Happy Herbivore Blog

For the Love of Food

Posted by: Lindsay S. Nixon |

Category: Advice

To sort of piggy back on my earlier post about dealing with negativity, this post is for Dave, who left this comment on the blog:

Dave said: "Please write a blog about how everyone treats us "Happy Herbivores" like we are freaks or something that don't like food."

Let me start by saying, I am guilty of sometimes forgetting what I was like as an omnivore. I've only eaten a plant-based (vegan) diet for 5 years. Five years ago I was a vegetarian and a year before that I was an omnivore. Six years wasn't that long ago...

Yet it feels like a lifetime ago --- many, many lifetimes ago. Sometimes I'm in total denial and pretend like I've been a happy herbivore my entire life (I wish!)

Point is, when I was an omnivore, I was a horribly picky eater. Impossible even. My mom will tell you horror stories and Scott will too. 

I wouldn't try anything new or out of the ordinary. At least not with ease and optimism.

I can distinctly remember Scott asking me to go to an Indian restaurant once and I said something awful like "ew gross! I don't want to eat curry!" and now, Indian is one of my most favorite cuisines to cook - and eat. I feel really bad about that, still.

I am always quick to tell people that I eat a much wider variety of food now than I ever did as an omnivore. 

I'm also quick to try new things and explore new cuisines. Since adopting a plant-based diet I've fallen in love with Ethiopian, Thai and Indian foods -- three cuisines I'd have never - ever - tried as an omnivore. I was really missing out! 

When I adopted this diet something happened deep inside of me. I became a foodie. Someone who loved food. 

I used to go to a restaurant and I'd sit there angry and frustrated because not a single item on the menu appealed to me -- even though every option was a possibility.

Now when I find myself at a veg restaurant, where again every option is a possibility, it takes every effort to hold myself back from ordering everything. I have been known to order several entrees because I just couldn't limit myself to one.

My, my how the tables have turned. 

I love food more now as a herbivore than I ever did as an omnivore. I eat more variety now than I ever did as an omnivore and I never quite enjoyed a meal as much as I do now. 

For the love of food!


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.