Focused Living, One Month at a Time

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Challenge #13, July 2012: EAGER VEGAN

I will eat only vegan this month – no dairy, eggs, or other animal products.

“It is deeply moving that the same food choices that give us the best chance to eliminate world hunger are also those that take the least toll on the environment, contribute the most to our long-term health, are the safest, and are also, far and away, the most compassionate towards our fellow creatures."  
-John Robbins, author of Diet for a New America and The Food Revolution

A Little Background
Since I turned vegetarian about 30 years ago, I have always wanted to experiment and try this further step.  My original reason for going veg was an episode of the TV show  20/20, which showed me the slaughterhouses and harsh conditions cows, pigs, and chickens are raised in, and I instantly decided to stop eating meat. Eventually I gave up fish too, as I got more into scuba diving over the last 16 years – it’s way more fun to look at marine life than to eat it, for me at least…The more I have read and researched about the environmental impacts and personal health impacts of eating meat over the years, the further I am convinced that I had made the right choice for me and my values.  I certainly don’t expect or advocate that everyone go veg, but for me it makes sense and I simply think that that most people (and the planet) would be better off if everyone tried to eat a little less of it – okay, end of mild rant.  Taking the next step to veganism was definitely worthwhile, and I learned a few things along the way.

How it Went
As an ovo-lacto veg, I do eat eggs (about twice a week) and dairy - basically cheese, many days a week – one of my biggest weaknesses!   On cereal, in smoothies, or for baking I use either rice, almond, or coconut milk, my current favorite, so no change required there.  And I don’t eat sour cream, cream cheese, or yogurt anyway.  I did miss eggs, less than I thought I would, and I definitely missed cheese –more on that later.  I enjoyed exploring and trying some new vegan recipes, like the amazing pizza in the photo.  It seems almost sacrilegious, a decent pizza without cheese?!  But this highly recommended flavorful fresh alternative really impressed me – I will definitely be making it again. 

A Few Hiccups
·      Label Reading – Do you have any idea how lengthy and surprising many of the popular energy bar ingredient lists are?  Sheesh!  I gobbled down a ZONE bar while driving the first day of the month, then when I parked, read the ingredients – corn syrup, milk solids (oops!), and other assorted not-so-natural items on the list – yuck!  So that experience made me start reading a lot more labels closely this month. 
·      Honey – It’s in sooooo many foods I like - granola, some energy bars, muffins, etc.  It is definitely an animal product, the excess of what bees are producing for their own consumption.  I actually ate a little of it as I enjoyed a KIND almond and coconut bar when I was at the office and starving with nothing else available – oops! Other times I needed a sweetener agave and stevia came to the rescue.
·      Cheese Cravings – yes I dearly missed it! I missed the flavor and texture, and I really thought this food would be my downfall.  But every time I got a hankering, I went for a few olives or a spoonful of peanut butter instead which helped.  Sorta.

Things I am Really Glad are Naturally Vegan
·      Most bread, crackers, potatoes and rice - yay carbs!
·      Earth Balance buttery spread – been using it for years and appreciated it even more this month
·      SOME dark chocolate – read labels carefully on this.
·      So many wonderful fruits and vegetables – really enjoyed all the extra helpings of delicious summer produce this month, thank you Farmer’s Markets.

Yes, as a matter of fact I did feel lighter (lost a few pounds without really trying) and actually more energetic – some of my longer and more strenuous workouts were not so tiring.  I now understand how and why some professional athletes like Brendan Brazier and others promote veganism, and can now easily answer that ubiquitous question, “So, how do you get your protein?   For me, this month made me realize going vegan isn’t difficult.  I will likely be eating less cheese and fewer eggs than previously, cooking vegan more often, and feel healthier because of it.  How about you - curious to try going vegan?  Why or why not?

Sunday, July 15, 2012

We interrupt our regularly scheduled programming...

"world domination summit"

to bring you this recap of an awesome event I attended last weekend, which has fueled my imagination and inspired more positive action than anything else I have ever done.  

Oh, and I'm going vegan this month but that's not important right now - this is.

Top Ten things I heard at #WDS2012

1.     I heard Brene Brown talk about vulnerability and wholeheartedness.  And so early on in the weekend I was already getting emotional and tearing up, uh-oh...And at the end of her talk I heard 1000 people standing up and singing Don’t Stop Believin’, and I sang along too (I  NEVER sing), and it was sooooooo much fun because who cares - if the other 999 people carry the tune and I don’t, it doesn’t matter anyway!  #suckitfear
2.     I heard Scott Harrison’s story and was blown away by his radical determination to build a different model in the fundraising space, where I currently reside.  And I wish one of my favorite clients would try operating more like they do, with transparency and accountability and sincere appreciation for their donors. I am going to try and work on this with them!
3.     I heard how Joshua & Ryan and the other Joshua live lightly with a lot less as minimalists, and they reminded me that there is simply more joy in pursuing less than there is in pursuing more.  And I also thought about how I was especially thankful there wasn’t a lot of random useless crap in our gift bags at this conference, but rather just a few high-quality, non corporate-logoed (yay!) useful items.  #winningatswag
4.     I heard Chris Brogan talk about superheroes and super powers and how sexy confidence is, but I heard him the most when he said you will succeed the weirder you get.  I know I am not brave enough (yet) to let (much of) my inner weirdness out yet and I need to work on this! And I need work on remembering people’s names more. #practicemysuperpowersmore
5.     I heard Audrey and Dan say a few simple but powerfully wise statements including life is a team sport, embrace regret avoidance, and there is no greater generosity that the generosity of spirit.  And I realized they are a great example of what all travelers should aspire to be, and I was so glad to have met them at TBEX last month in Colorado, then connect again here. #smallworldbigworld
6.     I heard Jennifer Lee joyfully and creatively share her right brain business planning model, and I thought Ahaaaaaaa - finally something like this for someone like me!  And I actually heard myself say out loud to everyone in that room that I was going to somehow work on my project every single day for the next 365 days until the next WDS. #whoathatsatallorder
7.     I also heard a baby crying a few times, in a panel and during a keynote.  And both times it instantly started to annoy me (and maybe others) - but fortunately its father wisely, promptly removed it from the room, and the second time it happened I thought - what is this world going to be like when that baby is my age?  And no matter what it looks like, I know deep down that I want to, need to, have to work on improving it as much as I can for the rest of my life, in the ways I know how.  #reneweddetermination
8.     I heard JD Roth humbly, genuinely talk about personal transformation and I thought about my own continued journey in this regard, and that although I know how to say yes, focus and action need much more of my attention.  And focusing on one thing at a time each month worked for him, just like I am trying to do here.  #lovingthesimilarity
9.     And then I heard Chris Guillebeau share the ultimate uber-surprise:  giving back $100 to each of us attendees, to do something awesome with.  And I heard the hush of the crowd, then the thunder of applause, and I almost burst out in tears, yet again. Overwhelmed, yet again, with the spirit of this conference - like no other event I have ever attended.  #generosityonsteroids
10.  And finally I heard the ebullient Bollywood music and the joyful cheers and laughs of hundreds, including me – gyrating and stomping with every ounce of passion and energy we had left, and I felt the floor bounce and quake beneath our feet – pure joy captured in one room on a Sunday eve in July in Portland.  #tryingtodancelikethehipsterswearenot

And now I hear my heart beating faster, trying to catch up to my racing mind…so grateful for the inspiration and motivation and renewed sense of obligation.  Now back home in the quiet, with the echoes of this remarkable weekend still replaying in the background of my mind, it’s time for focus and action - and for community, and adventure, and service of course.  Thank you for everything, Chris and your magical team, see you next year. #newtotwitterandhavingfunwithhashtags   @HeatherGeorge3