Being Vegan While Away At School

So, things have been hectic! It’s been a while since we’ve had new posts so I’ve been trying to make a better posting schedule for myself, and while school makes me a very busy bee; it leaves me quite a lot of time for things like this on my days with no classes.

School has been a little more of a challenge than I originally expected it to be. I’m not quite in college, but I’m away at a grooming academy and I’ve been put in a hotel with only a microwave, a mini fridge, and a Keurig. I’ve gotten a lot of questions over the years asking me how I would be able to handle living as a person with low income, with your only means of cooking being a microwave. This was always a very hard question for me to answer and I would do my best (suggesting sandwiches, frozen meals, etc.) but never really understanding the difficulty until I had to go though it myself.

It’s not easy, and being vegan doesn’t make it any easier. But it IS doable! This would be a no-brainer if money weren’t an object. Amy’s and Sweet earth have enough meals to fuel me for a lifetime, but $4-5 dollars a meal, 7 days a week really adds up. With just under $30 to spend a week on food, I can tell you I had to sacrifice a little of my healthy and environmental purity (but not much) this month because when I tell you I’ve been living on processed foods, I mean it.

What made this so tricky is that the staples I live by otherwise are now less accessible to me. Now, you could always go the canned and frozen food route if you have a freezer, but I don’t. The one we have now would possibly hold one narrow frozen dinner box, so this option isn’t viable to me since I also don’t have a car so I need to buy all of my groceries at once when transportation is available and time permits.

So all in all this was a pretty challenging one, but these foods are getting me through it so far.

(Pictured: my “pantry” aka one of the hotel’s drawers.)

– Canned beans (chickpeas, refried pinto beans etc.) > $1

– Canned vegetables (corn, peas etc) > $1

– Rice (premade that you can warm up). A little more pricey than regular rice. I got the packs above for $2.50 but you might be able to find them cheaper

– Soups (Amy’s, Campbell’s vegan varieties etc.) > $3

– Ready meals (Tasty Bite indian food vegan varieties. DOUBLE CHECK LABEL some are just vegetarian. Uncle Bens ready meal varieties like Spanish and vegetable rice) > $3

– Nissan Oriental / soy sauce ramen. (ONLY Nissan. Maruchan Oriental flavor is NOT vegan) > $2 for a 6pck

– Cliff bars $5 for about 6

– Instant oatmeal > $4

The vegetables I don’t do so much only because I don’t have seasonings or sauces. You could also do potatoes since you can microwave a baked potato in no time, and that’s also a very cheap and healthy meal! I always keep some almond milk in the fridge for coffee, but that would also come in handy for cereals! Beyond that I would suggest juices or fresh fruits as well as high protein snacks (dried nuts, trail mix etc.).

Sandwiches will also come in handy. Bagels as well as these are low in effort and tend to be high in servings. Nut butter and jelly sandwiches/bagels as well as vegan sliced meat sandwiches will last long for a relatively low price. They don’t involve any type of cooking and only require simple storage so they’re perfect if you’re low on energy for the day.

All in all, like I said this is a complicated but doable task! Just make sure you’re buying foods that will fill you up. No living off of Oreos and Sweet Chili Doritos in your dorm! Unless you really want to, in which case here are some more accidentally vegan snacks for your 1am test prep indulgence.

And if your circumstances are a little better and you’re just looking for meal ideas as a low income vegan AND you have a stove, check out this article next!

As always; leave us a comment if there’s anthing we should add to make this article better! And good luck on those mid-terms!

Where Would We Be Without The Bees?

 Bees are one of the most important insects; they must be protected. We must find a way to save them, and ultimately, save ourselves.

Bees are fuzzy little insects that are one of the biggest contributors to pollination in the world; however, 23.2 percent of honeybee colonies have died over the last winter, causing extreme concern for the future of agriculture. In addition, over the past year, multiple types of bees have been added to the endangered list.

“If the bee disappeared off the surface of the globe, then man would have only four years of life left. No more bees, no more pollination, no more plants, no more animals, no more man.” Maurice Maeterlinck said in his book, The Life of the Bee.

Bees and other pollinators account for the production of one-third of the world’s crops, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization.

Concern arose in 2003 after many beekeepers reported missing colonies of bees. This mysterious disappearance of Honeybees became known as Colony Collapse Disorder, and its cause stumped scientists for years.

A Harvard study suggested that the onset of the bees’ extinction was triggered by the use of plant pesticides like Neonicotinoids and Sulfoxaflor.

Sulfoxaflor is a systemic pesticide, meaning it makes the whole plant poisonous. Once the plant absorbs the pesticide, its nectar and pollen become toxic to bees.

Sulfoxaflor was approved in 2013 by the US Environmental Protection Agency, but was challenged in a federal appeal court after increased concern for the dying bees surfaced.

After studies showed its harmful and often deadly effect, the court overturned its approval of Sulfoxaflor in September of 2015.

The court’s decision was significant because it effectively repealed a deadly pesticide to bees.

Helping bees can be an easy thing if everyone contributes to the effort. There are plants like Catmint, Chives, Wild Lilac, and Indigo that one can plant that help create new habitats for bees.  For more information on how you can help ease this, visit this separate article.

It is important to be familiar with our need for bees. They are not our enemy, but more of a tiny friend.

 

 

Eco-Atkins

Carbs especially complex carbs aren’t bad for you, no. But there are some people who still can’t really ingest them or choose to avoid or limit them for a variety of reasons that range from health reasons to weight loss. 
When you think of a low carb diet, you probably think of Atkins. As you can see from a list of some of the acceptable foods it is a diet very high in meat and other animal products. Because of this, going vegan or vegetarian on this diet will be pretty challenging- but it can be done!

The diet is called Eco-Atkins. There have been case studies on it that have shown that it’s entirely possible to thrive on the Atkins diet as a vegan, though there will be added difficulty if you are allergic to nuts and soy, as these will be significant sources of your protein along with beans and legumes.

On Eco Atkins, 31% of your calories will come from protein, 43% from fat and a low 26% from carbs compared to a mere 10% on the regular Atkins.  You’ll probably want to keep track of something like that on CRON-O-METER or a similar service to make sure.

Proteins- Nuts, beans, couscous, barely, soy, high protein vegetables ect.

Healthy fats- Omega 3 fatty acids, vegetable oils, avocados, nut butters, seeds, olives.
Carbs- Whole grains, fruits, veggies, oats.

But no starchy veggies!

This is what a day of Eco-Atkins looks like from the Archive of Internal Medicines 2009 study of the diet:

Breakfast: Oat bran with unsweetened soy milk and nut bread / Tofu scramble (sunflower oil, extra firm tofu, sweet red peppers, mushrooms, tomatoes, onions, hazelnuts)

Lunch: Yves veggie chicken burger, nut bread, tofu salad

Dinner: Pearled barley / Stir-fry (Tofu, mushroom, eggplant, onions, sweet red pepper, broccoli, onions, cauliflower, oil)

Snacks: Orange, cashews, strawberries, almonds, peaches

And if you’re really serious about sticking to the Atkins plan, as a vegan it’s been recommend you start at phase 2
Have any questions or feedback about the diet? Contact us and tell us how it goes!

Lentil Spag Bol ‘Mince’


Even if you don’t like lentils, you will probably like this recipe. Its super easy and lentils are high in protein, magnesium, vitamin b-6, fibre and potassium.

This makes about 4 servings.

Ingredients

2 Tins of Crushed (or chopped) tomatoes

½ a small brown onion

2 garlic cloves

1 medium carrot

¾ cup red lentils (If you like lentils really soft, ad suggest soaking them for about 15-10 mins prior)

Italian Herbs (however much you prefer)

Oil (I used canola but you can use any) (enough to cover your pan)

Method

  1. Pre-heat frying pan to low heat
  2. Chop up onion and garlic finely. Add oil to pan, turn up stove to medium high heat and cook the onion and garlic for 10 minutes
  3. Add Tomatoes and mix in with the onion and garlic. Add the lentils and carrot, mix.
  4. Make sure you mix every minute or so to make sure the lentils don’t stick. Add Italian herbs (depending on how you like it. I add about a tablespoon)
  5. If it starts to look dry, add some water and mix in
  6. Cook until when you drag a spatula down the centre and it doesn’t fill in fast.
  7. Remove from heat and serve with pasta

 

If you wanted to make this a pasta sauce, remove the lentils and add half a tin on purread tomatoes.

What About B12?

When talking about vitamins and minerals vegans “don’t” get- B12 will come up. B12 is made by anaerobic microorganisms (that can be found in the gastrointestinal tract of animals- including humans). Beyond this, livestock are supplemented B12 through vitamins and injections;

Hy-B12

They also get it from other fortified feed, eating contaminated food, and their own waste. So the B12 you’re getting when you eat meat and other animal products is from that.

That’s not to say that it isn’t incredibly important. B12 deficiency can cause permanent brain and nerve damage. But who is vulnerable to a deficiency? Believe it or not, not only vegans. Not by a long shot.

Tufts University Framingham Offspring Study shows 40% of people between the ages of 26-83 have plasma B12 levels in a loq range – a range at which many experience neurological symptoms. 16 percent exhibited near deficiency, 9% percent had outright deficiency. The majority of individuals with B12 deficiency are not vegan. That being said, we still need it. And since a lot of people are at risk, including those who don’t supplement it, senior citizens, those who have pre existing medical condition, and those who have recently lost a large amount of weight; I strongly suggest everyone checks their B12 levels with their doctor. That being said, there are MANY plant based sources of B12, so I hope this makes it easier for you to get it!

Supplements

* Here are some links to buy them online but you can find vegan B12 supplements in almost any health food store.

My Kind Organics B12 spray

Deva Vegan Vitamin B12

Mega Food Vegan B12

Vegan Safe Vitamin B12

Nutritional yeast

* Maybe the most popular way vegans like to get B12. Whatever you call it- nutritional yeast, nooch, hippie dust, it’s delicious. A serving of fortified nutritional yeast (usually a couple of tablespoons) contains about 500% B12 along with many other essential vitamins and minerals. It has a kind of nutty cheese taste that makes a good cheesy popcorncheese saucemacaroni and cheese, and a lot of other good stuff! I mostly just use it as a topping for things like beans, potatoes, and vegetables.

Here’s my brand! I get mine at Sprouts but I’m sure other stores have it like Trader Joe’s and other health food stores! (Maybe even normal department stores) Just in case I’m wrong I’ll include a link to buy it online.

Kal Premium Fortified Nutritional Yeast 

And there are other brands too!

Bragg Nutritional Yeast Seasoning 

Bob’s Red Mill Nutritional Yeast

There are more than these, but this should give you an example of what to look for!

Fortified foods & drinks

– Energy drinks

Most energy drinks are fortified with B12 and a lot of them are vegan! (The taurine in them is usually synthetic and not animal derived but I’ll list some confirmed energy drinks anyhow)

* Fair warning B12 in energy drinks doesn’t absorb well so I don’t know if I would trust this even- even if drinking energy drinks often enough to get sufficient B12 wasn’t so bad for you.

— Red Bull – “Yes, Red Bull Energy Drink is suitable for vegetarians. Red Bull Energy Drink does not contain any animal products or substances derived from animals.”

— Rockstar – “Yes, Rockstar Energy Drink is suitable for both vegetarians and vegans. The Taurine contained in Rockstar is synthetic and not derived from animals.

— Monster – “Thank you for visiting the Monster Energy Website.
We use no animal bi-products in any of our products line. Enjoy!!

Thank you,

Monster Energy Company

– Cereal
— Multigrain Cheerios

— Kellogg’s all bran

— Grape nuts 

— Special K (some flavors are vegan)

— Total corn flakes

And a LOT more, here’s a list of 200 b12 fortified cereals a lot of them are vegan! And you can eat them with:

– Plant based milks

Any fortified plant milk will do because a lot are whether it’s coconut, almond, soy, sunflower, hemp, cashew, oat, rice, ect.; But some I know are fortified in particular are

— Almond Dream

— Rice Dream

— Pacific Hemp

— Pacific Ultra Soy Milk

— Eden Soy Organic

Other fortified foods

Besides all of those, some vegan mock meats are fortified with B12! I’ll put a definite list up once I find brands but since there’s not that much information on it and I don’t eat mock meat, it’ll take a bit. But I will put it up! Please tell me if you know of any!

Unrecommended methods 

I’ve seen a lot of vegans recommend unwashed fruits and vegetables. If that’s what you think you should do and you’ve checked your B12 levels then please be safe, but I wouldn’t recommend it myself. It doesn’t seem safe to me to rely solely on traces of soil (which can be harmful if not organic and/or from your own garden!) for B12 but if I’m dead wrong – let me know! I’m always open to new information.

However after reading through 95 pages of meta data by the NCBI I can confirm that some plant sources are reliable sources of B12 such as:

– Dried purple & green laver (Nori / Seaweed)

– Tempeh 

– Batabata-Cha (Japanese fermented black tea)

– Black trumpet and golden chanterelle mushrooms 

– Dried shitaki mushrooms 

But I still wouldn’t trust it! 

I really suggest that you supplement with either B12 sprays, injections, vitamins, nutritional yeast, fortified cereals and milks! These are probably the most reliable means of getting this extremely important vitamin and most livestock get it, you’re really just cutting out the ‘middle man’. So by all means- supplement!