Is It Worth It?

I had a big fight with my boyfriend a couple weeks ago. It wasn’t anything major, but tempers ran high and we were upset. In the subsequent days, when I had time to think, I realized that most of all, I felt tired. I didn’t want to have fights, I didn’t want to get upset, I was exhausted from feeling all these feelings. I questioned, as all couples do, if it was worth it. “It seems like we fight all the time”, “What’s the point of all this?”, “Why are we doing this to ourselves!?”.

It’s so easy to say those things in the aftermath of all sorts of bad feelings and really feel that you mean them. We tend to forget the wonderful experiences when we’ve felt uplifted and alive and honoured. We get ready to give up on the relationship the second it makes us feel badly.

While I was in this state of funk, I texted my mum. I told her we’d had a big fight, and she could tell I was down. After getting some of the details, she wrote something that made me stop, breathe and re-center:

Nothing worthwhile is easy.

It’s true, isn’t it? Things that are easy might be nice, and pleasant, and maybe even fun, but usually they’re not important & worthwhile. Of course, there are probably a few examples of worthwhile things that seem easy (not that I can think of any right now). I would argue though: were they without any negative emotions? Without feelings of doubt, fear, anger, hopelessness, etc? Although, of course, most human experiences have negative emotions, I think it’s harder to stick with worthwhile ones, because they require so much more work than other experiences. Wouldn’t it just be easier to turn to friends-with-benefits scenarios instead of engaging in serious relationships, to eat tasty junk food instead of learning to nourish yourself, to hang out with friends that only talk about superficial things? Yes. It would be easier. But would it be worthwhile?

????worthwhile |?w?r??(h)w?l|
adjective
worth the time, money, or effort spent; of value or importance : extra lighting would make a worthwhile contribution to road safety.

You might have an easy relationship, but if it’s always easy, it’s probably not giving you much that could be considered of value or importance. Of course, this would depend on what you personally would define as valuable in a relationship, but for me: trust, understanding, inspiration, acceptance, communication. Those are things I believe are worthwhile, and consequently I don’t believe you can achieve any of those things without some effort, time, conflict and difficulty.

Think of a few things that you would consider worthwhile, important, valuable. Friendships? Volunteer work? Campaigning for something? Maintaining personal values? Nothing worthwhile is easy. Worthwhile things are wrought with struggles, frustration, negative emotions. But that doesn’t mean we should give up on them. It doesn’t mean that we should throw in the towel on a boyfriend or best friend just because there’s conflict. That’s the whole point: these things are worth it. Which means that working through the hard times will pay you back in great times.

To a certain extent, we all know this intuitively. When we really believe in something, we’re willing to fight for it against adversity, to defend it against criticism, to work for it because we know in the end it will be worth it. This is just meant as a reminder: are you considering giving up on something that might end up being worthwhile?

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the matter!

xoxo,

Get Well Soon

Ugh, guys, I just recovered from a cold.

Twas like death, warmed up.

Last Wednesday morning, I suddenly awoke with a sore throat. Thought it was nothing. Went about my merry business. Was repeatedly slapped in the face and sent to bed with my tail between my legs for the better part of the next four days, clutching my aching head, rubbing my swollen lymph nodes, painfully swallowing and gargling with salt water. LAME.

I discovered the practical applications of Advil around day 2.5 and spent considerable mental effort thereafter adhering faithfully to the bottle regulations. I didn’t exceed 6 in 24 hours! It worked miracles. MIRACLES I SAY. When I called my mother to A) assure her I wasn’t dying and B) listen to her tell me I might have strep throat, she herself even proclaimed: “Advil is a great drug.”

There you have it people. Great drug.

Anywho, I just wanted to come on here and let loose my mouth on the subject of the common cold. My mother has versed me well in her cures for this mild affliction, and I would like to share my little bit of knowledge to try and help prevent you from feeling as bad as I was feeling. (I thought it would never, ever end!)

Feel Better Again..

  • Start washing your hands, all the time. Use soap. Never touch doorknobs. Carry hand-sanitizer with you and use it before you eat finger food (aka all the food I eat). This is a preventative measure. Thumbs up.
  • Tons of water/fluids
  • Vitamin C and Echinacea every 4 hours
  • Tons of sleep
  • Zinc tablets for your immune system
  • Gargle with salt water if you have a sore throat
  • Citrus fruits (Vitamin C! Vitamin C!)
  • Garlic & ginger as much as possible in your food
  • Avoid dairy and meat (bad for immune system!)
  • Sleep
  • Don’t do any strenuous activities! Your body needs its energy to fight off the cold.
  • Listen to your body and do what it says. Like sleep.

Alright, I feel that I’ve done my civic duty. Please don’t get sick you guys! It seriously sucks.

OFF TO WATCH GLEE!

xoxo,

 

 

What I Learned in Chemistry

1. No, telephones and microwaves will not give us cancer! Yay! Here is why: well first of all, my chemistry professor said it so it must be true! And secondly, let us have a look at the electromagnetic spectrum. See how the harmful wavelengths like X-rays and Gamma rays are up in the very small wavelength section? See how microwaves are down low past visible light and close to radio waves? And nobody is freaking out about a lightbulb or a radio, now are they! So there you go. Cell phones and microwaves operate using..you guessed it..microwave radiation. So it’s right snuggled in between the non-harmful wavelengths like radio and visible. Not to worry!

2. If you want fruit to ripen, put it into a paper bag with another fruit that is already ripening. When fruits/veggies ripen, they release a chemical called ethylene, which in turn makes the ripening process faster. Cool!

3. Moisturizer does not provide moisture to your skin! No! I know! It’s insane and ridiculous! What it actually does is help your skin to retain the moisture it already has, by providing a protective layer to stop any moisture from escaping. Therefore, the best moisturizer you could use would be shortening. Ew!! I know. But it’s the thickest! Your skin would be silky smooth.

4. Cracking your knuckles is just pulling nitrogen gas into your joints. It has not been shown to cause arthritis.

Baby Skunks (and gunshots)b
Image by nebarnix via Flickr

5. If your dog is sprayed by a skunk, tomato juice is not the best option! My trusty chem prof says what you should really use is a mixture of hydrogen peroxide (bleach), baking soda and dish soap. This actually neutralizes the smell. He showed us some complicated looking molecular formulas and explained why it neutralizes the smell, but I got bored and stopped paying attention. Here’s a good recipe for de-stinking your doggie!

6. For anyone who drinks tap water (anyone? Is it just me??) if you’ve ever noticed that it is cloudy sometimes – don’t worry! The cloudiness is not because of mineral impurities, it is caused by tiny air bubbles coming out of solution. Sometimes our pipes are a cooler temperature and cool water holds more air than warmer water – so when we bring the water to a slightly warmer environment, some of the air comes out of solution in bubbles. But if you just leave the glass for a minute or so, the extra air should be released and your water will be clear and sparkly!

7. Don’t be fooled by bad marketing claims: if olive oil makes a big bold claim that it has “No Cholesterol!” that’s because CHOLESTEROL DOESN’T COME FROM PLANTS. Only a handful of plants produce any type of cholesterol, and not even the harmful kind. Bad cholesterol comes from animal products. So think of that the next time you get seduced by advertisement: don’t go favouring a certain brand for their lofty claims, or else you’ll look like a dummy. :)

8. What else did I learn in chemistry? That besides interesting factoids and trivia about day-to-day life, I can’t stand the subject. So here, Chemistry, a tribute and a shout-out to your good side. Live long and prosper.

Much love,

The Beginner’s Guide to Eating More Plants

So, you wanna eat more plants, eh? Maybe you read any book on the subject of the food industry? Maybe you just learned about the health horrors of eating too much meat? Maybe you read my post on the topic?

Anyways, I’d like to welcome you aboard!

**Important: note that I didn’t call this post “The Beginner’s Guide to Vegetarianism”. That’s because I don’t want to limit the number of people who hear my message. I don’t want people to be scared off by the thought of becoming a strict vegetarian or vegan. In my own life, I have started to eschew labels entirely, and have created for myself a hybrid eating pattern that falls under no label. I would encourage everyone to do the same! If you don’t think you can give up eating meat entirely, don’t. Cut back instead, to whatever you feel comfortable eating! It’s not all-or-nothing folks. In my opinion, the most important thing when it comes to ‘vegetarianism’ isn’t people sitting around criticizing each other for their eating habits, and fighting over who is the better ‘vegetarian’. It’s about education, about more and more people learning the information and starting to ask for different practices in the industry. It’s about us realizing we could unite instead of divide against this problem. I’m so sick of people having to be strict vegans for their choices to ‘count’ or to ‘matter’. Screw that! Let’s all eat whatever we want, get educated, and ask for something better. Let’s not ostracize each other or scare people off from learning the information.  **

So. Whoever you are, welcome aboard! You’ve decided to eat more plants! Good for you. Plants are good, plants are great. I love plants.

Here are some reasons I love plants:

Portobello mushroom burgers with bruschetta!

  • They harvest their energy directly from the sun! No middlemen for plants.That’s messed up!
  • “Common estimates are that 2-5 times more grain is required to produce the same number of calories through livestock as through direct grain consumption”(1). Aka the amount of plants that you feed to one cow could feed five times the number of people that the cow could feed. That’s messed up.
  • They come in all shapes, sizes and colours. They’re so exciting and exotic. There’s so many to discover!
  • Plants help you poop great! Thanks fibre. Thanks.
  • Plants are full of vitamins and minerals and antioxidants and yummy goodies that keep us strong and healthy.

How To Eat More Plants

1. Develop your own eating mantra.

If labels are scary, take the pressure off. Who says you have to answer for your choices anyways?? Certainly not me. It’s up to you what you eat, when and why! If you can’t fathom giving up seafood, focus on eliminating everything else. If chicken’s your downfall, eat less of other meats. Or if you want to eliminate all animals, do that! Just make sure your eating mantra reflects your true beliefs about your health and happiness. Once you’ve established in your mind what you want to avoid, what you want to consume, and what you want to explore, solidify it. Stand by it. You really aren’t obligated to explain your lifestyle decisions to anyone else! For example, my eating mantra is: Avoid meat and seafood, unless farm fresh or organically/sustainably farmed (and only extremely occasionally); consume as many plants as possible; explore new sources of protein and new types of fruits and veggies! I still own a leather jacket from before I was a vegetarian, I still eat eggs and cheese on occasion, I’m forever trying new vegan cheeses and recipes. I am a contradiction by other people’s standards but I live by my own. Decide what to be, and go be it. Don’t apologize!

2. Take Vitamin B-12.

If you do decide to stop consuming meat and dairy (0r a lot of meat and a lot of dairy) I (and various nutritionists) recommend taking a vitamin B12 supplement. B12 is one of the only vitamins which is essential and is very hard to find in large amounts in plant sources, making it important to take as a supplement. In my readings about health and plant-eating, it’s the only supplement you really need to be taking, as long as you’re eating a variety of plants, getting protein, iron, zinc, magnesium, calcium and Vitamin D. Sound hard? It’s not. See below!

3. Eat the right foods!


This article from Vegetarian Times is an excellent one. It explains 8 foods that are essential for herbivores (although most carnivores should really be eating these super healthy foods too!). I’ll re-list them here, along with some easy, yummy recipes to try for each!

Tofu – excellent source of protein, zinc, iron, calcium, vitamin D.

  • Tofu scramble tastes deliciously like scrambled eggs, minus a lot of the cholesterol and plus all the goodness of tofu! This recipe is great because it breaks down how to choose the right tofu and make a no-fail version yourself. Or check out this one from Oprah.com!
  • Pad thai is an excellent thing to add tofu to, since tofu (by nature) soaks up the flavours of what it’s marinated in, and tastes just very yummy. Pad thai is one of my favourite dishes of all time! Check out this recipe.

Lentils – protein, fibre, iron, B vitamins, folate

Beans – iron galore!, fibre, protein, potassium, zinc, calcium

  • One of my favourite ways to eat beans is in a vegetarian chili. This recipe from Moosewood is wonderful, it’s what my mummy always makes!
  • This recipe for Southwestern Bean Burgers comes from the new Moosewood Cooking For Health cookbook. It’s one of the best burgers I’ve ever eaten, period. The tortilla chips make it amazing.

Nuts – lots of protein, zinc, vitamin E, omega-3 fatty acids, calcium (almonds)

  • As a snack! I usually don’t leave the house without a little tupperware of walnuts and almonds!
  • Try any of these yummy looking nut recipes
  • Throw cashews into your stir frys or quinoa salads

Whole grains – one way to get B12 without a supplement, but take the supplement too!, zinc, fibre

  • Quinoa salad! Cook some quinoa (keen-wah) and add chopped carrots, radishes, cauliflower, green onions, avocado, anything. Add some salad dressing of your choice and eat up. Yum yum.
  • Eat whole grain bread
  • Consume couscous, bulgur (in chili), brown rice, rye

Leafy greens – antioxidants, iron, folic acid, vitamins A and C

Dried Fruit – high sources of iron, fibre and protein


Keep in mind too that people are crazy these days about ‘getting enough protein’. The truth? We currently consume about twice as much protein as we need!(2) So relax a bit. It’s highly unlikely that you will suffer a protein deficiency. Concentrate on the above foods and you will get more than enough vitamins, protein, iron and fiber that you need daily. So don’t listen to the uneducated naysayers about this..

4. Avoid the wrong foods!

As you can see from #3, there are so many delicious foods that can be used creatively to make delicious meals. There is no shortage of yummy vegetarian recipes that do not include massive amounts of processed anythings, so explore the world of plant-y goodness! But make sure that along the way you’re not taking the lazy, unhealthy way: the path away from goodness and health. Here are some foods you definitely do not want to eat!

Processed foods – well, even if you’re not eating a plant-diet, you still shouldn’t be eating too many of these foods. I know they’re hard to avoid, but the amount of sugar and salt and the lack of nutritional value makes foods like chips, pop, junk or fast food bad for your body and mind. And just because they’re ‘vegetarian’ doesn’t automatically make them a healthy choice!

Starchy, white carbs – carbs are our friends, but not of the white, thoroughly processed and stripped of their nutritional content variety. Don’t head towards white pastas and pizzas, just because they don’t have meat in them! That is not the way to go, especially since incorporating whole grains and veggies into your diet is not very hard at all, once you make the decision to.

5. Continue to educate yourself.

Learn learn learn! Learn as much as you can about the power of plants, about the terrors of our food industry, about what you can do for your health. Look up recipes online for ways to incorporate super foods! Read up on the health implications of eating more plants! Once you’re educated on the topic, you can start to reach out and inform others. Education is the catalyst for change, and our generation can be the critical mass against the food industry! So learn and teach and educate. Here are some resources I truly love and recommend:

Books:

The Omnivore’s Dilemma – Michael Pollan

Eating Animals – Jonathan Safran Foer

The Kind Diet – Alicia Silverstone

Fast Food Nation – Eric Schlosser

Quantum Wellness – Kathy Freston

Skinny Bitch – Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin

Moosewood Cooking for Health

PETA’s Vegan College Cookbook

Websites:

Crazy Sexy Life

Vegetarian Times

……………………………….

So.

Okay my plant-based friends, I hope that my guide to plants and their delights helped you in one way or another. Maybe it inspired you to try making an animal-free meal, or maybe to give up animals altogether! Either way, I hope that you learned something of value.

Please let me know if you have any questions about any of this stuff. Most of my information comes from the books I’ve read (all of the ones listed above) and various articles online. I urge you to read the material yourself and come to your own conclusions, choose your own path. Try to eat consciously, monitor how you’re feeling and consult your doctor if you experience any health issues. Generally though, if you follow a colourful and careful plant-based diet, you’ll be doing more for your health than with any other eating pattern out there!

Happy eating my friends!

xoxo,