Happy Herbivore Blog

Herbies of the Week: Cat & Shelton (They've Lost Over 190lbs Together!)

Posted by: Lindsay S. Nixon |

Category: Herbies

Meet our Herbies of the Week: Cat & Shelton!

Even though they came to the idea of going plant-based separately, this brother and sister team have been each other's cheerleader the entire time.

When they started their plant-based journey, Shelton weighed nearly 500lbs, but has lost over 130lbs and Cat is down more than 55lbs!!!

Amazing! Read on for their inspirational story!

I can’t relay my plant-based journey without including my brother, Shelton. We have always been very close. We are 7½ years apart, with a younger sister (who has NEVER had weight issues!) As children, Shelton and I sought comfort in food. Between the two of us, we never met a food we didn’t like! Our weight issues followed us into adulthood, although we each sporadically managed to lose (and regain!) significant amounts of weight.

Fast forward to about 2011: Shelton lived and worked with our dad, who has severe arthritis and needs a walker or scooter chair to get around. I lived about an hour away with my husband and young daughter. We came to the idea of plant-based eating separately, but around the same time. We both watched “Forks Over Knives,” we read “The Engine 2 Diet,” we both read “Eat To Live.” I had already given up eating meat (but made up for it with LOTS of sugar, so – no weight loss, and ever-increasing health problems.) Shelton was struggling with adult-onset diabetes, but began incorporating healthy changes slowly.

In 2012, I moved 500 miles away when my husband took a job in Florida. Working from home, without the support of friends or family, my weight hit an all-time high of 249 pounds. Even though I knew all about plant-based living, I wasn’t putting those principles into practice. One day, I made a special trip to the grocery store just to buy a box of Little Debbie cakes for a snack (I could eat an entire box of them in one sitting). I knew it was time to make a serious change. I cracked open my Happy Herbivore Cookbook, found HH online, and got to work. Lindsay’s practical, real-life information helped us move from knowledge to action.

Shelton had already started implementing healthy changes, and we started to regularly share tips (Like HH’s “5 ingredient rule”); recipes (HH Mushroom Burgers!) and revelations (I can carry around baked potatoes as snacks? That’s life-changing!) These days, Shelton and I regularly share information on substitutions, recipes we’ve tried, and vegan products: what tastes good, and what doesn’t. (One text from Shelton showed a container of vegan yogurt with the message: “Tastes like cough syrup. Avoid!”)

In the last year, we have both made a serious commitment to living the plant-based lifestyle. We talk or text almost every day, and we frequently text each other pictures of what we’re eating for lunch or dinner. Are we perfect? NO! Looking through our text messages, I found one from me: “A pretty good day – HH Scramble for breakfast, HH Hippie Loaf for lunch, but then: pizza for dinner. And cinnamon sticks. Tomorrow is another day!” The concept of “progress, not perfection” has really resonated with us. If I get stuck somewhere and cheese pizza is my only option, I now know that I won’t die if I eat it, nor will I be kicked out of the HH group. We do our best and keep trying!

Our family has been, for the most part, supportive. They have not offered to get on board with us, though. Shelton lives with my dad, who is NOT plant-based – Shelton plans, shops, and cooks two different sets of meals – I do, too, because my husband and daughter are not (yet!) on the Herbie plan. This is where the pre-prep really comes in handy for me. When I have cooked and frozen something like Hippie Loaf or have the menu plan components assembled or otherwise ready, it takes me 5 minutes to prep and plate my meal, so we can all sit down and eat together.

When we began our respective journeys, Shelton weighed in at 495 pounds. To date, he has lost 138 pounds. I weighed 249, and now weigh 192. So – 195 pounds between the two of us!

The biggest components of our journey: The meal plans, the cookbooks, the blog posts and support – all of these things set us up for success. We plan, we shop (once I was loading frozen vegetables into my cart with such zeal that a woman ran up to the freezer case and said “Are they on SALE?” My daughter said “Nope! My mom’s a HERBIVORE!”) we cook (and freeze). I cook for a couple of hours one Sunday each month to load the freezer with chili, soup, and HH Hippie Loaf. That way, there is always something on hand. We keep healthy snacks or bowl components on hand so we’re never at a loss for what we can eat. We have been inspired to whip up our own creations and share the recipes with each other.

We have learned how to plug in what we know when functioning in the “real world.” Shelton and his friends participate in pirate fests, singing sea shanties and enjoying the festival atmosphere. (Shelton’s before and after pics are in his pirate garb. The vest now buttons all the way up!) Shelton has learned how to make wise choices on these trips, and that it’s okay to let go sometimes and indulge. My daughter takes karate and frequently travels to tournaments. I keep HH-approved snacks in the travel bag for those days when she’s at the tournament all day and the only food choices are “snack bar” choices like hot dogs and potato chips.

If we were to give one bit of advice to someone struggling to make the plant-based leap, there are two important things:

1. BE PREPARED – set yourself up for success by keeping healthy foods on hand. Learn to make bowls, salads, wraps, and make them your “go-to” meals when you don’t have time or energy to be in the kitchen.

2. DON’T QUIT! As human beings, we strive for perfection and think our efforts don’t count when we don’t hit all our goals. But every effort to go plant-based counts. It really does get easier! You can eat satisfying, complete meals and get healthy. YOU CAN DO THIS!

Thanks so much for sharing your plant-based journey with us Cat & Shelton!

Another (Brief) Vegan Taste of Boston

Posted by: Lindsay S. Nixon |

Category: Travel

Last week we left for our summer abroad... stopping in one of our all-time favorite cities, Boston, along the way (Fun fact: Scott and I lived in Boston for about four years when I attended law school).

Boston is a beautiful city with a spirit and pride I can't quite describe. The people and culture are distinctively different, but in a way that's refreshing and honest.

I loved living in Boston, and although it isn't my home, not really -- I'm not from there, I have no family there, I did not grow up there... it feels a little like home. (Perhaps because I find I visit it more often than other places...) but I digress.

Boston is beautiful, with no shortage of history, culture, baseball, or things to do. You could walk around the city for hours and never tire of the experiences...

and now Boston is also its own little vegan mecca... quite a change from the city I left 7 years ago.

To give the city some credit, there were two vegetarian restaurants when I lived there, and a thriving veg society... but eating out was all kids of difficult in a very "meat and potatoes" and "seafood" proud town.

Little by little it got better, and by the time I left I had more than a dozen restaurants I could eat at (and by eat, I mean something more than an iceberg lettuce salad).

Each time I return I'm surprised to find still more options---and healthy ones at that. I also find the v-word is now widely understood in restaurants and shops. Everyone I came in contact with knew what "vegan" meant. I didn't have to spend 10 minutes explaining as I used to, and even better, no one laughed in my face or made fun of me!! It was totally normal, if not the tiniest bit trendy in a city where I never thought "vegan" could be socially acceptable. (A rich student body is surely the explanation... there are so many colleges and universities in Boston I could never name them all... or maybe the world just is getting its veggies together!!)

Our time in Boston was severely limited---two Red Sox games in 36 hours then out!

BUT I was able to still squeeze in a trip to my favorite Boston veg restaurant, Grasshopper.

Grasshopper was one of the "original" vegan joints in town and still remains my favorite. There are plenty of other vegan places too, and over the course of a half dozen trips, I have been to nearly all of them (even some that are now closed). I've written about most of them in previous posts (read here, and here and here) if you need some additional reading :)

In the picture above is my dish---a never-goes-out-of-style special, the Family Supreme, which is just veggies (and they happily prepared it without oil at my request). It normally comes with eggplant too, but I don't "do" eggplant, so they hooked me up with extra asparagus!

The other plate is a curry noodle that my friend ordered, and a "beef" dish that Scott selected. I don't normally like fake meats, but have to say that beef one was pretty spectacular. As was the curry. My pal, Stephanie, ordered a sweet potato coconut noodle curry the previous visit that was also exceptional.

The signature favorite is called "No Name" and it's a sweet and sour gluten that, I admit, sounds nasty and looks a little odd, but I must admit is exceptional, if not a touch unhealthy ;)

They also have a vegan berry cheesecake that is out of this world. I'm not usually one for ordering rich desserts at restaurants, but when we moved away from Boston after graduation, the manager graciously gifted me a free slice of the cheesecake at my last meal. I had the hardest time sharing it with my friends and still think of it fondly!

Moving on....

I was also thrilled to see the vegan options were still at Fenway, and that more have been added to the line up! (That was a bad baseball pun.)

P.S. Most pro stadiums have vegan burgers or vegan hot dogs now, though they aren't at every concession. The only park I've been to that hasn't had them was the Yankee Stadium, and as a die hard Sox fan... I'll stop speaking now ;) You can visit Veggie Happy for a list, and also check out the huge resources section in my Guide for more info.

I ordered the fruit cup (yes, I'm lame but it was hot outside!) and Scott scored a vegan hot dog. I didn't take pictures, but you can see the hot dog in a previous post.

After the game we stopped at Boston Beer Works and had this great salad:

and then it was off to France.

We had a quick layover in Montreal and I was delighted to find this pizza in the terminal. I ordered it without cheese (sans fromage). Quite delicious with steamed spinach and baby tomatoes. I'd have never thought to put cooked spinach on my pizza, but I'll be doing that from now on.

Next stop: Nice, France.

BTW -- we flew Air France. While they allegedly have a vegan entree option upon special request, they completely screwed up and didn't have the meal on board for us. (I think they gave it away to our neighbors across the aisle by accident, but didn't want to admit it). If you DO fly, ANY carrier, make sure you check the box for a vegan meal AND call ahead to confirm a few days before departure. (As this is not the first time this happened to us). You can find more information about traveling as a herbie in the Guide (also available in Audible format -- AND read by me!). Seriously, there is a ginormous chapter.

Thankfully I had packed enough fruit, HH muffins, and other snacks that Scott and I were fine. Buuuut a real reminder to always take precaution!

Carrot Hot Dogs, BBQ Sloppy Joes, "Beef" Stroganoff & More!

Posted by: Lindsay S. Nixon |

Category: MealPlan

Spend more time enjoying your 4th of July weekend than thinking about what to make with this week's star-spangled meal plan!

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You'll also enjoy patriotic plant-based recipes like the Red, White & Blue Pancakes (fam.), Patriotic Smoothie, Red, White & Blue Parfait (indi) and much more!

Carrot Hot Dogs

Individual Highlights

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  • Carrot Hot Dogs (NEW!)
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BBQ Sloppy Joes

Family Highlights

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  • Portobello Steak Tacos
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Red, White & Blue Parfait

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