Happy Herbivore Blog

When a salad does you in (a story on food poisoning)

Posted by: Lindsay S. Nixon |

Category: Advice

I feel like I should have a badge that says "I survived e.coli!" 

Actually, we're not entirely sure that's what I had, but it seems the likely candidate. Let me back up: Towards the tail end of my Eurotrip I ended up with a bad case of food poisoning. (I guess no case of food poisoning is "good" so maybe my descriptive word should be "severe").

It was a salad that did me in. I even have a picture:

I remember eating this salad and thinking "My god--just look how RED the tomatoes are. I've never seen such red tomatoes! I should take a picture and blog about this brilliant produce!"

Ugh, hem.

About 10 to 20 minutes after I'd eaten the salad, it didn't sit right. We've all had that feeling before -- food feels like a brick sitting sideways in our stomach.

I thought that maybe I'd eaten too fast or maybe my stomach was being fussy about all fiber. I'd been on a train all morning and hadn't had much to eat (so my stomach was pretty empty before I dumped a salad into it) and I'd just been in Italy where my diet had been rather carb heavy... whatever, it would pass, I told myself. 

I chugged a bottle of water and went about my business. Specifically, I signed up for a group tour. (Bad choice). 

I got to the tour rendezvous point and felt queasy. I thought it was a combination of the heat (91F) and the smell of nearby stables (we all have smells that make us gag, for me, that's poo). Still, I was determined to stick with my tour. Surely I'd feel better once we moved away from the smell and into the shade...

Wrong. It happened. It was completely uncontrollable, a scene right out of Bridesmaids. I hurled with a passion all over the streets of Seville. It was painfully obvious what I had eaten... my clearly visible salad starred back at me... and it continued.

I have never, in all my life, been so sick. I'd thought a time or two before that maybe, maybe I'd had food poisoning but I let me tell you something: if you have food poisoning YOU KNOW YOU HAVE FOOD POISONING. 

For years I'd been operating under a false sense of security. I thought by being a plant eater I was immune from food born illness, which made this whole experience that much more jarring. 

I spent two days and two nights throwing up anything I tried to put down. Even after the actual throwing up stopped, I could only eat small bits of food -- a cracker, a little soy yogurt, and I had to fight of the nausea for hours afterward. 

For days I played this game. I'm still playing it. For a while, most food turned me off completely and I didn't even want to try to get it down, but I'm getting better. 

Even now, over a week later, (at home, having survived a 8-hour plane ride filled with trips to the small bathroom) I'm still not totally recovered. 

But, I'm eating solids again (yahoo!), which is great, though my body is really finicky and last night, for whatever reason, PB&J was a bad, bad choice and I spent the entire night running to the bathroom from a sort of... bowel distress (sorry for the TMI). 

So what's with the TMI anyway? Why am I telling you my sad salad story?

I wanted to make a sort of public service announcement. I washed my vegetables thoroughly with water, but not soap, and I thought that was sufficient. I thought I was "safe."

I'm not sure if soap or some other kind of cleansing wash (vinegar or baking soda, for example) would have made a difference, but maybe it wouldn't have made a difference at all and I'd still have gotten sick and thrown up in public. 8x. I'll never know.

My hope in sharing my story is that it can be a reminder that vegetables can carry contaminants too, and we should all take safety precautions. I've let my guard down too often, and now I never will again. 

They look harmless enough, right?

I'm not 'vegan' anymore

Posted by: Lindsay S. Nixon |

Category: AdvicePopular

I'm not vegan anymore. I'm a happy herbivore.

This is a post and a statement I've been thinking about writing for a while, and after the events of yesterday (both those on this blog and on the Facebook wall), I feel compelled to finally say it: you win, I'm out.

For the past five years that I've been "vegan" I've been told, repeatedly, I'm not vegan enough. 

No matter how hard I tried, no matter how perfectly I thought I was living, something I did was always wrong. The vegan police were always ready to jump in and take away my vegan card. Now, mind you, it wasn't like I went an ate a burger or something... it was more acute than that.

For example, I once tweeted I'd eaten cotton candy at a baseball game. Big mistake. I received a wave of angry texts and tweets about how I wasn't vegan if I ate cotton candy, and how unresponsible it was of me not to source the sugar in the cotton candy first. I think my reaction was R-rated but in the retelling of this story, let's just say I shouted "good grief!" 

What I don't understand, and what I've written about before, is why are these vegans taking the time to run around and tell people trying to be vegan they're not vegan enough, instead of using that time and energy helping someone who isn't vegan at all?

Is veganism some cool club that I'm not worthy to get into?Do we really want to make it about exclusivity rather than inclusivity? 

Someone said to me once, and I think this is painfully true, for cruelty-free dieters, vegans sure are cannibalistic! 

I'm sure the 'vegan police' will jump up hooting and hollering with great pride that I've decided to renounce my vegan title (after all, thats what they asked me to do yesterday) -- like they've accomplished some great thing -- a "poser" is no-longer infringing on their turf, but the rest of us will see how sad this really is. 

As plant-based eaters, we are a minority. We need to stick together and support each other. We need to spend our time helping others eat more plants and less animals, not deciding or judging who is or who is not vegan enough for their standards.

I'm eating plants, not animals, don't worry about me. 

To the vegan police: Know that if you continue down this road, you are only hurting your cause, not helping it. I'm pretty set in my ways, but had I been newly vegan, or more unsure, the events of yesterday would have made me run for the hills screaming "vegans are crazy extremists!" and then you've accomplished the exact opposite of your goal: you'd have made me eat more animal products, not less...

Over a dozen people left comments like this one yesterday, and I think it speaks volumes to how harmful - not helpful - drawing lines in the sand within our community can be:

"The comments here have made me re-think the way I describe myself. Even though I am a "vegan" by the strictest definition this is not a group I want to be a part of. I no longer consider myself a vegan."

I have always tried to make Happy Herbivore a safe space where anyone can feel welcome and not judged. I've learned that if you want people to make a change you must show them kindness and compassion.You must build them up rather than tear them down. 

I always make a point to applaud the steps someone has taken rather than belittle them where they fall short. 

and perhaps thats why I'm the happy herbivore and not the happy vegan. 

I don't know how much luck these others have had 'converting' people with their methods and attitudes but from where I'm standing they've just lost me, so that's a -1. Maybe I was never "vegan" anyway, and now I don't ever want to be.

I'm simply, a happy herbivore. 

To anyone who reads about this drama and thinks "ack! vegans are crazy extremists! get me out of here!" know that it's not reflective of the entire community. There are many wonderful vegans out there and I'm lucky to call a lot of them my friend... but as with any group, you'll find people who are fanatical and mean. 

If you're looking for a place where people embrace each other, love each other, respect each other and come together over a big bowl of vegetables, join Happy Herbivore on Facebook.

Vegans, vegetarians, flexitarians, omnivores and people who don't know what they are, ALL are welcome. We all come together with the same purpose: to eat more plants, to eat more "vegan" meals, to be healthier and of course, to call each other friends. 

This is my promise, my commitment, to you. I will never judge you, you are all perfect. Keep up the good work!

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Update: 2:30 p.m. Between the blog and Facebook, this post today has received over 600 "likes", over 300 comments, over 100 tweets, and I've personally received over 2 dozen emails. Words cannot express how touched I am (I'm crying!). Thank you, THANK YOU for your support and THANK YOU for being you. 

Update: (next day): Over 1,000 total likes...over 500 comments... wow. Thank you for the overwhelming support. I this means my message has rang loudly...  hopefully now, real change can be made... with compassion, kindness and no judgment.

Final Update: I'm closing comments on this post -- over 350 have poured in on the blog alone. I have loved reading your stories and I'm so touched by all the kind, supportive comments! Sadly, I'm no-longer able to keep up, so Let me just say "thanks!" 

We stand together!

In Defense of My Recipes

Posted by: Lindsay S. Nixon |

Category: Advice

(I'm stealing this blog post title from the fabulous Dreena Burton...who had a similar issue.)

Ever since writing my cookbook, I've tried to deal better with criticism. I've accepted that not everyone is going to like all of my recipes and some people may hate my book altogether. When those people come along, I try not to let this make me want to quit. 

Anyway, today I noticed I had a new 1-star review on Amazon... and

I couldn't help myself, I had to look:

"After reading the reviews I had a look at happyherbivore.com, I was curious if she used oil in the recipes. Well after reading the mashed potato recipe it is obvious there is no skill here. Garlic powder, onion flakes...come on give me a break, who cooks like that? I just could not buy this book after reading the mashed potato ingredients."

I wanted to scream -- bang my fists into the floor and pull my hair out. 

Well, dear reviewer, *I* cook like that. 

I'm also not quite sure why my *book* is getting a bad review for a recipe that's on my *blog* but that's not here nor there. People can think what they want.... but of all the 150 recipes that are free on this website I'm not sure why he or she picked that one to look at, or why that recipe alone convinced him or her I'm not talented... or what they were expecting from a recipe for mashed potatoes. I mean, it's mashed potatoes...

But, yes, I'm going to throw a temper tantrum because I don't think it's fair. or deserved. 

and because Dreena is far more eloquent then me, let me borrow some of her language to explain my feelings:

"I know the positive reviews outweigh the bad. And I know that's what is important. But I feel I need to stick up for myseld and my own work here, and since this is my blog, that's what I'm going to do." 

Mashed potatoes, by the way, are AWESOME with garlic powder and onion powder (or onion flakes). It really gives them something extra -- a lot of flavor without the fat (butter, cream). 

As you all know, I love my dried spices! They're cheap, convenient, and fast! Plus I don't have to waste time chopping and sauteing. I'm a lazy cook, a home cook... a girl who wants easy, healthy and tasty all at once... and I'm not going to apologize for that.