Kickstart to Ethical Fashion

Is ETHICAL FASHION important to you? Or something you’d like to be more aware of? 

If fair wages, safe workplaces and the environment are important to you, I highly recommend the ethical fashion app, Good On You. I just came across this great article about 5 SHOE brands you could replace with ethical brands! 

If you love shoes as much as I do, it’s definitely worth a read! You will need to download the app in order to read it (correct me if I’m wrong) but it’s worth it and will totally kickstart you on your journey towards being a more conscientious shopper. 
You can explore all your favourite brands as see how they fair, or don’t fair, on a range of metrics such as animal cruelty, impact on the environment, employee wages and more!

Here’s the link to the article, happy reading! I commend you for taking a positive step towards fairness and equality!

Remember, you vote every day with your dollar.

H x

Advertisements

Week Two: What’s Your ‘WHY’?

Week two of Ken’s annual veggie challenge came and went with another trip, this time a wedding. This meant that it presented him with another opportunity to falter.

Ken: Hunger and cravings spiked this week after cutting fish out of the diet. A visit to Seattle for a wedding meant another buffet of meat. The taste & smell is still familiar and since I’m doing this for the healthy lifestyle rather than moral reasons, the appeal of a roasted pig (tradition at Chinese weddings) was a true test of will power.

Ken faced up to the challenge like a true champion and was able to resist the buffet. It would seem that his commitment to his health is strong enough to overpower his desire to satisfy his taste buds. Ken talks about this mindfulness in his week one summary, which you can read about here.

I want to spend a little bit of time on mindfulness right now. I could have touched on this in week one, but when Ken said “...I’m doing this for the healthy lifestyle rather than moral reasons…”, it triggered something in me. Lately, there has been a huge shift of focus inward, and people are really questioning their motivations, their beliefs, their values, their commitments and how well their actions are in alignment with their truth. Simon Sinek talks about this in his very popular book titled ‘Start With Why‘. Although the area he’s attempting to impact is satisfaction and success in the workplace, the process of delving deeper in to ourselves to understand thyself and thy motivations in order to guide our choices and actions, can be applied to any area that we want to cause a breakthrough in. Including the choice to become vegetarian or vegan, whether it be for a challenge or forever.

Sinek discovered a guiding principle to success, and he summarizes it using The Golden Circle.

Golden Circle

Sinek identified that most companies work from the outside in. They are clear about what they need to do and with a bit of thought, how they need to do it, but Sinek argues that the most inspirational and successful leaders and companies in the world work from the inside out. You can watch his speech explaining The Golden Circle on Tedx Talks here.

In the case of adopting a vegan lifestyle, the ‘WHAT’ would be what you do. Easy. You stop consuming animal products, so all meats, fish, eggs, honey and dairy. You stop using animal products such as leather, silk and wool and you switch up all your household and beauty products to those that neither test on animals nor use animal products (such as beeswax). Easy to ascertain right?

The ‘HOW’ is simple as well, you simply no longer buy products that are not vegan and make sure that wherever you go, there are vegan options for you (such as weddings).

But the most important aspect is the ‘WHY’. Your ‘WHY’ is your purpose, your cause, or your belief.

What are you really standing for? What will you spend your life’s energy working towards? What is your true purpose in life? What kind of future do you want to leave behind for the next generation? What and who will you vote for with every dollar you spend? What will be your legacy?

Being aware of your beliefs and then acting from them is one of the most empowering things you can do for yourself. People often ask me if I feel lighter after becoming vegan (a common question that refers to how difficult it is for our bodies to digest meat and dairy). My answer is always “Yes, because my conscience feels so much lighter”. This is a perfect example of how living and acting in line with my belief that animals deserve to be treated with just as much respect and dignity as humans do provides me with a sense of pride and peace. It has integrity and gives my voice power. It also gives me conviction in the face of challenges (like Mum’s amazing cooking!). Just in the same way that Ken was able to resist the buffet, as his ‘WHY’ was very much front of mind for him, trumped all temptation and did not inhibit his ability to follow through with his ‘HOW’.

For the switch to veganism, there are many reasons ‘WHY’ people choose to guide their life based on vegan principles. Here are the main ones:

  • HEALTH. (See a comprehensive list here.)
    • Vegan diets have less saturated fats which is linked to cholesterol and heart disease, the leading cause of death in the Western world.
    • Vegan diets have been shown to prevent a number of diseases including blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, prostate cancer, colon cancer, breast cancer, macular degeneration, cataracts, arthritis and osteoporosis.
    • A great documentary to watch about why the Western diet is not optimal is Forks Over Knives.
  • ETHICS.
    • Animals in factory farms are treated as objects rather than living beings and are subject to horrific living conditions and painful slaughter.
    • There is no reason for animals to suffer in the name of fashion, food, entertainment, beauty, supplementation or shelter when there are cruelty free alternatives available. Check out Choose Cruelty Free for brands that don’t test on animals and/or contain any animal products.
    • For a grim glimpse in to the lives of animals under our current paradigm of “humans first”, watch Earthlings.
  • THE ENVIRONMENT. (See a comprehensive list here.)
    • Animal agriculture produces MORE greenhouse gases as measured in CO2 (18% of the world’s emissions) than transport (that’s cars, buses, trains, trucks, taxis, ubers, ferrys, boats, submarines, airplanes and motorbikes etc combined!).
    • Animal agriculture is responsible for 80%-90% of US water consumption.
    • Growing feed crops for livestock consumes 56% of water in the US, compared to 5% which is consumed in private homes.
    • Livestock covers 45% of earth’s total land.
    • ANIMAL AGRICULTURE IS THE LEADING CAUSE OF SPECIES EXTINCTION , OCEAN DEAD ZONES, WATER POLLUTION AND HABITAT DESTRUCTION.
    • Every minute, 7 MILLION pounds (3.175 MILLION kg) of excrement are produced by animals raised for food in the US. That’s 130 times more waste than that created by humans in the US.
    • 3/4 of the world’s fisheries are exploited or depleted.
    • WE COULD SEE FISHLESS OCEANS BY 2048.
    • Animal agriculture is responsible for up to 91% of Amazon destruction.
    • 82% of starving children live in countries where food is fed to animals and the animals are eaten by Western countries.
    • A MUST SEE documentary on the environmental impact of animal agriculture is Cowspiracy.

Generally speaking, the more connected you become to your ‘WHY’, the easier it will be for you to succeed. The way to get connected with your ‘WHY’ is to educate yourself. Expose yourself to the facts. Visit the sites I’ve linked, watch the documentaries I’ve recommended, do your own research. Get to know where you really stand on these matters and the only way to do that is to get real.

A sneaky benefit that Ken noticed in his second week could also be considered a ‘WHY’. This one is fantastic because there is a myth about the cost of veganism and how it’s only really available to the privileged. NOT TRUE! Here’s what Ken found:

Eating fresh veggies and fruits has become easier and at times more convenient and fulfilling than eating out of the box snacks.  A food processor has become one of my favorite kitchen tools for quickly dicing up veggies to put into an omelet, stir fry, or other culinary experiment.

At work, I’ve found more and more places that have extensive vegetarian menus.  Thanks to being right near a major tech company, the options for Indian and Asian cuisine seem endless.  That being said, I need to get better about prepping meals at home.  Oh, added perk of going vegetarian, its cheaper!  Quite a bit cheaper.  Eating out, vegetarian meals tend to be 20% cheaper than the options with meat.  Even shopping, the replacement of animal products with vegetables has reduced weekly grocery bills by quite a bit.”

Thank you, Ken for busting that myth! I don’t know why the myth even got created but for some people, a real deterrent for giving veganism a go is the perceived cost. But if you think about it, how expensive can rice, beans, legumes, grains, fruits and vegetables be in comparison to a lifetime of meat, fish, dairy and eggs? One cup of lentils contains almost the same amount of protein as 113 gm of beef but without the saturated fat and at a fraction of the cost. Not to mention the hidden cost of healthcare once your arteries start to give way and your chances of cancers increase due to a high consumption of animal protein and fats. Why aren’t we talking about that? Seems crazy to think that governments and health care professionals don’t promote a vegan diet more openly and instead, keep us all in the dark for the sake of profits. This is why it’s so important to do your own research and do what many people in the world are doing at the moment, waking up and calling ‘bullshit!’ on what companies and governments try to tell us is the truth.

Here’s a teaser for you, try hunting down the truth about dairy and why it’s not a good source of calcium. You won’t be able to look at another commercial or ad for milk and cheese in the same way again.

For now, I wish you happy (fact) hunting and soul searching as you begin to design what you want your life to be about and what you choose to stand for in this world. Make it good, make it great, make it EXTRAORDINARY, like you!

If you’d like to read about Ken’s Annual Veggie Challenge in chronological order:

  1. Ken’s Annual Veggie Challenge
  2. Week One: Mindfulness without Obsessing

H x

Week One: Mindfulness without Obsessing

It’s now been almost three weeks since Ken began his annual veggie challenge, and they have not passed without their challenges. (To read about Ken’s journey from start to finish, begin here.)

Ken has very poetically named his first week ‘Mindfulness without Obsessing’. Here’s what he had to say about it:

The entire premise of this annual challenge is to undo the impulsiveness that I allow myself to fall prey to during the American Football season. A time to get together with friends, drink copious amounts of beer, and gorge on a literal buffet of junk food. Chips, Salsa, Chicken Wings, Hot Dogs, Burritos (welcome to San Diego), and everything else that makes you momentarily happy while adding to your waistline. While I love the social aspect as well as the carefree gluttony of the season, I know that I have to find balance, thus I take ~6 weeks off after the Super Bowl to go vegetarian, ending on St Patty’s Day, March 17th… seemingly arbitrary, but I really do enjoy corned beef.

Mindfulness. This is essentially what it all comes down to. The 6 weeks of abstaining from meat is an exercise in mindfulness. To be more conscious about what I am eating, how it makes me feel, and a reminder that we should eat to live & not live to eat. In giving up meat, I am eliminating what is seen as a staple of a meal, the protein. I’ve had multiple friends say that they don’t feel full after a meal without meat. However, the feeling of “full” is something I rarely get after going on a vegetarian diet. Instead of “full” I feel satisfied, content, and never sluggish or about to fall into a “food coma”.

Being mindful of what I’m excluding from my diet is one way to approach the challenge, but I’ve learned that this is a form of counterproductive obsession, focusing on what you are depriving yourself. What has worked for me is focusing on food as energy as well as the variety of options available that I typically overlook when not abstaining from eating meat. The options are plentiful, though you need to be open-minded about trying new things. When you focus on food as energy, you stop seeing eating as a way to satisfy a craving for flavors and start seeing eating as an opportunity to recharge so you can carry on with your day.

So, Week 1. I had already stocked my kitchen with fruits, veggies, and a variety of snacks that fit within the constraints of the challenge. Hell, I even brought a giant veggie platter to the Super Bowl Party (which, while I was teased for not bringing the typical junk food that is typically what people bring, the veggie tray was gone very quickly). I’m also lucky enough to have a supportive girlfriend who keeps plenty of veggie options at her place for me when I stay over and cooks meals that celebrate just how good vegetarian cooking can be.

In prior years, Week 1 was the hardest. A nagging feeling of being hungry again shortly after a meal. Fighting back cravings for savory flavors typically only found in dishes with meat. A shift in digestion (e.g. flatulence). Being the 4th year I’ve taken this challenge, I’ve learned what does and doesn’t work for me. Many of the meals involve couscous, beans, and root veggies to ensure I have lots of complex carbs to give me sustained energy. Hummus & pita bread, apples & peanut butter, and a mix of sliced veggies (carrots, celery, peppers) have become staples of my diet, keeping them on hand as quick and easy snacks to recharge throughout the day. When eating out, I’ve had no trouble finding an option that suits my needs thanks to a growing culture of vegetarians in California.

There have been cravings. Going skiing in Utah for a bachelor party this past weekend was full of opportunities. We went to a decadent brunch buffet overlooking the pristine slopes of the Deer Valley resort. The buffet had every type of savory breakfast meat you could imagine and following a long day of snowboarding, my body desperately wanted a large chunk of protein to fuel my aching muscles. I did go for some smoked salmon and lobster fruit salad, though I’m trying my best to go full veg and not pescatarian… but seriously, lobster fruit salad? That was a must.

That being said, we’re going into Week 2 with a good cadence, minimal cravings, and an eagerness to explore a few new options that haven’t made it on the menu in years past.

Ken’s mindset is amazing. He seems to have formed a real connection with his mind and body and he is able to clearly identify how his mind and body is reacting to the change in his diet. I commend him on his will power, as I’m sure it could have been quite easy to use the bachelor party as an excuse to feast on all those meats, in the name of celebration. As anyone abstaining from something that’s considered so “normal” for them would know, any excuse to relapse and to justify the slip up would have been sufficient.

Ken nonchalantly mentioned that he ate seafood in his first week and I’m sure my eye started twitching as I struggled to hold back my inner angry vegan. But I took a breath and typed a more inviting offer: “I would take fish off the menu if you can in the coming weeks. Many people still leave fish in their diet (pescatarians) but if you want to give the vegan or vegetarian diet a red-hot go then fish is off limits too. Up for it?”

He responded with jovial “Deal. But lobster fruit salad! Couldn’t resist. We can call it an easing in to it week (smiley emoji)”

I was proud of his willingness to challenge himself even more. It also gave me an opening to talk about our other forgotten friends, the ones who live in the ocean.

Every year, BILLIONS and BILLIONS of farmed animals are killed by humans. That’s BILLIONS of cows, turkeys, pigs, chickens, hens, sheep, goats, pheasants, kangaroo, deer, elk, buffalo, you name it, it dies at the hand of selfish humans, and more often than not, it’s a terrifying, degrading and painful death. After having merely skimmed through Bite Size Vegan’s blog post about how many animals are killed at the hand of humans in the name of food, entertainment, clothing, medicine, health and beauty each year, I quickly realized how arbitrary the initial figure I had found in a Google search actually was.

Do you want to know what’s even more crazy? This figures does not even include sea animals! Yeah, that’s right. Just when you thought you were able to digest and justify 56 BILLION murders (see arbitrary Google search), the number of fish we kill every year is anywhere between 1 TRILLION to 2.8 TRILLION! That amount is like collecting all of Earth’s humans and multiplying us 142 times! And for what? Omega-3 fatty acids I hear you say? While it may be true that fish are a source of omega-3, this does not mean that it is the only source, and it definitely does not mean that it is the best source. It is merely the source that we have grown accustomed to accepting as the best source. As it turns out, vegan sources may not only be better for you, but also better for the environment. But that’s a whole other kettle of fish (intended) that I won’t be discussing right now. For an interesting article on the benefits of consuming vegan sources of omega-3, click here.

sources-of-omega-3

Just some of the vegan sources of omega-3. Source: Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine.

In the same way that we can replace every other vitamin, mineral, macronutrient and amino acid our bodies need to thrive with vegan alternatives, we can also swap out our fatty acid sources with that of cruelty free alternatives as well. Here are some more great sources of omega-3:

176b112d84a80e2fe728b311eecac01f

Courtesy of A Well-Fed World.

If you want to give your diet a boost and use supplementation in addition to these foods, by all means, do that. I had a bottle of Hemp Seed Oil in my fridge at one stage and the taste isn’t too bad at all. Make sure it’s organic if you can and from a trusted source. You can also buy vegan capsules, this one from Deva Nutrition is quite popular and contains omega-3 from algae. Where do you think the fish get it from? Time to cut out the middle man, don’t you think?

Now that would be mindfulness without obsessing…

H x

Ken’s Annual Veggie Challenge

I first met Ken when JC (my husband) and I went to the USA in 2014, just one month after JC proposed to me in Melbourne. JC and Ken, though both American, had met in college in Melbourne where they completed their MBA. When JC and I got married in 2015, Ken was one of the groomsmen and an absolute treasure when it came to being the helping hand that JC needed before and throughout our big day. And his speech at our wedding… phenomenal!

So when Ken asked me to help him with his annual personal challenge, I couldn’t say no. Turns out, for the last four years, from the day after the Super Bowl to St Patrick’s Day, Ken would become a vegetarian. And this year is no different! He will eat vegetarian from the 5th of February to the 17th of March and this year will mark the five year anniversary of his tradition.

I had already decided that I wanted to help, but being vegan myself, I had to ask… would Ken be up for doing a vegan challenge this year? To my delight, he said yes! It’s a win win if you ask me. Ken will be able to experience the health benefits of cutting out dairy and eggs as well as the meat he’d already been emitting and he’d be going that extra mile in reducing harm to our four legged friends and the planet, even if only for 40 odd days of the year.

Naturally, I feel a little nervous. I really want him to walk away having felt and seen (in his waistline and on the scales) the benefits of eating a whole foods, plant based diet so that he recommends the lifestyle to others or maybe even decides to adopt it for himself longer term. I remember the first two weeks of being vegan. It was REALLY difficult and the transition could have been a lot smoother had I received the advice that I plan to share with Ken on his journey.

I will help him with recipes, provide weekly coaching to address any questions or concerns he might have and share ideas around meal planning and effective physical training. We will also touch base to monitor his weight and take body measurements. Bring it on!

In our first discussion I asked him a few questions so that I could get to know a little about his experience over the past four years. What better way to embark on a completely new journey than to get an honest snapshot of what things are actually like for him right now.

Hazal: Why did you first decide to do this challenge and why do you do it every year?

Ken: After living overseas for 3 years, I returned to the US and after a few short months I noticed that my diet and physique had changed, and not for the better. A higher calorie, higher fat diet, with regular drinking during the NFL season had contributed to an unhealthy lifestyle. I took it upon myself to challenge what had become my own status quo from a diet, exercise, and drinking standpoint. Having lived with my good friend JC as he went through a truly impressive transition by focusing on a vegetarian diet*, I decided to give it a try myself. Over the past 4 years, I’ve noticed that taking a month or so off from meat had a positive mental as well as physical impact on me. I paid more attention to what I ate and through the conscious thought about excluding meat from my diet, I ate things that were better for me even when unhealthy vegetarian options were available. As a result, it has become an annual exercise for me following the NFL Super Bowl (Buffalo Wings and typical game day food is a weakness of mine).

*JC lost 38 kg in 2 years after deciding to become vegetarian in 2012.

This is great! I’m so glad that Ken has already noticed the benefits of cutting out meat and the positive impact it can have on food choices. To learn more about the benefits of adopting a whole foods, plant based vegan diet, I particularly love the documentary Forks over Knives. If you head on over to their website, you should be able to source the movie very quickly.

Hazal: What have been your go to meals in previous years?

Ken:
Mushroom & Cheese Quesadillas
Veggie Fried Rice
Tofu & Curry
Lentil Soup
Veggie Chili
Pasta and Tomato sauce w/ mushrooms, olives, green peppers
Spaghetti Squash w/ sauce
Peanut Butter with fruit
Salads of all sorts
Occasionally smoothies

I usually defer to lots of mushroom and bean dishes as mains since they typically keep me fuller longer. Energy levels and a lurking hunger are generally two of the biggest challenges.

I’m glad Ken brought this up, because this is a very common experience for people who have just adopted a vegetarian or vegan diet.

screen-shot-2017-01-30-at-3-11-24-pm

Even when I think back to my experience, I had taken out all the things I wouldn’t be eating anymore, like the meat, the cheese and the eggs, and hadn’t replaced those missing calories with anything plant based. No wonder I had felt low on energy and hungry all the time, my calorie intake was drastically reduced! I literally had no idea what to eat on a vegan diet and the fact that I already ate many vegan foods (like fruit, vegetables, rice, beans, nuts and seeds) was not part of my awareness.

So we imagine that there needs to be this massive “change”. And in some regards, there does. It depends if you are adopting a plant based diet for your health, or if you are becoming a vegan. One is diet related and the other is a philosophy that comes along with a shift in your belief system, but that also incorporates becoming plant based. Change, in any sense can cause a bit of a shock to the system and in many ways, change, whether “good” or “bad” causes stress. Which is why many people avoid change like the plague. Changes to our diet are no different. The body takes a while to reset, to adapt, to detox, and this can often be an uncomfortable experience. This is probable why many people give up and decide it’s “too hard”. Particularly if there are physical dependencies such as that for caffeine or sugar. There have even been studies that demonstrate the addictive nature of dairy products, as they contain casein, a substance that triggers the brain’s opioid receptors. The same receptors that are engaged when using other addictive substances. Having patience and waiting for your body to detox so you can start seeing and feeling the benefits is very important. Don’t give up, you will see results soon enough. It might take a month, it may take a year. But it will happen.

Another reason why changing our diet can be uncomfortable is due to our emotional connection to food.

cryingeating

You’d be surprised how common it is to “eat” our emotions in order to avoid facing them. Heck, I’ve been there! A binge here and there to give me a sugar high strong enough to numb my upset, sadness or anger. Definitely a thing that I have done! Who hasn’t been there? And what about the emotional connection with food that’s created by happy memories? For me, these memories include family BBQs where we’d eat till we couldn’t move and mum’s amazing baklava, börek and Russian salad, birthday cakes, pigging out with friends after a long day of study or even just snuggling on the couch with my love and eating burgers and chips to try cure our hangovers whilst talking about the crazy night we just had. Food has huge significance in our culture. It’s how we show we care for one another, how we show others we are affluent, how we socialize and bond with one another. Ken is even able to identify the link between watching the Super Bowl and eating buffalo wings. The food we eat really does become part of our identity and hence, can be a very stressful thing to adjust, or look at with a microscope. But that doesn’t mean that we should avoid understanding our connection with it and the real impact it has on our lives, our health, the planet and the animals we choose to eat. Being conscious about what we consume and why is a pathway to happiness, wellbeing and health.

So my first tip for Ken is to explore his connection with food and also have a look at whether his actions line up with his commitment to himself and his health. Ken has been generous enough to share his journey with us all, so I commend him for his vulnerability in this regard.

To ensure that Ken does not suffer from the same lack of energy and ever present hunger that many face when transitioning, I will make sure he eats enough calories from the get go this time. The way we would look at this would be to find out roughly how many calories his body is used to consuming on a daily basis at the moment. We will not be monitoring macro nutrients because as long as you are eating enough calories on a plant based diet, you will reach your daily or weekly needs. This is what I want to ensure Ken does, eat enough calories from a good mixture of plant based foods. This food pyramid from ChooseVeg.com is a great guide for what to eat and in what proportion to eat it on a whole foods, plant based diet.

food_pyramid_vegetarian_food_guide

Aside from making sure we eat enough, another custom that vegans often take on, is getting their blood work done. I think it’s because we are so drummed with the notion that being vegan will be unhealthy for us that we actually end up believing it! I’m a big advocate for getting regular check ups, but I wonder if omnivores get their blood work done as much as vegans do? Vegans often take on the fear and we end up putting ourselves under a microscope thinking that our choice to live a more ethical life could put our health in jeopardy. I had some blood work done with my GP and when I had my naturopath look at the results for me, I asked her, because, well you know, I’m vegan now and most likely about to drop dead, if there was anything I needed to be doing to counter the possibility of my newly adopted lifestyle from doing harm to my body. I’ll never forget what she said. She said “you needn’t worry about your bloods, my vegans often produce better results than my omnis”. I remember feeling shocked by this! How could that be? Everywhere in the media we are told that vegans are malnourished and weak, but in her experience, her vegan clients more often than not showed better blood work! She said something else that I really liked. She said “I don’t see people as vegan, not vegan, vegetarian, not vegetarian etc, I see people as individuals and I see results. If someone’s test reveals they need more iron, we give them what they need to get their iron levels back up. If someone’s test reveals they need more folate, we give them folate. It doesn’t matter if they are vegan or omnivore, if they are lacking in something, they are lacking in something.” Essentially, she was taking the judgement out of the equation and demonstrating that no diet is perfect because that the way our bodies treat, process and utilize the vitamins, minerals and nutrients we consume is all very individual. I loved it! All of a sudden I got that awareness and learning more about this elusive lifestyle was key.

Hazal: What are the foods you’ve missed the most during your challenge in previous years?

Ken: The texture of meat is probably the biggest thing I miss. The oily flavor of beef and pork. Chicken and Turkey were also missed, but I managed to find decent soy substitutes for these that even some friends of mine couldn’t tell the difference between. Beyond that, the thing that was perhaps the most challenging is resetting the habits of choosing foods I typically eat. The “go-to” options when shopping or dining out.  I’ve found that I need to be flexible in my palate and giving in to cravings for certain flavors when eating out, reminding myself to “eat to live, not live to eat”.

Okay, before I address how I plan to help Ken reduce the temptation of slipping up based on what he’s missed in the past, it’s confession time… I still love the smell of meat as it’s cooking… and I wouldn’t be the only vegan that feels this way. (Conversely, show me a piece of flesh and my insides churn because all I see is a bloody carcass, pain, suffering and all that’s wrong with the world.) Luckily, I didn’t decide to become vegan because I randomly woke up one day hating the taste and smell of meat! For some people it is that way, but for me, it wasn’t. For many of us, it’s the realization that our senses, our likes and dislikes are no longer more important than the lives of other beings. It’s the acceptance of responsibility. It’s the choice to choose compassion over taste.

So when it comes to Ken’s list of things he misses the most, I’m not at all offended or concerned. I get it! I so get it! My advice for him is to find the flavors he loves in the herbs and spices rack in the supermarket and mimic the flavors as much as possible. There is no shame in that at all. What you like the taste of is what you like the taste of and as long as your taste buds are not the reason you are causing harm to another living being, flavour your meals to mimic whatever taste you like. Go hard. There are vegan alternatives for EVERYTHING nowadays. There is no reason to choose cruelty because of your taste buds. Make sure you check the ingredients, added sodium is no-go.

Speaking of taste buds, and this goes back to giving yourself time to detox and adjust to your new diet, they will change over time as well. Soon, foods you found to be mild will become overpowering. You will become sensitive to salt whereas before you couldn’t get enough. Foods you found bland will take on a whole new flavor. You won’t crave the sugar or fat hits you used to. Food in its natural form will taste better. In turn, you’ll start craving foods that make you feel good rather than heavy or sluggish. You won’t be as attracted to meat, dairy and eggs because your body will become so accustomed and grateful that you have been treating it with kindness. You will have more energy and better digestion. You will give your body the ability to heal itself if you have some preexisting conditions. I really could go on and on but I think you get the picture.

Ken mentioned finding that soy substitutes have helped him along his journey, so we could utilize those this time around as well. To help him with his “go-to” options, the answer is simple. Anything in the fruit and vegetable aisle is a “go-to”. If it grows on a tree or in the ground, it’s a-okay. If I get hungry on a day out, I go buy some raw or dried fruit and/or raw nuts to snack on. I always check the ingredients (if it’s a bag of dried fruit or nuts) before I decide what to get. The only ingredients listed should be the fruit and the nuts that you’re buying. Don’t buy the ones that list sugar or oil or anything else as an ingredient (this is particularly difficult to do in the USA as there is sugar in EVERYTHING!). Your body has no need for it and mother nature knows what she is doing. Trust her. Raw and organic is always best. Oh and by the way, don’t fear the sugars aka carbs in fruit. Your body and your brain thrives off carbs. And well, you’re doing a vegan challenge so carb it uuuuuuup!

Hazal: Are there any foods that cause you discomfort or give you gas?

Ken: Soy for sure.  I try to limit my soy intake as it can lead to an uneasy stomach. Digesting a diet of mainly veggies takes a week or two to get used to, but isn’t too bad.

This is another great point. Many new converts will eat copious amounts of tofu in order to keep their protein intake the same after removing meat from their diet. I fell victim to this also. I was eating around 400 g of tofu a day and soon enough, I became constipated and felt bloated and heavy. Which was not the feeling I was promised upon adopting a vegan diet. Then, as I did some research, I slowly realized that I didn’t need as much protein as I thought I did. Or rather, that I had been told I needed. I had dated bodybuilders in the past and spent years in the gym scene. Without realizing, I had been utterly brainwashed by the notion that if I didn’t eat an ‘x’ amount of protein every day, my muscles would just waste away and that all my hard work lifting weights would have been for nothing! I was literally obsessed with protein (friends who knew me in my gym going days can 100% vouch for this) and the crazy thing was, I didn’t know I was obsessed until I became vegan. It took a good year of being vegan to fully trust the vegan community in regards to protein and to discover that all that I had been told about meat had been paid for by the very farmers selling me the meat! At the first vegan festival I volunteered at, Billy Simmonds Skyped in from his home town to talk to the festival goers about veganism and sport. I was that annoying one in the crowd that asked the most common question vegans get “but where do you get your protein?” He told me the same thing I am about to tell you, there is protein in plants and if you eat enough food, you will consume all the protein you need from a plant based diet.And if you would like to supplement your diet with protein powder, the good news is that there are plenty of plant based powders available on the market.

plant_based_protein_sources

To think that I used to eat 160 g or more of protein a day when all I really needed at the time was 50 g. Obsessed I tell you! Nowadays, protein is the last thing on my mind. So don’t feel the need to pump yourself up with tofu and other soy proteins. Treat them as a treat, something you consume here and there. After all, as a highly processed product, tofu does not exactly fall into the whole foods, plant based category. One meal a week that contains tofu is fine. Though I am sure if you spoke to some of the bodybuilders who feature on Vegan Bodybuilding and Fitness, they might have another point of view on tofu! Listen to your body, it will point you in the right direction.

Hazal: What kind of training are you doing at the moment and how many days a week do you train?

Ken: Light cardio. Running and sprints on a stationary bike. Aiming to amp up the regiment a bit more as part of this annual challenge to burn off some of the “beer weight” I’ve put on. I usually train 2-3 days a week, running 2-3 km or biking for 10-20 minutes at a time. Sometimes push-ups and pull-ups are mixed in too.

Ken already has an exercise regime, which is great! For the duration I’m going to suggest he does HIIT, High Intensity Interval Training. The beauty of HIIT is that you can do it in your lounge room, don’t need any equipment and it’s free. I am such an advocate for HIIT as it helped me loose 10 kg over the course of a year. I didn’t change my diet at all (I had been vegan for a year already so just continued to eat what I wanted, when I wanted) but I did notice that consistency was key. In other words, ensuring that I worked out at least three or four days a week, every week. The great news about HIIT is that by design, you only need to work out for 20-30 minutes a day to start seeing results and the benefits it has on your health are awesome. Suits me! No more 1-1.5 hour sessions at the gym five days a week! When I first decided to exercise using HIIT, I did some research and found Fitness Blender, a site run by a gorgeous husband and wife team, who post free workouts. You can even choose what body part to focus on for the day and the type of workout you’d like to do that day. For Ken, I am going to suggest that he clicks on ‘Full-Length Workout Videos’ and select ‘HIIT’ for Training Type, ‘No Equipment’ for Equipment Needed and select a Workout Time between 20 and 30 minutes. He can also choose the Difficulty and for someone who might be new to HIIT, I would suggest starting with 3 with the aim of quickly moving up to Difficulty 5.

Hazal: What would you like to achieve during this year’s challenge?

Ken: This year, more than others, I’ve seen a bigger gain in weight and decline in overall fitness. Getting old and stressing over work definitely works against the goal of having an ideal figure. I’d like to get back down to 175 lbs, currently sitting at 193 lbs. I’d like to get over some of the pain in my knees as well. I’m hoping a shift in diet will have a more profound impact on recovering from intense training, reducing the time I’m sore after working out.

Ken touches on a major factor when it comes to physical health. Stress. I can’t express enough how vital stress management is when it comes to wellbeing. Stress, or more broadly, mindset, is at the crux of almost every imbalance that we could possibly have. Stress is an emotional response to the circumstances in our environment that can lead to depression, anxiety and other physical and psychological responses. Many studies have shown that stress increases our bodies’ levels of cortisol, which in turn impacts our insulin levels in a way that has us feeling hungrier than we really are. And what foods do we crave the most when stressed? Fatty, sugary foods. So the question is, how do we manage our stress levels? It takes a lot of courage to even acknowledge that we may be stressed because vulnerability is often seen as a weakness in society, particularly for men. Please watch this very famous Ted Talk on vulnerability by Brené Brown to understand just what I mean. It takes courage to declare that something in our lives isn’t working for us. Why? Because we are afraid that we may not be able to do better, because we are afraid of looking bad or ruining our perceived reputation, or we are just afraid of change. As mentioned earlier, change causes stress, and why would we want to subject ourselves to unknown stress when at least the type of stress we are feeling at the moment is familiar?

Declaring something as not working means that we have acknowledged it, and once you acknowledge something, it’s very hard not to do something about it. So we pretend, and we say “I’m fine” when really, we are not fine. Is this hitting home for you? Are you slowly drowning because it seems too scary to ask for a helping hand? Quit judging yourself and preempting the response you may or may not get if you share your vulnerability. As they say, a problem shared is a problem halved.

My husband is reading a great book at the moment and one of the things he shared with me from the book about vulnerability is that we have this view that if we are vulnerable we view ourselves as weak but if we observe someone else being vulnerable we view them as courageous. Isn’t it true though?! When you think about it, it’s crazy, right? So what is there to do? First, get honest with yourself and others about your truth. Share what you need, what you have and where the gap is. Share your suffering, your struggles and ask for help. Chances are, you’ve been running on empty for a long time and the people around you will already have an inkling that you are at your wits end. They will no doubt have compassion for you. And if they don’t, then maybe they are not the people you should be going to for support.

Next, Ken’s knee pain… I’m no physio, there are a myriad of reasons why Ken’s knees are sore. So my suggestion would be to get it checked out by a professional, just in case it’s referred pain from a physical imbalance in another area in his body or a past injury that never healed. The cool thing about Fitness Blender is that you can choose low impact workouts or even use variations to ease the pain you might be feeling in a certain area.

In regards to recovery time, I’ve read many, many anecdotes from vegan bodybuilders who claim that following a vegan diet reduces recovery time and muscle soreness, so I’m glad Ken is open to that notion, because HIIT is super effective at creating sore muscles, in the best possible way!

Hazal: Roughly how many calories do you consume in a day?

Ken: Not sure, but will make an effort to count in the weeks leading up to the challenge.

Great! This will be a guide only and the main goal is making sure he eats enough.

Hazal: Is there anything else that you’d like to share about your experience so far?

Ken: In the past I’ve leaned heavily on mushrooms and beans as part of the challenge, as well as cheese… yeah, lots of cheese.  The cheese typically contributed the vast majority of the fat in my diet during the challenges, so I’ll be looking to cut that back drastically if not completely (still debating the ability to go vegan).  Food prep and time has been a part of the challenge that required some coping, so I’m looking for meals that I can make in a crock-pot or baked/made in batches for next day meals.  Eggplant has been a food that I’ve been told to try to build dishes around, so that will be fun to experiment with.

Bring on the cheese replacements! A staple in many vegan households is this scrum-didily-umptuous food, Bragg’s Nutritional Yeast! Holy cow, ask not “would you like more yeast with your pasta?” but “would you like more pasta with your yeast?” That’s how good it is! And it’s full of B vitamins, protein and folic acid. Too good! I am definitely NOT the cooking lover in our house, so I totally get Ken’s sentiment about food prep and cooking time. Not to mention his wanting to cook enough for the following day’s meals. Food prepping is a great way to ensure you don’t put yourself in a compromising situation if there aren’t healthy, vegan options around and it also saves time and money. Eggplant, you say? Let the eggplant recipe hunting begin! ChooseVeg.com also has some great meal plans, so head on over for some inspiration, folks! And Ken, you totally got this! And if you slip up, just get back on the wagon, no sweat! It happens to all of us!

Ken’s Baseline Body Measurements

Weight: Currently 193 lbs.

Waist measurement: Size 32 jeans have become a bit tight.  I’d like to slim down enough to bring back a few pairs I used to wear regularly.

Inconvenient truth bomb: The scales are not a true indication of progress! Taking body measurements is actually the most honest way to gauge progress. Especially for people who partake in exercises that add muscle to their physique. Building muscle is a great idea for weight loss so definitely don’t shy away from heavy lifting. Ladies, I’m talking to you as well. More muscle mass means an increase in your metabolism which in turn helps burn fat at a faster rate. Where it gets deceiving is, muscle weighs more than fat which means that you could be slimming down but gaining weight. So take measurements. That way you’ll really know what’s what.

Whip out the measuring tape and measure as many circumferences as possible. Make sure you are standing up nice and straight for accuracy and let the measuring tape skim your body without being so tight that it causes your skin to bulge on either side of it.

Chest: the circumference of the widest part of your chest, usually around the nipples.
Biceps: the circumference of the widest part between your shoulder and elbow when flexed.
Shoulders: the circumference of the widest part of your body at shoulder height.
Waist: the circumference of the slimmest part of your torso.
Hips: the circumference of the widest part of your lower torso, usually around your buttocks.
Thighs: standing straight, the circumference of the widest part of your upper thigh.

There you have it ladies and gents! I hope you found this insightful and helpful.

If you are doing a vegan challenge and have any questions that I haven’t addressed as part of Ken’s challenge, please feel free to leave a comment and I will answer it as best I can. Ken and I will touch base weekly to discuss his progress so please follow my blog if you don’t want to miss a beat about how Ken is going and how he’s finding this year’s challenge. I can’t wait to see what unfolds!

Thanks for reading and happy vegging!

H x

Lentil & Mushroom Shepherd’s Pie

This one was a real treat to eat, because as a vegan, it can be difficult to find pastry dishes when eating out. Particularly when living in a small city of 365,000 or so people where veganism, though on the rise, isn’t as established as it is in larger cities. So if you love eating pies, give this recipe a go! It’s delicious and easy, which is a win-win in my books!

img_0623

Serves: 4

Prep Time: 10

Cooking Time:

Ingredients:

  • 6-8 potatoes
  • 1 tablespoon margarine
  • 1/2 cup rice milk or other plant based milk
  • salt to taste
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 onion
  • 5 cloves of garlic
  • 12 button mushrooms
  • 2 cans of drained lentils or 2 cups of fresh lentils (be sure to soak them first)
  • 2 tablespoons of red wine
  • 1 tablespoon of soy sauce or Bragg’s Liquid Aminos
  • 1 teaspoon of dry thyme
  • 3 tablespoons of buckwheat flour
  • 200 g of baby spinach
  • pepper to taste
  • spices to taste (e.g. cumin)
  • 1 cup of rice bread crumbs

Instructions:

  1. Wash the potatoes and place them in a pot. Fill the pot with water until the potatoes are covered. Boil the water and cook until the potatoes are soft. Once they are soft enough to comfortably stick a fork in them, drain the water and place potatoes in to a large mixing bowl.
  2. Add the margarine and the rice milk and mash them until the mixture is fluffy. Add more milk if the consistency is still too thick.
  3. Preheat the oven to 200°C and chop the onion. Heat the olive oil in a pan and saute then onions until they are translucent. Add the chopped garlic and diced mushroom and continue to saute until the onion and mushroom have released all their moisture (usually demonstrated by shrinking).
  4. Add the lentils and bring to a simmer. Stir in the wine, soy sauce/Braggs, spices (we used cumin), thyme, salt and pepper. Add the buckwheat flour and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  5. Add the spinach and cook until slightly wilted and then remove the mixture from the heat.
  6. Lightly oil a pie dish and evenly scatter the rice bread crumbs over the bottom. Ensure there is enough to cover the base without it being too thick, half a cm in depth should be plenty.
  7. Evenly pour the lentil and mushroom mixture over the top and then cover with the potatoes. If you have too much mashed potato mixture, you can use the rest of it as a side dish.
  8. Bake for 30 minutes, or until the potatoes begin to go brown and appear crusty like that of a pie.
  9. Allow to cool and then cut in to slices or wedges, depending on the shape of your dish.
  10. ENJOY!

Fun Fact:

  • This recipe is naturally gluten free!
  • 1 cup of cooked lentils contains 18 g of protein and 6.6 mg of iron.

Insert Paradigm Shift *HERE*

There seems to be a general order in things, in life. In the way society works.

Inside of the way society runs now, there is a predictable way in which life appears to progress. First you are born, innocent and untainted. Then when you’re old enough, you go to school, first primary and then secondary. There, you are taught how to obey, what to learn, how to exist within a community and that there are some people who you need to listen to, no matter what they say.

Your voice, though you scream and shout (because you aren’t completely numb yet), is slowly quieted down because you quickly learn that when you speak up, you might be labeled as weird or different and after all, those formative years are all about fitting in.

All throughout school, you undergo testing. Year in and year out, you are judged on your ability to memorize information, and your capacity to contribute to society is determined. Will you be destined to become a brain surgeon, or a brick layer? You may, or may not get in to university, and you either spend the next few years of your early 20’s studying, partying, traveling, working or all of the above. All the while being shrouded with self-doubt, uncertainty, confusion and maybe the odd moment of inspiration.

By the time you get to your late 20’s, you realize that if you want to be independent and call yourself an adult or be taken seriously, you better get a job… this is also known as joining the rat race. You strive to be your best and you progress, sometimes you get fired for using the work email to send inappropriate emails because everyone in the office HAS to see the all the hilarious ways that people accidentally photo-bomb unknowing people taking an otherwise innocent photo, and you find yourself having to start over again. All the more confused as before. You press on and then you finally find a job you’re okay at and you figure you may as well get really good at it!

As your skills and achievements increase, so does your stress. Not to mention, you’ve done so well thus far, you can’t just put the brakes on now. Never mind that your wage is barely livable and for the amount of stress that’s involved, you begin to wonder if it’s all worth it. You ask for a raise and you get it and the only “constructive” thing you really do with the extra coin is party more, buy shit you don’t need which leaves you secretly hating yourself even more because you thought that material things would actually make you happy, but they don’t.

You push on, because now, you are married and want to start a family. You also want to buy a house. And guess what you need to make that happen? Yep, money. You have a kid, then another, and the stress just seems to keep growing. By this stage, you have completely forgotten that you used to have dreams, visions for your life and the planet and inspiring goals that you wanted to achieve. They are a thing of the past now. What seems to be in your future though, is sickness and ill-health. Stress and your soul slowly dying from serious self neglect and lack of self-love does that to a person. And so it goes… you go to work, come home, cook for your family, watch some mind numbing TV and then roll over and go to sleep. Forget sex, you’re way too tired for that now, and besides, you don’t feel as sexy as you used to because you stopped taking care of yourself years ago.

Holy crap, I think I just sent myself in to depression just thinking about the fact that this could be the reality for millions of people on the planet! All doing their best to survive inside of a paradigm that only seeks to keep us obedient and fearful. On a lighter note, here’s some comic relief:

feeling-sad-and-depressed-are-you-anxious-worried-about-the-1399156

Now, I’m not saying that everyone on the planet feels this way, but I can say that there are systems that we need to make disappear for a paradigm shift to really take place. And the shift that needs to happen, or at least one of them, is to acknowledge that we are all connected. How you treat yourself is how you treat others and vice versa. More so, how you treat the planet ends up impacting you as well, and vice versa. Pollute your mind and you will in some way, shape or form, pollute mother nature as well.  If you can’t quite get your head around all of this, don’t worry, because this notion can take time to sink in on a physical and experiential level and is not meant to be understood by the mind anyway, but rather your heart. 

Have you ever noticed that those who act from the heart are some of the most inspiring people in the world? The artists, the actors, the writers, the sportsmen and women, the poets, the healers, the philanthropists and the singer/songwriters! These people take hold of our imagination and send us on a journey of discovery pathed with wild ideas, new experiences, raw emotion and pure self-expression. They fill our hearts with joy and sadness in an attempt to awaken us to the myriad of emotions we hold in our bodies so that they may be released.

Some of the people who inspire me the most are those who challenge the current paradigm we are in. Who are not afraid to declare parts of it as broken and come up with solutions to overcome it. Look at all the amazing inventions and the social enterprises that are being developed in order to create new possibilities for those hit hardest by the current system! It’s amazing! I’m in awe of those people, the altruists and free thinkers who dare to challenge the status quo and stand up for what they believe in. Who stand for a new possibility in life.

So if you are a one of these people, if you want to leave behind a world that you would be proud to leave behind for your children and your grandchildren, get moving! The world needs you now more than ever! Inch by inch, day by day, heart by heart, your actions do make a difference! YOU make a difference. Everything you do makes a difference! At the risk of saying what’s been said a thousand times:

Be the change you want to see in the world. – Mahatma Gandhi.

Listen to your higher self, your intuition and that little voice that says “you can do it!” Ignore the one that tells you it’s unsafe, risky or terrifying. Because what’s really risky is living a life that’s ordinary. Being ordinary takes your light away and keeps you small, unhappy and unable to contribute to others. What’s really terrifying is living your life pretending that you have nothing valuable to contribute when really, you have this burning desire to share yourself, your ideas and your talents. What’s really scary is neglecting your truth and not letting your soul run free. Be who you really are, unabashed and untamed. Write that book, start that business, share your art, share your passions and your feelings no matter how terrifying it seems. You may end up inspiring someone else to unleash their voice and uncover the courage to take action, to expand what they thought was possible for them. Can you imagine what that could do for the human race and the planet? Go on, I dare you, insert your paradigm shift *HERE*!

20130619_101603

This post is dedicated to all the people who have inspired me by getting connected with their dreams and their unrelenting need to express their truth. I’m humbled by and love all of you.

H x

Buckwheat Pancakes with Mixed Berry Compote

Some mornings call for lush breakfasts, don’t they?  Christmas Day was one of those days, as we were able to enjoy a day off together to relax and experiment with delicious vegan recipes. Here’s how we made these!

img_0614

Serves: 2

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cooking Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of buckwheat flour
  • 1 tablespoon of LSA (linseed, sunflower and almond) meal
  • 1 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 1/2 tablespoon of cinnamon
  • 2 cups of rice milk (can also use soy, almond or other plant based milk)
  • 2 cups of mixed berries
  • 1/2 cup of coconut nectar
  • So Good Choc Almond ice-cream as desired
  • Vegetable oil or margarine for the pan

Instructions:

  1. Put the mixed berries and 1/4 cup of coconut nectar in to a pot and simmer until the berries have softened and taken on a jam like consistency. This could take up to 15 minutes. Keep and eye on it and stir every couple of minutes to check the consistency. Once the berries have broken down a little, take it off the heat and put it aside for later.
  2. Whilst the berries are simmering, place all the dry ingredients (the flour, LSA, baking powder and cinnamon) in to a bowl. Mix it all together by slowly adding the rice milk. Take notice of the batter as you keep introducing the rice milk. Too much milk will make the batter too runny and will result in thin, flat pancakes and too little batter will make them too thick and difficult to cook all the way through.
  3. Once you are satisfied with the batter’s consistency, put it aside and place some oil in the pan. You may not even need oil if you have a nice, non-stick pan. Medium heat is ideal. If the pan is too hot, the pancakes will be crisp or burnt on the outside and uncooked on the inside so adjust the heat if need be. Once it’s heated, pour some batter in to the pan. It should spread in to a nice circle shape.
  4. Cook the first side until you start seeing little bubbles forming in the pancake. Once there a dozen or so, flip it over and cook the other side. Keep going until all your batter is finished!
  5. To serve, place your pancakes on a plate. Put a scoop of ice-cream on top of the pancakes and then place your mixed berry compote on top. Lastly, drizzle your pancakes with coconut nectar and…
  6. ENJOY!

Fun Fact:

  • If you want a protein packed meal, put a couple of servings of your favorite plant based protein powder in to the mixture.
  • These pancakes are naturally gluten free.
  • You can use other syrups such as agave nectar or the more traditional pure maple syrup.
  • Have fun experimenting with other ingredients such as banana as an egg replacement or for flavor, dark chocolate chips, berries in the mixture as opposed to on top… your imagination is the limit!

Gathering Oranges

My husband and I are in the local supermarket, shopping for groceries. I’m leaning on the trolley, trying to stay out of the way and my hubby is off collecting veggies for our stash.

I start observing my surroundings and basically begin to people watch. I notice how intriguing it is to actually observe people doing their modern day version of “gathering”. A tall, slender, beard clad man rummages through the monolith pile of oranges. I see him pick one up, examine it and either put it back if it doesn’t look, smell or feel right, or, place it in the plastic bag he has in his other hand. As I watched his process, an insight hit me. He’d approached this mound of oranges as it was the only trestle in the store with oranges, right?. As in, he’d chosen this particular supermarket, and to be fair may not have even been thinking about oranges till he saw them sitting there. He wasn’t thinking of who’d already been to the oranges, which oranges they’d taken, or about the quality of the oranges that had already been claimed. He’d have arrived thinking, “Right, oranges, need those! Let’s see if I can’t pick the best in the pack.” Or something to that effect.

It got me thinking about his behavior on a wider scale. About how this behavior plays out in our psychology.

Let’s use all the oranges that are picked at any given season an analogy for what’s possible in life. Given that anything is possible, let’s imagine that those oranges were picked in every condition that an orange can be picked at any given harvest. Fully grown, immature, untarnished, damaged, genetically modified, organic… you get my drift. Somewhere along the process, they get assessed, some get taken home for the farmer to enjoy, others get thrown out for not being up to standard, some get sent to location A for this reason, some to location B for that reason, the list goes on and on. Eventually, after who knows what kind of rigorous (or flippant) decision making, there is a pile of oranges that end up on a trestle, with a beard clad man standing over them, choosing his pick of the litter.

oranges

By this stage, the number of oranges left to be chosen from has diminished markedly. Yet this man is relating to them (out of sheer convenience I’d assume) as his only option for oranges! Is this how we relate to our lives and what we think is possible?

Did we at some point start off with an abundant supply of oranges, an anything is possible mindset, and as other people handled certain ideas, notions and beliefs, did they then create a hive mind understanding of those concepts? And if so, were these predetermined concepts then handed down to us and presented (as a mound of oranges if you are to use the analogy) in such a way that entailed: “this is how it is and inside of that level of understanding, you have option A, B or C (or D, or E etc.). What would you like to go with?”

Now, to expand back from oranges to human nature, have we all just become a product of others beliefs about what is possible? If so, do we even know who these people are? How would we feel if we did know? Do we really understand that the whole harvest is available to us? Or are we just so used to accepting what’s in front of us, comfortable, convenient or easy as the only path available? Caring to think on such a shallow level that we can look at a mound of oranges in the supermarket and be satisfied with our options? Not to mention, we then end up feeling completely unsatisfied because we are convinced that we are choosing wisely, meanwhile our higher self is quietly going insane and knocking on our soul’s door, daring us to remember that there is more to life than meets the eye… that the whole harvest is what we could be going for. What our hearts are calling for. What’s truly possible…

Little Nuggets

Have you ever been mid conversation with somebody, listening intently to what they are sharing with you when they casually say something in passing that stuns you, hits you to the core, and jolts your very existence?

Or have you ever just been minding your own business, contemplating how you’re going to deal with the fact that you’re really upset with a friend or family member, and then out of nowhere, BOOM! That phrase, quote, line or saying that someone once told you years ago in one of those casual conversations hits you like a tonne of bricks, just makes sense, and you think, holy shit, that’s what that meant!

You might call these moments insights, breakthroughs or light bulbs going off. But now, after hearing someone talk about them in this way, I like to call them Little Nuggets (of Gold).

So welcome again to My Lifetime Subscription blog. Featuring: Little Nuggets, the term formerly known as Insights (tips hat to Prince). Little Nuggets have the power to shape my beliefs and way of relating to the world. They can alter my actions and inspire my visions- not to mention inspire the things I write about in order to share with you.

My Lifetime Subscription is my ode to Little Nuggets.

Love,

H x

Welcome to My Lifetime Subscription

The journey through life is a weird and wonderful thing. At times it is horribly terrifying, yet in other moments, it is able to elicit a feeling of ecstasy so strong, it seems as if our hearts will explode with love. Oh, and did I mention the infinite number of other emotions we go through in between?

It can be a confusing journey, and for me, a lot of the time, it is just that.

This blog is dedicated to all the people in my life. My family, my close friends, my lovers and the people who challenge me. It is on this forum that I choose to make sense of life, to ask questions, to share myself, my passions and my vision for the world.

My intention is to not only expand on my understanding of my self and the universe (no biggie), but more importantly, to make a difference to those that read it. To make life that little bit less confusing for you, and maybe even make you feel a little safer as you navigate your way through your own trials. We are all human, so despite colour, beliefs, country of origin, age, sex or sexual orientation, we are all connected. What you do to others, you do to yourself, and vice versa. We all want love, shelter, meaningful relationships, peace and happiness. If I’m thinking something, I can guarantee there is someone else out there who is thinking about it or has thunk about it before.

This blog will feature shares that are inspired by my personal experiences, thoughts, feelings, insights, breakdowns and breakthroughs. In no way do I assume that your truth is the same as mine. After all, I have a lifetime subscription to me, and you have a lifetime subscription to you… paradoxically, it is our overlap and ability to connect with each other on our common ground that enables us to find peace. And creating peace is something I’m definitely interested in being a part of!

What ideas, dreams, desires and thoughts do you subscribe to on your heart’s journey through life?

Join me in sharing mine with you.

Love,

H x