The Clock is Ticking…

I am overwhelmed by the responses I have been getting since I came back from my 2 month long blogging hiatus…But now is a great time to get down to business!  As 2011 passes us, I know some of you are striving to go vegan or some of you are already vegan but wish to drop the extra pounds.  I know the last goal sounds silly to some of you but despite popular belief, there are overweight/obese vegans.  Let me break it down to all of you in a way that the newbie vegans (and even the vegan old timers) would understand…

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Making Veganism Work For your Family…

Not your modern grocery cart…I wonder where she hides the box of wine?

Sometimes I try to talk myself out of looking into other people’s shopping carts.  Call me judgmental, but I tend to look over the fact that some people eat junk because they are students or bachelors/bachelorettes but it just bothers me to no end when I see a cart that is clearly controlled out of control by a mother who is in the grocery store trying to provide what she thinks is best for her family.  I’ve seen the processed foods piled high in the cart with very little produce and I also see her children begging for a super sugary item and I often wonder…Where did it all go wrong? 

Let me just admit my age right now…I just turned 30 back in April and somehow, the one thing I recalled often in my childhood is how often my family cooked for each other.  We really only used our microwave to reheat leftovers or to make popcorn.  During holidays, nothing came out of a can except for the cranberry sauce.  My family was not rich (very blue collar), and they saved money wherever they could.  Needless to say, back then the prepackaged foods were expensive and my family could not afford to eat like that except maybe once a week as a “treat”.

Now looking forward, I walk through the aisles at some of my local grocery stores and I’ll find some of the most outrageous looking processed items selling for a super cheap price like it’s going out of style.  I cringe when I see the “special” sales of soda going for 10 cases for $10….It’s even more sickening when I see the aftermath of the soda aisle (only thing missing is the tumbleweed!) when that sale goes on….

Does any store out there sell out of Kale like this???

I am pretty sure most people my age and older will admit, as major food giants master the art of making processed foods cheaper and with a longer than necessary shelf life, real food has been lost somewhere.  I’ll admit, when I first moved out on my own, I ate as much junk as I could because I never had it in abundance and somehow I was shocked on how cheap it has gotten over the years.  But these past few years, even before I became vegan back in 2008, I grew more concerned as my friends and family were getting heavier and less healthy.  Now as a vegan, my passion for food definitely goes beyond my kitchen and most vegan families I know often feel the same way.

Now the biggest myth out there is that feeding your family a vegan diet is expensive.  One of my missions on my blog is to prove to you and all the other families out there that being vegan (and a healthy one to add!) is not going to put a dent in your wallet.  In fact, you might save money or find that your grocery budget became one big colorful bouquet of different colors of produce.  Just remember that I am a housewife, which means I live in a one income household.  Although I am fortunate to have a husband who supports us very well financially where I can choose to work or stay at home, we still have to be careful about our expenses all while trying to make sure we can retire comfortably in the future.

There have been many great resources out there on the internet regarding eating vegan on a shoe string budget but no one mentions it on a very easy, family level except for one place in particular (courtesy of Meridith at  I also took the time to ask those who are connected to me via Facebook and the responses were very clear…it was not only easy but EXTREMELY accessible:

Let’s say you are making chili and use ground beef. Ground beef is anywhere from $2 to $6 a pound. If you make it meatless using canned beans, for that same $2 you could buy 4 cans of beans–way more than poundage for your buck than that $2 unhealthy ground beef. -Hilary R.
You can get some great deals on veggies and fruit at farmer’s markets…especially if you go just before closing time.- Cherry C.
I always buy my beans in bulk and cook them from scratch. So much cheaper (and healthier) than canned and really not that hard using my handy-dandy pressure cooker.- Meridith L.

Shopping at a Costco if you have one in your town is a wonderful way to get quality organic produce, affordable for one or twenty.- Teri S.
We have realzied that we use to eat out A LOT before becoming Vegan – we may spend more at the grocery store, but we eat at home so much more now. We enjoy searching the internet for new recepies and we do it together as a family to keep everyone involved. -Katherine B.
1 lb of uncooked/bagged beans…around $.87! Don’t tell me you can’t afford it 🙂 -Karen A.

Right now, I wish that same mom I saw at the store knew about my blog and could read those responses.  Sometimes when I see people like her and I wish I could offer some inspiration without coming off as self righteous.  Before I was the lovely vegan housewife you know and love today, I was working in healthcare for nearly 10 years.  I saw firsthand young business professionals in their 20’s-30’s taking high cholesterol medication.  Also, it broke my heart to see a young child who was suffering from Type 2 Diabetes and her mother bribing her with ice cream after her office visit.  Luckily, I had a few former bosses who were not the coddling type and confronted these people but I know this is not the case in most practices because after all, patients are like customers and you need to keep them happy and as we all know the truth hurts, which can damage “the business”.  Don’t get me wrong, I trust medicine to an extent- I’m just sick of the lack of tough love that they should be giving out!  If any of you out there has given out any “tough love” to anyone as a wake up call to their health, what was your approach???  Most importantly, did it work???

Our Dinner with Rip…

Talk about a fascinating evening!!!

I wish I could tell you guys that after I published my first blog post I had this HUGE party with a ton of vegan celebrities on the guest list like Woody Harrelson, Tal Ronnen, and Alicia Silverstone, but my life isn’t that glamorous to say the least.  However, shortly after my first blog post, I was given an opportunity (along with everyone else in the Charlottesville area!) to have dinner with Rip Esselstyn, the creator of the Engine 2 Diet.  The event was hosted by our local Whole Foods Market, which very recently went through a transition of their own.  They FINALLY (after 6 years of talk!) opened a new store and in comparison to the older store they had, this is definitely my version of heaven 😉 

Anyways, back to the subject at hand…

The dinner was held Wednesday evening at the Omni Hotel in Charlottesville and for those who wanted to sign up for the 28 Day Challenge, Whole Foods would donate $28 to the UVA Burn Unit for each person who wanted to participate in this win-win situation.  Also, to sweeten the deal, admission to the event was $5 but a $5 gift voucher to Whole Foods was given in return for just attending the event!  I noticed a few firefighters and EMTs at this event as well which really made for such an overall great event 🙂  The food was catered by Whole Foods but it stuck with the Engine 2 Diet recipes which was filling but I have to side with a couple of friends of mine who went and say it was a tad bland but Rip did explain that not all the food provided was done exactly to his specifications when it came to flavor and certain garnishes (like the ground cashews for a nutty cheesy effect) for his Sweet Potato Lasagna.  I guess I will give Mr. Esselstyn a pass since he did give me a great autograph to add to my (very small) collection 😉

You may ask yourself why I took this long to post if I went to this fantastic event.  Well…my explanation is very simple, I actually took the time to read the whole book cover to cover!  Although it is an easy read but it’s a challenge to sit down and read anything when you are dealing with an infant…

She can see through your soul and still demand more attention!

I took the book with me to my hair appointment (I probably came across as rude but I had my goal in sight and no salon gossip was going to keep me away from it!) and any time I had free and this weekend, I gladly gave Chuck “baby duty”.  While reading this book, I did have an “ah-ha” moment regarding the meals I prepare at our house.  Although my meals are always 100% vegan and fresh and/or frozen produce take center stage, I really realized how much oil I put into my food and just how easily I will use my organic unbleached white flour and vegan fair trade sugar without a second thought.  I do have standards like any other wife/mother, for instance I will always use whole grain pastas/rice and I make a lot of things from scratch because it’s healthier and cost effective.  After reading this book, it made me take a second look at what I was really feeding my family.  There was never one moment that I felt like a bad provider, but like all people who try to live well and eat well sometimes along the way you feel like you made too many “exceptions” and now those “exceptions” are coming back to haunt you.  I agree with a lot of what Rip is trying to say and if you ask around, not many people (and zero medical experts!) arguing against him. 

What I am hoping to get from this book is simple….To look better and to feel better.  When it comes to looks, clinically speaking, my weight is considered “average” but if I were to gain 5lbs right now, without a doubt I would be creeping into the “overweight” category.  Unlike most of the friends I know, I never, ever, ever, ever had the dreaded weight talk with my doctor.  Also, most people might feel that I should be given some slack since I had a baby 6 months ago…to me it’s just an excuse and it’s one I never used and never will use (some people are amazed how much I have already lost since child birth!).  Weightwise, I hope this program will get me at an overall better weight. 

Now on the health side of things, I suffer from 2 irritating ailments that effect most people.  The major one right now is Acid Reflux, also known as GERD.  I have dealt with this issue for well over 2 years now and have been subjected to many tests that lead to no real answer.  Instead, I have to take medication twice a day in order to feel remotely comfortable.  I go to one of the best GI doctors in the nation and I still suffer 🙁  The other ailment I have is PolyCystic Ovarian Syndrome, also known as PCOS.  This ailment is what forced me to seek fertility treatment 2 years ago and to finally have Raegan.  Sadly, PCOS can lead to Type 2 Diabetes, along with infertility, unwanted hair on the face (sometimes chest in extreme cases), excess weigh around the middle (my trouble spot for MANY years), and adult acne.  Some celebrities who have PCOS include Victoria Beckham, Kate Gosselin, and Jillian Michaels to name a VERY small few.  Chuck and I would love to add another child to our family but what we would really love is to get pregnant without all the doctors and drugs…But I also made peace knowing that getting pregnant again might require going back to the specialists and I’m confident to say that we are both prepared for that regardless. 

So to sum it all up (minus the sob story!), I would like to fix what’s ailing me and it appears that Rip’s approach might help with some of that and I am always willing to give things “the old college try!”

Now before I end this post, I want to also inform my audience that this blog will NOT be in any way 100% focused on the Engine 2 Diet…My life is more than that and I promised all of you (including myself) that this blog will have some variety unlike most blogs out there.  This just kind of fell into my lap while I was creating this blog and it’s definitely worth talking about.  I signed up for the 28 Day Challenge in hopes that this might open even more doors to this blog and more importantly, my own life.  This Wednesday, (June 15th) is the first day of the 28 Day Challenge.  Whole Foods has provided support group sessions along with providing experts in Behavioral Management to help along the way.  I think the thing I am excited about is doing something and actually finishing until the end.  It’s been a long time that I have done something like that and I remember that awesome feeling of accomplishment! 

Moving forward, I will be attending the Richmond Vegetarian Festival this weekend (just as a patron…not a speaker!  OK not yet anyways…) and also I have been contacted to contribute an article for a small vegan magazine located on the west coast.  I have absolutely no idea on what I want to write about (I am open to ideas!) and I feel guilty for not really having any awesome ideas but whatever I come up with, you bet, I will be sharing it here 🙂  As I am typing this, somewhere in my mind I am just thinking about my little vegan dreams coming alive.  When I became vegan back in late 2008 (literally months after Chuck and I were married) we originally did it for health/animal welfare reasons and soon enough, the ripple effect happened and I couldn’t be happier 🙂  If one day I become a famous blogger or vegan writer, I certainly hope I get a chance to thank all of you personally who followed me all the way back to this humble post.  If there is one thing for sure, this Real Vegan Housewife is going to have one awesome year ahead…