If you hadn’t noticed, I took a little bit of a break. You may know that I’ve been dealing with fighting Lyme and other chronic Tick-borne infections in the last two years. After a year on antibiotics and steady improvement, I decided to return to blogging after a long hiatus. I blogged again for about a year before realizing I was, quite simply, exhausted. Physically — after coming home from long, stressful days at work — I was pushing myself to make multi-step meals to test for the blog in time to take photos while there was still daylight. Then I would spend the rest of the night editing said photos, then forcing myself to sit and write a meaningful and informative post — all while watching the clock in panic mode, hoping I could make it into bed to ensure my requisite eight hours of sleep were possible that night (otherwise, I might as well call off tomorrow on account of the inevitable brain fog and fatigue).
The weekends provided more opportunity for cooking, picture-taking and writing posts. But that turned out to be a problem as I found myself turning down plans or opportunities for much-needed rest and self-care in order to make sure I got my quota of decent posts lined up for the week ahead.
The pace was unsustainable, and I found myself getting more tired and, perhaps worse, becoming grumpier. So I got burnt out and quietly went away for awhile, hoping that the much-needed reset would help me return with a purpose and vigor like never before.
The problem is, I’m still not feeling 100% recovered. I have more good days than bad than I did, say, two years ago. But on my good days I tend to do too much to compensate for the apparent lack of productiveness of my bad days. And then I get burnt out. And I want to quit everything and sleep for days like Carrie Bradshaw in the first SATC movie that was better than critics gave it credit for.
But recently, something was stirred up in me that had me wanting this platform to share my feelings, and my food. I’ve been seeing a lot of press about fellow vegan bloggers who have caused quite a stir by announcing they were no longer vegan. One in particular (whose name I will not mention) seemed to confuse veganism with an eating disorder. Thus, her year-long foray into veganism was basically, by her own account, a juice fast. She of course lost weight, but became obsessive about it. She rarely allowed anything but kale or raw juice to pass her lips (again, I am paraphrasing her words). When she realized she had a problem, she started adding fish and eggs back into her diet. Miraculously, her periods returned and her energy improved. Thus, the moral of the story was: eat animals and you will feel better!
Now, I am not here to make light of eating disorders or to attack this individual, whom I do not know and do not claim to understand. I think it’s brave for anyone to share their story with the internet world, knowing there’s a host of people waiting to tear it down. But I do feel I have a moral obligation to speak out on behalf of the animals and share with the world the other side of things — that veganism is not a fad diet, nor is it a good way to mask an eating disorder. It’s a lifestyle centered around compassion for one’s own body, for the animals and for the planet. It’s about healthy whole foods, grains, legumes and — gasp — sometimes even processed foods for when we’re missing something from our pre-vegan days.
We vegans spend a lot of time criticizing our community from within. The oil-free folk attack those who use oil. The raw foodists scoff at anything cooked. As a gluten-free, sugar-free and often oil-free vegan, I am no stranger to restrictions within a vegan diet. while I went vegan “for the animals”, I do many of these other things for my health — because I know that if I eat too much sugar, my candida will flare after two years of being on antibiotics for Lyme. I know that if I eat gluten, my inflammation markers will skyrocket, and my stomach troubles and headaches will return. So I don’t. But I also don’t feel like I am starving myself.
When I tell strangers I am vegan, some get a concerned look on their faces and tell me “you will starve to death!” or something along those lines. I usually shut them up by pointing to my fit yet by no means supermodel-esque figure and telling them “I’ve been vegan for four years and haven’t starved yet.”
So, here I am, slowly trying to get myself back into the blogging groove. I know I need to slow down. But I need to get my voice out there somehow, because I am on a mission to tell the true story of veganism: that you can eat a balanced, healthy, delicious vegan (and gluten-free and low-sugar) diet and STILL never, ever starve or put your health at risk.* Heck, the only reason I believe I was not worse off than I was after 4 years of undiagnosed Lyme disease was the fact that I had been unknowingly medicating myself with plant-based diet, well before I even knew what I was medicating.
* I am not saying that every single person, in every situation can eat a vegan diet without troubles. Perhaps there are those rare occurrences where a person needs animal protein to thrive — but I believe this is the exception, NOT the rule.
- 1 cup dry red quinoa, rinsed well and cooked according to package directions
- 1 medium sweet potato, unpeeled, washed and diced
- 6 tablespoons + 2 tablespoons vegetable broth (divided)
- 1 14/15 oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 cup frozen corn kernels, thawed (or fresh corn)
- 1/4 cup fresh-squeezed orange juice (about 1/2 large orange)
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- salt to taste
- avocado for serving (optional)
- fresh salsa for serving (optional)
- Add sweet potato to a large skillet with 6 tablespoons of vegetable broth and cover. Cook sweet potato over medium heat until soft and cooked through, about 8-10 minutes. Add a few tablespoons water, if needed, if liquid is evaporated before sweet potatoes are soft.
- Add in cooked quinoa, black beans, corn and spices. Toss and heat through(still at medium heat), about 1-2 minutes. Add additional two tablespoons broth and orange juice and cook for another minute before removing from heat.
- Add salt to taste. Serve topped with avocado or salsa, if desired.