It has been so, so long since I have posted a blog or recipe on here! I truly do love the idea of having my own website and a place to freely write about whatever I please. Recently I have started writing for a website, called Raise Vegan, as well as their digital and print magazine.
I write articles for the Raise Vegan website, as well as for the monthly magazine, which you can subscribe to in digital or hard copy! Of course, I am still a stay at home mom and running around after my 16 month old daughter, Norah. Having my own website was never about self promotion, it was about getting information out there that someone might not have otherwise known. Being able to write articles about what I believe in, and for a much larger platform, is something I could’ve only dreamed of doing! And who knows, maybe every now and then I will pop back on my own personal website and spill out a blog post.
I have decided to link the articles here, that I have written for the Raise Vegan website, in case you’re still interested in reading my posts! I cannot link the articles that I have written for the magazine, obviously, as that is a paid subscription. Some of these articles are written from personal experience such as; “40 Weeks, No Baby, Now What?”, “Breast Milk Donation: The Pro’s And Con’s”, “Why I Chose Not To Have An Epidural” and a couple of others, it is very obvious by the the way I write the post, that it is from personal experience. Posts such as “Can Cabbage Really Help Mastitis”, “Failure To Thrive: What Is It & How To Help” and “Placenta Previa: What It Means & What You Can do” were not written from personal experience, but I know that they are such real and intense issues, I poured hours of research into each one. But please, enjoy all of these articles (I will have the oldest at the bottom and the newest at the top- updated weekly) and check out Raise Vegan for more amazing articles by my fellow vegan mamas!
People sometimes have difficulty understanding what the problem with eggs is, it is just something that came out of a chicken, right? Yes, it did come out of a chicken, but that certainly isn’t the whole story.
Similarly to women, hens have ovaries, although only one ovary develops for the chickens. Nevertheless, this ovary sends a yolk through the reproductive tract and it is either fertilized, or it’s not. A woman’s period is an unfertilized reproductive cycle, and the eggs at the grocery store are also unfertilized reproductive cycles. Technically, chickens don’t menstruate, but the egg is the equivalent to a woman’s period.
Chickens may be the animal who experience the most abuse in factory farms, as they are small, and easy for the workers to pick up and throw around. The life of a hen used in the egg industry starts off very painfully, in order to prevent pecking each other to death, the baby chicks have their beaks and claws cut off. This is done without any painkillers, and results in severe malnutrition and dehydration, especially for the first two weeks. However, the male chicks have an immediate demise, as they are useless to the egg industry. Male and female chicks, are placed onto a conveyor belt, as workers separate them by gender. Females are filtered into big bins, where they will live until they’re big enough to not fit through the cracks of the wire battery cages. The males are either ground up alive, or tossed into large garbage bags, where they suffocate to death. Their lives are considered useless to the egg industry, and therefore they are brought into this world, only to be immediately killed.
Roughly 10 egg laying hens are brutally crammed into battery cages that measure 10” by 24”, although a single hen has a wingspan of up to 36”. These cages are wire all around, and multiples are stacked on top of each other, meaning the feces from the chickens in the cages above falls onto the chickens below. Disease and death are common among these hens, and it is not abnormal for a deceased chicken to be left to rot inside the cage, among the rest of the live hens. Due to an inadequate diet, many hens can have their eggs break inside of their bodies, causing major discomfort and leading to infection. After about 2 years of living this way (while their normal lifespan can be up to 10 years), hens are ‘spent’, meaning they no longer are producing the number of eggs the industry wants them to. This means that is it is their time to go off to the slaughterhouse…
Their journey to the slaughterhouse often ends up with many broken wings, legs and even necks. This is caused by their cages being thrown from place to place, and being crammed so tightly that their body parts are pushed outside the bars, and prone to injury. Did you know that turkeys and chickens are exempt from the Humane Slaughter Act (although no slaughter is truly humane), they are not required to be insensible to pain before they are killed. They are hung by their legs, and have their throat slit, all while they’re still completely alert. By the time their tortured bodies reach the slaughterhouse, their flesh is unfit to be sold in supermarkets. They are often made into pet food, although there have been cases of their meat being used in the National School Lunch Program.
Contrary to popular belief, eggs are also extremely bad for our health as well. About 70% of calories from an egg are saturated fat, and they contain 213 mg of cholesterol, the human body has zero need for any cholesterol (as we make our own). Eggs are known to cause salmonella poisoning in 100,000 Americans each year, and many years ago I was one of them. According to the International Journal of Cancer, people who consume 1.5 eggs per week had nearly 5 times the risk for colon cancer. By consuming 2.5 eggs per week, men increased their risk of having prostate cancer by 81%. Also, a study published in International Urology and Nephrology showed that even moderate egg consumption is likely to triple your chances of bladder cancer. In a study done by the American Journal of Epidemiology, they showed that consuming eggs can increase your risk of cardiovascular disease by 19%. If you have diabetes, your chances of cardiovascular disease leap to a whopping 83%.
Fancy labels on eggs, showing happy chickens in green pastures, is extremely unrealistic. For the most part, hens live their lives in completely cramped, and unhealthy quarters. So, those who eat eggs from backyard hens (whether they’re own, or somebody else’s), it’s great that they are not supporting the cruel egg industry. However, eggs are still a by product of an animal’s work, they are still bad for your health, and are still a chickens unfertilized reproductive cycle.
I just have to start off this post by saying I never thought I would be that mom who says my daughter is ‘14 months old’, and that I would just simply tell everyone she is one. I did start off this way, as soon as she turned one, but people have started questioning me “she’s only one?! Wow she looks older”. I’ve begun to realize that people literally think one year old is only 12 months old, and not the months following. Plus, there is a HUGE difference between a 13 month old and a 22 month old, and technically both are still one.
With that being said, Norah is 14 months old, and has been a whole foods vegan since she was a wee lil’ seed inside me. What exactly does it mean to live a ‘whole foods plant based lifestyle’? Very simply put, she eats REAL food! I find list formats always much easier to understand:
Norah eats an abundance (as much as she wants) of;
- Legumes (i.e. black beans, chickpeas, lentils)
- Grains (she doesn’t eat wheat/gluten, but she does eat rice, quinoa, oats)
Norah does NOT ever eat;
- Anything that once was an animal (meat)
- Anything that came out of an animal (butter, milk, cheese, eggs etc)
- Processed sugar (brown sugar, white sugar, powdered sugar)
If you wonder why we stick to this lifestyle, you can read back on my other blog posts, “What’s The Deal With Dairy”, “What’s The Matter With Meat” and “What’s The Explanation For Eggs.” Consider watching What The Health, and other vegan documentaries like it. It is my job as her mother to take as good care of her as I know how, and this is how I know to do it. I want her to grow up to be strong, healthy and happy from the inside out. Good habits start young, I involve Norah with as much as I can when it comes to preparing her food, she especially loves to make smoothies and i’m so overjoyed that she is excited to participate!
I decided to throw together a quick little sneak peek into what Norah typically eats in a day, obviously it totally varies from day to day, but this was just today;
- Norah gets up with her dad anywhere around 6:30-7am, and he gives her a banana to snack on, until I roll out of bed between 7:30-8am, then she nurses. A banana first thing in the morning, and then breast milk is always a constant.
- Right after she nursed, I started making us breakfast. Today was super cold, and so I decided to make warm oatmeal. Norah’s had a dash of cinnamon and diced organic strawberries in it, with ground walnuts, hemp seeds and almond mylk on top.
- A couple of hours later she breast fed again, and had a little bit more banana and strawberries right afterwards.
- After her nap we made a smoothie, she is such a great helper, and loves to taste each item before she puts it into the blender! Today we made a smoothie with bananas, frozen mango, frozen blueberry, spinach, almond mylk, coconut water, a splash of homemade elderberry water, hawaiian spirulina, and barley grass juice powder.
- A couple of hours later she nursed again, and then right after I made her a plate of dates, orange slices and some black beans. I just put this on the coffee table in our living room and she’ll snack on it for an hour or so. She also stole some of her dads dehydrated mango slices.
- She had more breast milk right before I began making dinner, and for dinner we had a vegetable ‘cheeze’ soup. It’s one of her favourites and it’s basically blended (cooked) vegetables (sweet potato, carrot, celery, onion, broccoli) with water, nut mylk, some spices and nutritional yeast.
- After playing more, and her bath time, I nurse her before she goes to sleep, which usually is around 8pm.
- Norah wakes up anywhere from 2 – 4 times per night still to nurse, although, only one of those feedings I know is really necessary for her. She’s been going through major teething for a while now, and can’t seem to get much of a break before the next tooth is pushing through. So, I notice she nurses more during the night for comfort, when she’s teething.
That’s what a typical day of food might look like for our little girl! It goes without saying that she gets fresh water constantly throughout the day, we just leave it out in her Hydroflask water bottle. Like I said before, of course it changes day to day, but bananas and smoothies are an everyday thing for our family. All three of us love them, and so we go through lots of bananas and smoothie stuff!
It’s super important to us that Norah is eating as well as possible, so many illnesses and diseases stem from food, and what you eat tends to stem from habits. I know I feel my best when i’m eating tons of fresh fruit and vegetables (I cannot wait for the warmer season), and so that is how we feed our daughter as well, she deserves the best.
I love animals, pretty much any animal that you put in front of me I will hold, pet and love on! Our daughter loves animals too, dogs are her favourite and every animal that she sees ‘woofs’ apparently. But it can be a common question among people trying to live as kindly as possible, is it ethical to keep pets? This answer varies based off of where exactly you are getting this creature from.
Sadly, many times animals come from breeders, where the goal is to sell as many animals as possible, in order to create the most profit. They do this in a few ways:
- The animals are kept in cages that are far too small and crowded, the more animals they can cram in, the more babies to sell.
- The cages are filthy, as cleaning that many crowded cages takes time and money.
- Often the animals are fed very little food and what they are fed is very poor quality and tends to not be a wholesome, breed specific diet.
- Because of the overcrowding, animals become sick and injured quite easily, but are very rarely (if ever) given vet care, as that would put a dent in their profit.
- Taking babies away from their mothers far too young is a common practice, as the smaller/fluffier/cuter the pet, the quicker and more likely they are to sell.
Regrettably, many years ago I worked in a Pet Store, before I knew any better. Although, I believe that working at that pet store is what opened by eyes to the cruelty that goes on behind closed doors. Very quickly after I started that job, I learned about the breeding industry and the fact that the pet store itself has profit at the top of their priority list. It wasn’t a surprise if when breeders brought animals to us, one or two mice or hamsters had died during transport, they were simply thrown in the garbage. It was common for dozens of fish to die per day, they were flushed or thrown in the garbage along with the fish that looked like they weren’t going to make it, but were still alive.
One time the store had a very sick hamster that the staff were told not to take to the vet, because it was too expensive, no one was even allowed to take him to be humanely euthanized. Instead, an employee of the company put that sick little hamster (that was still alive) into a plastic bag, placed him in the parking lot and ran over him with their car. The other way in which the employees would terminate sick animals, was to put them in a bucket of water with a lid and wait. None of these instances happened while I was working, and I felt sick when I found out what had happened. I was constantly feeling like I needed to work all day, every day, in order to make sure the animals stayed healthy and safe. Often, I would bring sick animals home with me and nurse them back to health, on my dime and on my time.
After seeing what went on in the pet sale industry, my mindset quickly changed and I dove head first into volunteering for animal rescues in my area. I would say that purchasing any animal or any pet supplies at all from a pet store that supports the breeding industry is NOT ethical. Even if the store only sells fish, those fish came from a breeder and studies show that fish in fact do have feelings and pain receptors, just like humans and other animals. Be wary, as some branches of certain pet store brands (such as Bosleys or Pet Valu) do not sell animals in every one of their stores, but some of their stores do sell animals and they are all owned by the same company. Also, do not be fooled by stores such as Pet Smart that have a ‘cat adoption center’, this is nice and everything, but have you seen all of the small animals and birds that they are also selling from breeders? Instead, go straight to the animal shelter itself to adopt your pet.
Adopting an animal from a shelter or rescue would be the only ethical way to keep a pet, as you are not supporting breeders and are giving a home to an animal who has been let down. Adopting has many benefits:
- The shelter staff become familiar with each animals personality, and can better recommend the perfect addition to your family.
- All animals are already spayed or neutered, up to date on their vet checks and microchipped or tattooed (in case they get lost).
- Shelter staff with keep in touch with you and are there to answer any questions or help in anyway, if needed.
- An adoption can cost as low as $10 for a small critter and range up to $200 for a dog (the above notes are included in the adoption price). Whereas purchasing from a pet store/breeder, you are paying $30 for a small critter and dogs can be well over $1000 (and you are financially responsible for having them spayed/neutered, checked over by the vet, they are not guaranteed to be healthy and you cannot seek out help from the provider if there is a problem).
- Approximately 1.5 million animals in the United States alone are euthanized each year, you are helping to save two lives by adopting; the animal you took home and the animal the shelter is able to rescue with the empty space you opened up.
- The best benefit is that you are opening up your home and your heart to an animal that was abandoned by their family, through no fault of their own.
I have fostered dozens of rabbits, guinea pigs and hamsters, and I currently have two rabbits that I adopted, one from each other the rescues I volunteered for. I cannot tell you how helpful it is to the animal shelters to have people fostering! If you cannot afford to adopt, or are not 100% sure that you can commit to 10+ years with an animal, but have so much love to give and a cozy home to open up, I highly suggest fostering. It’s important to not only foster the young, cute and social animals, those are the ones that don’t have a problem getting adopted. Consider the older animals, who maybe have health problems (when fostering, the rescue pays for the vet bills and medication) and are a plain ‘boring’ colour, as these are the animals far less likely to be adopted. There are so many shelters with a variety of animals, there are even breed specific rescues and purebreds, all it takes is a little bit of searching and asking around. Look on www.petfinder.com to seek out an animal in need, you can even filter the options to be more specific.
Next time you are thinking of adding a new member to your family, or hear of someone who wants to purchase an animal, please be an advocate for those animals locked away in shelters and let down by humans. Don’t breed or buy while shelter pets die, opt to adopt.
It’s fair to say that most women want to attempt breastfeeding their baby, it is after all one of the many incredible things our bodies were designed to do. It is an amazing bonding experience, has so many nutritional benefits for your child, and even can help reduce your chances of having breast cancer! Not only that, it’s a great excuse to sit quietly, relax and stare at your baby. After giving breastfeeding a try, some women decide to stop and there can be a variety of reasons for that. Of course, the most important thing is that our babies are warm, fed and that mothers everywhere encourage and love each other, regardless of their feeding style.
Norah has been breastfed since the day she was born and still is, at over 14 months old, we have never given her a bottle and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I want to encourage the mothers out there who are really wanting to breastfeed, but might be struggling or unsure of what they’re doing. News flash: no one knew what they were doing in the beginning! It’s a learning process for yourself and your baby, you’re both figuring this out together. Eventually you’ll understand your baby’s cues and find what works for you two.
Your Milk Coming In: for the first couple of days it may not seem like you have much milk, but you will have colostrum. Colostrum is also known as ‘liquid gold’, it is super high in protein and antibodies, this is plenty of food for your baby until your milk comes in. Breast milk starts to come in anywhere from 1-5 days after you give birth, your boobs will feel full and hard and you may leak and spray! If you find that your baby is gagging, unlatching, gulping fast, making a clicking sound or tends to be very gassy and spit up often, chances are that your milk is coming out too fast. Now, you don’t want to reduce your milk supply, as this first couple of months are crucial to establishing your milk supply for the next couple of years. However, I suggest nursing while leaning back slightly, or laying on your side. Gravity will help pull the milk back a bit, so it is not so overwhelming for your baby. Stopping halfway through the feeding session to burp them can help relieve gas, limit spit up and ensures that their bellies are full of milk, not air. You can also unlatch your baby when the milk starts to come down too fast (and often can spray everywhere!) and wait until it slows down a bit.
If you find that you are leaking from the opposite breast than your baby is nursing from, I cannot speak highly enough of the HaaKaa suction breast milk catcher, it is a genius invention. While you’re nursing, you simply suction it onto the breast that your child is not eating from and watch as it fills, this will help to relieve some of the fullness. This milk can be stored in the freezer, as I always like to have a small freezer stash, just in case. This is not technically ‘pumping’ and will not create an oversupply, the cup is simply catching the milk that was coming down anyways. Because when your baby sucks, both breasts respond and milk is let down on both sides, ready for baby to eat. Having your baby eat their complete meal from only one breast per feeding, ensures that the baby is receiving all of the nutritious fatty milk at the back of the breast, it also is a great way to avoid an oversupply.
It is totally normal for the first couple of weeks for your nipples to feel sore! I mean, you are having a little human sucking at them 8-12 times a day, for half an hour at a time. This can be a difficult time, but applying coconut oil (or other natural nipple balm) can be a lifesaver and remember that it will not feel like this for long. Mastitis and plugged ducts are different, if you are feeling a hard painful lump on your breast, reach out to your midwife or lactation consultant about the best ways to help relieve the discomfort. The quicker that you recognize you might be having a problem, the easier it is to treat it and the faster you will recover.
Women who have powered through the first few months of breastfeeding, can often find themselves stuck when they find their supply beginning to diminish.
Common reasons that a woman’s supply takes a dip are:
- They’re feeling good enough to begin working out again and are keen to get their pre-baby body back. Exercising too much and too intensely can cause a massive dip, as you burn so many calories. Working out is a fantastic thing to do, but you should very slowly ease back into it, to allow your supply to adjust.
- Not eating enough calories, you burn an extra 300-500 calories per day just by breastfeeding. You need to eat enough food to sustain your own body, and create enough milk for your baby as well. Great high calorie, milk producing foods are oats, flax, avocado, spinach and almonds. Avoid thyme, peppermint, parsley and cabbage.
- Not hydrating enough!! I can’t even begin to explain how crucial this is. Breastfeeding women should consume over 90 oz of water per day. Make your water more exciting by adding ice and cucumber and lemon slices. Drinking pure (no sugar added) coconut water helps incredibly, as does eating water dense foods, such as watermelon. Avoid alcohol and caffeine.
- Not feeding on demand, or making your baby wait. Milk is a supply and demand type of thing, if you force your baby to wait (which you should never do), your body will tell itself that it doesn’t need the milk right now. Over time, you’ll create less and less milk, which ends up being a problem when baby goes through growth spurts, cluster feeding, or just decide that they want to nurse more- this does happen.
Getting a good latch is key to having a painless nursing session, limiting your chances of mastitis and ensuring your baby isn’t swallowing any air. Be sure your child’s mouth is wide open when you go to attach them and that your entire nipple goes into their mouth. Keeping their chin up and away from their chest will help to ensure that the milk goes down smoothly, think about it, nobody can comfortably drink with their chin toward their chest. Avoid introducing bottles and pacifiers for as long as possible, some babies can get nipple confusion and end up with a bad latch. The milk from a bottle tends to just trickle out on it’s own, so sometimes if a baby has had a bottle too soon, they will realize they don’t have to do much work and will prefer it over the breast. If you find that your baby is quite gassy or spits up more than normal, take a look at your diet. Gluten, soy, dairy, sugar, caffeine, spices and even too much garlic and onion, are all things that can upset a brand new little sensitive tummy.
It is never a bad idea to hire a lactation consultant, find a breastfeeding group and talk to other moms about their experience. Remember, your body was designed to do this and you absolutely have the ability to feed your baby. It’s an incredible experience and one worth fighting for. Trust your body, listen to your baby and nourish yourself in order to nourish your baby.
A resource that can be helpful: https://www.llli.org
The meat industry works so hard and spends so much money, to the tune of around $550 million a year, to make a dead carcass wrapped in plastic seem appealing and nutritious to their customers. Americans are buying into this falsehood more than any other country in the world, with each meat eating American consuming around 200 lbs of flesh a year, which also equals around 7,000 animals in their lifetime! Coincidentally, compared to the rest of the world, the United States has more than twice the diabetes rate, twice the obesity rate and three times the cancer rate. I am not sure as to whether or not people are not able to put two and two together, are so brainwashed by advertisements, or they simply do not care about the animals, the planet or their own health.
For some reason, the least of peoples worries seems to be the environment, the planet that they live on and the only one we have. Two acres of rainforest are destroyed every minute to raise cows for consumption, or to grow their food to feed them, currently that’s about 30% of planet earth. While it takes only 300 gallons of water to produce a days worth of food for a vegan, it takes a whopping 4,000 gallons of water in order to provide a meat eater with one days worth of food. An eye opening statistic is that 36% of the calories in crops are being consumed by cattle, but when those cows are turned into a steak, humans are only getting 12% of the calories. Scientists concluded that if all of the crops that were fed to farmed animals, were instead fed to humans, it would be enough to feed 4 billion more people. Considering that there are 925 million starving humans on this planet, it seems like a pretty obvious solution, especially since 2.5 million children under the age of 5 years old die from starvation every year. It is shocking to me that people are not choosing to end world hunger, literally overnight.
Not only is meat consumption clearly destroying the environment, but the process in which animals are slaughtered is scarring. Each breed of animal that is sent to slaughter goes through a similar trauma and slaughtering process. Right now, I will focus on the process for pigs and their transport to slaughter, it is just as terrible as the slaughter itself. At only 6 months old (while they have a natural lifespan of up to 10 years), the pigs are given no food, water or protection from the elements as they are transported for hundreds of miles from the farm to the slaughterhouse. About 1 million pigs per year die in transport alone, some die of heat exhaustion, others fall and are suffocated by other pigs, some die of heart attacks and others were just not healthy enough to make the journey. One factory farm worker admits that often pigs are frozen to the sides of the trucks and they scrape them off with a knife, taking off huge chunks of their flesh, and this is done with the pig is alive. A transport driver mentioned that it is common for the pigs to be so tightly crammed in the trucks, that some of their intestines have been known to pop out of their rectum. A Smithfield Foods spokesperson responded, “I hate to admit it, but it happens all the time”, when addressed about their transport truck full of 180 pigs that crashed. Many pigs were killed, while others were left injured and slowly dying. Animal rescue teams quickly arrived and attempted to humanely euthanize the suffering sows, but were told not to, as the slaughterhouse wouldn’t be able to sell their flesh if they euthanized. So those animals were left to suffer a long time, as their half dead bodies were transported again and they were finally killed, packaged up and sold to be eaten by Americans. The ones that make it to the slaughterhouse alive are in for a terrible ending, workers kill 1,100 pigs every single hour, making it extremely challenging to kill each one quickly and humanely. One slaughterhouse worker admits that many of the animals are still alive as they reach the scalding tanks, intended to remove the hair so it doesn’t get into the meat and to soften their skin to make butchering easier. The process that pigs go through, from the moment they are born, until their final death is absolutely horrifying. There’s no other way to explain it. Not to mention, I didn’t even go over the way they are treated and the cages they are kept in while living at the factory farm, that is a whole other atrocity.
Back in 2002, South Korea had a large outbreak of Foot In Mouth disease, which they found to stem from the pigs in factory farms. Of course, it was at no fault of the animals, as they were forced to live in such filthy and congested quarters. Devastatingly, massive holes were dug and 1.4 million pigs and piglets were dumped in alive and buried. Yes, you read that right, 1.4 million animals were buried alive, instead of humanely euthanized, in order to save the government time and money. If that doesn’t tell you how completely heartless the meat industry is, then I don’t know what does.
To make things more interesting, let’s think about what impact consuming animal flesh has on your flesh. Meat is extremely high in saturated fat, which is a main cause of heart disease, strokes, obesity and diabetes. The World Health Organization has labeled processed meat as a carcinogen; something that definitely causes cancer, it has also labeled red meats as a possible carcinogen; something that probably causes cancer. About 70% of antibiotics created are made for meat, so while you are consuming meat, you are constantly consuming low doses of antibiotics. This is one of the reasons that people are on so many different medications today, they were unknowingly giving themselves antibiotic resistance. Therefore, when someone actually requires antibiotics, they may not see the benefits from it and often they just experience the ill side effects. Studies show that vegan men live on average 9 years longer than meat eating men, and vegan women live around 6 years longer than meat eaten women. Not only that, vegans tend to be about 30 lbs leaner and 5 units lighter (in terms of BMI), than that of their meat eating counterparts.
There is a ridiculously long list of effects that eating meat has on the environment, the animals and people, I could go on and on! I highly suggest doing more research and watching Cowspiracy, Forks Over Knives and What The Health for even more information and facts. So next time you go to the grocery store and pick up that package of meat, think about those pigs being scraped off the sides of the trucks, think about the children starving to death, consider the way in which it is killing the planet and consider your own health. I am thinking that when your time comes to leave this world, you may be wishing you had an extra 5-10 years.