Friday, December 28, 2012

Merry Christmas... in photos...

Merry Christmas! (photo from our trip to the Bahamas)

Christmas Day backcountry skiing

Kala is always ready for some fun in the snow!

Quick rest stop while skinning up the hill.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

“Such a Long Long Time To Be Gone And A Short Time To Be There”

I’m not sure whether it is the tragedy in Newtown, the greyness of the winter skies or the workload at the office but I’ve found myself thinking more about trying to actually live now, more than ever before. I’ve been back in the office-bound work world for only four months now and realize how hard it is to take the time to step away and think about what is really important in life and how to put those things front and center in my day-to-day outlook.

 When you’re head down into work day after day, week after week, with meetings and tasks backed up, it is hard to see past the next day, let alone the next several years. I guess this is one of the reasons that corporate strategist schedule off-site retreats for their executives when strategy planning or how some employers encourage employees to take vacation in blocks of at least 3 to 5 days, so that a period of reflection can occur.

Fortunately for me, I’m way too much of a slacker to let work interfere with my moments of reflection and have tried to completely disengage from the morning rush to work, to have a few moments to myself, albeit on the drive into the office.   Right now, I’m sad.  I’m sad for our world, for our environment, for our children and for our animals.  Mass murders, environmental destruction, senseless overproducing and slaughtering of animals. To me, the end is so obvious if we continue on this path, why can’t our leaders see it?!?!  Humans really suck as a species.  

So with that mental backdrop, here are a few large scale realizations I’ve had on my drives in to work. I don’t want to negatively impact anyone, people, animals or the environment. I don’t want to have my existence perpetuate the destruction of the world or perpetuate the “buy and spend” mentality that drives the US economy.

What good are realizations without a plan, so here is what I’m doing about it… Molly and I are eating a plant-based diet. Some people call this being a “vegan” in that there is no meat and dairy, but that term creates negative images or associations with a lot of people so I’ll just say “plant-based”. We have sold most of our cars and motorcycles and only have one vehicle that Molly and I share now. Admittedly, this one vehicle is a van that gets poor gas mileage but we have a contract to sell our house so hopefully soon the van or the boat will be our home. We have added more solar and wind to the boat so that we don’t have to use the diesel engine or gas generator to charge the batteries and have made a mental commitment to sail more and motor less when on the boat.  We have given, or are giving, many of the things we worked hard for and had looked forward to buying, away. “Minimalizing” if that is a word.

Nothing I’m doing is really going to make a bit of difference to the big economic and environmental perspective but what it has done for me is to create a significant mental shift. I feel like I want fewer physical possessions.  Clothing, furniture, toys if they are not absolute necessities now seem to just hold us back from living. We have been tied to the continual upkeep and maintenance of junk. From an American perspective, we still have lots of crap but by divesting ourselves of things that we didn’t need, could do without or were just plain burdensome, we have been allowed to see much more of the outside world.  Maybe it’s one to many veggie burgers, an overdose of tofu or perhaps there really was something  mind altering in what that guy passed me at the Furthur show, but this perspective feels very comfortable and natural like I’ve tapped into some cosmic energy flow.

I realize more than ever that there are roads to be traveled, oceans to be sailed and beers to drink.  I’m not at my stopping point; this is not where I want to park it.  I’m not sure what is out there next, but life has been pretty damn good so far and with this new perspective and ethos, I’m more than ready to see what’s next… and soon.

We are all on this planet for such a short time and I can only think that if we all try to love each other more, protect the animals and earth, that this would be a better place and have more of a future than the path it is now on.

Cheers my friends, thanks for reading my ramblings. Happy holidays, Namaste and hope to see all you like-minded souls out there sometime soon.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Happy Herbivore Abroad!

Three months ago if someone would have asked me to stop eating cheese, I would have responded with a nasty glare, a shriveled lip and said something to the effect of "Why would I ever do that?".  In just that short amount of time, shorter actually, only about 2 months, I have become educated and aware and have made choices that will change our lives.  Baxter and I have moved to a plant-based diet.  At first, we were happy with just becoming vegetarian, but after further research (I'd be happy to share with those who are interested), we have moved to only plant-based foods.

As I was researching a vegan diet and it's benefits, I found some amazing recipes and suggestions from Lindsay S. Nixon, author of Happy Herbivore, Everday Happy Herbivore and newly-released Happy Herbivore Abroad.  Not only was I elated when her new book was published, but I immediately responded when she asked who would like to participate in her blog tour.  Lindsay's recipe's in Happy Herbivore Abroad are amazing and include flavors from all over the world.  My favorite recipe so far has to be the bread pudding (England) on page 156!  It is so easy to make and the ingredients are things most people already have in their kitchen.  Another nice feature of the book is that Lindsay includes stories of how the recipes developed and how her travels around the world have changed her as a person - an idea most people who live on a boat (aka cruisers) can identify with.

Over the last 24 months, we have spent a considerable amount of time living on our 37-foot sailboat, Stella Blue, traveling up and down the east coast, through the South Pacific (aboard Mahina Tiare III) and from Florida down to the southern Exumas so I have a particular interest in how a plant-based diet adapts on a boat.  I know many cruisers who have limited refrigeration, limited storage space and of course, everyone would like to eat a bit healthier.  I asked Lindsay about those issues and more in our interview.  As a note, Lindsay is giving away a free-copy of her new Happy Herbivore Abroad to one of our blog readers.  Just post a comment below and I will draw a winner on Friday, 12/7/12.  


Have you always been a vegetarian, or what inspired you to move to a plant-based diet? I was a vegetarian for most of my life, but lapsed back to meat-eating in my late teens due to family pressure and peer pressure. A serious health scare in my early 20's brought me back to a vegetarian diet and about a year later I adopted a totally plant-based (vegan) diet. I was motivated mainly for health reasons, but I also care about the environment and am moved by the plight of farm animals. 

What is your favorite aspect of cooking plant-based recipes? I don't have to worry about food born illness when cooking. I used to be so fearful that I didn't cook meat enough, or I'd get sick from eating cookie batter, or that I didn't clean my cutting board sufficiently after chopping up chicken and following with onions. I don't have to worry about those things anymore! 

What do you find the most difficult aspect of eating vegan? There's nothing really difficult about eating a plant-based diet. It may not always be the most convenient option, but I'd rather a little less convenience if it means better health. 

Do you have an ultimate favorite recipe? Asking a chef what their favorite recipe is, is like asking a parent to pick their favorite child :) 

What do you consider your staples for your recipes? The basics: vegetables, fruits, beans and legumes, whole grains and plenty of spices! 

What advice could you offer to someone who would like to follow a plant-based diet but does not have refrigeration? I imagine it would be difficult following any diet -- specifically one with meat, dairy and eggs -- without refrigeration (since those foods MUST be refrigerated). The good news is that fruits and vegetables do not require refrigeration. Similarly, dry grains like rice, and dried beans and lentils are shelf-stable. You can also buy shelf-stable tofu. 

Do you feel like you sacrifice any part of your diet by not eating animal-protein? No. I feel like I only benefit. I eat a much wider range of food now on a plant-based diet than I ever did as an omnivore. Plus nothing tastes as good as being plant-based feels. It's such an amazing feeling -- you can't get this glow without a plant-based diet. 

How do you respond to people who think all vegans are hippie liberals and will eventually realize the error of their ways and go back to eating animal protein? I don't look like a hippie liberal so that sort of silences that stereotype with people around me :) I have had people come up and say things like "you're vegan, but you look so normal" I really try not to laugh. Most of the time, people are busy asking about my glow, or my complexion, or how I stay so trim and healthy -- and I tell them my big secret-- I'm plant-based! and then they're curious to hear more. 

The impact you've had on other people's lives by educating them and helping to change their diet is significant. What is the most important message you would like to convey? Every time you can eat a plant-based or vegan meal, do it. Your body will thank you.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

The Times They Are A-Changin'

We've had a great time in Utah but we can hear the ocean calling...

Vegan Waffles!

Hiking in the snow
Molly and Kala on a sunrise walk.

BASE Jumping in Moab

Vegan Cooking Injury! (she's okay)