Thursday, December 30, 2010


Motivational experts know that for anything to change, you must take action.  Just knowing something, or just believing in it, doesn’t make anything happen.  If you really want to go vegan, you actually have to take action and make it happen.

One of the best ways to motivate yourself is find something that has extreme leverage over your current habits.  What does this mean?  Well, here’s my personal example:  Before I went vegan, I was an absolute cheese addict.  I always say in my lectures that the day before I went vegan, my four food groups were Swiss, Havarti, Cheddar and Chocolate!  If you had told me that I would be going vegan, I never, ever, would have believed I could do it.  However, after reading Diet for a New America, in just 24 hours things changed overnight.  What I learned in that book about how food affects our health, how the animals are treated in the factory farms, and how food production methods are affecting the environment, literally shocked me into giving up meat and dairy products instantaneously.  The knowledge was so compelling that it had leverage (or priority) over my current habits. 

This is not uncommon when people tell you how they went vegan.  It is very much like when my neighbor, who smoked for 54 years, was told he had a mass on his lungs.  Until that day, he always laughed and said he didn’t mind dying of lung cancer because he was 72 and was going to die soon anyway.  When that mass showed itself on his lungs, boy, did he change his mind quickly!  Just like I quit eating all animal products overnight, he also quit smoking overnight.  This is the power of leverage. 

So if you notice that I often encourage people to read books like Diet for a New America, The Food Revolution, The China Study, and watch videos like Earthlings, this is why: these resources have been known to provide people with so much leverage over their current habits that they don’t need motivation or willpower anymore!  If you’re still struggling to commit fully to the vegan diet, go pick up one (or all!) of the resources I just mentioned.  My book, Vegan in 30 Days, also helps to break the diet down into manageable chunks.  Good luck!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

How the Planet Can Survive

According to the United Nations, agriculture (particularly meat and dairy products) accounts for:

·     70% of global freshwater consumption
·     38% of the total land use, and
·     19% of the world's greenhouse gas emissions

Many people have been converted to a vegan diet after seeing how horrifically cruel the meat and dairy industry is to the animals we eat.  More recently, thousands of people have been converting to veganism as reams of data are coming in showing how healthful it is as well.  But few people really understand just how large of an impact the meat and dairy industry has on our environment.

Did you know that it takes about 17 gallons of water to produce one pound of lettuce, but it takes somewhere between 2,500 – 6,500 gallons of water to produce one pound of beef? 
Did you know that the pork farms in North Carolina have polluted some of the rivers so badly that all fish have died in those parts of the rivers? 
Did you know that the methane and other gasses given off by the cows and pigs that you eat has more of an impact on global warming than the difference from switching out your car from a Hummer to a Prius?

The UN says that we’ll need to increase our food production by 70% to meet population demands by 2050.  But we simply can’t – not using current farming methods, and not eating a diet high in meat and dairy.  A vegan diet can stop much of this calamity from ever progressing.  Learn more about this, and spread the word.  E-mail me at and I will send you a copy of the UN report.  

Monday, December 20, 2010


I just finished watching the movie Earthlings.  It got me thinking.  A lot.  For years, I wanted to be the cool vegan – the neighbor next door who looked great while eating like a horse, thus enticing people to ask about my secret.  I certainly never wanted to be portrayed as the angry, militant vegan, pushing her views on others.  So when others did ask about my “secret,” I just mentioned how much better I felt, talked about all the nutritional benefits of being vegan, and would eventually throw in the line, “… and it’s also so much nicer for the animals and better for the environment.”  I didn’t want to rock the boat by getting into the atrocities of factory farming or the environment.

However, after watching Earthlings, I realize that I simply cannot be quiet about what’s happening in the factory farms anymore.  This doesn’t mean that I have to be angry, militant or otherwise horrible to be around.  Here is my plan:  First, instead of focusing almost solely on nutrition – which is indeed a great benefit but not the real reason I went vegan – I can also tell them that when I read about what is happening in the factory farms, I simply couldn’t eat another bite of animal products.  It’s that simple.  And it also happens to be my truth.  If people want to know, I can tell them more, but since most don’t usually ask more about the “unpleasantries” of the factory farms, I will encourage them to watch Earthlings or read The Food Revolution by John Robbins.  For people who show a true interest (and quite a few do), I may even offer to buy them a copy.  I plan to contact the producer or a wholesaler of Earthlings, and see if I can buy them on the cheap, and keep a box of them at home for exactly this reason.  No need for me to be the militant vegan and start an argument – just give them the DVD and tell them to have a box of Kleenex nearby.  I also plan to send copies to all of my legislatures:  They are the ones who have huge power to elicit change.  

So I ask you – how do you tell people why you are vegan?  Are you speaking your truth in a respectful way – or are you avoiding conflict or causing conflict with your answer?  It may be time to revamp your “Why I am a Vegan” speech, and perhaps lead people to DVDs, books or websites that can help you make your case.  When you learn to speak your truth in a kind and compassionate way, people will follow.  Not everyone, but some.  And others will follow them, and so on and so on.  

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Eating Healthfully Over the Holidays

Many people I meet assume that I must have the healthiest diet since I only eat vegan foods.  It’s true that I eat, on average, much healthier than the average American, simply because I am eating a lot more fruits and vegetables, and no meat or dairy.  However!  There are many vegan treats that are packed with sugar, salt margarine, oil and other unhealthy but vegan ingredients, and just like the average person has to make an effort to go easy on chips and ice cream, so do many of us vegans. 

The holidays are a special challenge because – for non-vegans and vegans alike – there is a universally accepted excuse that “Oh, it’s the holidays … this is when I get to splurge and not feel guilty!”  So, just like everyone else, I find myself having to be aware when I am using that excuse to make unhealthy choices that will make me feel sick, sluggish and fat in the morning. 

But what do you do if you know you are making that excuse, yet can’t seem to stop yourself anyway?  I have found that, if I do one little thing, it keeps me from eating thousands of calories over the season that would otherwise cause me grief in the New Year.  In fact, this one little thing that I do is something that you can do all year long to help yourself from making food decisions you’ll later regret.  Here it is:

When you are craving something and are about to reach for it or buy it, simply:  Stop, breathe and be mindful. 

Here is what it looks like in action:  Last night, my husband and I went out for our Friday night Date Night.  We ate Thai food, which is saltier and oilier than I regularly eat, but oh so yummy!  When we were done, I was quite full, yet found myself asking my husband to stop at the store so I could get some Coconut Bliss vegan ice cream.  (Notice how when you eat something very salty, you immediately crave something sugary, and vice versa.  This is why we like to drink sugary Coke with our salty Doritos.)  As we were driving to the store, I mentally stopped and I breathed, two or three deep breaths.  These deep breaths helped me to calm down, and focus on my breath, rather than on racing to the store to get food.  Then, when I was calmer, I asked myself (mindfully), “Sarah, are you hungry?”  The answer was an obvious “no.”  But that didn’t stop me from wanting my Coconut Bliss!  So I then asked, “What do you really want?  What is it about Coconut Bliss that you feel you must have?”  I had to think about that.  My answer was, “Well, I really want something sweet!  And I don’t mean an apple!”  So I realized that, if I just wanted something sweet, many other things would do.  Some days an apple might work, but not last night.  I ended up drinking two sips of a Stevia soda, and felt absolutely fine!  No need for Coconut Bliss, and approximately 1,800 calories saved.  (Yes, I would have eaten the whole pint!) 

I know this won’t always work in every situation; sometimes you may decide to splurge anyway.  But by stopping, breathing and being mindful, you’re far more likely to back away from eating food you’ll wish you’d never eaten, and if you do eat it, you’ll be eating it more mindfully, and therefore much more likely to eat less of it.

So, go!  Enjoy the holidays!  But be mindful of what you’re eating along the way, and you’ll start the New Year in a much happier – and healthier – state of mind.