It's almost officially summer time and you know what that means - veggie burgers on the grill, yahoo! Sure, you probably eat plant-based patties year round like me, but there's something about the way they taste on a warm summer day... And I'm sure I'm not alone in having tried my fair share of vegan burgers over the years - sadly it's hard to find one that really satisfies. I've had dry burgers, burgers that fall apart, burgers that lack flavor... you know what I'm talkin' about! And to make things a bit more challenging, when I started avoiding gluten, soy and corn my options were pretty pathedic. That is, until I discovered Hilary's Eat Well, a company that makes delicious, convenient and low-allergen burgers that are gluten-free, dairy-free, corn-free, egg-free, soy-free, yeast-free, and nut-free! The woman-owned biz offers 3 pattie flavors and new bites that are great for kids.
Not only is it Celiac Awareness Month but it's also Food Allergy Awareness Week! Does that mean that celiac's is more important to all the other food allergies? Hmmm... Anyways, to celebrate I want to introduce to a new company making wonderful gluten-free baking mixes: Zema's Madhouse Foods. The founder took her health, fitness and ADHD perspective to combine ancient whole grains with superseeds chia, hemp and flaxmeal into delicious creations. Each mix is kosher, Non-GMO Project Verified, and free of refined sugar and the top 8 allergens. And yet there's so much inside - in fact, for most recipes all you need to add in is wet ingredients like milk and egg alternatives of choice. Fill your kitchen with Cinnamon-Oatmeal Apple Muffins, Multigrain Pancake & Waffles, Cocoa Teff Pancake & Waffles and Rosemary-Millet Focaccia & Pizza Crust - Zema's sent me the latter two to try and here's what I thought:
I met Carlye through the Eco-Vegan Gal community years ago, and I've always felt an extremely positive energy from her, a light you could say. So it was no surprise to me when I heard that she wrote a book entitled Glow to share her beautiful story of weight loss via the plant-based diet. I didn't have to read a page to know that I wanted this publication to be read for the January EvG Book Club, which proved to be a great decision as soon as I began the first chapter. Carlye has a talent for making everyone she talks with feel like they've known her for years and this openess makes her an incredible advocate for the vegan lifestyle and all the joy it can bring.
What a perfect person to have as my first Viewer of the Month in 2013! I'll let Carlye tell you more about herself in her own words:
I was born, just like everyone else, with a clean slate and potential. But, by the age of five I was already addicted to McDonald’s and stuffing down cinnamon rolls that were bigger than my head. My true self became lost and was stifled by all of the sugar, cheese, meat, and dairy products. My mind was swimming, literally, in filth and poison, but how was I to know? I ate like most kids in the U.S.
At nine years old I was put on my first diet and my seemingly never ending foray in the diet world had begun. Being decades younger than everyone in my Weight Watchers meetings was not nearly as horrifying as being teased and ridiculed on a daily basis by the obnoxious boys at my school. Fast forward fifteen years and meet “big me.” Correction, I don’t mean big, I mean huge. Morbidly obese. I had gained 150 pounds as well as a hefty dose of Type II diabetes, fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, acid reflux, stomach ulcers, plantar fasciitis, plantar neuroma, severe allergies, and daily headaches.
One day, while waddling down the book aisle at Target, I stumbled upon Skinny Bitch, by Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin. It seemed innocuous enough so I tossed it in my cart amongst the ice cream, frozen chicken, and steaks. Little did I know, that was the last time I would ever buy dairy and meat again.
As I sat my wide load on the couch and started reading Skinny Bitch I found myself laughing out loud. My husband was going about his business but as he passed through the living room and heard me giggling he stopped and asked me to share the source of my newly-acquired happiness. After several recitations he finally sat down beside me and said, “Okay, you’re going to have to start over.” Together we took turns and proceeded to read the entire book aloud until we forced ourselves to go to sleep that night. We woke up the next morning, quickly finished reading the book, and immediately cleared our kitchen of all animal products. Overnight vegans, we have never looked back.
Immediately I dove in, head first, into studying every piece of research I could find. I knew what was ruining our health, but I wanted to know even more about the process and tools for healing. I discovered superfoods that aid weight loss but, most importantly, aid the body’s detoxification process. Many people who lose significant amounts of weight require surgery to remove excess skin that hangs from the body. I experimented and found a host of other nutritional tools that make the skin more youthful and able to snap back after being distended for so many years.
How can anyone ever fully express the magnificent amount of gratitude they have for a person, entity, or piece of information that literally saved their life? Learning about the truth behind our food and what really happens before the steak hits the plate turned my world upside down and yet I finally feel like I am right-side up. I lost 150 pounds and reversed all of the diseases and disorders from which I suffered without medication. I haven’t even had a cold in over four years. My husband lost almost as much weight as I did and reversed Type II diabetes, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure. I celebrate these victories every day, but what I celebrate even more is the peace and happiness I feel knowing that I am finally making a difference, every day, one bite at a time. I had to change my diet to save my life, but knowing that as I save myself I’m also saving the lives of innocent, sentient animals along with the planet itself compelled me to share my story.
I wrote the book, Glow: a story of love, cake and what life’s like 150 pounds later, in an effort to make a difference in the lives of all living things. Glow is a guide for losing weight and reversing disease, but it is also a love story filled with inspiration and humor that covers many topics, such as how to use superfoods to boost the body’s healing power, the importance of choosing organic food, avoiding GMOs, and visualization.
I am so grateful for the enthusiastic reception that Glow has received in just a few weeks since its release. People with chronic pain and conditions have been writing reviews and sending me heartwarming, astounding messages telling me that they have not only lost weight, but also found themselves free of the pain that had plagued them on a daily basis for years past. Food is infinitely powerful. The food that we choose to eat is either energizing us and building us to become the people that we were meant to be, or it is killing us. To discount the impact of nutrition on our lives is a grave error and one that many people make. The time has come for healing. As we heal ourselves we will save the animals and the planet that we all share. To me, this is the ultimate trifecta.
My favorite Eco-Vegan Gal video is "Journal/Inspiration: The Importance Of Following Your Bliss". Learning to trust myself and my instincts while following my bliss has been challenging at times. Taking the unknown road can be scary at first. How wonderful that we can find someone like Whitney who takes the time to cheer us on in our endeavors. Through Eco-Vegan Gal, Whitney puts out so much incredible content. She goes above and beyond by telling viewers about everything from eco-friendly battery usage to contact lenses. What makes Whitney stand out even more is her honesty and relevance. I love knowing that if I need great advice or info, all I have to do is check with Eco-Vegan Gal!
Carlye and Glow online:
One of my favorite things about running Eco-Vegan Gal is meeting amazing people and fortunately it happens all the time, especially through social media. I can't remember exactly when or how I was introduced to Sally of Pure Snickety, but it happened via Twitter and it only took a few messages from her for me to feel good vibes. I've really enjoyed following her journey and I know you will too - I am thrilled that she wrote this beautiful, in depth piece to share her story:
"I am so honored to be chosen as Eco-Vegan Gal's Viewer of the Month! As with many things that have taken place since I started Pure Snickety, she contacted me at the perfect moment. I have recently decided to commit to being vegan and she has been one of the biggest influences in this decision.
I have preferred animals to humans my entire life ;-). I have always had a deep connection to the animals I was raised with and around. There is just something amazing and unique in the unconditional love they give. I suffered abuse from someone I loved and trusted throughout my entire childhood. I believe that was the basis for my forming such a deep love and appreciation for animals and the kindness they have in abundance.
I chose to be a vegetarian without really thinking about it. I simply did not like the look or taste of meat, so eating vegetarian came natural to me. I would eat a kosher hot dog smothered in ketchup on rare occasions to satisfy others, but I always felt sick to my stomach the next day. My digestive system clearly did not like meat either. As I have suffered digestive issues most of my life, this was just another reason to avoid meat. It was after I became a vegetarian that I learned about the horrors that take place on factory farms. I saw bits and pieces of undercover videos, always turning away or closing my eyes in response. It broke my heart and soul every time something like that crossed my path. I was unaware of how widespread the abuse in such farms was and still is or that it extended to dairy farms as well.
As I grew older, my choice of foods became very limited as I began making food for myself when my mother went back into the workplace. I became a very picky eater and largely dependent on processed, microwave foods. Not surprisingly, my health issues continued and became worse as I aged. I was diagnosed with acid reflux and irritable bowl disorder in my early 20's. Unfortunately, this only made my diet worse as I began avoiding foods that irritated my digestive system. Acidic foods that I love, like tomatoes and citrus fruits, were chosen less and less frequently. I have become caught in a cycle of sickness that is directly related to food and stress.
While getting my degree in web development, I was introduced to the healing powers of essential oil. As I loved mixing things as a child, the idea of mixing oils to create a lovely scent that can also heal really appealed to me. I was instantly hooked! My husband teases that I am always mixing things ;-). I began using oils for my health related issues. As a result, I started learning about all the ingredients that go into beauty products today. I was very shocked to find animal ingredients and synthetic chemicals linked to cancer in almost every products out there. This lead me to the decision to create my own body care products using essential oils. When one of my products lessened a friends eczema symptoms, Pure Snickety Vegan Body Care was formed.
Why did I create a vegan business when I am not vegan? Simple, I did not see why animal fat and other animal derived ingredients were necessary to moisturize or clean my skin. I also thought that it was extremely hypocritical for a company not to test on animals, yet have ingredients that involved animals in any way. What I didn't know is that this personal decision would change my life.
When launching Pure Snickety's products on the market this past September, I discovered a large online vegan community. I learned so much, so quickly, that it was a bit overwhelming. I was shocked to learn that something as simple as sugar was processed with animal bone ash. I was horrified to learn that my favorite foods, cheese and butter, came from conditions just as abusive as meat farms. I began learned more about GMO's and gluten. I had to really face the way I was treating my body and animals by doing something as simple as eating. I went through a period of feeling helpless and ashamed. That is, until I found Whitney of Eco-Vegan Gal.
Whitney has been very influential in showing me "how" to be vegan. She is friendly, honest, true to herself, and most importantly, kind and compassionate to those who are not yet vegan. She, and others like her, have taught me that in order to be compassionate to animals, I also need to be compassionate and patient with myself. The importance of this life lesson cannot be put into words. I am forever grateful to those who played a part in this "ah-ha" moment.
Now, two months into Pure Snickety, I am ready to make the change from vegetarian to vegan. After my first ever surgery this Thursday (Nov 1st), my lifelong dream of becoming a mother is closer than ever. Thanks to the vegan community and starting my business, I am keenly aware of how unhealthy my diet is. Honestly, I would not be happy with myself if I continued to eat the way that I do now while pregnant. I want so much for my potential child, growing up without abuse and health issues are top on that list. If you would like to offer guidance, please, please, please do so! You can find my "I Want To Be Vegan" 1 & 2 posts on my websites blog.
My favorite Eco-Vegan Gal video is a message to Jasmine, and others like her, who feel that they are all alone in being vegan. I do not live in a community where veganism is commonplace. All but my oldest stepson are committed meat and/or dairy eaters and the closest Whole Foods is an hour drive from my home. I can relate to Jasmine and appreciate Whitney taking the time to give encouragement and advice to those who rely on the online vegan community for support."
FAQ: What To Do When No One Else You Know Is Vegan
Eco Vegan Gal Fan $2 Charity Discount: (Code: EVG)
My business is so new that any income I make goes straight back into repaying start-up costs and creating new product. However, I want to bring something positive to the community. It isn't much, but I am donating a dollar for every purchase made with Pure Snickety to the Best Friends Animal Sanctuary. As a special thank you to the vegan community and Whitney, I have set up a coupon for Eco-Vegan Gal fans during the month of November that will make that one dollar donation two dollars! The coupon code to receive $2 off which, will be donated to BFAS in December is: EVG
About Best Friends Animal Sanctuary:
At the heart of Best Friends is the Sanctuary, where, at any given time, about 1,700 animals are turning their lives around, receiving the medical help they need, and getting love and acceptance to help them overcome their past. While searching for their forever homes, they live in a scenic, healing environment among human and animal friends.
The Sanctuary lies on 3,700 acres of beautiful western landscape, surrounded by 30,000 additional acres that are leased from the federal government. Nearly 30,000 people visit every year to meet the animals and tour what has become the nation’s largest no-kill sanctuary for companion animals. Learn more about the Sanctuary.
Sally & Pure Snickety Online:
Main Site: http://puresnickety.com
Main Shop: http://shop.puresnickety.com
Backup Blog: http://puresnickety.wordpress.com
Happy Non-GMO Month everyone! Yep, this is such an important issue that it needs a whole month to raise awareness, thus it was created with a mission of empowering shoppers and retailers to make the right decision about food. Now that you know about it you'll see Non-GMO Project seals on many products, especially since over a thousand stores across the US and Canada are celebrating this month.
This month is especially important due to Prop 37 - you've likely spotted lots of "Yes on 37" and "Right to Know" campaign advertisements popping up lately. This ballot measure was created to offer consumers the right to know if their food has been genetically engineered or not via product labels. Written with broad input from food groups, industry, science, legal and health experts it will not affect food prices, requires no new bureaucracy, and will help address health concerns with GMOs - seems like a good idea, and yet many companies are against it and putting loads of money into opposing it (especially Monsanto and DuPont) There are some great videos going around about this that explain it in comprehensive, fun ways, like this celebrity filled ad and this music video.