You Don’t Have To Be a Vegan

This is a post I’ve been wanting to write for a while, but I guess haven’t had the time or focus to word vomit my thoughts onto the internet. It’s a topic that is close to my heart and has grown increasingly more important to me over the last year or so. I believe that diet is so important to having a healthy lifestyle and in being so a direct correlation to happiness and mental health as well. All of the information posted here is of my own opinion and from my own experience. I am in no way a health professional or a nutrition expert so please take this post with a grain of salt and do not look to me for life-altering changes. This is simply my take on my diet and how I choose to eat. Your life is your responsibly. With that said, let’s get into what has been brewing in my head and in my heart for so long.

I decided to stop eating most meats around 2014. I say most meats because I continued (and still occasionally) eat fish. The technical term for this type of diet is pescatarian. The choice to move to this type of diet I believe was mainly due to exposure to people in my life who were completely vegan. I saw how they ate and had many conversations with them about why they chose the diet they did. It got my wheels turning. I never really enjoyed eating meat. Sure, a steak now and then was okay, but it wasn’t something I craved, and I think cooking chicken was more of a habitual convenience than a diet choice. I was raised having and slaughtering livestock for food. The graphic images of this have stuck with me for life and was also another huge reason I stopped eating meat paired with my love for animals. Lastly, and I think the main reason I stopped, was due to all of the new information coming out about the meat industry. People were researching where our food was coming from and finding that it wasn’t as clean or maybe even as safe as we thought it was. All of this put together just clicked for me. I didn’t want to be a part of something that hurt animals, but I also didn’t want to jeopardize my own health by ingesting food that could be tainted with chemicals or bad juju.

Jumping forward to today, I guess I would still be considered pescatarian, as I occasionally eat fish. I say occasionally because most of the time now when I eat it is when there is no other solid protein source available (such as going out to eat or being invited to a friend’s house for dinner), or if we catch the fish ourselves while camping and eat it while on vacation. I have cut out most of the dairy in my diet, again, only eating occasionally or when there’s no other option. Alternatively, I purchase almond milk for cooking and consuming at home, as well as the wide variety of non-dairy cheeses available at pretty much any grocery store these days. I also still eat eggs, however I only purchase cage-free organic eggs and hope to have my own chickens soon to source eggs from (I plan on doing a more educational post on why I still eat eggs in the future). So, why am I telling you all of this? Because I feel like in order to get into the conversation I want to start, it’s better to know where I’m coming from. I don’t want to seem like I come from a place of judgement. And, I suppose, that’s really my reason for this entire post.

Let’s stop judging each other for what we eat, and let’s start encouraging each other to do better.

No, I am not vegan, but I do eat like a vegan as often as possible. Do I call myself a vegan? No. Do I call myself a vegetarian? No. Why do I need to call myself anything? I think the biggest problem with the whole vegan label is the idea that we have to limit ourselves right away (and limit everyone else) to actually make a difference. You have to start somewhere, and that’s okay. This is why I include my journey in the beginning of this post. I think it’s so important to show people that it can be a transition. And it doesn’t even have to be this extreme! I mean, it’s not really extreme at all, but it can be simplified even more. And I think this is important because people are naturally afraid of change. Change can be scary, so sometimes it’s easier to process when we start small. I think that putting these big over-arching labels on things makes the plant-based community feel hard to reach. And we need to make it more inclusive if we want to see real change. Let’s get into easy ways that you can creep into being more plant-based and start making changes that are easy to accept but also easy to grow from.

Meatless Mondays

The first and probably one of the most popular ways to become more plant-based is starting with Meatless Mondays. This is where you take one day out of the week to eat completely meat-free (and hopefully dairy-free too!). I think this is a great option for people who have never really considered eating vegetarian or vegan diets before. It’s a small step into a big world and makes for a great opportunity to research recipes, ingredients and different ways of cooking without throwing your whole life into a whirlwind. Still too much change? Start with plant-based dinners on Mondays. This way it’s only one meal once a week while still giving you a great opportunity to try new things and hopefully spark bigger changes.

Small Ingredient Swaps

Another great way to make small changes in your diet is to pick one specific item or ingredient that you could start living without. For example, instead of drinking or using cow milk you switch to almond milk. This is a small change that could grow into something larger in time but still make a small difference. It’s also a great opportunity to try new plant-based ingredients and give yourself a way to figure out what you like in case you decide to take a bigger plunge. Don’t care for almond milk? That’s fine. There’s also soy milk, cashew milk and oat milk to name a few. Another great and easy ingredient swap? Switching ground beef for plant-based crumbles. There are many different brands now that offer such a substitute and I find that most taste just as good, if not better than ground beef.

Plant-Based Meal Swaps

I think this is probably one of the most fun ways to try plant-based changes and a great way to get friends and family involved too. Take turns hosting dinner nights (or just swapping meals or recipes) and sharing your favorite plant-based recipes. I know that this has been huge in my circle with showing people that plant-based meals don’t have to be boring or only filled with vegetables (although those are my favorite *wink*). Have friends that already eat plant-based? Ask them about helping you find options and making changes! I’m sure they’d be happy to help you along or invite you to dinner to see what great and healthy meals you might be missing.

These are just a couple of the ways you can start making a difference. If you’re interested in hearing more, let me know in the comments below.

We don’t all have to be vegan right now. If we can all commit to starting somewhere and making small changes we can all start to make a difference.

MelissaRose

All Natural Deodorant

A few years ago, I decided to make the move to all natural deodorant. After learning about the ingredients of my usual antiperspirant, I wanted to give something else a try to avoid putting unnecessary chemicals into my body. I won’t go too much into depth about the effects of typical antiperspirants. Unfortunately, not much research has been done on the subject to clearly address whether or not there are seriously adverse affects on the body. However, I will say that I have noticed an improvement in the quality of my underarm skin as well as an improvement in coloration. All in all, I tried four different all natural deodorants, giving them all time to settle in and see if they would mesh well with my body. And here is what I learned…

Starting out using natural deodorant can be a little uncomfortable in the beginning, especially if you’ve been using antiperspirant for a long time. You’ll sweat ALOT and probably notice that you smell worse than usual. A quick Google search told me that my underarms were actually detoxing the chemicals that I had been inserting into my pores for so long. It took several days for the detox to complete, however I found that using a charcoal mask on my underarms helped to speed along the process. The charcoal in the mask helped to draw out the impurities and made my skin feel pretty nice too! Another thing to keep in mind with natural deodorant versus antiperspirant, is that antiperspirant actually blocks your pores to keep you from sweating. Deodorant is made to simply mask the smell throughout the day, not to necessarily keep your pits dry. This took some getting used to as I was noticing that I was actually sweating, but after a while it no longer bothered me and I felt better about not stuffing unmentionables into my pores.

The first all natural deodorant that I tried was from Tom’s of Maine. I purchased their coconut lavender scent stick since I am a fan of lavender and though the coconut properties may be good for my skin. Unfortunately, I did not find that this one gave me enough coverage. Thinking back now, it may be an unfair review since I was using it through my detox period, but the scent was a bit overwhelming for me. I did enjoy the stick application. There are different types of natural deodorant from sticks, to pots, to rollers, but I found the stick to be the cleanest and most convenient way to apply. I ended up moving away from Tom’s for the scent factor alone, but would be open to trying some of their other scents, now that I know I am out of the detox phase. The price is relatively cheap at about $5 per stick – so around the same as conventional deodorants and antiperspirants and was easy to find at my local Target or drugstores.

The second brand of deodorant I tried was from Schmidt’s. This brand gets rave reviews online and costs right around the $5 mark, and are available in most drugstores. They offer a wide range of scents, and even sell mini-packs so you can try different scents on different days. I went with the charcoal magnesium scent since I knew I was down with the charcoal ingredient and it had more of a musky scent versus a flowery scent which I prefer. However!! This deodorant gave me a horrible underarm rash. I only used the stick for a couple of days, but I soon found little red itchy bumps growing all on my armpit and surrounding arm and side areas. This was so incredibly uncomfortable! I quickly learned that I may be allergic or have an adverse reaction to applying Sodium Bicarbonate (otherwise known as Baking Soda) to this sensitive area of skin. The stick I bought from Tom’s did not contain this ingredient and so did not produce a rash. The difference in consistency between the two was also plain to see and feel. The Schmidt’s felt much rougher against my skin, and took some warming and coercing to get it to spread evenly on my underarm area. Even so, since producing a rash, I decided it was time to find some alternatives that did not contain baking soda. Sorry Schmidt’s – I wanted to love you, I really did!

The third all natural deodorant I tested is called Meow Meow Tweet. I was instantly attracted to the name, the bright colors in their packaging and the fact that their product does not contain baking soda. Another cool factor is that the tubes the stick come in are completely biodegradable which eliminates any of the plastic waste found with most stick deodorants. This product worked great for me for many months. I loved the lemon eucalyptus scent and the tiny stick it came in since I could carry it in my purse and reapply later. However, at $14 a stick (even for the tiny one – 1.8 oz) it was beginning to feel like I was spending way too much for way too little. Sure, it felt like a cute little boutique item made just for me, but it is still going on my armpits after all. They do however offer a cream version in a 2 oz pot for $11 at Target. If I was a fan of applying my deodorant with my fingers I may have tried this cheaper route, but alas, I enjoy my stick too much. If you think you can hang with the price or the pot version I would definitely recommend their product. I just didn’t feel like it was enough product for me to spend so much money on, especially when I was reapplying throughout the day in the summer.

My fourth and final choice for a deodorant stick came from an Instagram story from a cousin of mine in Texas. She was telling her followers about this new website she found with a $10 trial offer for all natural, baking soda free deodorant. It comes in a reusable plastic case and the pods the stick deliver in are also recyclable. The website was MyMyro.com. This has been my favorite find so far! You get to pick the color of your plastic holder, which is great because if you live in a hot place like I do, it’s important to be able to bring your stick with you just in case you get sweatier than normal. They offer a wide range of scents from flowery to fresh to a little manly. And the packaging you get with your first order is just the cutest ever! They even send a cute enamel pin with your first order. I’ve been using this stick for about 4 months and couldn’t be happier. The other cool part about this is that it’s a subscription based service, so you sign up, pay $10 and then you can set delivery preferences for the next time you’ll need a new one. They allow you to adjust your shipment times, and then send you three refills at once, either all the same scent or in a variety. I’m currently using their scent called Cabin No. 5 and just love how it smells. On the hottest days, or gym days, I may have to reapply once or twice, but I’m finding that even with the heat the deodorant does a great job of releasing the scent throughout the day to keep me smelling great.

So that’s it! Those are the deodorants I’ve tried so far. Right now, I’m pretty happy with Myro, but would love to know if there are other brands I should try. I should also mention that all four brands above are cruelty free, however Tom’s is owned by Colgate Palmolive who does test on animals with their other products. The last three are also vegan products and do not use any animal products or byproducts in their products. This is pretty important to me, so I’m happy to say that the two I liked most also align well with my values. It’s cool to see companies becoming more aware of that these days!

Let me know in the comments below if there are any deodorants that you like or have had experience with. I love hearing about how people are making the switch to living more naturally and healthy not only for ourselves but for our planet!

Until next time,

MelissaRose

Ramble On // Cruelty Free is the Way to Be

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I have been pescatarian for about 3 years now. The decision came because of inspiration from a dear friend who is a hardcore vegan who was always so sweet and encouraging about her ideals – not pushy and preachy like some can be. I grew up on a ranch, so hearing her claims about animals being “friends not food” was not alien to me. I had grown up feeding drop calves and pigs, I hung out with goats and full grown holstein cows and could not argue that they have personalities. Much of their personalities, in fact, reminded me of one of the most common household pets – dogs. I wouldn’t eat a dog, so why am I okay with eating other animals? Once I gave myself this perspective, I knew it was time for a change. And I love it! It’s not nearly as difficult as I thought it would be, and I really truly feel like I am making a difference for animals. Now, I do still eat fish, I left this in my diet because I felt like it gave me one last source of meat-based protein, and to be honest, I guess I just don’t feel that emotional connection with fish. Maybe someday I will venture down the vegan road, but for now, I am happy with my mostly vegetarian lifestyle with the occasional sushi roll.

BUT, another area of my life that I realized was still not completely cruelty-free was my cosmetics. I had never really thought about the “tested on animals” factor until I recently started getting back into purchasing makeup. Why would I cut meat out of my diet only to allow animals to still be tortured through cosmetic and chemical testing?

Continue reading “Ramble On // Cruelty Free is the Way to Be”