Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Raw Vegan 101: Straightening Out "Diet" Misconceptions and My True Mission

I'll get back to my scheduled Raw Vegan 101 programing this time next week. First I wanted to clear the air about why I'm writing this series. I occasionally sound like I'm evangelizing raw veganism as the "only way" to healthy body heaven, that's not my intent. That was me attempting a fun writing style on- what's to many, a boring-ass topic. I want to get to the root of why I choose to share "raw vegan'' recipes and information on Thrift Core. With embarrassing old photos! Lookie:

Dear god, those under-eye bags though. Wasn't kidding when I said I don't sleep. Next hurdle to clear...

First of all, I don't diss meat eaters or say that it's unhealthy to eat eggs, dairy, or beast of land and sea. There are plenty of healthy omnivores. My boyfriend, roommate, and family all eat meat- no one I know in my personal life outside of my co-workers at the lovely raw vegan kitchen I part-time at are vegan. Just putting that out there, I'm not trying to convert the unwilling- especially if you're healthy. I feel it's especially important for the meat/dairy/eggs we eat to be ethically sourced because America's meat-processing is filthy and hormone/chemical-laden, but we do the best we can.

Yesterday's lunch. Smoothie and popcorn. I mix raw and cooked, haven't found the best way to feed yet. 

I get resistance for these posts and in day-to-day conversations on my lifestyle. I'll hear stories about your friend's grandpa, the 110-year-old lumberjack with chiseled abs that smokes 2 packs a day, washes with gunpowder, thrives on a diet of bacon grease and farts spring daisies. Well, if that bacon grease is from ethically sourced pigs it's a whole food and it's better than living off Doritos. Seriously. The problem is not meat, eggs, and cheese, the real problem is the mass production of it and heavily processed food with less nutritional value than it had 40 years ago.

My twin older bros (yes, biological, frequently asked childhood question). I'm 9, they're 14. Slim & Healthy, we didn't eat perfectly but did eat less processed food.

I stand by plant foods being healing inside and out. If you can't shed weight, often feel sick or sluggish, this may be what you need. It does not need to be raw, cooked will help, too. My mission is to inspire others to put some more plants in their life to feel/live healthier.

Me, 11ish with my mom (woman with her arms around me) and her friends. Still a string-bean.

There is no universally agreed-upon way to eat healthfully in science circles and different camps will hotly debate it. I want to bring up stats I've read about the American diet being lower in nutrition, causing us to overeat because we are seeking the nutrients we're missing, or how we're 20 lbs heavier than we were on average since the 1970s, but those can be backed up by anything else someone dredges up from the web and turn into a zero sum game. But think about it: diet books were hard to find before the 1980s.

My bros and I on ample processed food. What happened? Aaaah! Arms crossed over my middle in conscious I-gained-weight-don't-look teenage fashion. We'd continue to gain from here. I'm about 14 here, bros about 19. I know you gain as you age but this was not healthy weight gain.

This is why I choose to write from my experience. When I was 14 I abruptly switched to a mostly processed food diet. I guzzled more Mountain Dew Code Red than water. In the months that followed I gained weight rapidly, was often sick with a cold and began to develop debilitating back pain. When I couldn't walk without limping like an octogenarian, hand on my arched back, mom took me to the emergency room. I was poked, urine/blood-tested and x-rayed. The doctor pointed to cloudy miasma in my lower torso on the x-ray and said that it was stool. 

Yep, TMI, sorry. I hadn't crapped in who knows how long because I was eating nothing but junk and I was lucky my body gave me a sign quickly! I was so congested from processed food I could barely move without feeling sharp pain. Others don't receive any (or ignore) daily pains, eat poorly for years then bam- heart attack!  The doctor didn't discuss diet. He didn't tell my mom to make more salads, he prescribed castor oil and that was that. The answer was simple and delicious: plants! 


Left: I try to add as many veggies into my day as possible Right: I still eat cooked vegan treats occasionally. I go back and forth between fully and partly raw.

I wrote about my journey to healthy food/weight loss in detail, but to recap, adding as more plants and water to my diet helped me finally lose a stubborn thirty pounds and feel much healthier. I'm rarely sick, rarely have pains. I stand by the plants! They are my friends, I will eat them and roll around in a field of them and hug them and murder their brethren so they may heal my insides. I'm not trying to come at you as a holier-than-thou figure or make you feel guilty for your food choices. I was there, I loved my delicious frozen dinners, soda and nearly-daily hamburgers and paid the price for it. I still have weight to lose from those times. I just want to share what helped me and inspire others than need help, too. You don't have to cut everything you enjoy cold turkey, in fact that rarely works. It's all about moderation and adding healthy alternatives, and I shall continue to share those alternatives and tips here on Thrift Core.

Note: I feel you can be healthy/happy at any size. I was decently confident 165- but hated taking photos. I'm the same size in these side-by-sides, definitely look bigger on right, right? Taking photos was unpredictable. Now I don't fear the camera! When I set out on my veggie eating journey my goal was to get healthy, the weight loss was incidental.

But of course, I'd love to hear YOUR thoughts on what's work for you. Thrift Core is a not a podium for me to prosthelatize, it's a forum from discussion and you teach me, too. Would love for us to discuss ways to be healthy frugally in the comments. And if you think I'm wrong, feel free to let me know. I will listen.

I usually turn comments off on these posts because no one comments on them so I don't see the point of allowing conversation but I would love to start one, do discuss what works for you or ask any questions below.

The Raw Vegan 101 Series: 
Part 1) What is it and Why is it Good for You?
 + Another Raw Info Post
Part 2) My Raw Routines, FAQ, and Tips to Stick to It (April 1)
Part 3) Essential Raw Vegan Tools, Books, and Resources (April 8)
Part 4) Pantry Staples for Creating any Dish you Crave Rawfully (April 15)
Part 5) Adding More Raw Healthfulness to Your Diet On-The-Cheap (April 22)

Extra) Straightening Out Misconceptions and My True Mission You Are Here
Daily thrifting updates, information, & Inspiration: Follow Thrift Core on Twitter and Facebook.

24 comments:

  1. I was a vegetarian for about 9 years. Mostly because a highschool boyfriend pamphleted me into submission! But i was a french fry/mozzarella stick/pizza vegetarian. I was the youngest, and my folks never really pushed me to eat my vegetables as a kid, and i had free reign over the food whenever i pleased. Needless to say immediatly after highschool i put on ALOT of weight. Add into that heavy drinking, and it makes for a pretty terrible combination health-wise. I got bronchitis like 5 times a year, and had a lot of problems with my stomach, as well as lower back issues (your Xray story cracked me up because i wouldn't doubt that that was my issue as well!) I started eating meat again because I'm Italian and can't live life without salami. Fast forward to 2008. My job had a fitness challenge with a cash prize and i decided to join. They had weight watchers at work free to us, and we had access to a free gym in our building. WHile i wouldn't reccomend weight watchers to everyone, for me it really helped me keep track of all the junk i put in my face. It's a huge eye opener to see on paper how many fund raiser candy bars you bought at work that week! I lost 40 lbs and won first place! Since then, i have definitely fell off the track and reverted back to my bad habits (that's a lifetime of processed food addiction to fight!) But in the last 2+ years i've commited to a whole foods healthy eating lifestyle. I try to get organic and locally sourced animal products, although this is not always possible money wise. I cook 99.9% of my meals and snacks from scratch so i always know whats going into my body. If i want suger, heavy cream, butter etc. i have it. Just not bucket loads of it. Overall these days i'd say i eat more fruit and veggies than i EVER did when i was a vegetarian, and always have full fat dairy and avoid artificial sweeteners like the plague. I'm maintaining a healthy weight, and at this point i feel like i've lost the cravings for processed food altogether. even though i have no intention of going raw vegan, i am really intrigued by the desserts and am trying my hand at preparing some. They always look so fruity and delicious! So keep up the raw vegan recipes, because i am always looking for new and interesting healthy meal ideas!

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    1. The deserts are easy to convert people on because they're just as sweet and more delicious than the processed ones I remember. Once your 'taste-buds change' the candy you remember is horrible, most of the processed sweet-food I liked tastes stale now. Save for any gummy-candy!

      It really is all about finding what works for =you= personally, moderation, and staying as whole as possible. Thanks for sharing your story! Glad I'm not the only one with the high school exponential weight gain and lower back problems- you may have been in the same bought, that's exactly where I was hurting. Had to resist writing "I was full of shit- literally" in the post, bahaha. :D

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    2. Oh and speaking of which I hear a lot of these junk food vegetarian stories. "Vegan" and "Vegetarian" is not synonymous with healthy for sure! Expect many delicious desert recipes soon, I love how easy/healthy they are.

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  2. I was a vegetarian for about 9 years. Mostly because a highschool boyfriend pamphleted me into submission! But i was a french fry/mozzarella stick/pizza vegetarian. I was the youngest, and my folks never really pushed me to eat my vegetables as a kid, and i had free reign over the food whenever i pleased. Needless to say immediatly after highschool i put on ALOT of weight. Add into that heavy drinking, and it makes for a pretty terrible combination health-wise. I got bronchitis like 5 times a year, and had a lot of problems with my stomach, as well as lower back issues (your Xray story cracked me up because i wouldn't doubt that that was my issue as well!) I started eating meat again because I'm Italian and can't live life without salami. Fast forward to 2008. My job had a fitness challenge with a cash prize and i decided to join. They had weight watchers at work free to us, and we had access to a free gym in our building. WHile i wouldn't reccomend weight watchers to everyone, for me it really helped me keep track of all the junk i put in my face. It's a huge eye opener to see on paper how many fund raiser candy bars you bought at work that week! I lost 40 lbs and won first place! Since then, i have definitely fell off the track and reverted back to my bad habits (that's a lifetime of processed food addiction to fight!) But in the last 2+ years i've commited to a whole foods healthy eating lifestyle. I try to get organic and locally sourced animal products, although this is not always possible money wise. I cook 99.9% of my meals and snacks from scratch so i always know whats going into my body. If i want suger, heavy cream, butter etc. i have it. Just not bucket loads of it. Overall these days i'd say i eat more fruit and veggies than i EVER did when i was a vegetarian, and always have full fat dairy and avoid artificial sweeteners like the plague. I'm maintaining a healthy weight, and at this point i feel like i've lost the cravings for processed food altogether. even though i have no intention of going raw vegan, i am really intrigued by the desserts and am trying my hand at preparing some. They always look so fruity and delicious! So keep up the raw vegan recipes, because i am always looking for new and interesting healthy meal ideas!

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  3. I agree with what you've said. My husband is vegetarian because of the horrors of the meat industry. My kids and I eat a little meat and we've been trying to only get stuff from local ethical farms--much easier here in Asheville. Also, the environmental consequences of our high meat diet are bad! The land cannot sustain the amount of livestock it takes to produce the average American diet. Meat is about to get super expensive in the near future. The beauty of human kind, and also one of the reasons we are able to survive so well, is the wide variety of our diet. We can live healthily off many things---yea!! That being said, sugar is my downfall and I love soda---dayum you junk food! Oh, and chocolate--sheesh--gonna have to give it up soon and go fair trade. Trying to wrap my brain around that sacrifice.

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    1. Oh, I left that out, I was a soda ADDICT. I drank it more than water, maybe a liter a day? Especially when I got a part time job at the movie theatre where the cherry coke was free. Now it tastes stale and fake to me. It's easy to replace/cut-out. I'll be sharing easy/tasty raw vegan chocolates, too. They are so damn easy to make.

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  4. As a reformed former chubster, I think that at the core of your post there was a great message for everybody- we don't eat enough of what's good for us, and too much of what isn't. That message applies to everyone! The most hlepful thing I do to watch my weight is to always eat my veggies first. Fill up on the good stuff! Especially if you have kids- these are habits they'll have forever!

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    1. Same here. Fill up on the good stuff and there's little room for the bad. I want to teach my nieces/nephews/brothers next, I can see the affects processed food is having on them. It's like watching teenage-me but worse. Yikes! This generation moves far less with the advances in technology, I used to play outside 'til sunset, my neices/nephews play nothing but video games. Kids these days *shakes cane*....

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  5. I think you are definitely onto something, but my fat cells seem to be holding onto meat for dear life. I think I could go vegetarian but love hot soups so don't think I would be able to do 100% raw. Thanks for sharing your story! PS you were beautiful at all sizes

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    1. I actually wouldn't recommend raw to most, it just works for me because I've always been a one-pot cook so a one-blender meal is heaven for my lazy self! (Though you can warm a "raw" soup in the blender or microwave.) My mom was on a high-protein diet of meat and veggies and lost weight on it, there are plenty of ways to eat healthy without being raw. Wanted to get that across since I accidentally sounded like I preached raw as the only way in past posts :) Thanks for the kind words.

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  6. I have been a vegetarian for 34 years. My husband has been a vegetarian since the day he met me 20 years ago. And both of my kids have never had meat (ages 7 and 10). I stopped eating meat at a time when you couldn't even buy tofu or vegetarian products at the store. Thankfully, my mom was a chef, and she made homemade tofu. We joke around that my son did try some meat once...He was feeding our cat and when he popped off the lid, a piece of the meat dripping flicked off into his mouth. Wow, was he ever grossed out! He said, "if that's what meat tastes like, why do people eat it?" Its funny when people ask what I eat...What do they think I eat, tree bark? BTW, it took some guts to post old pics of you. You looked great then, but I know how we can all be our own worst enemies.

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    1. I love the mindset of kids that were raised on healthy diets, if I ever had kids I'd raise 'em processed-food-free. A lot of parents get flack for that, often called cruel for "denying" kids conventional cookies and candy!? haha ;p And yes many think vegetarians/vegans eat nothing but tree park with peanut butter spread on it. I can't imagine making the switch in the days were it was very hard to find unprocessed ingredients for vegan/vegetarian meals. So awesome that your mom's a chef!

      I swear I look bigger in that shot than I was o_O I am still unphotogenic but was especially so at that time being 30-lbs overweight. (I was the same size as I was in this more flattering photo here: http://bit.ly/1m6kCAz) I was confident but did hate my photo being taken, now I don't mind. Excited to continue healing junk food damage and get smaller/healthier. :D

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  7. Oh Lord God I came at the wrong time. How about this.....I'm sick to death of having to fucking do side-note's every damn time I say i'm vegan. How about that? How about I get sick of all of us saying, "I'm not saying eating meat is bad for you or that your a bad person and blah blahhhhh." You know what forget it, it is bad for you. Its cruel and (AND) bad for the environment. Today right now i'm tired and sick to death of having to be the nice guy. You want to mindlessly live your life well who am I to get in the way of your freakin American dream. GAHHHHHHHHHHHH! I've been fighting with crossfit paleo eaters all day and i'm just sick to death and tired so very tired. As for you Ms. Van don't feel like you have to explain yourself. Your doing a fantastic job putting the information out there without having to explain yourself. And if anyone gave you crap well then let me show them the r/vegan forum on reddit. They'll think you're the easter bunny and santa claus rolled into one when the vegans there get done with them. And I apologize for this comment which I will more than likely regret by tomorrow. Its just been a really crappy week and it kinda hurts my heart to see you having to do a "but its me not you," type of post. You rock, don't forget that. PS I gave up eggs a couple weeks ago, WTH was I thinking? Trying to conform to a new group is what I was doing. Boo me

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    1. Thanks Kari. I get some flack but it's minimal compared to the amount of people that are inspired but what I write. I've ran into people who said they bought a vitamix or use my recipes and it's awesome, so the more I can make this approachable, the better. You catch more flies with honey than vinegar and all that, though I loved reading and relate to your rant ;D The rough draft of this was different. I do regret leaving out, "I was full of shit!" though 'cause I was and it's slightly hilarious over a decade later.

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  8. Hi Van, I'm glad you've made such a healthy change. I wish I could say the same but I have improved in the past few years. I think I've mentioned to you before about the Daniel Fast/Diet, which basically restricts you to only vegetables, fruits, oils, grains, nuts/lentils, and water only to drink. It's really not meant to be a long-term diet but every year when I go on the Daniel Fast, the weight literally falls off, I feel better overall, and eat less yet still feel satisfied. The most difficult thing I have found about eating healthy is the concerted effort of meal planning. Cooking isn't so hard, it's the prep work and planning you have to do to make sure you have the ingredients and food necessary for a whole meal. It's super easy to pick something up on the way home from work that take a little time the night before to plan a meal out, I'm guilty of this too often.

    However, I love whole food, less processed way of eating much better and it tastes so much better than what's currently offered at most stores and even restaurants. Please continue to share healthy living tips and recipes please!

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    1. Will do :D Thanks for sharing your story, I need to look into the Daniel Fast. Whenever I go on my favorite detox weight falls off, I have a normal sleeping schedule (normally I have trouble getting to sleep) and feel very healthy. But the weight comes back eventually so I've decided to stop for now, it's good for health by hate the yo-yoing.

      The prep part is definitely hard, will continue to share tips on that and keeping a kitchen/pantry ready for healthy eating as I learn them from work and experience.

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  9. Preach it van! My husband and I went vegan over a year ago and I've never felt better. I lost almost 50 lbs and my constant foot and knee pain vanished . Ill never go back!

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    1. Hell yeah, Rae, that is awesome! I love how healing eating this way is. I used to get headaches on-and-off, had a persistent break-out and digestion pain- all long gone now. Very good incentive to never go back.

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  10. I've been a vegetarian for 4 years and went vegan in January. Guess what... I no longer break out at all. It's so awesome. I don't miss it and I don't think I will ever go back.

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    1. Good for you! Dairy is definitely a hormone disrupter because it causes break-outs for a lot of people every time!

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I love reading your comments. Thank you for adding to the discussion! I always reply to any and all questions.

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