Wednesday, December 31, 2014

New Year's Challenge

New Year's  is the perfect opportunity to set goals and make changes. At least 50% of the people I have talked to mentioned something about "losing weight" and "getting in shape." That's great; good for you, but that's not very specific. If you're striving for a healthier lifestyle in 2015, what better way than choosing a lifestyle clinically proven to improve your overall health? I don't expect anyone to become a Vegan overnight; but just this one time, I dare you to try it. I always get comments about how difficult this must be or, my personal favorite, the "Good for you, but I couldn't do it." Well you'll never know if you don't try! If you're looking to lower your cholesterol levels, reduce your risk of diabetes, and lower your blood pressure; give one (or more if you're feeling extra adventurous) of these options a try.
Veganuary is an online pledge to go Vegan for the entire month of January. Instead of listening to what i have to say, why don't you try it for yourself? This is only 31 days of your life. If you hate it, then you can at least say you know what you're talking about. The Veganuary website gives you information on Veganism, refutation of common myths, and over 200 recipes. Even if January ends and you no longer want this lifestyle, at least you can say you tried! I understand that one month is a huge commitment, but it doesn't have to be torture. Think of it as a challenge... I am daring you. I'm at the six month mark right now and I have to say; this wasn't easy. Month one was by far the hardest. Veganuary is the perfect opportunity to improve your health and educate yourself on the power of a plant-based diet. Sign up and take the pledge. It takes little to no time and I promise it will change your life. Here's the website link if you want to check it out: Go ahead and click on it. The blog will still be here when you're done. 
Meatless Monday
If you aren't ready for a huge commitment, this one is simple. The name is self explanatory but it's the simple agreement to give up meat one day per week. That's not so bad, right? It may not seem like much, but you have to look at it from a bigger perspective. If seven people give up meat for one day a week, that's the equivalent of one person giving up meat for a whole week. Now think about that for 52 weeks. Maybe after awhile you'll be able to move up to two or three days a week. Then, eventually, entirely Vegetarian. If you don't like the idea of having this set plan, at least try to cut back some. Make it a plan to make a meat&dairy free meal at least once a week.
Cut Out Red Meat
Red meat, out of all meats, is the biggest contributor to air and water pollution (not to mention you're basically eating a heart attack). If you aren't ready to cut out all meat, you should consider cutting out beef, lamb, and pork. Eating red meat has proven to harden the blood vessels and significantly increase the risk for heart disease. You aren't just saving the planet, you are saving yourself. I always recommend this as the first step to those looking for a healthier diet. Help the animals, help the planet, and help yourself.
If You Absolutely Can't...
At least pledge to buy local, cruelty-free meat. Cruelty-free simply means that these animals weren't tortured in the process. This one shouldn't be a problem for any of you since you still get to eat meat. Most local health food stores sell locally raised meat. When you buy cruelty-free meats, you are not only helping your body but lowering pollution rates, reducing the prevalence of animal cruelty, and stimulating your own economy as well. We all have to make some sacrifices for the greater good. This one may seem small, but it has a massive impact.

Even if you don't take any of my advice for the New Year, at least set some of your own goals. Now is the perfect time to work for that thing you've always wanted. Now is the time to change your life and be the person you've always wanted to be. So set some goals and make a plan to stick to them. Write out step by step what you want and how exactly you will get it. Make 2015 your year because life is too short to be anything less than what you want.

Always Remember:
Animals are friends, not food.
Jasmine Millner
P.S. Happy New Year & let me know if you try any of these!

Saturday, December 27, 2014

The Post-Holiday Hangover

The holidays are by far the most challenging time of the year for Vegans. Between the pressure from family members and overwhelming amounts of stress, you can see why this is a common time for people to quit. This post isn't solely directed at Vegans; It's for Non-Vegans too. During this time of the year, it is so easy to let yourself slip into unhealthy habits such as overeating and lack of exercise. So if you're feeling those post-holiday blues, here are a couple tricks on how to get back to your awesome and healthy self.

Ok, don't freak out. This is an entire day of absolutely nothing but tea. When the human body is overloaded with food, it requires more energy to digest and store it all. Unless you are actually preparing for a famine(which I'm sorry if you are...),  you don't need an excessive amount of extra storage. This detox seems to be the most efficient and the quickest fix. Since the digestive process requires a lot of energy, a one-day tea-tox simply allows your digestive system to relax a little bit. By allowing this process to take a break, you are allowing your body to heal and repair what has been damaged. More energy can be distributed to the other systems of the body such as the immune system. Another positive is that tea-toxes generally reduce your appetite as well. Since we are bound to overeat during the holidays, this is beneficial in terms of maintaining appropriate portions. This one, for me, is just like pushing a "restart" button. I always wake up after a tea-tox and feel like a brand new person. One of the downsides to this cleanse is its timing. I suggest doing a cleanse on a day where you have nothing to do because it's easy to get tired and agitated. Sunday is usually my go to day. Also, let me note that there is a difference between a fast and starvation. When done correctly, a fast is very beneficial. Be careful not to over do it.
During a tea-tox I generally drink anywhere from 8 to 12 teas. All teas aren't created equal in this cleanse so it is important to pick the right ones. When choosing my tea, I usually lean towards one containing senna in the ingredients. The Senna Plant is known for it's detoxifying and curative properties. Too much senna can be a problem as well so I generally drink only one or two cups containing it. Other than that I drink a lot of mint and ginger teas. I'll list below some recommendations:

  1. Yogi Soothing Mint Get Regular ($5)
  2. Traditional Medicinals Organic Smooth Move ($4)
  3. Now Foods Senna Tea ($4)

The Infamous Juice Cleanse
No one ever wants to do this. I have yet to hear a single person get excited for a juice cleanse. For me, this one is the most difficult. When doing a juice cleanse, you drink solely homemade, or certain store-bought, juice for anywhere from 3 to 7 days. When I say "juice", I am not referring to store-bought apple or orange juice. I mean a juice blend of vegetables and fruits that cover your daily nutrient need (I will be posting some of my favorite juice recipes sometime in the near future). During the holiday season we are constantly exposed to saturated fats, pesticides and refined carbs. These toxic foods weaken the digestive system making it more susceptible to damage. By juicing, you are giving your intestines, stomach, and liver time to repair themselves and prevent future harm. Since not everyone has enough time to prepare freshly made juices, I suggest going to your local juice bar. If you don't have one, there are pressed juices in your local grocery market. My favorite pressed juices are:

  1. Evolution Juices
  2. Boathouse Juices
  3. Blueprint Juices (Whole Foods Market)
  4. Naked Juices

Fruit&Veggie Cleanse
This one's my absolute favorite. The other cleanses may be short term, but they require a lot of will-power and discipline that, sometimes, I just don't have. A simple fruit and vegetable cleanse consists of only raw, organic fruit and veggies for a specific period of time. Just like in a juice cleanse, the purpose of this cleanse is to rid the body of harmful toxins and allow your body to restore itself. This is exactly why I recommend solely organic food for this cleanse. It just seems counterproductive to ingest more pesticides when the purpose of this is to eliminate them. When doing this detox, I plug all of my food into a counter app to track my nutrient intake (I personally recommend MyFitnessPal). This helps aid in preventing the desire to overeat or cheat. This one is longer than the tea-tox and the juice cleanse, but I find that it has a much higher success rate. My average F&V cleanse lasts for roughly 7-14 days but it is entirely dependent on how I'm feeling. Now before I get questions about protein, this is exactly why I plug it into the counter. If I have treat 12 lbs of spinach, so be it. Specific liver and digestive cleansers consist of apples, spinach, turmeric, beets, and carrots. I try to incorporate these as much as possible. This one doesn't have to be boring and torturous so make sure to switch it up.

Don't let yourself crash after this holiday season. It's perfectly ok to fall of the wagon every once in a while, so long as you get back on it. Cleansing helps kickstart your healthy lifestyle and creates a positive mindset. After all, a positive mindset is the key to all of this. What better way to restart your lifestyle than literally restarting your entire system? There are plenty of easy and efficient ways to do this without breaking your budget so long as you do it correctly. Before I forget, here's my disclaimer: I am not a doctor/dietitian nor am I a master in the art of cleansing. This is just what works for me.

Always Remember:
Animals are friends, not food.
Jasmine Millner :)

Sunday, December 21, 2014

The Replacements: Christmas Edition

How many Vegans does it take to change a lightbulb?
Two. One to change the lightbulb and one to check for animal ingredients.
Ok, I'm bad at intros.
Anyway, here we go.

Party-Sized Vegan Eggnog
This one's an obvious Holiday staple. Although I don't usually like Eggnog, I actually really liked this recipe.

  • 8 cups Soy milk
  • 2 tbsp Vanilla Pudding Powder
  • 2 cups of Vegan Heavy Cream
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
Whisk together half soy milk &pudding mix. Add the rest of the soy milk. Add rest of ingredients then chill overnight.

Yields roughly 10 cups
You can go buy some Vegan Eggnog from the store and avoid all this work.
Available at local Health Food Stores

Vegan Chocolate Chip Gingerbread Men
I didn't make this. Mine came out much uglier.
(Or women... we're still feminists here.)

  • 1/2 cup Brown Sugar
  • 1 flax egg (which I've never used so no guarantees)
  • 1/4 cup Almond Butter
  • 1 1/2 cup Vegan Baking Mix
  • 1/4 tsp Nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp Cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp Ginger
  • 1/4 cup Vegan Butter
  • 3 tbsp Molasses
  • 1/4 tsp Salt
  • 1/2 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1/2 cup Vegan Chocolate Chips
Add ingredients together and chill overnight. Prep oven to 350 and cut out Gingerbread shape. Bake for 7-9 minutes. 
Yields 20-30 Gingerbread Men.

Check the box for Red 40.
 Peppermint Hot Chocolate
 This one requires zero effort.

  •  1 packet Ghirardelli Hot Chocolate (Double Chocolate)- another one that's accidentally Vegan
  •  1 Candy Cane
  •  Soy Whipped Cream

Always Remember.
Animals are friends, not food.
Jasmine Millner

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Vegan Saves The World

Meat production is one of the main culprits when it comes to the rising issue of global warming. Global Warming, for those that don't already know, refers to the scientifically proven, century-based increase in the average temperature of our planet's climate and it's detrimental effects. It leads to shifts in atmospheric conditions that cause droughts, hurricanes, and the melting of our polar ice caps. This is occurring due to the the over-emmitance of fossil fuels and a completely unconcerned population. Everyone is so worried about the economy and politics which, yes, are extremely important; but none of that will matter if we don't have a planet to live on.
Meat production alone accounts for roughly 22% greenhouse gas emissions. That's absolutely insane. By cutting out meat, you cut out nearly a quarter of these detrimental pollutants that are ripping holes in the ozone layer. This is the same layer that's protecting us from those harmful ultraviolet rays from the sun. You know, the ones that cause cancer. In fact, they can rip electrons away form their atoms or even cut molecules in half.
A 2006 study conducted by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization has concluded that meat production produces more greenhouse gases than both the industry and transportation contributions. When people think of preventing global warming, they often think of cars and other forms of transportation. While I'm totally advocating for you to walk places instead of drive, that isn't going to save the planet by itself.
So what can you do? I'm not going to ask you to become a Vegan overnight. All I'm asking is that you simply cut down your meat consumption. Participate in Meatless Monday! If seven people cut out meat for one day, this is the same as one person cutting out meat for an entire week. If you're feeling really adventurous, cut-down on or cut-out red meat. Since beef production releases the most CO2, cutting back on it directly cuts down greenhouse gases. Being a Vegetarian makes a major impact on your individual carbon footprint. Veganism is slightly more impactful but only by a relatively small percentage.
Save the Polar Bears :(
This is me asking for help in an issue that affects us all. Although one person can make a massive impact, there is strength in numbers. I love this planet and since it seems as though it might be the only livable one we have, it's time to take care of it. Most importantly, you are single-handedly killing our Polar Bears! The polar bears did absolutely nothing to you. Although being a Vegan does not entirely eradicate the issue of Global Warming, it's certainly a start.
Always Remember:
Animals are friends, not food.
Jasmine Millner

P.S. Do it for the Polar Bears :)

Sunday, December 14, 2014

December Favorites

I love plant food. Really, I do. But just like every other human, I get bored easily. There's only so much kale and hummus a person can take. So here's a list of my monthly favorite, relatively non-planty tasting, packaged foods.
Skinny Pop Popcorn
GMO-free, Preservative free, Gluten Free, all that good stuff.  It doesn't taste like cardboard, so that's a plus. $4.99.

Trader Joe's Meatless Chicken Strips
I don't know if this actually tastes like chicken since I haven't had it in 3 years... But I assume it's pretty close. I think this one is roughly $2.99.

SO Delicious Coconut Milk Cookie Dough Ice Cream
This tastes nothing like regular ice cream. Don't get your hopes up. ~$6.00.

Yogi Teas
All of there tea's are delicious and super affordable (which is great since I got through 1,000 tea bags a week). $4.99.

Trader Joe's Roasted Seaweed Snacks
Self-explanatory. Very very very seaweedy. Only $.99!

 Go Raw Super Chips 
Spirulina is really good for you too. ~$6.00.

 Larabars in general. Preferably the Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough one.
I could survive on these alone. $5.28 for a box of five. 

Trader Joe's Medium Roast K-Cups
Can you tell how much I love Trader Joe's? $4.99 and makes 12 cups of coffee... which I go through in roughly two days.

I know a lot of this list is from Trader Joe's. If you don't have one, you can basically find any of these foods at your local health food store or supermarket. If you know of some other fun Vegan foods that aren't listed above, leave a comment or send me a message. 

Always Remember:
Animals are friends, not food.
Jasmine Millner

Friday, December 5, 2014


The hardest thing for people isn't necessarily change itself, it's sticking with that change. It's trying not to slip when you want nothing more than that thing you can't have. It's having the will-power to stick to what you say you're going to do when it seems damn near impossible. It's not letting anyone stop you from doing exactly what it is you want to do even when they try. Often times, the commitment of a permanent change is the biggest challenge for people. If you're one of those people, here's some advice from me to you:

Remind Yourself Why You Started
I cannot possibly stress the importance of this enough. There are times when I have to stop and ask myself "Why the hell am I doing this?" This doesn't just apply to being a Vegan. It's the same for everything. Why am I torturing myself by studying so damn hard? Because I'm not content with being mediocre. Because my generation needs to be the ones to change the world. Because I, myself, will be the one to change the world. That may seem unrealistic, but no one worth while got anywhere without some seemingly outrageous claims. Reminding yourself why you started is a constant reassurance of why what you're doing isn't a total waste of time.
Set Cheat Days
I didn't do this and that's one of the major reasons the transition was so difficult for me. Most people I talk to started off being Vegan 3 or 4 days a week. They begin to add more and more days until, eventually, they become full-fledged Vegan. Well, I'm stubborn. I cut it all out at once. Now granted, I'm definitely not perfect. I went 3 months without a single slip. I'm now on month five and I've cheated 5 times. Things change; you have to adjust. For awhile I was really down on myself like "damn, I wasted all of my hard work." Then I realized that's only 5 out of 158 days! Am I really going to stress over 5 days when it only adds up to 3% of my time?
Don't Jump Into It All At Once
I know this contradicts Risky Business a little bit, but when I said that I mean't like a small hop, not the entire canyon. You can't cut out your bad behavior all at once. Well you can, but you're going to need a lot of will-power. If you can do this without wanting to die, more power to you. This is the one and only time I will ever tell you to be realistic. Don't expect to see the word "realistic" on this blog ever again.
Be Positive
I am a firm believer that I can DO anything I want. I can BE anything I want. I can GO wherever I want to. If you say you are going to fail, odds are, you will. Setting yourself up with a negative mindset only generates more negative energy. How can you possibly hope to be supported by others when you don't even support yourself? What if the president got up in front of the entire population and said "Well guys, odds are, I'm going to fail miserably." Would you want him to lead your country?.. Hopefully you answered no to that question.
Make it Fun
Why willingly torture yourself when there are other options? I like to prove people wrong. I'll admit it; I have no shame. It's sort of like a game for me. Not in all things, but definitely when it comes to being a Vegan. I made my roommate eat a Vegan cookie and she loved it. In the very beginning of the semester, we ordered Chinese food from the sketchy place down the street. I obviously got tofu, and she got chicken. She tried my tofu, loved it, and since then, has never ordered chicken. She doesn't know it yet, but I am slowly dragging her to the dark side. So make it entertaining. Life really is just a giant game anyway, am I right? But we'll save that for next time ;)

Always Remember:
Animals are friends, not food.
Jasmine Millner :)