I volunteer with PETA’s Vegan Mentor Program and highly recommend signing up to receive a mentor if you need help going vegan. It’s totally free!
You’re sent a packet of information about going vegan and assigned a mentor who is available to answer questions and guide you along your journey to veganism via phone call, text, email, video chat…however you prefer.
Since I started last year, I’ve mentored about 11 new vegans. We share recipes, tips on how to face new challenges, and resources to answer your questions.
Sign up today and your free mentor will help you go vegan at your own pace. No pressure! Sign up here!
Already vegan? Interested in becoming a mentor? PETA is always looking for volunteer mentors. E-mail KeithB@peta.org with “Vegan Mentor” in the subject line to get started.
There are many societal benefits to adopting a vegan lifestyle besides the most commonly known animal rights. These are environmental conservation, health, and human rights. Therefore, many vegans are concerned with environmental issues, such as the excessive use of plastic and pollution.
If environmental protection and conservation are something you care about as many vegans do, the sight of plastic packaging and other waste will make you groan. You CANNOT recycle these plastics in regular recycling with materials like cardboard, glass, and aluminum as it clogs the processing machinery and causes many headaches for the facility’s workers. Plastic is over-used in retail and therefore can be difficult to avoid as a consumer. When plastic is thrown in landfill, it does not often stay there. It is light, gets blown around, and can end up causing harm to animals and polluting our water. When plastic is in the water, it can look like marine life and is eaten. This is killing marine life and causing a major shift in the ecosystem.2
What you can do is decrease plastic consumption as much as possible and recycle as much as you can.
To decrease consumption, you can bring reusable bags with me for every shopping trip (repurpose an old t-shirt), use reusable produce bags, reusable “ziploc” bags (find some here and here), reusable sandwich wrap, silicone lids, biodegradable bags for pets and for trash bags, and buy with less plastic packaging when possible. You might still find yourself so upset by the amount of plastic with which you end up. You may have noticed boxes at certain retail locations, like Target or chain grocery stores, for collecting used plastic shopping bags. Most places with these receptacles also recycle similar plastic materials. Target is a location that definitely accepts plastic wrapping other than plastic bags. You can go to http://www.plasticfilmrecycling.org, type in your zip code to find locations with these recycle bins near you.
Please recycle only clean, dry plastic bags and film. Remove receipts or any other items from bags.
Here are some examples of plastics that can be recycled in these bins3:
Retail, carryout, produce, newspaper, bread, and dry cleaning bags (clean, dry and free of receipts and clothes hangers)
Zip-top food storage bags (clean and dry)
Plastic shipping envelopes (remove labels), bubble wrap and air pillows (deflate)
Product wrap on cases of water/soda bottles, paper towels, napkins, disposable cups, bathroom tissue, diapers, and female sanitary products
Furniture and electronic wrap
Plastic cereal box liners (but if it tears like paper, do not include)
Any film packaging or bag that has the How2Recycle Label shown at right
Do not include3:
Degradable/compostable bags or film packaging
Pre-washed salad mix bags
Frozen food bags
Candy bar wrappers
Please consider taking these steps to decrease plastic
I hope this helps you with decreasing and recycling of plastic packaging!
It’s a topic we don’t talk about enough, but there are ways to cook or consume beans to reduce uncomfortable gas. Beans cause gas because they are complex carbs and have sugars (healthy sugars) that cause gas as they break down in our digestive tract.
**Note: This post is not intended to replace a visit to a medical specialist. I am not licensed or certified to give medical advice. This list contains suggestions that I have personally found useful.**
Progressively add beans into your diet so your body can get used to digesting them.
Avoid eating fruit or other sugary foods at least two hours before or after consuming beans. Adding different types of sugars makes digestion harder and produces more gas.
Don’t just drain canned beans, but rinse them thoroughly.
Chew your food slowly. The process of digesting foods begins in your mouth. The more the food is broken down before entering your digestive tract, the less work has to be done by your stomach and intestines, where gas produces.
Don’t have a meal that combines beans and potatoes. Potatoes also have sugars that conflict with the sugars in beans that makes digestion more difficult.
Avoid cooking meals that combine beans with other proteins. Each type of protein requires different enzymes and they don’t play nicely together.
Make sure your meal is made up by 75% veggies to aid digestion.
Be aware of the types of beans you consume. Mung beans, lentils, and peas have high protein, and produce less gas.
I have missed chowder so much! A perfect mix between the New England and Rhode Island style chowders. Feel free to substitute more non-dairy milk for water and add extra cornstarch for a chowder that is more creamy.
2 Tbsp olive oil or butter flavored coconut oil
1 cup white onion, diced (about 1 small onion)
2 cups water
1 cup celery, chopped (about 4-5 stalks)
1 cup carrots, chopped (about 4-5 carrots)
2 cups unsweetened, original non-dairy milk
4 1/2 cups of canned sweet corn (about 28oz)
2 cups potato, diced (about 1 medium potato. Peel potatoes if you prefer, I leave them on because a lot of the nutrients are there.)
2 Tbsp cornstarch
1 1/2 tsp garlic
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp black pepper
In a large pot, over medium heat, sauté the onions in oil until soft.
Once the onions are soft, add the water, celery, and carrots. Cook for 12 minutes.
Add non-dairy milk, corn, potatoes, and spices. Cover and cook for 20 minutes over medium-low heat.
Serve warm. Add salt and pepper to taste if desired.
Meal Prep Tip: Let the chowder cool, stir, and portion into 8oz – 12oz Tupperware to take with you for lunch! I can normally eat the same thing for lunch for the whole week and not get tired of it, but if you like more variety, throw a couple of the Tupperwares in the freezer. Just be sure to leave about an inch or more of space because liquid expands when it is frozen and you don’t want to crack the Tupperware. Also, I have found that soup can look a little strange as it defrosts, so don’t be alarmed if it does. Stir it up and thoroughly heat in the microwave or on the stove.
I’m so excited to be taking my page and recipes toward a more healthy approach. Most people are under the impression that foods that are vegan are going to be healthy. It is extremely important to realize this is not fact. Another impression people have about vegan foods are that they are expensive. The expensive part about any diet is what items you are purchasing. Normally, my weekly grocery bill is around $75. This covers a wide variety of food, but a large portion of that expense is processed foods, or organic food. You don’t NEED to buy organic if you’re vegan! This week, in order to plan for my transition to a paleo-inspired vegan diet, I changed my grocery list to mainly include fruit, veggies, and granola. I am so excited to create new and exciting recipes to share with others who are looking for a healthy alternative to the Standard American Diet, and would like some guidance in the shift to a Whole Food Plant-Based Diet that will help you to lose weight and be more healthy overall.
The recipes I am going to be sharing will follow paleo and vegan diet guidelines very closely, but I will make an exception here and there for quinoa, granola, and potatoes. I decided to periodically include these foods because vegan and paleo can both be challenging to meet all when combined. In these recipes I will make note when an ingredient is not typically classified as paleo, and I will note on the recipe if it is paleo-vegan since not all of my recipes on this site are paleo-vegan, though they can be tweaked to meet the guidelines. Here are the guidelines of a combined paleo and vegan diet WITHOUT my little “exceptions”:
Some other ideas include serving the quinoa salad over a bed of fresh greens. The Mexican Quinoa Salad always pairs well with some salsa and slices of avocado.
One of my favorite ways to eat these salads, is wrapped in a tortilla, served cold, with some fresh greens. This is a really good way to grab lunch or dinner on the go! The Mexican Wrap is delicious with avocado slices and fresh salsa (the less liquid in the salsa the better). The Mediterranean Wrap is very yummy with a tablespoon or two of hummus spread on the tortilla.
Most tortillas are vegan, but always check the label to see if it contains milk, eggs, honey, or other non-vegan ingredients. For help identifying non-vegan ingredients, check out my post on Vegan Apps on iTunes!
I’ve found that many people I talk to about my vegan lifestyle say that they unsuccessfully have tried going vegan starting from a diet that includes meat and other animal products. A drastic change like that is not sustainable.
Here’s a secret…transitioning your diet to 100% vegan does not need to happen in one night! If you try to cut out 100% of animal products in one shot, you are more likely to become overwhelmed by the change, be unsuccessful at sustaining the change in diet, and actually suffer from withdrawals from the certain foods. (Yes, animal products can be addicting. Read about it here and here.)
Here are some suggested steps to help you ease into a 100% vegan diet:
Try a few vegetarian or vegan recipes a few times a week. I recommend not going too far off from foods you normally eat, and avoid too many products that are substitutions. Many people make the mistake of expecting veggie burgers, chik’n nuggets, and plant-based cheese to taste exactly like the real thing.
Dedicate one day a week to going completely meatless. Increase the number of meatless days as time goes on. Do so with caution, if you reintroduce meat after abstaining for a long period of time, it could lead you to gastric distress.
Another option to begin the transition to vegetarianism is to start by eliminating all but one type of meat, like chicken or fish.
Once you’ve cut meat out of your diet, eliminate dairy. If necessary, you can allow yourself one dairy product like cheese or milk, or only allow yourself this dairy product on a certain day of the week. I also advise caution with reintroducing dairy after abstaining for a long period of time, as this could could lead you to gastric distress. (Let’s be real, should your food really cause you to get sick if you haven’t been eating it for long periods of time?!)
At this stage, you will find that eliminating eggs will be relatively easy compared to the other foods.
After removing eggs, you can focus on avoiding other foods that are commonly forgotten like honey, gelatin, whey, casein, lard, some red food coloring (cochineal, carminic acid, or carmine), some sugars, and some confectioner’s glaze just to name a few! When in doubt, Google! Also, check my post on some of my favorite Vegan Lifestyle Apps for some really useful apps.
My point is, go easy on yourself! Make this lifestyle change work for you. Don’t get caught up in labels and making extreme changes. Little changes add up over time and will make a difference for the animals or environment no matter how small!