The Purpose of this Blog

I have realized over the years that I am much better at expressing my opinions and ideas through writing than verbally. That combined with the fact that it is much easier to reach a wider audience thru the internet than face to face interactions. Since becoming vegan a few years ago, I have noticed that most people in the Midwest just simply don't understand diets other than the SAD (Standard American Diet). If your a vegan reading this than you know exactly what I'm talking about……the same questions over and over. I want this blog to become a place where Iowa Vegans can come to relate with each other as well as for others who are curious about learning more. I know first hand how hard it can be to make choices different from the masses, especially in the heart of farming and hunting country! I hope this blog will inspire all of us to live a more compassionate life. I will start off posting once a week to feel out the general audience. As traffic increases, I will start posting more often. Don't hesitate to let me know how you feel about the site or a topic you would like to see. General categories will be:

  • Vegan News
  • Local restaurants
  • Local activities and groups
  • Personal insights about all things vegan
  • Maybe a random thought or two that might be a little off topic (I am a huge NERD for Tech, and all things Productivity!)
  • Upcoming Events around the nation
  • Possibly some recipes posts (this will probably be limited because there are plenty of sites that focus on just this, and do a much better job than I could!) See the Compendium of Vegan Links Page.

 

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Tech Post: Task management the efficient way!

I mentioned in my sticky post that I would be doing a small portion of posts on topics other than “all things vegan”…..and here is random post #1. I have become obsessed over the best way to do anything in life more efficiently. Anything from washing the dishes all the way up to project management at work. I first learned of what some call lean, a few years back when I worked in a lab that did the same repetitive motions daily. A worker had gone over to Japan to learn about process flow. He visited one of the Toyota factories in Japan and was amazed by how efficient every process of their workflow was. He brought this back and shared the wisdom with us. I immediately took it to my workstation and figured out by just rearranging some equipment I could cut out 30 minutes from the workflow! At that point I was hooked. My second wave of productivity enlightenment came back in March of this year. I had just taken a new job as an Account Manager for a large landscaping company here in Iowa. I was immediately thrown into the fire and asked to manage over 50 different accounts (properties). I was completely overwelmed by the bombardment of phone calls and emails requesting different services, not to mention the complaint phone calls I had to manage. I had to so something, and fast, before I got fired for poor account management. Luckily my searches stumbled upon the book “Getting Things Done” by David Allen. If your ever looking for a resource to help you improve your productivity in all aspects of your life, this is it. The main takeaway that David Allen suggests is that your brain is great at creating ideas and creativity, but terrible at a task management system. As he mentions in the book, if it was good at managing tasks, then you would remember the new batteries when you walked past them in at Walmart rather than when you go to turn on the flashlight during a power outage!

Now that I knew that I needed to get my tasks out of my head and into a trusted system, I had to find that trusted system. Trust me when I say this, I have tried just about every task manager out there that is either web based and/or an iOS app. Here are a handful of tips that I have learned through this discovery process:

1. First and foremost, you must trust the system. If for some reason you don't (ie the app loses your data from time to time, etc.) than your brain will not let go of the task. It will sit in your skull as an infinite loop, stealing precious energy until the task is completed or put in a trusted system.

2. The system you use, must be efficient enough to where you are not spending more time in the system than actually doing the work. I have done this first hand. I won't mention the app(s) because I don't feel that is right, but they are out there. (Plus, if I called them out here, you may not try them which would mean you wouldn't learn first hand what I'm talking about!) Watch out for them. I suggest trying many of them, but just be cognizant of the time you are spending in them. These apps just aren't set up effectively to allow you to “get in and get out”!

3. The system must be mobile. Atleast for my job, I am on job sites just as much as I am in the office. With that, I had to have a system that was always at my fingertips. If you only have an office job, than a web based program may just work for you, but remember, if your using it for personal productivity than you will want it for when your out running errands.

4. Be prepared to change the way you manage your tasks as you learn. I know I have changed mine atleast three times now which required me to almost wipe the system clean and start over. With that being said, each iteration has been better than the first.

Now that you know some of the tips that I learned the hard way, I will tell you which app I have finally settled on. The app I am currently using is called Pocket Informant. I am giving them a shout out here because I feel it is necessary to spread the word for companies that you truly believe are doing the best work. This is an app for both iPad and iPhone, but they are working on a web based program as well. My biggest praise is that they allow integration of both your calendar and tasks in the same app. GTD is all about doing things more efficiently and there are too many apps that fail at this basic level by not integrating both into one app. The other major praise is for the amount of customization and filtering possible within the app. They get so detailed into customization that they even allow you to change the color of your text if it is tagged a certain way or even when that task hasn't been synced! They have really thought about all aspects of making your system as efficient as possible. When it comes to filtering, they have allowed you to create “searches” that you can save and refer to at a second's notice. In my case, I save searches based on personal tasks as well as work. I even break down the work tasks further into a waiting for search, a someday/maybe search, as well as other searches based on frequently used keywords or contexts. As mentioned before, this is the most robust system I have come across and the nice thing about that, is that it allows beginners to be as simple as they want and hardcore GTD'ers to be as granular as they want. I could go on, but the best thing you can do is simply try it yourself. I believe they still have a free trial where you can try all the pro features for a limited time. Also note, that there are much more comprehensive reviews on Pocket informant that are much more worthy of checking out than this one!

The last thing I want to mention is that you should alway keep learning about GTD. I frequently listen to GTD podcasts and follow many GTD blogs.

Podcasts:

GTD Virtual Study Group

Prodpod

The productive life: Evernote

The 5 AM Miracle

Blogs:

Lifehacker

Productivityist

Time Management Ninja

It would be a shame if I didn't mention how I blog efficiently as well. Check out the Blogsy app for iPad!

I would love to hear your comments as well!

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RE-POST: 8 BEERS THAT YOU SHOULD STOP DRINKING IMMEDIATELY!

This is the first time I have “re-blogged” someone else’s post and since I am new to the blogging world, I am not sure if this is a kosier thing to do. If not, please inform me by leaving a comment. Here is the site I found it on, but after doing a google search for it, this post appears on many sites so I must not be the only one to do this! I am big into the craft beer world so this is right up my ally. I also homebrewed off and on over the past 5-6 years. Before becoming vegan, I really didn’t look at the ingredients of beer. I knew what was going in mine but didn’t realize what was going in to commercial beers. Let me know your feelings on this.

 

Many of us choose what we eat very carefully, or at least dedicate our minimum attention to it. But when it comes to drinks, especially alcoholic beverages, we do little to make the best decisions for our health. Which is a HUGE mistake. All the work for your body can be ruined in a weekend out. While foods and non alcoholic beverages are required to list their ingredients and are monitored by the FDA, beer does not belong in either. Alcohol industry had lobbied for years to avoid labeling its ingredients. Some to protect its recipes, but most – to hide harmful ingredients.

Here’s some harmful ingredients that are commonly found in beer:

  • GMO Corn Syrup
  • GMO Corn
  • High Fructose Corn Syrup
  • Fish Bladder
  • Propylene Glycol
  • Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)
  • Natural Flavors
  • GMO Sugars
  • Caramel Coloring
  • Insect-Based Dyes
  • Carrageenan
  • BPA
  • & lots more!

Here are the 8 beers that are commonly found in bars in United States that you should stop drinking immediately.

1. Newcastle Brown Ale

The Newcastle beer has been found to contain caramel coloring. Class 3 and 4 caramel coloring is made from ammonia, which is classified as a carcinogen. “The one and only” beer with cancer causing qualities.

2. Budweiser

One of the most popular beers, or most advertised is Budweiser. Budweiser contains genetically modified (GMO) corn. In 2007, Greenpeace discovered experimental GMO rice in Anheuser-Busch (Budweiser) beer.

3. Corona Extra

I used to love Corona’s commercials. They were so peaceful and relaxing. That is until I found out that the beer contains GMO Corn Syrup and Propylene Glycol. Propylene Glycol is controversial, and is said to may be potentially harmful to your health.

4. Miller Lite

This is another very popular beer in America that contains GMOs. Miller Lite contains GMO corn and corn syrup. It’s “GMO time”.

5. Michelob Ultra

Less popular but still readily available Michelob beer, should be eliminated from your choices. This beer has been found to contain a genetically modified sweetener (GMO dextrose).

6. Guinness

Guinness is often praised for it’s smoothness. However, several investigations proved that Guinness ingredients are quite disturbing. The beer contains fish bladder and high fructose corn syrup. High fructose corn syrup has been long banned from many stores and drinks.

7. Coors Light

Coors light is a drink that is very popular at bars and among college students. Mostly because its cheap. The beer contains GMO corn syrup.

8. Pabst Blue Ribbon

Pabst Blue Ribbon contains GMO corn and GMO corn syrup.

Healthy Beer Alternatives

So when it comes to beer you have to be very careful. Your best option is to find a microbrewery that you can trust. As with everything, try to avoid cheap, low-quality products. Bars may offer Coors Light, Miller Lite or Budweiser specials, but they are cheap for a reason. The rest of the world is banning GMOs everywhere, while USA is lagging years behind, and only several states offer GMO labeling laws. Try to stay away from any American beers. Choose organic beer. Beers that contain 100% organic labels, have to have ingredients that are all 100% organic. While an “organic” label just means 95% of it will be organic. European beer is most likely to be safe from GMO ingredients but unfortunately, most other beer contains GMO artificial ingredients, stabilizers, grains and preservatives, plus, HFCS.

GMO Free Beers:

Organic Beers (Unpasteurized & Unfiltered)

  • Wolaver’s – all beers
  • Lamar Street – Whole Foods label (brewed by Goose Island)
  • Bison – all beers
  • Dogfish Head (organic when ingredients available)
  • Fish Brewery Company – Fish Tale Ales
  • Lakefront Brewery – Organic ESB
  • Brooklyn – (organic when ingredients are available)
  • Pinkus – all beers
  • Samuel Smiths – Samuel Smiths Organic Ale
  • Wychwood – Scarecrow Ale

Non-Organic Beers (Unpasteurized & Unfiltered)

  • Sierra Nevada – all choices
  • Duck Rabbit – Brown Ale, Porter, Amber Ale, Milk Stout
  • Dogfish Head- 60 Minute IPA, Shelter Pale Ale, Chicory Stout
  • Shipyard – Summer Brew
  • Victory Brewery – Whirlwind
  • North Coast – Blue Star
  • Bridgeport – IPA (Bottle conditioned)
  • Ayinger – all choices
  • Royal Oak – Pale Ale
  • Fraziskaner – Hefeweisse and Dunkel Weisse
  • Weihenstephaner – Hefe Weissbier
  • Maisel’s – Weisse
  • Hoegaarden – Belgian Wit

Other

  • Heineken
  • Steamwhistle
  • Amstel Light
  • Duchy Original Ale Organic
  • Mill Street Brewery
  • Fuller’s Organic
  • Nelson Organic Ale
  • Natureland Organic
  • Share This with Fellow Beer Drinkers

It’s important to expose companies that use harmful ingredients in our products. This information is hidden from the public with millions of dollars of false advertising, laws, etc. You can always vote withyour money. As this information about GMO beers spreads, we will see a decrease in production of thesebeers and the companies may eliminate the harmful ingredients altogether. Most importantly, when you hang out with your friends, you will be able to share beer that’s more delicious and healthier.

 

Source: http://www.organics.org/8-beers-that-you-should-stop-drinking-immediately/

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Vegan Poem from Parent to Child

I found this poem back in March of 2013. This would have been right when my son was turning one which meant he could start eating some of the same foods we are. I can also vividly remember how stressed I was about making sure my wife and I do everything we can to get the right nutrients each day and now I had to do the same for my son. This seemed like such a daunting task, and quite frankly still is. It is hard to get any child to eat food other than sugar! Anyway, I re-read this poem and it still resonates inside of me. All of the extra planning we have to do, the extra criticism we get, its all worth it knowing that we are raising a child to be compassionate (He's 2 and already says that we don't eat animals because it hurts them and we don't drink cow's milk because its for their babies to grow big and strong!). Here is where the original poem can be found. I thank the author for writing it!

 

You'll never watch an elephant standing on her head

You will see amazing acrobats and painted clowns instead.

You'll never color Easter eggs or eat a “Happy” Meal

Instead you'll give pigs belly rubs – You'll know chickens dream and feel.

The clamor from the ice cream truck won't be music to your ears

You will know your Soy Delicious caused no suffering or tears.

You may hear a gentle gobble as you softly stroke a turkey

And give thanks that she's alive as you're eating your Tofurky.

While other kids buy leather shoes and eat at Chuck E. Cheese

You'll be kissing cows and feeding goats and saying “soy please!”

Being different can be hard I know – This world is often cruel

Maybe you'll be laughed at by the other kids at school.

But compassion is a vital gift that too few share with others

And your heart will not be filled with guilt the way it plagues your mother's.

So don't ever be embarrassed or ashamed because you care

You'll be uniquely beautiful with an empathy that's rare.

And when you see a rescued lamb and touch his thick warm fleece

You'll feel no sadness or remorse – You can look at him in peace.

What took so long for me to learn, I'll start teaching you from birth

And your footprint will be much tinier on this fragile earth.

 

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Taking Compassion beyond the dinner table: Adopting a Pet!

My family recently decided to adopt a dog from the Animal Rescue League of Iowa. Her name is Lilly, and our reasoning was sound, but in need of a premise. Our first dog, Tootsie, was purchased from a store similar to PetSmart, but one that focused its intentions on adoption rather than accessories and food. This should have been a red flag, but unfortunately we had too much ignorance about puppy mills. This was also long before we were vegan and had watched the chilling and tear jerking documentary Earthlings, which exposed the overbreeding of domesticated animals. So, we brought Tootsie home and couldn’t have been more excited to our first real responsibility as a couple, a tiny dog in need of love and care. She was great and was the main focus of our attention until our son came into the world in 2012. Being the good family dog that she was, Tootsie was very eager to see Harper and took his punishments well over the last few years. Recently, Megan and I decided Tootsie could really use a companion of her own. It was just the way she looked at you when you came home from 10 hours at work, with those big bulgy eyes, but somber looking face. Although dogs rarely show their emotion and are always happy to see you, we just knew this would be the best way for Tootsie to spend her time away from us. This led to me visiting the ARL almost daily for 2-3 weeks. When the Vet was checking Lilly out for release to us, she mentioned that although the paperwork said the owner could no longer take care of her due to the owners health, that it appeared Lilly had been bred a number of times and was no longer useful to the breeder. Wow. I just don’t understand how people can be so insensitive to other sentient beings.

Although its taking some time from each dog to get used to the other, it will be great to see them grow old together. I know I wouldn’t have as much compassion for other species if it wasn’t for my journey into becoming Vegan and the eye opening experiences I have had. This compassion led us to help a dog in need rather than taking the easier route and buying a small cute cuddly puppy. I urge you to check your local shelter and give a dog a chance that they never got at their previous home. Just remember, no matter what that dog has been thru, if you treat him/her well, that tail will be a waggin when you come home.

I would love to hear your story on adopting a pet! Post them below!

 

 

 

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Halloween Vegan Treats

SoDeliciousCostume-1

The celebration of trick or treat for kids and costume drinking parties for adults is right around the corner. Up until now, I really haven’t thought about the treats we hand out to the kiddos each year. I know those kids really don’t need the extra sugar filled treats but why not let them have some fun once in a while? Well it turns out most kids in America are over indulging on sugar laden foods even without the holidays! With that being said, I still think there should be some times to enjoy some treats, but it can be done in a way that doesn’t exploit those poor factory farmed animals!

Here are some ideas from The Vegan Woman. Yes I know what you are thinking…..kids are going to look at you funny when you try handing out non plastic wrapped candy bars but so what. If they taste good and might be slightly healthier, all the while not harming a single animal, than both parties win!

If you absolutely don’t want to take the time to make some scary looking treats than here is a complete guide by Veg News of all the store bought candies that are vegan approved. Or this list provided by PETA.

If your not going to but rather hosting a party, here are some tips to keep things koshier, as well as this delicious looking haunted halloween cake recipe provided by Chef Chloe.

Where ever your creepy costumes take you this year, make sure you have fun, be safe, and choose treats that will make you and the animals smile!

Post some of your treats you will be making below!

 

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Breakfast! What the studies show and what I eat

I think most dietitians would agree these days that breakfast is a must if you want to make the most out of your day. Here is just a few of the benefits mentioned in this USDA report about children and this article about breakfast for all age types:

The energy and nutrients provided lead to more concentration thru-ought the day.

According to the American Dietetic Association, children perform better in the classroom and on the playground!

 

Studies show that eating breakfast can help maintain a healthy body weight.

Why? One theory suggests that breakfast helps reduce hunger thru-ought the day. Those who skip breakfast must make up their calories which lead some to choose more calorie dense nutrient poor foods.

Since switching to a vegan diet, I have chosen to make breakfast more important in my daily practices. I have noticed that I can maintain higher energy level when eating a wholesome meal in the AM. Some of my meals include the following:

Puffy pillow pancakes by the Post Punk Kitchen. These are some of the best pancakes I have ever made or tasted. The name really holds true, they are soft like a pillow yet dense at the same time. I put some peanut butter on top for some extra calories and protein, with syrup and sometimes chopped nuts such as pecans.

Scrambled tofu also by the Post Punk Kitchen. This is another great recipe that my whole family loves, we usually eat this as a dinner meal but it also works great for breakfast. The flavor is great, but just don't expect the consistency to be exactly that of the eggs you used to eat!

Maple Pecan French Toast from the book “Keep it simple, keep it whole”. Another staple in our house. The whole grain bread keeps you full all morning long. I can provide this recipe for anyone who would like it, but I really recommend purchasing the book. Its a great primer to healthy eating with some recipes included.

-When I need something quick, I can always rely on a PB and J. Whole grain bread with all natural peanut butter and Jelly can't be beat.

-Occasionally I will eat cereal, but I always try to choose one that is whole grain and ones that contain less than 9 grams of sugar (recommended by a dietician I used to follow).

-The last one I will mention in this post has become my go-to for the last few months (great for fueling morning workouts, although I am getting into not eating before working out). It is oatmeal with a handful of nuts/seeds/dried fruit on top. I try and stay away from the packaged, flavored instant oatmeal as it can have a decent amount of sugar in it. (See pic below)

There are plenty of great vegan food bloggers out there with many breakfast recipe options. Here are a few of my favorites:

The Post Punk Kitchen (just opened a restaurant in Omaha that I plan to eat at in the near future!)

Happy Healthy Life

Oh She Glows

…..the list goes on. Post your favorites below!

So there you have it. Some great recipes that keep us full and energetic until lunchtime. What are your favorites?

 

 

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