Happy Herbivore Blog

Interview: Coughing Colors

Posted by: Lindsay S. Nixon |

Category: Herbies

Her twitter handle is @coughing_colors. She has a rad tattoo on her chest that you just can't help but stare at. She's beautiful, witty, warm and one of the most captivating people I've ever met...

I've been social with Megan for a while now and shortly after I started my "inspirational interviews" column she offered to share her story in how veganism saved her life. She warned me, though, that unlike previous interviewees it wasn't about weight-loss or beating disease but about the journey of a soul... how going vegan helped her reclaim her mental health and find a way up from rock bottom.

To say her story shocked the hell out of me would be a dire understatement. Today, Megan is so full of life and energy.. to be around her is like basking in the sunshine. I simply can't imagine her any other way which make this interview exceptionally powerful.

When I started this column I wanted to feature interviews of people who changed their life with they changed their diet. I envisioned people the Natala, Candice and Carol who lost weight and beat disease, but also also those like Megan, who remind us not only that mental health is important too, but that when we feed ourselves, we also feed our souls.

HH: First, the million dollar question: How long have you been vegan? 

Two years this September, but I had been throwing the idea around for a long time before that. When I was 13 I went to a punk rock show where the band members talked about why they were straightedge and vegan. I thought it was cool how they were trying to change things with their dietary choices and for the next 10 years or so, I always toy ed with the idea in my mind.

HH: What stopped you from going vegan sooner?

I never thought that I would have the will power or courage to do it. I've failed at most everything I ever tried to do (i.e. dieting, biting my nails) so I thought, "what makes this any different?"

HH: So what changed?

In August 2008 my boyfriend, Michael, committed suicide. I have bipolar disorder and borderline personality disorder so the the loss of someone I cared so deeply for sent me straight into severe manic depression. I spent most of my days crying with no hope. I cried so hard that I couldn't breathe and my insides actually started to throb in pain. I felt lost, empty, hopeless.

HH: When did things turn around?

A month later at the Syracuse VegFest. I went to help a friend run a booth for a local organic market. I thought getting out of the house would help get my mind off my loss.

HH: What was it about the VegFest that changed you?

The exhibits showing animals suffering really hit home for me. I knew the emotional pain I felt was nothing compared to what they were going through. I felt obligated to spare another living creature for experiencing the pain and emptiness that I felt. I went vegan right then and there... from cheeseburgers to lettuce!

HH: How did veganism help with your mental anguish and emotional pain?

Veganism gave me something else to focus on. It allowed me to look past the sorrow and despair. Plus, knowing I was making a difference in the lives of others made me feel great. It also help me stop eating "raw emotions."

HH: So veganism was very therapeutic for you?

Absolutely. Veganism truly saved my life. I was on the edge, wanting to join my boyfriend six feet under. Going vegan pulled me back. 

I knew in my heart that I needed a drastic life change. Going vegan was the perfect radical, life changing event I needed to revamp my life and move on from my loss. Going vegan gave me something to live for. Something to fight for.

HH: Aside from becoming the happy, healthy person you are today; Have you experienced any other benefits since going vegan?

Yes! Being a vegan showed me that I love cooking! Who knew! I also realized through veganism that there are a lot of really amazing food choices out there that do not involve death. That aspect really spoke to me. I have experienced enough death; I don't want anymore around me.

HH: Do you feel you are healed now thanks to veganism?

Things have changed and life has moved on, but I am a better person today than I was two years ago. I tribute my success, my happiness, my well being....everything, completely to veganism. 

HH: Where can we interact with you further?

I'm on twitter (@coughing_colors) and facebook... and you can visit my blog.

Thank you so much Megan for sharing your very honest -- and powerful story with us! It was very brave of you and I can safely say your journey has touched all our hearts.


Fat-Free Whole-Wheat Vegan Zucchini Muffins

Posted by: Lindsay S. Nixon |

Category: Recipe

My zucchini plants are quite bountiful. After one very large zucchini I harvested three more a week later... all of which were size of my forearm. Then two days later, I had another one ready for harvest! 

My thoughts immediately shifted to a zucchini bread I made some years ago (when Happy Herbivore was still in its infancy). The recipe and picture are a hot mess, let me tell you. Oh, how far I've come.

Still, the recipe has received enough positive reviews that I thought I'd rework it a bit: Take out the flax-egg because I prefer to use "everyday" ingredients now and revamp the flavors a bit to be a little more... edgy.

I also went for muffins since they bake in a fraction of the time as bread, and, well, the less time my oven has to be hot, the better. It was 102 degrees in Central Park yesterday!

The result? deliciousness. And at less than 100 calories per muffin, these little zucchini clouds of whole wheat love are the perfect summer harvest snack. They're just a little sweet and really filling. Bake up a batch and see!

I also recommend they're chocolate cousins: HH's chocolate-zucchini muffins!

Recipe:Zucchini Muffins


Use up your harvested zucchini to make a batch of these slightly sweet muffins with a hint of lemon. You can also make a lovely light zucchini bread with this recipe.  



Preheat oven to 350F. In a large mixing bowl whisk flour, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and salt together. In another bowl combine sugar, applesauce, vanilla, lemon zest, zucchini and non-dairy milk. Stir until well combined. Add wet mixture into dry mixture and stir until just barely combined. Fill muffin cups 3/4 full and bake 18-25 minutes. If making a bread bake 45 minutes to 1 hour. Check doneness by inserting a toothpick into the center. If toothpick pulls out cleanly the bread is done. (You can also add 1/4 cup chopped dried fruits such as cranberries or raisins, chopped raw walnuts or minced crystalized ginger to this recipe.)

Interview: Carol

Posted by: Lindsay S. Nixon |

Category: Herbies

Today's inspirational interviewee comes to us from St. Louis. Carol aka @HelloMyAvocado describes herself as "vegan, nerdy, cute, easily amused and bursting with fruit flavor" which couldn't be a more perfect description of her. Carol's upbeat attitude comes from her devotion to a healthy lifestyle -- and how it saved her life.

HH: First, the million dollar question: How long have you been vegan and what made you go vegan?

I have been vegan since June 5, 2007. I took what I call the "scenic route" to veganism. It initially started as a decision to get healthier because many of my friends and coworkers were getting diseases like cancer, high blood pressure and diabetes. Since there is a history of diabetes in my family, I knew I had to do something; it hit close to home.


HH: What was your health like before?

I was morbidly obese and way out of shape. 

HH: You've since lost more than 100 lbs! That's incredible! Tell us how you did it.

Losing weight was a secondary benefit to becoming vegan. At my lowest weight (which I'm working back toward) I lost 130 pounds. 

HH: How did the pounds creep back on?

The past couple of years have been emotionally taxing; I recoiled and let everything fall to the wayside. I've got to regain some of the territory I've lost and I could kick myself about it, but I've still come so far. One setback isn't going to undue me unless I let it. 

HH: What's your weight-loss method?

I eat a healthy vegan diet and I exercise regularly. I still indulge with fatty and sweet foods but only on days I work out. That way I can combat the extra calories. I can't tell you how many diets I'd previously tried in my prevegan days. Quick fixes don't work. Healthy weight loss come from healthy lifestyle choices.

HH: What role has exercise played in your transformation?

I still remember the moment I realized I needed to exercise. I was listening to the podcast "Fitness Rocks" while making breakfast and thought to myself "Damn. I need to start running." I did a program called "Couch to 5k", it took a while but I slowly improved. I've found exercising helps with my mood, weight and general well-being. 

HH: In addition to weight-loss, what other positive changes have you experience since going vegan?

My family is big on fatty, processed foods so going vegan gave me more power over food which I've always had a complicated relationship with. I've also experienced increased energy and less stomach pain. Most importantly, going vegan has allowed me to take control over my health.

HH: You come from an obese family and had a big scare with your mom recently. How much does that play into your dietary choices?

Coming from an obese family can be difficult when its the result of unhealthy lifestyles. It's like slowly watching a loved one kill themselves.  I get upset when I think about all the awful things I used to put in my body. The scare with my mother only cemented my need to get healthy. We nearly lost her from complications of diabetes -- that we didn't even know she had!

HH: What was your diet like before veganism?

My appetite was quite large and I ate the worst stuff you can imagine. I also didn't know how to cook so I (over)indulged with fast food, esp. frozen pizzas. Once I went vegan I learned to cook and saved money -- home cooking is often much cheaper.

HH: When you first went vegan you said you "crunched on fake meats, cakes and cookies" but now you eat a much more wholesome diet, what sparked this change?

Even though relying on processed vegan substitutes isn't a healthy diet it was healthier than what I was eating before. Weight even started coming off which was exhilarating. I knew I was moving in a more positive direction which kept me motivated to keep improving.

HH: What are some of your favorite wholesome foods?

I love cantaloupe but if I'm not careful I could eat all of it in one sitting. I also love broccoli, brocolini, zucchini, onions, yellow squash and salads (provided there isn't iceberg lettuce in it), spinach, and other greens. My pallet has changed over time to accomodate my new way of eating.

HH: You've mentioned having trouble regulating your temperature since losing weight. Mind telling us about that?

I get cold a lot easier but it also takes me longer to get overheated, which is good. I've learned to adjust -- I take a coat with me when it's 60 degrees or cooler. It's also a common symptom to losing weight rapidly (but in a healthy manner!). I think it's a response to having less body fat -- less "insulation."

HH: You call yourself a "proud fatty" and are very open about how you don't care to be thin or slender, just at a weight you feel more comfortable at. How do you determine what weight is good for you?

I am a proud fatty but I also believe that if some one is uncomfortable at a certain weight (plus or minus) they should do something about it in a healthy manner. The lowest I was able to get was 225 and for me, that's a respectable weight. At that weight my body felt better in general. I'm at 254 now and while I don't feel bad, I'm not comfortable. 

When your body changes, it changes how you interact with the world. I feel clumsier now than I did. My clothes also fit tighter which isn't comfortable. I don't want to go buy more, bigger clothes because they're expensive and it will only allow me to continue bad behaviors. My discomfort keeps me in check. Of course, I still fully support anyone decision to be whatever size is comfortable and right for them -- these are just my personal opinions about my situation.

HH: Many people assume all vegans are stick-figures like Kate Moss; as a proud full figured vegan lady, care to weigh in on that?

The vegan community has many different shapes, sizes, sexes, genders and sexual orientations as any other group. The idea that vegans are "scrawny" does an injustice to us. I think it's a stifling view that veganism may be unhealthy. I've heard people accuse veganism as a way to mask eating disorders. I'd like more visibility for vegans. I'd love to see beautifully curved women in the media go vegan and help broaden the general view.

HH: This has been an incredible interview Carol! How can we connect with you further?

I'm on twitter @hellomyavocado, facebook and I have a blog.