My Vegan Dog

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Happy world vegan day!

This is my Shiva. She is named after Vandana Shiva, the ecofeminist. Shiva is a rescue and was homeless before the shelter picked her up. Being homeless led her to eat everything. I am serious when I say everything. At one point, I thought I should start playing the lottery because she would poop out paper with numbers on it! Shiva is 16 pounds of loyal cuddling. She is wary of strangers, I think also due to being homeless, but a huge love bug once she decides she loves you. Shiva loves me best despite the reason we got her was because hubby wanted a dog. As a rescue, we are unsure of her breed and would rather spend the money it would take to find out on treats and toys. We think Shiva is part Shiba Inu and part Fox Terrier.

We knew we wanted our dog to be vegan before Shiva picked us at the shelter. We had read enough information about happy and healthy vegan dogs. Shortly after bringing her home we noticed that she would eat anything, cigarette butts, rabbit poop, rotting anything. Bleck. It continues to be frustrating. Due to this terrible habit, no matter our diligence, Shiva developed pancreatitis, an inflammation of the pancreas. We didn’t even know what this was or that it could be very deadly. Twice she has been hospitalized for pancreatitis and other times we have been able to catch it early enough to treat at home. One time I even induced vomiting to make sure she didn’t get sick again.

After the first time, and as we were transitioning her to a vegan diet, our veterinarian recommended she have a very low fat diet to help prevent reoccurrence. Great! A vegan diet is very low in fat. However, every veterinarian has questioned this decision. Really? It’s so frustrating. Shiva is now approximately 14 years old, a senior dog by any standards. She is still happy to go on a long walk every day and gets antsy if the weather prevents a long walk outside for too many days in a row. She shows no signs of arthritis, but has glassy eyes and is losing her hearing. Other than this and continued flair-ups of pancreatitis, she is in great health. Once a dog has pancreatitis, the dog retains a high likelihood of continued problems with the condition. Especially a dog like Shiva that eats everything.

The bonus of her eating everything is that treats are as simple as raw carrots or peanut butter. She runs around our home with excitement when we pull a Kong filled with peanut butter out of the freezer.

Shiva eats V-dog and adores it. I didn’t want to worry about making sure she was getting all the right proportions of nutrients and decided a formulated diet would be easiest. For skeptic veterinarians, this has been a smart choice as I can easily share the nutrition facts and when there have been additional questions, V-dog staff have been great about supplying additional information.

Choosing what to feed everyone in your family is very personal. Some dogs seem to absolutely refuse vegan options. Veterinarians that support vegan dogs feel that a very slow transition is possible for all dogs. For Shiva, she eats everything. A mixed blessing. I hope your fur babies are healthy and bring you lots of joy. I consider my vegan dog another form of activism through everyday choices and she doesn’t mind.

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Vegan Family Vacations

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We all need vacations! Especially parents. And vegan vacations are fantastic. Lots of time focusing on relaxing and not on where to find the next vegan meal. Some cities are better at this than others and sometimes a fully vegan experience is possible (and amazing). I previously wrote about Deer Run B&B in the Florida Keys. Such an incredible trip that included an amazing vegan breakfast each morning. There are other vegan getaways in the United States and across the world. Happy Cow is a great resource for finding such gems. The Stanford Inn by the Sea is on my bucket list!

I was recently approached to talk about family friendly vegan vacations. In general, family holidays that are also vegan can be that much more challenging because when a new layer of sorting is added, fewer choices become available. Luckily, sometimes others have been kind enough to share their research. Here are what look to be six great options.

Sometimes we seek alternatives to family gatherings that normally involve eating animals. For example, this year I am going to Thanksliving at Indraloka animal sanctuary and can’t wait to spend a day with rescued animals, vegans, and great food! Sometimes there are even resorts that meet all these desires; vegan, family friendly, and over a holiday. Really? You bet! I just learned about La Maravilla in Costa Rica. It looks like a wonderful way to be thankful for our vegan lifestyles with our families.

Let me know what vegan holidays you have experienced so I can add them to my bucket list. The photo above is from a trip to Maui many years ago.

Deer Run B&B

2015-01-01 17.16.55.jpgOne of the very best vacations I have ever experienced, especially as a vegan, was at Deer Run Bed & Breakfast on Big Pine Key in Florida. It has been over a year since this vacation, but I still vividly remember the adventure. As soon as I learned years ago there was a vegan B&B in the Keys, this place had been on my bucket list. No one told me about it. There was a small advertisement in Veg News and I was entranced by the idea of supporting veganism in this way. I knew I had to go one day.

For my birthday last year, hubby decided it was time. We flew out to Miami and rented a car. There is a small airport on Key West that is closer to Big Pine Key, the largest island in the Keys, but we started in Miami. Our drive down the one lane each way highway took longer than anticipated, so we were extra excited to arrive. Greeted and hugged, right after sharing we were vegan, by the owner let us know we were definitely in the right place.

Our room was adorable with bright green paint and pillows of fish and turtles. We stayed on the first floor so we could walk right out onto the beach at any moment and our room had a screened-in porch to enjoy the sights and sounds at all times. I love the beach for listening to the water.

2015-01-01 17.33.46.jpg2015-01-01 17.34.59.jpgThe beach was gorgeous and sunsets incredible. We were given bottles to use for filtered water during our stay and a small tour of the grounds to find everything, especially where breakfast would be.

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Big Pine Key is known for its miniature deer that are protected, no hunting. We were advised not to feed the deer, but that they may come to us. One day I actually had a cute deer lick my toe as I was reading in a hammock on the beach. It was fun to hear them exploring at night and there was a small fresh water bowl next to our room that they loved to drink from.

2015-01-01 19.00.43.jpgThe space is incredible, but Deer Run is also known for the mouth watering breakfasts. Each morning we were stuffed with deliciousness. A menu would greet us as we picked our seats at the table. Savory or sweet switched each day and our first morning was a sweet morning.

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After the first morning, we figured out that we could wrap our muffin for lunch and fill up on the main dish of the morning. Especially since we also got a fresh fruit juice or smoothy each morning. So full!

We walked along the beach, biked up the road, and kayaked in the Atlantic. Bikes and kayaks are available for guests. Adventuring the other islands was also accomplished and I have an album of beautiful photos. I highly recommend this marvelous vegan paradise and the food easily gains five out of five vegan cupcakes. If I am lucky, I might get to return to Deer Run one day.

If you get to go, there are no-see-ums that bite. Be prepared and enjoy the view!

Chocolate Warning

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Ugh. The last thing I want to think about is chocolate making me sick. Apparently over 50% of supposedly vegan chocolate could contain a large enough amount of dairy to actually cause a reaction.

http://www.foodnavigator-usa.com/Suppliers2/FDA-finds-some-dark-chocolate-includes-undeclared-milk/?utm_source=newsletter_daily&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=12-Feb-2015&c=ifTHnLnYlytl%2BJh0%2FX2AxbKUAd5WHaVU

One more reason to stick with the vegan chocolates that have a mission of kindness, like Endangered Species or Two Moms In The Raw.

Weight Loss

Even vegans can cary a few extra pounds than they want. Many new vegans loose weight and others are able to maintain healthy weights. The new vegans are often just getting accustomed to the new diets and not fully balancing eating, thus lose weight.

Back to my original thought. Even vegans can desire to lose a few pounds. Especially those of us addicted to more processed vegan foods. I am the first to admit that I could eat fewer processed foods. I lead a hectic life that I love and there are weeks I have less time for cooking. Even with my giant crockpot, I can run out of home-cooked options.

Over a year ago I had to have surgery completely unrelated to my diet or lifestyle. In fact, my diet and lifestyle probably postponed the surgery. Anyway, it was my third one in 10 years and I always gain weight after the surgery. I am less active while I heal and it just happens. I expect it. Within a year I have normally lost the weight again and don’t fret. This least surgery was different. A year later I still didn’t fit into my clothes the way I wanted. There were just extra pounds on me that I didn’t like.

I already exercise most days and eat as healthy as I can afford and make time for. So, what was wrong? I decided to try something different. I started using a Jawbone and its UP app on my phone. Through these tools, I figured out I was not moving as much as I thought, eating too many carbs, not enough protein, and not sleeping as well as I thought. Well, these are all things I can easily change now that I have the information.

I still don’t consume as much protein as meat eaters, but I’m healthy. For the first couple weeks I struggled with increasing my protein, but figured it out. Lots of quinoa and beans. Almonds in a hurry.

I’m down five pounds and fitting back into most of my clothes. I don’t want to buy new clothes, so my goal is to wear what I have. A few more pounds and I will be able to wear everything again. This feels good. The weight loss has been very gradual and thus healthy. No one has even noticed but me. Just what I wanted.

If on a similar journey, there are free ways to start figuring out what is needed to change. There are many smartphone apps that can help you measure your food intake and exorcise output, such as MyFitnessPal. There are apps to help measure sleep and heart beat. Even apps to measure your walking/running/biking distance. Even just journaling all your activity and eating can help shed light onto where small changes could be make to help reach a weight loss goal.

Weight loss is never easy and I can get a little cranky during the process. But, I feel so much better when I look into my closet and have lots options on things I can wear. Good luck on your journey!

Try New Things

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I love trying new things. New things are not always perfect, but I have fun trying and sometimes the new thing is incredible. The photo above is is of a carton of water that I was given instead of a bottle. Very cool idea. Cardboard is much easier to recycle than plastic. I had a little trouble opening the carton, but drinking water was a whole new experience and I loved it.

Being vegan encourages me to continue to try new things. Over the years so many new options have become available and I want to try it all. Sometimes they are not all great and I don’t eat them again and other times something becomes part of my regular diet. It’s fun for me and I don’t mind sharing what I think about different items on this blog. Hopefully you all like reading about my opinions. In real life, I mostly keep my opinions to myself. Others see and know my excitement about trying new things, but I usually keep my mouth shut so everyone can decide for themselves. This and the fact that non-vegans seem to have no trouble sharing their opinions about my diet. I try hard not to be like them.

With all this said, last night I got to be one of the first people to try Isa Chandra Moskowitz‘s new restaurant, Modern Love in Omaha, Nebraska. When I moved to Omaha I had no idea that Isa lived here and was quite surprised. She is a nice person and truly loves vegan food. We, the vegans in Omaha, have been anxiously waiting for her first restaurant to open for a long time. Almost two years ago the rumors began and then about a year ago a location was selected. Now, we eat! I will share all about it in my regular Monday post, but there are a few teasers in Twitter from last night. @aneverydayvegan

Happy trying new things!

Hemp Hearts

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I have recently been exercising more and need a little more protein in my diet. A larger blog post coming soon about this, once I figure more out about myself. One thing I have added to my diet is hemp. Hemp is high in protein and adds a nutty flavor. I only sprinkle it on top of things so far and Manatoba Harvest tastes better than others I have tried. If looking to add protein and omegas, this is a nice way to do so.

Feedback

I need some feedback. For over a year I have been fairly religious in sharing every week and have followers (super cool – thank you all for being awesome!). But, the viewing has been falling off. Maybe it’s the insanely cold winter we have had in the states.

  • I started this blog to have a place to point to when people have questions and it has been great for that.
  • I have posted most of my favorite recipes and shared my new ones that tasted good.
  • Although I really enjoy writing this blog, it does take time.
  • Should I keep going?
  • Should I drop to one post a week?
  • Instead of having a goal of two posts a week, should I just post when I have something that inspires me to share?

What are your thoughts?

I am traveling this week, so it is a good time to ponder.

Thank you for reading and thank you for being vegan!

Moo Shoes

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I have been reading about and exploring the website of Moo Shoes for years. Every time I needed a new pair of shoes, I would covet something from this vegan shoe store. But, I have never bought anything. I don’t like buying shoes without trying them on. I know, it’s a problem.

When I found out I would be in NYC for a few days, I had to pilgrimage! And this place is around the corner from Babycakes, so the destination was an easy choice.

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Walls of vegan shoes, belts, and handbags! All made with fair wages and in fabrics that move like animal based fabrics. It was a real treat to finally experience this store.

Stocking Stuffers

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Who doesn’t love to stuff their stockings with treats? There has to be a better way to say that. Seriously, what an odd idea. But I’m the first person to say “ME!!!” I love stuffed stockings on Christmas morning and I don’t let being vegan persuade me otherwise. Instead of the cheap non-vegan candy that I got as a kid, I go pick out some really wonderful yummies that I drool over until Christmas morning. This year we have two different kinds of truffles and six different kinds of glutent-free cookies. Yum! I have also filled my stockings with nuts, fruit, small games, ornaments for the tree, and other little trinkets that are fun to unveil once a year. Maybe I need to do this more than once a year?

Now I’m off to try and forget that I have delicious treats to try next week.