Creating Community

On my recent vacation to Oregon, I couldn’t help but notice the presence of community in Portland.  The people were so friendly and eager to talk about their city and all it has to offer.  We frequented many plant-based restaurants, stores and bakeries, and the commitment and dedication to their health and environment were both impressive and inspiring. 

Coincidentally, we received an email from Matt Frazier, from the No Meat Athlete blog, asking his readers to form running groups in their respective cities.  My husband and I thought it would be a great opportunity for us to create community in Miami by bringing together plant-based and veg-curious runners to support and encourage each other and so the No Meat Athlete-Miami running group was born.

Adopting a plant-based lifestyle comes with some challenges because society isn’t structured in a way to support a healthy lifestyle.  And many people don’t believe that they can sustain an athletic routine solely eating fruits, vegetables, nuts and grains. But this group is our effort to show South Florida that it is possible to thrive and excel on this diet.   

The ground rules for the group are simple.  Meet once a month, at different locations, for an easy 3 mile run and then have breakfast at a plant-based restaurant.  Our first group meeting was on a chilly, Sunday morning in October. Seven group members braved the weather for a run in Key Biscayne and then headed to Choices Kitchen for breakfast. 

Although it’s a challenge finding plant-based restaurants in Miami, the ones we do have are incredible.  Choices Kitchen has a wide selection to satisfy the pickiest eater. I recommend the pancakes, tofu scramble and the mental lentil. It's always a friendly environment and they take great care to bring you fresh, organic ingredients.

It was great getting to know everyone. One member, Susana, is an incredible artist who paints the most detailed animal portraits I’ve ever seen.  Andrea, brought her daughter Sol, whose been vegan since before birth. And Aukse from Lithuania is celebrating her 50th birthday by training for her first half-marathon!

We doubled the number of members for our second run in November. We had a great run around the Turnberry Circle loop in Aventura and then headed over to Mi Vida Café in the Upper East Side. The owner was gracious enough to open her doors two hours earlier for the group. The breakfast was delicious, especially the pancakes and soy cappuccinos. I rarely drink coffee but I daydream about that cappuccino.

Once again the conversation was lively and encouraging. The owner at Mi Vida Café commented to me that she has never seen such a welcoming group of people.  She was shocked when I told her that we barely knew each other! 

This is what it's all about...Forming community with people and finding a common ground to support and encourage each other. Despite our incredible advancements in technology, we have never been so disconnected. I encourage you to find something that you are passionate about and pursue that.  If you love to read, join a book club.  If you love to dance, take lessons.  Fueling those passions will open doors for connection and allow relationships to flourish in your life. And you never know where those experiences will lead you.

It’s incredible to be a part of the No Meat Athlete movement. Since September, over 75 cities world-wide have formed running groups, including Tokyo and Moscow!

We look forward to growing this community in 2015 and I would love for you to join us. If you live in the Miami area, like to run (or want to get back into it) are plant-based or veg-curious, follow the group on Facebook or on Instagram @nomeathathlete_miami.

Hope to see you soon.

The One You Feed

One evening, an elderly Cherokee brave told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people.

He said "my son, the battle is between two 'wolves' inside us all. One is evil. It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.
 
The other is good. It is joy, peace love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith."

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather:

"Which wolf wins?..." the old Cherokee simply replied, "the one that you feed."


Isn't that a powerful story?!

I keep referring back to this idea of the two wolves and wanted to share my thoughts on the impending holidays.  This time of year can be stressful with getting people organized, dealing with family members and balancing your already hectic routine. Depending on which wolf you feed will determine how enjoyable your season will be.  

One of the biggest ways we contribute to the ‘bad’ wolf around the holidays is guilt.  We feel guilty about accepting a second piece of pie knowing that we could have stopped before the first one.  Or we overspend on gifts putting ourselves in debt just so we don’t make anyone feel bad. Or we accept every invitation to every party and run ourselves ragged, eventually ending up with the flu. 

However the guilt or envy or anger manifests in your ‘bad’ wolf know that you always have the option to flip the switch or feed the ‘good’ wolf.  When you come from a place of love in everything you do, your perspective changes. Instead of accepting that second piece of pie, tune in to your body and honor yourself to not push beyond your limits. When buying a gift, tap into your love for that person and find something that they could really use and attach a simple handwritten note of thanks for all they do for you.  And when you are exhausted and haven’t slept in days, politely refuse a dinner invitation and get some rest.

Feeding the evil wolf leads to short tempers, resentment and tummy aches.  Feeding the good wolf leads to laughter, enjoyment and bear hugs.  Enjoy the ride as they say and relish in this time you have with your friends and family.

There are many things that I am thankful for this year, especially those of you who support me and this blog.

Happy Thanksgiving!

What Does Plant-Based Mean?

One of the questions I get asked the most is “what exactly is a plant-based diet and how is that different from a vegetarian/vegan/paleo diet.”  I know the titles can get pretty confusing so I thought I would break it down in a game I like to call “what it is/what it’s not."

What a plant-based diet is..
A plant-based diet is one that focuses on whole/plant foods such as fruits, vegetables, legumes (beans), grains, nuts and seeds.

What a plant-based diet is not…
What it doesn’t include is meat, fish, butter, milk, eggs, cheese, animal by-products and processed foods.

What a vegan diet is…
A vegan diet abstains from all animal products including meat, fish, butter, milk, eggs and cheese. However this diet/lifestyle is rooted in the ethical treatment of animals, emphasizing banning any products made from an animal (leather, fur, etc.) or tested on an animal (cosmetics, household cleaners, etc.)

What a vegan diet is not…
Because some people who are vegans do it for animal cruelty reasons, the focus on a healthy, plant-based diet isn’t as important.  There are many processed, ‘meat-like’ products out there that can be used to replace animal products.  So in essence, you can be what some refer to as a ‘junk-food vegan.’ For example, an Oreo cookie is considered vegan but not Plant-Based because it’s highly processed and loaded with sugar. 

What a vegetarian diet is…
A vegetarian diet also abstains from all animal products.

What a vegetarian diet is not…
However, there are variations of this diet in which people consume eggs, dairy and fish.  

What a paleo diet is…
A paleo diet is based on the types of foods presumed to have been eaten by early humans, consisting chiefly of meat (grass-fed/organic), fish, vegetables, and fruit.

What a paleo diet is not..
No dairy or grain products and processed food.

As many of you know, I subscribe to a plant-based diet.  After a health set-back,  I reevaluated my vegetarian diet and cut out most processed foods and dairy. It made a world of a difference in my digestion, skin, energy level and overall well-being (read about my healing journey). I'm a plant-based advocate because research shows that eating a whole foods diet with food minimally processed, is the healthiest and most nutritious fuel you can put in your body. It's been proven to reverse and prevent chronic diseases such as diabetes, auto-immune disorders, heart disease and depression, just to name a few.

Even though I came to this diet and lifestyle because of health reasons, my passion for it had me delve deeper into where my food was coming from with documentaries such as Forks Over Knives, Food, Inc., Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead, Cowspiracy and more.  I also became aware of the environmental damage caused by the Standard American Diet (SAD) as well as the mistreatment of animals which keeps me committed.

It's about progress not perfection. If you are interested in transitioning to a plant based diet, check out my empower section for book suggestions to inspire and motivate you. Or follow me on Instagram @omthemoment where I  post Meatless Motivation videos or plant-based tips to get you going.  You could also visit some of my favorite blogs, www.yumuniverse.com, www.onepartplant.com and www.ohsheglows.com.

Wherever you are in your journey, I'm here to help.  The body isn't designed to be sick and lethargic everyday.  You deserve to have a happy and healthy mind, body and soul.