Why They Call it a “Lifestyle”

So you’re making the transition to a plant based diet. Here’s the part perhaps no one has told you yet – Being aware of where food comes from raises the level of consciousness and suddenly you begin to wonder where other things come from too. Day by day tiny new revelations seem to pop up out of nowhere. Your thoughts go from regular ol’ you to hyperconscious-obsessive-worry-syndrome. Maybe they sound something like …

In the grocery store: Wait, where did this produce come from? Should I buy organic? I just read an article about how pesticides pollute our waterways… Is it fair trade? Were the farm-workers paid a living wage or are they suffering in poverty so that I can save at the store? Is it local, or is it out of season in my area and therefore picked while unripe and flown in from another country? Talk about a waste of fuel and energy! Hold on, I wonder how many of these plastic bags for fruits and vegetables I’ve used in my lifetime… Hundreds? A thousand? I should buy reusable ones… I recycle them, but reusable bags will help to reduce the demand to create more. Hmmm and what else… Oh My Goodness look at all the packaging! I’ve never thought about it before! Plastic bottles of juice and salad dressing, plastic bags of cookies nestled in little plastic trays, all of the jarred and canned convenience foods… I recycle but not all of it is recyclable, maybe I should reduce my consumption of processed foods…

In restaurants: Why did the server give us so many napkins? They’re just going to be thrown out. I should take them with me. And the straws! I have never considered straws before! I need to start asking them to hold the straw. Styrofoam containers?! This place is a mine field! Will they allow me to bring my own containers? And these plastic wrapped forks, what a waste, I have silverware in my house.

In the home: Excuse me, my Tide laundry detergent is carcinogenic?! Holy crap ALL off my cosmetics and soap and moisturizer and shaving cream are made by companies that test on animals! And they contain poisonous ingredients too?? And these cleaning products, and my palmetto bug spray… I guess that stuff can’t be good either. I haven’t been minding my water or electricity usage, I’m going to have to start paying attention to that. While I’m at it, I think I should start an organic garden in the yard. That will save some of that waste from getting things at the supermarket.

It sounds stressful, right? Don’t worry there are solutions to all of these issues. What is really depressing is NOT knowing that the problems exist. These questions are just a few examples of the countless realizations that will come to mind as you continue on a path of becoming conscious of the world around you and the impact of your choices. The best part of all of this is being able to change your choices, one at a time. It takes years to shed the old habits that we have known our entire lives. Stay strong and keep at it. You are making the world a better place, just do the best you can.

It’s easy to start by just going to the closest health food store and looking to see what kind of household products are sold. Maybe after buying Seventh Generation or Meyers detergent you can work up to making your own household cleaners. Here are a few links to eco-friendly websites and products for living out your newfound awareness:

http://www.treehugger.com/

http://www.to-goware.com/

http://www.healthybitchdaily.com/cat/what-the-hell-do-i-buy

http://www.divacup.com/

http://www.happyheinys.com/

These are just a few ideas, I highly encourage that you harness your Google powers and click around to discover more. Do your own research, and the internet is the best place to start because it’s the freest information exchange that exists. You can find a website or a blog that sheds light on information because it’s real and vital and true and honest, not because their advertisers are paying them. CNN, FOX, and NPR simply cannot give you unbiased information because of corporate advertisers. Be your own reporter, heck start your own blog and document your discoveries. Please comment and add a website here that you think can help others just beginning their journey. Now get out there and change the world!

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To wear or not to wear?

So you’re experiencing a vast expansion of consciousness about all things due to your moves toward a plant based diet, and one day you decide to stop buying leather. You feel great about this decision! You’re doing good in this world! Then you pause to glance around your home.

Belts, shoes, bags, couches, car seats – these once beloved possessions suddenly become confusing. Your favorite shoes that you wear every day, that belt that makes you feel so stylish… what are you going to do now? Should you be expected to trade in that car or get new furniture? It feels unfair and frustrating to be duped for your entire life and now, awakened to the truth, you’re stuck with a collection of stuff and not sure if you can continue to use and feel good about it.

As far as my Google skills can tell, the resolution is a matter of personal preference:

  • Keep and use the items for now. Taking the step to stop buying any new leather products is an amazing choice, and you still feel comfortable using the stuff you have. Eventually everything will wear out and you will be leather-free.
  • Ditch all leather products immediately. You are feeling creeped out by the idea of having to even touch that stuff again. Ideally donate everything to thrift stores that raise money for an animal shelter, women’s shelter, homeless shelter etc. You could also give them to friends and family. Big ticket items like furniture or cars will be sold or traded as soon as possible.
  • Combination of the first two options – keep one or two items and get rid of everything else. Maybe a couple of things have sentimental value and you choose to neither part with them nor wear them.

I fall in the third category because I have a pair of sandals I have worn almost daily for 4 years, and a pair of boots I don’t want to wear or give away. Eventually I feel like the right thing to do will be to part with these possessions, but for now this is where I’m at. I think everyone has a right to make choices about what to do with their old stuff, the most important fact being the decision to not buy it anymore.

A big issue for society to me is that the word “leather” is not descriptive of what it actually is. It sounds like a high quality, expensive and fashionable material to make durable items because we have been conditioned our entire English-speaking lives to believe this. (Similar to how the words “bacon” and “meat” belie the true origins of what they describe.) Leather is actually the skin of a dead animal, no different than the skin on your arms, neck or stomach. Of course it’s a high quality material for holding our cellphones and keychains in a purse, because it’s an incredibly strong and supple material for holding in our organs and protecting our bloodstream from bacteria and disease.

We also casually think that the skin being used for shoes and purses is cow skin, but that is not always the case. Cat and dog farms in China provide cheap skin and fur so we can buy $10 “leather” shoes and purses in America. If you’re reading and you haven’t actually made the decision to stop buying animal products yet, this fact alone should be enough to start thinking about this issue.

This post was prompted by a Facebook friend of mine posting this video with fashion designer Stella McCartney explaining why she uses no leather in her designs. A warning – I couldn’t watch all of it.

Susan Nichole is a popular vegan handbag and wallet designer, and I enjoy wearing vegan TOMS.

Do right by these beautiful cows – together we can decrease the demand for these products until there is a tipping point.

 

It’s your journey

I started No Meat March with an inspiration to blog every day, to support the hundreds of people who took the pledge to give meat for 31 days for the first time. If you all were challenging yourselves, I wanted to join in with a challenge of my own.

This is Day 31, but it’s only blog post #9 😦

Why, oh why did I not meet my goal? How could I let down these dedicated individuals that were able to keep their promise to go meat free?

I’ve pondered, and I realize it reflects my own journey to becoming vegan. Pea Pods may naturally be vegan, consuming only sunshine, water and nutrients from the soil, but the woman behind the costume took a long and unexpected path.

I remember wanting to be vegetarian as a teenager, but thinking it an impossible goal for my age. In college I encountered PETA activists on campus several times a year and I looked at the pictures of animals being killed for food, but it wasn’t particularly striking to me. I knew they were killed, duh. I wasn’t yet able to fully comprehend that the suffering was morally wrong. The only fact I learned that unsettled me was how all the baby male chicks are simply thrown away in garbage bags and left to suffocate. At that time I was unconscious enough to set the knowledge aside and make no changes in my life.

In 2008 I started reading books again. I hadn’t read any books for pleasure (besides Harry Potter of course) ever since I worked in the public library as a teenager and became sick of looking at them. For some reason something awakened in me in 2008 and I became a reader. One of the first was Michael Pollan’s “In Defense of Food”, he referred to John Robbin’s “Diet for a New America”, and then I watched the documentary “Food, Inc”, and then I became…. a semi-vegetarian.

As a semi-vegetarian for the first time in my life I was able to get out of eating a lot of disgusting food. Nasty burnt burgers and cheap hot dogs at someone’s lame cook-out? “Oh, no thank you, I’m semi-vegetarian.” Dry flavorless chicken breast at catered events? “I’ll have the vegetarian option, please.” It felt like I was being less wasteful and more respectful of the animals that had to die. My definition of being semi-vegetarian was that I would only eat meat that tasted good, and I was surprised that it cut my meat consumption in half. You don’t realize how much tasteless garbage you’re eating until you give it up and feel unexpected freedom.

Fast forward to 2011, and I’m finally at the point where I want to try being a “real” vegetarian. I was looking for a cookbook or something to give me the right boost, and after seeing Alicia Silverstone’s “The Kind Diet” in the store several times, I finally brought it home. I had bought it mainly for the recipes, but as I carefully read the first half of her book it felt like a certain truth was being slowly unveiled to me. On page one I scoffed at going vegan, I thought I was only ready to be vegetarian, but by the last page I knew a decision had been made deep within. For whatever reason, that book spoke to me on a spiritual level about my food choices. I wanted to explore my spirituality and I now knew that consuming animal products deadens that part in all of us.

I joined the Vegetarian Society of El Paso, where I was living at the time, and after telling the founder my experience of reading that book she nodded, smiled and took my hand and said, “When the student is ready, the Master will come.” She was quoting the Buddha, and I understood her meaning. “The Kind Diet” was a catalyst for me, and for whatever reason, Alicia Silverstone, star of Clueless, was my master.

Although initially I was 100% vegan for two months, because I didn’t have the support of any friends or family who were vegan, I did slide backward more than once. I had trouble explaining to people why suddenly all of my food choices had changed, and without the physical presence of others by my side I became afraid that I was developing an eating disorder. I felt very restricted and I didn’t have much knowledge about preparing food and all of the wonderful bountiful options that are out there. I relaxed to a 90% vegan diet and it eased my stress enough to allow me to continue my personal learning process. Alicia Silverstone admits in her book to nibbling on a little block of cheese occasionally at cocktail parties, and describes the physical effects of getting a headache or upset stomach. Maybe some of us just need reminders sometimes, and I think that’s okay.

When I moved to Jacksonville and found The Girls Gone Green, I finally had enough support through the friendships I’ve made here to feel great about eating a vegan diet. I hope during No Meat March you have come out to some events and been able to make new connections to the veg-friendly community in Jax. I hope our emails, blog posts, mentorship, and events have been there for you and helped you along your journey. Many people go vegan overnight, and many take the slow winding path like I did. Wherever you are is where you are supposed to be. Just keep at it, and transition at the pace that feels right for you.

I thought I could become dedicated to trying something new overnight by writing 31 blog posts in 31 days. It was a great goal, but I should have known myself better, but I shouldn’t have spent the past two weeks beating myself up over it either. I’m going to keep at it for ya’ll though, posting inspirational info for new vegetarians all year long. By next year I may be prolific and efficient enough to produce 31 posts, but hey even if I only write 10 at least it will be an improvement 🙂

Chicks at CJ Acres

31 Days of Meat-and-Drama-Free Living

I heard this fabulous interview on Progressive Radio Network and  thought, Holy Moly this is perfecto for my No Meat March peeps! The guest on the first half of the show is the author of “Sister Vegetarian’s 31-Day Days of Drama Free Living,” and she hits on a very important point for first timers: The hardest part of becoming vegetarian is handling all of the drama and societal pressure that is suddenly hitting you from all directions. Your co-workers, family, and even strangers are going to begin to question and even try to discourage you. You may expect the hardest adjustment to be your new food choices, but eating and preparing delicious foods is for most the easiest part of the journey!

Give the interview a listen while cooking, cleaning or pumping iron today and take the positive words of advice and encouragement to heart. I ordered the book right away – looking forward to taking the 31-day Drama-Free challenge myself when it comes in the mail!

Until the book comes, I’m just going to create space within my loveable green shell to stay alert for provoking displays of drama from my fellow humans. I will close my eyes, relax, and breathe in and out for ten counts each, just like I learned in my court-ordered anger management class. I will then be polite and nice to the meat-eater acting all possessed and crazy and attacking me. You catch more flies with Agave syrup than with Umeboshi Plum Vinegar 🙂

Peace, my Pea Peeps. And Happy Day 2 of No Meat March, my little Marchlings!

P.S. Here’s a funny YouTube video of common things you can expect to hear from meat eaters. Oddly, the longer you live a life of compassionate consumption the more apparent it will be how these same questions are being repeated over, and over… and over… and it’s even more strange how the same words are coming out of so many different mouths! The phrases are so common and predictable that a bingo board has even been created 🙂

UPDATE: The original link to the radio interview was broken and it has been corrected!

Holla at me world!

To commemorate No Meat March 2012, I, the fantastical GGG Pea Pod, hearby do unveil the official GGG Pea Pod Blog, heretofor to be known as “The GGG Pea Pod Blog of Fantastical Awesomenocity,” or at least until I change the name like next Tuesday or whatever.

For those who have signed up for No Meat March , (and if you have not you still can all the way up to March 31), look out for my addition to the daily email of support and encouragement and fun and knowledge, “The Pea Pod Sez…”

Last night as I was chillin in a bed of leafy greens with my ladyfriend Ms. Carrot, we shared a quiet moment of peace and gratitude for the launch of NMM 2012 and all that is to come. Hundreds of Jacksonvillian peeps have signed up and will come together in fellowship, some even forming lifelong friendships or experiencing what Oprah likes to call an “Aha! Moment”, a life altering event. Consciousnesses will be lifted and raised, the Earth and all its living beings will gain new ambassadors and protectors. Hippy Dippy shit like that. And we are so grateful to be a part of it.

The newly updated calendar of events is here, the generous discount incentives to save you $$$ are here, a hot and sexy video of me dancing with my ladyfriends is here, and here are 57 Health reasons to take the No Meat March pledge as a first step in your journey to better health and the diet that is right for you.

Peace mah veggies!!