2019, Community and Values

Happy New Year!

I know, I know: it’s January 23, so I’m a wee bit late. I don’t know about you but January has just passed by without me noticing. What have I been up to?

New year, new possibilities; New day, new opportunities!

Well, I’ve started my second term as a kinesiology student, enjoyed (?) many snowstorms (it’s currently snowing like crazy as I type this), felt cold temperatures that shouldn’t be legal, and tried to breathe and stay relaxed through it all.

Spoiling my plants to Beardbangs planters!

https://www.etsy.com/ca/shop/Beardbangs?ref=l2-shopheader-name

I’ve also rekindled with my love of plants and have a few new plants to call my own. I’m trying out the once-famous Pilea and loving my Pothos and Prayer plants way too much. It’s been so relaxing taking care of our plants, re-potting them, dusting them, fussing over how slow or how quickly they are growing… I’ve even started a plant journal to keep track of all their progress and see what works best. It really has been my relaxation practice of the month. Maybe it’s because of all the cold and snow, but connecting with greenery has been so therapeutic!

One of my baby Pilea!

What about food? Well, I’ve been trying to keep up with eating all the greens and making sure to drink all the water. I’ve also started to take a vitamin D supplement, and I can’t say I’ve noticed any difference. However, I know I’m not getting any sunlight as I’m waking up before the sun and coming out of uni after sunset. As my uni doesn’t have any windows in the classrooms, I’m starting to believe that the sun is as mystical as unicorns. So, a vitamin D supplement makes sense for me at the moment.

A few weeks ago, Bonny Rebecca, one of my favourite vegan Youtubers, made a video about not being vegan anymore for health reasons. I felt for her and admired her courage for “coming out”. For her to be honest about this when she has built her entire brand around veganism must have taken so much bravery and guts. Yet, soon enough, the online vegan community came up with many response videos bashing her and calling out on her integrity, questioning her “level of veganism”, some even saying that she was never really vegan. Others even said that they would never give up on veganism, no matter how terrible the health consequences might be.

Really?

After seeing all of this, I felt so ashamed. Ashamed because I spent years calling myself a vegan, supporting the diet and lifestyle, believing that it was the one and only answer to all of mankind’s problems. Mostly, I felt ashamed of the community. How can I call myself a vegan, when other vegans are so plain mean and disrespectful? For me, compassion is the driving force behind my diet change. What would it say about me if I couldn’t spread this compassion to a young woman going through health problems? I’m in no position to judge, criticize or assume anything on her life. It is not my place, and it is nobody’s place. So what’s up vegan community? Are our egos so big that we have forgotten that we are dealing with actual humans? Is the chase for recognition, views and clicks overshadowing basic respect? That’s not the community I want to be a part of.

It would be hypocritical to say that I’ve never had slip ups or that I never crave butter or eggs. I find myself asking: what is really important? To be perfect or to do my best? I choose to do my best. Nobody can live up to the pressure of trying to be perfect 100% of the time. You just try your best and maybe even enjoy the process. It goes for veganism, and all aspects of life!

Beautiful scones of my heart…

As I came back to uni, in a completely new field, I’ve felt a lot of pressure and stress: Am I good enough? Am I fit enough? Am I young enough? Is my brain still capable of studying? Are they going to judge my body? Will I make friends? Will any of my former students be in my classes?

These questions and many more started to take all the space in my mind, and I was struggling with levels of anxiety that I had never experienced before. At my lowest, I realized that I was putting all this pressure on my own shoulders. Nobody but me cared! For all I know, all the other students in my program ask themselves the same questions… and all I can do is offer my best effort. That is more than enough.

This change of perspective came like a sweet wave of relief. All of a sudden, it was okay for me to relax and not work all the time; it was okay for me to eat chocolate and not feel guilty; it was okay for me to skip a workout when I was feeling exhausted; it was okay for me to go out with my boyfriend and have a cookie even if it wasn’t a vegan. It was okay for me to simply experience and live.

So, this is what I want to bring to the blog. Tips and tricks to help you cope with anxiety, plant love, plant-based recipes, vegetarian recipes, exercises, books, teas and cats! I want my blog to be a warm and safe space where I can share posts that will make you feel warm and safe. I’m not striving for perfection anymore: I’m striving for a full life that I can sustainably live. And that is more than enough.

Hoping that you will all join me,

Anne 

Oh, and I’ve also started taking horseback riding lessons! It brings me so much peace, and it’s such a blast working with these wonderful animals.

Vegan Story Time, Kate from The Vegan Wayfarer

I have another wonderful vegan testimony for you! If you are not familiar with Vegan Story Time, it is a series that I started so that people could share how and why they became vegan. If you’d like to participate, check this out and don’t hesitate!

vegan-story-time

Today, I’m sharing Kate’s story. Kate is a very passionate writer, and she has amazingly yummy recipes on her blog, The Vegan Wayfarer. I mean, seriously, double chocolate covered strawberry cake and apple and white bean cake? I wish she was my neighbour so that I could talk literature while eating her delicious cakes with her. Anyways, here is why and how she became vegan!

I became a vegan for both reasons of health and reasons of conscience. I was in my early
thirties and dealing with an arthritis problem that was becoming serious. I was experiencing pain in my joints and in the bones of my hands and feet that was getting so bad that, whenever the weather turned even mildly wet, I could barely walk across the floor. I had trouble using my hands and could not handle the weight of a blanket on my feet. I was worried I was going to end up in a wheelchair for the greater part of my life and was willing to do whatever it took to avoid that fate. I began to research which foods would not cause an inflammatory response in my body and came across veganism.

I’d always respected in those who’d committed to a vegetarian or vegan diet but believed- as do many, I think- I couldn’t get the nutrition I needed without eating meat and dairy products. It was also normal to eat meat, wasn’t it? How could I give up chicken or beef? And yet, my studying had raised questions I had trouble answering. Why did I choose to eat some animals while the thought of eating others horrified me? Was perceived intelligence of the animal the criteria I was basing my diet on? The more I learned, the more I realized I had to make a change.

Fortunately, nutritionists like Julieanna Hever and Ginny Messina were there to assure me I’d get everything I needed from a vegan diet and they were right. I’ve been vegan five years and have never had a problem with low protein or missing vitamins. The arthritis in my hands and feet has vanished and I’ve been able to turn my attention to other health problems previously treated with medication. This lifestyle also reconciles with my conscience and I know that, for me, there is no going back.

I have many things I consider ‘staples’ in my vegan lifestyle. A can of organic chili beans (I like Westbrae Organic Vegetarian Chili Beans) can be added to a bowl with couscous and steamed broccoli for a meal that’s faster (and healthier) than any so called ‘fast food’. Miso paste is so versatile and I use for many things besides miso soup. I’ve already posted my Spicy Mac recipe made with white miso paste.

One of my most useful items is not food, it’s a tofu press. I didn’t think I needed one when I first became vegan. I used two plates and heavy books to press tofu and then dealt with one side collapsing and the books crashing to the floor. Finally, I broke down and purchased a press. It isn’t fancy, it cost me less than $20.00, and is worth every penny. I highly recommend getting a press if tofu is a regular part of your diet. Slide the block in the middle, tighten the screws, and the tofu can be set aside with no danger to the floor. The press gets out more liquid than books and plates ever did; something you’ll prefer if you’re like me and like a chewy texture in salads and stir fries. Now that I have it, I don’t know what I ever did without it!

Tofu Press

Ouh! That tofu press sounds amazing! It might be in my next order! I hope you enjoyed Kate’s story, I find it very touching and encouragin. If you want to check out her writing and thoughts, you can check out the Renaissance Woman. If you are more interested in her recipe, check out The Vegan Wayfarer. Finally, you can also find her on Facebook.

If you feel like sharing your own vegan story, please contact me! I really love sharing these so keep them coming! Cheers!

Vegan Story Time, Amanda from The Shared Skillet

I feel so lucky to be contacted by such inspiring and positive vegans from all over! It’s really motivating to hear different stories and how this lifestyle choice has played an incredible part in so many people’s lives and growth. Incredible! If you want to participate in this series, contact me!

This week, I’m sharing with you Amanda’s story. If you haven’t stumbled upon her blog, The Shared Skillet, you just have to go there now! She has delicious recipes for soups, desserts, meat substitutions and more! It’s seriously yummy and making me hungry every time!

amanda

Without further ado, here is her story!

I became vegan because of food intolerances/allergies, and also other digestive issues in general. No matter what I tried I still had troubles. After doing research, I decided to change. What was a 2-week trial is now 3 ½ years… mostly vegan. I sleep better, and I have more energy. I have fewer digestion issues and if I do, I know what caused it. What was difficult was cooking food for my husband when I was first starting to change. One thing in particular I remember was I told him that if he wanted macaroni and cheese, he’d have to cook it because I couldn’t smell it. Now it doesn’t affect me. He was really supportive and still is. I still crave some things, but most times I have been able to find plant-based versions that satisfy what I want from a certain recipe.

One thing I had to learn was that I didn’t have to eat meals. Especially on busy days, just grabbing fruits, energy bars, nuts, and just snacking whenever I was hungry made busy days really easy to stick to a plant-based diet.

The fun part for me was using and “manipulating” food in a way I never knew I could. It’s been so much fun to experiment and to find new flavors and new combinations. Because of that, one thing I always have in my kitchen that I never had before and I now love is nutritional yeast. I’ve slowly grown to love it, and now it’s something that has become a pantry staple.

Another staple is that I always try to have ingredients ready to make a “Chickpea Salad/Sandwich”. It’s quick, it’s delicious, and one of my favorite lunches. Here’s one of the recipes I had found early on that I started with from The Simple Veganista . I’ll be posting on my blog a few versions that are my recipes, but since I don’t ever measure anything with this, I have to make sure it’s correct!

Thanks for letting me share!

My pleasure! Thank you, Amanda, for sharing your story! I have to agree with you on nutritional yeast: it’s the best.

If you want to catch the other stories or participate, jump in!

A few tips for vegans… and other humans!

In the last few days I have looked at different things I do in order to save time, be happier and generally make my life easier. I hope these tips will help you out too!

DSCF1710

  1. Keep your space positive: I feel that as a vegan it is very easy to get overwhelmed by negativity: videos/articles/pictures of animal suffering filling your digital space; people criticizing and judging your decisions and looking at your everyday choices like if it were their business; and even self-doubt sometimes.
    • I became vegan because I love animals, and I do not want to passively or actively participate in their suffering. Seeing animal cruelty videos does not reinforce this resolve: it makes me sick, sad and depressed. I’m not saying that this type of information is not relevant. A lot of vegans made their choice after being exposed to such information, and people should know what it going on. But in my case, the images stay in my brain and create a negative blur that prevents me from focusing, creating and feel good. So, I have taken the habit of systematically blocking groups that diffuse this type of information. It doesn’t mean that I don’t see any of it, but a lot less. I prefer to focus on the positive things about being a vegan.

    • With time, I found out that trying to justify my veganism was not a good strategy when faced with people ignorantly and aggressively judging it. When faced with such situations (and it happens), I usually say that being vegan is my personal choice, that each person is different and that this suits me. The discussion usually ends there because I try not to fuel the deb20141231_182853ate. Over time, I find that this strategy and being a positive example of a healthy vegan helps people not feel threatened and encourages them to be curious, in a more respectful way.
    • Self-doubt is normal! I find that every time I do anything, from changing coat to becoming vegan, a fair amount of self-doubt is involved. And it’s healthy too! Without self-doubt, how could we evolve? When this feeling is pulling me down, I look at my cat and think of all the reasons why I became vegan in the first place. This usually does the trick!
  2. Take the time to meal plan: Sitting down with my cook books once a week and selecting recipes that I want to try out has two advantages:
    • I get to really use my cookbooks. It also keeps the meals interesting as I try out new recipes regularly.
    • I make a shopping list with only what I need for the week. Like this, I avoid over-buying and waste.
  3. Buy legumes in bulk and dry: This is less expensive, and it usually involves less packaging: good for your wallet and the planet!

  4. Prepare legumes ahead: As a vegan, a good portion of my proteins comes from legumes. A good idea is to mix a variety of dried legumes (beans, lentils, chickpeas for example) in a big bowl and let them soak overnight before cooking them for an hour or so. It is important to mix them to make sure you have the full spectrum of amino acids everyday: each legume type usually contains only a partial number of amino acids. By combining them you have a greater variety of amino acids which makes your body happy! I store a big batch of these in the fridge so that I can add them to everything all week long.

I hope these are helpful! Let me know if you have tips of your own: I’m always on the lookout for ways to make my life easier!

Exciting Christmas Series!

My friend La Végé d’à Côté and I are working on a really fun Christmas Series!

Bright holiday photo. Image №15135

If you know French, you should definitely check out her website. She brings really interesting information and reflections on veganism and nutrition. As she is a nutritionist, her advice is well-informed and documented, and also fun to read.

I’m really excited to partner up with her for this. We have planned gift guides, holiday tips, and, of course, recipes.

Stay tuned for really exciting ideas that will help you for the Christmas season, but , really, for any holiday or special occasion

Cheers ! 🙂

Happy World Vegan Day!

November 1st is here! This means Halloween is over (snif, snif!) and World Vegan Day and Month are here!

Apparently this has been created by the UK based Vegan Society to promote and celebrate veganism. What a great idea!

So on this day, I thought it would be interesting to reflect on what I learned the past few years as a vegan. In the last few weeks,  I have been thinking a lot about what veganism meant to me, and I realized that my vision of things has changed quite a bit. So here are five things I want to share with you.

Pretty lettuces!

It’s much easier to be a vegan if you so it for the right reasons. I became vegan for ethical reasons. I did not what to hurt animals myself, and so I felt uncomfortable to ask someone else to do it for me. Also, the automation and systematical way of treating animals gave me nightmares. I did not want to be part of a system where respect of animals, individuals and the environment was missing.
I feel like have these reasons helped me keep in line better than if I had been focusing on health issues. Of course these reasons are extremely valid and relevant, but they are also easier to negotiate with your mind: Sure, ice cream has a lot of fat, but I’ll just go to the gym later!
When you start being vegan for ethical reasons, it is much more difficult to negotiate with your mind, and thus a lot easier to follow.

You do not have to justify yourself. When I first started my vegan journey, I felt like I had to justify my lunches, my protein intake and my ethics to everyone who asked me questions, and even to innocent bystanders. Not only was this process draining emotionally and mentally, it was also useless and often led to frustration. I also noticed that most people asking questions are trying to reassure themselves that a ‘conventional’ animal based diet is the best diet. Because of this, dialogue and healthy discussions are often out of the question. I soon realized that the best answer to all types of questions is simple to say that it is a personal choice. More often than not, when faced with this answer, people who were looking for reassurance are reassured, and the others feel like they can keep up the discussion. Way easier than to explain that there are proteins in the plant world!

Cravings and slip ups are usually there because you are out of balance. Yes cravings and slip ups are part of the way. Are they something terrible to look down on? Not really! This is a journey, and there will be moments where you feel like going back. Often though, I find that when I am craving omelets or butter, I’m really just craving the feelings associated with these foods or I’m just plain hungry. As time goes by, I found dupes for most of my cravings and built confidence to stay on track. Cut yourself some slack, and be patient!

It’s important to step back and to have fun with veganism. I find that sometimes, especially when I am busy, it is easy to go through meal planing in a mechanical way and play things like: cold tofu with rice and kale. Very exciting, I know! Or soups for three weeks in a row (I’m so glad the last batch I made is gone!)… Of course there are moments when being in the kitchen is a chore. In these moments, I like to step back a little and see how I can make regular dishes more fun. I like to buy one extra ingredient that I don’t know a lot about and try to incorporate it. The last addition: cranberries! They can make the simplest dish exciting and fun again!

Preach through example. Finally, if you feel like more people should join the vegan movement, the best thing you can do is to harass them by criticizing their lunches, their weight and health issues… or maybe, just show them how happy and healthy your are with your new way of living.

I hope these thoughts were relevant and helped you through your vegan transitions. What are some thoughts you have on veganism? Let me know! 🙂

Brand-new name, brand new attitude (hopefully)

On this lovely and sunny Monday afternoon, something fabulous happened: I found my new blog name!

Why “My Lighthearted Kitchen”?

Well, for the last couple of weeks, I have been thinking about my life, my beliefs, and my attitude. From this introspection came the realization that I used to be a lot more lighthearted, but that somehow with stress, work, stress from work, and growing up, this quality has started to crumble out of my personality.

This is not a good thing. (see what I mean?)

So, in an effort to show more lightheartedness, I decided that working with a name that was scary and limiting had to stop. Why scary? Well, try telling someone you barely know, like a colleague for example, that you are vegan. When I did, I certainly was welcomed with fear, misunderstanding, teasing, concern, and often anger. Not very lighthearted words.

This was taken last summer, when I was working with kids and really channeling my inner lightheartedness. Look at these wonderful Montreal grown figs! They were delicious!

This was taken last summer, when I was working with kids and really channeling my inner lightheartedness. Look at these wonderful Montreal grown figs! They were delicious!

Also, I really want to share my recipes and show others that it can be easy and simple to switch to a vegan diet. Of course, I cannot do this with a scary name. As I didn’t want to go with the new vegan (plant based) word, I tried to focus on a quality that I wish my work here to stem from.

So, yes, my recipes will still continue to be vegan and gluten-free. However, the spirit in which they will be done and shared will be different.

So, in all lightheartedness, I hope you enjoy the new content, and let me know what you think!

Ignorance?

This week, she had a realization.

During her Spanish class, she was given an info-gap exercise where she had to create a vegetarian and non-vegetarian menu for a wedding. Skimming the text, she realized that there were no vegetarian options but only meat and fish. So, she naively asked the teacher where the vegetarian meals were. The teacher told her they were the fish dishes. She was a bit confused so she said that vegetarian don’t actually eat fish or seafood. The teacher answered that all her vegetarian friends ate fish and so the options were vegetarian. So she repeated that no, vegetarian did not eat fish: fish being animals it would not make sense. Another eavesdropping students said that the teacher was right: vegetarians do eat fish, it’s the vegan that “don’t eat nothing but beans and lettuce”. She was surprised by their ignorance and nodded her way out of the conversation.

This happened in a university course, in a vibrant multicultural, multilingual city. Yet, people do not know what it is implied in the words “vegetarian” or “vegan”. She was really surprised to see that even technically “educated” people were not aware of such distinctions. Moreover,she was a bit shocked by the refusal of discussion. Granted that this was just a Spanish exercise, but still. Sometimes, she wish people would be more open and ready to accept it when they lack some knowledge. This incident was probably due to the fact that the teacher had never thought about vegetarianism/veganism. That’s alright, but pretending to know is silly.

This was just an incident that happened. It did not change her resolutions or her choices. It just made her realize that veganism still has a long way to go…

I guess we have to be prepared for those comments.

I guess we have to be prepared for those comments.