Happy Herbivore Blog

Smoking Isn't Okay, But Junk Food Is?

Posted by: Lindsay S. Nixon |

Category: Advice

A Herbie sent this email in:

"I was at a deli picking up some lunch with my buddies. As I waited for my veggie sandwich, one of my buddies had started a conversation with another customer. I am not sure what started the conversation, but the next thing I know my buddy points to me and tells her, "He's vegan." She looks at me and asks me if this is true, and I say, "Yes."

She then goes on to talk about how she is supporting an industry by eating meat, and so on. Then she makes two statements that I found sad. She tells my buddy, "Well, maybe that's why he is thin, and I am overweight." She then goes on to say, "I'll probably be on Lipitor, but oh well."

I just politely looked at her this entire time. What saddens me is not having a complete stranger hard time me about my dietary choices, but the fact she realizes she is overweight and will need meds soon to cure something caused by her food choices."

This story reminded me of an experience I had. I was in a gas station buying magazines for my flight later that day. The man in front of me asked for pack of cigarettes. The cashier had been eating a glazed doughnut before he and I walked up, and disgruntling put it down saying to the man, "you know those [pointing to the cigarettes] are bad for you, right? smoking will give you cancer." The man didn't respond, but all I could think was, how is it socially acceptable to make that kind of statement to a stranger especially when you consider what might have happened had I said something like, "You know that doughnut could lead to type 2 diabetes, obesity and possibly, cancer." Had I said that to her, I would be considered out of line, insanely rude. That kind of statement is not socially acceptable.

When I walked outside I heard the man retelling the story to his girlfriend, who was the smoker that wanted cigarettes. The girlfriend got really agitated and told her boyfriend she was going to walk inside and give that [name calling here] a piece of her mind. Her boyfriend kept saying, "it's not worth it baby, let's just go" and the girl would respond "who is she to judge me when she's not making good choices herself!"

A few hours later I was at the airport and my terminal happened to be next to a Burger King. I watched as they had a steady stream of customers and I wondered what would have happened if BK's cashier had made a comment or provided a "warning" about the food served the way the cashier did at the gas station.

Except that wouldn't happen. Why? You might say, well, because the cashier would be fired for disparaging a product, but isn't that exactly what the cashier did at the gas station? Or maybe "well, they can't, or people wouldn't buy the burgers" but the man still bought those cigarettes.

Why do you think it's socially acceptable to make a comment regarding smoking, but not regarding food?

Herbie of the Week: Monica

Posted by: Lindsay S. Nixon |

Category: Herbies

Meet Monica, our Herbie of the week! Monica is a plant-based mom, who was even plant-based during her fourth pregnancy! She's talking to us about raising a plant-based family. Thanks, Monica!

Q: Please give us a little history about yourselves?

My sister-in-law and my nephew became vegan (eating a lot of vegan "crap", though!) around 2005 and I, like many others, were pretty skeptical of their choice, even though I had always struggled myself with the ethical implications behind eating animal. Overtime I became curious, I did some research and read somewhere that a vegan diet can help with headaches and migraines, which had plagued me since I was a little girl and had increasingly gotten worse as I got older. So I got myself the "Vegetarian starter kit", and one Saturday in February 2006, during lunch, I announced to my husband and then 3 kids that I would stop buying and cooking any kind of animal products, only exception was cheese, because my husband and my daughters still wanted to have a cheese pizza, and I explained the ethical reasons behind it. They just accepted my decision without much complaining.

Q: How did your family deal with your transition? Any resistance?

The girls, age 7 1/2 and 5 1/2 at the time, didn't put up much resistance like I said, they just understood that we were going to eat food that would't involve hurting animals, and they were perfectly fine with that. To make the transition more acceptable to them and to my husband, I conceded that they could have mozzarella on their pizza and parmigiano on their pasta, and ice cream occasionally, like when we travelled. Our son was almost 12 and wasn't completely sold on the idea, BUT he accepted it too. I told him that if he wanted, he could eat whatever he wanted when he went to other people's homes, but he mostly stayed vegan/vegetarian. For the longest time I considered him a "reluctant vegetarian", until an incident last fall when he went to a HS game with a friend and had a burger and the following day he got sick an, after telling me what he did, he swore he'll never eat meat again. So now he's 99% vegan, as he uses parmigiano on his pasta when we eat out.

My kids had always been picky, so being plant-based added one extra layer to the food they don't eat; they know now how to ask for something plain when they're in a situation where there's food they don't want to eat. When they stay at a friend's house for a sleepover, they sometimes only eat plain pasta or just bread, that's ok with me, because they eat a good diet at home.

Q: You mentioned you were pregnant and plant-based, can you tell us about that?

The fourth pregnancy happened 2+ years into eating plant-based, and I was also over 42 BUT it was by far the best pregnancy of the 4! Eating a good vegan diet, I was already getting all the nutrition needed, but I also took pre-natal vitamins (vegan ), since I did it for the other 3: every blood work, every test I took was perfect! The most amazing "side-effect" of the vegan pregnancy was that, unlike during my other pregnancies as an omnivore, I didn't suffer from constipation at all!! And you don't understand the HUGE benefit until you remember how being constipated during pregnancy leads to painful hemorrhoids, and that after giving birth being able "to go" without straining etc. is a fantastic bonus (is this TMI??) I should also mention that my OB was totally supportive of my eating lifestyle and that it is important to have someone who wouldn't criticize or harass you throughout the pregnancy.

Have you run into any problems with having children who are plant-based?

Sometimes having children who don't eat the typical American diet can create some problems, as in the case of birthday parties or sleepovers, but in those instances I do try to ask what they're going to serve and offer to bring something similar for my kids, especially the youngest one who can;t speak for herself, yet. This Sunday, for instance, my 2 year old is going to a birthday party of a little friend and I just emailed the Mom asking her if she'll have cake or cupcakes so I can bring something similar. Sometimes the hosting family tries to accommodate our choices, and that's really a sweet gesture, but we don't count on it. As far as school goes, they always bring their lunchbox with the food they like (American cafeteria foods is not exactly good, regardless of anyone's dietary choices) and sometime they share with their friends their vegan "stuff", and that in turn sometimes generates questions and conversation. Our son, in high school, gets occasionally some grief about being vegetarian/vegan but I think that there are so many people who are either allergic or intolerant to so many foods, that being vegetarian/vegan is not cause for big problems. Perhaps just curiosity.

Has your decision impacted any of your other family members?

I was born and raised in Milano, Italy, and I came to the United States in 1993 when I was 27, because I was in love with the (American) guy who was going to become my husband. In Italy we eat all sorts of animals and animal products (and if you've ever strolled down any Italian supermarket aisle, you know what I'm talking about!), but I have always felt the duplicity behind that lifestyle, some animals are more worthy of compassion and love than others.

Veganism in Italy is still mostly an ethical choice, but since The China Study has been translated and more information about the huge health benefits of eating a mindful, whole food, plant based diet are crossing "the pond", I noticed an increase in interest in the vegan choice. I am trying to get my parents to eat "the right way", since my Mom had a mild heart attack 3 years ago, but being that I'm so far away, it's not very easy, and I hit the usual "it's not what we eat in Italy" excuse, the "the doctor told me I need to eat some prosciutto" excuse.. it's very frustrating. I read Lindsay's parents improvements since they also started eating right, and I hope one day my own parents will make the switch! Thanks so much for sharing your story with us!

UPDATE: A year later Monica checked in with an update. Read her progress here.

This Week's Meal Plans Include A Minimalist Meals E-Book!

Posted by: Lindsay S. Nixon |

Category: MealPlan

We've included 12 new recipes in this week's meal plans, but we've also included an exclusive e-book on minimalist meals. I've written this e-book on how to make simple, fast, meals that are hassle free. New in the Individual Plan: Chocolate Oatmeal Tri-Color Scramble Tofu Scramble Portobello Wraps Mexican Broccoli & Potato Bowl “Steak” Tacos New in the Family Plan: Chocolate Oatmeal Portobello Wraps Tri-Color Wraps Mexican Broccoli & Potato Bowl Easy Beans & Rice “Steak” Tacos Get the new plan & and these recipes here. Testimonials: "Thanks for the great, great food. I've tried it all, and the apple jack smoothie, and the bean and rice burritos, to the apple banana cinnamon wraps this morning, have all been delicious, and the biggest difference between your recipes and all the others.. are ......wait for it... wait for it...My kids have been eating it too! 6 and 3, year olds are very picky. but they've eaten 3 outta 5 meals already, and i'm happy, and my family is too. I just realized i had all the tools but not the instructions.. thanks for the instructions."- Jay Get the current plan now.