"Since the beginning of time, humans have shown innate ability to take something good and make it way better. This action has improved the lives of generations."
The statement above (from the Way Better Snacks website) reminded me that we have the capacity to make a big change for the better at any moment, especially when we work together. I write this a day after the tragedy in Connecticut, which took the lives of many innocent children and adults. This event left the whole country, if not the world, in a state of shock and sadness, in a period of time that is meant for joy and celebration amongst family and friends. I've picked up two major points from conversations online and in person: people are ready to do something to prevent tragedy and they're making it a priority to cherish their loved ones. But I wonder, why does it take tragedy to come to these realizations?
Can you believe today is the last day of November?! I sure can’t. The holidays are in full swing and I hope you had a magnificent Thanksgiving. Check out this video if you’re curious what delicious plant-based cuisine I feasted on; my meal was epic! My favorite dishes were Jason Wrobel’s Shiitake Kabocha Quinoa (recipe coming soon) and Justin Feldman’s Cornbread Stuffing - mmmm mmm mmm!!
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
One of the biggest reasons people decide to adapt a plant-based diet is to prevent or reverse disease. Diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, cancer are unfortunate wake-up calls to a toxic lifestyle. Fortunately there are endless cases of people healing entirely simply by changing the way they eat. Some of the most powerful stories are from celebrities, like Bill Clinton, Rosie O’Donnell and Suzanne Somers - their journeys have influenced many people to take a look at their own decisions and habits and make life-changing choices.
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.
I first "met" Laeticia while looking for writers to contribute to Greenwala's food channel, where she eventually became a regular contributer of wonderful articles. Some time later she reached out to me when I was looking for a place to stay in Baltimore during Expo East, and I ended up crashing on her cozy coach and finally meeting her in person. I realized then that I had only scratched the surface of how amazing Laeticia was - we instantly sparked a friendship and found so much in common while I was in town. Her commitment to health, veganism, writing, business and family really impressed me, as did her generosity; clearly, she deserved to be a featured viewer!
I'm thrilled to introduce you to all that Laeticia Butler is - her story is one that many will relate to and feel inspired by. It's best shared in her own words:
In 2008 when my son was just one month old, I began having health issues. I couldn’t turn my head to the left, my index finger was swollen like a sausage, and I had to use my hands to lift my left leg to get in and out of bed. Taking care of my son was a constant challenge. The mere graze across my finger caused agonizing pain and I went nearly a year without using it at all.
I had gone to countless doctors without results. Having a professional in the medical community call you a “mystery” is usually not something you want to hear. With all of my test results coming in normal, the best they could come up with was Rheumatoid Arthritis. After surgery to remove inflammation from my finger, the pain had spread into my foot. I could no longer wear closed shoes and was at the end of my pain threshold. I had agreed to start taking medication for arthritis which was to include a self-administered injection once a week for the rest of my life.
I was within two weeks of beginning this new medicated life that I saw Alicia Silverstone appear on Oprah speaking about her vegan lifestyle and her book “The Kind Diet”. A few days later, I read a post on Dr. Mercola’s Facebook page addressing the severe side effects caused my arthritis medications. I responded with concerns stating that I was to begin treatments and was contacted by many people all of whom shared the same advice, “change your diet”. Immediately, I went to the store and purchased Silverstone’s book and read it cover to cover in a few short hours. When I closed the book, I said out loud, “that’s it, I am going vegan”.
I decided to make it official by doing what anyone would do, I announced my new lifestyle on Facebook. Immediately friends started asking me to keep a blog so they could track my progress to see if my newfound diet would really have an impact on my life. I of course accepted. As someone that has always enjoyed writing, this task was one that I was eager to take on.
It was then that I was introduced to Eco Vegan Gal. One woman that was a follower of Dr. Mercola contacted me and told me that she had healed her arthritis naturally and that I should follow Eco Vegan Gal. And so I did….
Not only did I transition to a compassionate diet, I began to incorporate more exercise into my life and it was at a vegan meet up dinner that I was approached with the challenge to run a 5K in the effort to raise money for animals that were cared for at a local animal sanctuary. At this point, I was about seven months into my vegan life. Within three months, my foot pain had reversed and healed completely. My neck healed, my leg healed and I became able to live a life that I had thought was going to be nothing but limited.
Although I was healing gradually, I stilled endured pain and the training was no easy task. My knee was sometimes painful and my hands still on the swollen side. But I was determined to make a change. I had come this far and wasn’t about to give up. After running in grooling weather and working hard to reach my goal, I completed my first 5K in the spring of 2010 and realized quickly that I was hooked. If I could achieve this, what more could I do?
I went on to compete in my first half marathon the winter of 2011 and I am now training for my first full marathon to be completed in November of 2012. It hasn’t been easy, and to be honest, I am nowhere near where I want or need to be. My health still isn’t 100% and I am working on figuring out the kinks of what needs to be corrected, but boy have I come a long way.
Through my constant research, I discovered my complete ignorance to animal cruelty and suffering along with the negative effects that an animal based diet has on our world and our health. I have worked hard to teach my son why we don’t eat animals and I strive to spread the word to anyone that will listen.
Eco Vegan Gal was not only an amazing source of knowledge concerning all things vegan; she was very inspirational in my writing and presented me with my first writing gig which had taken me down a path that I never expected. I had no idea that people were actually listening to what I had to say or that anyone was even reading my posts.
Gradually I was approached by others looking to improve their lives. So many people have contacted me and said that I have been motivational in their decision to start running or eating healthier. Others have asked for fitness advice or solutions to altering their diet even if just for one day a week. My desire to help others evolve has grown magnificently, and for that I make sure to thank the universe often that I was given the gift of illness. Without it, my life would have never changed. I never would have grown as a person or been able to help others. I wouldn’t have begun a writing career which has flourished or met so many amazing people.
Sometimes the things we think are the worst in our lives turn out to be the most amazing gifts we could have received. I am still in the midst of my great journey and welcome anyone that would like to join me for the ride.
Check out my favorite Eco Vegan Gal video for some motivation to make change!
Business Site: Cloud 9 Raw Chocolate
Click here to read about past Featured Viewers - a fantastic group of people, each with their own inspiring stories.
In the following video I explain:
- what seed sprouting is and the health benefits,
- the difference between seed sprouting and green sprouting,
- why green sprouting has caused some foodborne illness breakouts and how to avoid them,
- whether cooking sprouted foods effects the nutritional value,
- and an introduction to the new EvG sponsor: Way Better Snacks
When Rachel popped up on my social media feed I immediately noticed her radiance - everything about her emits happiness and thus I always look forward to seeing her posts. Especially on Instagram - all of her photos are very inspiring and passionate. Rachel makes healthy living look easy, breezy and beautiful; call that cheesey, but it's true! I love the story of how she and her husband discovered holistic health, the plant-based diet and found a way to support themselves through teaching others about the power and benefits of non-toxic products.
Here's more about Rachel in her own words:
I'm a happily-married 25 year old with a mission to spread the word about holistic health to the world! I'm a professional massage therapist who has left my hands-on daily work to achieve dreams bigger than I could have ever imagined just a few years ago. My husband and best friend, Joe, was diagnosed with Crohn's Disease in 2010. We had no health insurance and were a prime example of a couple who lived off of the Standard American Diet (S.A.D.)! Our newleywed life had dramatically changed overnight and we were in desperate need of a solution and began doing our own research daily. We started learning just how toxic conventional food, health-care products, beatuty products, home-cleaning products, and the enviornment really are! We decided at that time to leave Las Vegas and move to beautiful Northern California. When we moved we got rid of most everything we owned to live a truly clean and minimalistic lifestyle and to start over with only safe, non-toxic products. Shortly after our move we were introduced to a plant-based diet and dōTERRA Essential Oils. The combination has completely changed our lives for the better! Joe has been symptom free for over 8 months now and has regained the weight that he had lost during the first year of struggling with Crohn's. I have thankfully lost the unwanted weight that I had carried my entire life and am now feeling better than ever both physically and emotionally. With this newfound health and purpose, Joe and I decided we want to reach out and help others around the world by inspiring them to learn more about holistic health and how powerful our bodies really are. We are grateful to have the opportunity to earn our income while traveling together by sharing the Certified Pure Therapuetic Grade essential oils that we love and use daily. We are excited to see where this beautiful path leads us and who's lives we will make an impact on!
I just happened to start following Eco-Vegan Gal right when I needed her inspiration and plant-based lifestyle information the most at the very beginning of 2012! My husband and I never planned on sticking to this way of eating we were just trying something new and absolutely fell in love with how our bodies felt eating this way. I continue to follow her daily because of how personable she is and because she always covers the topics that matter to me the most! My very favorite EvG video is: "How Life Meaning and Goals Relate to Living Healthy and Green". This video has inspired me and my dreams immensely! "Call it optimistic or naiive but I feel that life is just limitless"
Business Site/Online Store: http://mydoterra.com/healthtruth
Business Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/DailyHealthTruth
I'm really honored to hear that Rachel started following EvG at the very beginning of her journey - it's really wonderful to be along from the whole ride and I love seeing how she and Joe progress.
Click here to read about past Featured Viewers - a fantastic group of people, each with their own inspiring stories.
It might seem strange to do an article on gaining weight when most people are concerned with losing it, but I've received several questions from women and men who are struggling to keep weight on the plant-based diet. I don't have any experience with this personally (aside from writing this article for veg men), so I turned to my friend Junghwa Chung Detlefsen (whose name you may recognize from some videos) for advice because she has dealt with and overcome this challenge. She wrote up a great piece entitled, "Gaining My Health Back to Life The Vegan Way":
While watching a TED talk this evening I heard a line that really impacted me: "studies have shown that compassion enhances the immune system." This comes as no surprise, but I immediately started researching it online to find out more.
The data originated from Emory Collaborative for Contemplative Studies, where researchers discovered that individuals who engage in compassion meditation (a deep focus on interactions with others and feelings of empathy) may benefit by reductions in inflammatory and behavioral responses to stress. Here's a great summary of the study, taken from Family Health Guide:
When events in life leave us stressed, cortisol and interleukin-6 usually increase, especially if the situations are long-lasting and we cannot shake off the stress. But compassion meditation buffers the effects of stressful life situations, not only psychologically by making us feel better, but also physically by reducing the actual biological agents of potential illness in our bodies, thereby protecting us from illness.
Meditiation in general can change brain structure within two months and is a great way to set your intentions for the day to treat people and animals with love and respect. If so many positive changes can occur from meditiation, imagine how much of an impact physical acts of compassion have on our bodies. On the other hand, stress and anger have been found to have the exact opposite effect and result in heart problems, cancer, depression and beyond.
Compassion comes in many forms and enhances our lives and those around us. That is why it is one of the driving forces behind people who go out of their way to take care of the environment and animals. How wonderful to know that it can lead to physical health as well.
What forms of compassion have you been demonstrating lately?
I designed the above image to spread around social media because I feel this is such a powerful piece of information - please feel free to share it with anyone who could benefit from the inspiration. This was a modification done without permission using a popular image by Don Farrall.