Happy Herbivore Blog

Minimalist Monday: "Because I want to" (Live Intentionally)

Posted by: Lindsay S. Nixon |

Category: Minimalist

"When people ask me why I moved out to California I simply respond "because I wanted to." I've learned that there's a small subset of socially acceptable reasons for moving across the country - family, job, business opportunity - and "because I want to" is not included in that set. It just showed me how rare it is to live intentionally, but how powerful it is once you let go of the "right reasons" and follow your own path" - Laura Roeder

In the last four years, Scott and I lived in Boston, but moved to Los Angeles, then to New York City and then to St. Maarten. Allow me to demonstrate in a graph:

Today we leave St. Maarten.

But we're more than leaving, or moving to a new place. Today is the last day of our old life and the first day of our new life. 

You see, for years, Scott & I have tried to shove a round peg into a square hole. We tried to be the people we thought we were supposed to be and live the lives we thought were supposed to live. When you do something for other people, and not yourself, you will not find happiness. At least we didn't.

We kept thinking that we'd find a place that we loved so much we'd want to stay there. We'd buy a house, set up a life, find the perfect couch - do the things adult married people do. Do all the things our families and friends wanted us to do ("get settled"). But the longer we stayed somewhere the less I liked it. The feeling of ants in my pants kept getting stronger and I'd be itching to leave. And eventually I'd get my way and we would.

In the 7 years I've been with Scott he has lived in 12 apartments and 5 states and 2 countries. Recently we decided to move to Colorado, which I was excited about -- but the prospect of staying there forever had me nervous. 

I kept saying things like "why can't we live in New York for part of the year, and Colorado or Montana for part of the year and abroad for part of the year... and... and... why do I have to stay in the same place all year, year after year?"

My mother chimed in at that point and said, "Because that's what you do Lindsay. You're 30 and he's 33. It's time you two found a place and settled down. Figured out where you are going to live. Finally stay put." But settling down and staying in one place was not what I wanted to do. That much was evident. 

So instead of trying to shove the round peg into the square hole again -- I decided to go seek out a round hole. 

I decided to embrace the art of nonconformity.

Scott took a telecommute job. It required a cut in pay, and significant change of course in the career path he was on, but he is excited about this new path and he's even more excited to have a job that allows him to literally work and live anywhere.Finally, we are free.

We no-longer have to stay in the same place anymore. We can get up and go when we want. I can live everywhere and anywhere. I can live the life I always wanted. Live the way I always wanted. Be who I was supposed to be. Be who I really am: a vagabond. 

It feels so good not to apologize for who I am or who I am not. 

Now I'm not saying you should quit your job and jump on the vagabond band wagon, because I'm sure this lifestyle would give some people anxiety, just like living in the same place gave me anxiety. 

My hope is to remind you to embrace the weird. Dare to dream. and dare to do! 

Be who you are because you are perfect. We are all perfect and beautiful and complex and different. Be who you are supposed to be. Even if it means embracing the art of nonconformity. 

and laugh. 

*"The Art of Nonconformity" is a blog, by a guy not too unlike me

Getting Your Family On Board with a Plant-Based (Vegan) Diet

Posted by: Lindsay S. Nixon |

Category: FAQ

Related to yesterdays post, Plant-Based Meals for Meat Eaters, I wanted to address another common question: How to get your partner, or parent, or child -- or best friend, on board with a plant-based (vegan) diet.

In my experiences, I've had 0 converts when I pushed or tried preach to someone why they should adopt a plant-based (vegan) diet. 

I'm of the persuasion you can lead the horse to water but you cannot make him drink.

So how, then, do you get them involved and inspired to make a change?

1. lead by example

2. spark a curiosity 

3. answer questions and educate

4. feed them really good food

Back when I first changed my diet, I brought muffins into work and no one would try them because the 'office vegan' had made them... I remember trying to hand one off and someone said "sorry no, I'm not adventurous enough." The next week I brought in a banana bread (the one from the happy herbivore cookbook) and left it in the common area.

By lunch, the bread was gone and I sent out an office-wide email sharing the recipe. No one could believe that they'd eaten (and liked!) vegan food---and something that was also fat-free and healthy. Everyone's attitude changed that day and anytime I brought something in, everyone happily tried it.

I also sparked a curiosity.My coworkers started asking me questions, started scoping out what I was eating. This gave me the opportunity to kindly inform them why I did what I did (and they always found it interesting and convincing) and help create a positive image about this lifestyle. 

By the time I left that job, one girl had committed to eating vegetarian until dinner and many of my other coworkers were regularly eating vegan and vegetarian meals on their own -- taking my recipes home to their families and asking me to bring more food in to the office. Such a change from refusing the muffins!

Know this: If you've having a great time, are happy and really enjoying what you are doing (eating), chances are it will spark a curiosity -- and once that seed is planted, you can nurture it.

I was talking to a friend recently who is now vegetarian (eating mostly vegan) and she said that seeing me, and some other friends, going nuts over our meals at restaurants, that she started asking for a bite to see what the fuss was all about, and she discovered, hey the food is pretty good! and then she'd ask us questions about what we ate and how we lived and why we did what we did, which we'd always answer... and the information motivated her even more... all of those experience together, eventually motivated her to make a change.

Remember: It's a marathon.... slow and steady. 

Lead by example. Educate (but don't preach) and Feed them.

For the love of muffins, feed them. and every time they try something, thank them.

Another good tip: (This was left in the comments yesterday) -- offer up bite-size samples, that way they are only committing to a bite and most people will try one bite of anything if you offer it with a smile!

The first step in sparking change happens with one tasty bite!

Plant-Based (Vegan) Meals for Meat Eaters

Posted by: Lindsay S. Nixon |

Category: FAQ

This same question kept popping up on Happy Herbivore this week. 

First Diane asked, "I make dishes for myself separate from my family, unless it's your muffins or cakes, which they eat. I was wondering if you have any tips on how to make my family eat the same as me without them feeling like they are giving up something and resenting me for it?"

Then Ember asked, "Any tips on cooking meals for a non veg husband without cooking 2 separate meals? He is very flexible. I thought someone might have good recipes that are easy to add a meat portion to on the side?"

and many others along those lines.

Here is my advice:

1. Serve something that is familiar, and

2. Inherently plant-based (vegetarian)

That means picking meals that don't involve meat substitutes. I love gardein and lentil loaves and seitan, but I recognize that they're a little weird and strange to a newcomer, especially if that newcomer loves his or her meat products and identifies them self as a "carnivore." 

You should also skip over anything that involves tofu unless the tofu is hidden. (People are often afraid of tofu or put off by it. I know I was, even when I was a vegetarian.) 

Anytime I go to a party where the food is vegan but not all of the guests are, I notice the omnivores (especially those totally new to vegan fare) tend to huddle around things like fruit salad, bean dip, chips and salsa, hummus and veggies. That's because these are "safe" foods. Some might dare label them "normal" foods. Point is, they are foods we're all familiar with.

It doesn't even really matter about the whole herbivore vs. carnivore thing. Most people are pretty timid about trying something new so serve up a dish they already know and love.

Not only will this create a harmonious meal time, it'll open up their eyes to how awesome plant-based (vegan) fare can be and help dissipate the notions that vegans subsist on weird foods, iceberg lettuce salads and smelly boca burgers.

Everyone loves Mexican food so Mexican dishes are always a safe bet. Black beans, pinto beans, rice, salsa, guacamole---rock on! My husband's boss was over for dinner last night and I created a build-your-own-nachos bar with chips, tomatoes, black beans, corn, jalapenos, green chilis, black olives, guacamole, salsa, Mexican Chorizo (p. 147 HHC) and Mexican Quick Queso (p. 263 HHC).

I know serving the chorizo goes against my "rule" but Scott said his boss really loved taco meat, so I thought it was a safe bet since it would be slipped in with everything else... which brings me to my next point.

The more you know about the person you're feeding, the easier this is. If you know what they like or don't like, you can cater around that.

Next up, pasta. Pasta is also a crowd pleaser (and really easy!). Never forget that a beautiful pasta dish can really go a long way! 

Another good thing about pasta: If someone wants to add meat or cheese to it, they can. I went to a dinner party once where the host served a really wonderful pasta dish that was inherently vegan, but she'd left a plate of grilled chicken and a bowl of shredded cheese on the counter so the other guests could add it to their helping. 

Vegetable casseroles are also generally well received, along with soups and stews. Even bean chilis tend to go over well, especially when they are served with cornbread.

I've complied a list of all the dishes I've served my rather skeptical family and friends in hopes that it will help you feed yours.

I also recommended the Mexican Dip (p. 230 HHC) to Diane and she reported back that her husband and two teenage sons LOVED it and couldn't get enough. 

A Herbie also sent this email in: Tonight I made your black bean burgers... and as a precaution some beef burgers for my kids. Guess which burgers were left over, not even touched. The neighbors dog will be happy!

Top 10 Vegan Dishes to Feed Omnivores:

  1. Sweet & Spicy Butternut Soup (p. 59)
  2. Creamy Carrot Soup (p. 62) <-- good chilled too, btw!
  3. Chili Sans Carne (p.81) & Cornbread (p. 49)
  4. Chickpea Tacos (p. 97)
  5. Portobello Steaks (p. 148)
  6. Vegetarian Delight (p. 116)
  7. Cheater Pad Thai (p. 117)
  8. Hawaiian Chickpea Teriyaki (p. 127)
  9. Tamale Casserole (p. 167)
  10. Chickpea Noodle Soup