Thursday, December 14, 2017

The Second Day of Christmas... Fake it 'till you make it.

Well hey there noble reader, nice to know that I haven't scared you off. I know that yesterday's POST was a little challenging. Facing up to the realities of the dairy industry was tough, but I'm proud of you. You didn't tune out. 

I know we haven't even looked at pigs or chickens yet but for now...

Let's lighten things up a little bit and have some fun. The Second Day of Christmas --


Making a change in our lives is never easy, be that committing to an exercise routine, restructuring how we make use of our time to be more productive or most especially making any sort of dietary changes. Let's face it, most of us use food as comfort, to celebrate, to help us get through a difficult time, to bond with friends and family, to mark traditions, or in some cases - we might even use lunch just to get us through the damned work day. Not saying that's me {cough, it's totally me}. So why in the world would we want to go and give up our favorite foods?

I think we touched on part of the reason - compassion for animals -- but how about we think about our health. Think you need all that beef for protein, milk for calcium, eggs for... I dunno breakfast? Think again. I'd encourage you to watch What The Health. Fear not faint of heart folks, this is the film for you. It's strictly about the effects of an animal based diet on your physical well being. Once again, this documentary is available on Netflix and YouTube, but for your convenience, I've also added it here --

But I said this was gonna be fun today so lets have some fun. Transitioning to a plant based diet is easier than any other dietary change we'll ever make. Why? Because we don't actually have to give anything up. Like for instance, when I gave up sugar - I had to give up everything that was sweet and good in life and it was hard as fuck! And sometimes I'm still sad about it. But that's another story. As a plant-based eater or PBE for short, all the foods that we love and crave and hunger for around the family table, during a sad movie or hard break-up, or over the holidays - has a vegan substitute.

Ben & Jerry's has even gotten on the dairy-free wagon!

Ben and freakin' Jerry's people!! I'm just sayin'. Our new life isn't going to be without luxury or pleasure. Au contraire. We can still have pizza and burgers, melty ooey gooey good cheese-like product {do I know how to sell it or what?}. Um... did you know that Duncan Hines frosting is vegan! Oreo cookies. Vegan. Oops, sorry. Slipped into a sugar fantasy there for a second.

But what about Turkey dinner. We have a huge selection to choose from. My personal favorite hands down has always been Tofurkey - sadly I can no longer eat it because I have a gluten allergy. {always thought I had cramps after eating it because I ate too much, I mean I prob'ly did eat too much but it was the gluten to blame. Who knew?} But check this out - you can even get a vegan substitute that looks like a real Turkey if you must have the carcass of animal on your dinner table. I mean what will they come up with next, love it...

Crazy right? Want to know where to get it? Check here. Want more options? Check out this post. Again sadly for me, most of these have wheat gluten in them, so this year Ima try my hand at making my own tofu turkey with homemade gluten free stuffing. I'll letcha know how it turns out and I may even post a recipe and pics if it's not an epic fail, deal?

Now let's talk about the real thing holding us back from taking the plunge. Booze. Am I right? My favorite must have holiday drink is of course the one and only Bailey's Irish Cream. To die for over ice. I love it. Guess what?

Oh hell yeah they did.

Or why not try Besos de Oro -- 

The name means golden kisses. It's a mix of brandy and Horchata - a milky like drink made from tiny tubers called Chafa that grow in the ground. They look like peanuts but they're not nuts. It's dairy, nut and gluten free and apparently very popular in Spain served over ice. Is that true Natalia??

All I'm saying is that as we transition into the next phase {should you choose to join me, hoping you will, oh please say you will, won't you} is that we'll never have to go without because pretty much all our favorite foods, snacks, treats and drinks have their own non-animal based version.

Coming up as we continue with the Twelve Days of Christmas, I look forward to discussing experimenting with new foods, playing around in the kitchen, tips for eating out, documentary reviews and other helpful ways to ease into Veganuary by the month's end.

Stay tuned.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

The First Day of Christmas... Know Thyself

As promised, it's December 13th and it's my First Day of Christmas as I prep for Veganuary - or going Green in the Eighteen. If you're just catching up, no worries, read on noble reader, I'll catch up you. If you are already up to speed, go on and jump ahead to the title of this post - Know Thyself - below.

January 2018 and in fact the whole of 2018 I'm predicting/crossing my fingers and praying will be a spectacular year for all of us. If your 2017 was anything like mine -- mine made 2016 {also known as the 9th rack of hell} look like a cake walk, then you'll want to believe that 2018 will be a turning point too. It was a hard year y'all. I've been feeling less than awesome. As blessed as I am to have work {so blessed I tell you} I am exhausted. 

So I wanted to do something that would change all that. My girl Emery has been spreading this loving message of healing our planet, stopping global warming by turning to local and sustainable ways of getting food and cooking for ourselves to heal what ails us and I got all inspired and shit. 

Ergo I have decided that one of the best ways to heal both myself and the planet was to "glitterally" {it's glitter and literally smushed together, thanks again Myla} put my money where my mouth is and GO VEGAN starting January 1st. 

{Confession, kinda already started y'all, but Ima get to that later

I knew that there was no way that I could take this on all by my onesie, so I enlisted help. I've signed up for VEGANUARY going vegan for January. You must go to this link, trust me they know everything, have answers for every question and they will support, encourage, inspire and help you feed yourself in an awesome plant-based way.

But I also know that if I am gonna be accountable, I gotta go public with my declaration otherwise I might will be prone to cheat. It worked for the 30-Day Method and years of Metamorphosis and Continuity. It worked for kicking sugar. So here I am, this is my public declaration - I shall not be responsible for any harm coming to any living animal on our planet. So, without further adieu...


Have you heard the latest catch phrase? "You do you?" It means be yourself. Do your own thing. Dance to the beat of your own drum. Forget about what everyone else thinks etc. etc. I'm kind of a fan of "you do you" as my number one Shamandment is to Be Shannon.

It's sometimes easier said than done, right? Especially when it comes to food choices. I'm currently sugar free and gluten free while He Who Shall Not Be Named is a Vegan. When we go out with certain friends, all they want to talk about is our "freaky" eating habits. Sometimes I think, maybe it would just be easier to have that cookie, cake, steak, croissant {well definitely not that last one as I have a serious gluten allergy} but you get the idea.

So on The First Day of Christmas, I thought it might be interesting to explore why we make the choices we do, or don't do as the case may be.

Why have so many of us have thought about veganism but have yet to take the plunge? And why I personally have had a bit of an aversion to "Vegans" in general, how they got a bad rep {in my head} and why that's now changing. 

You with me so far? Great, then let's do this.

I can't speak for you, but I can share my story. I turned to vegetarianism in my late teens/early 20's because I looked into the face of a cow. I saw those big beautiful brown eyes and those long eyelashes and I fell in love. Bossy could never be my dinner. 

And if I had enough love for Bossy, then that meant I couldn't eat Babe or Foghorn Leghorn (the Looney Tunes Chicken Hawk).

So I chose to give up "anything with parents or a face". But that didn't include milk, other dairy products or eggs. Like so many vegetarians I believed I was living a compassionate lifestyle. After all, nobody had to die for my dinner did they? So why the heck would anybody ever want to become Vegan? I'll get there. But first, let's stop saying the word vegan because it kind of still does have a bad image in my mind. Let's start saying Plant Based diet because that is what we're talking about here. Vegan was just a made up word. 

Why didn't I like most "vegans"? {The ones in my head, not the ones in real life., I am married to one don't you know.} Because they always kind of seemed like unhealthy granola munching weirdos -- geez I really can be mean sometimes. But it's how I felt.

And they always seemed to be trying to force the rest of the world to conform to their way of being, like the rest of us should feel guilty for our very existence on the planet for all the harm we were doing. 

I don't want to be that person, the one listing off statistics, screaming out at the top of my lungs that all meat-eaters are bad, that we're killing the planet, causing suffering, poisoning our bodies. I'm not writing about this transition to make you feel guilty or to try to force you into any change that you're not ready for. But I will appeal to your common sense and try to help you see and understand why I'm doing this and then maybe, just maybe, come January 1st, you might wanna give it a try too.

So how come we're not vegans yet? I bet I can give you a list of reasons among which you'll find at least one or two that you yourself may have used.

I'm not hurting anyone by eating eggs. My chickens are happy free range chickens.

I love cheese I could NEVER give it up and besides, I only buy organic grass-fed so the cows are happy.

I need meat, without it I feel so weak and tired.

I work out a lot, how in the world would I ever get enough protein?

There's no way I could afford all the supplements I'd need to take in order to live on only plants.

I don't like beans.

I'm anemic.

Eating a strictly plant based diet is just way too expensive.

Have I hit on anything yet? Every objection above is a myth. You want the true story? Go here and read everything on the page. You'll see, we're kind of just making excuses. These objections to going plant based are just a story we tell ourselves so that we never have to actually think about what our eating habits may be doing to our bodies, our planet and most of all the animals. {The animals are my raison d'etre btw, may as well just get that out there.}

But again, I'm not blaming us. I'm not even going to blame our parents or their parents for raising us up to think this way. No blame, no shame, remember? There is no point in dwelling on the past. Corporations have brainwashed us into thinking all of this stuff because if we continue to believe it, they get rich and we get sick, then they get richer because of all the meds they sell us to help us "feel better".

If I haven't driven you away yet then I'd like to ask two things of you. One -- keep reading, and two -- watch Vegucated. It's on Netflix, but it's also on YouTube. Or, for your convenience you can watch it right here. 

In short, it's a documentary about a New York Vegan who convinces three meat and dairy loving New Yorkers to go plant-based for six weeks. I learned so much watching this and there's some really important information in here that convinced me that going plant based isn't only the right thing to do, it's kinda the only thing to do. I think after watching this film, you'll not only want to "do you", you'll want to do you in a whole new way. You'll discover a you that you maybe weren't even convinced was inside of you. A warrior for peace. A protector of the innocent. A soldier of compassion. And a lover of veggies.

So let's see... we've covered off the multitude of reasons why we're not vegan right now and discovered that our reasons are pretty flimsy. I've talked about why I didn't really like vegans - always so pushy and making me feel all guilty and crap - but I didn't really tell you why that's changed.

Vegans ain't what they used to be. No longer are the herbivores simply Birkenstock wearing tree-huggers {Hey, nothing wrong with Birks or hugging trees - you do you, remember} today's vegans are compassionate, healthy thinkers. {I mean I suspect they always were but they just look different today} Today, a vegan is everything from a body builder to a talk show host, to a farmer, model, writer, comedian, to the person you share your life with. 

Did you know that Liam Hemsworth, Miley Cyrus, Peter Dinklage, Sia, Jenna Dewan Tatum, Mike Tyson? Seriously??, Woody Harleson, Jason Mraz, Toby Maguire, Carrie Underwood, Ariana Grande, the lovely Natalie Portman, Jessica Chastain, Alicia Silverstone (whom I love), Stevie Wonder, and of course our fave -- Ellen are all vegans? Not a dummy among them. {and hopefully by the end of the month we'll be able to add our names to this amazing list}

I love Ellen that much more because she cares about the animals enough not to eat them, but the person who really convinced me without ever once saying: "You know, you really should become a vegan" was He Who Shall Not Be Named. That's right, my husband.

He elected to turn to a plant based diet in February of 2016 and hasn't looked back. I ate cheese and eggs in front of him relentlessly and he never gave in. I tempted him with gluten free sugar free banana bread - so what if it has an egg in it, you'll be fine. {Oh Lawd I hope I don't get sent to hell for that} I mean I guess I'd likely have lost most folks at gluten free sugar free but whateves. It's good shit, I promise you. We'd split a pizza (gluten free crust of course) and he'd have vegan cheese on his half and let me have my dairy cheese on mine without ever making me feel guilty.

Then one day - I was like dude, what the hell is so bad about dairy? Bossy the cow has a good life. I mean, my beloved was raised on a "mom and pop" free range happy cow dairy farm in England. He grew up milking cows. How does a guy like that give up cheese? His favorite food in the world?!? How?

And then he told me a story. Please please please don't stop reading. It's not violent or abusive or graphic. I want you to hear the story - and let me remind you, this is not the big agro business kind of farm. This was his great grandfather's farm, then his granddad's, then his dad's, and it was supposed to be his. Ahem, we live in Canada now so he is no longer a dairy farmer, but I digress.

It was that time of year, calving season. When all the pregnant cows {I'm not even going to tell you how they get pregnant, but I'm sure there's documentary for that. It's not nice and it isn't right} Anyhoo, all the "happy free-range, grass-fed" cows were about to give birth and they did, like every year. But one such pregnancy did not go so well and the calf was still-born. The mommy cow stood over her dead baby in the field and she cried. She yowled and mourned and no matter what they tried, there was no way she was leaving that field without her baby. So my husband's dad made him tie a rope around the dead baby and drag it across the field. It was the only way they could get her to come inside. She wept and wailed as she followed her dead baby across the field and he said that sound has haunted him all his life.

The reality is, that no matter what kind of farm you get your milk and cheese from, every single baby is taken away from its mother and every single mother cow weeps for the loss of her child. And you can bet your sweet cheese loving ass that every single baby cries for his or her mother. Some don't even get to go to a grass-fed lovely new home to await their fate of eventual slaughter when they grow up - some get... I can't even... they become veal and if you don't know the horrors they endure in their sweet innocent lives, you better go and look it up, because no one and I mean no one should ever eat veal. OMG, I'm becoming one of those vegans I hate.

Anyway, if you think I'm exaggerating - please watch this most beautiful reunion between mother and baby -- 

And for another happy ending, please watch this... it's important that we learn the truth about the loving bond between mother and baby so that we can understand why their milk is not for us. And when we look back and remember these happy reunions they'll help us say "no thanks" when the cheese tray gets passed around.

Last one, this is the best story and if this doesn't convince you that cows have feelings and can think for themselves and actively make choices, nothing will...

And now shit's about to get real. These videos with the happy endings are the rare exception and not the rule. Right now as I'm typing this there are millions of mothers crying over the loss of their stolen babies. And the hard truth is that they don't need to be. We can actually actively make a choice to stop it by choosing not to purchase these products. WE CAN DO IT! We can be part of the revolution that stops the insanity so that future generations can look back and say "Holy shit, can you believe that people actually used to eat animals? Sick and wrong." It will be the same way we look back at people who "used to be cannibals." People who "used to own slaves". We have the opportunity to put ourselves in the shoes of the people who lived during Nazi Germany and honestly look in the mirror and know that if we were them, we would have done something because we are "doing something" now by saying this behaviour isn't right and it's got to stop! And I'm going to be the one to stop it by turning to a plant based diet and by telling everyone who will listen that they can do it too and that it will not only be pleasant and painless, it will be delicious and we'll feel so much better for it.

I hope you're with me. Would love to hear your thoughts, so leave me a message the comments below.

Big hugs,

Monday, December 11, 2017

My Holiday Gift.

It's the most wonderful time of the year and I want to share it with you. For years, writing a blog was my inspiration, my salvation, my community, and my great joy. You guys helped me find my voice and I truly believe it's one of the reasons that I actually have a career as a writer today. {Somebody please pinch me because I still can't believe it isn't all a dream!}

I love to write, but what I love even more is to share knowledge, laughter, experiences, and girlie lady stuff with all of you and getting to hear back about your insights, tips, wisdom, trip-ups and foibles so I don't feel so alone in my madness.

I realize that once Continuity hit year 3, the "writing" was on the wall and I couldn't write about the Tracy Anderson Method any more because I didn't have much more to say that what had already been written in the four years blogging about it. I wasn't sure how everyone would take to me writing about other stuff so I stopped writing Mastering The Method and came here to write. The problem is, I haven't been so diligent at keeping up with it and my work life has been overwhelming.

Nevertheless, I have a hiatus and I want to use that time to build a new community here. Over the few years and even fewer posts that I've penned here, every once and a while, a reader pops in and says "hey, I remember you from the TAM days". Just yesterday in fact, Marion from all the way over in Germany took the time to say hello and it made my heart swell a thousand times over.

So I've come up with a plan. If you read this weekend's post, you'll have heard that it's my intention to turn to a plant based diet in January for the month of January {maybe longer, let's see how we do} and I've enlisted the help and support of Veganuary a group of greenies who have promised to send out recipes, tips and tricks to help me stay the course. I am also encouraging all of you to do this with me. Imagine it, all of us standing strong together - taking back our health, supporting our planet, squelching global warming and most of all - stopping animal cruelty! We can do it y'all. I've made us a slogan! 

Dunno why, but I just feel like 2018 needs to be called The EIGHTEEN - it's gonna be a big and very special year for all of us. It's a time of reckoning. Not only are women speaking out about violence and abuse and actually being heard, there are bigger movements afoot and we can choose to be at the fore and make history together! Who's with me?

Still need a little more convincing? Not ready to give up your bacon? Your stringy ooey gooey good cheese? Trust me, I hear you, but there are going to be so many other delicious things waiting for us and once we go through this, once we get WOKE - I promise you, you won't {and I won't} ever want those nasty foods again.

I don't plan to scare you into it. I'm not gonna tell you about all the diseases and shit. I'm not going to make you watch horribly graphic content showing animal torture, but it's out there and it's really happening. But I ain't gonna sugar coat it either and I encourage you not to turn away. Not to tighten the blinders you may have had put over your eyes since childhood. I don't want to place blame, shame or make anyone feel guilty for past choices.

But what I am going to do is share with you my thoughts, my feelings, my reviews of the documentaries that I listed in my last post, and new ways of approaching food, our habits and thoughts around food and I'll likely egg you out onto the skinny branches where it feels cold and scary, but I'll be right beside you, holding your hand the entire way.

Essentially Ima do a TWELVE DAYS of CHRISTMAS thing to get us in the mood to go green baby.

Now, the twelve days of Christmas also known as TWELVETIDE {which is the coolest name ever! It should be a rock band} is the festive Christmas season -- according to wiki -- wherein people celebrate the nativity of Jesus, with Christmas Day as the first day. It runs through to January 5th. I won't go into any more detail about the real 12 days of Christmas here - you can google it and find out more deets if you're curious.

Nah, for our intents and purposes, I'm gonna start the 12 Days of Christmas on December 13th. My Grandmother's birthday. The thirteenth will be our DAY 1 and will run consecutively up until Christmas Eve - with December 24 acting as our 12th DAY. 

Each day will have some kind of theme that will help each of us prepare for Going Green in The EIGHTEEN. I have some ideas to educate us, motivate us, and move us into making what for many of us will be radical choices, but this is FOR US - so I'm open to hearing your thoughts, tips, suggestions, and I'll even take requests. Is there something around this subject that you'd like to discuss? Hit me up in the comments section and lets talk about it.

And I'd also really love to hear your reasons for taking part {I sincerely hope you'll take part or that if you're on the fence, I can convince you to be brave enough to join me}.

As always,