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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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!!!

Image result for mcdonalds in another country meme

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”…..

Image result for no ranch meme

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.

Image result for santorini beach meme

Image result for tranquilo bar santorini

Rice Terraces – Philippines

Take the picture or enjoy

Eating banana’s and cucumber on a nude beach

the best food

Is it more fun in the Philippines ?

My completely honest review of the Philippines, based on my personal experience and not meant to offend anyone or deter anyone from drawing their own conclusions.

I was so excited to travel to the Philippines in May 2014.. The only other country I had been to in South East Asia was Thailand and it was absolutely beautiful and amazing. Imagine my surprise when the Philippines was not the same, probably the opposite.

We arrived in Manila to a quite large group of people late at night. Our first night was so much fun, just talking, getting to know each other, and of course cheap booze on our hostel patio. Waking up the next morning was a different story.

Manila is my least favorite place I have ever been, here are my reasons:

  1. I found the city to be extremely dirty, more so than any other city I had ever seen. The smell of sewer was everywhere, the streets flooded every time it rained, and the layout was not ideal.
  2. I did not feel safe. I refused to go anywhere alone like I would in other cities such as Bangkok. The first day I was in Manila myself and a male were in a tuc tuc getting a ride from our hostel to the mall. We had slowed down for a stop light and I looked over at the very busy street to have my eyes met by a local.. I looked at his face for a bit before realizing he was staring at me and touching his fully exposed genitals on the main street. Trying to get into the mall from the tuc tuc we were bombarded by people who had no sense of personal space, they would walk basically on top of you while you were walking away trying to sell you a single pill that they would claim was Viagra, or something else.
  3. When we arrived back in Manila before flying out of the Philippines we were all headed to dinner a few blocks away. It was raining quite heavily and like I said before the streets tended to flood and be filled with garbage and sewer. We were walking down a road that had no one else on it when suddenly a taxi van pulled up beside us, the driver jumped out of the front seat and into the back seat and pulled out a passenger that looked like they had passed out. We thought at first OK maybe it was a drunk local who was causing problems, are puking in the taxi… nope it was a local who was having a seizure in the taxi and instead of helping this man the driver pulled him out and left him in the middle of the road seizing in sewage water.

Aside from Manila the Philippines was not that bad. I had a great time surfing at Cloud 9 in Siargao, we went to multiple beautiful beaches and had a lot of fun experiences.  Overall I found that any beach attached to land where it was maybe a “hot” spot, or a city, was very dirty, so much garbage, compared to say a tourist beach in Thailand. If you traveled out of the main areas to secluded beaches they were absolutely gorgeous… just like all the pictures I had seen and was drawn to check the Country out because of.

I made a mistake in the Philippines as well

which was checking out “cock fights” or “chicken fighting”. I won’t go into detail, but it scarred me forever and I highly suggest not going to this brutal “entertainment”.

The rice terraces in the Philippines were phenomenal and looked just like, if not better than, the photos.

The underground River, which is also considered one of the world wonders, was not so wonderful, very over rated, but a cool experience none the less.

We also discovered that in Philippine tradition they set their deceased out for days for people to see and visit. Which caught me completely by surprise when I was walking down the street one morning for breakfast and there was an open casket with a see through glass dome over top in the middle of the street… I wish someone would have warned me of this sooner, but still an understandable and respectable tradition.

The food was nothing at all to write home about..

I was expecting traditional Philippine food, which I had no idea what that was, but I found fried chicken, and more fried chicken. There was not one thing I had there that I would try to find back home.

But the Karaoke… is something else. THEY LOVE THEIR KARAOKE. so you might as well just join in and enjoy yourself.. make a fool of yourself. They don’t know you anyways. 🙂

My review of the Philippines is that it is beautiful… there are definite reasons to go there and travel around, by no means am I encouraging people to stay away. That being said I have explored it and am content not going back. It differs in my mind from Thailand in major ways and here are my conclusions: Thailand is way more tourist built whereas the Philippines have not got there yet which causes Thailand to maybe have cleaner beaches to attract more people, the locals value the tourists more and seem more friendly because their income is largely based on tourists, one might feel more safe in Thailand because they rely so much on good press and good standing with the backpacking community.

I by no means expect a country to bend to my rules and expectations of them, I enjoy the adventure and going to different places is what life is all about. Although I am happy I had my experiences in the Philippines I feel that it is less my travel “style” than say Turkey (circa 2013), Greece, Nicaragua or Thailand.

That time we just dug a huge hole

I slept with a Rat

 

the best food

Where is the best food? What is your favorite kind of food?

I grew up a super picky eater

I swear I would not eat my favorite food if it wasn’t the “proper” color… colored ketchup’s? Forget about it. 

I had never had seafood in my life until I was 18 years old… no fish, no crab, nothing ! I ate fish for the first time in my life in Thailand.

I remember we went out a boat to a lake house for a few days. We had to eat whatever the lake-house was serving as they didn’t have an “order” menu. To my surprise they only had fish on the first day, and fish that they had caught while they were boating us to the lake house. They had thrown it into some sort of deep fryer and it still had the head and everything on it. It wasn’t until my friends started eating it with some sweet chili sauce and telling me how good it was that I decided to try it.

That was it. I was sold. Seafood is still my favorite thing to eat to this day.

I have eaten pizza and pasta in Italy… not what I expected, I would go as far as to say ours was better at home?

I have eaten chicken gryos, and tkaziki sauce in Greece… SO good. SO SO SO good. Highly recommend.

I have eaten fish tacos from a food stand in Nicaragua.

I have eaten Muscles on the beach in Turkey… which by the way are also SO amazing.

I have eaten seafood in every country.. I have eaten curry’s in Thailand- Which is a side note in itself. I am not one for spicy food and I always assumed all Curry was from India and therefore spicy, not true. Thailand curry you can get as spicy as you want it, but it is delicious. May favorites are Green and Penang curry ! Also, Papaya salad in thailand is to die for !

Try new things when you travel. It may become your new favorite.