Two Years of Plant-based Interviews

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Here’s the entire collection of plant-based vegan interviews that I’ve been privileged to do with some seriously amazing people over the past two years! I’m deeply grateful to these kind people for sharing their stories with me and with you! There’s more to come, so…

 

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Cowgirl Kicks Cancer Twice

 

Mark’s Vegan Nutrition Journey

 

Absolutely Macro

 

Vegan Mover & Shaker

 

The Conscious Chef

 

Pharmacist On a Plant-Based Diet

 

Red Thread

 

Begin Again!

 

The Road to Health

 

Transformative M&M’s

 

Vegans In Stride

 

Vegan Trapeze Artist

 

A Voice for the Voiceless

 

Two Peas in a Pod

 

Vegan Mountain Man

 

The Sexy Vegan Dietitian

 

Voting With My Fork

 

Gout Begone – How I Regained My Health

 

My Resolution to go Plant-Based Vegan

 

Feelin’ Clean Inside

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Plant-Based Vegan Interviews

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Happy Friday,

I’m honored to be featured on PCRM’s Food for Life News for May 2015, so I thought I’d take the opportunity to highlight some AMAZING AMAZING people whom I’ve had the privilege of interviewing my first two years on a whole foods plant-based vegan diet! These incredible people not only shared their personal stories of transformation with changing their diets, but adopting this lifestyle! You don’t want to miss out! Simply follow the link below: 

You can Heal Your Life

Two Years Of Plant-Based Vegan Interviews

Happy Vegalicious Reading!

PS. I get to hang out with this lovely woman, Ms. Kayle, this weekend!

Link to PCRM’s Food for Life May 2015: http://www.pcrm.org/health/diets/ffl/newsletter/food-for-life-in-the-news-may-2015

Dutch Vegan Artist Ronn Kools

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Happy June, Vegalicious Humans!

Docga-Bowie-II

Coming to you from Brazil. This is my interview with Vegan artist Ronn Kools.

N: Hi Ronn, tell my readers about yourself.

R: I am a Dutch artist-illustrator who currently works on a series of animal ballpoint pen portraits with human characteristics in Brazil.

Veganism wasn’t new to me when I decided to stop eating animal proteins. As an artist you need to be open to “new” ideas and information. Some of my friends had been vegetarian and others vegan for years, but it was the documentary Cowspiracy which convinced me that we – people – need to start thinking differently about food.

N: How long have you been vegan? Who inspired you to go vegan?

R: I went vegan (only) about a year ago. It started out as a two month challenge together with my partner, after watching Cowspiracy. I wanted to do it for a while, but it was definitely easier doing it together. In the beginning we thought it might be more expensive, but it wasn’t at all. You simply buy different things. Loving to cook, and experimenting new recipes definitely helped. So, yes Cowspiracy definitely was my inspiration.

N: That’s Awesome! It’s definitely a powerful film! How has veganism changed your life? Any health improvements?

R: Veganism made me look at animals as other beings. I have always loved animals, but the human mind is so programed to see certain animals just as product providers instead of seeing them as our fellow beings on this planet.
Going vegan definitely had a positive impact on my health. I lost weight to start with. I sleep much better. And I don’t feel so stuffed anymore after a meal. I feel much better.

Skateroo

N: Tell us about your art? Has it changed since you went vegan? Did you draw animals before?

R: In 2015, I had my first solo exhibition (“Till Death Do Us Part”) in Recife, Brazil. It was a collection of realistic oil paintings about the feeling of missing people in our lives. The show was successful and got a lot of attention, but right after the opening I knew I wanted something different for the next step in my artistic career. The theme of my show was heavy, and I decided I wanted something lighter; something with a message, but still something that would put a smile on peoples faces.

Punk-Panda

I experimented with some ideas, but when I started sketching animals with human characteristics it all came together for me. The idea was, and still is, to present animals as other beings, with the hope that people will start treating them better. Most people simply smile when they see my animal portraits, and won’t have this direct connection right away, but I believe that subconsciously it will have some influence.

I experimented with some ideas, but when I started sketching animals with human characteristics it all came together for me. The idea was, and still is, to present animals as other beings, with the hope that people will start treating them better. Most people simply smile when they see my animal portraits, and won’t have this direct connection right away, but I believe that subconsciously it will have some influence.

Suusi-Kahlo-II

It’s also for this reason that I stepped out of the world of art galleries, and started looking for bigger platform to reach more people with this concept. This resulted in my portraits being printed on t-shirts, posters, stickers, mugs, pillows, and other products, which are now being sold by online stores such as Society6, Curioos, Redbubble, and DesignByHumans.

Strangely enough I wouldn’t say me going vegan has changed my art. I would say my art has helped me find veganism. It was the process before starting this series, as finding something close to my heart, something true to myself, and an idea I wanted to share with the world. Before this series the models for my work were mainly people. I did draw animals before, but never with a concept like this one.

N: I love your work and the playfulness of adding human characteristics to these beautiful animals. It also serves as a wonderful way of seeing ourselves in our animal friends and perhaps will give someone pause to think, “Hey, he/she looks a lot like me! Maybe I ought to not eat someone I have so much in common with?!”

N: What has the response been from your friends and family?

R: The response to the animal portraits has been amazing. Many people who buy the t-shirts send me a photo of them wearing them, or tag me when they show them wearing them on social media. Even actor-singer Hugh Sheridan send me a photo of him wearing his Pantherasta t-shirt, and actor Rafael de la Fuente send me one of him wearing his Don’t Pussy Me t-shirt on a night out in Hollywood.

Dont-Pussy-Me

R: The response I have received for going vegan is very mixed. A lot of narrow-minded people walk around with the idea that it’s not healthy, or bluntly joke about eating meat because they simply don’t want to accept what is happening to the animals before they have that dead piece of them before them on their plate. Other people respect it but say it’s just too difficult. I always tell them it’s one of the easiest things I have ever done in my life. But of course the best response you get is the response from people who are genuinely interested and want to try it for themselves; even if just for one or two days a week. It’s a start after all.

N: I completely agree with you. Even if it is just one or two days a week. That is a great start! How is it being vegan in your part of the world?

R: Being vegan is Brazil is not as easy as in some other parts of the world. I used to live in London, and my friends there tell me there are lots of options for vegans now. There are many vegan products for sale in supermarkets, and vegan restaurants everywhere, such as the very popular pizzeria Picky Wops.

It’s different in Brazil. The meat industry has a lot of influence in every corner of this country. They have established a very strong meat eating culture. You will hardly find any vegan products, except from your regular fruits and vegetables, in supermarkets here. For these products you will have to go to specific vegan stores. They sell everything a vegan could wish for, but they aren’t cheap. Far from it, but it is definitely a growing market. The meat industry might be strong in Brazil, but the free mind of the people will always be stronger.

My favorite place to get some vegan deliciousness from in Recife has to be Pizzeria Vesuvio, which has a few amazing vegan pizzas on their menu.
In a few weeks I will travel The Netherlands. I always look forward to seeing what different kind of options my home country has to offer.

N: That’s a great point, Ronn, “…the free mind of the people will always be stronger!” I’m about to head to Denmark, I always look forward to seeing what changes have been made in my home country since I was there last in the vegan department.

If someone wants to purchase your art or see more of your work, how can they get a hold of you?

Here are some links:

instagram: ronn.kools.artist

Tumblr: http://ronnkools.tumblr.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/ronnkoolsart
Curioos: https://www.curioos.com/ronnkools

Society6: https://society6.com/ronnkools

To those out there who have questions about my work, or being vegan, or to those who would like me to create a portrait of their favorite animal, please send me a message on Facebook, and I will get back to you as soon as I can.

Finally, to those out there who still believe it’s to difficult to go vegan, just give yourself the two month challenge. Everybody can do two months, right?!

Enjoy the experience.

Yours,

Ronn Kools

N: Ronn, Thank you so much for sharing your Amazing artwork and thoughts with me and my readers! I greatly appreciate it!  

If you’re interested in reading more stories like this one go to “search” and look up “Two Years of Plant-Based Interviews”

 

Vegan Artist Chantal Poulin Durocher

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Dear Readers,

I have long been a huge fan of Chantal Poulin Durocher’s Amazing artwork of farm animals and since we know each other on social media, I decided to ask her to share her story with you. Some of you may know Chantal from her portrait of Esther the Wonder Pig. Seen here below!

Esther

Like my previous interviews you’re definitely in for a treat:

N: Chantal, I have long been an admirer of your amazing artwork. Please tell me about who or what inspired you to start doing artwork. Have you always drawn animals? What made you decide to go in that direction?

C: I am a professional artist for almost 40 years now. I did my first solo show in 1978. I painted mostly landscape at that time but few years later, I started painting children, mostly little girls with animals.

At that time, my artist name was Chantal Poulin.

When I look back at my career, I realized that I always painted the vulnerable ones, children and animals. It is only 5 years ago, when I became Vegan, that I really became an activist and decided to use my talent as a tribute for animals we exploit. I realized that I had a small mission on this earth, to paint the beauty, the sensibility, the intelligence, and the vulnerability of those animals we exploit for our pleasure…hoping that it might open the eyes of some people.

Pig in transport

N: Many vegans know of your amazing work, including your drawing of Esther the Wonder Pig. I would imagine that non-vegans buy your work as well. Do you have any stories related to your work of either someone deciding to go vegan or conversations you have had as a result of your artwork?

C: People who buy my original artworks are mostly vegan. My pieces are huge and a bit pricey. Some members of my family or old friends think I am crazy. They say things like, “ Who in the world would buy a huge painting of a pig or a calf to put in their living room?” I am glad to answer them, “ Well, the co-founder of Twitter for example, just bought one.” People who come in my studio that are not vegan, are surprisingly saying thing like, “OMG, this is so beautiful!” And I answer, “ Yes, this is why I’m vegan!” Usually they do not answer anything…But it’s like they have a flash…that there’s link! Hopefully, it makes people think. But honestly, I don’t think my paintings make people go vegan just like that. I have had many people go vegan from following my Facebook and my art on the long term though!

I want to be part of that historic movement of veganism, and my way to do it is to paint animals with all my talent, skill and love. I think my art plays a role in changing people’s perception of animals and their place in our society.

N: Well, Chantal you definitely are a part of this historic movement!

Kiss a Cow

N: How long have you been a vegan? Who or what inspired you to go vegan?

C: My husband and I are went vegetarian 25 years ago when I read Diet for a New America by John Robbins (btw, I prefer the French title they translated it into : Se Nourrir Sans Faire Souffrir / literally: to feed ourselves without creating suffering.)

N: That’s a great title!

C: We went vegan about 5 years ago. I read a Facebook post saying that there was more animal suffering in a glass of milk than in a steak. We did some research, watched the film Earthlings, and the day after, that was it! We are both happy vegans!

Talking to Dogs

Chantal says, “We live with 12 abandoned dogs that we rescued, that is why there are often a few dogs in the pictures!”

N: Do you have a favorite vegan dish? Product?

C: Where we live here, in Panama, there are not a lot of vegan products, like plant-based meat or faux cheese. Eating for me is not so much about taste at all costs anymore, my happiness of eating in a way that does not harm any animals is greater than the pleasure I could experience eating a delicious meal. Eating is now more like a spiritual experience. It brings me a profound happiness in my soul and heart more than in my palate. I love all vegetables and fruits and nuts and cereals! I prepare a lot of Indian, Middle Eastern and Thai food. It’s easy and very tasty…and, of course, we eat a lot of the Latin American classic …Rice & Beans!

Sweet Pig

N: Is it easy or difficult to be vegan in Panama? How has your family or friends reacted to you going vegan?

C: It is very easy to be vegan here because you can find rice and beans everywhere! At any little restaurant, and it is very cheap. However, there are no product like plant-based meats or non-dairy cheese or even vegan prepared food.

Some of my friends turned vegan as a result of spending a bit of time with me, or on social medias or in real life. But I also lost some friends and some member of my family because of my beliefs. They are very upset by the fact that we are vegan.

N: Yes, that unfortunately happens to many people, but some are also very fortunate to me met with understanding! I think the people who are supposed to stay stays…and those who are not, leave!

Sheep

N: Which person or non-human animal has inspired you the most on your vegan journey? Why?

C: I would say Pigs, fish and cows. 35 years ago, I had a friend who raised a pig with the intention to eat it when he would be adult. We all discover at that time, how smart and sensitive a pig was. I never ate pigs after that. Then, when we moved here, in Panama, every day I see fisherman with dead fishes in their nets…sometimes I see them suffering, asphyxiated…make me sad and realize how much fishes suffer before dying. Also, along the roads here, hundreds and thousands of baby calves every year in the fields. They come and go rapidly… no females, only little males that will be turned into meat very rapidly. It is very sad to see.

N: Yes, I completely agree.

Kiss a Pig

Chantal, Thank you so much for sharing your story and AMAZING artwork with me and my readers. If someone wants to go and look/buy your work online what is the address?

They can visit my little web-site www.chantalpoulindurocher.com and they can contact me directly, or they can go visit the art gallery I work with in Canada http://www.thompsonlandry.com/artists/a_durocher.html

They can go on my artist Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/Chantal-Poulin-Durocher-artiste-103394076414851/

And if they want to buy prints etc, they can go here: https://society6.com/chantalpoulindurocherv

The BetaOats Story

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Happy December,

Recently, I ran into Pete – the creator of BetaOats – and I hope you take the time to read his story!

peter

Here’s how I first met Pete: I was walking into my local health food store and I saw this guy dishing up yogurt. My first thought was, “There’s another cow’s milk pusher!” I must have frowned! Later, when I was checking out, I overheard him say, “It’s 100% vegan!” Silly me! How could I have been so wrong? Well, long story short, it led to us have a great talk and the next day I went out to breakfast with Pete and his beautiful wife, Maria and their six-month-old daughter, Vasilisa. 

petes-family

How did you two meet?

We met in Saint Petersburg, Russia, 8 years ago. At the time Maria was studying at a local University and I (Pete) happened to teach English at the same University. I was looking for a tutor to study Russian in exchange of English lessons that he was offering. Maria volunteered and we were married 2 ½ years later. A couple years later we moved to Idaho, where I found a job in the city of Pocatello as a Mechanical Engineer while Maria studied to receive a Master’s degree in Public Administration. Once done with schooling, we decided to reallocate to Seattle, where we now reside.

How did you come up with an idea to start BetaOats?

After living in Russia and traveling around Europe for a couple years, Maria and I were disappointed with the healthy food choices presented in the US. Living in Southern Idaho, we continuously struggled finding healthful food for our family. One such food was an oat vellie (yogurt-like fermented oats). Living in the US, we couldn’t find this type of product anywhere, so we decided to make our own. It took us about 3 years of hard work to refine the recipe, set up the production process, and complete all the necessary requirements for starting a food manufacturing facility. And now we are delivering our product to local stores of the Seattle area. 

What is BetaOats?

Oats are a superfood. They are 100% whole grain, packed with soluble fiber beta-glucan, and rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. People from around the world have been using oats as a staple in their diets in various forms. A traditional method of fermenting oats, found in many cultures, produces a yogurt-like product, enhanced in flavor and nutritional value. Such fermented cereal yogurt-type meals are called vellies. Each package of our oat vellie contains 6.5 oz of oat goodness, prepared with only the essential natural ingredients, no preservatives or gmo’s, and 100% vegan. Naturally high in beta-glucan, BetaOats vellie combines the beneficial live bacterial cultures of fermented sprouted oats, the creaminess of your favorite yogurt, and the refreshing flavor of fresh fruit (marion berries, blueberries, and strawberries) sourced from the Hood River Valley in Northern Oregon.

beta-o

Why is it called BetaOats? Why not AlphaOats?

Well, we do not need to call it Alpha to make it appealing to the public. Our product speaks for itself. Our oat vellie is a very healthy product. Why? For a variety of reasons, and one of them is that the product is high in soluble fiber, called Beta-glucan. There are different types of fibers, some – insoluble, those that are great for digestive health, and others – soluble, like Beta-glucan, that take the form of a viscous gel-like substance, trapping certain food components, such as fats and sugars, making them less available for absorption. By binding with fat, Beta-glucan (soluble fiber) can lower cholesterol, thus reducing the risk of heart disease. By slowing down absorption of sugars, it regulates blood sugar levels protecting against insulin resistance. Our sprouted oats are an excellent source of beta-glucan. In fact, they have second highest content of beta-glucan, losing only to barley. That is where the “Beta” part of BetaOats is coming from. Oh, and -BetaOats- are simply “Betta’ for you!”

How is it sweetened?

The product is sweetened with apple juice concentrate and a bit of organic cane sugar. However, most of the sugar comes naturally from the fruits. It’s important to remember that to make a good tasting yogurt, you need have a good balance between the tartness and the sweetness of the yogurt.

beta-o-i

Why is it not organic? 

We would love to make our product organic. However, being a small operation, it is impossible to do so in a way that would not skyrocket the price of the yogurt. It is very expensive to source organic fruit preparation year-round and it is not feasible at this moment. It is a goal we have soon as we grow bigger and drive costs down.

Where are you selling your product?

We have been selling our product for three months now and it is sold in Vegan Haven, Seattle, and Marlenes’ stores in Tacoma and Federal Way. We are currently negotiating with other local grocery retailers to bring our product to the market.

So what is the plan going forward?

As owners of any business, we want to expand. We believe in our product – it’s very healthy and delicious. However, it is not easy to get into most grocery retailers. The competition is high and the bureaucracy is tough. We need your help in expanding! Let your local store know that you want to see our product.

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Thank you so much Pete and Maria! Your BetaOats yogurt is DELICIOUS and should be sold in stores ALL over the place! 

I really appreciate your time and it was SO Great to meet the three of you! 

Happy Holidays, Everyone! Now go ask for some BetaOats at a store near you! 

If you are interested in more stories like this one, search “Two Years of Plant-based Interviews! 

 

Even Your G-Zone Isn’t Safe!

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A few weeks ago, I had posted a link of my entire two year collection of plant-based vegan interviews onto the Facebook page that I manage, “Cancer Project Nutrition and Cooking Class”, and soon after I got a very nice surprise from a woman named Jan telling me that she’d like to share her cancer survivor story. Well, I was thrilled, especially since she told me that she’d gone plant-based right after her diagnosis! Enough said, here’s Jan’s amazing story:

 

My Life Before, During and After Cancer

 

janbeforeandafter

 

Almost three years ago, in mid-2011, my life changed for my family and me.  The doctor at the OB-GNY clinic told me I had vulvar cancer.  What is that, you say?  The vulva is the external genitalia on a woman.  I didn’t even know you could get cancer “down there”.  You hear of ovarian, uterine, and cervical cancers, but there is also vulvar and vaginal cancer.  I only knew of one woman who had vaginal cancer.  There are just over 4,000 new cases of vulvar cancer a year, one of the rarer gynecological cancers.  This doctor’s diagnosis was confirmed by doing a biopsy in her office.  The next step was to send me to a gynecological oncologist, who specializes in female cancers.

Gyne-Cancer-Ribbons-Logo 

Shortly after my examination with the oncologist/surgeon, I had my first surgery to remove the tumor.  Because I had a trip across country planned months before all of this happened, my surgeon said it was O.K. to take the trip, just 10 days after the surgery.  My next exam with my surgeon revealed at least one “lump” in my groin.  Normal lymph nodes are microscopic, unable to be seen by the naked eye.  My largest one was over one-inch in diameter.  An ultrasound and biopsy revealed that I had positive lymph nodes, so the second surgery was scheduled.  I was advised that there was a good chance that I could develop lymphedema in my legs, which I did develop and now I have to wear compression stockings every day.  Swelling varies from person to person…some have very slight edema, other people’s legs swell quite a bit.

 

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Because I had positive lymph nodes, my surgeon wanted me to start chemo and radiation, so an appointment was made to see a radiological oncologist.  Lymph nodes are a highway system throughout our bodies.  We have about 1,000 of them.  I was concerned that the cancer could affect more lymph nodes.

 

Years before I was diagnosed with cancer, I ate a rather unhealthy diet.  As many Americans do, I ate foods full of fats, sugars and salts.  On days that we were in a hurry, I’d quickly fix foods like hot dogs and mac ‘n cheese, just foods that didn’t take long to cook.  Unfortunately, eating this way was a fast way to damage my immune system.  These kinds of foods are nutritionally poor.  A few years before my diagnosis, my weight had gotten to 209.5 pounds.  I was about 5’4″.  The month before being diagnosed, I started on a popular weight-loss program and lost 19.5 pounds.  My sister, who had been a vegetarian before changing over to a plant-based diet, kept pushing me to change my way of eating, too.  So, less than two months after being diagnosed, I changed over to a plant-based diet within two days of my decision.  It wasn’t really hard for me.  I knew I wanted to survive and that I would do anything to achieve that end.  You see, I learned that animal proteins encourage cancer cell growth, and I did not want to feed my cancer!  My sister told me to read the book, “The China Study”, by T. Colin Campbell, PhD and Thomas M. Campbell, II, M.D. Now, I do not eat ANY meats, no fish, no dairy, no cheese, and no eggs.  And, I feel GREAT!

 The-China-Study

 

In the year after changing to a plant-based diet, I lost 72 pounds.  I wanted to lose a lot of weight, but an added benefit that I noticed within three days or so after changing to a plant-based diet, I had so much energy!  I’ve heard this from many other people who also eat this way.  I got down to 137.5 pounds, and I hadn’t seen that weight in many, many years.  I felt great, people told me how nice I looked, and it was just a nice feeling to not carry that weight around with me.

 

I believe I had the same types of thoughts going through my mind throughout my whole cancer ordeal that other cancer patients do.  At first, it was a feeling of, “Why me?”, but then thinking about it, “Why NOT me?”  I’ve read about so many other cancer patients who go through the whole range of emotions, which I probably did, too.  But, from the beginning, my ONLY concern was that I WOULD survive.  There wasn’t a question about this.  You see, I am a fighter, and if someone tells me that I can’t do something, I probably will do whatever it takes to DO it, anyway, if I feel that strongly about it.  I never even asked either of my oncologists, “How much time do I have left?”  NOPE, never wanted to know, because I WAS going to beat this.  It is very important for cancer patients to have a POSITIVE ATTITUDE.  There will be bad days, for sure, but if you have something to keep working towards, whether it would be to be there in the future for your kids or grandkids, or you have an activity that you love to do, or something else that is SO important to you, then that is what you should focus on.  It is also important to rid negativity around you from other people.  If someone started telling me about negative things, I would tell them that I was only focusing on positive ideas right now.

 

Your brain... 

In February of 2012, plans were made for me to start chemo and radiation.  I was totally against doing BOTH of them, because chemo is toxic to your body and radiation burns skin tissue and can damage organs.  I had done some reading, watched videos and heard testimonials about people who beat Stage 4 cancers by eating a plant-based diet.  This is the way I was hoping to go, too, without these damaging treatments, but since my cancer had already gotten into my lymph nodes, I felt it was important for me to proceed with chemo and radiation.  I was told that if I did BOTH, together, that the chemo would enhance my radiation treatments.  I had six weeks of radiation and chemo and was not nice to endure.  By the fourth week of radiation, I had become VERY sore.  And, having the treatments down in “that area”, I was sitting on my pain.  Each daily treatment didn’t produce pain, but it was pain that built up over time that burned the tissue, therefore causing a lot of pain.

 

The chemo drug that I was given didn’t make me lose my hair, but it does cause nausea.  I was lucky to have good insurance coverage to be able to take a drug that kept me from developing nausea.  But, about in the fourth week, I noticed that I wasn’t eating enough protein in my diet.  The plant-based foods that I normally enjoyed, like rice and beans just didn’t appeal to me.  I finally was able to eat a little peanut butter, but this chemo DID make me basically lose my taste buds temporarily.  Not much appealed to me.  I was in contact with a plant-based registered dietician who had worked on an oncology ward who suggested drinking smoothies with pea protein powder or brown rice powder, so I started with the brown rice powder.  In just a short time, I was feeling much better and had more energy.  It took several weeks before my taste buds seemed to return to normal and for me to want rice and beans and other proteins, again.

 

After having radiation, your body just doesn’t stop “burning”.  It will have after-effects for months later, up to 1 1/2 – 2 years later.  In the middle of the surgeries, chemo and radiation, I had to temporarily give up the one sport I just loved to do and lived for…bowling!  It’s what really kept me going.  I don’t work outside of the home, my husband is retired, and we belong to two bowling leagues and I look forward to bowling and seeing our seniors every week.  But exactly six weeks after ending chemo/radiation, I bowled in the Women’s National Bowling Championship Tournament in Reno, Nevada, with my team.  And, I had two games that were over 200 pins!

 

2014-womens-bowling-championships 

In the accompanying photos, in my “heavy” picture, I had blond highlights, and after I finished treatments, one day while at my hairdresser’s, I asked her if she could dye my hair another color.  Her face lit up like a light bulb and had a smile on her face and told me, “I know EXACTLY the color to use.”  So, I went to a reddish brown and I immediately loved the change and everyone else around me seemed to love it, too, except my husband!  I told people that that blond woman died with the cancer and this was the “new me”.

 

janbeforeandafterJan’s before & after shot 

 

SOME FINAL THOUGHTS:  I firmly believe (and both of my oncologists do, too) that by changing over to a plant-based, whole-food diet, my body developed a strong immune system that could fight off new cancer cell growth and also helped me deal with the nasty side effects of chemo and radiation treatments.  I had a couple of medical issues develop following the lymph node surgery, but came through those very well.  I did gain a bit of the weight back, after eating normal, plant-based foods, but I still feel really great, still bowl, I play golf as often as we have time to get out, and all of my CT scans (four of them since ending treatment) have been clear. To celebrate life after cancer, I told my husband I wanted to get a trike (3-wheeled motorcycle).  He had spoken of wanting to ride again at some point, so I decided this was the time, so he also bought one.  I talk to many men and women about this type of cancer and that I’m not going to stop living, wondering IF or WHEN a cancer can come back.  People have told me that I am an inspiration to them.  I am on a mission now to educate people, especially about vulvar cancer.  There are one or two vaccines that are being used now to vaccinate boys and girls against the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV).  I would do a lot of researching about these vaccines, pros and cons of getting vaccinated.  The big thing is for women to keep getting pelvic exams.  This can help detect gynecological cancers, especially the vaginal and vulvar cancers, early.  Having a support group around you is also very helpful.  Family and friends often don’t know what to say to a person who has vulvar cancer.  After all, it is in a private area of a woman’s body.  But, knowing that your friends and family are in your corner no matter what you decide to do, is very comforting.  My husband left ALL treatments up to me.  That does free the family member from some guilt, because if I didn’t survive, for example, and he PUSHED me to do one or more treatments, it could leave him with a lot of guilt afterwards.

 

 Dearest Jan, thank you so much for finding and contacting me! I loved reading and re-reading your amazing story and know that others will find encouragement and inspiration in it as well! You ROCK, lady! …And I love your hair color too! Have an amazing weekend!

Reasons Not to Eat Chickens or Eggs

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I used to believe, like so many people, that of all the meats available, that chicken was my healthiest choice. Before going plant-based vegan, I had been out to dinner a month or two before with a friend and had the tastiest BBQ chicken imaginable. However, giving up eating chickens, now that I know not only why it isn’t a healthy choice, as well as how poorly chickens are treated, is no longer an option for me. Let me stress that the purpose of this post is not to convince you to start eating pork or beef instead, but to simply give you the the facts about how horrific these sentient beings are treated in factory farms, as well as the health risks involved by eating them.  But first, before going into details, let me start by sharing a sweet little story…or just skip it and go to the facts!

“Babies in a box”

A year before going completely vegan, my friend Marta had had me over to her house for dinner. She invited me down into her basement and said, “I have a surprise to show you!” To my surprise it was a box of little baby chicks. They were adorable! Looking much like the photo above. I’ve always been a huge bird lover. When I was only two years old, I had pointed at the crows in our backyard and told my parents that I wanted one as a pet. This resulted in my parents getting me a Mynah bird. We named him “Fusser” or “Footsie” in English. Later in life I got a parakeet, whom I had for ten years & adored, so when I saw Marta’s baby chickens the bird lover in me awoke and I started talking to them, making little bird sounds. I don’t know about you, but I’ve never been around baby chickens before. There they were busily making small soft chirps amongst each other. When I started interacting with them, they immediately stopped chirping and looked up at me curiously, but when I stopped they’d start chirping again, then I’d start and they’d stop to listen. Marta asked if I wanted to pet one of them and I said, “Yes, please!” Chickens, I discovered, have incredibly soft feathers! Marta had given each of them a name and she even told me about their different personalities that she’d noticed. Well, these little chicks might have moved into Marta’s basement at the time, but they had also moved into the back of my mind.

Typical Factory Farmed Chickens

One of the first books that I read, when I decided to go plant-based vegan, was Kathy Freston‘s book “Veganist“. I highly recommend it! In it she writes, “Over 95 percent of the meat, dairy, and eggs we eat comes from factory farms, where the animals are pumped full of drugs to keep them alive and to speed up their development and productivity. In fact, chickens get twice the antibiotic dosing that cattle do, because the conditions they are raised in are the worst and therefore require more medicine just to keep them alive long enough to be killed for their meat. (p.106 of Veganist) This ought to set off the alarm bells in your head! She further writes, “I recently came across this truly shocking fact: More people per year die from antibiotic-resistant infections than from prostate and breast cancer combined. And the numbers are going up at an alarming rate.” (p.107) Well, is it any wonder? Think about it, please!

If a truly awful bug comes along antibiotics won’t be helping us, because our bodies will be resistant to them due to all the other drugs that we’ve been unknowingly eating and storing up in our bodies. Kathy Freston writes, “We call them superbugs. And we humans are increasingly vulnerable to their antibiotic-resistant ways. Farm animals are also pumped full of antiviral drugs, leading to the emergence of drug resistant strains of viruses. Combined with the stress of confinement impairing the animals’ immune systems, these farms are perfect incubators for new viruses, which are now mutating like never before and becoming increasingly difficult to control.” The fact that we haven’t had a mass epidemic of the bird flu is really short of a miracle. Kathy Freston interviews Dr. Michael Greger on Factory Farming and Superbugs, a fascinating interview, (I am going to let you read that on your own)! After speaking about the swine-flu virus H1N1, Dr. Greger points out, “Tens of millions of people have become infected and thousands of young people have died, but H1N1 is not particularly virulent. There are other flu viruses that have emerged in recent decades such as highly “pathogenic” (disease causing) bird flu H5N1 that may have the potential to cause much greater human harm.” (p.109) You may think, “Oh, that’s not going to cause much damage – we can fight this if it comes our way!” Well, think again!

Dr. Greger has this to say about H5N1, “Currently H5N1 kills approximately 60 percent of those it infects, so you don’t even get a coin toss chance of survival. That’s a mortality rate on par with some strains of Ebola. Fortunately, only a few hundred people have become infected. Should a virus like H5N1 trigger a pandemic, though, the results could be catastrophic. During a pandemic as many as 2 or 3 billion people can become infected. A 60 percent mortality rate is simply unimaginable. Unfortunately, it’s not as far-fetched as it sounds. Both China and Indonesia have reported sporadic outbreaks of the H5N1 bird flu in pigs…” (p.110) I don’t know about you, but these numbers sound pretty scary to me! Sounds like a new black plague, also known as “Black Death” which was one of the most devastating pandemics in human history, peaking in Europe between 1348 and 1350.

1918 Flu Masks

Dr. Greger tells Kathy Freston that the worst plague in human history was the 1918 flu pandemic triggered by the bird flu virus that went on to kill upwards of 50 million people. Dr. Greger says, “The crowded, stressful, unhygienic trench warfare conditions during World War I that led to the emergence of the 1918 virus are replicated today in nearly every industrial chicken shed and egg operation. Instead of millions of vulnerable hosts to evolve within back then, we now have billions of chickens intensively confined in factory farms, arguably the perfect-storm environment for the emergence and spread of hypervirulent, so-called predator-type viruses like H5N1. The 1918 virus killed about 2.5 percent of the people it infected, twenty times deadlier than the seasonal flu. H5N1 is now killing 60 percent of infected people, twenty times deadlier than the 1918 virus. So if a virus like 1918’s gained easy human transmissibility, it could make the 1918 pandemic-the deadliest plague ever-look like the regular flu.” (p.113) That sounds horrible, doesn’t it? Right now, I’m listening to a period piece in my car, a fictional story, that takes place in Paris during the 1800’s where the outbreak of cholera was prevalent. The funny thing about the human mind is that we think that we’re above some of these diseases and we can’t imagine that they’ll ever happen to us, but they have and they will if we’re not careful!

A sweet chicken named Honey

In Kim Barnouin and Rory Freedman’s book, “Skinny Bitch” they also talk about chickens. They write, “We often hear the snobby declaration, “I don’t eat any red meat. I just eat chicken.” Well now you know: Chicken is just as bad for you as cow or pig. In fact, it might even be worse. According to the American Journal of Epidemiology, eating chicken (and fish) is linked to colon cancer. Researchers examined the eating habits of 32,o00 men and women over a six-year period and then monitored emerging cancer cases for the next six years. “Among participants who generally avoided red meat but who ate white meat less than once per week, colon cancer risk was 55 percent higher than for those who avoided both kinds of meat. Those who had white meat at least once per week had more than three-fold higher colon cancer risk.” Researchers at the National Cancer institute found grilled chicken to have high levels of heterocyclic amines, carcinogens that are formed when animal proteins are heated. With 480 nanograms of heterocyclic amines per gram, grilled chicken registered 15 times higher than beef.”  If this is not enough to convince you to lay off the chickens, I don’t know what is? That certainly did it for me!

Rotisserie Chicken…makes me queasy now!

With new knowledge gained, that BBQ chicken that I mentioned earlier no longer appealed to me and I will certainly never go back to eating it ever again. In fact, now when I pass chicken items or am in line at the grocery store behind a person buying one of those boxed chickens – which are usually larger than normal sized chickens, I cringe! All I can think of is how that chicken has been pumped full of antibiotics, steroids, pesticides and hormones to stay alive in the absurd conditions of the factory farm, plus how badly the poor animal was treated before ending up in that plastic container!  Those facts have made it a very easy decision not to buy or ever eat it again!

OK, now that I’ve told you about the health risks, lets talk about how these beautiful sentient beings (they have the ability to feel, perceive, and are conscious) are treated. First of all, the chickens you are eating spend most of their lives in filthy, ammonia-laden sheds with thousands of other chickens. According to a New Yorker writer who visited a major chicken farm wrote, “I almost was knocked to the ground by the overpowering smell of feces and ammonia. My eyes burned and so did my lungs and I could neither see nor breathe.” I am convinced that if any of us were to visit one of these chicken farms, even for just a few minutes, that would be enough to convince any of us to stop eating them. However, the treatment of them gets worse. PETA writes, “After six weeks in these horrible conditions, the birds are roughly thrown into cages that are stacked on the back of a truck, and then they are shipped through all weather extremes to the slaughterhouse.” Once when I was driving home from work, I locked eyes with one of those chickens on a large truck. That experience pierced my heart! I literally sensed the sadness in those little eyes and that moment alone is permanently stuck to my memory…to my soul!

While still alive…Breaks my heart!

PETA further writes, “At slaughter, workers violently grab them and hang them upside-down by their legs, which they force them into shackles, breaking many of them in the process.” Time is money in these factories. A worker often holds up to four or five chickens at a time, upside down, by their legs, I’ve read. PETA continues, “Then, the chickens’ throats are slit, and they are dragged through tanks of scalding-hot water, often while they are still conscious.” This is not the first time that I have read about these horrors. Listen, we wouldn’t do this to a dog or a cat, that would be considered animal cruelty, right?! Well, not only are chickens sentient beings, but according to research, Chickens are smarter than dogs, cats, and even some primates. In a natural setting, a mother hen begins to teach her chicks various calls before they even hatch-she clucks softly to them while sitting on eggs, and they chirp back to her and to each other from inside their shells. Unfortunately, chickens in factory farms never meet their mothers.” (from PETA’s Go Vegetarian Go Vegan Magazine) 

Urban Chickens

In addition, PETA writes, “Birds who are raised for their eggs are packed, five to 11 at a time, into wire cages that are so small that they don’t have enough room to spread even a single wing. Their wings and legs atrophy from disuse, and their legs and feet become deformed from standing on slanted wire cage bottoms. The tip of each hen’s sensitive beak is cut off with a burning-hot blade [no anesthesia]. It takes 34 hours to produce just one egg. After about two years of confinement, they are violently pulled from their cages and shipped to slaughter. Their bodies are already so battered and emaciated that they can only be used for soup or companion-animal food.” Think about that the next time you desire chicken noodle soup. No thanks!

Here’s Dr. Neal Barnard giving you another reason why you might want to re-think that chicken noodle soup the next time you get the sniffles:

It is my sincere hope that I have convinced you to lay off the chickens and the eggs! They are neither a healthy nor a humane option for anyone. If you don’t believe me there are enough articles from renowned professors and documented footage about these facts!

Health & Happiness to you! Nina