cooking it, because cooking meat has actually always grossed me out, but after the meat was rested and I was slicing it to top his dish, I almost instinctively went to taste a piece! I was so shocked that I almost did that, I could hardly believe it. Even worse, as I went on slicing it… I actually WANTED to try it. I didn’t, but I really wanted to.

I had to remind myself of the mental image of the animals locked away in small barn spaces, receiving treatments without antibiotics to pull me out of this frenzied meat-haze I was in. I am still honestly shocked at how close I came and it is a good reminder to myself to stay vigilant and not to give in.

It also made me think that since I am so new to this vegan diet, and just learning how to make nutritiously balanced meals that maybe I am missing out on something that the steak offers and my body was keying in on that smell and trying to get that nutrient. I’m really not sure, as this has not happened to me previously and like I said, I am still learning how to craft a delicious but properly balanced meal.

Has this happened to you?? Do you have any advice or insights?? In no way am I weakened in my resolve to stay on the vegan path, but if this is a common occurrence among new vegans, it would be great to get some advice!

Am I vegan yet?!?

All Things Vegan

So I am really getting the eating part down, and even though I have still been surprised here and there to find a non-vegan ingredient (namely butter) in some foodstuffs, I feel like I have a pretty good handle on that realm.

So what’s next? What other areas of my world do I need to examine? One obvious place to start to make changes is in my own home, my furniture, and mostly, my clothing. Now, I have never been one to wear furs of any kind, and being a larger lady means that most of my clothes have been accidentally vegan all along to allow for stretch! Just by virtue of preferring comfort over style, I don’t own any leather shoes or jackets so I am good there. Also, I am by no means rich or caring about high fashion so my purses tend to be man-made faux leather varieties. I am certain I need to learn more about how different textiles and materials are made though because I am not aspiring to just be vegan, but also an environmentally-conscious human being. And while I would still choose a man-made material over an animal product every single time, I would like to be sure I am choosing the most environmentally-friendly option.

This plays an even bigger role in my life because I have a side-hustle hobby of selling pre-owned clothing on Poshmark. This all started back when I first started losing weight in 2019… you know, back when we all actually had to go in to the office every day! I didn’t want my work clothes to look sloppy on me, but it was killing me to keep buying new business casual clothes all the time. Plus size clothing is very expensive and it can be really hard to find a seamstress who knows what they are doing with plus size frames. And even though I was donating the clothes that were now too big for me, I still had this awful feeling about contributing to textile waste. Did you know that in Canada, the average person throws out 81 pounds of textiles annually, while North Americans send 10 million tonnes of clothing to the landfill every year — most of which could be reused or recycled, according to statistics compiled by Waste Reduction Week in Canada. I had seen a lot of American influencers posting about selling their clothes on Poshmark and thought I would check it out. This was in November of 2019, and lucky for me, Poshmark Canada had just launched 6 months prior in May 2019. I found tons of plus sized women who were selling their clothing, name brands I loved like Torrid, Ava & Viv, and Penningtons for waaaaaay cheaper than I could get in store and sometimes the clothing was brand new with tags! After a few months of using the service as a buyer… I decided I could probably do this selling stuff and raided my closet. It has really become my favourite hobby, outside of writing, and has provided me with a way to contribute to a sustainable industry. I sold most of the items from my closet pretty quickly, and after cleaning out Andrew’s closet, I decided it was time to take the next step… thrifting! I use Facebook Marketplace and other online sources to buy clothing lots from women looking to shed their wardrobe. I also go to thrift stores to see if I can pick up a few purses or shoes… items that are harder to find on the websites.

And here is where my next dilemma lies — As a fashion reseller, authentic leather shoes and purses sell for way more than their faux leather or canvas counterparts usually. Even still, I feel like to be on this vegan journey means not taking part in the purchase or selling of any animal products at all, period. I think as I move forward, that is the only way I will be able to be happy about staying in the fashion industry. At the moment, I believe I have one leather purse and two pairs of leather shoes left. Once those are gone, I am done… no more animal products, no matter the profit. It just isn’t worth it.

And I know now, after learning so much about the animal products that slip into food, that I will have to do tons of research about animal products that may slip into the fashion chain. Companies can be so sneaky and underhanded about their practices, it is sickening! For example, the popular “Canada Goose” company that I have long-loathed just announced they are going to stop using fur by 2022. Great… how about all those frigging down feathers you stuff the coats with, is that going too? You going to change your name to “Canada Synthetic Goose”? So frustrating! And yet, the media heralds them for being so forward-thinking and kind…. give me a break.

I am happy to hear any recommendations on vegan clothing companies and bonus points if they sell plus size clothing. Also happy to hear from anyone about things I should be looking for on labels for purses, shoes, or other products that could be sneaky animal products! Here is to hoping that everyone’s individual small changes one day amount to a healthier world less cruel 🙂

Am I vegan yet?

The changes are starting!

It has been about 6 weeks since I started trying on the idea of living a vegan lifestyle. I started by cutting out the major animal product offenders in my diet: Meat and Milk. Then over the next 6 weeks I have cut out everything else… the cheeses, the butters and started learning and looking for sneaky animal products in things we buy to cut those out as well. It has been easy in some instances and a real struggle in others. I have found that some vegan replacements are excellent, some are just junk food, and others are pretty gross and I just may need to give up hope on some things. But I have also learned that I love some foods that I thought I hated! For example, I have never been a huge fan of avocados… but everyone kept telling me to do the avocado toast. I finally nailed a combo I love: one avocado smashed in a bowl with a crack of salt and about a tablespoon of lime juice, all spread across toasted pumpernickel bread! Delicious!

I have also come across some issues with vegan cooking… a lot of it relies on mushrooms for texture…but mushrooms have never sat well with me so that is a big loss. I am also really missing gravy. I used to love digging into a serving of fries with gravy or even the occasional poutine, and I have not yet found a good replacement for gravy!

And I have been very lucky to have Andrew’s support through all of this. I read somewhere that up to 84% of people who fail at sticking with a vegan lifestyle permanently, fail because their partners didn’t support them. How sad is that? Andrew bought me my first vegan cookbooks, finds all kinds of vegan-related YouTube for us to consume and happily tries out any vegan dish I make. He himself has never been so big on meat, but he does eat chicken and fish so we continue to make up those for him on the side. Just last night, for example, we made up homemade flax-crust pizzas. Mine with sauce and Violife brand Mozza shreds, and he did a half/half where he did real mozza on one side of his pizza and Violife shreds on the other. Wouldn’t you know he ended up liking the vegan cheese better!!!! I will never take his support for granted, and I hope that any of you out there with partners who support you in such a massive lifestyle overhaul do the same!

The crux of all of this though, is that it doesn’t really matter if I have to change the way I eat and if I end up missing out on some classics that I loved. It doesn’t matter. Eating this way saves animals, the planet and my health. That is what really matters. My father, who indulged in every animal product imaginable through his life died from a massive heart attack at 49 years old. I just turned 40 on Wednesday, and I plan to live at least another 40 so I know this is my only option! My skin is starting to look better, my bowel movements are improving and I have not had a high blood reading in 10 days! The changes are already starting and I am really just at the beginning!! And like anything new when you start, it’s not always easy… but it will most certainly be worth the trouble in the end.

Am I vegan yet?? Getting there!

It’s a McMiracle!!

I am soooo happy this morning because I feel like I have found the holy grail of breakfast options! But before I tell you what I made, let me tell you why I felt the need to make it.

I have always been a sucker for a breakfast sandwich from a fast food chain, whether it be McDonalds or Tim Hortons or Starbucks. I keenly remember that my reward for getting up at 6 am on Saturday morning to do ballet when I was 7, was that my dad would take me to McDonalds afterwards. I have always been food-motivated, really. I have always seen fast food as a reward or celebration of life’s big moments! I know that is an awful way to look at food and it definitely contributed to my issues, but it is important to put it out there.

I knew heading into this vegan lifestyle change that my relationship with food would be different in many ways and one of the unexpected outcomes is the amount of money I am saving on take-out! We just don’t have that many good vegan take-out options around us, and so we have been making more food at home. But even last night for example, I was too tired to make dinner so we ordered in Chinese. Andrew had a typical combo with chicken balls, rice, noodles and veg.. while I opted for a tofu hot and sour soup and 2 spring rolls. The best part is my whole meal cost like $7 and filled me up and there are leftovers!!

Anyways, back to my story about breakfast. So if you have been following this blog, you know that I am not really a big breakfast person. I really only need coffee in the morning and would be happy to wait until lunch to eat. But, being diabetic, my doctor has tried to get me to be more consistent about meal times so that my blood sugar levels are also consistent. I have tried to make some vegan breakfasts over the past week (smoothie failures and successes, avocado toast, peanut butter and banana) and it has all been okay, but nothing I would die to eat every single morning.

And surprisingly, I was actually VERY hungry this morning… a total rarity! I felt that old hankering for a breakfast sandwich but after my vegan failure on Saturday eating animal products, I knew I couldn’t fall back on old habits or I would feel sick all day. So what did I do? I made my own vegan breakfast sandwich! I used the folded Just Egg, one slice of Violife cheddar cheese (it even got all melty), one maple glazed Gardein sausage patty and put it all on an Oakrun Farm english muffin. IT WAS INCREDIBLE! IT WAS LIFE!! Honestly, it was way tastier than any fast food version and way less greasy!! This is something I could actually eat and crave to eat! (The picture above really does not do it justice) I didn’t even use any oil or butter or anything on the english muffin, it didn’t even need it!!!

Now, I know that some vegans consider these type of convenience products junk food, and granted they certainly aren’t as healthy as whole plant-based diet food… sure. But they are waaaaay healthier than fast food chains and they don’t contain any animal products, so I will take that as a double win!!

Do you have any recommendations for breakfast sandwiches? Do you have a fave food that you vegan-ified for yourself? For your sanity?? lol

Am I vegan yet???

Epic Vegan Fail

So I screwed up yesterday, big time. The local outdoor pool finally opened and Andrew and I had reservations for 2pm! Yes, with the pandemic still somewhat kicking around, there is limited capacity at the pools, and you need reservations…

Anyways, we both got up and did a good stretch to make sure we were up to the first swimming task in over a year! Plus, my left knee has been acting up something fierce these past few months so I was a little nervous about getting in and out of the pool, honestly.

I had a great breakfast (see my last post), did 30 minutes of yoga and was feeling great! The pool is about a 15 min walk from our place (20 mins with my bad knee) and it was a good 30 degrees Celsius out, so by the time we got to the pool we were suuuuper hot! Being so hot also made the pool feel even colder than usual and was a real shock to the gut when I made my way in via the newly installed stairs (thank god because even taking the stairs was hard on the knee). We had 40 minutes of swim time, but I only lasted about 30. It was absolutely glorious and I felt like a kid again. Being high risk for Covid complications meant that Andrew and I had to be very very careful about what we did through the pandemic. In the early days, we basically didn’t leave our home. We ordered groceries in, wore our masks everywhere and even stopped taking public transit. If we couldn’t walk there, we didn’t go. We haven’t seen family in nearly 2 years! I am now fully vaxxed and Andrew has had one shot, so we felt pretty safe going swimming and I am so glad we did! Not only was it great exercise and a great way to cool off, but it was just pure fun! It was a bit weird to see people’s whole faces again though! lol

Anyways, after about 30 minutes I was done. I wanted to take my time getting out of the pool because of my knee and wanted to give myself some time to dry off (the change rooms aren’t open so I would be walking home in a wet bathing suit). Ever the athletic, Andrew swam for the entire 40 minutes! By the time he got out and dried off and we were heading home, we were both starving! I recalled that there was a food truck festival happening at the church parking lot near our place and suggested we stop there on the way home. I figured after all that walking and swimming, we deserved a treat!

Well when we got there, there was only 3 trucks. None of them were serving any vegan or even vegetarian options. So in a moment of stupidity, I decided I was going to get a fried chicken sandwich and split a poutine with Andrew. I had eaten food from that truck before and knew it was good quality, and I was absolutely starving. I made a sort of deal with myself that this would be my “last time” eating from this truck. I think the sun and chlorine must have gone to my brain!

Well I did eat it, but I didn’t like it… that’s for sure. It felt so greasy and gross. My tummy felt like it had a literal brick sitting inside of it and I kept having the feeling of needing to burp but couldn’t. I felt so awful that I laid down in bed to try to take a nap. I tossed and turned and with my tummy feeling worse and worse… finally that turned into numerous trips to the bathroom over the next few hours. My tummy hurt so bad that I didn’t even end up eating dinner!

So the bad news was that that was an awful experience. The good news is that my body has already adjusted to eating a vegan diet and does not want me to go back to eating animal products, obviously! Andrew thinks I needed to go through that to finally give me the resolve to move forward with a vegan diet 100% and I agree. While switching to vegan eating has not been the easy-breezy task that a lot of people make it out to be, it aligns with my values and makes for better health so I will definitely keep trying! Sorry, Mary Brown’s… but you have lost this customer for good!

So no, I am not vegan yet… but I will get there 🙂

The truth about butter

The truth is, I used to put butter on EVERYTHING… and I always have. Even in non-stick pans, I would put a pat of butter. Roll with dinner? Pat of butter. Sautéed veggies in oil? Add a pat of butter once they hit the plate. When I look back on it, I can’t even imagine how much butter I consumed per day but I bet it was hundreds of extra calories and animal clogging fat!!

So it has been about a week since I stopped using butter all together. And at first it felt impossible! I have been relying on using olive oil in its place, and I also purchased some vegan butter… but I am also trying to get away from oils as well so it has been a bit of a tough go.

Well this morning for breakfast, instead of a smoothie (more on that later) I decided I wanted an english muffin. But what was my normal go-to for english muffins? You guessed it… butter! Well I would not give in and ruin my streak today, so I used peanut butter and sliced banana and that’s it… and guess what???? IT WAS AMAZING!!! Way better than with all the extra butter. it’s funny how when you make a change you have been scared of for so long and then find out it was the better choice all along! lol Something for me to remember for future vegan choices, for sure.

I also joined a FB group called 10 weeks to vegan, which helps folks who have already made the choice to become vegan but now need that extra push to really get going. I only joined yesterday, so not much to say yet but I will keep you updated on how it goes.

And now, back to our war on smoothies. My love, Andrew, did his best yesterday to adjust the smoothie recipe to make it more palatable and drinkable, and he was successful!! YAY!! The thing is, the only way to make this particular protein powder drinkable is to only use half a scoop… which means half the protein… so not exactly loving that. But a half scoop with frozen fruit, chia seeds and cashew milk was quite yummy this time around so I will get through this container of protein powder and then I will do some research on the best vegan protein powders before buying next time! Happy to take recommendations 🙂

Am I vegan yet?? lol

Smoothie Fail!

So the thing is, everyone talks about how great you’ll feel when you go vegan. I do not feel great. I feel tired, exhausted, fatigued! I have no idea if it has anything to do with switching to a vegan diet, but I am definitely not feeling that rush of energy everyone talks about!

And yes, I take my vitamins and I am taking my diabetes meds properly everyday, so I don’t think it’s a supplementation issue either.

When I really think about it, I haven’t felt well in months, and that part of why I decided to finally make the switch to vegan. But I have also let my exercise regimens lapse entirely these past few months. I used to do 30 mins of yoga/stretching every single morning and Andrew and I used to go for daily walks and since I started feeling so awful, I have stopped basically all exercise. Andrew thinks that might be part of the issue and why my energy levels are decreasing instead of increasing on this diet. So he made me a deal last night… if I get up and stretch first thing in the morning, he would help me craft my first ever vegan smoothie!! I really hate eating/making breakfast, so this sounded like an excellent deal to me!

So I got up, handled all my regular cat-related duties, and rolled out my extra comfy yoga mat! I did a great video on YouTube called Yoga for Bigger Bodies, which I highly recommend to anyone who is just starting or is interested in doing yoga poses without all the strain on the wrists! I completed the video, and was actually feeling pretty good!

So Andrew helped me measure out the chocolate vegan protein powder, the cashew milk, the frozen fruit and the chia seeds. It smelled delicious! We whizzed it up in our trusty blender thingy that Andrew uses daily….and voila, smoothie magic? A tasty healthy breakfast to start my day? No! It is so disgusting! lol Honestly, it is so hard to choke this thing down. It is chalky and powdery and the frozen fruit has formed clumps that make it hard to drink. In fact, it is so hard to drink that I am procrastinating drinking it by writing this blog post!! How bad is it when I am using writing as a procrastination technique?? lol And it isn’t Andrew’s fault, his normal protein powder formula works perfectly with those amounts… but I guess the vegan powder is very different!

Alas, I will not give up. I will choke this abomination down for breakfast and I will do it all over again tomorrow. Except tomorrow I will use half the powder and double the liquid!! Wish me luck!!

Am I vegan yet? lol

Same, Same, Same

So this is going to be a bit controversial, I know… but like, a lot of the vegan recipes I am reading boil down to one of two things: Beans on toast, and mushy soups/stews. And sure, I am definitely generalizing there… but like in my quest to not be a junk food vegan I am trying really hard to find satisfying meals that are full of texture and I don’t feel like I am hitting the mark. For example, that awesome recipe I mentioned the other day from OSG, the Potato and Cauliflower Curry? First of all, no curry in there, so are we really calling that a curry? Also, total mush. Does it taste amazeballs? Yes! But, total mush. Luckily my genius partner, Andrew came up with a solution to last night’s leftovers. He tossed a pita in a non-stick frying pan and toasted it up to crunchy glory and I literally melted into my dinner! It was the perfect addition to an already delicious meal!!

So my question for fellow vegans out there, whether you be new or veterans on the scene… what do you do to make sure it doesn’t feel like repeating meals? Like I get that you can switch out orzo for farro, or beans for chickpeas, or rice for whatever.. but in the end, the textures feel so similar. I don’t know, I guess I am just complaining at this point!

I am going to make a tofu-based pad thai with rice noodles and bok choy tonight for dinner. I am hoping leaving the bok choy a little less cooked will add some crunchy texture to an otherwise pretty mushy dish. I am all ears for any tips and suggestions!! I just realised I will have to read the ingredients on the pad thai sauce bottle to make sure it’s vegan… man, it just never ends!

Am I vegan yet??

Recommendations?

So here’s the thing… I have watched SO many documentaries about going vegan and they all cover the following aspects to some degree: animal cruelty, health benefits, environmental benefits, dissenting opinions from other educators/doctors etc. Great. They have all been great. And they were a tremendous help while I was making the decision to choose a plant-based vegan diet. But now what?

I am already convinced! Consider me converted! But again, now what? It feels like there is a huge push to get people on the train and once they are on the conductor goes “okay, cool… thanks for joining us, hope you enjoy your self-directed ride!!” and hops off the train!

As you already know, Andrew gifted me three incredible cookbooks to get me started: Love & Lemons Everyday, Oh She Glows for Dinner and Thug Kitchen 101 and he also found a few cool YouTube videos that we watched. But now what? Where is the documentary for showing you how to continue once you’re started? Where is the intermediate level information? Where is the community? I am in Toronto, Canada btw.

I guess the next step is to seek out other vegans on Instagram and Twitter and to load myself up with vegan blogs and websites. Is there an online vegan magazine that is awesome? I guess I just need to put the work in to make sure I don’t lose the momentum. I feel like I am really getting the food bit down, but I know there is so much more. What about my clothes and shoes and blankets and furniture? What about the activism? I would love to hear from anyone about their next steps on this vegan journey… and I ask again… Am I vegan yet? 🙂