2013

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2013 was a big year. Very big. When I was scrolling through my photos from the year, I kept being amazed by how very much I was lucky enough to experience this year. There were so many decisions and laughs and tears and adventures and books and feelings to be had this year. I sometimes feel confused and a little lost but I know I am blessed and I am very, very grateful. 

The Highlights:

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DSC_0009DSC_0090 DSC_0047Here’s to 2014. As always, I hope that it will be as big and as beautiful as the last.

30 Days To Vegan

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This past Tuesday, I started a 30 day vegan challenge. For the next 30 days, I won’t be eating any meat, dairy or eggs. Yes, I’m aware that Christmas falls within the next 30 days, which I hadn’t really realized when I first decided to embark on this challenge, but it doesn’t matter. As my mom pointed out, if I can make it through Christmas eating vegan, I can make it through anything.

I’ve been a vegetarian for almost four full years now, though during that time I ate fish or seafood on occasion. I’ve always been of the belief that doing something imperfectly is better than doing nothing perfectly, so though sometimes I didn’t totally fit the strict vegetarian label, I still considered myself a vegetarian.

The Why

I initially stopped eating meat after reading The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan. The ethical and health implications of factory farming truly disturbed me, and I no longer felt comfortable with my eating choices, so I stopped cold turkey (ha!). Even with my convictions, for the better part of a year I still made a couple of exceptions – once for McNuggets (ugh, I know right?), another time for my mom’s homemade barbeque ribs.

I share this to illustrate that sometimes despite my beliefs, I have a hard time accepting change in my life, as I think we all do sometimes. For the last four years, I’ve known that I don’t believe in eating seafood (mainly because of bycatch effects and the toxicity of farmed fish), and yet I still occasionally did, when I willfully ignored the things I already knew.

And for four years, I’ve known there are major problems with eating dairy (for example, the hormones in dairy products, the potential link between meat and dairy proteins and serious disease such as heart disease and cancer, the treatment of dairy cows and chickens) and that eating less dairy is probably healthier for humans. And yet for four years, I willfully ignored the things I already knew, mostly because I didn’t want to seem radical or militant or like a hippie or just plain extreme, which is the way our society tends to see vegans.

But I know the things I know, and it doesn’t sit right with me to ignore those things anymore. I want to strive to live in a way that fits with my values and beliefs, so I want to strive to eat healthier for me and for the planet. And in my opinion, the best way for me to do that is to eat a vegan diet of mainly whole foods. I should note that I certainly don’t judge anyone for their personal choices.

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The What

I decided to start with a 30 day challenge because the idea of going without eggs for the rest of my life is too terrifying to contemplate (say what you will, but it is what it is!). I’m going to start with 30 days to prove to myself that I’m capable of eating this way, but I’m aiming to keep it up once the 30 days are up. The hashtag I’m using to share my meals and track my progress is #30DaysToVegan, which to me implies progress towards a goal, not a set number of days.

So far it’s been fun and remarkably easy to eat vegan. I’ve been collecting lots of inspiration for vegan recipes on Pinterest, and I’ve been happy to see that it’s easy to slightly modify some of my favourite meals to avoid dairy (and keep all the taste). My family have been really supportive: for example, my mom has made me a meal or two already, and my dad uncomplainingly ate the nutritious but slightly bland curry I made him for dinner. They might not totally understand, but they accept me and my choices, which is a wonderful feeling. That’s the most important thing to me.

The How

I’ll be posting weekly progress updates over on Guinea Pigging Green, and I’ve been trying to post at least one photo of my (vegan!) food on our Instagram, @GreenGuineaPigs, every day. You’re more than welcome to follow along or even join in!

xo,

Steph

May

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It’s May today! After a crazy stressful April, I plan to make May as relaxing and as full of joie de vivre as I possibly can. I’m still going to be working, but I’ve got manageable hours with plenty of time left over to read voraciously (I took a trip to the library yesterday to stock up!), spend time on patios with friends, and take lots of photos. My major goals for May are to purge a lot of my stuff that’s clogging up my apartment. I remember hearing a quote once that said something along the lines of: when you own a lot of stuff, your stuff ends up owning you. I can definitely relate. I don’t know how I’ve managed to conglomerate so much crap but I’ve got to get rid of it. I want the process of moving out of my apartment to be as straightforward and pleasant as possible, so that means May is going to be a purge month. Last night I already went through a bunch of clothes and filled two garbage bags – one with damaged clothes to be thrown away, and the other for giveaway. Gotta do more of that! Feels good.

I’ll also be planning my trip as much as I can. I currently have a rough itinerary but I’ll be starting to hammer more details down and book some plane tickets! Thrilling, so thrilling. My other goals for the month are to relax, enjoy myself, read good books, eat good food, and learn to use my camera on manual. I’m excited to finally learn to take the photos I want to take.

I’m happy it’s summer.

April

April Goals

Well. March was a complete and total whirlwind. And I just looked back at my March post and apparently I used the phrase “total whirlwind” to describe February (it was totally unintentional that I used it in this post too) so I think the moral of the story is BOTH that a) I don’t have enough interesting phrases in my arsenal and b) my 2013 has been pretty dang whirlwindy so far.

I had a few emotional rollercoaster rides in March, a fair bit of stress, so I’m setting goals this month that focus on staying sane and happy. Yes, I have a lot of work to do over the next few weeks. Yes, I am technically done my undergraduate degree in 28 days exactly. Yes, there are several opportunities for me to freak out and get stressed, and I have no doubt that I will freak out and get stressed. But what’s important is that I’m setting intentions not to. I’m going to try my best to keep running, keep sleeping enough, keep time-managing, keep focused, and keep positive. The fact is, I don’t ever get to be in the last month of my undergraduate degree ever again! So I don’t want to wish away even a single moment of the next 28 days, even though part of me does sort of wish it could all be over.

That’s where “find small joys” comes in. It’s my birthday this month, and other friends’ birthdays, and those are cause for celebrations, no matter how much work we have to do. There will be nights when my friends and I drink a bottle of wine and have a lovely dinner. There will be impromptu movie nights. There will (no doubt) be calls to my Mom and snapchats with my sisters and friends. The point is: there will be a lot to be appreciative and happy about, and I want to remember that. Staying centered will be a function of exercise, trying to do a tiny bit of joy-reading, listening to my favourite podcasts, eating well, blogging (I always want to write more when I have more to do), and staying in touch with loved ones.

March goals were okay. I didn’t do so well at taking photos – at least, not on my camera. I did capture lots of great moments on my phone camera though! Happily, I did spend a lot more time outside this month, and loved it. I failed miserably at having “no stress”. Jeez, what a tall order for myself! Didn’t read much, did run a lot, did a fair amount of resting. All in all, ain’t so bad.

Here’s to April! Hopefully filled with lots of happy times and warm weather.