Last week, a friend of mine asked if I’ve seen the documentary Earthlings.  I told her I hadn’t because the trailer had made me sob.  After watching it last weekend, she told me, both her and her husband had decided that their family would go vegan.  Just like that, they committed to no longer consuming animal products and being more conscious of non-food products they purchase that may contain animal products.

Over the past week, I went back and forth as to whether or not I would watch the documentary.  I’m already a vegan after all and the idea of watching animals suffer makes me want to cry just thinking of it.  But, because it was such a powerful and life changing experience for friend and her family, I knew I wanted to share it with others.  I feel that it is important that I have watched it before suggesting to others that they too watch it.

I must warn you, this is graphic…but it is real and the suffering is on a massive scale.  What does this say about our own humanity if we continue to turn our heads and let this happen in our own nation?  I watched the video in sections because I honestly could not take it all at once.  I cried throughout most of it and felt like I’d be sick to my stomach several times.  Josh was reading in the other room and several times he looked at me concerned as if I was going to puke on the computer…it’s that gross (and I’m that pregnant).

Why would you watch such a horrid thing?  Because knowledge is the first step to making changes.  Yes, they are animals and in so many ways different from us.  But they are also so much like us.  If you’ve ever snuggled with a puppy, let a piglet nestle against your hand, or watched a cow nursing her calf, you know that they are not just objects but living beings with physical and psychological needs–they feel pain and experience emotions.

In the past few years of eating vegan, it has become more and more apparent to me that our well being as humans is intimately tied to the well being of animals and the environment.  When I refuse to eat a food because it contains a small amount of animal products, I am not doing so to be annoying or because I think an ity-bity amount of dairy will give me cancer.  I do so because if I do not stand by my convictions that the practices used to make the food were both cruel and unhealthy for the animal, the environment, and myself then I am not being true to myself. I’m not trying to be “high and mighty” but rather just trying to live in a way that allows me to sleep at night. Over a chai last week in Arizona, my friend said to me something like this…”Every decision we make brings us either closer to who we really are or further away…”  I say ‘no thanks’ because I want to move closer to who I am and what I believe.

This film is sad and hard to watch.  It is likely to leave you with unpleasant feelings.  The rainbow of hope is that we each make a stance against this type of cruelty when we refuse to purchase food and items derived from such practices.  A leather purse, no matter how cute, just doesn’t seem worth the pain.  A cheap chicken breast/burger/pork chop/filet just doesn’t taste as good when you acknowledge the pain and suffering that it caused.  In India, many of the Hindu’s I discussed this avoidance of eating flesh with spoke of “not ingesting” suffering.  I often think of that when I am faced with the choice to accept food with animal products or to refuse and risk insulting someone or maybe going hungry for a while.

Please take the time to watch it.  It’s free.

Click here.



Spinal Warm-Ups

Last month I was having loads of pain in my upper back, neck, and head.  I had a Group-on coupon for a spinal exam and massage at a chiropractor in Tacoma that I decided it was time to use.  I really just wanted the massage but the office insisted I do the full spinal exam (minus the x-ray of course).  At the end of the exam, the chiropractor told me I was all sorts of messed up and I was in serious need of chiropractic care.  Do I doubt that my back isn’t in great shape?  No.  Do I think that I might benefit from some holistic chiropractic, probably.  But I was not about to dish out thousands of dollars to this quick talker to “fix me”.

I did some research, talked to my PT friend, and in the end decided that I would commit to doing 10-20 minutes of yoga in the mornings and see if I noticed a difference. For the last few weeks I’ve been religious about doing at least a few minutes of yoga in the mornings.  This past week, I did about 20 minutes of yoga in the morning every day except Saturday.  Saturday was the only day I had shoulder, neck, and head pain.  The rest of the week I felt great!

Not only have I been feeling worlds better, it was free and in my own living room!  I didn’t waste time or money traveling to and from and I felt empowered to be healing my own body!  I’ve created a short (13 minute) video that combines a couple of the short practices I’ve been doing from  I’ve modified a little due to my baby bump (23 weeks tomorrow).  The routine includes all 6 ranges of spinal movement and is a fabulous way to start your morning or wind down after a stressful day (or both)!  I end each practice with 5 minutes of relaxation (I set my alarm clock but use a different ring tone than my regular alarm so I don’t feel irritated when it goes off).  Sorry the lighting is poor and my voice might be a little scratchy.  I recorded this at 5:30 this morning–fresh out of bed.

Meatless Mondays (or any day) on a Budget

My transition from vegetarian to vegan was pretty abrupt.  I’m sort of an all or nothing thinker and for me, to just go for it was the best option.  However, it did take me some time to adjust to this new way of eating and there was a little bit of easing.  I began shooting for “1oo% plant based days” but that first month did include a bit of cheese here and there when offered to me by others.

You don’t have to go “all the way” to reap the wonderful health benefits of a plant based diet.  Maybe you aren’t in a place where you are ready to dive head first into the world of no animal products.  That’s okay!  I know the first time Josh suggested to me that we become vegans I was told him absolutely not.  It took me a year and a whole lot of my own research to make that for myself.  The great news is, you can just take it a little bit at a time!

Meatless Mondays are a great way to start!  Choose one day (or even meal) per week and make it meatless or completely vegan!  Its only 1 day and it will encourage you to discover the wonderful world of plant based recipes!  For a 4 person household, having one meat-less day a week is equivalent to giving up driving for 3 months in terms of carbon foot-print!  If every American gave up meat and cheese one day a week, it would equivalent to taking 7.6 million cars off the road! Not to mention what it will do for your help!   This strategy might also make the transition easier for your partner and family.  Include them in it!  Help your kiddos understand why you are doing it–for health, environment, humaneness to animals.

With a baby on the way, Josh and I have been discussing our budget and I’ve been challenging myself to be a little more thrifty and conscious of my purchases.  With that, I’m doing my best to cut back on some of the “luxury” vegan food items I’ve found myself splurging on lately.  Eating a plant based diet can be done on a budget!  It just takes some planning!  Nomeatathlete talks about “A Grain, A Green, and a Bean”. It can be as simple or as fancy as you’d like.  Grains are relatively cheap and if you buy dried beans, and then splurge just a little on organic greens you’ll be making delicious, healthy meals for stinkin’ cheap!  You can spice it up however you like!  Sometimes we add some fancy store bought curry sauce from Trader Joes (check the ingredients for animal products) or just add a little soy sauce.  You can even just sprinkle some of your favorite spices on there and call it a day!

Grains we LOVE

  • Brown Rice
  • Quinoa
  • Barley
  • Burgler
  • Amaranth
  • Whole Wheat Pasta
  • Wild Rice

Greens we LOVE

  • kale
  • swiss chard
  • collard greens
  • spinach

Beans we LOVE

  • chick peas or hummus
  • black beans
  • kidney beans
  • white beans
  • lentils (any kind)
  • Organic, Non-GMO tofu
  • Tempeh (soy)
  • Field Roast (not a bean but delicious and high in protein)

We cook the grains and then add the beans and greens and whatever veggies we have around that we want to toss in.  We leave it on a low heat just long enough to warm it all up but not so long as to really cook the veggies–the fresher the better!  Add some sauce or spices to your desire and ENJOY!

A Scary Story and a Rainbow of Hope.

Last Wednesday we celebrated Halloween.  I dressed up in a ridiculous pregnant cat costume (teets and all) and set out with our costumed friends to a couple of bars in our neighborhood. I’m not super into Halloween.  I don’t like scary things–zombies, vampires, blood, and the sort gross me out.  I also don’t like the the over consumption and glorification of candy–processed chunks filled with drugs like sugar and caisine (not to mention an assortment of unpronounceable chemicals).  Despite all the things I don’t like about Halloween, it was a lovely excuse to be silly with friends and enjoy their company and our interesting neighborhood.

A conversation I overheard while I was splurging on my vegan field roast melt (since I couldn’t indulge in a cocktail or glass of wine I thought I’d at least indulge in a sandwich), got me thinking about some of the food choices I’ve been making lately (in my pregnant state) and also about how other’s think about food, health, and diet.  After excusing myself at 9:30 to go home for some preggo sleepy-sleepy time, I pulled out my old friend The China Study and began picking through it.  After reading just a few pages, I couldn’t keep my eyes open any longer, but I also couldn’t fall asleep because I was so disturbed by what I’d read…Here is an excerpt:
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