Happy Herbivore Blog

Herbie of the Week: Stephen (He's Off His Medications & Down 75lbs!)

Posted by: Lindsay S. Nixon |

Category: Herbies

Meet our Herbie of the Week: Stephen!

After years of unhealthy eating habits, everything changed when he met his wife. Once she went vegan, Stephen decided to follow in her veggie footsteps and started to notice all sorts of changes -- both mentally and physically.

Before long, Stephen was off his medication for anxiety and lost more than 70lbs!

Read on for Stephen's inspiring story!

After years of eating unhealthy I became more and more concerned with my weight, health and over all well being. After high school, I stopped exercising and started working for a company which put me on the road for hours or days at a time. I would eat out not only every day, but almost every meal.

It wasn't until I met my wife that things started to turn around for me. Based on her being vegetarian (at the time) we would begin cooking meals in, rather than going out as much as I used to. She then went vegan after some of her own health reasons and I explained to her that it didn't make sense for her to cook two separate meals for dinner each night, I would just have whatever she was making for herself.

Once I started eating vegan and started to see a difference not only physically, but mentally too, I realized this was the right decision for me. I was able to get off of every single medication (for anxiety and anti-depressants) I was on for YEARS! I can't even remember a time when I wasn't on medication. I feel better than I've ever felt and I'm more confident and outgoing than I have ever been.

The hardest part for me was giving up dairy. Who doesn't love a good cheeseburger every now and then, right? Well, now it's more like a veggie burger with daiya cheese, but it's delicious and I feel so much better after I eat it than I would with a regular cheeseburger.

When I met my wife I weighed 215 lbs and I'm now a healthy 140 lbs. To this day, I have been vegan for almost 2 years. After a recent visit to my doctor, my blood pressure is perfect (120/78) and my doctor couldn't be happier! I am at a point where I am maintaining my weight healthfully but I do enjoy my desserts, just a little differently now than I used to. My wife makes a delicious avocado pudding that I love and we buy vegan almond ice cream that I could eat a pint of at a time! {But I choose not to!}

A lot of my motivation for this change was to be healthier, but I felt so sluggish when I was over 200 lbs that I really just wanted more energy. I love to kayak, bike, run and do other outdoor activities and I found that they weren't getting any easier the heavier I got. I hope my story inspires you and gives you a reason to toss the burger and grab some veggies!

Thank you so much for sharing your story with us, Stephen!

Plant-Based (Vegan) Camping Ideas & Tips

Posted by: Lindsay S. Nixon |

Category: TravelAdvice

With summer officially one day away, it's about that time to bust out the tent and sleeping bags for some camping!

I have a HUGE section in my new book, The Happy Herbivore Guide to Plant-Based Living (also available in Audible format -- and read by me!) dedicated to camping and what foods to bring, but here's a quick rundown on how to survive as a Herbie in the great outdoors!

To start off-- it really depends on what type of "camping" you are doing. If you have access to a grill/fire pit (and most campsites have this either at your individual site or a group communal area), then you can make pretty much anything you would at home on a stove. All you need is a pot and a skillet plus foods/ingredients that are shelf stable (like canned beans and pantry items) and fresh items that don't need refrigeration, or last in a cooler. The good news is, most plant-based foods fit this bill so the possibilities are endless. The only thing you can't do is bake, though some people I know bake pizza and other breads on grills all the time.

However, even if you can't bake, you can always bake some muffins ahead -- they're great for any kind of traveling!

If you're camping in an RV, it's even easier.

If you don't want to cook a lot, you can make things like canned soups, oatmeal (just add hot water!), vegetarian baked beans, canned beans, canned vegetables, fresh fruits. You can make PB&J sandwiches for hikes, buy the hummus powder you only have to mix with water (they even have powdered soy milk online), dried fruits, trail mix, crackers and other non-perishable foods.

A friend of mine makes my 6-ingredient burgers and has "burgers" with condiments and buns. All the ingredients to make the burgers are non-perishable and they're easy to make at a campsite.

I also came across these great suggestions from camping Herbies:

"I made pancakes for breakfast. I pre-mixed the dry ingredients and put it in a container so I just had to add the almond milk."

"Anything you can cook at home can be done while camping. We love to camp and stay plant-based. Foil packets (aka silver turtles) can be customized and are easy to cook on coals or a grill. Grilled corn and pineapple are wonderful. Watermelon blueberry salad is nice and refreshing. Grilled pizza is an option as well."

"I make a few different bean burgers (and freeze them)."

"I would make some muffins ahead of time and freeze them, then thaw out when you want to eat. Since they don't have to be kept frozen they double as ice in a cooler (that way you aren't wasting cooler space on ice/ice packs)."

"Fajitas were our favorite, cut up onions peppers mushrooms etc and cook in a foil pan over the fire, open a can of refried beans and heat the can on the fire, wrap tortillas in foil and warm in the fire. Serve with salsa and smashed avocado."

"Make up instant oatmeal packets before going and add hot water. You can also make salad in a jar."

"Burritos! I've made some great black bean sweet potato burritos. They travel well and are delicious. Also, HH black bean burgers. They are so easy and quick."

"I'd pack instant brown rice (cook 5 min in boiling water & sit 5 more) or Success brown rice (drop the bag of rice in boiling water for 10 min)."

You can also check out this post on Plant-Based (Vegan) Camping Trips: Tips from an Experienced Herbie Camper.

Happy camping!

What plant-based foods do you bring while camping?

Herbie of the Week: Sarah C (She's Lost Over 20lbs & Feels More Empowered Than Ever!)

Posted by: Lindsay S. Nixon |

Category: Herbies

Meet our Herbie of the Week: Sarah C!

Back when I had the 100,000 Herbies Giveaway, I received an email from Sarah that showed off her stunning transformation (which included a 24lb weight loss) thanks to a plant-based diet.

I knew right then she would be perfect for the Herbie of the Week series.

Here's Sarah's beautiful story in her own words...

Ever since college, I have struggled with my weight. I was obsessed with new fad diets such as calorie restriction, low-fat, low-carb, cabbage soup, Acai berry, the Zone, South Beach, and the Grapefruit, Lemonade, and Special K diets! I have fallen off the wagon and eaten pizza (many slices at one sitting) and ice cream. Whole tubs of it. Entire packages of pasta. And my personal weakness, Thai food. Lots of it. And I was a vegetarian, but I had no idea what I was doing... so I found myself eating white rice with butter when I got hungry. YUK!!!

A couple years into marriage, I experienced such hunger pangs during pregnancy that I ate on the hour, round the clock. After all, this was the proverbial time of life that one could simply eat and not be judged—a great excuse to enjoy food! Well, by the time my second child was born, I was the heaviest I'd ever been, but hey, I was a mom, right?

Nonetheless, I vowed to watch what I ate—that is, until the next hunger pang came along, and I didn't exactly feel like giving up the bagels and pasta! I thought about joining a gym, but already had an exercise bike at home, so why spend the money? So I got on it. But somehow, because I was “exercising,” I also allowed myself to eat more. So when the nice lady next door came over with some holiday treats, I had three pieces. Uh-oh... The next day, I hesitantly stepped on the scale. I knew then that I had a problem, a serious problem that wasn't getting better, but in fact was getting worse. Not only was I obsessed with losing weight and dieting, but I was failing, and gaining weight. This scared me!

I wanted to lose weight, but was constantly hungry. To put it bluntly, my body wasn't budging. My mother would say, "You have two young children, give yourself a break. That's how mommies look!" But I wasn’t sure that was the case entirely, as I would see other moms back to their skinny selves. I would wonder to myself if they were naturally thin, or if they were actually disciplined about their diet and exercise routines. Casually, I asked a few women how they did it. They'd tell me different things such as, "Just walk" or "Yeah, I just breast-fed, and I snapped right back!" Or it might be, "Well, I've always been thin, and I only gained 20 pounds when I was pregnant" or "If I want to lose a little weight, I just watch my carb intake for a few days and weight just falls off." I even went so far as to jokingly ask my super skinny, ribs-sticking-out, seven-year-old, gymnastics-loving daughter what her secrets were. She took my query quite seriously, and made a list that is displayed prominently on our refrigerator. It says, "How to Get Skinny, by Lara":

1. Don’t eat a lot of junk food.

2. Walk up and down the stairs lots of times.

3. Do exercise bike every day.

4. Run or walk or jog places.

5. Do grown-up gymnastics.

Very wise—diet and exercise! Of course! Why didn’t I think of that?! No matter what answers I got and from whom, I knew in my heart that there was more to it than that. I was indeed missing some important pieces to the puzzle. My husband kept saying, "You're a vegetarian. Why are you overweight?" I would answer, "I DON'T REALLY KNOW!!!"

All those skinny women out there... it couldn't all be just genetics. I thought to myself, “Well, why not go ahead and just ask these women for their insider secrets, and not just a little piece of advice they could pass off while waiting for the kids after school.” I would ask a LOT of women a LOT of questions. I would find out the real deal. I desperately wanted to be thin again! I even had a cartoon drawn of myself at my ideal weight. Having someone sketch you thin is a lot easier than diet and exercise—LOL! But I wondered how exactly to lose weight, and keep it off, for good.

I wanted to know precisely what people ate, how much, when, were they always thin, and if not, what they did about it. Did they drink a lot of water, use supplementation? What were their fitness routines, and did they include weight training? What attitudes and philosophies did they embody? And anything and everything else I could think of, I would ask them. I wanted to find out if their skinniness was a force of nature, luck of the draw, or a matter of discipline at work!

What I came to realize was that although there are many woman who are and have always been thin, many rely on exercise and healthy eating habits to maintain their weight. Even the women who said things like, "I've been thin my entire life. I'm just lucky, I guess," upon further investigation, came to find that they eat small meals throughout the day, avoid processed foods and sugar like the plague, rarely drink soda or eat after 8 p.m., drink lots of water, take nutritional supplements, do yoga, go to the gym, and do weight-bearing exercises come hell or high water because having a healthy body is a priority to them. And whatever their disciplines or habits are, it has become a way of life.

During this time, I was introduced to the Happy Herbivore way of eating. I had found my people! These were other vegetarians out there that had made the transition to an oil-free vegan way of eating. This pretty immediately reset my blood sugar and insulin regulation. As a result, I was not as hungry, ate less, and made MUCH healthier choices. So between beating the formerly impossible cravings, having the energy for daily exercise, and eating from the Happy Herbivore meal plans, I decided to commit to succeed in losing weight and keeping it off for good! I prayed for the strength to remain disciplined. I prayed for health and for my body to change shape, and visualized success.

And I am more empowered and successful than the thought of weight loss itself, because I feel better than ever before, understand what mistakes I was making, and know what I am now doing correctly. I am exercising regularly as well as putting good things into my body at the throughout the day. As a result, my life and body have completely taken on a new shape.

Thank you so much, Happy Herbivore!!!

Thank YOU Sarah for sharing your story with us!