My path to Vegan

Long time no post !

I would like to detail my path to going vegan, why I did it, how I am doing it, and answering some of the questions that even I had when I started out.

Let me start by saying that I never was Obsessed with eating meat… I ate it quite often don’t get wrong, but I sort of craved more of the pizza, or cheesey foods than chicken or fish. I never ate fish, or any kind of seafood, until I was 18 years old and I traveled to Thailand. After that I became obsessed with anything seafood related.

I found that chicken tasted like whatever you put on it. Steak was hard on my stomach to digest. 

I never in a thousand years would have thought I would go vegan… not once.

Ok so why did I, how did it all start?

Many reasons, many ways !

1. I have had really bad “acid reflux” since I can remember. I put it in quotes because that’s just what doctors have called it. That and GERD. What I have is different though… I actually throw up whatever I eat into my mouth and have to re swallow it about 60-150 times a day.. depending on what I eat. Sometimes, if what I eat is spicy, it will burn my throat. Most of the time my food comes back up fine and tastes the exact same as the first time I ate it. This causes embarrassment for obvious reasons, but also because it makes my breath smell horrible! Doctors told me for years that I had too much stomach acid, they had me in the hospital getting all kinds of tests, even a PH test where I walked around with a tube down my nose for over 24 hours. I was on pills that reduced the acid in my stomach and they made me feel even worse !

It wasn’t until I went to a naturopath doctor (because I felt I had exhausted all other avenues) where I figured out, hey, I don’t have ENOUGH stomach acid ! All these pills to cut down my stomach acid made me feel even worse because they were adding to the problem ! When you have too little stomach acid and your body is trying to digest your food, it has to go into overtime crushing the contents of your stomach. This causes an uncomfortable feeling and some gases. All this moving and crushing causes the sphincter at the top of your stomach to briefly open, shooting food up into your mouth… Once I found this out my life got a lot easier.. I began to chew my food way more, made better choices on what foods I should eat etc., and just became more aware of what I was putting in my mouth. It gave me a new outlook on “health”.

2. While in Vietnam on holidays I went to a local restaurant and ordered chicken curry. It was absolutely delicious ! It was so good that we decided to go back to the same place the next night for dinner ! I ordered the exact same thing. When I got my curry it looked a little different. Long story short, I ate most of the curry before realizing there wasn’t any chicken in it. It wasn’t until I got the curry down that I realized the cook had put a chickens sternum and rib cage only in my bowl. That’s right… just the bones with very little chicken flesh on it, dropped into my bowl. For someone not used to eating such “real” chicken parts, I was disgusted and avoided all meat for the rest of my vacation.

Then what happened?

So after being grossed out I started to look a little further into eating animals. Everyone knows to an extent where their food comes from, but they don’t think much more about it (until it shows up with a body in your bowl of curry). I decided to go Vegetarian after my trip to Vietnam. I actually was very close to a vegan 5 days a week ! Then on weekends I would binge and eat smokies around the camp fire, had some burgers with cheese. I let this happen for a while thinking it was OK. I remember very vividly, it was Wednesday July 26, 2017 and my parents came over to my house for dinner. Since this was a week day I was not supposed to be eating meat, but we ended up making cheddar smokies for dinner. When they left I felt so guilty that I broke my vegetarian/vegan half-ass streak.

I had been watching health food documentaries about why meat and dairy isn’t healthy for you, and I loved them. I had heard about the documentary Earthlings but I was too scared to watch it, I knew I could not deal with what it was about. The day after my parents came over for dinner I sat myself down, and as half punishment and half to scare myself to stick to my vegetarianism, I watched Earthlings. The 1.5 hour documentary took me about 4.5 hours to finish because I needed a lot of breaks. My heart broke. And I never ate meat again after that. It worked !

I had fun with being a vegetarian

It is so much fun to find new recipes, new things you can’t believe you lived without before. When Thanksgiving came around I wanted to find something I could make and bring to eat, but also to share with others. I found that Portobello mushrooms had very similar texture and look to meat so I decided to check out recipes for those. What I found were very scary looking recipes with beans, and lentils and all these foods I had never cooked with before. But I found an easy recipe for spinach dip and decided to make Spinach Dip stuffed Portobello Mushrooms. They were DELICIOUS and a huge hit. I continued to make these for a while, being my new favorite meal.

The switch to Vegan Was slow

I tried very hard, even after watching Earthlings, to stop eating Cheese and dairy. I have never been a big fan of drinking milk, I could not remember the last time that I did. It was the cheese and the cream cheese and the coffee creamer that got me. I was walking around the grocery store one day and found these vegan chicken strips and fish sticks. Brought them home and fell in love ! I then tried vegan hot dogs, vegan hamburgers… hey this was getting delicious. So I decided to try a “hazelnut dairy free coffee creamer” and I was hooked !

It was harder for me to cook without dairy. How could I eat out if I didn’t eat cheese?

Around this time of not eating meat I found I had a ton of energy 

I had never had this much energy in my entire life… I actually bought a gym membership for a month, and then a year… I couldn’t stop going. I went 6 days a week. I started doing cardio and lifting weights. I started to see the belly pouch I had for the last 7 years disappear. I started to see my skin glow, my hair grow faster, my moods change… I started to feel literally invincible. At this point I could not imagine eating meat ever again in my life. I think it would make me sick to my stomach.

I then watched a video by Doctor Neal Barnard about Dairy. This is where my path goes Vegan. He proved scientifically how diseases are linked to Dairy… how you could still look “skinny and fit” but actually have a lot of fat built up in your cells and arteries. All because cheese is 70% fat, and fat easily converts to, yup, fat.

This woke me up ! I had been working my butt off 6 days a week, and getting the results I wanted no doubt ! But then I would come home and melt some 70% fat, whatever other % of puss onto my crackers and eat it! And the reason I had such a love affair with Dairy and cheese especially is due to something called “Caso Morphines”! Something that acts like Morphine in the body that makes the calf, and you, addicted to the mothers milk ! (Super interesting, you should look it up !)

So currently I am off the meat, I am off the coffee creamer, I am off drinking milk, and I am off the cheese. I have replaced my butter with margarine and I do not eat eggs. There are many more things I need to get off of in the future. I do not read labels yet to see if they “contain milk or eggs”, but one day I will. I have learnt how to make my favorite foods using vegan products like Cashewnut Sour Cream, and even my favorite Spinach Dip Portobello Mushrooms can be made with soy creamer and vegan cream cheese. I hope to one day become more plant based, a healthier vegan. I am still in the transitional stage where every few weeks I will eat home made sweet potato fries and vegan chicken fingers. It’s all still vegan, but it could be healthier.

 

Questions I had & answers ! (I am not a scientist, these are just what I have read or learnt)

Where do you get your protein?

The worst question to ask a vegetarian or Vegan, LOL. Protein comes from plants and lentils and beans. Some of the biggest animals like Elephants, hippos, cows, get all their protein needs from the plants they eat. The most humans grow in their lifetime is when they are a baby, during this time they are purely breast feeding from their mothers, where approximately 5% of what they are “eating” is protein. They still grow and thrive. It may not always be about the QUANTITY of your protein, but the QUALITY. If you read that cheese has 25g of protein and chickpeas have 19g you may think that the higher number protein is better. It isn’t always true ! Certain proteins, especially from animal products, your body has a harder time turning into muscle than the protein from plants. If you are looking for a good source of protein just eat some vegetables, have some chick peas, lentils. If you are a body builder, you will be fine with these proteins alone, but you could also try something called “spirulina” ! It has such a huge source of protein !

Do you ever crave animal products?

Yes and no. I do not crave meat anymore. Even if someone were to make an entire pound of bacon, I do not want any. The dairy and cheese is harder. It has those caso morphines that make you addicted to them. People love fatty foods, so these are more difficult to give up, but you can do it !

Do you wear leather or fur?

I have never owned anything fur, nor will I ever buy anything fur. I do not support Canada Goose jackets, I have winter coats that cost me $80 that keep me just as warm in the minus 40 winters we get in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. I do however own leather items… I have multiple leather purses that I purchased before going vegan, a leather couch, as well I have a leather jacket and leather boots that I wear on my motorcycle (also that I purchased before going vegan). I will not be buying any more leather items. I will however not be getting rid of my current leather items as I have already bought them and will use them until they need to be replaced, and then replace them with vegan alternatives.

 

 

… to be continued.

 

 

 

 

 

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Cappadocia – worth it?

I had never heard of Cappadocia before traveling to Turkey. It is described on Google as

Cappadocia, a semi-arid region in central Turkey, is known for its distinctive “fairy chimneys,” tall, cone-shaped rock formations clustered in Monks Valley, Göreme and elsewhere. Other notables sites include Bronze Age homes carved into valley walls by troglodytes (cave dwellers) and later used as refuges by early Christians. The 100m-deep Ihlara Canyon houses numerous rock-face churches.

The description sounds.. meh. It isn’t until you google the pictures of Cappadocia, or that travel blog you follow does a story on it, that you realize how incredibly beautiful and unique this place really is!

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We went here before I had heard of it, so I was completely surprised when I got off the bus to this literal magical fairy land. I grew up in Drumheller, Alberta, Canada which is a hilly town that has tons of dinosaurs and stuff, and Cappadocia reminded me of a more put together Drumheller.

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This is Drumheller.

We went in May and found the weather was absolutely beautiful and I did not find it touristy at all. They had horse drawn carriages that would drive you around the streets, they had cute little diners and restaurants, they had tons of Turkish rug stores (I bought 2… on a whim! they were so nice). But the main attraction here is to go up in the hot air balloons.

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If you wake up in the morning in Cappadocia you will see a sky full of hot air balloons. We did this! We had to wake up at 3 am, when it was still super dark outside, and walk to the main street where we had to sign papers and give in our passports. They trucked us out to the boonies area of Cappadocia where we watched the hot air balloons fill before we stepped inside the baskets.

The baskets has separate compartments to make sure that not everyone moved to one area and flipped the basket. There was a man that was in the middle of the basket operating the flame that allowed us to go up and down. We went up in the air just as the sun was rising and it was absolutely worth the entire trip to do !

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The whole thing was about an hour long, and being someone that is terrified of heights, the beauty distracted me from the fact that we were extremely high up.

In addition to the hot air balloons you can go hiking and explore around caves.

Absolutely add Cappadocia to your bucket list.

IT IS A MUST SEE 

What colour are the beaches in Greece

Rice Terraces – Philippines

Traveling with a fear of heights & water

Paragliding

Swimming with sharks

The time she was “that” Canadian

There are many Canadian stereotypes out there… we all love hockey, Tim Hortons is life, we are really nice people, we say “eh” in every sentence, and we have stronger beer and drink a lot.

We took a family vacation to Florida and the Bahamas in the winter quite a few years ago. We did the typical traveling around Florida and took our first starter cruise to the Bahamas from there.

My mom is not a drinker at all, my entire life I think I have seen her milk maybe one cooler an entire night. She is the type to sniff the bottle cap and fall over drunk, so I was surprised when we got on the cruise and she started drinking.

I was underage in the States (Canada they start us earlier on the liver damage), so we would order one virgin Pina Colada and one regular because they had all the booze sitting on the top of the drink and we could just dump some into the virgin drink. Maybe it was because it was our first cruise, maybe we weren’t ready for the ocean waves, or we got caught up in all the fun but we ended up drinking a lot, or at least feeling like we were.

The next morning we woke up in the Bahamas and we went on a jeep cruise around the island. We, along with many other people from all over the world, were following around a main tour guide in our own jeeps, making stops all over the place. We ended up on one of National Geo graphics most beautiful beaches that year and spent the afternoon there. My mom, the non-drinker, was hung over from the night before and it was made worse by the bumpy jeep ride. Picture this, she was laying on one of the worlds most beautiful beaches throwing up. An Australian couple , not realizing I was in ear shot, said “typical Canadian” before going to offer her some advil.

Funny story, eh?

Learning to motorcycle in a busy city in the Philippines

Paragliding

Eating banana’s and cucumber on a nude beach

Get there then eat the same things as at home ?

Here I am, a ‘Berta girl traveling across the world to eat corn on the cobb….

what the hell am I doing?

It is hilarious when you go traveling and you spot a McDonalds and you get excited… or a Burger King. I could NOT be bothered eating at either of these places when I am at home, I swear I have eaten at more McDonalds, Burger Kings, and Pizza Hut’s in Asia than I have in my own province. But whyyyy!!!

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It’s probably the familiarity. The food is delicious there, but we see something in the mall that reminds us of back home and we have to eat it.

PS. Being from Alberta, Canada and going to Subway in Asia asking for “ranch” sauce and getting told “what’s that”…..

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What did you eat from “back home” while you were traveling?

Getting sick on vacation

What the media does to us

the best food

Morning coffee with a view

What colour are the beaches in Greece

If you are in the market for visiting Greece then you know that Santorini is a must see !

Not only is it literally picture perfect, but it has many beautiful beaches with many different colors of sand !

They have the regular sand colored beach (of course), they have the beach with red sand (pictured above), and they even have a black sand beach !

The black sand beach should have caution signs around it in the day light, that sand gets super lava hot ! Funny… because the red sand beach was the one beside the volcano 🙂

Tranquilo Bar on the black sand beach in Santorini is a MUST! Go there and eat the best chicken wraps and french fries with dip you have ever had in your life… I promise.

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Rice Terraces – Philippines

Take the picture or enjoy

Eating banana’s and cucumber on a nude beach

the best food

Learning to motorcycle in a busy city in the Philippines

One of the cool things about traveling, especially in cheaper places such as South East Asia, is the ability to travel like a local.

Instead of taking constant cabs around town, or walking literally all day, why not be like the locals and rent a motorcycle for the day? We had done this many times before when we traveled, but I had always been on the back of the bike, telling my driver where to go and basically just enjoying the wind in my hair.

In Canada I had been dirt biking before so I figured in the Philippines why not try to ride my own motorcycle? It’s not like it had a clutch or gears I had to master like at home…

I didn’t even make it down the busy street before I walked my motorcycle back to the rental shop, got my money back, and hopped on as a passenger once again.

Asia has organized chaos to their streets. I don’t understand it and may even call it dangerous in my own head, but it is not to them… they understand it! Adding me into the mix of things was not good, I was still trying to get my grips with the bike itself let alot figuring out when to stop, when to go and why these people were passing me on all sides. It was all too much !

If you are in South East Asia and want to try out a bike, then do it ! It is a really fun and cheap way to get around. If you are confident then you will have no problem hopping on and driving around like a local. If you need some practice I would suggest testing the bike out in a less populated area and slowly working your way up. It would be a good idea to not have a passenger on the back of the bike as well if you are not the most confident driver, and of course, helmets! You never know what could happen in these busy streets so it is best to pop on a helmet if you are nervous !

 

I later came home and purchased my own motorcycle (Suzuki S40), and got my motorcycle license ! All in good time 🙂

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Traveling with a fear of heights & water

How I plan my trips .

Swimming with sharks

Paragliding

What the media does to us

I tattooed the bottom of my feet- Drunk Bamboo tattoo

Are we really travel savvy ?

Are hammocks really that awesome ?

What do you think?

I enjoy hammocks that are already set up, on a beach or a resort somewhere. What I don’t like about hammocks is trying to put them up yourself.. how high do I put it up so I am not dragging on the ground, and so I don’t have to run and jump to get in.

I tried sleeping in a hammock once, I got out with diamond shapes pressed into my body and a ton of bug bites on my back. Not to mention if you get them wet they smell like wet dog for the rest of their life.

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Living in the jungle

Swimming with sharks