Four keys to staying vegetarian/vegan abroad

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Dinner served on Iberia Airlines. Photo by me.

Hello everyone! It has been a while since my last entry. Surprise… I am blogging from Salamanca, Spain. I began my study abroad here on June 23. Over the course of my travel I have learned a lot. I am staying with a host family and I am provided three meals a day through my program.

#1 Request vegetarian/vegan food during your flight.

I took a group flight to Madrid, Spain. My friend Maria, a fellow vegetarian, developed the brilliant idea of calling ahead to ask for vegetarian meals to be served to us. During the course of our 11 hour flight, we received two vegetarian meals and several snacks.  According to Iberia Airlines, you must call at least 24 hours ahead of your flight to receive vegetarian options.

#2 Learn local terms for animal products.

For example here in Spain, milk is leche, jamón is ham and meat is carne. Learning the language can be easy with foreign language apps and language dictionaries.

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First meal with host family. Photo by me.

#3 Eat your protein! 
During my first few days in Spain I felt very sick. I endured migraines and stomachaches. My vegetarian meals on the airplane lacked protein. In addition, my first meal at my homestay was iceberg lettuce, tomatoes and french fries. Obviously that was not enough. I had to nurse myself back to health with protein and hours of sleep. My favorite forms of protein are beans, quinoa and green peas. There are a plethora of  protein options to help you while traveling.

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Veggie sandwich at Madrid Airport. Photo by me. 

#4 Don’t be discouraged.

No matter your destination – you are not the only herbivore! Be aware of your surroundings. After just two days in Salamanca, I found two farmer’s markets and a small store that sells organic goods and A LOT of tofu! In addition, there are many tools available online that will help you find vegetarian/vegan food no matter where you are.

Overall, enjoy your trip. Travel is powered by exploration. Go out there and find the foods that work for you. It is a very exciting time! I recently found one of the best veggie burgers at at a location near my university here in Spain.

P.S. I can’t wait to share my vegetarian finds with each and every one of you!

 

 

 

 

 

Honest review: 10-week vegan lifestyle

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Photo taken by Maria Singh at Sage Vegan Bistro in Culver City, California.

Plant-based protein is essential.

While on my 10-week journey, I lost more than five pounds. This was due to the fact that I didn’t always fill up on protein.

Sometimes, I would eat a few vegetables and fruit and call it a day. Other times I would get creative and incorporate seitan, tofu or soyrizo. All of the weight I lost was muscle. So, I sincerely encourage you all, if you plan on living a vegan lifestyle, treat your body right. From beans to quinoa, there are so many plant-based protein options.

Not everyone accepts veganism.

I remember when I took my friend out to her favorite restaurant for a birthday dinner in April. While ordering, I asked the waiter if there was bacon in the green beans. Believe it or not, he laughed in my face! Another time, someone offered me a piece of their chicken salad. I said no thank you and they inquired why.

After telling them I was vegan, they said
“Just try it once!” However, this is not the sole response I received from everyone. Some people are very accepting and want to help you succeed as a vegan. One day my roommate even brought me home a chocolate vegan donut from Whole Foods. Let me tell you, it was amazing!

Living a vegan lifestyle made me healthier.

For some reason, this quarter at school was filled with endless opportunities for free food, which included pizza, fine cheeses and more. I was unable to enjoy the festivities. However, a lot of it was junk food so it worked perfectly! My vegan lifestyle saved me.

I truly enjoyed being vegan.

Prior to my 10-week journey, I was vegetarian for four years. Since I do have a love for animals and my overall goal is to be healthy, being vegan just felt right. My proactive lifestyle sometimes shields me from leading a fully nourished vegan lifestyle, so my goal is to carry many vegan values for the rest of my life, choosing vegan options when possible. I now “officially” live a vegetarian lifestyle. After much research and after feeling fantastic, I am positive I will never eat meat. So, have no fear, I still have a lot of tips, exciting recipes and my favorite –restaurant reviews. Yum!

Reaction to Gorilla Killed, 4-year-old boy trapped at Cincinnati Zoo

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After seeing footage of a 4-year-old boy trapped inside a gorilla enclosure at the Cincinnati Zoo, I have a lot of questions.

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Photo Courtesy of Common Creatives: YouTube Account: news@leaked.

Two things you all must know about me:

  1. I love children.
  2. I love animals.

On Saturday the 400-pound gorilla named Harambe was shot and killed in order to “save the little boy’s life.”

My questions are as follows:

How did that child get into the moat?

What long-term affects will this have on the child?

Why was this child able to access this critically endangered gorilla?

There are a lot of rumors circulating: One witness said she heard the boy tell his mother he wanted to go in and get in the water. Another rumor claims that Harambe dragged the boy for more than 10 minutes. However, I have yet to see video footage of this!

This is very sad. I just wanted to truly raise awareness on what clearly is a huge problem. As a vegan community and as human beings, we definitely need more information! Remember to do your research, everyone, before forming an opinion.

Why eating cactus should make you love vegetables

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Today, I met a young lady named Kenya at the Pomona Farmers Market. Kenya transports her produce from Arvin, California each Saturday morning in order to sell it at the market.

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Uncooked cactus. Photo by me.

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‘Cowspiracy’ exposes truth behind water usage and animal agriculture

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Often when vegans are asked what inspired them to go vegan, they attribute their decision to a documentary film. For example, as stated in the Organic Liv blog post on celebrity vegans, the film “Earthlings” influenced Ellen DeGeneres’ decision to go vegan.

One of the most recent highly acclaimed vegan documentaries is “Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret,” which follows Kip Andersen as he discovers how animal agriculture impacts the planet.

Andersen first developed a concern for environmental impacts after viewing “An Inconvenient Truth,” a film created in 2006 during Al Gore’s campaign to inform U.S. citizens about global warming.

Gore addressed how climate change and human demands on the earth lead to acidification of the ocean (ongoing decrease of pH in seawater), wildfires, storms and more.

Andersen started composting, turning off lights and recycling along with every other remedy advised when someone longs to “save the planet!”

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Photo courtesy of Wikipedia: Flickr @Praytino

However, Andersen soon began to wonder if it was enough. He read a report by the United Nations that said, “Rearing cattle produces more greenhouse gas than driving cars.”

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Greenhouse gases are defined as gases that trap heat in the atmosphere, often resulting in global warming.

This brought Andersen to his “Cowspiracy,” and he began to research how animal agriculture greatly impacts resource consumption and environmental degradation. Read the rest of this entry

Happy Mother’s Day to all mommies

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From animal mommies to human mommies – all moms rock. Without my mother, I would not have even been able to make this blog!

“If women wanted to shut this country down, all they would have to do is not go to work and not come home.”

-Pharrell Williams, American singer and record producer 

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A sheep explores with her lamb at Cal Poly Pomona University. Photo taken by me.

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Best, free apps to make you feel, look healthy

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An engineering student jumps as she celebrates her health in the Arizona dessert. Photo taken by me.

MyFitnessPal by Under Armor

MyFitnessPal is the ultimate meal planner. When using the application, you log your current weight and your future weight goal (the weights may be the same if you wish to maintain). The app then tells you what you should be eating in order to meet your goal. When I use the MyFitnessPal Diary, I record everything I eat. The app also counts calorie, carbohydrate, fat and protein intake.

For example my daily nutrition plan consists of:
1, 500 calories
50 percent carbohydrates
30 percent fat
20 percent protein

There is even a social media aspect of the app where you can celebrate and share your progress with friends who also use the app.

Is It Vegan?

It is week seven of my vegan journey, and I am still learning. With the “Is It Vegan” application, I scan the bar code on a specific food or beverage item and discover all its ingredients. The app then states if the item is vegan, vegetarian or neither.

Since some vegans consider sugar a vegetarian ingredient, the app allows the user to set their personal preference on if they view sugar as vegetarian or vegan. Some view sugar as vegetarian because certain refined sugars are filtered using animal bone char to reduce impurities.

Overall, I am happy with these apps because they help me lead a health conscious lifestyle.