Learning from Mistakes

Whenever my students make mistakes (big like failing my class or small like failing a quiz), I always remind them that failure is a requirement for growth.  They usually don’t understand this concept because they’re teenagers and every little thing is the end of the world, but I think it’s important for them to be able to fail, pick up, and move on every once in a while.

Failure is admittedly also difficult for me because I’m such a perfectionist.  I’ve been working on “failing” and forgiving myself lately.

I felt a lot of failure this weekend when I didn’t stick to my new vegan diet.  I had been so good for about two weeks only to blow it on Saturday and Sunday.

We had a game night at our house on Saturday night, and everyone brought a little something.  My husband was sweet enough to buy me some ($10!!!) vegan cheese from the supermarket, and it was delicious.  He made a regular cheese plate for everyone else, but that isn’t what tempted me and I didn’t touch it.  My friend brought a cream cheese taco dip type thing, and I felt badly about the fact nobody was eating it, so I had some.  I know this isn’t such a big deal in the grand scheme of things, but as I said before, I’m a perfectionist and don’t handle failure very well.

On Sunday, we went snowshoeing for a few hours and then decided to go to a local brewery for food and beer afterward. IMG_20180114_160458_301 I caved there too when I ordered a veggie sandwich with cheese.  I was so hungry from our strenuous activity that I didn’t even stop to think about it.  And it almost felt like, well, I already screwed this up so I might as well go for gold.

But I think the all or nothing mindset is one I’ve always had when trying to go strict vegetarian (or make other big lifestyle changes), and it usually backfires in one way or another.  If I mess up once, it isn’t worth it anymore.  That is obviously a destructive mindset that does little to motivate one to endure adversity.  It can also bring down your self worth, which isn’t great, either.

So, instead of beating myself up about it, I pulled myself up by my bootstraps and started fresh yesterday.  And it wasn’t hard because on the drive home, I passed two livestock trucks carrying pigs, and as I looked over and saw their eyes peering out at me in despair from the darkness, I remembered why I’m doing what I’m doing and why it’s so important.

To keep me from straying, I packed a delicious yet frugal lunch/snacks–cashews (the best!!!), pasta w/marinara, artichokes, and white beans (aka I’m poor right now and can’t spend a ton on groceries), and veggies w/guac.IMG_20180116_171942363

I also had a great dinner of a Dr. Praeger burger topped with So Delicious shreds, frozen mixed veg, and a yummy salad with Sprouts Lemon Tahini dressing.

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Something else really awesome today–I got my copy of The Homemade Vegan Pantry! I am so excited to use it to make staples so I don’t have to buy so many vegan foods in wasteful plastic packaging.  I can’t wait to start experimenting with it.

And although I’m a bit late, I’d like to acknowledge MLK for being someone who inspired me to care so much about animal rights.  I’ve always respect MLK for his stance and activism on human rights, of course, but I’m always impressed at how progressive his stance on animals rights was at the time.  Right now, some quotes of his I’m keeping in mind are: “The time is always right to do what’s right” and “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘what are you doing for others?'”

I am concerned about animal rights not only because I love and care about animals and the environment upon which our meat and dairy addiction is wreaking havoc, I also care about the people who are forced to work in slaughterhouses and are being exploited by a cruel and inhumane system.  These people are often immigrants, paid poorly for soul-crushing and dangerous work, and don’t always have another choice when trying to feed and clothe their families.

I don’t know what it’s like to be in their shoes–I have never been so desperate I’d take any job to support myself.  I’ve never been hungry or jobless.  I have never had to run from a dangerous situation and immerse myself in a culture completely foreign to me.

And I think it’s really easy for animal rights activists to have zero compassion for those who do work in slaughterhouses or on dairy farms, but I think we must acknowledge a corrupt and unequal socioeconomic system before we chastise those who find work there.  If we don’t have compassion and forgiveness for all, we will never make the changes we so wish to see.

I can only imagine a world where there is kindness and equality toward everyone including animals.  So, instead of judging those who contribute to the needless suffering of animals, I will do my best to contribute to the goodness of the world by doing what I can and making small changes that will hopefully impact someone, somewhere.

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Packing Vegan Lunches

When I started veganism, I was at home on winter break.  I am a high school teacher, and we had two weeks off for the holiday.  I had time to cook, meal prep, and get creative with recipes.

I went back to work this week and was a bit worried I wouldn’t be able to keep up with my new years vegan goals.  I try to meal prep the best I can, but I am not one of those people who likes to make the same meals to last the whole week.  I like to vary it up a bit, but sometimes that requires time I may not have.

I am lucky in that I get 45 minutes for lunch, a rarity for most teachers.  I also teach in a school near several reasonably priced and quick restaurants.  Many of them have great vegan options including healthy soups and salads, but in order to save money and time, I bring my lunch and plenty of snacks on most days.  I also bring my breakfast as I usually get to work between 6:30 and 7 a.m., and I don’t like to eat before that.

This week I had some leftover vegan pizza with lots of veggies, which was pretty awesome because it made making lunches easy.  I packed some non-dairy yogurt and fruit, homemade granola, nuts, and celery+hummus.  If you can believe it, this isn’t enough food to last me throughout the day before dinner, so I often eat a Larabar, too.  To be fair, I also work out and walk my dogs about three miles a day in addition to all the walking I do at work, so I am also burning calories.

 

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After I ran out of leftover pizza, I switched to a stir-fry with noodles and marinated tofu, and will finish up tomorrow with an everything bagel with marinara and So Delicious shredded mozzarella.  This is kind of a lazy/unhealthy lunch, but it’s good to treat yourself on Fridays.  I also made my favorite breakfast in the Instantpot, mango sticky rice with coconut milk.  I got the recipe from High Carb Hannah, and it is one of my favorites.  I topped it with a bit of coconut sugar.

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I sometimes get a sweet tooth at work, especially in the afternoons.  I’ve been pretty good this week as there isn’t much vegan candy available, so I’ve been drinking the Tazo vanilla bean macaron tea because it reminds me of dessert, and I managed to find some Jolly Ranchers today as well.

Other than that, being vegan has been super easy this week.  I bought myself some delicious Ben and Jerry’s non-dairy Cherry Garcia, and it made my week.  I also made some vegan nachos with sweet potato tortilla chips, corn, beans, tomatoes, and So Delicious cheese.  It was amazing.

 

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First Week as a Vegan

Well, I finished up my first week as a vegan.  It definitely wasn’t as difficult as I thought it’d be, but there were a few challenges.

Some of the things I found easy was making the transition from mostly vegetarian to vegan as I am used to eating non-animal proteins like beans, lentils, and tofu.  My freezer is already full of veggie burgers/paties and Gardein chicken tenders as that’s what I’d normally eat.  Honestly, making meals was not a challenge at all except for the fact I was more conscious of not using dairy cheese/sour cream/butter.  Although I already use lentils in many recipes, I decided to try this Korean lentil recipe, and it was delicious and provided four filling meals.

IMG_20180103_122243922Another thing that was great was trying out new recipes.  I LOVE mac’n’cheese but never make or order it because of how greasy and fatty it is.  It usually sits in my stomach like a ton of bricks.  I decided to make this recipe, and it was AMAZING!  I would highly recommend it.  I honestly enjoyed it just as much as regular mac’n’cheese.  I know it’s not completely healthy, but it has more nutritional value than traditional mac’n’cheese and is cruelty free.IMG_20180104_170953722

 

OK, now here come the issues.  The first problem was trying to find products that are good replacements for some of my dairy favorites.  I LOVE cream cheese on bagels, but the So Delicious brand I bought at my supermarket is not very appetizing to me.  I hope to make my own cashew cream cheese in the future (also to cut down on purchasing products packaged in plastic) as I think it’ll probably taste much better without all the additives and preservatives.

Another thing that I found difficult (and will probably be the hardest part about going vegan) is ordering at restaurants.  We usually don’t eat out much because we love to cook and save money, but my husband really wanted Chipotle on Friday night, so I got a sofritas bowl with rice, beans, fajita vegetables, corn salsa and guac.  Usually I’d get an addition of sour cream and cheese, but I definitely didn’t feel like I was missing much without them.

On Saturday morning I had to take my husband to the ER because he pulled some muscles in his back the day before, and after we hit up the pharmacy, we decided to get breakfast across the street at Egg and I.  We never go here, but after being at the hospital and waiting for prescriptions for a few hours, we decided to try it out.  I was disappointed to find there wasn’t much on the menu I could eat.  I would normally order some kind of vegetarian egg breakfast or pancakes.  I asked about several options that looked appetizing (oat pancakes with berries and steel-cut oatmeal), and both had dairy.  I settled on a fruit bowl, side of greens, and a plain English muffin.  It was filling and tasty, so I was satisfied. IMG_20180106_094053384

There are some really good restaurants in town that offer a great vegan selection, so I am looking forward to frequenting them.  Until I am on the Front Range where there are more vegan options, I will be experimenting in my kitchen making my favorites.  I plan on trying out a mushroom french dip and pulled jackfruit sandwiches next!