Friday, December 31, 2010

11 Top Tips for Kicking off the New Year Vegan Style

I made the switch from a Vegetarian to a Vegan exactly one year ago tomorrow. I’ll be going on 7 years of veggie goodness which ever way you look at it. I’m hoping to write soon about the thought process behind the lifestyle switch, however for all you ambitious, positive vegan-trying (or vegetarian-trying) folk out there, I’ve compiled the “11 Top Tips” to help you kick off 2011 with a swagger in your step and refrigerator full of veggies.

So… here is my advice to you!

1. Make sure you’ve got the HEAD - HEART - BELLY connection going on.
The head – heart – belly connection is an important one. Making a major life change without assessing your current thought process can lead to frustration. Ask yourself these questions, answer them truthfully and make sure you have a clear perception of where you are in the thought process before trying to make the transition.

Heart measuring cups. A want, almost a need.
Head: Have I thought through the transition and I am mentally prepared to make this life change? (Or try this way of living, or eating, etc.) 
Heart: Am I compassionate about saving the planet, animals and/or the environment?
Belly: Is my body craving healthy food that will be satisfied on a vegan diet?

My advice: Don't give up anything you're emotionally or physically attached to before you're ready. This isn’t to say don’t try being vegan before you’re 100% sure, there’s always some doubt, however measure your odds and try to give yourself a fighting chance.

2. Purge the cabinets of non-vegan/vegetarian items. 
Guess what? If the Oreo fudge ice cream isn’t in you’re freezer, you won’t be tempted to eat it… Think of it as a cleansing, a new beginning and a fresh start.

My advice: Give any extra food items away that you can. Being wasteful is not ideal.

3. Make a list and head to the grocery store. 
Check. Check. Can I get a little lettuce in here?”

You’ll need to take a scan of your cabinets, pantry and refrigerator. Make a list of things you’ll need. This may be an investment at first, but I’ve found that a little bit of safflower oil goes a long way! It’s the same with Quinoa, rice, and lentils. Stock up and you could save in the long run.

My advice: Find recipes that look yummy and buy the ingredients needed for that recipe only. Each week pick a new recipe. Your kitchen supplies will grow without taking a complete hit to the grocery bill.

4. Listen to your body. 
Eat when you’re hungry. Stop when you’re full. Drink when you’re thirsty. Stretch when your shoulders are slumped over the computer too long. Hunger and body cues are important. During a transition it is important to plan out your meals and the snacks that you can eat, but also make sure you’re listening to the natural cravings of your body.

My advice: Walk through the produce department and see what fruits or veggies jump out at you. Keep your eyes open for things you can easily pack for the office or eat while traveling.

5. Buy quality food storage containers. 
You need something to hold all of that fabulous food you’ll be making. Funny but true, invest is some quality food containers.

My advice: Get all different sizes – you’ll need bigger ones for soups and salads – and you’ll also need a size you bring to the office for lunch. Tupperware variety is key.  

6. Inspiration - Books, blogs, sayings, vegetarian food pyramid on your refrigerator. 
Sometimes it’s not easy being vegan (Kermit should have sang a song about that…). You may feel a little alone, or not understood, or lonely. So in the words of MJ, "You are not alone" and you can find resources and inspiration from a number of things. 

Here are my favorites. But there are so many more resources you can find!

The Kind Life. By Alicia Silverstone. Great for inspiration, recipes, and facts.

Eat, Drink & Be Vegan. By Deanna Burton Recipes!

The Streets I Know: A Vegan Fashion Blog

Vegan Craftastic

Manifest Vegan

7. Buy a journal: Write it out and start tracking.
Writing for me is a way to track my thoughts. You could keep a food journal, or write about the way your lifestyle choices make you feel, or note your aspirations for 2011. You could even make a comic strip about your life becoming a vegan. It’s your journal you can make or write whatever you want. Journaling has helped me understand my patterns better and could probably help you too.

My advice: Pick a journal that gets you excited to write. Size, color, no lines, blue lines… it’s completely up to you. On a budget? If you have a Christmas Tree Shop store by you, journals with recycled paper are about $3.00.

8. Read the labels. 
Those darn labels get me every time. Why? I’m usually moving at the speed of light, and because food packaging can be utterly deceiving. So if you can stop to do something, you should stop to read the labels.

Also, the find what those ingredients actually mean in the back of books like Skinny Bitch and on the Animal Free iPhone app.

My advice: Keep a list of the foods in the vending machine that you can eat. If you buy a bag of something and you realize it’s not vegan make a note of it.

9. Get to know your spices! 

Food needs a little flavor kick every now and then. Get what you're looking for with a variety of spices.

My advice: Buy Indian spices. Cumin, Masala, and Tumeric will make your dishes flavorful.

10. Variety is sanity. 
I love Mexican food. I also love Thai food. I also love Portuguese food. My point? If you eat veggies burgers, peanuts, and hummus everyday you’re going to get bored, fast. So make the mental effort to switch things up.

The best advice I got from a friend (and my chiropractor) when I first became a vegetarian was to pick a protein staple for the week. So for example: If you choose tofu one week, pick seitan the next, lentils the week after, etc. Please note: I’m not a nutritionist, this method has just worked for me and my diet.

You can plan a few more meals knowing that tofu is going to be your staple protein. You don’t have to only eat that chosen protein, I would actually recommend that you don’t. But again, choosing one may make the meals easier to plan for the week.  

Since protein is a large concern when it comes to a Vegetarian or Vegan diet, here’s a nice blog post entitled Protein 101 from Sara Bourgault at Eat Well Nutrition that can help answer some of your questions.

Mix it up with Chips and Guac.

Mix it up with Peanut Butter. 
Mix it up with veggies!
In NYC @Candle Cafe for my birthday!
My advice: Browse through online recipes and blogs for new ideas. Don't be afraid to try something new!

11. Become a snack carrying soccer mom. 
You don’t have to have a kid in tow for this one, but I would recommend carrying fruit, trail mix, or bars while you’re out and about. This way you can always reach for a vegan friendly snack and not have to worry about vending machines.

My advice: Bring on the apples - easy to find, easy to clean and easy to eat.

Hope these transition tips help. More tips to come throughout the year.  In the meantime, I would love to hear what helped you make the transition?


Wednesday, December 29, 2010

My 2010 Favorite: Let's Appreciate the Women

Looking back on the past year, because although I didn’t actually start the blog until October, I’ve been plotting, planning, and designating posts the whole year through. I am actually notorious for keeping journals. In fact, I still have my first journal started in 1993 which began all of the entries with “Dear Dairy.” (Ironic, I know…)

My favorite Vegan Corporate Life post of 2010 would have to be my poem Let’s Appreciate the Women. I write about women in the workplace, down stark hallways and office gear – nose stuck to a spreadsheet, ear to a cordless headset. I talk about the professional mother or sister or friend. But the real reason I love that poem is that I think that as a gender, women have something very special to offer. They have strength and intelligence, fashion and fame. They can be strategic, but provide the warmth of a home. (Does making a home not call for strategy?) They carry traditions and thoughtfulness and the gift of talking… sometimes forever.

Women have a future that should not be overlooked and a past that should not be forgotten. And so for that reason, Let’s Appreciate the Women is my favorite post of 2010.

Below are some other tid-bits of inspiration, movies and lists regarding women of the World.


2011 TED Winner: Women are Heroes

Documentary Book & Film by JR


"We went to see women that have struggle in their life. That have lot of trouble because life is hard. They all wanted to share their story. Let their story travel. When you hear the story, you're like whoa - maybe the person has died inside. But then when you ask her to do faces, then you can see life. And then I say 'I'm going to paste your photo back in your city so everybody can see. For you and the people here.'" - JR



Campaign for Real Beauty

Two more reasons why I went into advertising. The messages in these advertisements are great from a self-confidence perspective. 

I just wished Dove stopped animal testing…




(Published in 1999)
by Annie Leibovitz

Photo Credit: Annie Leibovitz
Annie Lebovitz was the one of the reasons why I wanted to take pictures in high school. It is hard to not fall in love with her profound and personal photos. The link is just a few shots highlighted in her book Women

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Halloween Moon on Christmas

There's a Halloween moon on Christmas
And I've been daydreaming about my dreams.
So with a smile and gleam from the small Christmas tree 
I start counting stars ream by ream.

There's a Halloween moon on Christmas
And it's propped eerily up in the sky.
So with a swift step or a stride I bid you goodnight
And a peaceful rest for your eyes.

There's a Halloween moon on Christmas
And the yellow and black will not cease. 
Till the day ventures on and chooses the sun
I hope you say goodbye to Christmas in Peace.  

Friday, December 24, 2010

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Holiday Banter

Heard@Whole Foods
In the midst of holiday shopping madness. 
(Whole Foods employee to older woman in front of me looking down each aisle.)

Employee: Ma'am do you need help finding something?
Woman Shopper: Yes, I'm looking for my husband.
Employee: I think a lot of women are looking for one of those…

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Literacy, Learner's Rights & Vegan New Year’s Resolutions

I believe strongly in the written word. I believe that everyone has the right to learn how to read and write regardless of age, or race or social status. I believe that literacy skills help our communities and our kids. That literacy has the ability to change lives. That help should be confidential and free for adults. So I give my time to Literacy Volunteers of Greater Saco-Biddeford

I’m posting these adult Learner's Rights because it’s the season of resolutions. The time where we assess our current state of being and think of the upcoming year in hopeful terms: “Yes I will master that pie crust” or “I will stop eating so many carob chips” or “I will try to give a compliment to my mother-in-law every time I see her regardless of her innate ability to criticize my every move…” You know what I mean, whatever you decide you need to improve for the upcoming year becomes a resolution.

These Learner's Rights apply to more then just learning how to read and write. They can apply to any new thing that you decide to take on, like let's say, learning to be vegan

You need to learn how to be vegan and guess what? It can be hard and it can take time. But like these basic rights listed above remind us is that you may fail one day, you may falter, but you have the right to make mistakes. You have the right to not compare yourself to others. You have the right to learn at your own pace. 

The point of these Learner's Rights is that you have the right to learn something new. Fast or slow, tomorrow or next year, if you keep steadfast and strong with your eye fixed on the broccoli, you will succeed.

So choose your New Year’s Resolutions wisely and with confidence. But most importantly remember that we’re all students and each opportunity to learn is an opportunity to grow.


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Vegan Gifts Worth Gifting

Here are few gifts that I have received over the past week from co-workers and friends that are totally worth gifting. Thanks to those who thought of me.

1. Boojiboo Aprons on Etsy

Aprons by the fax machine, what is my life?!?!

Ok, if you can ignore the bad hair, jeans and interesting make-up (I left early because I didn't feel 100%), you will see a fabulous apron that I received as a gift and decided, after I showed almost everyone in our marketing department, to wear until at least 45 minutes after unwrapping at my desk. I love it and your vegan girlfriend, or wife, or friend who loves to cook and wear fun polka dotted things would probably love it too. Other styles available of course.


Photo & Design Credit: Boojiboo

2. Crazy Rumors

I started using these lip balms about 3 months ago when I saw them at Whole Foods with the "Cruelty free and vegan" stamp. They're awesome. Lucky for me a co-worker also noticed their awesomeness and gifted three to me!

Design Credit:

3. The Vegan Cookie Connoisseur 
by Kelly Peloza

The meat-eating guy that I'm seeing gave me this with a, "I bought you this because I thought you would like it and the cookies look like something I would eat." Haha. To think about what I was baking with a year ago makes me laugh...

4. Vegan with a Vengeance
by Isa Chandra Moskowitz

Shout out to the non-vegan VP of my department on this one. He's from New York, so I should have guessed he would stick with a vegan from Brooklyn. We don't really get each other gifts for the holidays, but this was a super nice gesture I wasn't expecting. I have Isa's and Terry Hope Romano's Veganomicon, so I'm excited to test out these new recipes.


Friday, December 17, 2010

Happy Almond-Oatmeal Holiday Treats

Makes 12-14 oatmeal squares. 

What You'll Need
5 Cups Oats
3/4 Cup Wheat Flour
1/2 Cup Crushed Almonds
3/4 Cup Agave Syrup
1/4 Cup Apple Sauce
1 Teaspoon Cinnamon
1 Tablespoon Soy Margarine 

3-5 Cups Berries
So Delicious Creamy Vanilla 


STEP 1: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 

STEP 2: Mix oats, wheat flour, cinnamon and almonds in a large mixing bowl.

STEP 3: Stir in apple sauce and soy margarine. Add agave nectar, stirring thoroughly. 

STEP 4: When all ingredients are mixed completely, scoop mixture into baking pan leaving a dip in the center of each square. Bake for 12-15 minutes.

STEP 5: For soft, sweet oatmeal treats serve 5-10 minutes after removing from the oven. Place a scope of So Delicious on top, include your choice of berries and garnish with a mint leaf. 

Happy Eating!


Monday, December 13, 2010

Starbucks Can You Please Label Your Vegan Options?!

 “Yes, I’ll have the grande ice coffee unsweetened with soy milk… oooooh and a Raw Bar. Thanks…”

* * * 

It’s a Starbucks morning because you stayed up too late finishing a PowerPoint and now you have two meetings before noon and you will need to stay engaged, or at least sound engaged. Because of course there’s nothing else you would rather be doing right now then dialing into the enterprise global conferencing system to hear some crazy co-worker go on a mini rampage of some GREAT new strategic and amazing idea.

Then you think to yourself: 

Wait, I have GREAT new strategic and AMAZING ideas all the time! Maybe my co-worker isn’t so crazy after all because clearly I’m not crazy. Especially since I just thought up this great idea for Starbucks and it’s so good.

Ready, ready…

Clap your hands…

Get excited….


Starbucks, can you please label your vegan options?

Corporate vegans go to your stores especially when we travel (cough cough… not sure if you noticed your strategy at airports and hotels, but I think it should be called  "LOBBY SPACE COFFEE DOMINATION"…), college vegans order your crafted caffeine drinks for study sessions, and all vegans look at the food and have to dig through pamphlets or ask questions to single, double, triple, check if what you’re offering us is actually vegan.

It’s tiring and honestly I just don’t get. You’re Starbucks.

You literally created a language around a brown liquid that gets put into a recycled paper cup. “Yes I’ll have the tall, triple, grande, soy, lovely, venti, tasty treat, with an extra  shot of espresso.”

You morphed big business out of coffee grinds. You made people feel special to order their morning latte or even know what a latte is. Your stores are full of health conscience people. You sell jazz and indie music. So why haven’t you labeled your vegan options?

I know people care. Why? Because there are vegan ingredients lists popping up like this one on FINALLY, Starbucks ingredients lists. And vegan consumers are reaching out to you on your very own My Starbucks Idea web page. 

Maybe label your vegan options on your website or list them in your  iPhone App or even diversify exactly what you offer for vegan items. I personally think a green "V" next to every vegan item in your store is most appropriate, wouldn't take up a lot of marketing space and would keep everyone informed. 

Listen I know times are tough and from what I’ve heard around town (or on with 
Starbucks and Kraft Escalate Battle Over Marketing Pact by William Neuman) you could use a little hug action from a friendly crowd. And uhh, I’m just going to say that we vegans, we’re nice people.

So yes, it is a choice for us to go to your stores and order what you’re offering. But we’re customers too and we would appreciate a little help. We would appreciate the details and consequently the details might even keep us coming back for more.


Saturday, December 11, 2010

LUSH Vegan Stocking Stuffers You Can Bring to the Office

These products from LUSH are perfect sizes for stocking stuffers. LUSH offers a variety of vegan products, all marked with a green "V" on their website. They also are committed to not testing on animals and they list all the ingredients for each product. So you know exactly what you're putting on your skin and lips. 




All Photo & Video credits: LUSH Handmade Cosmetics

You should watch the WE BELIEVE video. It's good.

Happy Stocking Stuffer Shopping!


Friday, December 10, 2010

Friday Fun: Why Does it Have to be SO COLD?!

Text message conversation.
Portland, Maine
Wednesday, December 8, 2010
9:22 PM

JP: Why does it have to be so cold????

ME: Something to warm your heart

JP: That looks so warm. I want to lay over it.

ME: Not a good life choice

JP: Why? It's so inviting!

ME: Fire

JP: Water

ME: Earth

JP: Wind

ME: Captain Planet

JP: Go Planet! Gonna take pollution down to zero! Haha

(5 minutes go by)

JP: I probably shouldn't know that, huh?

ME: Probably not