How Do You Do It?

When people hear I’m “vegan”, the first question they typically ask is: “But how do you do it?” followed by “So what DO you eat?” which can be interchanged with “Where do you get your protein?”

Once they ask the first question, I tend to answer “It’s easy, really. I just don’t eat meat or any animal products.” Their response 98% of the time is a shaking of their head and “But HOW can you live without meat? Without BACON?!” and I smile and repeat “It’s really easy.”

To the 2% that are interested in an actual answer, show genuine interest, and won’t go down the meat/bacon road, this series of posts is for you.

Giving up meat wasn’t all that hard for me. I’ve felt somewhat conflicted about eating meat all my life. It might have to do with the fact that I grew up on a little farm, where we lived as self-sufficient as we could. Raising animals for their products and meat was a big part of that self-sufficient life style. From as long as I remember I was part of that, and responsibility grew with age. When it was Schlachttag (word-by-word translated to “Slaughter day”), everyone lend a hand, from aunts & uncles, cousins, to neighbors, and us kids. It was a big event, and as you could imagine, it takes a lot of hands to take care of 240-270 lbs of meat. As kids, it was kind of fun. Everyone got together, we got to run around and play outside, and there was delicious, fresh sausage and Schnitzel to eat. As I got older, and realized what it was really all about, I became more and more grossed out by it. The day (generally a Saturday) started by being woken up by a screaming and crying pig at 4am, when it gets picked up for slaughter, arriving at the slaughterhouse later on when the carcass is cut up in big parts, and we had to package and label hundreds of pounds of fresh sausage, and different cuts of pork. We filled laundry basket after laundry basket, and after every helper picked some for themselves to take home, we transported the rest, and filled up our three freezers. Smoked sausages and bacon were hung on rods in the pantry, until they were also ready to be frozen. The whole house had a distinct smell of fresh meat for the coming week, which people thought was delicious, but always made me gag.

So maybe it’s because I learned from a very young age, where meat comes from. The bacon you enjoy so much, used to be a piglet. That steak you had for dinner, used to be a cow. And not happy ones, like they’re trying to make you believe in the advertisement, but that’s a whole different story. I could just never fully grasp the concept of getting a piglet, putting so much work into raising it, just to end up slaughtering it. And do you know how they’re slaughtered? (Keep in mind, this is how we slaughtered them on a family farm, the meat you buy at the supermarket is a whole different story) First, the pig gets transported to the slaughterhouse (which isn’t a joyride, pigs are very intelligent, and show clear signs of distress like crying and screaming). After arrival at the slaughterhouse, the pig is first rendered unconscious by stunning it with a captive bolt pistol. Then it’s hoisted up so it hangs on a big hook from the ceiling, from where it gets exsanguinated (ex·san·gui·nate  [eks-sang-gwuh-neyt] to drain of blood, to bleed to death) Note that the pig is still alive when this happens, it’s unconscious but it’s alive. After the blood is gone, the hair gets removed, then the organs get taken out, the head gets cut off, and the carcass will be cut in two. The halves are being washed, cooled down, and the cutting and deboning starts. The meat is getting cut, smoked, ground into sausage, packaged. The whole day started at 4am and ended around 8pm.

So maybe the connection between the animal, and the how it became the food on my plate, is why giving up meat was easy for me. And no, I don’t crave meat, or Bacon.

Picture: Pinterest

oh hey, it’s Friday!

Eating Healthy or Pizza?

Both!

Who says you can’t have Pizza and live healthy at the same time? Exactly, no one.

The hubs and I have been making our Pizza by ourselves at home for a while now. The first few times we used canned pizza dough, canned pizza sauce, and meat. Not really that much better than the frozen or ordered kind, I know.

Well, we’ve learned. Here is what we do now:

  • Get fresh whole wheat dough at Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods
  • Make our own Pizza Sauce
  • Top it with plenty of veggies
  • Add some cheese
  • Bake and indulge!

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Yum Yum Yum! And not a second of feeling bad or guilty or anything negative for that matter.

Now add a movie, hot tea, and a blanket on the couch and this is our happy, comfy friday night in :)

I want to start using vegan cheese, but never really had it. So I have no clue what to try.

Does anyone of you have tips or recommendations regarding vegan cheese substitutes? Please let me know in the comments, thank you :)

 

My New, Kind Way of Life

I’m planning to stick with it this time.

I’ve made the transition back to a plant-based, vegetarian diet a few weeks ago. And that wasn’t for the first time. Since years I’ve been transitioning back and forth, from several months without eating meat or animal products back to some dairy or “good, humane” meat here and there, to oh whatever, just give it to me. Yes, I did make myself feel better by telling myself eating organic, local, grass fed meat makes really all the difference. No, I never really believed in that.

Growing up on a little farm raising pigs, rabbits, and the occasional steer just to kill them and eat them later on never made sense to me as a child. I just didn’t understand how my dad could raise this little piggy, look into it’s eyes, feed it, and watch it grow, put in all this work and compassion, just to get it slaughtered once it’s reached a “good weight”. But then again, my dad is from a different generation, this is the most natural thing for him.

Milk and Eggs we would get from other local farmers in town, so I wasn’t worried about that. We would go to the farm, see the cows and chickens on pastures and in their barns. Yes, it was like the happy, family farm picture the big factory farms try to sell us in supermarkets today. Looking back, I had a great childhood growing up in this small town where everyone knew everyone, and farm to table was the norm! If I should ever have children of my own, I really would like them to experience something like this as well.

However, during my teenage years and up until recently I figured eating meat my dad produced would be fine since I knew where it’s from, I knew it was slaughtered in a human way (or as humane as killing other creatures for personal pleasure gets), I knew it had a good life. Again, I didn’t really believe in this, but it’s what I’ve told myself to feel better, to not feel guilty.

I began to notice that whenever I would buy, or eat meat (or any other animal products for that matter) I would think of excuses which would make it okay. Excuses to not feel guilty because I was supporting this horrifying, cruel some industry. No, this never really worked for me either.

So finally, I’ve been saying no again. I’ve made the switch again. The difference this time? I’m planning on sticking with it!

I’ve been feeling better, more healthy, more energetic. I’ve had a slip up, and it literally made me sick! I ate a meaty spaghetti sauce my brother-in-law made for dinner. I didn’t want to be difficult by asking for something meat-free. Yes, it was delicious in the moment, but I was up most of the night with painful stomach cramps and the feeling I would have to purge at any moment. This night it was clear to me:  Meat makes me sick. And I’m done with it. Once and for all.

By the way, I’ve been grossed out by cow’s milk since I can remember. I didn’t like the taste since I was a child, which is why my parents would make me drink chocolate milk. I even added Nesquik to my cereal cause I couldn’t stand the taste of plain milk. I’ve been replacing cow’s milk with Soy or Almond Milk since years now. A few weeks ago, I stopped eating eggs as well. I don’t buy them or cook them, but I do consume foods that contain eggs.

I’m having a hard time calling myself a vegetarian. I find it difficult enough to get support by family or friends, without putting a label on it. I agree with Alicia Silverstone in calling it “The Kind Diet”. A kind life, kind to animals, kind to the planet, kind to myself.

I’ve been reading a lot abut Vegetarianism/Veganism  and am on the constant search of yummy, healthy recipes so if you have some great tips/resources/recipes for me to look at please share them :)

As I’ve been trying a bunch of new recipes, stay tuned for them to appear here. Next post will be my absolutely delicious, slow cooked meatless spaghetti sauce!

Yes, It’s Vegan!

One of the first foods I had when I came to the Unites States was Tacos. And I feel in love with them right there and then. Tacos are oh-so-delicious, and there are tons of recipes with tips out there on how to make them a bit healthier.

I came across this amazing vegan(!) Black Bean Taco Recipe, and this is the only way I’m making Tacos since. Although I have to add, since neither I or the hubs are vegan, we do add dairy toppings to them. I also always make fresh guacamole to go with them (I’m totally in love with avocados). They are so good, I have to share the recipe with you.

 

Black Bean Tacos with Corn Salsa

 (serves 4)

Ingredients:

Olive Oil Cooking Spray

2 cloves garlic

2 1/2 cups canned black beans (rinsed & drained)

1/4 cup rolled oats

1/4 cup cornmeal

1 TBSP chili powder

1/2 TSP Cumin (optional)

1 TSP salt (divided)

1/2 TSP freshly ground black pepper (divided)

8 small corn tortillas

1 cup corn (thawed if frozen)

1 medium red bell pepper, chopped

1 small green chile, diced

2 scallions, chopped

juice of two limes

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Heat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit, and coat a baking sheet with cooking spray.

In a food processor, chop the garlic. Add the beans, oats, cornmeal, chili pepper, cumin,  3/4 TSP salt, and 1/4 TSP pepper. Process until mixture is combined, stopping to scrape down the sites a couple of times (about 1 minute).

Crumble bean mixture onto the prepared baking sheet (do not stick your hands in the blender, use a spoon ;)), and coat lightly with some cooking spray. Then bake the bean mixture until it’s firm and crisp on the bottom, about 10 to 15 minutes.

Use a spoon to break up pieces of bean mixture, turn it, and coat again lightly with the cooking spray. Bake until the bean mixture is crisp all over, about 10 to 15 minutes.

Warm the tortillas in the oven for about 5 minutes.

To make the corn salsa combine the corn, chopped red bell pepper, diced chile, chopped scallions, and remaining salt and pepper in a medium-sized bowl. Sprinkle with lime juice, and add fresh cilantro.

Nutritional Info for the recipe as is above:

321 calories per serving (2 tacos), 3g fat, 60g carbs, 13g fiber, 14g Protein

My taco topped with guacamole, fat-free sour cream, and some cheddar cheese.

Vegan Black Bean Taco with Corn Salsa and Guacamole