Monday, May 27, 2013

Enjoy the Holidays by Avoiding Unnecessary Conversations about Your Diet

Oftentimes when vegetarians and vegans spend the holidays with their meat-eating friends and family, not only do we deal with the gross out factor of watching others eat dead animals, but the conversations aren't always the most pleasant to have. People question you on your choices and try to put you on trial for choosing to be vegetarian or vegan. And who wants to be around that?

On the vegan groups on Facebook, I have seen the aftermath of these dreaded conversations over and over again. People question your choices, ask ignorant questions, and sometimes just result in outright insulting you. I ran into this first hand the other day, but not with friends or family.

A proprietor of honey was asking why some vegans ate honey and others didn't. He couldn't understand why honey wouldn't be vegan since he claims bees only collect the honey and they don't produce it. (I know...don't get me started...) I simply told him that a vegan chooses not to use products from other animals and that includes things like meat, eggs, dairy, honey, silk, wool, etc. I also explained that there is a spectrum in every line of beliefs and that some vegans choose to eat honey while others do not. I thought my answer was the simplest answer I could provide him without trying to go into individual philosophies or getting on a soapbox. What happened next still blows my mind.

Not only did the man not understand, and believe me, I had high hopes since he asked the question, but he crossed over into the land of sheer ignorance. He literally asked me how I could possibly call myself a vegan because materials in my car were made from animals and materials on the road were made from animals so I use animal products every day. As politely as I could (I was in public mind you), I informed him that as a vegan, I do my best to avoid animal products and live according to my beliefs within this society. If I had the option of choosing a completely vegan car, I would, but there are some things I have no control over, so I do the best I can with products that are within my control. So again he told me I wasn't a vegan. I asked him what were vegans supposed to do, sit home and never leave their house? And to my surprise, he said yes. At this point I was beyond pissed off because I couldn't believe the ignorance of this man, but I merely told him that what he said offended me because vegans have every right to contribute to society and to live according to our beliefs just like everyone else. I also knew at this point there would be no intelligent discussion to have here, so I simply repeated that he had asked a question about why honey was vegan and I restated the basic answer. I said if you can't understand that, I don't know what else to tell you and I left.

I wanted to share this story because these types of conversations, and even worse, often happen with our own families. We can either be sucked into the conversation and destroy what could be an enjoyable time with our family, or we can rise above it and not partake in the conversations. In the above situation, I was caught off guard because I was merely trying to answer a question that seemed to be asked in sincerity. But I got out of the conversation as fast as I could when I saw it was a lost cause because I didn't want it to affect my day any more than it already had.

So my advice to you is that when you are with family and friends, avoid these types of conversations altogether. Even an innocent question can veer off into unexpected territory. Instead, take the high road and just tell people you are there to enjoy time with them, not talk about your diet or life choices. If they keep persisting, tell them you're open to talk to them about it at a later time. Hopefully, your friends and family will take the hint and also choose to merely enjoy each other's company.

Wishing you peas and good health,


Saturday, May 18, 2013

VeggiePatti's Gluten-Free Extravaganza

Any gluten-free vegans or vegetarians out there? Come check out the expo tomorrow! We have a vegan gluten-free food court and all the rest of the vendors are at least vegetarian and gluten-free.

For more information, check out my website.

Hope to see you there!


Sunday, March 10, 2013

Free Mini-Lecture and Q&A on Being Vegetarian and Vegan

I have been offering a free Q&A session once a month for people who have questions about being vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, a raw foodist, or eating with food allergies. I've decided to change the format up a bit.

I'm going to have 4 different rotating topics:
  • How to Be a Vegetarian 
  • How to Be a Vegan
  • How to Eat Gluten-Free
  • How to Be a Raw Foodist
I will have a mini-lecture on one of the topics each month, followed by open Q&A on that topic or any other. The How to Be A Vegetarian lecture will be this Thursday, March 14.

For full details, please check out my calendar. If you're struggling with being a vegetarian, now's a good time to come with questions!

Wishing you peas and good health,

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Veganism and doctors

I know it's been awhile since I posted, I just have so many things going on!

First, I have a new program starting in March - The FOCAS Challenge. It's designed to help give you the tools to live a healthier, happier, and stress-free life in 21 days. You can find more info on my website and even listen to a preview. I'm offering it in-person in Wyandotte and also online.

Second, I have teamed up with a friend to offer business consulting services to independent and small health-related businesses. See how we can give businesses a Healthy Upstart!

And third, I started a new blog on living with a chronic illness - Life as s Sick Person.

Speaking of illness, I have been making the rounds to new doctors and alternative health practitioners again and it really drives home the fact that not all of them will relate to veganism or even more natural ways of eating if it's outside of their norm. As a a vegan or raw foodist, it's particularly important to work with a doctor that is not only willing to work with you but understands your lifestyle.

Now maybe it's because I don't see too many Western doctors anymore, but I'm finding the most push back from holistic doctors and it really disturbs me. For instance, I went to see one naturopath who told me that she encourages vegans to start eating dairy and eggs again. I told her that wasn't an option for me, and furthermore, I am allergic to dairy, so it certainly wouldn't help. She informed me very confidently that it was the source of my dairy that I was allergic to and not the dairy myself. And if I got better quality dairy, directly from a natural farm (of which she could recommend a really good local one), I wouldn't have that issue. Really? I think my immune system would beg to differ. And I really wonder if she gets kick backs from that farm.

Nevertheless, it's important to keep trying until you find a doctor that is willing to work with you and respects your beliefs. Now I make that one of the first questions I ask before even booking an appointment so I do not waste my time or money.

There is a good blog post that I read about veganism, health, and doctors which also gives another perspective on this issue.

Wishing you peas and good health,


Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Healthy Lifestyle Consulting Now Available

I have expanded my services to include Healthy Lifestyle Consulting!

My goal is to help you achieve optimal health and wellness by sharing my experiences, resources, and expertise with you. I’ve combined my professional experience as a consultant with my personal experiences and education in health and wellness to bring you individualized, affordable consulting that helps you achieve your healthy lifestyle goals!

My personal services include, but are not limited to:
~dietary consulting to help you find dietary choices that are right for you
~health practitioner referrals for your specific conditions and ailments
~chronic and invisible illnesses coping strategies
~complete pantry overhaul designed with your lifestyle and health needs in mind
~household chemical and product evaluations
~healthy pet recommendations and referrals
~services customized just for you - have something in mind, just ask!

I also offer consulting services to restaurants and other establishments that wish to accommodate those with special diets, such as gluten-free or vegan, or just to provide healthier options. If you know any restaurants that need assistance, please send them my way!

Check out my consulting page on my website for more details!

Also, my next 6-Week Green Smoothie Challenge starts tomorrow in Wyandotte - don't miss it!

If you want to check out other January events, you can access my newsletter here. You will also find a link at the top to subscribe to the mailing list to stay informed of upcoming events.

Wishing you peas and good health, 



Sunday, December 30, 2012

Ordering Special Meals at Restaurants

As some of you know, my diet has become more and more specialized over the years. First I was vegetarian, then vegan, then gluten-free vegan, then grain-free vegan, then grain-free/legume-free vegan, and now my food sensitivities are to the point where I can only eat about 20 foods. That being said, I still go out to eat with my family and friends! So just how do I do that when some people struggle to even get a vegan meal at a restaurant?

For basic tips on dining out, check out my blog posting from awhile ago. But the basic strategy for dining out comes down to two things: research and education.

First, I always check out a restaurant's menu online to see what they have to offer. I don't even look at the actual items anymore because 90% of the time there won't be a dish I can eat. What I look at is the ingredients. For me, at this point, I usually eat salads or sauteed vegetables, but this could work for any dish. So if I think I'll be eating a salad, I scan all of the ingredients to see what fresh veggies they have at the restaurant. For instance, maybe they don't offer avocado on a salad but they have guacamole or they have it in a sandwich, so I know I can ask for avocado in my salad. Or if I want sauteed vegetables, maybe I see they have cauliflower on one dish, broccoli on other, and mushrooms on yet another. I always check to make sure they use olive oil and then I can just ask them to combine all of those together and saute them with a little bit of garlic or just steam them. If you're at an Italian restaurant and they don't have a veggie marinara sauce, you can always ask them for olive oil and garlic (olio and aglio) and load it up with veggies. Or if you're at a Mexican restaurant, you can have them make you up a veggie burrito by either taking away or adding ingredients. You get the picture. The trick is you want to find a quick and easy meal they can readily prepare by combining ingredients they already have, not ask them to reinvent the wheel and create new dishes.

So once you have an idea of what you could get, the next step is very important - Call the restaurant! You need to call the restaurant to explain that you have specific dietary requirements and see if they are able to accommodate you. If at all possible, see if you can speak to the chef so nothing gets lost in translation. Sometimes, chefs actually have special meals in mind already that are just not on the menu - they often have a few vegan or gluten-free dishes up their sleeves that they can readily make for customers. If a restaurant will not accommodate you, then you will need to cross it off your list. But I have found very few restaurants that were not willing or able to accommodate me, even on my limited diet.

The third step is to let the server know when you arrive at the restaurant that you had called ahead and have special dietary requirements. It's best to do this when they are seating you and handing out menus so they can talk to the chef or manager if necessary. If you've already pre-arranged a meal with the chef, they will know you have arrived and will often come out to the table to talk with you.

When you order your meal, it's very important to reiterate again, but in a nice way, what you cannot have as well as what you can have. I always tell them that I can't have any additional ingredients, even spices, because of my allergies. However, when I was just a vegan, I would remind them no butter, eggs, animal products, etc. And when the server brings out my meal, I always double check again to make sure no mistakes were made.

I have encountered a few situations where I couldn't speak to the chef, whether they didn't speak English, didn't have time to talk, or just didn't want to, and my order was lost in translation. Although the server was very specific, the chef wanted to add embellishments because that's what chef's do! I never hesitate to send my meal back once if it's not correct. But if it comes out wrong a second time, I usually just ask them to take it off the bill and then eat later. It doesn't happen often, but it does happen. Depending on the type of establishment, I might send it back a second time, but if they can't get it right then, I won't bother again after that.

Although you may not get exactly what you would like or it might not be as good of a meal as at a veggie-friendly restaurant, you can still eat out with family and friends. And sometimes, chefs actually come up with creative dishes that really surprise you! And if you're going to restaurants your family and friends choose, it's only fair they occasionally go to one of your veggie restaurants, too!

On a side note, if you find a place that really is clueless about vegetarian, vegan, or gluten-free meals and they truly want to learn and be able to offer options to their customers, as part of my new Healthy Lifestyles Consulting business (more on that in a few days), I will be offering consulting to restaurants as well, so please send them my way!

Wishing you peas and good health,


Monday, December 10, 2012

Why It's Important to Wash Your Food

I've been meaning to write a blog post about this topic for quite some time, but I always get tied up with something else. I think I'm a pretty educated consumer when it comes to understanding our food chain - I only buy organic and I choose local when it's available. Now, some people will argue that it's better for the environment to buy local over organic and others will argue the exact opposite, so I say you need to decide what's right for you.

Now, if you want to know about the entire food industry, you should watch films like Food, Inc. or King Corn. What I'm talking about is more basic, and from a plant-based perspective. I want to follow where our food comes from so you can see why it's important to wash your food, because I know many of you out there don't. (And I guess it's one of my pet peeves.)

So let's think about where our food comes from. First, someone grows the crops and tends to them. Second, someone picks the crops. Third, someone preps (depending on where and what maybe washed, maybe not) the food and packages it. Fourth, the food is transported to a warehouse/clearinghouse or if you're lucky goes directly to the seller. Fifth, the food makes it to the store. Sixth, the store stocks the produce for the consumer to select. And not to mention all of the other customers picking up the food, inspecting it, and then putting it back.

Now think about all of the humans that have touched your food during this process. Think about all the room for human error and how each place has different processes and procedures. To most of these people, it's just a job. They aren't going to take extra great care with the food, not like they would if it was going directly to their families. And even if stores have policies, it doesn't mean that each employee is going to follow that policy.

Let me give you an example. At one store that I go to, if some of the produce falls on the floor, they throw it away. Yet at another store, I watched as some of the kale dropped to the floor, sat there for a while, and then an employee came over, picked it back up, and just put it back on the shelf! He didn't bother to wash it off or anything. And yet previously, at that same second store, I had watched a different employee throw away a bunch of perfectly good beets. I had asked him why he was throwing them away and he said the tops were broken off and no one would buy them because they didn't look nice. (And here I'm thinking, give them to a food pantry then!)

Each person has their own idea about food and cleanliness. We don't want to be wasteful, but we don't want to be careless either. If lettuce or some other type of produce falls on the floor, you don't have to throw it away, but for goodness sake, wash it off first before putting it back on the shelf.

Even if you just washed your produce with water, it's better than nothing. Some people choose to use a fruit and veggie wash. Others choose to use the food-grade hydrogen peroxide. Here's a little homemade formula I found out about during my juice fast - Wash your produce in water with some lemon juice and salt (1/2 a lemon and a tsp of sea salt from It forms a mildly acidic solution that removes pesticides, residues, grime, etc. Just soak for 5 minutes, rinse, and dry thoroughly before storing.

And if you're still not convinced that you should wash or inspect your food before you eat it, here's something I found on my kale after getting it home and AFTER washing it:

Just trying to promote a little conscious eating...

Wishing you peas and good health,