Well, today is a very strange holiday. Often times I like to look at the date and search online to see which holidays fall on a certain day, and today is National Cheese Sacrifice Day. So, what does this mean? Well, it started with people buying cheese on this day and "sacrificing" it to household rodents, using cheese to snare them in traps. Today, people have given it a whole new meaning. Some "sacrifice" a little of their budget to splurge and try an expensive cheese they may not normally purchase. I propose two new meanings.
Understand who really makes a sacrifice when dairy is consumed.
There is an image that I will never forget. It was the Fourth of July, and several dairy farmers posted photos of baby cows in chains with the captions "Let Freedom Ring" and "Happy Fourth of July" among other things. These sad images are are constant reminder of the ones who make the true sacrifices for the sake of dairy products like cheese. The dairy cows sacrifice their milk unwillingly so that it may go to the millions of people across the world who say they cannot live without it. The babies are taken away from their mothers, and many dairy mothers actually defend this practice. According to Modern Day Farm Chick, since "cows aren't humans" it is perfectly fine to separate them. She goes on to say that it must be done "to provide the best care for the cow and calf.” Ultimately, dairy cows sacrifice their lives. When they are unable to produce the expected amount of milk, they are slaughtered and end up on someone's plate.
Sacrifice eating cheese on this day, instead of consuming it.
We've all heard of Meatless Monday. Well, this holiday could be a day, just one day, out of the year where dairy cheese lovers could forego eating cheese. There are a long list of benefits that arise from eliminating dairy all together. Many studies and research show the dangers of consuming dairy products. Dr. Neal Barnard, physician and president of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, says the average American consumes more than 33 pounds of cheese per year.
He says cheese is both fattening and addictive because of the dairy protein called casein. He describes how it has opiate molecules built in and says when babies nurse, they are getting dosed with a mild drug. According to Barnard, "Milk contains opiates that reward a baby for nursing."
There are countless non-dairy cheese products and nut cheeses on the market as well. These high quality products provide amazing health benefits while providing the taste, texture, and flavor of dairy cheese products without the harmful effects. They can be used for pizza, quesadillas, and much more! So, instead of consuming dairy cheese, try a non-dairy option. Your body will thank you, and so will the dairy cows across the world.
Maybe I have food allergies and have no idea. Maybe it's because I have only been vegan for a year and a half and consumed a lot of dairy products leading up to the start of my vegan journey. I am not sure the reason, but frequently I have been waking up with nasal congestion and throat congestion. In another blog I talked about digestion problems and a skin rash that I had all the way up until I became vegan. After I became vegan, they both cleared up within a matter of weeks and never returned, but the nasal and throat congestion has been a lingering and aggravating nuisance. Several studies show that wheat or gluten can cause the congestion a well.
One of the major components of Dr. Sebi's plan is eliminating mucus from the body. He states, "Mucus is the cause of every disease." He also discusses how eating too many acidic and not enough alkaline foods causes the production of mucus in the body. So, I carefully studied his list, and started my seven day plan to see if I would notice a difference in my system.
During the seven days, my diet mostly consisted of peaches, melons, walnuts, lettuce, garbanzo beans, cucumbers, avocados, and tomatoes.These are all on the list, and on the first day, I made a large amount of walnut "meat" and guacamole and ate this on lettuce wraps for several days. It is a delicious and simple vegan recipe. When I was not eating the wraps, I was eating bowls of fruit, homemade guacamole and cucumbers, or snacking on walnuts.
I also started every morning with a cup of warm water and lime juice. This is said to stimulate the gastrointestinal tract, and it also alkalizes the body and helps maintain a higher pH balance.
On day three I was more congested than usual. It was like my body was trying to eliminate in overdrive, and I really felt it. I had to keep a box of kleenex on hand throughout the day, and this was very frustrating. I was wondering if it would go away, but on day four I woke up with very little congestion at all. I kept eating my meals and snacks, drank plenty of water, and I really started feeling a huge difference. One of my go-to snacks was homemade guacamole and sliced cucumbers. I also enjoyed mango with cucumber slices as well.
Days five through seven were smooth sailing. On day five, I did deviate from the plan and had some raw pumpkin seed bars with my peaches. My daughter loves them, and I ended up buying a few of them for myself when I was getting some for her.
Overall, I have to say that after day three the congestion was minimal. I do think I need to take an allergy test just to see if I am unknowingly causing all this stuff that could easily be prevented. I do know that I am going to be more mindful about trying to make sure I include more alkaline than acidic foods in my diet and in the family meals I prepare. Will I stick solely to Dr. Sebi's plan? No. However, I will incorporate many of his principles into my lifestyle and continue to enjoy my vegan journey!
My vegan journey has been quite remarkable. When I reflect back on the time when I was just like many Americans, buying and consuming animal products without even thinking about it, it seems so surreal. Day after day animals across the world pay the ultimate price so that people can have a glass of milk with breakfast, a steak or chicken dinner, and keep slaughterhouses and factory farms in business. In this vicious cycle of animal cruelty, people often forget (or don't even think ) that animals are brilliant creatures that experience feelings and emotions, too. Here's how...
Pigs are amazingly intelligent. Studies show that they have long term memories, great problems solving skills, and are able to learn complex combinations of symbols for actions and objects.
They also feel empathy toward their pen mates. They feel fear, sadness, and happiness just like humans. They love to socialize and conversate, and mother pigs develop strong bonds with their babies. That's why it saddens me to think about the torture they endure at slaughterhouses. According to the USDA's number of Estimated Daily Livestock Slaughter under Federal Inspection, 2,179,000 hogs were slaughtered just last week.
The road to slaughter is gut wrenching. In natural settings, pigs can live up to fifteen years. Factory farmed pigs are sent to slaughter around six or seven months of life. They are packed tightly into 18-wheelers, and millions often die on the road to slaughter. Typical slaughterhouses kill over 1,000 pigs per hour. In May 2015, a Compassion Over Killing investigation uncovered severe abuse of pigs. Investigators saw “conscious pigs being dragged, improperly stunned (i.e. ineffectively stunned and double stunned), abused with electric prods, maliciously beaten, pushed, kicked and otherwise severely mistreated.”
There are many organizations and sanctuaries that fight daily to rescue and eliminate the suffering of pigs. Wallow in the Woods pig sanctuary in Metter, Georgia rescues and cares for unwanted or neglected pot belly pigs. Pigs Peace Sanctuary also does phenomenal work.
There are hundreds of breeds of chickens worldwide. Studies show that chickens have distinct personalities, great memory skills, and complex communication. They are also able to experience fear, anticipation and anxiety. Mother hens are very caring and bond with their chicks, but that bond is broken too often. According to United Poultry Concerns, "In the U.S., each year, 9 billion “broiler” (baby) chickens, both males and females, are raised and killed for food. Worldwide over 50 billion chickens are now being slaughtered every year."
Factory farmed chickens often never see the light of day. Instead, they are cramped by the thousands in sheds, and baby chicks raised on factory farms are not allowed contact with his or her parents, let alone be raised by them, and the abuse chickens are subjected to is disgraceful. Thankfully, there are many organizations that rescue chickens from abuse.
Cows are so fascinating! A 2004 study conducted by Cambridge University showed that young heifers exhibit behavioral expressions of excitement when they solve a problem, and they also take pleasure in their own learning achievements. While working on her PhD at Northampton University, Krista McLennan discovered that cows have best friends and become stressed when they are separated. Unfortunately, separation, sadness, and and stress are part of the life cycle of many cows. Dairy cows know this all too well.
Babies are taken from their mothers shortly after birth. Male calves are taken away to be raised for beef and females for milk. Once females are no longer able to produce milk, they are also sent to slaughter.
There are many organizations that provide sanctuaries and save the lives of cows. The Cow Sanctuary in Bridgeton, NJ provides lifelong care and rehabilitation to cows, emus, horses, goats, pigs, ducks, geese, and other animals as well. Many of the animals were rescued from cruelty and neglect.
Rowdy Girl Sanctuary is located in Angleton, TX. The story behind this sanctuary is remarkable. They provide lifelong, compassionate care to many animals whose lives usually end in brutal death.
There are hundreds of organizations across the country that fight each and every day for the freedom, rights and protection of animals. Each and every day another person makes the life changing decision to join the ranks of the millions of vegans across America to become vegan and embrace an ethical lifestyle that defends and advocates for animals-beautiful, intelligent, amazing creatures that all deserve to live a full and happy life-and for that I am very happy!
A report released May 19, 2017, by the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), Agricultural Statistics Board, and United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), reveals some startling facts about milk production and consumption. Basically, dairy cows produce massive amounts of milk on a regular basis to keep up with the insatiable demand of Americans. In fact, the report states that "milk production in the United States during April totaled 18.3 billion pounds, up 2.0 percent from April 2016," and "the number of milk cows on farms in the United States was 9.39 million head, 69,000 head more than April 2016, and 8,000 head more than March 2017."
In this blur of milk production and distribution, one voice is often silenced. If dairy cows had a voice, there are three things that they would want us to know.
The milking machines are physically exhausting. I am sometimes milked for 10 months out of the year, including the time I get pregnant. I am milked two to three times a day, seven days a week, and continuously attached to milking machines. I develop mastitis in my mammary glands. I have watched friends die from this disease. After milking, I am returned to my lonely, cramped, concrete stall to wait for my next milking. That is my life.
"Production per cow in the 23 major States averaged 1,967 pounds for April, 20 pounds above April 2016. This is the highest production per cow for the month of April since the 23 State series began in 2003." (USDA 2017)
I miss my baby. I didn't get to bond with my baby. I didn't get to nurture my baby. When my precious baby was born, something terrible happened shortly thereafter. I was nursing my beautiful calf, and then someone took her. They ripped her away from me. I tried to call for her, but it did no good. No one listened. No one cared. My life is stressful. I know that one day she will be artificially inseminated and begin the vicious cycle that I currently endure. I had no time to mourn though. I was quickly put back to intensive milk production.
"Abrupt and early weaning, such as occurs on the typical dairy farm, appears to be distressing for both calf and cow," says Weary. "The calves will engage in repetitive crying and become more active," he says, "and sometimes you'll see a decline in their willingness to eat solid food."-Daniel Weary, an applied animal biologist at the University of British Columbia. The Emotional Lives of Dairy Cows, Mary Bates
My days are numbered. I would normally live 20-25 years, but I will only survive three to five years because of this intense, cruel life. I look around, and each and every day I see faces disappear. I know one day it will happen to me when I can no longer keep up and produce the high level of milk demanded of me. One day I will be packed onto a crowded truck to be transported to that place. It's called a slaughterhouse. The truck was here just yesterday. It was a sad day. After the hard life of servitude that I have endured, knowing I will one day end up as food on someone's plate is just too much to comprehend.
There is a ray of hope. There are many organizations out there that speak for me. Organizations like Free from Harm, Milk Hurts, Mothers Against Dairy, and Occupy for Animals, tell my story. There are countless others as well. They are my voice and the voices of many. I hope you listen to their messages. I hope my story inspires you to start your vegan journey. What is my life worth to you?
Recently, James Aspey, world renowned vegan and animal rights activist, got into a heated discussion with a Christian man while James was speaking at an event. The whole argument that the man kept trying to make was that animals were created for his use. Often times when James presented the man with a sound response, the man would change his own argument, agree with James on many points, and then go right back to saying animals were created for his needs and nourishment. The whole exchange was interesting to me because I am a Christian, and I totally disagree with the man for several reasons.
Humans DO Not Need Animals for Nourishment
Everything we need, including protein, can be achieved by eating a plant based diet. There have been countless studies that show that by adopting a plant based diet people live longer, are healthier, happier, and less disease stricken. Research published by The National Center for Biotechnology concluded that "vegan diets seem to provide some added protection against obesity, hypertension, type-2 diabetes; and cardiovascular mortality."
In the Beginning
Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds in the sky and all the creatures that move along the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food. And it was so." Genesis 1: 29-30 (NIV).
When Adam and Eve were in the Garden of Eden, God commanded that they eat seeded fruit and green plants. Those were His words.
To me, this says that this was God's original design, but after the fall of man, death and destruction became part of the natural life cycle. Predators killed prey, and the life of one living thing depended on the death of another. I believe veganism is closer to God's original plan and design.
Factory Farming and Slaughterhouses
It seems like every day there are countless stories, images, and articles about animal abuse and torture. Whistleblowers often record first hand accounts of the relentless abuse that animals endure for the sake of being food for humans. In a recent Compassion Over Killing (COK) undercover investigation at Mason Dixon Farms, gentle mother cows were violently abused.
Uncover footages shows: cows being kicked in the face, punched in their udders, continuously shocked with an electric prod, jabbed with pens and elbows, and having their tails painfully twisted or bent by workers. Because of their hazardous living conditions, they were also repeatedly getting stuck on water troughs or inside stalls.
People can continue to make the argument of "animals were put here for our use" all they want, but use does not equal abuse. I think it is great when I see seeing eye dogs being eyes for their owners, or pets providing therapy and making people's lives better by bringing happiness and joy to families.
I certainly don't think the God whom I love and in whom I believe, the God of love and compassion, is pleased with animal cruelty, slaughterhouses, or factory farming where these types of atrocities occur every day behind closed doors. These animals are living, breathing creatures with feelings and emotions. They experience joy and pain. They have families, but sadly often times they don't have a voice.
"The righteous care for the needs of their animals, but the kindest acts of the wicked are cruel." Proverb 12:10 (NIV)
Please share your views below!
Several weeks ago when I went through the drive thru at Chick-fil-A on Windward Parkway in Alpharetta, I was given this card with my receipt. I briefly glanced at it and took a closer look at it when I got home. As a vegan, the options on this card did nothing for me. I placed the card in the door of my car and forgot about it. As my daughter and I were running errands this afternoon, I glanced at the card and had an idea.
I decided to call my local Chick-fil-A and see if they would accommodate for a vegan. It was worth a shot. I spoke to a manager named Brandon. I told him I received the card and explained that I am vegan and asked if I could switch an item on the card for a vegan option on the menu. He asked me to come by the store. A few minutes later, he came out and handed me two of these cards.
I am very grateful that he took the time to do this for my daughter and I. I was truly impressed. Since I had such a great experience. I called the North Point Parkway location as well to see what would happen. I received the card below in the mail from that location for the same promotion. This photo shows the back of the card. The front of the card shows a chicken biscuit, sausage biscuit, or egg white sandwich.
So...I called the North Point location, asked to speak to a manager, and I told him about the card I had received in the mail. I told him I am vegan and asked if I could substitute a vegan item for an item on the card. He quickly recommended a wrap. I asked him if the flatbread is vegan. He asked me to call back in five minutes while he checked. When I called back, a girl answered the phone. Before I could explain anything she stated, "He said the flatbread is not vegan friendly." That was it. No trying to offer a fruit cup or fries or anything. He just had the employee relay the message. So, I said, "Okay, thanks." That was it.
Although they would not offer a vegan substitute for a non-vegan one, this was not a total loss. While on the phone with the manager initially, he asked me several questions about being vegan, asked me how long I had been vegan, and had me to specifically define what vegan meant. I was able to share information, and maybe in the future when they do customer promotions, they will put a variety of items on the card to cater to all of their customers!
When searching for vegan options at a non-vegan restaurant, have you ever had any memorable or interesting experiences? Share your story below!
Well, folks...I MADE IT. I recently celebrated my one year anniversary since becoming vegan February 2016. It was definitely one of the best decisions I ever made. I can truly say it has been an amazing vegan journey of learning, discovering new foods and creating recipes, and sharing as much as I can with as many people as I can. There are three things I have learned during this past year.
You Will Get Asked Many Questions About Being Vegan
I think I have been asked every question under the sun regarding my decision to be vegan. People have questioned me and tried to challenge me as well. Unhealthy, junk-eating, carnivores suddenly become nutrition experts and try to tell you how being vegan isn't "healthy." The best thing you can do is educate them with the facts, talk about things like nutrition, factory farming, slaughterhouses, etc. I became vegan for ethical reasons. The vegan health benefits are an added bonus! And yes, vegans eat plenty of plant based protein. That brings me to the next thing I learned.
There are MANY Vegan Sources of Protein
When I was putting together recipes on my blog, I was amazed at how many of my vegan recipes have over 10 grams of protein per serving. From vegan tacos to vegan pizza, the protein is packed! Other sources of vegan protein include: tofu, lentils, almonds, peanut butter, avocados, spinach, broccoli, kale, brown rice, oatmeal, quinoa, green beans, veggie burgers, etc. I could keep going for a while! This is the absolute number one misconception people have about food. There are a vast number of people that still think meat from animals is the only way they can get their protein. Boy, are they wrong!
Becoming Vegan Was Not a Hard Process
Lastly, People often tell me they could never give up milk, or cheese, or bacon. They ask me how it was so easy for me. After watching a documentary that showed baby chicks being thrown alive into a grinder, I was speechless. Many egg farmers grind male baby chicks to death. Why? Because they are deemed "useless" to the egg industry. They are too small to be profitable to raise for meat and unable to lay eggs. So, millions are thrown into high-speed grinders that are similar to woodchippers. It was images like this and other footage showing factory farm undercover footage of chickens, cows, pigs, etc. being severely abused and slaughtered. That was enough for me.
This year has been phenomenal, and I look forward to more learning, more recipes, more product reviews, and sharing more information with my friends, family, and followers on social media. Stay tuned!
I have always considered myself to be healthy and fit. I was an athlete growing up and throughout college. I consistently worked out, and I was in the gym regularly. My diet consisted of mostly fruits and vegetables, and I ate turkey, fish, chicken, and dairy as well. I rarely ate fried food or junk food. I had pretty much maintained my weight....until I became pregnant with my daughter. I gained 70 lbs during my pregnancy!
By the grace of God, I had no complications during my pregnancy. I didn't develop pre-eclampsia or gestational diabetes. I walked daily on the treadmill up until a week before I gave birth, and I delivered a healthy, beautiful daughter the day after my birthday! Following the pregnancy, I had a huge health scare. My husband and I were out running errands, and I blacked out and woke up in an ambulance. I was suffering from exhaustion, dehydration, and sleep deprivation. That wake up call fueled my mission to get back in shape.
Make a statement with a Vegan T-shirt!
It took me 11 months, and I lost all of the weight I had gained during the pregnancy. I did home workouts and restricted my calories and saw results. I thought I was doing great with my diet and nutrition other than occasional digestive problems that I would have. And then things changed. Around January of this year the digestive problems got worse, and I started developing aggravating patches of bumps on my hands and face. They would appear and disappear constantly.
This photo was taken February 17, 2016
This photo was taken May 26, 2016, approx 2 months later.
I was browsing through Netflix, and I found the documentary, Vegucated, and watching that documentary is one of the reasons why I am vegan today. Although I have only been vegan since February, I have already noticed remarkable differences. As you can see from the photo above, the mysterious rash disappeared, and I have not had any more outbreaks. I have not had any digestive problems since I stopped eating meat and dairy. I have dropped 12 pounds.
I feel great, and several people have told me that my skin glows! I agree! I am enjoying educating myself on all things vegan, I love creating and trying new recipes for myself and my family, and I have joined some amazing, informative, and educational vegan forums and groups.
I considered myself to be a healthy eater. No fried foods, sodas, junk food, red meat, etc. I felt really good about my eating habits. I've always been an avid researcher, and I love reading about nutrition and watching documentaries. I was looking for food documentaries on Netflix, and I stumbled across a documentary called Vegucated. After watching this movie, my eating habits were never the same. The movie chronicles the food journey of three meat and cheese eating New Yorkers after they agreed to go on a Vegan diet for six weeks. If you have Netflix, you should definitely check it out. After watching this documentary, I immediately choose to become Vegan for a few reasons:
Two Words: Animal Cruelty
When I was a meat eater, I guess I never really thought about the whole "this animal had to be killed first" process. When I saw the scenes of what occurs in slaughter houses, I was done with meat. Instantly. The movie showed some undercover, whistle-blower footage, and it was very hard to watch. The relentless abuse that was depicted was utterly shocking. I've already heard, more times than I can count, the excuse "God made animals for man to eat." However, I don't think God would condone the abuse and violence that was bestowed upon the animals He created.
GMOs: They're Everywhere!
GMOs are "genetically modified organisms." Most people I talk to have never even heard of GMOs, but they eat them every day. Basically, genetic engineering methods were used to create different crops which are both pesticide and insect-resistant against specific pests. Approximately 90% of all corn and soybeans that are consumed in the United States are genetically modified. The DNA in these crops has literally been altered so that when a farmer sprays an entire field with herbicides, the weeds die leaving the crop alive. I will address the dangers of GMOs in a future blog.
Plant-based Diet: Amazing Benefits
Numerous studies have been conducted by the nation's leading physicians and health scientists on the benefits of a plant-based diet. In the movie, Vegucated, all of the participants experienced weight loss, lower cholesterol, lower blood pressure levels, and several other positive health outcomes. They all made major improvements in their overall health when they excluded meat and dairy from their diets. According to The Permanente Journal, "the major benefits for patients who decide to start a plant-based diet are the possibility of reducing the number of medications they take to treat a variety of chronic conditions, lower body weight, decreased risk of cancer, and a reduction in their risk of death from ischemic heart disease."
Helping Myself and the Environment
Before I became a Vegan, I would notice patches of mysterious little bumps on my hands, fingers, arms, and sometimes my face. They were extremely uncomfortable and itchy. Aloe and coconut oil helped to alleviate the itchiness, but I still did not know why they kept returning. I also experience different digestive problems that made me feel miserable.
Now, the patch of seven has dwindled to two, and all of the ones on my fingers and face have disappeared. I have also dropped 10 lbs since I stopped eating meat and dairy. My skin is definitely looking and feeling better, and the digestive problems are a thing of the past. I am VERY happy about that!
I can say that my Vegan journey has been amazing, and every day I am learning, researching, and uncovering more information, tips, recipes, reviews, and news that I look forward to sharing. This has definitely been one of the best decisions I ever made. Not only am I helping the environment, I am truly helping myself and my family as well!
About Tabatha James
Tabatha James is a wife, mom, and children's book author navigating her way through a vegan way of life!