Happy Herbivore Blog

How to Withstand Negativity

Posted by: Lindsay S. Nixon |

Category: AdviceFAQMinimalist

This comment was left on HH's Facebook wall the other day, and I felt inspired and motivated to talk about it (again). To put it in in context, we were talking about the terrific documentary, Forks Over Knives, which I can't recommend enough. 

Robert said: Now we need a film that teaches us how to withstand the negativity from our friends and family over our plant-based diet. Not just negativity, but real hostility. Why would someone get angry over another's choice of food?

My heart aches for Robert, and anyone else who has experienced this. I've written about the hostility I experienced when I first switched to a plant-based (vegan) before. I talked about how one friend stopped inviting me to her parties (thereby making it awkward not just for me, but our mutual friends) and another kept canceling plans with me for no good reason and it wasn't until I asked her about it that she said she just didn't want to hang out with me anymore because I didn't "eat real food."

Most of my friends and family have been supportive and even those who were not supportive initially, or who teased me, or were highly suspect, have since come around. They might not eat a plant-based diet themselves, but they don't fuss about it anymore -- so hang in there! 

I lost a few friends, true, but I feel that they must not have been true friends any way if what I put on my plate could unravel our friendship so easily. 

Of course, that doesn't take the hurt away, or the sting of rejection I felt back then but I survived it. I came out of it a better person with more awareness. I was able to see who my real friends were and in many ways, that allowed our relationships to blossom further and reach a new level they might not have reached otherwise without this experience. 

I think the "trick" in getting people to power down requires two very distinct actions from you:

1. you can't get defensive and lose your cool. 

2. you must lead by example.

Regarding the first action, understand that when people act this way towards you (angry, hostile, etc) know that its because your mere existence makes them reflect back on themselves and they don't like what they see. They then attack you to make themselves feel better.

Gaby replied to Robert, "People get upset when you do something they wish they did. I think they see it as a threat." 

Bingo.

I have found when people are so dogmatic about something, or they get so upset about something you are doing for yourself, it's never about you or what you are doing. It's about them and their own inner demons.

I like that saying the worst thing someone can say about you, reveals a little truth about them.

And for the second action point, you must always lead by example. 

Since adopting a plant-based diet, Scott & I have both lost a lot of weight, our skin has cleared and is glowing, we both reversed or drastically reduced health and medical issues we had. We have ran marathons, taken up snowboarding --- we are healthy, happy people. We are thriving and you just can't argue with that.

Seeing how healthy and happy we are shushed the naysayers and the suspects because these are clear, tangible and physical results you just can't argue with. 

At my last family reunion, a few years since they'd seen us -- many of my relatives who were on the naysayer side quickly shuffled over to our table with curiosity, asking questions about being vegan or eating a plant-based diet. They were interested and wanted to learn more -- we'd inspired a curiosity.

You will attract people to our way of life if you lead by example, kindly encourage and be supportive. Answer questions, never get angry or defensive and always keep a cool head. THIS WORKS! 

I've watched it happen within my own family and group of friends. Five years ago I was the only one. Now there are 13 of us -- and that is really the most beautiful result of all. 

For more on this topic, See my post, The Secret to Handling Confrontation and Outward Negativity. 

Shelf-Life of Spices and Herbs

Posted by: Lindsay S. Nixon |

Category: FAQ

We all know I'm a short-cut cook and I love my spices. Ahh how much easier (not to mention tasty!) spices make my life...

Recently I was having a conversation with a friend -- she'd said she added a whopping 1 tbsp of cayenne to something and it still wasn't spicy... what gives? 

My eyes started tearing up at the thought! Cayenne is so strong! How could my friend possibly stand all that heat and say it's bland?! 

Then a light clicked on. "Jenny, how long have you had that cayenne?" I asked. There was a brief silence and then she replied "mmm about 2 years maybe.... why does it go bad?"

Spices don't go bad (that's the good news) the bad news? They lose their oomph. 

How often should you replace your spices?!

The general recommendation is 6 months, but I find if you store your spices correctly (in am air tight container in a cool, dry place) they can last much, much longer.

Whole spices (i.e. cinnamon sticks or peppercorns) last for years on end. Ground spices (i.e. ground ginger or ground cumin) can last a good 2 years, maybe longer. Dried herbs tap out pretty early, unfortunately, but some of the more potent ones will make it a full year. 

So how can you tell if your spices are still up to snuff? 

For one, when you sniff them, the smell will be really strong. With herbs, you want to go one step further and rub them between your fingers. If the smell still isn't strong,  they've probably lost their luster. (Sometimes herbs don't smell in the jar, but when rubbed they smell -- so they're still good to go. The color might also fade, but that doesn't automatically mean it's time for a new spice).

and since I know this question will bubble up...my favorite brand, without question, is Badia. 

This brand is inexpensive, you can find them at target and their spices are really, really strong and flavorful.

I'm convinced that Badia cinnamon is a gift from the Gods. You have not lived until you've had their cinnamon -- I mean it. (Buy it!) Here's how obsessed I am with the cinnamon: I take it with me when I travel. I gave bottles of it away at Christmas last year. It was humiliating but everyone thanked me later! :-)

I'm also a little crazy about Badia curry which I slip into anything that I think needs a little something else. I pretty much buy every spice Badia makes. They don't make ALL the spices that I use, but they do make most. 

One last thing about spices! I love granulated garlic powder and onion powder -- yes, but they're not to be confused with the powdery kind. I like the kind thats granulated like salt and not flour-like. Sometimes they're both called "powder" or the flour kind is "California style" just to make our lives more confusing! 

My awesome friend Tess snapped this picture to show the differences -- I like the one on the far right thats golden in color.

This Week's Q&A (10/27)

Posted by: Lindsay S. Nixon |

Category: FAQ

Ask Happy Herbivore: Your Questions Answered!

Have a question for me? leave a comment, share it on the Facebook wall or send me an email! Lindsay-at-happyherbivore-dot-com

1. What are some protein-rich foods?

Quinoa, greens (i.e. spinach), beans, lentils, nuts, seeds, soy (such as soy milk and tofu). Bare in mind that all foods -- even bananas and kale -- have protein. So even when you're not eating a protein-rich food, you're still getting protein.

Also, please, please read my blog post on (plant-based) vegan protein which links to many helpful and important resources and articles. 

2. What are "Flax" eggs?

You can mix 1 tbsp ground flax seeds with 3 tbsp of warm water to make a sort of goop that can replace 1 egg in a recipe. 

For more egg substitutions, download my handy egg substitutes chart (below). 

Download the PDF here

(The picture is not the complete chart--just a glimpse of it.)

Note: Since I don't cook or bake with oil, I haven't tried some of these substitutes out myself -- I just heard about them or read about them. My go-to substitute is bananas or applesauce.

3. I struggle with quinoa - help!

I did a video post on quinoa that's helpful. I generally use quinoa as a substitute for grains like brown rice since it cooks in a fraction of the time. Usually I am putting my stir-fry on top of it, but I've made cold salads with it and a sort of "oatmeal" when I wanted a little variety. 

Quinoa is also a great, whole foods substitute for TVP.

4.  How can you healthfully *gain* weight?

You'll need to add more high calorie and high fat foods to your diet -- more raw nuts and raw seeds, coconut and avocado. You also want to make sure you're eating healthy foods like brown rice, which are high in calories. 

When I was a personal trainer, I had a client who couldn't seem to go beyond 90lbs. She was naturally very thin due to a high metabolism, but she was also very athletic -- a marathon runner. We didn't fuss much with her weight until she wanted to get pregnant and her doctor thought she might have better luck if she'd gain 10 lbs. 

At first, my client stopped exercising and was eating tons of candy bars, cupcakes and fried foods trying to pack it on but she came back to me saying she didn't feel her best and she missed feeling high on life. She complained of bloating and fatigue and a general meh feeling. I talked her into dropping the junk food and instead eating handfuls of raw almonds and cashews (her favorites) adding flax seeds to her smoothies and adding avocado (which she loved!) to almost every meal. Within weeks she'd gained weight but within days she reported feeling fabulous, more alert and much healthier. She ended up having a baby and was a healthy, glowing mama her entire pregnancy -- she's still a healthy, glowing mama and she's still eating lots of nuts and avocados to keep the weight on. 

5. Can you cook quinoa in a rice cooker?

Yep -- using the "white rice setting" -- same 1:2 ratio. Though I have to admit I don't like quinoa in the rice cooker as much as I like it on the stovetop.