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

Zero to Hero and the Challenges of my Daily Life

A couple of days ago, the Zero to Hero Challenge gave us the assignment to make our “about page irresistible”. Now, I had an about page for a while, and was never really all that happy with it. I find it boring, but I’m having difficulties coming up with something funny, interesting, different. So the last couple of days I have revisited the page, made changes, thought about it, revised it again, and so on. Without a real result. Am I really this boring? Where did all my inspiration go?

I’ve been trying to come up with posts for the blog, but had (and still have) tons of other things on my mind that kept distracting me. And so I kept opening and closing a new text post, until today. I figured what the heck, I’ll just update you on what’s been going on.

Well, I’ve been crazy busy at work. Four co-workers got sick in the past week and we’re already under-staffed. Now add all the New Year Resolution Gym Goers and you might get an idea of what my past week working at the gym looked like. Add a bunch of other personal, daily life challenges like “discussions” with the husband, grief, and homesickness and you get the perfect setup for a mind explosion, if that makes any sense. Working out is my general form of stress relief, and I only made it to the gym to workout Monday and Friday, so that didn’t help the whole situation either.

However, one of my Resolutions is: Concentrate on the positive side of things and try to live more in the present. So that is what I was trying to do: The extra hours I worked will result in a bigger paycheck (with which I could treat myself), I made a positive impression on my boss by picking up the extra work, I got lucky with the weather on the days I rode my bike into work, and I called up a friend of mine, which I now resolved to call more often. My muscles got a longer, and most likely needed break to recover,  and I did get some “sauna time” in. So life isn’t all that bad.

Now back to that about page, I’m not going to sweat it for now. I’ll wait till inspiration strikes me, and just keep revising and making little changes. Tips are welcome!

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Ch-ch-ch-changes

I was never big on New Year Resolutions. In fact, not even once do I remember making any. And it wasn’t any different this year. Until yesterday. Let me just start by telling you 2013 wasn’t the best year for me, and ended in a personal breakdown. It became clear to me that things need to change, and so I began coming up with my first ever New Years Resolutions a couple of days late. One of them being, as you might have guessed, giving this blog an overhaul and recommitting to it.

It will become my healthy lifestyle and fitness blog. In the last two years, my interest in fitness (okay, weight lifting) and nutrition grew immensely. So much, that after I began to work at my local gym this past fall, I’m about to start a two semester long Certification Program in Personal Training and Fitness at my local Community College. I’m turning Fitness into a career, and this blog will reflect that. To get a jump-start on this, I decided to join the “From Zero to Hero: 30 Days to a better Blog” Challenge.

And since we’re already talking about recommitting, here’s another resolution: I’m recommitting to my vegan diet. I have been eating plant-based, whole foods since November 2012 with the occasional slip up. Those slip ups helped me realize that I feel best on a vegan diet. This year, I will refocus on that, and I will do my best to avoid any slip ups.

So here is to a healthy, happy, herbivorous 2014!