Wednesday, February 20, 2013


It’s always fun when you come across something new that you’re passionate about – a new hobby, and new intellectual topic … the vegan diet!  For several months or years, you can be engrossed in this topic, reading books, googling it, watching YouTube videos about it and having hundreds of conversations with whoever will engage with you.

But eventually, your new favorite topic is not so new anymore, and your interest might start to wane.  For those of us who have been vegan so long that it’s not new anymore, we can get a little stagnant.  Personally, this has never made me want to revert back to my old ways of eating – since I am vegan for ethical reasons, it’s hard to imagine I will ever go back.  But I do get in a rut from time to time, and just get bored of reading vegan literature and getting into deep conversations about it.

When I feel I’m in a rut, I might read a blog or watch a video to get re-engaged.  Often, I just choose to quit focusing my attention on the vegan diet for a while, and follow some other passion – read about Buddhism, learn Taiko drumming, or improve my tennis game.  But one thing I have found that always gets me excited about the vegan diet again is finding new recipes.

I tend to be a bit lazy in the kitchen, and often resort to making fast meals that I know I like and are easy.  Dal (lentils) over rice, salad and soup are usual stand-bys.  But for Valentine’s Day I made one of Mark Reinfeld’s recipes (see the photo of Pistachio Crusted Tofu, below) and viola!  I am excited to jump into vegan cooking again!

If you are feeling in a rut, try jumping on to or one of the many other veggie websites, and see if the photos alone don’t reinvigorate you.  For me, there is nothing like spending time creating something and seeing the smiles and sighs of appreciation for a delicious meal!  A small handful of my favorite vegan recipe sites are below:

  • VegWeb:
  • Fat Free Vegan:*
  • Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine: (Look for their healthy 21 Day Vegan Challenge Recipes – they have a free App!)*
  • VegSource:
* Sites marked with an asterisk have tasty healthy vegan options – little to no oil, and focus on whole foods.

And if you don’t feel like cooking, find a great vegan restaurant close by at …
Happy Cow:

With Ahimsa,

Thursday, February 7, 2013


It’s always fun and exciting when you make a new change that’s working – in my case, giving up oil and having my cholesterol plummet in three short weeks.  But it doesn’t take long before the excitement wears down and the motivation dies out.  In the past couple of days I’ve been craving coconut curry and preparing excuses to choose the oily balsamic vinaigrette at the Whole Foods salad bar. 

What does a smart girl do?  Get re-motivated!  Bob Proctor, a great motivational speaker, said:

“You can’t shower once and expect stay clean for the rest of your life - you must shower every day!  Similarly, don’t expect to get motivated and stay motivated for the rest of your life – you must motivate yourself every day!”

Well, once you’re so motivated that something becomes part of your lifestyle, this probably isn’t true anymore; I never have to motivate myself to eat vegan.  But when you’re still trying to change a habit, this is very sage advice.  Instead of caving in to the Thai restaurant or the balsamic vinaigrette, I got on my computer, went to one of my all-time favorite veg sites – - and found this lecture from Dr. Klaper on why oil – even olive oil – isn’t a health food.  He’s very funny (one of my favorite speakers) and this lecture took a mere 10 minutes out of my life and I am steadfast once again!  Enjoy!

Friday, February 1, 2013

Vegans with High Cholesterol

My cholesterol has always been high - around 233 – even after 12 years on a vegan diet.  How can a 12-year vegan have such high cholesterol?  Genetics, of course. 

We love to use genetics as an excuse.  We blame so many things on genetics, yet most of us have never actually had a genetic test done to solidify our excuse!  So I did. I flew to Denver, and went to Dr. Ian Levenson who tested me for the Apolipoprotein E (often called “Apo-E”) genotype.  Sure enough, I tested positive for the ApoE 4 allele.  The ApoE 4 genotype, which 14% of the population has, puts me at a high risk of heart disease and early dementia, and I certainly don’t want to be getting coloring books for Christmas when I’m 50.

Having this genotype makes the body hyper-respond to fat.  Thus, my cholesterol is sky-high, even though I don’t eat any; my body takes the fat I have eaten and over-produces cholesterol.  While having this genotype puts me at a higher risk for heart disease and dementias, the good news is that I should respond very well to a very, very low-fat diet. 

Although I know fatty diets are bad – and in a vegan diet, most fat comes from oil – I have procrastinated going completely low-fat, only because it is soooo hard when I’m traveling!!  Being on the road every week makes it very hard to eat vegan with no oil.  But I certainly have no intention of taking cholesterol-lowering medications for the rest of my life, so I decided to suck it up and do it.  I’m only 3 weeks in, so I can’t claim long-term success yet, but today was a motivating day: My company offered a free health screening today, and (drum roll) the results after just three weeks of vegan-no-oil? 

Decrease in Total Cholesterol:  -67
Decrease in LDL (bad) Cholesterol:  -67
Decrease in Triglycerides:  -79

So, the moral of the story is that sometimes we have to make a commitment, and do what’s best for our health, even if it’s hard.  The payoff, although hard to imagine, could be life or death!