Health

Vegan To-Go

Hey all,

It’s been a year since I went vegan and over the past 12 months, I discovered the difficulties of finding vegan “fast food”. But with extra research and effort, I was able to “veganize” a bunch of super tasty options from places such as Potbelly and Panera Bread! I also tried to find choices that provide a good source of protein to keep me full. For any other vegans out there that are also facing this obstacle, here’s a little list of what I order when I’m on the go:

Potbelly: The Mediterranean Sandwich

  • on multigrain bread
  • without feta cheese
  • (optional) I love to add avocados for the extra $1
  • the hummus and artichoke hearts are so flavorful and the cucumbers give the sandwich that extra crunch

Panera Bread: Modern Greek Salad with Quinoa

  • without feta cheese
  • the dressing is amazing and the quinoa pretty  much completes the salad

Noodles and Company: Japanese Pan Noodles

  • delicious udon noodles with soy sauce, shiitake mushrooms, other veggies, and a little kick
  • this one is definitely one of my all time favorites
  • it’s already vegan as it is, but I love to add tofu for some extra protein

Chipotle: Burrito Bowl

  • I usually ask for: brown rice, black beans, sofritas (organic tofu), mild salsa, corn salsa, and lettuce
  • this one will definitely fill you up
  • I like to order the bowl instead of the burrito because you can always put the cover back on and save the leftovers!

Einstein Bagels

  • almost all the bagels are vegan (besides french toast, asiago cheese, etc.)
  • I usually get the everything bagel with hummus, and toasted (you can never go wrong with hummus)

MOD Pizza

  • these thin crust pizzas (vegan dough) are completely customizable, so feel free to load up on whatever veggies your heart desires
  • they offer vegan (Daiya) shredded “cheese” too!
  • I usually order the “mini” (6″) pizza with red sauce, basil, mushrooms, spinach, bell peppers, and vegan cheese
  • their bbq sauce and garlic rub sauces are also vegan

Vegan Fries 

  • Chick-Fil-A waffle fries
  • Wendy’s natural cut fries

Other restaurants that aren’t really fast-food, but ones I would highly recommend:

  • If you’re in the Chicago-land area there’s a pretty good chance that you have already heard of this one, but if you haven’t, definitely go check out the Chicago Diner (there’s one on Halsted St. and one on Milwaukee Ave.). All of the choices are meat-free, vegan or vegetarian, and are DELICIOUS. I usually order a sandwich or burger, a side of sweet potato fries, and a mint-chocolate chip vegan shake.
  • Native Foods Cafe is actually a restaurant I discovered during my recent trips to California, and I was so happy when I found out that there was also one in Chicago. Like the Chicago Diner, this one is also completely plant-based. Their seitan and tempeh burgers and earth bowls are so good.

There are so many other options out there that aren’t on this list, so if you’re a vegan and have your own go-to’s, feel free to comment below! I would love to try new dishes!

Much Love,

Syd

 

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Health, Life

Veganism: One Month Update

As of today, I have been vegan for a little over a month, and guess what? I’m not a crumbling piece of flesh, my bones feel stronger than ever, and I am still enjoying the food that I eat. The first week of being vegan was difficult not because I’m “missing out on bacon and cheese”, but more because of the response I got from the people around me. It’s crazy to see just how butt hurt people will get when you make a decision to not eat meat or drink milk. I only bring up veganism when necessary but I’ll never be afraid to defend it. Don’t get me wrong, I used to be one of those people that would look at vegans as think of them as annoying people who think they are better than everyone else because they eat tofu everyday. Boy was I wrong. Being vegan has opened my eyes to many of the issues going on in the world that major food industries and the government try to hide from the public. I’m glad I went vegan because I feel like I’m doing something for my planet and I’m not supporting the slaughter, exploitation, rape, and murder of innocent beings. Sorry (not sorry) if that bothers you.

Things I’ve learned:

  1. Make sure you completely educate yourself. For anyone that tries to criticize you for being vegan, nothing will shut them up more than backing up your claims with real facts and statistics about what they are supporting if they consume or use animal products.
  2. If someone asks why you won’t drink milk or eat the platter of meat that’s for dinner, and you reply, “sorry, I’m vegan”, be prepared for:
    • You need milk to have strong bones. Getting milk from a cow doesn’t even kill them.
    • You need meat to get protein.
    • How will you survive without bacon?!
    • Let’s see how long this will last, it’s just a phase.
    • Don’t come to my house and expect me to cook anything special for you (yes this is actually something a family member told me)
  3. How to respond to these responses:
    • No actually I don’t need milk to have strong bones, have you ever heard of almond milk, coconut milk, or soymilk? Yeah well they are all great sources of calcium WITHOUT the fat and cholesterol that is in cow milk. Plant-based milk doesn’t involve the rape and exploitation of cows. It doesn’t make sense that as humans we feel the need to drink the milk from cows when they are meant for raising calves to the 500+ pound mammals that they are born to be. Do your research.
    • Protein isn’t only found in meat, where do you think the animals get it from? From eating PLANTS. It makes more sense to eat the primary source of protein without having to ingest all the saturated fats and cholesterol that comes with eating meat. Beans, dark greens, lentils, quinoa, bananas, and so many other plants provide just the amount of protein we need in a day.
    • Trust me, I don’t need a strip of flesh full of fats, cholesterol, and salt to survive.
    • I plan on living this way for the rest of my life, it may just be a “phase” to you, but at least it’s a “phase” that doesn’t support the overuse of water, deforestation, and slaughter/rape/exploitation of innocent animals while also increasing the longevity of my life.
    • I never asked to get any special treatment, but I’m perfectly fine staying at home or eating my own food before I leave.
  4. Not everyone is rude and ignorant; I am lucky enough to have a handful of friends and family that are supportive of my decision. I will never force my opinions onto others (maybe encourage), but all I ask is that my right to live the way I do is respected.
  5. Eat bananas, everyday.
  6. If you’re planning to eat out with friends or family, always look up the menu online first so you know what to order, or if you have to eat something before you leave.
  7. If you ever feel like you’re losing your grip with veganism, rewatch all the documentaries to remind yourself of what you’re doing for the planet and for the animals.
  8. Don’t fall into that “annoying vegan” category. It’s good to try to educate others and encourage the vegan lifestyle but don’t be too pushy and militant. Only bring veganism up in conversations if you have to, don’t be that person that says “I’m vegan” in every sentence. There are some really stubborn people out there that refuse to give up meat; don’t let them get to you. Spread awareness to others, but realize that the people who won’t listen are the ones that just don’t care, and there’s nothing you can do about it.

Things I have accomplished:

  1. I guess you can say that I kind of went vegan overnight. Some people usually start of as a vegetarian and then work their way towards veganism, which is totally fine. To me, the dairy industry is probably one of the worst ones so giving up dairy products wasn’t hard at all. For a month I’ve completely had a plant-based diet. I don’t crave bacon or burgers; the sight of raw flesh in grocery stores actually makes my stomach turn.
  2. I don’t buy any more products that are made of animal products, or are tested on animals. I’m in the process of using up all the non-vegan products I already own.
  3. I stopped using my genuine leather Fossil purse that I’ve had for over 2 years. The thought of having a once alive and thriving animal hang off my shoulders made me sick.
  4. Most of the meals I eat are raw; I rarely eat processed foods.
  5. I actually read the nutrition labels now! (To make sure that I’m getting the amount of nutrients I need and that there aren’t any animal products)
  6. I feel absolutely no guilt about the foods that I eat now.

Tips for newbies like me or anyone who is interested:

  1. Youtube is your best friend. It’s an easy way to educate yourself and make your transition as easy as possible. I watched many different youtube videos to learn more about why I’m choosing to be vegan and also recipe videos for inspiration and ideas.
  2. You don’t need to eat salad everyday. Salads are great, but it’s still possible to enjoy other dishes like pasta, stir fry, burritos, etc. A vegan diet can be limited to an extent, but it doesn’t limit you from being able to enjoy delicious and nutritious foods.

Sorry for the long post, there are just so many things to say about veganism and I am so grateful that my eyes were opened to this amazing lifestyle. It’s really not that hard to make the switch; I highly encourage everyone to learn about it and at least try it out!

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Health, Life

The Start of my Journey towards Veganism

I used to believe that having meat in my diet was something completely necessary for survival. Everyone has been told to drink milk for stronger bones, and eat meat for protein, but this is not true at all. All it took was a video presentation and research, for me to realize that we were all being taught the wrong thing. Sure milk does give you calcium for bones, but it isn’t the only source for calcium. There are other ways to get proteins and nutrients without having to ruin the lives of another animal. Every animal is born with the will to live, the food industry does everything they can to belittle this. I was exposed to information and the reality of this horrible industry. I can’t believe that as a 19 year old, I’ve been completely ignorant and unaware of the food that I put on my plate. I am choosing to change my lifestyle not only for the obvious ethical reasons, but also for health and environmental reasons (read about this).

Veganism has crossed my mind a few times before, but the vegans that I have seen and met actually discouraged me from wanting to even be involved with this group of people. Their rudeness and pushiness were things that I did not want to be, but I’ve learned now that not all vegans are like that. Thinking back at this now, I feel pretty stupid because choosing this lifestyle shouldn’t have anything to do with vegans themselves, it should be about the animals and our planet. So no, I’m not being a vegan because it’s a “trend”, I’m doing it for the well-being of all living animals, our planet, and myself. For some people, this switch can occur overnight, but I’m telling you right now, it’s not going to happen for me. Habits that I’ve had ever since I was a child won’t break in one day, but I’m going to give myself time to change them. People also argue that meat tastes so good and that it would be hard to give up but after looking into the meat industry and realizing what goes on in those factories, I promise that you won’t even want to put a piece of meat in your mouth without wanting to throw up.

Here are some videos that helped me make my decision:

This video is AMAZING and very informational (only a few graphic clips):

This guy is a great example of a vegan, and offers really helpful tips about how to obtain the sufficient amount of nutrients/protein with a plant based diet:

Documentaries:

Cowspiracy (2014)

Earthlings (2005)

 

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Health

Easy Banana “Ice-Cream”

A few weeks ago I discovered an amazing, SUPER EASY recipe to make a healthier version of ice-cream using frozen bananas. Recently I’ve been making a lot of it, and today I wanted to share with you how quick and easy it is to make.

You’ll need:

  • frozen banana slices (I cut the banana into about 1-inch pieces and then freeze them overnight)
  • good blender (I use a Vitamix Blender)
  • [optional] cocoa powder, chia seeds, coconut flakes

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There aren’t that many steps because it’s really simple! First, you’re going to need to blend up your frozen banana pieces (make sure not to have super big chunks because it will be hard to blend). Since it’s pretty thick, it will start sticking to the sides, so usually I use a spoon to scrape down the sides so that all of it blends evenly. If you want the simplest version of the ice-cream then that’s all you need to do! It pretty much has the same creamy texture like ice-cream and is also delicious.

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I like to add a little bit of cocoa powder to the bananas before I blend them to give it a chocolate flavor. For the toppings, you can add pretty much anything (fresh fruits, whipped cream, etc.) but I personally like to top it off with a sprinkle of coconut flakes and chia seeds.

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This is probably one of the easiest recipes for “ice-cream” and is a healthier alternative! Enjoy x

 

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Health

Banana-Date Smoothie

Today I wanted to share a recipe for a really healthy smoothie! I had some ripe bananas laying around and lots of dates so I decided to make a smoothie out of them. There’s no sugar in this smoothie because the dates add all the sweetness needed!

Ingredients:

  • 2 ripe bananas
  • 7 dates
  • 1 1/2 cups of soy milk (or almond milk)
  • 2 teaspoons of chia seeds (preferably soaked)
  • a spoonful of peanut butter
  • 1/8 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • cup of ice

(serves 2-3)

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Before I blended everything together, I soaked my chia seeds for a few minutes to have the jelly-like consistency. I blended everything in my Vitamix Blender and added about a cup of ice. You could add protein mix to this smoothie or use nutella instead of peanut butter, it’s all up to you! This is super easy and is now one of my favorite smoothies to make!
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Enjoy! x

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