The (Vegan) Body: Preparing for the Holidays, “Losers,” and Solidarity

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Ahh, the holidays. Time of joy, time of laughter, time of copious amounts of ugly sweaters and lots of wine… I’m thrilled to announce that I am successfully through my first semester as a graduate student. This holiday season will be one filled with gratitude, for where I am and the fact that I’m the one who’s gotten myself here. That’s the best gift. These days, it’s been polishing up the papers I wrote before Thanksgiving. That’s meant lots of tea, and a few glasses of wine thrown into the mix. And pizza! Gosh, I do love a good pizza. Every Friday I’ve been working to perfect gluten free pizza dough. I think I’m close to finally having it down pat–er uh, down knead? It’s one of my favorite things to do for myself: make a fantastic healthy dinner and spend an evening relaxing with Netflix and the cat.

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Speak of the devil.

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While this holiday means a lot for me–it’s truly a time to celebrate my first semester success (and survival)– it also comes with a whole slew of the typical seasonal woes. Family insanity, copious amounts of indulgent foods, little exercise… those are the stereotypes any way. As a health-conscious and body-positive vegan, how do I position myself amidst strands of lights, fad dieting propaganda, and the impending slew of January cleanses and gym bingeing?
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Again, I turn to the illustrious Lacy Davis of Super Strength Health. Her most recent post, “How to Survive the Holidays in Eating Disorder Recovery,” is brilliantly written and so, so relevant to any who have had, are recovering from, or are currently struggling with body image concerns or disordered eating.

“Please be kind to yourself and your body this holiday season. Let yourself talk out your internal dialogue, be a listening ear, and remember that I am just an email away.”

It’s always so good to know that there’s a community out there behind you, who’s probably also dealing with a few of the same seasonal woes that you are, body related or not.

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Stay tuned for my Traditional Medicinals tea review, coming on Friday! Just in time for the holidays!

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One I found myself, in the recycling receptacle outside of my apartment’s mailboxes. Yet another instance of blatant fat shaming and trying to cut bodies down to size. I’ve always had mixed feelings about “The Biggest Loser” franchise. Not only does it promote rapid weight loss (probably not in the most healthy way either) but it also equates non thin persons with being losers. Not cool, media/TV/NBC network, not cool. And let’s just look at this advert (shoved into my mailbox and promptly dropped into said recycling bin) for a minutes. Look at the two numbers highlighted in red. 100 and 200. This advertisement is suggesting you lose a whopping 100 pounds. That would kill most of us, pure and simple. While I’m happy to see an available gym in the area, one that uses fat shaming as a tactic to get customers through the door is not one that resonates with my approach to health and wellness.

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Speaking of wellness, so much of mine depends on this creature. This slightly demonic, adorable, fuzzy creature that happens to share my home. Not sure what I’d do without him!

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Hands down, one of the tastiest bars of chocolate I’ve had..ever! And it’s raw! And delicious! And DARK! And some delicious wine also. Los Dos (I buy it at my local World Market) is not only affordable but also amazing!

Also amazing, this story. Via Buzzfeed of all places! You go, Buzzfeed, you go! I posted it to my Facebook page today, stating:

” ‘But, in the end, I did say something. I said no.’

In light of the UVA rape case, this young woman’s story is brave and poignant. “

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In my ears nearly constantly these days, Citizen Radio. Listen! Rebel! Feel empowered! Giggle at their jokes and nearly daily re-enactments of supposed circumstances that are brilliantly satirical! And, the two co-hosts are vegan. Epic. Today’s episode was kick-ass and included some tips for empowering vegan/vegetarian youths in your life! Take a listen! A recent episode also details the happenings surrounding the recent UVA rape case debacle, which is why the above Buzzfeed article is so relevant. Solidarity, for victims, for survivors, for families.

On a slightly happier note, look for my vegan gift guide, coming sooooon!

Making a Meal Salad

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Bed of romaine and mixed greens with cukes, shredded carrots, red bell peppers, tomatoes; topped with roasted delicata squash, miso ginger baked tempeh, roasted chickpeas. YUM. Vinaigrette dressing.

I’m a big fan of the lunch salad, or dinner salad for that matter! It’s a meal I’ve been perfecting since August when this whole grad school adventure began, even though it’s a meal I’ve been eating for several years. My love affair with the meal salad began while I was in the restaurant biz–our version of a tostada is HUGE and mostly a taco salad. It’s amazing. I used to modify this into some sort of burrito bowlish thing and make a giant salad for lunch. I came to this way of eating in an attempt to eat more veggies. I was in an eating place where I wasn’t the healthiest vegan. Lots of carbs and fake meats and dairy substitutes. (Not that there’s ANYTHING wrong with these foods. I just personally feel healthier if I eat a more veggie-centric diet with these as sometimes foods.) Now-a-days, the leftover salad is my friend, an idea that solidified when I read Sayward’s post.

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Earthy, woodsy dinner salad: mixed power greens (baby chard, spinach, and kale), carrots, tomatoes, tamari sunflower seeds, roasted sweet potatoes, baked tofu. Nutritional yeast, Bragg’s liquid aminos, apple cider vinegar, and olive oil.

Let’s just say when I arrived in Florida to begin my new Master Degree seeking life, my eating changed. A LOT. In stead of the copious amounts of amazing Cali-mex I ate regularly, I was completely on my own in the food department. Those meals I’d make only occasionally were suddenly ones I began making regularly again. But the meal salad still kept its place firmly rooted in my heart and on my menu. More recently, this post helped me figure out the perfect amalgam of salad toppings to keep me full and pump in some extra nutrients.

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Brown rice and burrito bowl fillings, tomatoes, persian cukes, Trader Joe’s vegan mozz, lots of romaine, homemade fermented salsa, spicy chipotle sauce turned vinaigrette with some lemon juice and ACV.

I LOVE Sayward’s salad combination formula. I usually try and do something similar: bed of greens, any and all raw veggies I can get my paws on, I try to toss some raw nuts in there too, grain/protein/leftovers combination.

I’ve found that the lunch salad provides a new venue for leftovers. I often freeze my leftovers, so thawing them out and tossing them on a salad not only keeps my salad scene interesting but also provides a new flavor set to compliment my leftovers. Not much gets boring here!

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Mixed baby power greens, chickpeas, roasted sweet potatoes, tomatoes, carrots, mushrooms, raw walnuts. Garlic, ACV, lemon juice, nooch, olive oil.

I also make toppings specifically for salads as well. Before the Thanksgiving holiday, I roasted up several sweet potatoes for salads that week, and just tossed them on cold, cut into chunks. I’ll also cook up some quinoa to mix in with salads, or keep a jar of canned, washed chickpeas sitting in the fridge to add to any pile of veggies and greens.

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Typical salad base about to be topped with frozen, leftover curry from over a month back!

Once you begin to curate your salad arsenal, it’s a pretty easy collection to keep up. I buy greens (kale/spinach/mixed greens or some combination) once a week, but I don’t buy romaine each week as it takes me a couple of weeks to get through a bag of Trader Joe’s romaine hearts. Same goes for carrots (and the organic ones at TJ’s are less than $1 for a bag!) I don’t buy these each week, but I’ll usually grab a pack of organic grape tomatoes and a bell pepper each time I’m in the produce section. I try to mix things up occasionally–I’ll grab a cucumber here and there, and vary the types of greens I’m adding to my salads. Right now, I’ve got a bag of raw pecans in my pantry, along with some tamari roasted sunflower seeds.

My essential salad must-haves: GREENS: usually romaine mixed with spinach or some sort of mixed greens; shredded carrots: just run them over the grater right on top of the salad; tomatoes; topping: leftovers, grains, beans, tofu, roasted veggies, you name it! PUT IT ON A SALAD!

 

Through the Looking Glass: Thanksgiving Super Post

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Anthem.

Whew! Just arrived all safe and sounds back at my happy little home last night after 9 hours of driving from NC to FL. While it was SO good to get away, it’s also SO good to be home. I love travel, but I also love my little routine. My happy day-to-day: cat, coffee, campus, work, lunch salad, class, work, home, work, cat, work out, cat, read, Netflix, cat… you get the drift. My family and I had a wonderful feast this year with all sorts of vegan trimmings that even the turkey consumers enjoyed. In fact, my mother has declared that we will be having a Trader Joe’s vegan holiday roast as the main affair at Christmas this year she liked it so much. So, just a few photos of my eats and activities while up in the foothills of the beautiful NC Blueridge mountains–on my parents’ new farm surrounded by all sorts of creatures and a gorgeous landscape.

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A friend in NY bought me these at this funky little market in China town. I was saving them for a rainy day. Couldn’t have chosen a better time to eat these–it rained the entire way up from Tallahassee to NC.

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Oh my goodness, y’all. If you aren’t already listening to Serial, you MUST. It’s SO GOOD. Even if you’re not much of a podcast listener, you’ll like this one trust me. It’s put on my the same folks to produce This American Life and it is GOLDEN. It’s one story told over the course of 10 weeks. They skipped this week because of the Holiday, but I can’t WAIT until next weekend when this baby will be up and I can hear the conclusion! As Ira Glass said on this past week’s TAL podcast, “If you want to binge listen, now is the time.” It definitely took the sting out of the 9 hour drive up.

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Parents’ new farm.

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My mother made me a gorgeous cotton and linen scarf.

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Alice and Evelyn, the 2 miniature donkeys in residence.
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T and Pepe, the 2 new alpacas (they now have a herd of 5).

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I’ve been looking for this stuff for AGES. Finally found it at a little old timey country store my mom and I went to on Wednesday. This stuff is GREAT. And vegan.

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Walking the new farm dogs.

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My mom with Georgia and Dozier, Pyrenees/Myrema crosses that protect the alpacas and donkeys from predators like coyotes, bears, and other dogs.

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A few NC treasures to take home.

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Leslie’s (my mom’s) vegan apple pie.

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Playing scrabble and watching Christmas Vacation, a classic.

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Grew up with this dude, St. Francis in my yard. The patron saint of animals.

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My dad and Dozier, the larger of the 2 guard dogs on Wednesday evening. I got to help take care of all of the creatures while I was up there, and visit with Beans the Wonder Rabbit who now has a fabulous new life and lots of other rabbit friends. She’s the only rabbit who gets to roam the entire barn because unlike the others (who have to roam around their sizable stall) she’s litter box trained.

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Vegan Thanksgiving eats (clockwise from the left): raw kale and chickpea salad, fresh cranberry salad, stuffing, Holiday Roast, 3 bean salad, homemade pickles, roasted fall veggies. Amazing.

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This is T. T is a white alpaca with beautiful blue eyes. This genetic combination renders most alpacas with it deaf. He’s lovely and very sweet and is happy living with all of the other alpacas that he watches carefully for visual rather than audio cues. Those 2 huge dogs are also there to protect him. In this photo he’s sleeping.

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But he quickly woke up and stared at me.IMG_4653

Friday night was another classic Christmas film viewing session. This time, A Christmas Story. Because you’ll shoot your eye out kid.

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The last leg of my journey back to the panhandle. Radio Lab kept me going through a some what dull drive.

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Back to this.

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And this.

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And especially this.

{The (Vegan) Body: The Queer, emotionally resilient, vegan body} + cat photos, life update

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Wow. What a week it’s been. I successfully presented my first graduate school paper, finalized the presentation for my second, and connected with friends and colleagues over the recent tragedy that’s hit out campus and community so, so hard.

As many of you likely know, tragedy struck FSU’s campus this past week. A gunman entered the packed Strozier library–one of the most symbolic sources for the exchange of knowledge on campus–and shot 3 students. He was killed on the library’s steps after firing on police responding to the incident. Earlier that day, I’d been on the second floor of Strozier for over five hours researching articles for my advisor. I thought to myself: “I love it here. I love this library. I feel safe here.” Sadly, for me and for a lot of other students these feelings have been shaken. This link on “Emotional Resilience” is especially prescient in light of what happened early Thursday morning.

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If there’s one thing that’s come out of the FSU shooting this past week, it’s been the wonderful support network I’ve been lucky enough to form here. A classmate invited a group of grad students out for lunch on Friday afternoon, and we shared our thoughts and feelings about the event. Over margaritas, I got to talk and commiserate with my grad school BFF about what’s been going on. I’m so, so, grateful for this little academic family of mine.
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This NPR article about LQBTQ bodies fascinated me. I’ve been extremely impressed with the FSU campus health services. I always walk in with bated breath, the same questions on my mind when I’m meeting with a new health care practioner: “Are they going to hound be about my diet?” or “How is the queer part of my life going to surface?” and always “What if they aren’t trained in/well versed in queer issues?’ The feelings of alienation and isolation are always a possibility for me and a lot of people when they go to the doctor. I”m happy to say that I had a really good experience and that the campus health center is the most LGBTQ-friendly place I’ve been to on campus so far. This bathroom sign made me so happy and I felt safe and comfortable knowing that though I’m a cis-gendered queer woman, I wasn’t invisible here.

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Why Paleo Didn’t Work for Me” article is so interesting, especially in light of Anne Hathaway’s recent switch from vegan to paleo that I brought up last time.

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Drinkins AS MUCH kombucha as possible these days! I LOVE the stuff! Unfortunately, my attempt at making another kombucha scoby was a failure, but I’m hoping to try again this weekend.

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It FINALLY feels like Fall here! And I thought NC weather was weird. Florida panhandle is even weirder.

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Maybe not 50, but a lot of shades of gray–my second favorite color. (After black, of course.)

I’m constantly thinking about the cult of thinness that the media so fetishizes. I love, love, LOVE this article. It’s a fantastic collection of sources and thoughts about thin privilege and what that means (especially for women) in today’s world. I really think this thin fetish is slowly changing–at least in the spheres I occupy (definitely in the tattoo culture world, it’s the curvier girls dominate the visual sphere and are often held up as feminine ideals, but I see a wider range of more naturalistic body types in this area than in any other.) but there’s still a long way to go and veganism as it’s so often seen as a temporary “cleanse” diet or a way to lose weight is a lifestyle I see equated with thinness or the desire to be thin far too often.

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Where you’ll find me these days: surrounding my about a zillion books strewn across my kitchen table. I know I say it all the time, but I love this life.

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This, however I do not love. This came on my Pandora station as an advert the other day. I turned pandora off. NO. NO NO NO NO NO. I’ve been contemplating deleting the app from my phone. I just can’t support a company that partners with Monsanto–the very premise of which I am whole heartedly against. (If you haven’t seen Food, Inc. it’s definitely not a vegan documentary but it really highlights a lot of the issues with this huge big bad wolf of a food conglomerate. And it’s on Netflix for easy access.)

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 Treated myself to my FAVORITE restaurant in town the other night. 100% vegan and gluten free: mac and cheeze, BBQ tofu, and raw kale salad. Amazing.

Take care, out there folks. Be safe as you embark on your travels this week. Have a great Tofurky day–I’m hoping to get my Traditional Medicinals tea review written over my little break!