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When having conversations with people about eating animals, both sides appreciate respect. This is true for any argument or discussion. Please respect the other’s position–try to see where they are coming from.

I ate animals for the first 15 years of my life, so I know where omnivores are coming from. I get it. When I have conversations with people who eat meat, I try my best to be respectful. Depending on the conversation and person, sometimes it’s really hard, especially when they’re being disrespectful. And while disrespect can be frustrating, what frustrates me most is when people disrespect the animals they are eating.

I get that people are going to continue to eat meat for some time to come. I know that despite hearing the logical arguments, people will still choose to eat animals. So, if that’s the case, I ask one thing of them: please respect the animals you’re eating.

Enough damage has been done to the animal, the disrespect doesn’t need to be there. No one would appreciate someone making fun of their dead family member, and we sure would be extremely angry if we knew the mortician was being disrespectful with their dead body while preparing it for the funeral.

While I know the animals on a person’s plate are not their family member or someone they have an emotional attachment to, the “food” was still once a living being–a being that deserves respect, even in its final form.

Recently, Vice.com shared an article on Facebook:

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Cool, right?! It’s awesome to see a popular news-interest site sharing something pretty positive about veganism. But of course, mention the word “vegan” and you get hateful comments and arguments, even on an article that wasn’t making any controversial claims, just sharing tips on how to save money.

There were hateful comments:

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Uninformed comments:

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And of course, this guy:

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Looks like every single comment section on an article that says the word “vegan,” right? All those are super annoying, but you just have to brush it off. These people have no clue what they’re talking about honestly.

But, there were a few comments that really bothered me. Let me show you the header and picture accompanying the article one more time:

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And this is what people said:

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Now, I know that these people are probably trolls, just saying those things to get an uproar from a vegan so they can bash them. But, the sentiments shared are perpetuated throughout society. No one respects the animals they are eating. They see a farm animal and imagine food. That lack of respect bothers me.

Here’s an image that recently appeared on Reddit:

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And some of the comments?

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If we (as a society) are going to eat animals, let’s at least respect them.

Native Americans were/are extremely respectful to the animals they eat.

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They shared the land with animals and while they killed them for food out of necessity, they respected that animal’s life and spirit, and did not take them for granted. They only killed when they needed to and that was out of necessity.

Hell, even movies we love have picked up on this. In Avatar, Neytiri gets mad at Jake that she had to kill all of the wolf-creatures to save his life because he doesn’t know how to respect the forest.

Jake: “Thanks for killing those things.”

Neytiri: “You don’t thank for this. This is sad. Very sad only.”

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Even though this movie is fictional, it still sends a message that was originally echoed by Native Americans: Killing is not fun or good, but sometimes it is necessary and we must respect the creatures we kill. Unnecessary killing is sad, though.

That’s a sentiment I can understand in a world where you have to hunt to live, but luckily in the U.S. we don’t. Still, people will eat meat and so the least they can do is respect it.

So I ask that the next time you sit down to a meal, after you thank your deity for the food, also thank the animal that had to die so you could eat it.

May all beings be free from suffering.

❤ Heather

 

What I Eat In A Day

Hi everyone!

So I’m sure you’ve seen these sorts of posts and you might be thinking, I don’t care what you eat in a day, why would I care? If that’s what you’re thinking, then no worries! Just don’t read. 🙂

This post is for people who might be interested in eating plant-based or are just curious about what a vegan might eat besides lettuce (cause, you know, that’s all we eat 😉 ).

Hopefully, if you’re interested in cutting out some meat and dairy in your diet, this might give you some ideas for meal and snack ideas. Enjoy!

(Disclaimer: No, I don’t spend hours photographing my food. This is for a simple blog, not Pinterest or a professional website, so don’t expect gorgeous food photos!)

BREAKFAST

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This is my go-to, eat every single morning and still not tire of it, breakfast. It’s overnight oats and it is super healthy, delicious, and filling.

Directions:

-Pour a cup or so (as much as you’d like) in a bowl and pour in non-dairy milk, but don’t completely cover the oats (about as much milk as you’d put in cereal). Mix together.

-Let it sit overnight.

-It will be ready in the morning! I top it with blueberries, strawberries, and chia seeds, and add a cup of coffee with it.

So simple (and affordable!)

LUNCH

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Lunch varies a bit more than breakfast. But usually, my favorite thing to make is a black bean sandwich. This is my favorite sandwich EVER. It is healthy, delicious, cheap, and super easy to make. As you can see from the pictures, I love to pair the sandwich with a little extra something, my most recent favorite side being grilled eggplant.

Directions:

Black Bean Sandwich

-Heat up a couple spoonfuls of black beans. Mash them up with your spoon.

-On toasted bread, spread a layer of Vegenaise or Just Mayo. Add mashed black beans on top of the Vegenaise. Add a few slices of tomatoes. Salt and pepper. Then add lettuce/kale. Enjoy!

(It might sound simple and tasteless, but trust me, it’s not. The Vegenaise complements the black beans and the juicy tomato goes well with the drier black beans. Such a great combo of flavors. Of course you can add or subtract whatever you’d like.)

Grilled Eggplant

I received a panini maker for my wedding and I never use it for paninis! I use it more as a grill for veggies and it works awesome. So if you have a similar device, like a George Foreman grill, that would work as well.

-Cut up a few slices of eggplant, about 1/2 inch thick each.

-Place onto heated grill/panini maker.

-Let them sit for a few minutes, then flip.

-Cook them as long as you want–the longer they stay, the softer and more cooked they’ll get. You can see from the pictures above how cooked I enjoy mine. Enjoy!

 

Other Lunch Ideas:

Below are a few other ideas for lunch that I’ve done in the past that turned out delicious.

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Nachos:

-I added sauteed mushrooms and bell peppers with refried beans, tomatoes, salsa, and Cholula over chips.

 

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Warm and Cold Salad:

-On a bed of kale and spring mix, I added sauteed mushrooms, bell peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, chikpeas, salt and pepper, and lime dressing. I’m not a huge salad eater (weird, I know, but I’m getting there), but this salad is BOMB. Filling, satisfying, and full of flavor. Great if you’re trying to be healthy, but still want a filling and flavorful meal.

-I added toasted tortilla strips on the side for an extra crunch. For this, just get soft tortilla shells, tear them into slices, and broil them in the oven for a few minutes until they’re crunchy.

DINNER

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TACOS!!!

Every Tuesday my husband and I have, what else, taco night! This is our favorite meal of them all.

Ingredients:

-Beyond Meat beef crumbles (cooked with no oil, just an olive oil non-stick spray in a pan)

-refried beans

-tomatoes

-nutritional yeast (if you want a cheesy flavor element)

-simple guacamole (mashed up avocado with lime juice and salt & pepper)

-lettuce

-salsa

-Cholula

-salt & pepper

-Add all that to some tortilla shells. My husband likes his fried in oil for that extra taste, but I try to keep my tacos healthier, so I just pop my tortillas in the microwave for about 15 seconds to warm and soften them. Enjoy!

Other dinners:

Dinner varies the most of any meal, so sometimes besides the go-to tacos every Tuesday, some nights I’ll make spaghetti (cooked just like any other spaghetti, but I’ll add the Beyond Meat crumbles–same used in the tacos–and I’ll also add tomato paste, garlic salt, onions, mushrooms, and bell peppers to the marinara sauce for lots of flavor).

Some nights I’ll grill more eggplant and add that to some wild rice with mushrooms. Other nights I’ll get vegetable broth and add orzo to it with some veggies for a warming orzo soup. Usually dinner is just a mash-up of what I’ve got in the pantry and fridge. You can’t go wrong with veggies!

 

SNACKS:

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I’m a snacker. Ask anyone who knows me and they’ll tell you I am Queen of the Snacks. With snacks, it’s very easy to eat unhealthy. So recently I’ve been roasting veggies as snacks and they have satisfied my snack cravings.

Pictured above is roasted okra.

Directions:

-Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees F.

-Place non-cooked okra on baking sheet with olive oil non-stick cooking spray. Salt and pepper okra.

-Leave in for 15 minutes or so (the longer they’re in, the more cooked and crispier they’ll be), turning once or twice.

Enjoy!

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This snack is chihuahua approved!

Other snacks I’ll eat between lunch and dinner are peaches, strawberries, yogurt (Silk brand), pickles, salted and peppered tomato slices, a fruit smoothie, really, whatever I’ve got in the pantry/fridge at the time!

Notes:

While I will eat some processed foods occasionally, I try to reserve that for when I eat out with family/friends. When I eat at home (which is most of the time), I do my best to eat whole foods, no oil, simple ingredients, and no processed foods. My largest vice in my daily meals is the bread for my sandwich, but I always buy 100% whole wheat, so it is healthier than white bread (I know it still has added sugar, though).

A tip to avoid oil: In two of the above recipes, you’ll see I used an olive oil non-stick cooking spray instead of oil. I am in love with that spray. It obviously keeps your food from sticking to the pan, but it also coats your food in a light layer of olive oil, without it being drenched in oil like it would be even if you used just a little oil in the pan. This has been a good substitute for using straight oil for me.

Also, you’ll notice that I like to keep it simple. Sometimes a fancy, complicated recipe can be fun to try, but realistically, no one has time to do that every night, especially during the week. Simple is also often better as it leads to using whole foods and less frying/cooking, which helps retain the vitamins and nutrients in the foods.

And a final note: my grocery bill is very low. I don’t have kids so that helps, but even then, it still wouldn’t be very high. Many people have the misconception that being vegan is expensive, but that simply isn’t true. There are specialty items (for both omnivores and vegans), but you don’t have to buy them. I shop at Walmart and Publix (local grocery store), and they have everything I need. To give you an idea:

Eggplant: ~$1.00 (one lasts for at least 3-4 meals)

Okra: 1 pack is ~$2.50 (lasts for at least 4 snacks)

Two bananas: 79 cents (one banana is a good snack!)

One can of black beans: 78 cents (one can lasts for 4 sandwiches)

One container of strawberries: ~$4 (lasts for a week 1/2 to two weeks)

That just gives you an idea of how affordable it can be.

So there you have it! A taste (pun intended) of what I eat in a normal day. I love the color in the images and thanks to the veggies and fruits, it’s easy to get that color in most meals.

I hope this gave you a few meal ideas! Thanks for reading. 🙂

❤ Heather

 

17 Random Things All Vegans Will Like

Oh, hello there blog world. Long time, no see.

I’m not sure why, but I haven’t posted in a while–a few months to be exact. I really only post when I feel like it and/or when there’s something on my mind I feel compelled to write about and share. So these past few months, despite still being passionate about veganism, I guess I just haven’t felt compelled to write here.

Anyways, it’s good to be back and despite not posting for a few months, I never stopped collecting treasures I’ve found around the Internet. So, I thought I’d go Buzzfeed-style and share a list of random things I thought you silly vegans might like.

Enjoy. 🙂

  1. This beautiful artwork.

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2. This delicious vegan jerky. Seriously, go buy some on Amazon (search: Louisville Vegan Jerky Company). It’s amazing.

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3. This wonderful, simplified concept.

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4. This quote to help vegans understand the defensiveness of many meat-eaters.

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5. This not-surprising statistic.

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6. This simple recipe for donuts that I need to try ASAP.

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7. This delicious beauty that I need to make.

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8. This lovely quote about tea that will brighten your day and make you want a cup of tea.

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9. This perfect way of describing our frustration with people eating meat.

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10. This meme for all food production companies.

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11. These beautiful and delicious potato “fries” that I have been making way too much. (Cut up a few potatoes, pop in pre-heated 425 degree (F) oven, bake for 20 minutes, done! Best served with Just Ranch dressing.)

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12. This compelling quote, relevant for our current world.

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13. As the caption says, fruit kabobs made by yours truly for 4th of July.

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14. These blueberries that I picked this summer.

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15. This awesome Ben & Jerry’s advertisement on my grocery cart that will make the biggest ice cream lover take a second to think.

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16. This honesty from Lisa Vanderpump–if only all meat-eating self-proclaimed animal activists could see this in their own selves.

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17. And finally, these beautiful words written in beautiful writing from the Vegan Chalk Challenge (find them on Facebook). A sentiment all vegans share.

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❤ Heather

A Compilation of Random Things

On my daily searches and travels across the Internet, I come across words, images, and information that strike me. I save these things and usually pin them to my Pinterest board for later reference, but I wanted to share with you some of the recent random animal rights related words and images I’ve come across that I feel are compelling in their own ways.

I hope you enjoy them. 🙂

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May all beings be free from suffering.

❤ Heather

Veganism: Diet or Lifestyle Choice?

A vegan is commonly referred to as someone who consumes no animal products in their food.

But, a vegan also is someone who abstains from using animal products in any aspect of their life, including food, clothing, and other products.

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I’ve read articles from vegans arguing that veganism is indeed a lifestyle choice, not just a diet, and I’ve even seen the argument made from the other perspective by vegans.

So what do you think? Is veganism a diet or is it a lifestyle choice? I’ll go further with another question: why does it have to have any label?

I suppose I can see why we label it and people want to define it. Labels are what help others understand someone or something. ‘Oh okay, you’re gay.’ *nods head* When someone gives us a “label” to define themselves, it’s like we know who they are even better now. When someone tells us they’re gay, it’s like a whole new understanding opens up for us. We see them not just as someone who prefers the same sex romantically, but also as someone who associates and is a part of the “gay community”–a whole other “type” of lifestyle.

But, really? If someone tells us they’re gay, all that should indicate to us is that they prefer the same sex romantically–that’s it. We truly know nothing else about them. If other things about that person happen to fall into our “understanding” of a gay person (basically, our understood stereotypes), then they just so happen to.

The same goes for a person claiming to be a part of any group: Republican, Democrat, Christian, atheist, Muslim, lesbian, Alabama football fan (you wouldn’t understand unless you lived here), etc.

And yes, even a vegan.

If someone is a vegan, they simply abstain from animal products. That’s it. That’s all anyone should assume. But, like with any other stereotype, if you’re a vegan, you’re all those other things…loud-mouthed, argumentative, annoying, weird, etc.

Really, it should never be complicated. And veganism isn’t complicated, it’s not weird, it’s not difficult, it’s not something…different. It’s just the simple giving up of animal products in one’s life. Yet, society is so ingrained to use animals in every single aspect of life (leather on couches, shoes, purses; gelatin in candies and wine (yes, some wines have it!); meat; milk in everything, etc.) that when you say, “Ehh, I’m not going to use those things anymore,” it’s like, the. biggest. deal. EVER. to people.

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Now if we compare the word “diet” to “lifestyle choice”…

Diet means “the kinds of food that a person, animal, or community habitually eats.”

Lifestyle choice means “a choice a person makes about how to live and behave, according to their attitudes, tastes, and values.”

Veganism seems to fall into not just one, but both of these categories. For those arguing it’s not a diet, I see your point, and actually, I agree with you. Leaving animal products off your plate is equivalent to leaving all green vegetables off your plate–is there a name for that diet, though?

My ultimate conclusion is that–does it matter? Veganism is a diet. It is a lifestyle choice. It is a decision. It is a movement of compassion. It is a social justice movement. It is a rights movement. It is a lot of things.

Should we let technical titles and words clog our message? Is it worth debating? People know what veganism is now more than ever, and that’s what we want, isn’t it? So instead of being the “typical vegan” that has to argue about whether it’s a lifestyle choice or diet, let’s argue and fight for the real issue here–the rights of animals, of all sentient beings. Because in the end, they (the ones that matter here) don’t care what you call it, they just want you to fight for it.

May all beings be free from suffering.

❤ Heather

Busy bees!

The past couple weeks have been quite busy–in good ways–for me. I’ve been active on the activism route and I wanted to share some of what I’ve been doing with you.

First, a couple days before Earth Day, two of my students and I chalked up some vegan/animal rights messages on the college campus where I teach. You can see some of the messages below, but together in an hour we were able to write about 13 or so messages! Hopefully they made any students, faculty, and staff walking by think..

Then, Earth Day came around. This was by far the best and most active Earth Day for me ever. No, I unfortunately did not plant a tree (but trust me, there are plenty around my house–all the pine needles and leaves speak to that!), but I did do some activism to raise awareness.

First, at a local hospital, I volunteered to be a representative of my local vegan organization, ARC (Awakening Respect and Compassion for all sentient beings). I set up a table (see below), passed out informative literature, and talked to some interested and not-so-interested people about the impact of animal agriculture on our health, the planet, and the animals. There were quite a few people who were interested and engaged, so that’s always a good sign. Better than nothing at all I say!

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Those pebble-looking things are actually beans, and each bean represents an animal. That is the amount of animals one average meat-eating American will eat in their lifetime of 75 years, sadly enough. This is an incredibly informative and shocking (but not gruesome) display that gets people interested and talking. Almost every person that walked by the table (which was quite a lot) took the time to read the sign while I further explained the significance of the beans. If you ever have the opportunity to set up a table or something similar at an event, this display is extremely effective to send a powerful message.

Next on my list was an Earth Day event that took place this past Saturday in a local town next door to mine that is the most environmentally-conscious nearby. The event was on Mobile Bay and it was a beautiful and fun day. We strolled around and visited various tables and tents from local environmental organizations. Yes, I wore my vegan shirt around to represent. 😉

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And finally, I got my “These come from trees stickers” that I ordered online. You might have seen them in bathrooms before, but they’re stickers that are meant to be put on paper towel dispensers to remind users to be more conscious of the amount of towels they’re using. When visiting a local restaurant for dinner they had this sticker and it stopped me in my tracks, resulting in me taking a lot less paper towels than I normally would. So, I decided to order 20 for $5 and stick them on the paper towel dispensers around my work and anywhere else I feel needs a sticker! Simple environmental activism that makes a big difference.

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So, those are my recent Earth Day / vegan / environmental adventures. I hope you celebrated in a way that makes a difference somehow.

May all beings be free from suffering.

❤ Heather

 

Your Go-To Veggie Starter Kit

This post is for everyone out there who wants to try to make the transition to being a vegetarian. I completely understand it’s hard for people, especially when you’ve eaten meat your whole life. What else is there to eat? How do you get your protein? What about my family who I live with that still eats meat? These are all common questions I get asked when people approach me about wanting to make the transition to a meat-free life.

So if you’re one of those people, this post is for you! There’s no judgement here–just pure help and advice for you. I’ve compiled a list of links, images, and tips to help you out that have worked for me and others. Below, you’ll find that information.

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  • ChooseVeg.com: This is an excellent resource/website to help with the beginnings of your transition. They understand the position you’re in and the struggles you face and they write articles just for you. A few of their articles that are especially helpful are…
    • A Seven Day Meal Plan: Meal ideas for breakfast, lunch, & dinner to get you started. All easy, all delicious, all vegetarian.
    • Family Matters: Do you live with a family that eats meat, which makes it hard to transition since you all eat meals together? This page is for you.
    • Protein: The thing you don’t worry about until you cut out meat. And actually, you still don’t need to worry about it! They have a whole page dedicated to showing you protein will not be a problem for you as a vegetarian.
    • Other helpful pages (that you can access from the links above) include eating healthy and maintaining a balanced diet as a veggie, how to eat vegetarian while dining out or being on the road, eating veggie on a budget, and plenty more!

 

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  • Mercy for Animals: If you’re wanting to go vegetarian because of animals and the suffering they endure due to human diets, Mercy for Animals is a great resource to learn more. They’re dedicated to exposing the truth of cruelty that goes on behind closed doors, but they also have great resources on how you can help. They also have general interesting articles related to a veggie lifestyle, along with helpful tips.

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  • Pinterest: Even if you don’t have a Pinterest account, I do believe you can search through their many images/pages/pins. Type in the search bar “vegetarian/vegan recipes” and you’ll be flooded with amazing recipes–some easy, some more detailed, all likely delicious. If you don’t have Pinterest, it really is worth it to make an account. I’ve pinned so many great veggie recipes there that I always come back to. It’s basically a virtual cookbook with all my favorite recipes saved! And when you search for such recipes, more will keep popping up in your feed, so you’re always seeing something new!

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  • Grocery Stores: Here’s a simple, but helpful tip from me. Don’t let grocery stores, seemingly full of meat everywhere, scare you. Every grocery store I’ve been to (yes, even Walmart!) has vegetarian meat replacements in the frozen food section. Identify where the “Vegetarian” section is and go to town! Some stores will have more options than others, but there should be a few options at any given store to get you started. These vegetarian meat replacements make the transition a million times easier! Some brands to look out for are…
    • Gardein: Probably my favorite brand. They have so many varieties (click the link to see), that you’ll never run out of interesting products to try. This is especially helpful if you live with a family who still cooks meat every day. Are they making chicken tenders with veggies for dinner one night? Okay-no problem! Just pull out your Gardein “chick’n” tenders, cook them, and eat the veggies. There you go!
    • MorningStar Farms: MorningStar was the company I started with. They also have great options that are delicious. If you’re wanting to eat more vegan, be aware most of their products do contain milk and/or eggs. But, they are vegetarian, so they’re a great company to start with!
    • Beyond Meat: Their “beef” crumbles are to die for. My husband and I can’t get enough of them during taco night. They’re already seasoned well, you just pop them in a little heated oil, warm them up, and they’re ready–super easy! They have a lot of great products. They’re on my favorite list, right up there with Gardein. I mean, look at the image below. That’s a vegan burger, and isn’t it absolutely mouth-watering?!

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Did you know that a vegan burger was voted Best Burger of 2015? Don’t believe me? Read this article.

  • Do your research. Since we’re in the age of information and with the Internet right at your fingertips, learning about how to be (and stay) a vegetarian is easier than ever. Also, we’re lucky that we have so many alternative options now. Starting out with a simple “how to be a vegetarian tips” Google search will pull up thousands of helpful resources. Be active and educate yourself.

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  • Don’t go vegan (just yet). Yes, it’s hard to believe I wrote that on my vegan blog, but most people who jump from eating meat to strict veganism don’t do well and default back to eating meat shortly thereafter. Cutting out animal products is a process. If you’re comfortable with cutting out meat for three nights a week, start there, then the next week cut it out four nights a week, and so on. Baby steps are helpful, but you’ve got to keep moving. It took me 12 years–yes, 12 years(!) to move from vegetarianism to veganism, but that’s because I put the blinders on and didn’t educate myself as much as I should have. Once you’re completely comfortable and confident being a vegetarian, then you can start thinking about moving to veganism–that will make it easier, the process less daunting, and it will be easier to stick to.

I hope this vegetarian “starter kit” is helpful to you if you’re trying to give up meat. Trust me when I say it’s easier than you think and SO worth it. The planet will thank you, the animals will thank you, and you’ll thank yourself. Please comment below if you have any questions or advice.

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May all beings be free from suffering.

❤ Heather