Why did I decide to go Vegan, again?

There are 3 core reasons for what made me change my mind about eating animal products. If you’ve known me for a long time, you have seen me go from vegetarian as a teenager, back to meat eater, then to vegetarian/vegan in my mid 20s, then to a farm girl who raised her own cows for slaughter and now back again to full vegan. Each change was drastic and each had it’s own reason. I decided to go vegetarian when I was a teenager because I loved animals, but I decided I missed jerky too much. Peta was a huge influence when I decided to go vegan the first time, their videos get you right in the heart if you have any kind of love for animals. Then I moved back to family property and raised baby chickens, goats and baby cows. I know I change my mind about things like my underwear but I feel this change is permanent because it’s not just a small conviction, it’s multiple large ones that have huge impact in my life.

If you have followed my health journey for the last couple of years, you may have seen how important I have made protein in my life. You may have seen me carb cycling and eating chicken or some sort of protein 6 times a day. Let me tell you, I am glad I’m done with that! But I digress…

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My 3 Reasons:

  1. I want to be healthy and disease free for as long as I possibly can.
  2. I have a HUGE love for animals and our beautiful planet.
  3. I love God and want to follow his rules, I’m pretty sure his rules are meant for my own good.

None of those are in order of importance, they are equally important to me. That is why I feel I will continue with this lifestyle for the rest of my life. Plus, did you see the food above? So many flavors and nothing beats fresh produce ❤ When I was thinking about going vegan, all I could think about was how much I would miss cheese. I slowly started removing it, for instance, I would get a taco salad and opt for no cheese. Eventually it became second nature and I no longer crave it. There are so many food options, or alternatives to cheese that are different but flavorful and delicious too.

#1 For My Health and My Families…

Yes, I promise I am, and they are, getting enough protein. Lets skip that topic right now though. Lets talk about bacon, yes, smoky, tasty bacon and how it is related to smoking cigarettes. The World Health Organization (The WHO) released a report that processed meat has a carcinogenic effect. In case you don’t know carcinogens cause cancer. Processed meats are classified as a Group 1 carcinogen, that is the same group as smoking cigarettes and asbestos exposure. Sure I dabbled and tried cigarettes when I was a teen but seeing my Grandma die because of cancer that started in her lungs, turned me off of that right away. After seeing the WHO’s report I quit processed meats too. Processed meats can be bacon or sausages, smoked, salted or even fermented meats. The WHO isn’t just a small research place, they are who all medical fields look to, in the US and throughout the world. Even the American Cancer Society is taking their claim seriously. They aren’t blasting it because they still want all the money people donate. If cancer goes away they lose their funding. But that’s a topic for another day. Besides most processed meats are loaded with fat, bacon and sausage in point, which is not healthy for you to begin with. By all means though, if just one cigarette here and there is okay, so is bacon on everything right? No, it’s really not…

Digestive wise, I had a friend ask me about my poop. I know, I know, tmi but when I was raising my own beef, I was eating it regularly. I ended up going to the hospital once thinking I had appendix issues, turned out I just needed to go. Haven’t had that problem since changing my diet. My husband used to have IBS(irritable bowel syndrome) and since we have gone to a vegan diet he no longer has issues either. Did you know that it can take up to 8 days to digest meat? It is literally rotting in your guts, gag!


And now the elusive protein. Really it isn’t as elusive as you’d think. If you are eating whole grains and meat and dairy, chances are you are getting too much. Too much protein can cause weight gain and can even be hard on your kidneys. How much do you need? I can tell you that my goal for protein intake is between 45-80 grams a day. The average woman is around 46 a day. Let me break down an average day of meals for you and show you how easy it is for me to meet my low protein goal.

  • Breakfast: Oatmeal(7g) with chia seeds(5g), walnuts(5g) and apples.
  • Lunch: Salad with veggie burger patty(7g), pumpkin seeds(5g)
  • Snack: Vegan Shakeology(16g), 1 c coconut milk(5g)
  • Dinner: Whole grain pasta(7g) with cashew sauce(5g), broccoli(4g)
  • Total = 66g protein
  • Without my Shakeology = 45g protein

I used to love omelettes, 3 eggs(18g), ham (14g) and cheese(14g), plus the toast(10g)… Crazy to think I had already met my protein goal before lunch. No wonder I had extra pounds. No wonder I always used to complain about having an upset stomach.

57 Health Benefits of Going Vegan Check out this website for even more reasons why.

Another interesting read.

#2 My Love of Nature

I have always loved animals. My dream as a youngun was to become a veterinarian, but I didn’t have the drive to commit 8 years to schooling after high school. So that was left in dream land. I have had all sorts of pets, from dogs to ball pythons, to horses and turtles.

It’s kind of funny, in all the time that I spent growing up in Hood River, I don’t think I ever really appreciated the nature that surrounded me until a visit back to my parents house. I never realized how close Mt. Hood was and how big and beautiful it was until driving back up there after living in the Portland area. I got used to seeing it’s view through the city, which is pretty in it’s own way. There is just something about driving down a two lane highway and coming around a bend of fruit trees and the mountain peak taking up the whole skyline. It’s just awesome.

I was given the opportunity to move back to the country and that gave me a new appreciation for nature. Going on the trails via horseback and riding through a field of wild flowers, then finishing it with a beautiful view of 3 of the closest mountain tops is a memory I will always cherish.  You don’t know what you have until it’s gone, really is true. Living in the country gave me a new appreciation for the balance of life. The balance of nature and how the ecosystem of cats hunting mice, coyotes keeping gray digger populations under control and wild turkeys keeping the bugs at bay, all work together.

I feel that all of these experiences have brought me even more insight as to why eating dairy and large farmed animals is wrong. I raised bottle calves, from a dairy farm across the river. As much as I tried to baby my babies, things went wrong, their health was compromised because they were taken away from their mom’s so that they could sell the milk. As hard as I tried, I know that the babes I raised would have been bigger and stronger if they had been with their mom. The ones I lost probably would have made it with their mom’s too. The two farms I would buy from were pretty good about making sure babies got the first of the colostrum. Though the little babies were kept in little areas and were alone except for feeding times. The mamas were pulled from their babes and you always knew that you were close to the farm because of the smell of manure from quite a ways down the road. Dairy isn’t very humane. Dairy isn’t very environmentally friendly either. I sure loved those babies though.

Environmentally speaking, did you know that 1 pound of beef requires 1,799 gallons of water, which includes irrigation of the grains and grasses in feed, plus water for drinking and processing? Americans are projected to eat just under 56 lbs of beef this year. Last year America’s population was 322,762,018, which will be even larger this year, that equals 17,945,568,200.8 lbs of beef to be consumed?!? That means we are using 32,284,077,193,239.2 gallons of water a year just for cows! That’s in the trillions, I can’t even fathom that number. Can you imagine if that water was used for the many people who have no water? The little children in Africa? The people suffering in Syria right now?!? These numbers don’t even take into consideration how much water is used for pork or dairy or poultry… It saddens me to think about us craving a burger more than we consider the life of another human being. And we wonder why California is in a drought.

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That just addresses the water issue. That doesn’t address the inhumane treatment of animals going to slaughter, the inhumane treatment of animals before slaughter. If you have time, I encourage you to look into where your animal products come from. I’m willing to bet that you seeing calves dragged away from their mothers as their mother screams and chases after them will sadden you too. Seeing little piglets have their tails clipped off because they are in such small quarters that when they grown they will eventually start eating each other. Even the baby chicks going into the grinder alive because they are boys and won’t produce eggs sickens me. That burger is no longer guilt free to me because I am informed. As much as I don’t wish anyone to have to see animals to suffer, I know that education is the only way people change. Even then, sadly people will watch those videos and not care but will be upset when they see a starved horse or a beaten dog. They are all animals and they all feel. And that is one reason I will not eat meat or drink milk anymore. That’s not to say I am perfect, I struggle and still sneak in a Cinnabon here and there. That just tells me I need to be stronger and get better at controlling my sweet tooth. I also need to learn how to make my own bomb cinnamon rolls at home(and not eat the whole pan.)

#3 The Bible

Last but not least, I believe God has a plan for us. He wants us to be healthy and treat our bodies like temples. I believe that by following a plant based diet, along with exercising and not drinking alcohol, I am working towards the goal of being a temple. ♥16 Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst? 17 If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person; for God’s temple is sacred, and you together are that temple. 1 Corinthians 3:16-7♥  There is no doubt in my mind that you are what you eat and if you are eating unhealthy foods, your body and mind will reflect that.

I believe that the diet he intended for us from the very beginning is the diet we should be sticking to.  ♥And God said, “See, I have given you every herb that yields seed which is on the face of the earth, and every tree whose fruit yields seed; to you it shall be for food.” Genesis 1:29♥

Yes, I know that since Noah meat was given as food. If you read Leviticus 11 you will see that there are clean and unclean meats. Interesting to see that pigs are an unclean meat, just sayin… The one thing I think is neglected when people see that we can eat meat is that you aren’t supposed to eat the blood. ♥ 2 The fear and dread of you will fall on all the beasts of the earth, and on all the birds in the sky, on every creature that moves along the ground, and on all the fish in the sea; they are given into your hands. 3 Everything that lives and moves about will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything.4 “But you must not eat meat that has its lifeblood still in it. Genesis 9:2-4♥ (see also Leviticus 17) The Bible gives specific directions on how to cook meat so the blood is not in it anymore but to be honest it seemed like a lot of work and the blood is really what gives the meat its flavor. Plus all of the genetically modified cancer causing feeds are still used. So I’ll stick with my vegan eats.

You can choose to believe what the Bible says or not. Personally when so many things; medical studies, environmental studies, and the reduced lifespan of people from biblical times all point to eating meat as our downfall, I’m going to take that as a sign that change is needed.

Change is Hard

Like I said before, deciding to go vegan brought a lot of mental challenges. I had to battle my mind by making small changes. The very first thing we quit was pork. That was tough in the sense that gelatin is in EVERYTHING. Just last night I found some lotion that had gelatin in it.(Oh and by the way, I have found vegan marshmallows that I think are better than regular ones.) The second to go was beef, then chicken and then dairy. One step at a time is my life motto. And being able to forgive myself for slip ups, and continue to push to do better makes this lifestyle do able. I’ve gotten better at finding vegan options for EVERYTHING too. Cashews are this girls best friend!

If you’re interested in making the change and need favorite substitutes or recipes, I’d be MORE THAN happy to help!

 

 

 

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DIY Pumpkin Puree

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Yes, I still am missing the pumpkin spice latte that I enjoyed at least once a week last year. So on a mission to add more pumpkin to my life I decided to quit the carving and paint our pumpkins this year. It may have helped that I had my favorite little nieces over for a visit and figured washable paint would be easier than gutting 2 extra pumpkins. That was a good decision by the way, even though they had paint all over the place! (Please note how adorable my nieces and sons are below!) It’s the second week of November and all of our pumpkins held strong long enough to be washed off and hacked up into puree. The more I dive into making things home made the more I realize how simple it is. I used to think homemade cooking meant a lot of work and I always told myself I didn’t like it. Turns out I do. Turns out there is a sort of joy that comes from throwing that baked pumpkin into the processor and seeing it come out prettier than the canned stuff!

 

Preheat the oven to 355° if you have time to let them bake for about an hour. If not you can set the temp at 400° and cook them till they are easy to poke with a fork, approximately 30 minutes.

 

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I am all about simple, the less ingredients the better. Thankfully all you need for this pumpkin puree is pumpkin. Did you know that a lot of store bought pumpkin puree is actually squash? What a rip off right?!? Any who, the best pumpkin for this puree is a sugar pumpkin. The bigger pumpkin I used was from my garden and honestly, I couldn’t tell you whether it was the jack-o-lantern or different pumpkin because I didn’t mark which plant was which. Because I wanted to see the difference in pumpkins I pureed my store bought pie pumpkins and my homegrown one separately then put them together. The homegrown pumpkin was likely the jack-o-lantern due to the fact that it had more of a watery consistency. If I was to make this out of pumpkins other than the sugar pumpkins I would probably put them into a cheese cloth and let them drain some of the water off. Just a thought.

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I’m hoping to find a good recipe for some pumpkin seeds because I tend to burn them. Or they just taste terrible… It’s a learning process and thankfully the seeds came with the pumpkins so I didn’t have to go out of my way to find them. Oh and don’t worry, James’ chickens are enjoying the rest of the guts that I’m not using for the puree.

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I placed mine on a foil lined sheet because I loathe cleaning my cookie sheets. You could use parchment paper if that’s what you prefer too.

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As you can see by the picture, it was a learning process. The first batch cooked for 55 minutes and probably could have came out earlier. The second batch cooked for an hour and 15 minutes. The size of the pumpkin is going to determine how long you cook them.

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As you can see the smaller pumpkins got a little on the dark side BUT no worries, I scraped of the dark (cough, burnt, cough) spots and it worked out just fine. I’ve never claimed to be Betty Crocker, but I’m learning and next time I make these bad boys, I’ll do better! You’re welcome for testing this out so that I can be the guinea pig and you can have these tips ahead of time! 😉

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Some people leave the pumpkin on the pan and peel the skin off, I used a spoon and scooped it out and put it in the processor. I crushed it till it was baby food consistency.

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I’m sure there are recipes out there that allow you to can your pumpkin puree but for time sake, I chose to freeze mine. Because it has no sugar or other ingredients in it, that’s the safe route anyway. I put mine into ice trays and froze it so I could easily pop some out of the bag and add it to my oatmeal, my smoothies or even my No Latte Pumpkin Hotte! In the past I’ve wanted to make a single serving of some sort of tasty pumpkin treat and have had to figure out what to do with the rest of the can. It’s easy to get burnt out on pumpkin that way. Next time I might freeze it in pumpkin pie specific measurements in Ziploc freezer bags too.

I of course had to try the puree out right away and I hate to toot my own horn but YUM!

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