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Monday, February 27, 2012

The Dalai Lama's 18 Rules for Living

1. Take into account that great love and great achievements involve great risk.

2. When you lose, don’t lose the lesson.

3. Follow the three Rs:

* Respect for self

* Respect for others

* Responsibility for all your actions

4. Remember that not getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck.

5. Learn the rules so you know how to break them properly.

6. Don’t let a little dispute injure a great friendship.

7. When you realize you’ve made a mistake, take immediate steps to correct it.

8. Spend some time alone every day.

9. Open your arms to change, but don’t let go of your values.

10. Remember that silence is sometimes the best answer.

11. Live a good, honorable life. Then when you get older and think back, you’ll be able to enjoy it a second time.

12. A loving atmosphere in your home is the foundation for your life.

13. In disagreements with loved ones, deal only with the current situation. Don’t bring up the past.

14. Share your knowledge. It’s a way to achieve immortality.

15. Be gentle with the earth.

16. Once a year, go someplace you’ve never been before.

17. Remember that the best relationship is one in which your love for each other exceeds your need for each other.

18. Judge your success by what you had to give up in order to get it.

Friday, February 24, 2012

A Forks Over Knives Update

A couple weeks ago, I mentioned that my father finally watched the DVD of Forks Over Knives that I had sent him around the start of the year. I also wrote about my best friend and her husband watching it and feeling inspired to eat more plant-based foods. Here's a little update.

My dad no longer drinks milk and now loves vanilla almond milk. He says he "hardly ever eats meat now," and my mom says that, too, but I have no idea what that means, exactly. My dad has been drinking Glucerna for breakfast and lunch every day for about 6 weeks now, which I'm not crazy about (especially after he reads its goofy ingredients to me), but he said at his last doctor's appointment, he was told to "make some changes" or he'll be on insulin. We talked on the phone for awhile and I gave suggestions for healthier dinners and snacks. He really doesn't want to be on insulin, but I'm worried about how much nutrition he's really getting on those Glucerna shakes. (Anyone have any advice on those?) I just purchased copies of Neal Barnard's Reversing Diabetes and the Forks Over Knives book to send to my parents.

Kate and her husband has been incorporating lots of vegan meals into their diet. Kate said that Brandon has lost ten pounds so far, and he actually cooked tofu in a stir-fry recently! (This is funny to be because Brandon has always been a tofu-basher.)

A very good friend of mine, whose name is also Brandon, watched Forks Over Knives this past Monday and has been eating vegan all this week! He said he didn't eat much meat in the first place, but he's really looking into a more plant-based diet.

A couple of weeks ago, a group of us were at Pizza Fusion downtown and our server was vegan. He said he had gone back and forth between vegetarian and vegan for a long time, but after watching Forks Over Knives, he went vegan on the spot.

And then this morning, I told my hairdresser about Forks Over Knives (as veganism had come up in conversation) and he seemed VERY interested in it. He said, "Let's see, you'll be back in about 5 or 6 weeks? Yes, I will have watched in by then."

What Forks Over Knives success stories have you witnessed?

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

From Raw Food to Loving Hut in One Day

Saturday was a fun-filled, food-focused day.

It started out with a raw foods class in Lakeland, organized by a group called the Polk Veg Connection. Jackie and Gideon Graff were the teachers of the class. They talked a lot about raw food diet basics, then demoed Brazil nut milk, raw apple pie, and then raw ice cream (made from the aforementioned Brazil nut milk).

The apple pie was amazing! Very simple to make (all you need is a food processor) using simple ingredients. The texture was the best part. Half of the apples are processed until it resembles applesauce, then the remaining apples are just pulsed into chunks, and this texture combination was lovely for mouthfeel and for presentation.

I wasn't sure about the ice cream at first, but it grew on me. I think I would have liked it better if it had more flavor (more vanilla, maybe?).

From there, we skeedaddled back up to Tampa for our friend, Dean's going away dinner held at Loving Hut. Loving Hut had a buffet all day, and the buffet offerings are always hit-or-miss, but that night, they had two totally awesome dishes with no strange mock meats, and I loved them!

This tofu is the BEST tofu I've had since I moved to Florida.

And the all-veggies stir-fry was delicious. I love bok choy!

Amber brought some totally rockin' homemade cupcakes - peanut butter with chocolate frosting and chocolate-chip pumpkin with cream cheese frosting - but I didn't get any pics of them. They do make an appearance in this shot of the guest of honor.

I had an educational day and a rowdy, laughter-filled night with my beautiful veggie pals. I met some cool new people, too.

And to Dean: It was nice knowin' ya. Your activism will be missed in Tampa, but Seattle is lucky to have you. Expect to see me crashing on your floor space in the as-near-as-possible future.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Fat Sick and Nearly Dead

I'm a sucker for a vegan-related documentary, so when I spotted Fat Sick and Nearly Dead on hulu, I made a point to watch it.

In a nutshell: Fat, sick dude from Australia named Joe goes on a 60 day green juice fast and he loses a bunch of weight and eventually gets off his medication. For the last 30 days of his fast, he goes on a road trip across America for a change of scenery and talks to a bunch of people along the way.

The best part of the film is Phil the Truck Driver, whom he meets and later helps. Phil's transformation is amazing! I admit: I had tears in my eyes toward the end, I was so happy for Phil. I won't give away more than that, though.

At the beginning of the film, I thought, There is no way I'd go on a juice fast for 60 days. Then halfway through, I thought, Well, I could do a ten-day fast... And by the end of the doc, I thought, If someone gave me one of those nice Breville juicers, I'd go 30 days!

Also, the words "vegan," or "vegetarian," or even "plant-based diet" are never mentioned. All that's said is that, after the juice fast, Joe sticks to a "micronutrient diet" of "mostly whole foods." Meat and dairy products aren't mentioned, but I don't know if it's actually a vegan diet he sticks to. Still, it's healthier than the Standard American Diet (SAD).

Fat Sick and Nearly Dead is no Forks Over Knives, but it was still an interesting flick, I loved watching Joe and Phil's transformations, and it always gives me hope to watch people take charge of their health and wellness in a more nutritious way, letting food be their medicine.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Watch This. Feel Frustrated. Get Motivated.

The sad public health of America. Disturbingly unhealthy school lunches. Food deserts. The ulterior motives of the USDA. Of COURSE our country has an obesity epidemic!

Which of these problems have you seen in your city? How are you helping to create positive change in your community?

Monday, February 6, 2012

Writing Day

"Many people hear voices when no one is there. Some of them are called mad and are shut up in rooms where they stare at the walls all day. Others are called writers and they do pretty much the same thing." - Margaret Chittenden

I designated an entire day over the weekend as my Writing Day. It was going to be a perfect day for the written word, for churning out interesting and captivating articles and essays, for letting the creative juices flow through my fingertips and onto the keyboard, a day with no other obligations or appointments. I had been scribbling notes on random pieces of paper all week, occasionally typing out a rough outline, but on this day, it would all come together. This day was WRITING DAY.

I woke up at 8:45 that morning, feeling pleased that I woke up naturally at such a decent hour. Perfect for Writing Day!

By 9:15am, I had my lap top open, and the rough draft document in front of me. Here we go. Let the writing begin...

Any second now...

Really, aaaaaaany moment...

Wait for it...

While I waited for the focus and motivation and words to come to me, I did the following:

Had a nice long catch-up chat with my mom

Had a short catch-up chat with my best friend, Kate

Opened up the stack of mail that had been ignored all week long

Paid a couple of bills

Refreshed Facebook and email at semi-regular intervals

Grazed on spring rolls, Gardein Chipotle-Lime Strips, and Medjool dates throughout the day

Took time to really listen to the wind chime outside

Played with headbands

Hula hooped to bittersweet indie songs while wearing a mud mask

Cursed at Pandora for playing too many "thumbs down" songs, thus preventing me from giving any MORE thumbs down

Marveled at the greatness that is Bragg's Liquid Aminos

Piddled around on the Internet

Watched Justin Timberlake videos on youtube (I don't know how that happened)

Gave thanks for yoga pants

Texted a couple of friends about my so-called "Writing Day," rambling about all the distractions throughout the day, all while further distracting myself by texting friends

All the while glancing at the rough draft and feeling a little bitter that the words weren't coming to me, that the focus hadn't set in. Why is it that the words come like a thunderstorm when I have to be somewhere in 10 minutes? I set aside an entire day for this! Where are the words?!

Eventually, I left to meet up with my good friend, Lisa, for tea and chat. I knew I had to walk away from the computer. I knew I needed a change of scenery. I knew some human interaction and some conversation would distract me from the need to write. I can't force the perfect words to flow. I just have to wait.

At 11pm, I sat back down at the computer, and set to work.

There was no strike-of-lightning feeling, no sudden power surge, no "OH MY GOSH! I'M WRITING! OH, THESE BRILLIANT WORDS!" I just sat down, and started typing, and by 12:30 that night, one article was done. Mission accomplished.

And this is why you don't see daily content on Hungry Vegan Traveler right now. I cannot force good (by my standards) writing out of me. It has to happen naturally. If blogging was my only job, I could probably write near-daily, but I have a full-time job, and heaps of volunteer projects on the side, and other creative projects on top of that. This is why Vegan MoFo 2011 was a failure for me (though, at the time, I was also disconnected from the interwebs, which just added another HUGE hurdle).

But don't let this post fool you. I love to write. I really, truly do. I love my blog and I love connecting with readers and other bloggers. If I could do THIS as my full-time job, I would.

So, with all this said, feel free to contact me to write a guest post for YOUR blog. Or to offer me a rockin' paid writing position. Either / or.

Because I always need more excuses to hula hoop watch pop videos on youtube eat large quantities of dates embrace the creative writing process.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Forks Over Knives: Passing It On

About a month ago, I sent a DVD of Forks Over Knives to my father. My father has had health problems for as long as I've known him, and he's never been one to take good care of himself, especially where his diet is concerned. He blames years of trucking and eating on the road, but when he stopped trucking, he kept eating a Trucker's Diet.

I'd brought up going vegetarian to my dad many times, citing facts and statistics at random, pointing out how Dr. Oz agrees with a plant-based diet providing optimal nutrition (my parents like Dr. Oz), etc. My dad didn't buy it. My dad would claim that eating a lettuce salad alongside a giant steak and a baked potato was "balanced," and he also LOVED to tell me that "vegetables are what MY food eats."

And then I finally watched Forks Over Knives at the Tampa Bay Veg Fest last year and I thought, My dad should watch this. Because I've always known that I could send him books or starter kits every day, and he won't read them. But a movie? There's hope there.

So I sent the DVD and I waited.

Just this past week, my father told me that he watched the entire movie and it was "really interesting" and full of information and he's going to watch it again! My dad said he doesn't think he'll stop eating meat completely, but he's already cutting back.

I told this story to my best friend yesterday and she was impressed. (She knows my father!) She voiced her concerns about her husband's diet and said she was interested in watching the movie, too. I told her it's streaming on Netflix and she was excited. Later that night, she sent me a text, saying she and her husband were watching it. When they finished watching it, she sent me another text saying that they are going to go "mostly plant-based" for 12 weeks! This is HUGE considering her husband is a chef and enjoys cooking with lots of RICH ingredients.

Needless to say, I'm VERY excited and hopeful for my family and friends.

How has Forks Over Knives inspired you or someone you know to go plant-strong?

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Jasmine Thai in Brandon, Florida

Between chopping my hair off and then chopping even MORE off, I finally checked out Jasmine Thai in Brandon, Florida, a restaurant that came highly recommended by a few vegan pals of mine. And folks, I think I'm in love.

Jasmine Thai is a little restaurant located in a strip mall near the Aldi and some grotesquely-named chicken joint named Chick-N-Bones (BARF), which prompted a brief discussion on other horridly-named meat-focused restaurants, which always brings Rib Crib to mind. (I can't help but imagine an actual crib made from ribs, which is like something out of either a horror movie, or something set in the Stone Age.) Ground Round is another gross one. Makes me think of a merry-go-round made from raw hamburger meat.


Moving on! Jasmine Thai, which is simply and pleasantly named, has an impressive menu with plenty of veg*n options in almost all categories. When I spotted tempura eggplant under Appetizers, it instantly made me think of the Crispy Eggplant at Bo Ling's, my favorite Chinese place in Kansas City. It didn't take much for me to convince my dining companion to split it with me, and I am pleased to say that the tempura eggplant is just as good, if not better, than the Crispy Eggplant in KC.

Greasy, crispy outside gives way to the warm and squishy eggplanty insides. Isn't fried food grand?

I was so tempted to try something different at Jasmine Thai, as there were many enticing entrees on the menu [Garlic & Black Pepper stir-fry, Cashew Nuts stir-fry, Japanese Squash curry, Pineapple curry], but to gauge a Thai restaurant's deliciousness and returnability (a word I just made up, which means: how likely I am to return there), I knew I had to go with my favorite, my old reliable, my Old Faithful, if you will: Panang Curry with tofu. As mild as possible, please.

Panang curry is generally the same everywhere you go, but you know every place makes it just a liiiittle bit differently. As I waited for my dish to arrive, I wondered, How mild is "mild" by this place's standards? Will this make my nose run? Will there be enough vegetables? I wonder what the tofu will be like. Tofu is so important. I wasn't worried about it, though. I had a good feeling about this curry.

And my expectations were met. Deliciously.

The curry was perfectly mild and did not cause a single sniffle or watery eye. It was smooth and creamy and perfectly peanutty. The tofu was also the perfect texture: firm and not greasy-deep-fried-crispy. Of course, there are never enough vegetables for me, but this was good enough.

Dining Pal got the Amazing dish with tofu, another peanutty dish. The peanut sauce was great! (But I liked my Panang better.) I was a little jealous of his broccoli, though.

So, in conclusion, I have a new favorite Thai restaurant in Tampa Bay. Now this really feels like home.