Posts Tagged ‘vegetarian’

Several years ago my now 59 year old father had a heart attack. It wasn’t a major heart attack, but it has definitely caused him problems. He’s been on medication since it happened, and has regular stress tests to see if the damage to his heart has progressed. Thankfully, up until this last time, his heart showed no additional signs of damage….but his test a few weeks ago had a different result. His cardiologist told him that another part of his heart that previously hadn’t showed any damage now was. The doctor gave him 2 choices: proceed with an angioplasty now, or take 6 months to change his lifestyle and see if his condition improved. After asking what the latter would mean, he decided to take that option.

So, what lifestyle changes did the cardiologist recommend? First, he said my dad needs to lose weight, and that he should do this in two ways: 1) by walking at least 2 miles every day, and 2) by changing his diet dramatically.

Let me explain to you exactly what I mean by “dramatically” in the case of my father:  this was a man who ate beef at least once a day, if not more, for the majority of his life.  He ate high fat, high cholesterol meats and other animal byproducts.  Butter, ice cream, cheese, steak, pork, eggs – you name it, he ate it.  He would stop at fast food restaurants and get 2-3 burgers to eat over the course of a few hours.   At this last visit, however, his doctor told him that his diet should be primarily plant-based – 80% at a minimum, but the more the better. He said no more red meat, no more high fat dairy products, etc.  This prescription would be a hard for a lot of omnivores, but for a farm-raised, country boy like my dad, it was a pretty tall order.

In the past month, however, he and my mother have been eating almost exclusively vegetarian, and have even switched from using butter (a staple for them) to using Earth Balance.  My mom asked me for healthy vegan recipes, and has been cooking completely differently than she had been.   My dad has taken to walking and is getting in some cardio almost every day. And guess what?  In about a month, he’s already lost 16 pounds, and he feels great!  And probably most amazing of all is that he says he doesn’t even really miss meat.  Usually I say that when people start eating healthy vegetarian food, they WON’T miss meat, but my dad was just such a meat lover that I didn’t know if that would be the case. I am thrilled that it is.  I’m thrilled that he’s feeling good and losing weight, I’m thrilled that both my parents are eating fewer animal products, and mostly I am thrilled that he’s making this effort for his health. I want him to be around for a long time, and unless he does this, that just won’t happen.

And maybe, just maybe, if he keeps this up and works hard, these new lifestyle  changes can even reverse the damage already done to his heart. I am hopeful that it will!

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Recently on a discussion board, someone said to me, “For every animal you don’t eat, I’m going to eat 4.”

Um. Okay.  That is helpful information.  I wanted to write “You are going to get pretty fat and probably die of heart disease or colon cancer at a pretty early age, but if it means that much to you…”, but instead I just ignored it.  I mean, if that poor girl wanted to get into a battle of wits, she wasn’t going to get very far with arguments like that, and I didn’t think arguing with someone that ignorant would really get me anywhere.  What I don’t get, though, is why so much animosity? Why does this girl care that I don’t eat animals, and why is it so important to her that she’d threaten to eat 4 times as many just to negate the positive effect that I’m trying to have?  Is she trying to get me to say, “Really?! Then I’d better start eating my fair share or even more animals will die!!!”

Sometimes people are real idiots.  And by “sometimes” I mean “a lot of the time”.

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A week from today, Tuesday September 30th, marks the kick-off of VegWeek here in the Twin Cities.  If you live here or nearby, you definitely have to come check out some of the great events that Compassionate Action for Animals has lined up:

Tuesday, 9/30 @ 7pm:  Jim Mason, author and attorney, will give a presentation called The Ethics of What We Eat: Why Our Food Choices Matter.  This will be followed by a reception catered by the awesome local restaurant chain, Pizza Luce.

Wednesday, 10/1 @ 5pm: Veg cooking class! Learn how to cook some awesome vegan food, and then you get to eat it!

Thursday, 10/2 @ 5:30pm: Vegan potluck – bring something to share and enjoy meeting other vegans.  New to vegetarianism?  Come check out all the great food we eat, and talk to people about what it’s like to be vegan.

Friday, 10/3 @ 6pm: Film screening of The Emotional World of Farm Animals.  We’ll have snacks and refreshments there, and what promises to be a thoughtful discussion will follow the showing.  I’ll actually be hosting this one, so come on down & say hi!

Saturday, 10/4 @ 6pm:  Dine out at Evergreen Chinese Restaurant. This is a great opportunity to meet and hang out with other people who have pledged to be veg for the week.

Sunday, 10/5 @ 2pm: Guided tour of a local chicken sanctuary. Come meet these amazing animals and hear their stories.  Again, we’ll have snacks available (yes, we really like our food!).

Monday, 10/6 @ 7pm: Dine out at the Red Sea Bar & Restaurant. Enjoy some delicious Ethiopian food & drink, and celebrate the closing of what will undoubtedly be a successful week.

Sounds fun, right?  That’s because it will be!

I have to say, last year was my first VegWeek, and despite the fact that I didn’t know many people, I always felt totally welcome and I had a great time.  CAA is all about community (OK, and food, we admit it) and that sense of community is especially strong during VegWeek.  I encourage everyone to come & check out at least one event–you won’t be sorry!

Go check out the website for more information, and shoot me an email if you have any questions.  If I can’t answer it for you, I will find someone who can.  Hope to see you there!

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I recently celebrated my 28th birthday, and one of the gifts I received was very unexpected: a pig!

Okay, so I didn’t actually PHYSICALLY get a pig (I wish!), but my wonderful friend Becky sponsored a pig at Farm Sanctuary in our names. It was such a wonderful gift (THANK YOU, BECKY!). Anyway, this week I received my “adoption” packet about Hazel, a floppy-eared pig. She is hilarious looking (no offense, Hazel), but in the most adorable way. I loved reading about Hazel and her companion Harry’s journey to Farm Sanctuary. An excerpt:

Like their offspring, Hazel and Harry were destined to be killed for pork, but every time Cem tried to load the willful pigs onto a slaughterhouse-bound truck, they would run away and hide, always eluding capture….Formerly of the mind that farm animals raised and treated as humanely as possible returned the favor to the farmer in their deaths, the [farmers] became increasingly troubled and slowly started to phase out their supplemental operation….Harry and Hazel were not only [their] friends, but creatures with desires all their own, namely the chance to hold onto their dignity and their lives.

The couple committed to a vegetarian lifestyle and vowed to find these two pigs a place where they could live out the rest of their lives in peace. Because of Hazel and Harry’s big personalities and determination to live, these former farmers completely changed their lives – how inspiring is that?!

So, thanks to Becky for giving me such a wonderful gift and for helping Farm Sanctuary to do its amazing work; and thank you to Hazel for making such an huge difference in the lives of the people you’ve touched. I hope I get to meet you someday. Oh, and if you get a chance, go say hello to my buddy Goodwin!

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I found this article and had to share it. Sorry I’ve been a little MIA lately – I was in a wedding this weekend up in my hometown. Doggy pictures forthcoming…

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Last night I made some pretty tasty vegan fajitas. Olde El Paso and I made them together, actually. I cooked up a couple of boca burgers (chopped up), some red & green peppers, onion, garlic and some pinto beans, threw in the the El Paso mix and voila! Topped it off with some lettuce, tomato and salsa and devoured three of them (the tortillas were teeny tiny, I swear). When I was at the grocery store tonight and contemplating making these, I realized that this would be the first time I had Mexican food without cheese. Mexican food without cheese?? You can’t do that, I thought to myself! But guess what? You can!

It got me thinking about how many times we eat things just because we’re used to them, and how surprisingly tasty it can be to just try something outside of the usual repertoire. Prior to going vegetarian, I really didn’t eat much in the way of vegetables. Once I cut meat out of my diet, I was kind of amazed at how much my taste buds seemed to change. All of a sudden all these “weird” foods started to taste really good to me. Don’t worry, I still don’t like broccoli (I mean COME ON), but I do like a much wider variety of foods now. It’s kind of awesome. The switch to veganism was much the same. After going vegan, I realized that while sometimes I miss the idea of cheese, I don’t actually care to eat it anymore, and really, the fajitas didn’t need cheese to taste good.

I definitely used to be that person who said I could NEVER stop eating cheese. That really was the one thing that held me back from taking the leap from vegetarian to vegan, but now that I have, I realize that it was quite a bit easier than I thought. I still enjoy my food when it’s not smothered in cheese. No, really, I do. One thing I’d recommend, I guess, if you are contemplating giving up cheese or some other omni food is to just take little steps towards it. I started out by getting Chipotle tacos first without sour cream, and then I eventually eliminated the cheese from the mix too–baby steps! (Ok, so I have had Mexican food without cheese, just not homemade, now that I think about it.)

Bottom line: try new foods – they might just surprise you! (If my mother were reading this right now she would definitely question who the author was, because this seriously sounds nothing like pre-veg Mindy. Wow.)

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A little less than a year ago, I made the decision to become a vegetarian.  Bored at work, I had started reading articles online about the horrible animal cruelty that has become so prevalent on America’s factory farms.  Having grown up on a small farm in the Midwest, my idea of a cattle farm was vastly different from the ones I read about on animal welfare websites.  I couldn’t believe the types of abuses that were commonplace on these large, industrialized farms.  It broke my heart. 

For almost 27 years I ignored it.  I ignored the fact that the meat on my plate was once a living, breathing animal – a sentient being capable of love, joy, fear, curiosity, frustration and especially, pain.  The more I read, the more I knew I couldn’t ignore it anymore.  The choice to go vegetarian was something I contemplated for what seemed like a long time.  I knew that for me it was the right thing to do, given my views on animal treatment, but at the same time I had so many questions: 

Will one person going vegetarian actually make a difference anyway?

What will my (omnivore) family and friends think?

Where will I get my protein if I don’t eat meat?

How will this affect my life?

Can I even do it?

In short, despite my convictions, it wasn’t an easy decision, but one day I decided to commit to it.  I haven’t looked back.  In fact, I just continued to look forward.

Almost immediately after going vegetarian, I got involved with a local animal rights organization and started contemplating veganism.  I knew I didn’t want to contribute to animal suffering, and the more I learned about the abuses that are so common in the egg and dairy industries, the more I felt like becoming a vegan was the right thing for me to do.  However, the same questions presented themselves.  As a lifelong lover of cheese and milk chocolate, I wasn’t quite sure I could do it.  I mean, I really, REALLY loved cheese and chocolate.

I’m happy to report, however, that I finally did bite the bullet and commit to veganism, and I have to say I’m pretty proud of myself for it.  I finally feel like I’m living my values.  I’m doing something that’s good for my body, good for the environment, and most of all, good for animals.   One person does make a difference, and even if you proved to me that it didn’t, I’d still be vegan because living what I believe in makes me feel good.

So, that’s my story.  Stay posted for more info on factory farming, the animal rights movement (past and present), and veganism!

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