Five Things Friday: Catching Up!

Phew. It seems that blogging about once a week is going to be the plan from now on. If it’s more than that, I’ll consider myself a lucky lady, but I’ve got to set a realistic goal! Anybody else struggle to decide between spending time reading blogs/watching YouTube videos and actually sitting down to write? #firstworldproblems

Anyway, here goes!

Five Things Friday is a quick recap of 5 things that described my week and will hopefully inspire you guys. Ok, let’s be honest – it’s really just a way for me to share things that don’t fit well into other themed posts…

{If you’re not familiar with Clare at Fitting It All In, check out her blog now along with some other Five Things Friday posts. This girl is brutally honest and so inspirational.}

1. Indian Lettuce Wraps

If you’ve been reading, you know that lettuce wraps or lettuce boats are an obsession of mine. Lately I’ve been switching it up and making ones with more unique flavors, like these Indian lettuce wraps:

Romaine lettuce
Organic brown basmati rice
Trader Joe’s Mango Ginger Chutney
Trader Joe’s Vegetable Pakora Balls

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This is not a frequent meal for me, as I try to stick to lots of WHOLE foods on my 80/10/10 lifestyle right now, but enjoying this occasionally is really good.

2. Potato Taco Boats

Yet another version:

Romaine Lettuce
Organic brown rice
Steamed potatoes, slightly mashed
Trader Joe’s fresh mild pico do gallo
Avocado
Cilantro

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3. My First Graze Box

We got a free box through Graze to try some new vegan snacks. I like that the website allows you to filter snacks by what’s vegan, and I love that you can choose what types of things you’re interested in rather than just getting a random assortment. That being said, I actually wasn’t thrilled with a lot of the ingredients in some of the snacks, particularly the dips. Even many of the snack mixes contained dairy products, which also did not thrill me. Overall, we were sent some interesting things, but I don’t think I would pay for this subscription.

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4. Gluten Belly

Some of you may have seen when I posted this on Instagram:

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It’s unreal the difference it makes in my body being gluten free. After I took the “gluten belly” picture, this was my stomach 72 hours later, eating nothing but fruits, veggies, and potatoes/rice.

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UGH. Part of me hates that I think I have made myself more intolerant be eating such a clean diet, but part of me is grateful now to have learned what makes my body feel the best by cutting out processed foods that were not serving my health.

5. Boston

This epic view of the nighttime skyline after a long night of studying. That is all.

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My 5 favorite Instagram posts this week:

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My 5 favorite articles/videos this week:

Raw Vegan Apple Pie Smoothie

Life Lessons: On Being Too Healthy

Reduce Sodium Intake?

Kate Mara Goes Vegan

Exercises I Never Do (Lower Body)

Cheers to Friday!

Avocado Athlete

Why I’m Not Really a Vegan

A little bit of a different WIAW post on tap today explaining a little more behind why I eat how I eat and how I have found my own food freedom.

Today’s post has been on my mind for a while, not gonna lie. It’s something I’ve sort of hesitated to write, but I was recently prompted by a fabulous article from The Real Life RD. Below is a quote from her piece:

There are a lot of healthy living blogs out there and I think a fair amount of these self-proclaimed healthy living blogs could actually be categorized as diet blogs. I don’t say that to point fingers or label or anything like that, but I say that because I think it’s very easy to convince ourselves that we are “living healthily” when really we are living restrictively…and actually dieting.

And there is no food freedom in that.

So where does the line get drawn? When does eating clean and grain-free and vegan and gluten free and no carbs past 7 and paleo go from healthy living to diet?

When there is anxiety with eating outside “your rules.”
When there is a need to control every food situation. And if you’re not in control, then your anxious.

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And that is the essence of why I’m not really a vegan. There are other reasons I’m not really vegan too – like the fact that I’m really only a dietary vegan (I still own a leather jacket), ethical reasons played a tertiary role in my conversion, and I never ask restaurants for lists of ingredients. But the primary reason I’m not really a vegan is that being vegan is not a restrictive rule for me, and I have no anxiety about my food.

1) Being Vegan is NOT a Restrictive Rule for Me

Being vegan is something that I do for my health inside and outside. I feel better, I look better, I have better digestion, and I have more energy. What a blessing it is for me to have discovered the diet that gives me all those things while also being great for the planet and the animals, but again, the primary reason I do it is because it is what makes me feel my best by a long shot. I choose not to eat dairy and meat primarily because I don’t like the way it digests in my body, I don’t like how lethargic it makes me feel, and I don’t like the physical symptoms I get after eating it. I also happen to believe that it is not good for my long term health. {Insert here a discussion meat and dairy re: clean eating, chicken breasts, greek yogurt, etc. That can be a debate for another time, as I’m here now to talk about something else.}

In the exact same way, I don’t smoke cigarettes because I don’t like the way my breath tastes, I don’t like the way my lungs feel, and I don’t believe it’s good for my long term health, although you must know – I actually quite enjoy smoking. I don’t view my choice not to smoke cigarettes as a restrictive rule or something that inhibits my freedom to choose to do something that makes me feel good. I view it as something I simply don’t partake in because I know it’s not good for me. It doesn’t cause me anxiety or make me feel like I can’t enjoy life. It hardly crosses my mind. Ever. It just is.

Being vegan is the same thing for me. When I see meat and dairy, I don’t crave it because I don’t eat it. Just like cigarettes. I choose not to eat it because I know I would not like the way it would make me feel immediately after consuming it, and I don’t believe it’s good for my long term health. Just like cigarettes. This does not make me feel like I am lacking “food freedom” or dieting.

That being said…

There is more to this, because cigarettes are, for the most part, 100% avoidable, whereas animal products are such a fluid part of our cultural, they may not be. Which leads me to my second point…

2) I have no anxiety about my food.

As I said above, avoiding animal products can be much harder than avoiding cigarettes. There are times when you unexpectedly get stuck in a German airport for 36 hours with no money. There are times when you go to someone else’s house for dinner and aren’t sure if they used butter in the mashed potatoes. There are times when you take a bite of a bagel without thinking to first ask if there was egg in it. There are times when things you never thought would have animal products in them (e.g. a pretzel snack mix) somehow manage to sneak them in. There are times when you eat at an Indian Restaurant and cannot be 100% sure they didn’t cook the vegetables with ghee, and the language barrier makes it nearly impossible to find out.

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I don’t fret about these things. I don’t choose to not fret about them because I don’t care about being vegan or because I don’t care about animal rights or the environment. I choose not to fret about them because I would rather live life, and I also want more and more people to discover and live out a plant-based lifestyle. I happen to think that when you’re sitting at table of 10 people at a restaurant, asking the server to bring you an ingredient list is incredibly annoying, takes up other peoples’ time, and generally turns off people (especially servers and kitchen staff) to the idea of being vegan. I also happen to think that going over to someone else’s house and refusing to eat something you are served is probably not worth the harm you may cause to that relationship or, in the very least, making that person feel inadequate.

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BEFORE YOU COMMENT, read on. I do everything I can, within reason, to avoid eating animal products. When eating out, I order something plant-based and often ask for it to be cooked without butter if I think it might be otherwise. As a server, I know this is a common request and will likely not be too annoying to the wait staff or kitchen. Another strategy I sometimes employ is saying that I have a dairy allergy (which is true, although not in a dangerous sense). Before going to someone else’s house for dinner, I politely let them know that I have some dietary restrictions and will not eat meat, dairy, and eggs. That person may not remember to read every ingredient on the box of bread crumbs to double check, and that’s just fine. This is not because my diet and life choices are not important to me – it’s because I would like to give vegan a better name, rather than perpetuating the stereotype that vegans are hard to please and high maintenance.

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I hope that someday we live in a world where it won’t be so much to ask for something vegan. Personally, I think preparing vegan dishes is so easy, but not everyone feels that way. Right now, it is kind of a lot to ask for someone to eliminate from cooking or food preparation ingredients that make up half or more of their diet! So for now, I’d rather do what I can by making requests that seem reasonable to me and that I have found work well with other people, and if not every dish I’m served all the time conforms to my “food rules,” then so be it.

And that’s why I’ll never really be vegan.

So now, most of you are probably wondering when the last time was that I ate something that wasn’t vegan. Well…goodness…it’s been ages, maybe over a year. Actually, I think I do remember. It was on a plane on the way back from a nightmare travel experience where I had been stranded in a German airport for 36 hours without any access to food. The flight attendant offered to bring me one of the extra vegetarian options, which I hadn’t even requested, and I think the sauce on the pasta probably had some cream in it, but I sure did eat it.

The point is – it’s a rarity. REALLY a rarity. There have probably been other times – times I ordered food at a restaurant that unexpectedly came with cheese on it that I then picked off but still ate or times I found out that a veggie burger I had already eaten at a grill out had egg whites in it. It happens, and sometimes it affects my tummy afterwards, which is the worst, but it’s not worth stopping life to try to control it. For me, my health and happiness is better overall when I let go of control of these things. If I spent every moment at social events worrying about avoiding every crumb of parmesan that may have gotten in my food, I wouldn’t be living life. I would be stressed, as anyone is when they’re frantically trying to gain control of things they can’t really control, and it would take a toll on my body in the long run, so it’s not worth it.

RANT. OVER.

What do you think about being vegan? Is it not fair to use the label “vegan” or even “dietary vegan” if this is how I live life? Do you try to eat plant-based? Do you find that you struggle with the labels? 

Cheers to plant-based eats,

Avocado Athlete

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(ps) Curious about what other people eat and why they eat that way? Check out other WIAW posts at the link below!

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